To read this content please select one of the options below:

Authenticity and Sustainability: The Search for a Reliable Earth Spirituality

Integral Ecology and Sustainable Business

ISBN: 978-1-78714-464-4, eISBN: 978-1-78714-463-7

Publication date: 6 September 2017


Authenticity and sustainability seem to be unlinked concepts. While sustainability refers to the ability of ecosystems to endure and to flourish, authenticity refers to the ability of the human person to develop its “true” or real self. Some will say that nature as a complex, self-directed evolutionary bio-system remains indifferent to the subjectivity and self-interest of human beings. But the modern search for authenticity is one of the causes of the decreasing sustainability of our ecosystem.

The chapter first explores how the modern concepts of the self and the world have disconnected the human subject from nature. The Cartesian disconnection of human subject from nature made it possible not only to transform nature into a semi-mechanical system but also to consider the self as a rational and autonomous being. Hence, realizing the self and being authentic in the Cartesian context meant becoming independent from and master of nature.

The chapter presents the life and philosophy of Albert Schweitzer as a new experience-based foundation for ethics and found it in the principle of “Reverence for life” (Ehrfurcht vordem Leben) conceived as an unconditional and inclusive respect for life in all its manifestations. Schweitzer’s philosophy implies a new sense of authenticity no longer based on the modern ego-centric notion of autonomy but on the alter-centric notion of respect for life.




The author would like to thank Mr. Henri Ghesquiere for his critical and linguistic remarks and corrections.


Bouckaert, L. (2017), "Authenticity and Sustainability: The Search for a Reliable Earth Spirituality", Integral Ecology and Sustainable Business (Contributions to Conflict Management, Peace Economics and Development, Vol. 26), Emerald Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 15-29.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2017 Emerald Publishing Limited