Short Communication

Environmental education - an approach based on the concept of life

J. Fourie, S.C.J. Joubert, J.A. Loader
Koedoe | Vol 33, No 1 | a455 | DOI: | © 1990 J. Fourie, S.C.J. Joubert, J.A. Loader | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 20 October 1990 | Published: 20 October 1990

About the author(s)

J. Fourie, Kruger National Park, South Africa
S.C.J. Joubert, Kruger National Park, South Africa
J.A. Loader, University of South Africa, South Africa

Full Text:



Environmental education is described as an enterprise aiming at a philosophy of life and therefore as a matter of life. This suggests the concept of life as a natural foundation for an approach to environmental education. Therefore a reflection on the phenomenon of life is offered in which the 'philosophy of life' or vitalist philosophy is reviewed. It is argued that life is a multi-levelled phenomenon and that a monolithic view of life is inadequate. A functional definition of life is proposed in which the microbiological description of life, its link with the abiotic aspect of reality, its other relationships and its spiritual potential are respected. This is used as the ground for an exemplary discussion of life at the levels suggested by the philosophical reflection, viz. life and the individual (which concentrates mainly on the biological aspect), life and the community (concentrating on the social aspect), life and the ecosystem (concentrating primarily on the relationship between abiotic and biotic), and life and the cosmos (which reaches the limit of the authors' task). The need for an ethic is related to these levels and the idea of responsibility is developed with recourse to ancient texts in which comparable ethical implications for the environment are contained. Finally, some practical suggestions are made for implementing the results of the argument in environmental education.


environmental education, life, philosophy of life, levels of life, ethic.


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