From the General Theory to Specific Ones
I stated at the beginning of this chapter that it seeks to accomplish two tasks: (a) to provide a detailed summary of my general conception of leading as articulated in Following Reason, with some additional remarks relating to the present study; and (b) to remind ourselves how specific forms of leadership may be derived/generated from the general model. In the preceding pages, I completed the first task; I now turn to the second. First of all, we recall that one requires the provision of two more-or-less antithetical categories whereby given situations may be classified according to either one of the categories, “X” and “anti-X.” This classification process is crucial, for it allows us to then determine whether leadership occurs: leading takes place if an X-type situation is transformed into an anti-X-type situation, or when an X-type situation is maintained in the face of situational contestation by anti-X-type leaders and followers. Now, in Following Reason, the two basic categories are “rational” and “anti-rational.” I very briefly describe these two categories in that work (2019: 3) in terms of two columns ofbinaries, with the anti-rational being listed in the first column and its rational opponent being listed in the second (mirroring, to some degree, the status quo and the progressive alternative). Some of the polarities include anthropocentrism vs. ecocentrism, sexism vs. gender equality, and classism vs. egalitarianism.
We straightaway register our recognition that given situations do not always follow such a neat schema - hence, my use of qualifying terms like “roughly,” “more,” and “more-or-less.” Nonetheless, the basic point seems reasonable: while situations may not always be classified as strictly one or the other, they can be broadly classified according to these categories, even though, as situational complexity increases, so does the ambiguity.
Now, the procedure deployed in this study differs somewhat from the approach in Following Reason. The 2019 book doesn’t undertake the daunting task of an exhaustive description and analysis of the two categories of “rational” and “anti-rational” (it confers that role to a kind of collective reasoning process, which is described in the book but doesn’t need to be recounted here), whereas this study does attempt to extensively describe and analyze the two categories of anthropocentrism and ecocentrism. Sufficiently accomplishing this task is crucial, for eco-leadership involves determining whether situations are more anthropocentric or more ecocentric, thereby allowing us to identify measures that might assist with transforming anthropocentric situations into more eco-centered ones, and maintaining ecocentric situations against anthropocentric opposition. Hence, the next two chapters are devoted to transmitting a thorough understanding of these two competing situational categories. We first turn to anthropocentrism: what is it, and how does it permeate situations?