Eco-Republic : Ancient Thinking for a Green Age

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The transition to a sustainable society is a profound challenge to ethics and political thought, as well as to humankind. It is comparable to the great transitions of the past, such as the Enlightenment. Yet the distinguished tradition of groundbreaking ideas has not so far been widely invoked in public debates in this area. What can we learn from the history of ethics and political thought to enable us to cope with climate change?
Climate change and sustainability are not just technical problems or problems in applied ethics: they require a new political imagination. Melissa Lane identifies Key messages - on the role of the individual, the household, the nature of citizenship, and the significance of the imagination - which bring the wisdom of the past to bear on the challenges of the present. Using these resources, and building on these insights, she calls for the construction of a 'new normal', remaking our imagination of our society and our selves. Drawing on Plato's Republic as a model while also challenging aspects of Platonic politics, the book sets out the political and psychological challenges that we face in moving beyond the psycho-political settlement of modern commercial society.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 245 pages
  • 158 x 234 x 20mm | 621.42g
  • Peter Lang Ltd
  • Witney, United Kingdom
  • English
  • New edition
  • New edition
  • 1906165173
  • 9781906165178
  • 1,489,136

About Melissa Lane

Melissa Lane is Professor of Politics at Princeton University. She taught for many years at the University of Cambridge. Her research and publications in political philosophy on the work of Plato and its modern reception are internationally recognized.
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Review quote

To deploy Plato may seem one of the more desperate strategies for saving the planet. Classical Athens had no inkling of environmental catastrophe, and Plato hated democracy. But Melissa Lane succeeds wonderfully not only in separating the useful in Plato from the useless, but also in demonstrating that the useful contains a surprising amount of what we need if we are to survive. [She] emphasises the importance to us all of 'legacy'. Do we want our epitaph to be that we did nothing? The point applies with particular force, I suggest, to those engaged in what some regard as ingenious irrelevance, the humanities. Lane demonstrates that the humanities, so far from being negligible, can play a vital role in averting environmental catastrophe. (Richard Seaford, Times Literary Supplement 05/2012)
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Flap copy

"Climate change is a modern problem caused by technology that the ancients could not have fathomed. But can classical Greek ideas teach us anything about how to fix our flawed approach to the environment? Lane masterfully draws on Plato's dialogues to help us rethink the politics and social ethos that have endangered our natural world. The result is a major accomplishment that is at once rigorous, engaging, and relevant."--Corey Brettschneider, author of "Democratic Rights: The Substance of Self-Government""Melissa Lane has produced a fascinating and mind-stretching argument for change. Become more sustainable, she argues, not because you ought to, but because it makes you glorious. Eco-Republic is refreshing and exciting"--Matt Arnold, leader of Sustainable Business Solutions, PricewaterhouseCoopers""Eco-Republic" seeks to refashion the political imagination toward a more environmentally sustainable way of life. Lane draws on ancient thought, and on Plato in particular, to make imaginable the sort of political subjectivity that she sees as necessary to developing sustainable lifestyles and a concomitant politics. This focus on our collective imagination is a significant reorientation of political theory itself."--Danielle S. Allen, Institute for Advanced Study"This is a timely book that I am sure will make an impact in both scholarly and popular circles. It argues that ethics and virtue are increasingly important reference points in the battle for sustainability. The author is commendably optimistic about the potential for an 'eco-republic.'"--Andrew Dobson, author of "Green Political Thought""This is a provocative and powerful book. Lane recommends the ethical vision of Greek antiquity rather than a society of individuals following legal rules. Such a vision is, Lane argues, a sustainable one--bringing ethics, ecology, and politics together."--Justin Champion, Royal Holloway, University of London
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