Research What Are You Reading...On Ecology

What Are You Reading…On Ecology

Ecology as a field overlaps with pretty much every other field of study, sometimes directly, other times indirectly. As the field that looks at how organisms relate to their environment, its focus is on the elements that produce what other fields study. Without an ecological environment, there would be no space for the objects of other fields to exist, nor resources to sustain them. It is in the background of philosophical thought, historical research, and scientific investigation, among other areas of study.

While this fact was for a long time either unknown, forgotten, or taken for granted, it is to the credit of researchers that they have begun to pour through the history of thought to reestablish the connections between various ideologies and the environment which produced them. Additionally, people are working to develop a responsible theory of ecology that incorporates the work it does in the background into our foreground thoughts and practices (thus the emergence of “political ecology” as a field of study). The goal is to understand the many relationships we have with our surroundings, so that hopefully we can develop them in sustainable and healthy ways. There is still much work to be done, but here are some recent papers that have added to our understanding.


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  1. As I explore the intellectual web I see that conferences are a big deal with philosophers, scientists, intellectuals of all types, and well, just about everybody else too.

    It’s amazing how much time, money and jet fuel emissions folks will invest in conferences in far away places given that the same one to many, small group, and one to one connections can be made online for free, and with far more convenience.

    Just yesterday I came upon a “save the world” type intellectual organization which was hard selling it’s upcoming conference in Switzerland. A bumper sticker immediately came to mind, “Save The World! Stay Home!”.

    It seems to me an important role for philosophers is to be the “court jester”, the fearless voice which is continually exploring the boundaries of the group consensus. So if it were my choice, the fancy talk articles above would be replaced with a collection of everyday English language challenges to the out of date, ecologically harmful, unnecessarily wasteful practice of intellectual conferences in distant cities.

    The fact that the APA will not be leading such a logic based ecology respecting campaign, but instead selling it’s own conferences, illustrates a key problem for both professional philosophers and leadership across our society at large.

    At the moment one accumulates the position, status, and authority which puts one in a position to effect real change, one becomes a prisoner of status quo. Nobody wants to lose the high position they’ve worked so hard for and so being inconvenient, a court jester, a real philosopher, and rocking the group consensus boat is all taken off the table.

    Hey, perhaps you guys could discuss this at your next conference! I volunteer to do the presentation in a court jester clown costume. Over Skype of course.


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