Global warming, air and water pollution, ozone-layer depletion, species extinction—these are all the results of what philosopher Frederic L. Bender calls our "culture of extinction." In this probing analysis of the basic cultural assumptions and historical factors that have led to the current dire ecological situation, Bender argues that our only chance of avoiding imminent disaster is to recognize and then change the destructive trends in contemporary culture that will surely be our undoing if left unchecked.
Bender criticizes many of industrial society's basic assumptions, for example, that we humans are superior to animals, that the Bible justifies our dominion over the Earth, or that we are evolution's highest products. He also reveals the underlying connections between mechanistic science and Earth's devastation under capitalism, and he points out that major modernist philosophies, from Bacon and Descartes to 20th-century empiricism, are in the service of the culture of extinction.
Assessing the major trends within contemporary environmentalism, he offers a critical, yet sympathetic, analysis of deep ecology and argues for its rigorous and more inclusive reformulation.
Finally, Bender explores deep ecology's affinities with the nondualist worldviews found, for example, in East Asian and Buddhist philosophy, in Native American spirituality, and in Spinoza's philosophy. In conclusion, he offers a way of integrating many insights of the different environmentalist movements and discusses practical steps to put the culture of extinction behind us.