Jainism and Environmental Philosophy Karma and the Web of Life
Environmental policy agendas, activism and academic research into ecological questions are all predominantly derived from the philosophical perspectives of the West. At national and global levels, environmental policy-makers tend to work according to Western-based methodologies. At the same time, emergent or developing economies are profoundly affected by the issues they address, including air pollution, rapid urban expansion, habitat loss and climate change.
If environmental awareness, and the policies that stem from it, are to have a lasting global impact, it is important that non-Western voices are heard in their own right, and not merely as adjuncts of Western-led agendas. Jain thought is a useful case study of a system of values in which environmental protection and the idea of a ‘web of life’ are central, but which has evolved in India independently of Western environmentalism. This book describes and explains Jain environmental philosophy, placing it in its cultural and historical context while comparing and contrasting with more familiar or ‘mainstream’ forms of ecological thought. It will also show how this thought translates into practice, with an emphasis on the role of environmental concerns within the business and commercial practices of Jain communities. Finally, the book examines the extent to which Jain ideas about environmental protection and interconnectedness have universal relevance.
This book will be of great interest to students and scholars of environmental ethics, sustainable business and economics, environmental policy, and Jainism.
Chapter 1 Introduction
Chapter 2 The relevance of Jainism
Chapter 3 The ecology of karma
Chapter 4 Diversity and unity: The doctrine of multiple viewpoints
Chapter 5 Careful Action: Jain businesses and environmental ethics
Chapter 6 Concluding thoughts
"Anchored on the bedrock of Jain tradition, Aidan Rankin provides us with compelling ideas to address the environmental crisis of our time." Ian Mowll, Coordinator, GreenSpirit Network,UK
"Aidan Rankin offers an innovative and exciting perspective on ethical practices for daily life, business and our relationship with the environment through the ancient tradition of Jainism. He provides practical wisdom and guidance on how we can draw upon Jain ideas in rebalancing our economic and social priorities." Lynne Sedgmore CBE, PhD, Former CEO, Centre for Excellence in Leadership and 157 Group, UK
"Jainism's message, as this succinct book brings out so well, is that all forms of life are in some way connected. Dr Rankin tells the story of what Jainism is and what it means to be a Jain." Werner Menski, Emeritus Professor of South Asian Law, SOAS, University of London, UK
"This book is a significant contribution to the proper understanding of Jainism and its approach towards the environment. As the author convincingly argues, Jain philosophy should be considered as a precious contribution from the Global South to environmental philosophy, this all the more as the South is much affected by economical over-development." René Pahud de Mortanges, Professor of Legal and Canon Law, University of Fribourg, Switzerland
"Jainism is as ancient and profound a spiritual tradition as Hinduism or Buddhism, with a vast heritage of art, mathematics and philosophy. Most notable, it is based upon a profound environmental vision that is particularly relevant today. Aidan Rankin has provided the reader with an in-depth view of Jainism, bringing light to the Jain way of life." Dr. David Frawley, Director, American Institute of Vedic Studies, USA
"Aidan Rankin’s Jainism and Environmental Philosophy is the Indian equivalent of Albert Hofmann’s insight: "an unbroken material connection exists between every human being alive today and every one of our ancestors - and extends even to all living organisms, both animals and plants." Fons Elders, Emeritus Professor of the Theory of Ideology, University of Humanistic Studies; and Director of Elders Special Productions BV, Netherlands
"Jain ethics and values are hardly known in the west, let alone put into practice by those outside the Jain community. Dr Rankin’s comprehensive work provides a compelling case for seriously examining and drawing from ancient yet timeless Jain principles, to help change humanity’s behaviour for the sake of planet Earth." Mahersh & Nishma Shah, founders of Shambhu’s Catering Service, London, UK