Ecofeminism: Women, Nature, Dualism and Process-Relational Philosophy

First published 2008

Rachel Carson whose book The Silent Spring (1962),[1] inspired the environmental movement, has been embraced by ecofeminists for her conviction that it is necessary to love the natural world as well as to understand it. According to Carolyn Merchant, author of The Death of Nature, the “term ecofeminisme was coined by the French writer Francoise d’Eaubonne in 1974 to represent women’s potential for bringing about an ecological revolution to ensure human survival on the planet.”[2] In her dedication to the ecofeminist anthology Reweaving the World, Grace Paley spoke of a “revolutionary understanding we call feminist and ecological, in which we share the world with all creatures and all living things and know their stories as our own.”[3] Irene Diamond and Gloria Feman Orenstein define ecofeminism as encompassing “both the diverse range of women’s efforts to save the Earth and the transformations of feminism in the West that have resulted from the new view of women and nature.”[4] I define ecofeminism as desire and activism based on an alternative worldview in which women and nature are re-valued in a renewed vision of humanity embodied and embedded in the web of life.

Ecofeminism overlaps to a great degree with the spiritual movement known as Goddess feminism, a widespread grassroots movement that re-values women and nature using symbols of Goddesses. Most Goddess feminists are ecofeminists, but not all ecofeminists are Goddess feminists. Starhawk, Charlene Spretnak, Carol P. Christ, Mary Daly, and Alice Walker are Goddess ecofeminists.[5] Carol Adams, Sallie Mcfague, and Rosemary Radford Ruether have articulated a Christian ecofeminism, while Lynn Gottlieb has explored Jewish ecofeminism.[6] Secular ecofeminists include Carolyn Merchant, Ynestra King, Petra Kelly, and Grace Paley.[7] Vandana Shiva speaks for growing numbers of women in Africa and Asia whose lives have been negatively affected by Western “maldevelopment” projects.[8]

In the introduction to Reweaving the World, Diamond and Orenstein identify two philosophical insights that have inspired ecofeminists. The first is that “the Earth is sacred unto itself, that her forests, rivers, and different creatures have intrinsic value.” The second is that “because human life is dependent on the Earth, our fates are intertwined.” They suggest that these insights come together in “the perspective of indigenous peoples, whose connection to native lands is essential to their being and identity” leading to the conclusion that “it is both true that the Earth has intrinsic value and that we are also dependent on her.”[9]

Ecofeminists arrived independently at many elements of the worldview developed by process-relational[10] philosophers Alfred North Whitehead and Charles Hartshorne. From the standpoint of ecology, the most important of these is the insight that all individuals including human beings are interdependent in the web of life.

1. Ecofeminism: Roots and Stakes

Many ecofeminists trace the roots of the ecological crisis to habits of dualistic thinking that arose in classical Greece.[11] Platonic dualism separated mind and matter, spirit and nature, soul and body, reason and emotion, changelessness and change. It asserted that mind, spirit, soul, and reason were transcendent and unchanging, while matter, nature, body, and emotion were immanent and changing. It was stated that the rational soul of “man” could rise above the changing world of body and nature in order to commune with timeless and unchanging truth. As feminists noticed, Platonic dualism identified “man” with mind, spirit, soul, reason, and transcendence, while “woman” was identified with matter, nature, body, emotion, and change. Thus it seemed logical that “man” should rule over “woman” and “nature.” This view was expressed in Christian and Jewish theologies that proposed that man’s true home was not the changing world of body and nature but a transcendent realm called heaven. It was articulated in a different way in the so-called modern scientific worldview which stated that nature was “mere matter” to be shaped by the rational will of technological man. The view that nature was mere matter to be controlled by man was fundamental in the development of both capitalism and socialism.

Modern feminism began with the radical assertion that the “rights of man” should be extended to women.[12] Since the “rights of man” were said to include right to control nature, this “right” could logically be claimed to be woman’s as well. Asserting that female intelligence was fully equal to male intelligence, some liberal and socialist feminists argued or assumed that women are just as capable as men of “rising above” the “limitations” of the body and nature and looked to science and technology to “free” women from the “bonds” of motherhood. Others—ecofeminists and Goddess feminists among them—questioned the terms in which the debate had been framed. They asked whether the goal of human life—male or female—should be to rise above the body or to separate from and control nature. In questioning entrenched dualisms, ecofeminists were challenging the foundations of Western thought.

In her ground-breaking visionary ecofeminist prose poem and philosophical treatise Woman and Nature,[13] Susan Griffin documents the ways in which woman and nature have been viewed together as “other” to the rational male ego. Arguments for the subordination and control of women and nature by theologians, philosophers, witch-hunters, scientists, and technocrats are couched in chillingly similar language. While agreeing with other feminists that women are as intelligent as men, Griffin asks us to consider what both women and men have lost in denying the human connection to the natural world. She suggests that the notion that man can rise above the body and the natural world is a fiction that can only be maintained by denying his own body and mortality. In the context of denial, man’s attitudes toward woman and nature become tinged with fear and anger, producing violence. As Griffin shows, women, defined as closer to nature, retain a greater sense of their connection to it than men, but at the same time are taught to view their connection to nature as a sign of their inferiority.

In an astonishing reversal, Griffin suggests that women can turn dualistic traditions against themselves, by re-imagining “this earth” as “my sister” in suffering, survival, and resistance.

This earth is my sister; I love her daily grace, her silent daring, and how loved I am how we admire this strength in each other, all that we have lost, all that we have suffered, all that we know: we are stunned by this beauty, and I do not forget: what she is to me, what I am to her (Griffin 1978, 219).

Griffin’s prose becomes a love poem between woman and earth, articulating deep feelings for the earth that women have been taught to suppress because all adults know that the earth is dead matter. Rejecting this, Griffin proposes that women can gain strength by affirming their deep feelings of connection to nature, because nature, like women, is not only victim, but also survivor. Griffin is drawn to images of long-suppressed Goddesses as she searches for words to express her sense of the sacredness of the female body and the earth body, but for the most part hers is a mysticism celebrating the connection of body and earth.

In her words written in prose poetry that evokes experience, Griffin re-embodies and re-configures Western philosophy.

We know ourselves to be made from this earth. We know this earth is made from our bodies. For we see ourselves. And we are nature. We are nature seeing nature. We are nature with a concept of nature. Nature weeping. Nature speaking of nature to nature (Griffin 1978, 226).

She challenges the clear separation between humanity and nature that has been fundamental in Western thought, writing instead: “we are nature.” We might think that these words make no sense, because nature and humans are different things. Or on the other hand, we might think that Griffin is simply repeating the widely held belief that women are less rational and therefore closer to nature than men. But this would be to misread, for she continues, “We are nature seeing nature. We are nature with a concept of nature.” Here she is saying that the capacities for scientific (and other forms of) observation and philosophical thinking (and its categories) arise within nature. Yet, she suggests, scientific and philosophical thinking without emotion or feeling are partial, for we are also “Nature weeping.” Should we dismiss her words as poetic excess, or should we read them as they are intended: as a serious and embodied philosophical statement?

Griffin and other ecofeminists are sometimes accused of inscribing a “new essentialism” in which women and nature are valued, while men are not. But this is to misread, for ecofeminism understands that men too are part of nature. If nature is made unfit for human life, no man will survive. Thus it is incumbent on men to criticize dualistic traditions from which they have benefited at the cost of denying their emotions, their bodies, and their own connections to nature. Yet even if it is made clear that the ecofeminist view includes men, some would object that ecofeminism presents a “totalizing” (universal or ontological) view that is unwarranted; they might argue that women and men should be free to deny the body if they wish or to choose culture over nature. Ultimately these differences are differences in worldviews, though this is not always recognized. If we really are embodied and interdependent in the web of life, then to “choose” to ignore our bodies and our connection to nature is to choose alienation and self-destruction.

2. Ecofeminism and Process-Relational Philosophy

I have found process-relational philosophy extremely helpful in the articulation, clarification, and extension of the ecofeminist worldview.[14] All too often ecofeminist ideas are dismissed as misguided, confused, or overly emotional without being fully understood. Process-relational philosophy can help to show that ecofeminist insights cohere in worldview that provides a compelling alternative to traditional and modern Western worldviews. Greater familiarity with ecofeminist work could help process-relational philosophers to recognize the roles played by androcentrism and misogyny in the development of the dualisms at the root of Western philosophies. Understanding this could provide impetus for process-relational philosophers to articulate the feminist implications of their own efforts to transform dualistic thinking. However, for this change to occur, traditional process-relational thinkers also must reflect upon the ways in which the dualism of mind and body, reason and emotion, have affected the (sometimes disembodied, emotionless) form in which process-relational philosophy is written.

From the standpoint of ecology, the most important insights shared by ecofeminists and process-relational philosophers are the following: (1) all individuals are both intelligent and embodied; (2) all individuals are internally related to other individuals; (3) all individuals are interdependent in the web of life; (4) life in a finite and interdependent world is inherently ambiguous and thus there is no guarantee that everything will work out for the best; (5) ethics arise out of the web of life, out of deep feelings of connection to other individuals. Each of these ideas can be found in both ecofeminism and process-relational philosophy. Rather than comparing and contrasting them, I will instead address their shared concerns from the perspective of a synthesis of the two that I call a feminist process-relational paradigm.

All individuals are intelligent and embodied. From a feminist process-relational point of view all individuals in the universe from the smallest particle of an atom to Goddess/God[15] are both intelligent and embodied.[16] This is not to say that the particles of an atom have the same degree of consciousness or awareness as dogs, human beings, or Goddess/God. All individuals are intelligent in the more limited sense of having (in vastly different degrees) the ability to respond to and thus to change their environment. From a feminist process-relational point of view, the world is filled with intelligence, and the evolutionary process is testimony to the intelligence of all the individuals that have co-created the universe as we know it. Consider the ants and anthills. While creationism attributes the creation of anthills to divine plan and modern science attributes it to blind “instinct,” a feminist process-relational perspective insists that at some point in time the ancestors of contemporary ants exercised their intelligence and learned to work together to create anthills. Today this ability may be partly or completely encoded in their genes, but at some point, it was not. When we think of all living beings as in some sense intelligent, it is no longer possible to think of intelligence and embodiment or intellect and nature as polar opposites as we have been taught to do since the time of Plato. Intelligence is found throughout all of nature and in every body. Intelligence is the way bodies relate to each other and co-create the world. If all individuals in the world are intelligent and embodied, then when we must recognize that when we spray a pesticide on an ant colony, we are taking the lives of intelligent beings. As we develop greater respect for other-than-human forms of life, it becomes more and more difficult to treat them as mere means to our ends.

While Whitehead did not speak of the divinity as having a body, Hartshorne (following Plato in the Timaeus) boldly insisted that the world is the body of God. This insight is shared by many Goddess ecofeminists who experience the presence of the divine in human and other-than-human bodies and in the earth or cosmos as a whole. The notion that the world is the divine body is often understood in terms of monism. Monism asserts that there is only one real individual in the world—the divinity. All other individuals are simply enactments of a divine drama or dance. Process-relational philosophy rejects this understanding, insisting that the individuals that make up the divine body have real existence. That is to say, human beings, ants, cells, and particles of atoms are real individuals with real choices to make; they are not simply the manifestation of the divine will. How can we be real individuals and part of the divine body? Hartshorne uses the analogy of the human body. Although the human body functions as a unit, it is also made up of discrete individuals. We do not tell the cells in our stomachs how to digest our food, nor do we tell the cells of our blood how to fight infection. The cells of our body exist both as individuals and as parts of a larger whole. It must be something like this with the individuals in the world that make up the body of Goddess/God. Though Hartshorne does not use the metaphor of birth to explicate his understanding of the world as the body of God, I find it appropriate. A child carries aspects of its parents’ and other ancestors’ genetic code in its DNA and cells from its mother’s body in its blood. It is nurtured in its mother’s body and is born through it, yet it becomes an individual. Neither is exact but together the analogies of cell to body and child to mother are suggestive of the relation of the world to Goddess/God.

The philosophical concept used to explain the relation of the divinity to the world in process-relational philosophy is panentheism. From pan, meaning all, en, meaning in, and theos, referring to divinity, panentheism means that “all” is “in” “Goddess/God.” For Whitehead this meant that the divinity relates internally (i.e. in a way that adds to and changes divinity) to the world and every individual in it with perfect understanding, remembering it for ever. Everything in the world enters into the eternal memory of divinity. But if the world is the body of Goddess/God, then panentheism can also be understood to mean that Goddess/God is in the world, for all bodies are part of the divine body. As we begin to see the world as the body of Goddess/God, teeming with intelligent life, then we must question western culture’s dominant view that nature is mere matter to be manipulated to human ends.

All individuals are internally related to other individuals. We are constituted by our relationships. We are not billiard balls bumping into each other without really affecting each other. Nor are we separate individuals who are best off contemplating God or eternal truths in splendid isolation. We take the other into ourselves and we are changed. This is not to say that we are nothing but the sum of our relationships. We are shaped and changed by every individual with whom we enter into relationship, consciously or unconsciously. Yet we also change every individual who enters into relationship with us consciously or unconsciously. We know that children’s lives are shaped by the love they are given and the cruelty that is visited upon them. But parents too are changed by their children, as every parent knows. Internal relationships are shaped by the dance of give and take and give again. It is sometimes feared that a philosophy that focuses on relationship makes us all into nurturers and thus dependent upon others to give meaning to our lives. But this is to distort the meaning of relationship. If relationship is fundamental, then nurturing is of course fundamental to life, for we all need help to grow and thrive. But to be in relationship is not to be merely passive. Relationship involves both activity and passivity. Not to be active or assertive as well as passive and accepting is not to be fully in relationship.

One of the ways process-relational philosophers explain the internality of relationship is through the notion of sympathy. From syn (“with”) and pathos (“passion”), sympathy is feeling with, or feeling the feelings of others—both joy and sorrow. Because process-relational philosophy understands that we are constituted by internal relationships, it also asserts that we can feel the feelings of others, not exactly as the other person feels their own feelings, but closely enough that it makes sense to say we feel their feelings. Of course there are degrees. But if we recognize all individuals in the world as relational beings, then we must also recognize that we can enter into relationships with them—on different levels, of course. And if we begin to feel the feelings of animals and plants and even minerals,[17] then we will take a very different view when contemplating their destruction.

In a feminist process-relational paradigm, Goddess/God is understood to be the most relational of all relational beings. Whereas our ability to enter into the feelings of others is never complete, Goddess/God feels the feelings of every individual in the universe accurately. Goddess/God is not (only) a passive listener; Goddess/God enters deeply into our lives and by feeling our feelings and thus transforms them. Goddess/God inspires[18] us to enter more deeply into life and relationship, to feel the feelings of as many others as possible, and to live in as much harmony as is possible with all beings in the web of life. Recognizing that the world is co-created in relationship can help us to see how critical the human effort to reverse the humanly-created ecological crisis is.

All individuals are interdependent in the web of life. This follows from the notion that relationships are internal. We really are constituted by our relationships. This is true in a physical sense. We are also constituted by the food we eat. It is not only that we need to eat to live. Though we do not generally think about it, when we eat a vegetable, we not only consume the vegetable itself, but we take in the minerals of the soil and water the vegetable was grown in. If the vegetable was grown near a mountainside, then when I eat it, I am literally eating part of the mountain. If poisonous rain from the nuclear catastrophe at Chernobyl fell on the mountain, I (along with birds and tortoises) may also be eating radioactive particles from Chernobyl.

When we live fully in our bodies and stay in one location long enough to get to know it, we can become connected to place in profound ways. For the Aboriginal Australian people, specific places in the landscape evoke specific songs that tell stories of things that happened in that place. At a particular place an Aboriginal person will sing a special song, but will not necessarily sing it in any other place because the song belongs in the landscape.[19] This suggests that our bodies do not need to end at the edges of our flesh. When we are connected to place, our bodies expand to include the landscape. And when this is so, there is also a sense in which destruction of a familiar landscape is like cutting off an arm or a leg. If we all allowed the boundaries of our bodies to be extended into the places where we live and the places we love, we would be forced to protest their destruction.

Life is inherently ambiguous and there is no guarantee that everything will turn out for the best. In an interdependent world, life is inherently ambiguous because the world is co-created by all of the individuals in it. There are many different individuals in the world and each is affected by the actions of others. While we sometimes consciously choose the effects we hope to have on our world, most of our actions are unconscious and habitual. Thus we usually do not think about all of the consequences of our actions. Even when our choices are conscious, it is impossible to know their effects on every other individual in our world. When something out of the ordinary happens in our lives, especially unexpected suffering, we are often told by well-meaning friends that “it was meant to be” or that “everything happens for the best.” But in fact this could only be true if a single intelligent, good, and omnipotent Creator is responsible for everything that happens in the world. If the world is genuinely co-created by all of the individuals in it and if those individuals act with less than full knowledge of the consequences of their actions, then it is impossible that everything in the world is meant to be or happens for the best. Sometimes we do something knowing that it will harm others. Much of the time we don’t think but simply act in habitual ways. Yet even when we do think before we act, it is not possible to know all the consequences of the choices we make. In an interdependent world, harm is done, knowingly and unknowingly. To imagine that all that happens is somehow the will of Goddess/God is to deny that individuals actually do have the capacity to affect, to co-create, the world.

Yet there is great resistance to accepting responsibility for our own power as co-creators of the world. The great appeal of religious fundamentalisms is that they allow us to maintain the belief that someone else is in control. If a good God really is in control of everything that happens and if everything really does happen according to his plan, then we don’t have to worry too much about what we are doing. If we go to war, then war must be part of God’s plan. If we kill people in war, that too must have been part of divine plan. If we destroy the environment with bombs, that too must have happened for the best. Perhaps all this destruction is leading up to a great conflagration in which the wheat will be separated from the chaff, as Scripture tells us. Yet if we accept our power to co-create and shape the world, then we must also acknowledge our power to destroy life. When we do that, we also recognize the importance of our acts and failures to act

Ethics arise out of deep feelings of connection with other individuals in the web of life. Judaism, Christianity, and Islam tell us that the source of ethics is the command of a God who exists beyond the world. In contrast, feminist process-relational philosophies suggest that the source of ethics can be found within the world. Ethics arise out of deep feelings of connection with other beings in the web of life.[20] This is possible because the nature of existence is profoundly relational and social. When we feel the feelings of others in a profound way, it follows that we wish the best for them: we wish their joy to be increased and their suffering to be diminished. When we feel the feelings of the greatest number of other individuals as we can, we profoundly desire a world in which each of them and the largest possible number of other individuals can experience the greatest joy and satisfaction.

An ethics grounded in feeling the feelings of others will always be an ethics of ambiguity. Where there is no transcendent source to tell us what to do, we must make decisions ourselves. Yet it is not possible to live in a relational and independent world without doing some harm to others. At minimum, we must eat. We do not have to eat animals, but even if we are vegans, we still must take the lives of plants in order to survive. Most of us also would choose to create some form of shelter against the cold and this too often involves destroying life. Yet we do not really need all of the things our cultures have told us we need. If we learned to take only what we need, we would live in a very different world.[21] Our ethics choices are also ambiguous because it is impossible to foresee all of the consequences of our actions, as discussed above.

Even if we accept that an ethics rooted in deep feelings for all individuals in the web of life must inevitably be ambiguous, we are still left with the problem of explaining why it is that so many of us make so many choices that are inconsistent with feeling the feelings of large numbers of others in a profound way. Why do we continue to consume and pollute even when we know that our so-called prosperity is predicated upon the suffering of others and the pollution of the environment? Are we inherently selfish? I believe that human nature and all of nature is fundamentally relational rather than selfishly individualistic. I agree with Elisabet Sahtouris who in her book Gaia: Human Journey from Chaos to Cosmos (1989) proposedthat co-operation rather than competition is the fundamental principle of the evolutionary process. Successful species do not, she argued, for the most part succeed by wiping out the competition, but rather by finding ways to co-operate with other species in sharing the resources, that is by finding a symbiotic niche within the web of life. To say that relationality and co-operation are the fundamental building blocks of all life, is to say that human or other beings are not naturally selfish but rather are naturally relational or social. No species would survive if the tendency to care for its own young were not in some sense natural to it. Still, it is a long step from caring for one’s own young to caring for all of one’s own kind, and a much longer one to caring for all sentient beings. Yet there have been many instances of individuals from one species caring for and nurturing individuals of another. I am thinking of a dog named Tseri who lived in Mochlos, Crete, who happily nursed and groomed abandoned kittens along with her own puppies, as well as of the first human woman who took a motherless animal and nursed it at her own breast. The capacity to care for others not of one’s kind is a possibility to be found within the inherently relational and social nature of life.

Still, experience tells us that most individuals are more likely to care for their own offspring and their own kind first and only if they have time or if there is something in it for them to care for others who are not like them. So how do we move from care for those near and dear to us to care for the world? I suggest that we consider the role of symbols in shaping our feelings. It may or may not be natural or necessary for us to extend our capacity to feel the feelings of others from those closest to us to all beings in the web of life, but it is a capacity that exists within the web of life. We can nurture and develop this capacity or cut it off. I believe it is the role of culture and in particular of cultural symbols to select and shape, to encourage or discourage the capacities that exist within us and within life. The symbol systems of modern cultures celebrate violence, destruction, and domination. We will need different symbol systems if we hope to create a different world.

The five elements of the ecofeminist process-relational worldview that I have discussed here provide a foundation that can ground the environmental ethic needed if we are to preserve and enhance the possibilities of diverse and abundant life on Earth. It is my hope that ecofeminists and process-relational philosophers will learn from each other and will assist each other in transforming their related visions into a shared course of action.


[1] See also Rachel Carson 1965.

[2] See Irene Diamond and Gloria Orenstein 1990, 100.

[3] Diamond and Orenstein, iii.

[4] Diamond and Orenstein, ix.

[5] See Starhawk 2004; Capra and Spretnak 1984; Christ 1998; Daly 1984; Walker 1991.

[6] See Adams 1994; Mcfague 1993; Ruether 1992, 1996; and Gottlieb 1995.

[7] See Merchant, 1980; King 1984; Kelly 1984.

[8] See Shiva, 1988.

[9] Diamond and Orenstein, xi-xii. While a great deal of ink has been spent by ecologists debating whether the value of other-than-human individuals is absolutely intrinsic or whether they are of value because of their contribution either to human life or to the whole web of life, I find it characteristic of ecofeminist thinking to consider the wisdom in embracing both positions. I would not call this “sloppy” thinking but rather would interpret it as a search for a more holistic perspective. In this case, I would argue that all individuals (human and other-than-human) do have intrinsic value and that all individuals with intrinsic value must use other individuals with intrinsic value to one degree or another in order to survive. However, when the intrinsic value of “used” individuals is recognized, ethical guidelines such as “take only what you need” and “approach the taking of life with great restraint” (see Rebirth, 167-70) are set within a context that encourages doing as little harm to other individuals in the web of life as possible and also within a context in which the possibility of being used as food for other carnivores or of being killed by a volcanic eruption can be understood as part of the give-and-take of the life process.

[10] I am indebted Marjorie Hewitt Suchocki for proposing that process philosophy be renamed process-relational philosophy to call attention to the importance of relationship as well as change in it. In She Who Changes: Re-imagining the Divine in the World (2003), I called for a feminist process paradigm; now I prefer to speak of a feminist process-relational paradigm.

[11] See Ruether, 1979.

[12] See Wollstonecraft 1975 [1792].

[13] Found in Griffin, 1978. I focus on Woman and Nature not only because it has been influential in shaping ecofeminist philosophy, but also because I view it as the most profound work of the contemporary feminist movement.

[14] In my She Who Changes, I show how process-relational philosophy can be used to articulate and expand feminist theological and theological worldviews. I argue that in challenging classical dualisms and in affirming changing life, process-relational philosophies as developed by Whitehead and Hartshorne are implicitly feminist.

[15] “Goddess/God” is the term I use for the divinity in order to stress that that the divinity to which I refer is neither the exclusively male “God” of the monotheistic traditions, nor the transcendent and not immanent “God” of classical theism.

[16] Hartshorne (but not Whitehead) insists that the world is the body of God, as I discuss below.

[17] In process thought, a plant is not an individual but a society of individuals, so our relationship is not with the plant but with the cells of the plant; our relation with minerals such as rocks or mountains is with the atoms and particles of atoms that are found within them. Still, I would argue, such relationships are not only possible but also deeply felt.

[18] Whitehead speaks of the divinity as “luring” us toward greater intensity and fulfillment, while Hartshorne speaks of the divinity as “persuading” us. I prefer to speak of the divinity as “inspiring” us, because of the resonances of “inspiration” with breath, breathing, and energy exchange. I do not see the divinity as setting us a specific goal and luring us to it, nor as rationally persuading us of a certain course of action. It seems to me that the divine influence is always of a general nature, such as “you can do it,” “be more loving,” “expand your vision,” etc. I like to think of divine inspiration as a surge of energy when I am overwhelmed and as expanding my vision when I am stuck, as taking a deep breath does.

[19] See Abram 1997, 163-72.

[20] See Christ 1998, 165.

[21] This is a Native American ethical guideline; cf. Christ 1998, 167-68.

Works Cited and Further Readings

Adams, Carol (1994). Neither Man nor Beast: Feminism and the Defense of Animals (Continuum).

Capra and Spretnak. 1986. Green Politics (New York: Dutton Adult).

Carson, Rachel. 1962. The Silent Spring (New York: Mariner Books).

Carson, Rachel.1965. Sense of Wonder. (New York: Harper Collins).

Christ, Carol P. 1998. Rebirth of the Goddess (New York, Routledge).

Christ, Carol P. 2003. She Who Changes (New York, Palgrave Macmillan).

Daly, Mary. 1984. Pure Lust: Elemental Feminist Philosophy, Volume 1 (Boston: Beacon Press).

Diamond, Irene and Orenstein, Gloria. 1990. Reweaving the World: The Emergence of Ecofeminism (San Francisco: Sierra Club Books).

Gottlieb, Lynn. 1995. She Who Dwells Within: A Feminist Vision of a Renewed Judaism. (HarperOne).

Griffin, Susan. 1978. Woman and Nature (New York: Harper and Row).

Hartshorne, Charles. 1978. “Foundations for a Humane Ethics: What Human Beings Have in Common with Other Higher Animals,” in On the Fifth Day: Animal Rights and Human Ethics, edited by Richard K. Morris and Michael W. Fox (Washington DC, Acropolis Books),154-72.

King, Ynestra (1984). “Where the Spiritual and Political Come Together,” in Women for Life

on Earth (Winter 1984).

Merchant, Carol. 1980. The Death of Nature (New York: Harper and Row).

Mcfague, Sallie. 1993. The Body of God. En Ecological Theology (Minneapolis, Fortress Press).

Kelly, Petra. 1984 Fighting for Hope (Boston: South End Press).

Ruether, Rosemary Radford. (1992). Dualism and the Nature of Evil in Feminist Theology. Studies in Christian Ethics5(1), 26–39.

Ruether, Rosemary Radford. (1996). Women Healing Earth: Third World Women on Ecology, Feminism, and Religion (New York: Orbis Books).

Ruether, Rosemary Radford. Ecofeminism: First and Third World Women; American Journal of Theology & Philosophy, vol. 18, no. 1, 1997, pp. 33–45. JSTOR, Accessed 20 June 2023.

Starhawk (2004). The Earth Path: Grounding Your Spirit in the Rhythms of Nature (New York: Harper Collins).

Suchocki, Marjorie Hewitt. (2003). She Who Changes: Re-imagining the Divine in the World.

Walker, Alice. (1991). Her Blue Body Everything We Know: Earthling Poems (Harcourt Brace Jovanovich).

Wollstonecraft, Mary. 1975 (1792). A Vindication of the Rights of Woman (Norton Critical).

Author Information

Carol P. Christ
Adjunct Professor, California Institute of Integral Studies
Director of Ariadne Institute

How to Cite this Article

Christ, Carol P., “Ecofeminism: Women, Nature, Dualism and Process-Relational Philosophy”, last modified 2008, The Whitehead Encyclopedia, Brian G. Henning and Joseph Petek (eds.), originally edited by Michel Weber and Will Desmond, URL =