deep ecology in Daoism

Reading a post on environmental ethics, I recalled eminent Daoist scholar James Miller and his work on Daoism, Nature, and Ecology.

James refers to the concept of “Deep Ecology” – the theory which says all living beings have an equal right to live and flourish.

This view is called   biocentric  and is opposed to anthropocentric , which means viewing nature and other living beings as being valuable

only in their use to humans.

There’s another term:   anthropocosmic which means a balance between humans and the cosmic, or natural, order.

Joseph Adler  made a presentation to a conference on ecological sustainability in Beijing, where he discusses these concepts in relation to

the ancient Chinese text the Yi Jing ( I Ching) or Book of Changes.

The Yijing is based on being in harmony with nature – the person consulting the oracle does so in order to

understand cosmic harmony and make one’s actions in accordance with this.

King Wen, who is considered to have developed the hexagrams of the Yi Ching – or at least constructed it’s sequence

and his son, the Duke of Zhou ( Zhou Gong) who wrote the commentary on the moving lines, were thus

believed to see the patterns underlying nature and things – that is to say, showed the understandings of the

principles we now call Deep Ecology.

For those interested in more, Adler’s article can be found here

The concept that nature, or other living beings have as much right to the planet as humans do, can be found in

the ancient texts of the Yi Jing.

The ancient Chinese believed that what distinguished a sage from ordinary people was the ability of that

person to  be in harmony with the cosmos, and that consulting, reverently, the Yi Jing, or the Zhou Yi was a

way to achieve that.


Thanks to

for the inspiration to think deeper about Deep Ecology.