By Lambert Schmithausen
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Additional info for Buddhism and Nature:The Lecture delivered on the Occasion of the EXPO 1990: An Enlarged Version with Notes
Of course, by including plants - and still more so if even the earth (cp. Plallts § 15. , the diversity or beauty of nature; it is solely animals as living and sentient individuals that count. Therefore, it would seem that, from the point of view of the above-mentioned attitudes, active measures for the conservation of species and for the protection or even restoration of eco-systems can only be argued for if they can be shown to be corollaries of the protection of individuals. 2 At first glance, this appears to be quite easy.
Ants (klll1lhakipillika) and animals visible in water or being caught in a strainer mark a kind of limit beyond which animals were either not expected to exist or disregarded because of impracticability (but cpo McDermott 1989, 271 + 278 n. 22). , far act i v e measures to. re-establish a species an the verge af extinctian wauld seem to. be quite prablematic. 3). For at least in traditional ("Hlnayana") Buddhism, the prohibition to kill or injure living beings is categorical (see § 50). 4 Similarly, destruction ar pollution af e c 0 - s y s tern s is, to be sure, clearly in contradiction with Buddhist ethics since it entails the killing or at least the displacing of many i n d i v i d u a I animals.
3 To be sure, such anthropocentric ways of arguing may be acceptable with regard to vegetation and the elements if the usual Buddhist view that these are insentient is followed. But they are problematic in the case of animals if the idea that their existence is excessively painful is retained. Does the alleged higher status of human existence justify the safeguarding of the existence of f u t u r e animals if their existence is useful only for men but painful for these future animals themselves?