Solar Ethics Paperback – 5 Sep 2000
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About the Author
Don Cupitt is Lecturer in the Philosophy of Religion in the University of Cambridge, and a Fellow of Emmanuel College, Cambridge.
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The sun is what it is, because of the light and heat it constantly gives. It gives until it is gone, and that is the meaning and purpose for its being. Since the sun does this, therefore, we should do the same, Since we are nothing but a flow of interactions, a flow of particles, none of which are ours, and we are nothing else, therefore we should be giving, like the sun. This is the logic behind his ethics.
As philosophy, it is not very convincing. As metaphysics, ontology, epistemology, it is very unconvincing. And as ethics, it is very unconvincing. The qualities of non-self-importance, compassion and nonattachment, are still possible if humans, suns and God have permanent essences. The two topics have little to do with each other. There is no need for Reverend Cupitt to claim to know how the universe is without permanent essences, for him to suggest the joy of how we could live our lives.
Still, the book is likable. Perhaps we could accept it as poetry? As an extended prose-poem.
We feel the bounty of the sun and want to do the same. Imagining ourselves like the sun, or a fountain, we may release some of our attachments, and this would do us good. The book is inspiring in its metaphors and symbols. We would be better people, with more fulfillment in our own lives, and be of more service to others, if we could be more like the sun, or a fountain--without attachments, without self-importance.
As a prose-poem, perhaps half of the words in the book could have been cut (the claims), leaving it far more potent to influence us poetically toward radiance.