Although “ethics” is commonly equated with a set of rules or principles for right conduct, the heart of ethics has more to do with a simple humility toward others—an attentive openness not just toward other persons but toward the inexhaustible otherness of the manifold beings that compose this earthly world.

When we consider the palpable earth around us as though it were an object—when we conceive of nature merely as an objective set of mechanical processes—we tacitly remove ourselves from the world we inhabit. We pretend that we are not corporeal creatures co- evolved with the rest of earthly life, but are rather disembodied minds pondering reality from a godlike position outside that reality. In this manner, we free ourselves from any responsibility to the rest of the biosphere. We give ourselves license to engage other animals, plants, and natural elements as a...

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