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Scientific paper


Societal Relations with Nature and Mental Infrastructures - A critical glance from Buen Vivir and Theravāda-Buddhism

Christoph Maria Sanders

Entry type:
Scientific paper

Year of publication:

Degrowth Conference Leipzig 2014


Mental infrastructures; Societal relations with nature; Nature-culture-dualism; Buen Vivir; Theravāda-Buddhism

Abstract: Research on social-ecological transformations seldom respects the importance of cultural conditions for infinite growth. Thus, it is often ignored that relations with nature are of particular relevance for human behavior, since they provide basic coordinates for our lives. Against this background, the first part of this article identifies the modern nature-culture-dualism, which is a specific way of perceiving the world, as crucial for Western mental infrastructures (a persons unconsciously internalized psychological, social and cultural settings). It is found that the nature-culture-dualism hinders a transformation towards a degrowth-society, since it is conducive to the exploitation of nature, the development of ethnocentrism and the dominance of production as the preeminent form of relating to the world. In a second part, Buen Vivir and Theravāda-Buddhism are analyzed as two examples that are not characterized by the dualism. It is found that their non-dualistic relations with nature can shape mental infrastructures, which allow a less exploitative behavior towards (non-)humans. The article is understood as a contribution to attempts of stressing the neglected relevance of power relations within the degrowth debate.

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