“Our ability to perceive quality in nature begins, as in art, with the pretty. It expands through successive stages of the beautiful to values as yet uncaptured by language.” This is the line that ultimately stuck with me after reading Aldo Leopold’s selections in American Earth and Land Ethic by Freyfogle. Leopold was was able to capture the pretty, with the language he knew would resonate with his audience. We might look back at him now and decide that he was into deep ecology, but he wasn’t afraid to appeal to others using somewhat anthropocentric undertones. It seems that philosophers and environmentalists alike enjoy picking apart his work, but in the end I believe that he wrote to show people the pretty. He wanted people to look a little closer. To see themselves as a part of nature, and urge them of its worthiness.
Freyfogle claims that Leopold’s land ethic “is the central pillar of contemporary environmental philosophy.” Although, he didn’t quite convince me of that. If conservationists are the ones it is so popular with, it would seem that the deep ecology is lost. His concept of land ethics would be grand and should be added to current “standards of interpersonal ethics” but it doesn’t seem like it has this many years later. And essentially he also believed that in order for it to work, people had to change.
That isn’t an easy thing to do.
How does one even go about changing what the general public wants, values, and (or) considers beautiful? It’s a large task, still a current problem, and I don’t know that anyone has actually figured out to do it.