China's Green Religion

Daoism and the Quest for a Sustainable Future

James Miller

Columbia University Press

China's Green Religion

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Pub Date: June 2017

ISBN: 9780231175869

224 Pages

Format: Hardcover

List Price: $60.00£49.95

Pub Date: May 2017

ISBN: 9780231544535

224 Pages

Format: E-book

List Price: $59.99£49.95

China's Green Religion

Daoism and the Quest for a Sustainable Future

James Miller

Columbia University Press

How can Daoism, China's indigenous religion, give us the aesthetic, ethical, political, and spiritual tools to address the root causes of our ecological crisis and construct a sustainable future? In China's Green Religion, James Miller shows how Daoism orients individuals toward a holistic understanding of religion and nature. Explicitly connecting human flourishing to the thriving of nature, Daoism fosters a "green" subjectivity and agency that transforms what it means to live a flourishing life on earth.

Through a groundbreaking reconstruction of Daoist philosophy and religion, Miller argues for four key, green insights: a vision of nature as a subjective power that informs human life; an anthropological idea of the porous body based on a sense of qi flowing through landscapes and human beings; a tradition of knowing founded on the experience of transformative power in specific landscapes and topographies; and an aesthetic and moral sensibility based on an affective sensitivity to how the world pervades the body and the body pervades the world. Environmentalists struggle to raise consciousness for their cause, Miller argues, because their activism relies on a quasi-Christian concept of "saving the earth." Instead, environmentalists should integrate nature and culture more seamlessly, cultivating through a contemporary intellectual vocabulary a compelling vision of how the earth materially and spiritually supports human flourishing.
This book presents a novel interpretation of Daoism as a 'green religion' that can transcend its premodern, Chinese origins and offer to the world a distinctive ecological orientation of wider relevance. Miller is arguably the world's leading scholar of Daoism and the environment, and China's Green Religion makes a striking and important contribution to the field of religion and ecology. Bronislaw Szerszynski, Lancaster University
This book breaks new ground and may serve as a model for more sophisticated engagements with Daoism in terms of ecology. It is at the cutting edge of Daoist Studies. Louis Komjathy, Associate Professor of Chinese Religions and Comparative Religious Studies at the University of San Diego
James Miller's book is a rich and deeply informed exploration of the relationships of Daoist religion and philosophy with nature and the environment. Miller discusses Daoist principles in new and exciting ways, often related to current ecological and ecocritical topics. He applies Daoist principles to current problems and possible futures, arguing that Daoism could help us develop not only sustainability but also flourishing. This is an important book with new and exciting ideas for environmentalists and citizens. Eugene Anderson, University of California, Riverside
There is perhaps no scholar in the West who could have written such a valuable book on the contributions of Daoism to ecological thought and practice in China. Meticulously researched and clearly written, this is a book that will indispensable for academics and policy makers alike who are concerned about China's future. Mary Evelyn Tucker, Forum on Religion and Ecology, Yale University
Miller contributes a perspective that is grounded in careful research, related to contemporary issues, and inspiring as a lifeway for modern humans. This is the kind of interdisciplinary scholarship and experience that students long for from a teacher, something quite rare in the study of Chinese religions, where specialists tend to be highly trained Sinologists who do not often have the ability to make connections across disciplines. In this regard, Miller is clearly unusual. China’s Green Religion demonstrates a high degree of Sinological training, but also ecocritical breadth. Most significantly, Miller has the ability to engage contemporary ecological questions in a clear and accessible manner. I trust this book will be widely read and used in academia and well beyond. Mary Evelyn Tucker, JAAR
Acknowledgments
Introduction
1. Religion, Modernity, and Ecology
2. The Subjectivity of Nature
3. Liquid Ecology
4. The Porosity of the Body
5. The Locative Imagination
6. The Political Ecology of the Daoist Body
7. From Modernity to Sustainability
8. From Sustainability to Flourishing
Notes
Bibliography
Index

About the Author

James Miller is professor of Chinese studies and director of the interdisciplinary graduate program in cultural studies at Queen's University in Canada. He is the author of The Way of Highest Clarity (2008) and Daoism: A Beginner's Guide (2008) and the editor of Chinese Religions in Contemporary Societies (2006), Religion and Ecological Sustainability in China (2014), and Daoism and Ecology (2001).