The ‘personhood’ of non-human entities is a concept common to many traditions of animism. A common theme emerges when applied to the context of modernenvironmental earth care. This essay will put forward an approach that abandons thecommonplace anthropocentric worldview,
and re-engage with the Earth and its beings inthree different aspects of being:
. What is offered is not amere bastardization of animist values, which in itself offers nothing truly innovative or daring, but a re-imagining of the personhood of non-human subjects (I intentionally donot use the word ‘object’), which not only brings neglected animist ideas back to theforefront, but has the potential to even transcend cultural boundaries. The understandingof all beings on Earth as ‘persons’ is not limited to one people; it belongs to all. For lack of a better word, humans (people) and non-humans (animals and other non-humansubjects) are all ‘persons’ in the truest sense of the word: worthy of care and protection.Through a new understanding of this ‘personhood’
, the animism of the future becomesan ethical contribution that awakens us to our oneness with Earth and non-humansubjects. Human beings have potential to care for non-human subjects by generouslygiving to them, encompassing them within the moral sphere, and establishing relationswith them like the animist of old. This essay attempts to demonstrate the validity of ‘personhood-based’ animism as a modern environmental approach, and then build on the
The anthropocentric worldview is most dominant in Western consciousness. However, this is by and largea historical and cultural development, and hence can be modified or even abandoned to a certain extent.
‘Personalism’ is a near-synonym of animism. Theresa Smith notes that Hallowell described the Ojibweworldview as ‘personalistic’. Smith (1995) pg. 49