Zen Buddhism and Environmental Ethics explores the implications of Zen Buddhist teachings and practices for our moral relations with the natural world. At once an accessible introduction to Zen and an important contribution to the debate concerning the environmental implications of the tradition, this book will appeal both to readers unfamiliar with East Asian thought and to those well versed in the field. In elucidating the philosophical implications of Zen, the author draws upon both Eastern and Western philosophy, situating the Zen understanding of nature within the Buddhist tradition, as well as relating it to the ideas of key Western philosophers such as Aristotle, Kant and Heidegger. These philosophical reflections on Zen are used to shed light on some prominent debates in contemporary environmental ethics concerning such issues as the intrinsic value of nature.
'It has long been rumoured that Zen Buddhism has something essential to teach about our relation to and treatment of the natural environment. Simon P. James’s book, however, is the first to go beyond vague gestures as to what those lessons might be. In lucid and engaging prose, and with considerable scholarship, he clarifies the elusive character of Zen thought and makes a compelling case for the truth of the old rumour. Zen’s perception of the world and of the place of human beings within it is indeed replete with moral implications for our treatment of the other living beings which also belong to that world.' David E Cooper, University of Durham, UK 'This is a very useful introduction to Zen Buddhist traditions and to environmental ethics, but it is more than that. Simon James manages to put these two themes into connection with each other and with general philosophy in a way that shows imagination and insight. An introduction to Zen requires a general background account of Buddhism, and this is supplied succinctly; an introduction to environmental ethics requires an account of the received approaches to moral thinking as they relate to the environment, and this is again done precisely. The success of this book must depend on showing a profound connection between the two, and James admirably meets this condition.' Michael McGhee, University of Liverpool, UK, and Editor of the journal Contemporary Buddhism 'This work helpfully dispels some persistent misunderstandings of Zen Buddhism and advances ideas concerning its relevance for environmental ethics that are sure to stimulate useful discussion.' Graham Parkes, Professor of Philosophy, University of Hawaii, USA 'This short, well-written, and highly intelligent book stands at the confluence of three important streams of contemporary intellectual and political life: the application of sophisticated analytical methods to the exposition of Buddhism, inquiries into the relationship between religion and nature,
Contents: Introduction; A short history of Zen; Zen ethics?; Environmental ethics; The intrinsic value of nature; The charge of quietism; Conclusion; Bibliography; Index.