Epilogue ForestEthics - ForestEthics

ForestEthics
ForestEthics
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Ethics in Forestry
the standard work
DDr. Rudolf Weiler
Epilogue of Prälat em. O. Univ.-Prof. DDr. Rudolf Weiler

The author of "Forest Ethics", having with the author of this preface, University Prof. Prälat DDr. RUDOLF WEILER, Emeritus Professor of Ethics and Social Sciences Catholic Theology faculty at the University of Vienna, in addition to his years of research work attended a special seminar. Besides, during his study HANGARTNER paid due attention to the doctrine and the tradition of classical natural law and its dynamic development as laid down by the last Pope, especially now JOHANNES PAUL II in the spirit of the great work of my predecessor at the Vienna Institute, the holy priest and the scientist JOHANNES MESSNER. As a result, his work is to be valid on the spirit of a natural law and dynamic ecological socio-ethical study. The whole attention was centered on the traditional Christian Moral Law of Nature. At the same time, he counters the contemporary demands of the human being for complete independence in moral decisions, on purely utilitarian balancing of competent interests placing morality for the benefit of an individualistic subjective advantage rules of human beings in the context of modern world’s growing secularized, moral value of freedom emphasizing consumer society.

The author of "Forest Ethics", having with the author of this preface, University Prof. Prälat DDr. RUDOLF WEILER, Emeritus Professor of Ethics and Social Sciences Catholic Theology faculty at the University of Vienna, in addition to his years of research work attended a special seminar. Besides, during his study HANGARTNER paid due attention to the doctrine and the tradition of classical natural law and its dynamic development as laid down by the last Pope, especially now JOHANNES PAUL II in the spirit of the great work of my predecessor at the Vienna Institute, the holy priest and the scientist JOHANNES MESSNER. As a result, his work is to be valid on the spirit of a natural law and dynamic ecological socio-ethical study. The whole attention was centered on the traditional Christian Moral Law of Nature. At the same time, he counters the contemporary demands of the human being for complete independence in moral decisions, on purely utilitarian balancing of competent interests placing morality for the benefit of an individualistic subjective advantage rules of human beings in the context of modern world’s growing secularized, moral value of freedom emphasizing consumer society.

The study of HANGARTNER rightly establishes the claim that it is a socio-ethical work. This study simultaneously points to – understood ethically and theologically –the principle of to be on Secondment-being of humans with respect to the reality on earth. In this way, it propagates the perspective of the idea of Creation, thereby, the origin of being in a "natural metaphysics" of human mind (HENRI BERGSON), in that sense also the religious ideas in human life.

The forest on this earth is considered to be the Creation of God with an human eye and still even more in view of biblical divine revelation, witnessing the act of God in the world, from variety of species and the determination of Creation in human history. In the history of salvation and redemption, he stands in a special relationship with the fate of the individual and collective living of man and is thus, also the character and order of moral responsibility of every man and all men with respect to forest and trees as Creature and character of God in favour of time and eternity.

From his line of decent as of craftmen-,fruit- and silviculturists family, HANGARTNER has brought to the forest a special forester relationship. From his personal priestly mission as theologian, he understood in the preachings more as servant and guardian of the divine mysteries as visible here in the form of his literary word. Behind this study, the reader notices very clearly that ultimately he handles "Forestry Ethics" by proclaiming the nobility of the divine Creator and Saviour!

Forest and tree, symbol of the Creator and Saviour, are also the signs of successful human life in dealing with this earthly good in the productive functioning of men and humanity as a whole in accordance with the viewpoint of ecology. First of all, these are conform with ecological validy and similarly to the moral good in relation of men and to the ethical order. The orientiation of this order requires the personal question of conscience in accordance with an ultimately universally understood relevant standard as Conscious law. For this purpose, specifically science become as ethics and social ethics as the teachings of difference between good and evil in the individual and social life and its cultures.

"Forest ethics" is not as secondary science understood with the criterion of ecological validity with emphasis on the forest in its biological character. Indeed, it confronts man to that woods as also affected. It includes him in its environment! This means that he is as human being challenged to moral social interaction of the forest in the entire process of his historical reality, for personal and social interaction on behalf of whole mankind. In the recent history, the human being is emerged as confined, politically effective global actor in the international association, for example, the UN, with respect to forest. The human and social groups in the course of cultural history, all tribes, individual princes or also the entrepreneur at its head are in the past even over and over again emerged with good or bad influence to the forest.

Not the forest itself has proved that it has ethos. It showed Bios, generated its vtial energy, its biological nature and naturalness. However, ethics is the science of good in comparison with evil and relates this difference on human behavior to the forest and its nature. In that case the question of who is this man, how he behaves, whether good or bad for the forest and its objectivity? At first, he must seeks to recognize the objectivity of forest, in order to take moral responsibility concerning the consequences of his actions towards forest. But then, after the endeavour concerning the right knowledge, his actions are to be being tested in accordance with his appropriate responsibility of his conscience. The conviction of his conscience confronts the crucial ethical or moral issues of permissiveness of his ecologically right behavior based on good and evil.

The human oral behviour, which is "subjected to forest", first of all, correlates his assessment from foresty knowledge. The knowledge about the nature of forest is a prerequirement and obligation than legality for ethically good behavior, from which conscience is subsequently applied according to the moral criteria, that is originated from the nature of man. In so far is every man and similarly every collective humane not only as to be on Secondment of his own self-interest and his utilitarian consideration in and with his active environment.

Currently, there are many ethical approaches and theories to examine and authorise human behavior, which is equally collectively objectified as can be justified individually subjective. In actual fact, this lacks the idea of objectivity and at same time, the universal validity of the standard for humans. The main reason is the absence of internal insight in the power of human logic and moral reasoning and thus on reality. Bear in mind the Papal encyclicals of recent years: Veritatis splendor und Fides et ratio. Many ethical schools of thought and streams of the present day searches only preliminary information under exemption with definite moral search for truth or lookout only for useful hypotheses, limited purely on empirical, open to trial and error. Thereby they are regularly restricted to ethical skepticism, which is connected with anthropological disbeliefs about the reality of life of man than cultural being with spirit, soul and body.

How one can succeed in such historic-cultural far-reaching crisis situation or humanity’s mere scientific discourse about the factual issues without search for truth, even to the exclusion of humanistic ethical foundation, in the anthropology beyond ecological and other factual issues in the matter of survival and the decisions pertaining to human existence, is the problem!

The writer of this preface is adhere to a natural law basis to and around the preparation of a moral law from human rationality in the view of classical and Christian natural law theory contrary to the errors of the time beyond man and the Creation. Here he emphasized it with pleasure, in the terms of "Forestry ethics" also with HANGARTNER. In particular he referred to the experience of man and the society in dealing with the natural and cultural environment in its reality. Does exists no experience of the present in the minds of man at the moment always anew owing to knowledge and conscience and legality of his true and moral association with the natural good of the forest?

Here the point is to recognize in particular why the principle of "to be on Secondment-being" of the people is so clearly emphasized. The "Forestry ethics" is first of all ethics and then the natural science of forestry. The rational principle (Logos) of integrity in human life conforms in the reality of this life’s ethics and custom (Ethos und Nomos) of morality. This is originated from the human existence and requires answer to the questions of who I am, where I go, ultimately on the essential question of human life! The answer is not the forest, it finds itself in the human being, in his lfie according to being and consciousness. Consequently, ethics and socil ethics answer, which as a science of reason of being, come from the reality and not only from empirical phenomena and rather take as a basis assumption.

The Forestry ethics should not – nowadays moreoften in comparison consider the Bio-ethics for instance – be originated from the Bios of the "trees", but inferred in the moral judgment, that are derived from the rationality of man acquired criteria of morality for good and evil. (See. RUDOLF WEILER, Prinzipienethik und Bindestrichethiken, in: Egon Kapellari, Herbert Schambeck (Hg.), Diplomatie im Dienste der Seelsorge. Graz 2002, 400-408). The forestry and the scientific insights on forest are, on the other hand, how they in the reality of human culture acquired knowledge base for the ever increasing knowledge of man in relation to the nature of the forest, which in pursuant to the "nature of things" in rightfully assigned and humane and therefore, must undergo sustainable utilisation of the forests by man.

This shows more specifically the essentaial feature of ecologically longstanding social ethics, with the concept of ecology, which comes from man’s family entity on this earth. This raises the demand for proper measures and the resultant virtues, therefore to view about the virtues in favor of and for the human beings in his being. As a result, the general criterion of morality in the tradition of classical ethics answers, for which the reformer of natural law ethics in the 20th century, that at the beginning, the Viennese Catholic Ethicists and social scientist JOHANNES MESSNER coined the term on the "existential purpose" of man as the ethical life criterion. On it, justifiably the author of the "Forest Ethics" may also be competent in view of the ecological validity. In his work, this view of HANGARTNER emblematically referred as an example from the so-called "independent" moral theologians and ethicists, which he consider very clearly contrary to the fact that with ecological preferential regulations alone cannot be found enough with ethical environmental decisions.

The retraction of theological argumentation without ethics, in retun, in the secularized societies is no substitute for the genuine Dialogue of the Sciences. In this dialogue, indeed the theology is included like the ethics and philosophy, otherwise as in the narrow understanding an scientific discourse among the claim of renunciation of truth in the wake of an empiricist scientism.

Nothing but from the nature of man is to find out the pursuit of truth– therefore, also from the Natural law, viewed from man, ultimately by the Creator – seeing as God, the orientation of human culture – at this point in dealing with the forest as environment. This is valid particularly for the expansion of ethics in social ethics and its principles in the outcome of the principle of common good. Because the utilitarian balancing of competing interests and biocentrism alone obstruct the view of human conscience for the search in accordance with an ultimate criterion for the environment. The solution based on natural law with reference to moral reason and universal conscience norms constitute the demarcation for the responsible ecological research and technology, with respect to the evaluation, ultimately the risks and dangers in handling the environment, to a certain extent, are universal. Especially when dealing with the forest policy, the politics require its objective of common good, the habitat of forests for human civilization like the ethical utilitarian impulses as well as with technological insouciance.

Therefore, the "Forestry Ethics" of HANGARTNER offers the basic principle and more specifically valuable help for the political implementation of the submitted principles. Thus, in addition to introduction, based on this recommendation a short overview of the lay out and course of this work should be provided to the reader.

At the beginning, HANGARTNER deals with the theme "Mand and his Creation Forest". It specifically focuses on the biological history of the forest. Thereupon, the forest is placed into the history of man. Thus, the evolution of the forest and with the development of the human habitat are very closely correlated. It is followed by the representation of the forest as cultural space in union with history of the forest from the early Middle Ages to the industrialized society. In its biodiversity, the forest is already subjected to human intervention, particularly by the economic utilization of the forest, more importantly its negative impact on the environment. This is followed by the topic of forestry in terms of its social aspect. Here the issue of socially beneficial ownership problem is dealt with the point of view of "Forest as an asset".

The second Chapter discusses the fundamental theme "The Creator and the Creation Forest". Under the title "Culture" the main focuss is on man’ responsibility towards forest. Thereby, the matters comes up for discussion, which go beyond human expertise on forestry, but yet to place forest in relation to the way of life of man in the course of development of forest. In so far, the subtitle meets the "historic-cultural aspects about forest".

However, man not only recognizes the value of the forest economically, but also includes religiously based cultural perspective. Thus, the author continues the Chapter justifiably with the subtopic "God and his Creation" and "Man and his Creation". This gives him an opportunity to pursue his religious perspective of forest from the special position of man and his responsibility for good also from the view of other religions of the humanity. The section "The forest in Christianity and in the Church" offer the author an opportunity to have a special compilation of passages in the Old and New Testment about the forest, which might have seemed in this form and density so far not yet in the literature. The appended ecclesiastical statements and documents regarding forest and environment represent on the other hand a valuable collection of relevant texts.

The following observations for conscience as joint knowledge with the Creation show aptly the importance of conscience formation and continuing education of the same in the humanity by reference of man to God, the Creator and the forest. Specific action maxims for an eco-social market economy summarises the author subsequently on the pages from 322-329.

The observations of HANGARTNER towards human ecology are principally viewed in contrast even today in the theological circles employed sociological observations. They refer a quote of these words from the Encyclical Centesimus annus (see page no. 307) and leads in line with HANGARTNER towards a proper understanding of the language of Pope JOHANNES PAULS II. inthis encyclical, also with reference to other quotations of the Pope. Thus, it is to be perceived, how this in the first place the sociological way of speaking underlies the natural human environment according to the notion of Creation. The factual correctness and trueness are get in contact with the matter of faith of the Pope. In such a mmaner, the Pope with the technical terminology of ecosociology "so to speak a bridge between both the ‘environments’, both of which are bestowed to man by God" (Page no. 287). This means that the economic utilization of the forest cannot be separated from man’s responsibility towards Creation. Human ecology is valid not to an environmental ethic without taking into consideration of the fundamental law of utilization of the forest according to social ethics, thus something in relation to the nature of the thing with reference to man and the morality provided to him.

Finally, an attempt is made to draw an ethical conclusion from the "to be on Secondment-being "of man, provided that the "to be on Secondment-being" for forestry will be ascertained now for the ethical principle. Man is the to be on Secondment of nature and thus, guardians of the world and specifically includes the forest. HANGARTNER pursues in-detail the term "mandate" within the story of Creation and theology mission texts. His sense is valid for the authority or the order of administration. In doing so HANGARTNER outlines the principles of the social doctrine of the Church in the traditional social ethical formulation of the catholic social doctrine, in doing so includes specifically the principle of common good and the principle of subsidiarity.

On the subject of environmental ethics, he highlights the observation of "to be on Secondment-Being" principle, the fact that, explicitly man has "not only a right on the basic necessities, but also the obligation to ensure that together with his fellow beings, he should not be marginalize the basic requirements of the non-human nature, because this would in the long run, as a consequence, adversely affect man" (Page 365. This provides him an opportunity, the classical objectives of the Catholic social doctrine in line with justice and ultimately the social love in relationship with preservation and protection of forest to be placed in the context of environmental ethics.

The objectively very well readable work is strengthened with tables, sketches and pictures. A detailed catalog of journals and articles about primary and secondary literaur is given. Finally, there is an overview of "Forest related passages" in the Bible with their respective section in verbatim. With special reference to the successful clarification of the meaning of the term "social ecology" by Pope John Paul II and the elaboration of the concept of environmental ethics meant for forestry on the eco-social principle as the mandate of the people for the environment in terms of traditional Christian social ethics and the Catholic social doctrine is at this point emerged as a fundamental work for the comprehensive ecological knowledge, which is recommended on every respect and especially also from the pastoral point of view for consideration.

Vienna, 2016 em. o. Univ.-Prof. Prälat DDr. Rudolf Weiler.

© by Author of the work: Guido H. Hangartner.


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