Journal for the Study of Religion, Nature and Culture, Vol 14, No 4 (2020)

‘At Home on the Earth’: Toward a Theology of Human Non-Exceptionalism

Dorothy C. Dean
Issued Date: 5 Mar 2021


The climate crisis requires a revaluation of what it means to be human that radically rejects human exceptionalism. I argue that such an account of human being can be constructed from a combination of Sallie McFague’s theology and Maurice Merleau-Ponty’s phenomenology. While McFague’s theology established the parameters for an embodied, ecotheological concept of human being, I contend that Merleau-Ponty’s late work can push this vision of humanity from being anti-anthropocentric to being truly non-exceptionalistic, by making it possible to understand humans as part of the ‘mesh’ of the world. This allows for a human non-exceptionalism that still has room for the differentiation and relationality necessary to honor human diversity and to facilitate ameliorative action. The result is a foundation for a new ecotheological concept of human being that can speak to what it means to be human in the Anthropocene.

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DOI: 10.1558/jsrnc.40899


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