Dwelling in Expanded Biotic Communities: The Philosophical Foundations of a Reconstructive Postmodern Version of Community

Dr. Geoffrey Frasz
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Many people today claim that they belong to some sort of community, whether it is an urban community, a suburban development or even some kind of lifestyle or retirement community. But when asked people are often at a loss to describe just what it is that makes their dwelling place a community and not just an collection of people with shared interests. That there is a hunger for this sense of community there is no doubt. Building developers will play on this hunger by advertising their buildings as "communities", as "neighborhoods". This strategy touches the deep longing for community on the part of home buyers, to dwell in a place as opposed to merely inhabit. The fragmentation, alienation, and unease that characterizes much of urban life today makes such ad campaigns all the more effective. But the upshot of all this is that developments themselves do not satisfy this hunger and, in some cases, only make things worse. What is sought is a sense of belong, of dwelling in a community. But what is delivered is more isolation and dislocation. Thus one important philosophical task is to reflect on what things are necessary for true, environmentally sound communities to emerge.

In this paper I present what I hold to be the essential general features of any reconstructive postmodern concept of community. I argue that such a concept of community must be one that expands the notion of community to include both human and nonhuman biotic components. I suggest that a process metaphysics and theory of human nature, when conjoined with the key environmental virtue of "openness" can provide the foundation for such a community. This concept of community can serve as foundation for people when thinking about how to establish true communities by showing that they dwell in a biotic community much more elaborate and interconnect that might be first imagined. This account of community can serve as a springboard for thinking about what kinds of communities we want to support and foster in their development.

Keywords: Community, Reconstructive postmodern, Whitehead, Philosophy of oganicism, Environmental virtues, Openness, Reconstructive, Biotic
Stream: Philosophy, Ethics, Consciousness
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: Dwelling in Expanded Biotic Communities

Dr. Geoffrey Frasz

Professor of Philosophy, Philosophical and Regional Studies Department, Community College of Southern Nevada

Dr Geoffrey B. Frasz is currently a Community College Professor of Philosophy at the Community College of Southern Nevada, Las Vegas, Nevada. Dr Frasz did his graduate studies in environmental philosophy at the University of Georgia. In 1986 Dr Frasz was the second person to receive a Graduate Certificate in Environmental Ethics from the UGA Environmental Ethics Graduate Certificate Program with a paper titled "Must Environmental Ethics Necessarily Be Nonanthropocentric?"; received a M. A. Degree in Philosophy from UGA with a Masters Thesis titled Intrinsic Value in Environmental Ethics; and a Ph. D. in Philosophy from UGA,1995 with a dissertation titled The Concept of Community. Since then he has continued to write and present papers and articles in environmental philosophy. In 2001 he received an award to attend an National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Institute, "Environmental Ethics: Alaska as a Case Study" at the University of Alaska, Anchorage. Dr Frasz's research area is in environmental ethics. He has been instrumental in the development and defense of Environmental Virtue Ethics (EVE), which involves combining the insights of contemporary virtue ethics theory with environmental philosophy. His published works include "Environmental Virtue Ethics: A New Direction for the Field", in Environmental Ethics, Vol. 15, #3, 1993; "What is Environmental Virtue Ethics that We Should Be Mindful Of It?" in Philosophy in the Contemporary World, Vol. 8, No. 2, 2001; and "Benevolence as an Environmental Virtue", published in the anthology Environmental Virtue Ethics,(2004). Dr Frasz has taught undergraduate and graduate courses at community colleges, small liberal arts colleges and universities. He has taught environmental ethics for many years along with biomedical ethics, as well as the traditional philosophy courses. He is also involved in teaching philosophy courses online.

Ref: H05P0176