This begins as follows:
“Two things,” Immanuel Kant wrote in the late 18th century, “fill the mind with ever new and increasing admiration and awe, the more often and steadily we meditate upon them: the starry firmament above and the moral law within.”
Then comes this observation:
The quotation suggests, misleadingly, that the astronomical and moral realms are wholly separate—the former is “above” and the latter is “within.” But they aren’t: as Moby correctly sings, “We are all made of stars.” The heavens and human beings are composed from the same physical stuff, and are governed by same physical principles. The starry firmament isn’t really “above”—it’s everywhere. We, along with lobsters and the rest, are part of it.
Everything, in short, is a natural phenomenon, an aspect of the universe as revealed by the natural sciences. In particular, morality is a natural phenomenon. Moral facts or truths—that boiling babies is wrong, say—are not additions to the natural world, they are already there in the natural world, even if they are not explicitly mentioned in scientific theories.
Interesting to compare this, I think, with this passage from Edmund Wilson's Axel's Castle:
The scientists of the seventeenth century who presented the universe as a mechanism had caused people to draw the conclusion that man was something apart from nature, something introduced into the universe from outside and remaining alien to all that he found. But a romantic poet like Wordsworth has come to feel the falsity of this assumption: he has perceived that world is an organism, that nature includes planets, mountains, vegetation and people alike, that what we are and what we see, what we hear, what we feel and what we smell, are inextricably related, that all are involved in the same great entity. Those who make fun of the Romantics are mistaken in supposing that there is no intimate connection between the landscape and the poet's emotions. There is no real dualism, says Whitehead, between external lakes and hills, on the one hand, and personal feelings, on the other: human feelings and inanimate objects are interdependent and devloping together in some fashion of which our traditional notions of laws of cause and effect, of dualities of mind and matter or of body and soul, can give us no true idea. The Romantic poet, then, with his turbid or opalescent language, his sympathies and passions which cause him to seem to merge with his surroundings, is the prophet of a new insight into nature: he is describing things as they really are: and a revolution in the imagery of poetry is in reality a revolution in metaphysics.Thanks to Christmas present from a dear friend - of a calendar of the Lake District - I have been inspired to rope off a bit of time every day to re-read Wordsworth's The Prelude. I get it better now that I am old. I think it is worth noting that most contemporary environmentalism (James Lovelock is presumably an exception) seems premissed, not on the Romantic notion, but on the earlier, mechanistic one, that separates man from nature.