Religions of the World and Ecology home

John Cort is Associate Professor of Religion at Denison University, where he teaches courses on religion in Asia and also on comparative themes (including a course entitled "Religion and Nature"). His research has focused primarily on the Jains. He is author of several dozen articles and of the forthcoming book Liberation and Wellbeing in Jainism: Ritual, Ideology, and Religious Values.


Abstract of paper given at Jainism and Ecology conference:
Toward a Possible Jain Environmental Ethic

This essay starts with the recognition that Jainism as an ideology focused upon the path to liberation (moksha-marg) is distinctly not ecological or even proto-ecological. At the heart of this ideology is the goal of permanent separation of the soul from all matter; in such a dualist ideology any positive environmental impact is largely incidental. But the moksha-marg ideology is not the whole of Jainism, for Jainism also is a religious culture that provides people with a definition of a good life in this lifetime, what I have elsewhere termed the value of well-being. The realm of well-being involves a much less negative (albeit still not unreservedly positive) attitude toward the non-human world, toward the physical world, and toward our own physical embodiedness. This essay will be a reading of key aspects of Jain practice from an environmental/well-being perspective, to try to provide some potential bases for a Jain environmental ethic.

Back to:

Jainism and Ecology conference participants