On the Precipice of the Theory

Now that I’ve outlined my conceptions of leadership, anthropocentrism, and ecocentrism (Chapters 1 to 3, respectively), we’re on the verge of bringing leadership and ecocentrism together, a synthesis that discloses/conceptualizes a truly environmental mode of leading. The synthesis is guided by the general definition of leading I developed in Following Reason and rearticulated in this study’s Introduction and first chapter. I’ll very quickly rehearse it here, also introducing the specific tasks of the chapter as we proceed. First of all, we’re reminded that the general definition’s two basic conditions involve the transformation and preservation of situations (whether these “situations” are everyday scenarios or complex economic-political states of affairs); leaderly efforts are made to sufficiently transform a given situation into a sufficiently different one or to keep a given situation sufficiently unchanged in the face of competing leadership seeking to change it. In Following Reason, the aim was to outline a form of rational leading, which would involve transforming anti-rational situations into rational ones and maintaining rational situations from anti-rational alteration. The same methodological procedure is applied in the present study: Earth-centered or truly environmental leadership involves transforming predominantly homocentric situations into eco-centered ones, and maintaining ecocentric states of affairs from anthropocentric leadership seeking to change them into human-centered ones.

Hence, a first step for authentic eco-leading is the competent classification of given situations as being either basically homocentric or ecocentric, thus determining whether situational change or preservation is required for the given situations. The previous two chapters have considerably assisted us in terms of the task of classifying situations as being either homocentric or Earth-centered, but more detail or specificity relating to the nature of ecocentrism and ecocentered situations would prove useful - especially in terms of the ways Earth-centeredness expresses itself in concrete forms. We recall how the ways in which human supremacist!! manifests itself concretely was a major feature of the second chapter, whereby we explored five of its key expressions, i.e., hyperinstrumentalism, hyper-consumption, hyper-production, eco-colonization, and ecocide. Situations can be classified as being basically anthropocentric whenever these manifestations are prevalent, since they’re fundamental characteristics or constituents of given situations.

Now, just as there are homocentric expressions, there are also eco-centered ones. But how can they be identified and theorized? Given that Earth-centeredness is essentially antithetical to human-centeredness, then it follows that they would be the diametrical opposites of anthropocentric expressions. So the five human-centered expressions described in Chapter 2 have five “corresponding” - but in the sense of diametrically opposed - Earth-centered ones: eco-instrumentalism (vs. hyper-instrumentalism), eco-consumption (vs. hyper-consumption), eco-production (vs. hyper-production), eco-liberation (vs. eco-colonization), and eco-preservation (vs. ecocide). (We recall that the prefix “eco” can stand for both “ecological” and “ecocentric,” given that the two terms are treated synonymously by this treatise.) Much of the present chapter is devoted to extrapolating in some depth these five key ecocentric manifestations (comprehensive accounts would exceed the contours of the work). When exploring each manifestation, we shall briefly compare and contrast it with its anthropocentric counterpart, and then the most decisive work of this study may begin to be undertaken: identifying and discussing some key leaderly measures that would allow the five dominant homocentric expressions to be replaced by the eco-centered ones or would allow the ecocentric expressions to remain dominant. We quickly but emphatically note that the italicized qualifying terms given earlier (“some,” “briefly,” “begin”) signal the crucial point that the present chapter does not exhaustively delineate eco-centered expressions and leaderly measures, which are key constituents of the theory. This book outlines — rather than fully develops - a theory of environmental leadership.

Now, as you’ll note, the delineation of the leaderly measures does not include a discussion of how these policies might be implemented. Related to the question of the how is the massive subject of the kinds of political contexts that might be conducive for genuine environmental leadership, or even how this leadership mode might manifest itself politically. However, as I stated in the Introduction, the present book focuses on what environmental leadership does or might do; it suspends the question of what it is or might be. However, given its weight and relevance (McLaughlin 1993: 12), the political question is not totally suspended but rather briefly discussed after we examine the ecocentric expressions and some leaderly measures. We also briefly attend/return to the lingering question of the ethical preference of Earth-centered leading over anthropocentric (mis) leading. The final section acts as a bridge to the fifth chapter, which involves situating my proposed model within the burgeoning field of environmental leadership studies.

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