… over at Knowledge Ecology.

My quick impression from chapter 1  is mixed: a promising start, followed by a sour turn and then something of a rebound.

The opening case study of the Great Bear Rainforest controversy bodes well for building up the authors’ case of IE’s multi-perspectivalism on contentious environmental issues. That promise, however, is squandered somewhat when the authors follow Ken Wilber into a trap of his own devising: the performative contradiction that arises when he and/or they insist, repeatedly, that integral theory is a way of honoring all perspectives, “enter[s] into and appreciates[s] the personal and cultural worldspace of [all] the major stakeholder[s],” and calls for “rhetorical strategies that consider the values of those you are educating” — and then, in the very same pages, beat up on straw figures like “the Romantics” with their “‘back to nature’ fantasies,” the “eco-Romantics,” and the “extreme postmodernists.”

The authors inform us, for instance, that “Romantics confusedly celebrated what amounted to egocentric feelings and attitudes consistent not with genuine maturity, but with regressive states associated with childhood feelings — thus completing the slide into nature” (emphasis added). No mention of any names (save Schelling’s, actually). No attempt at a sensitive hermeneutic contextualization of their work within the milieus in which their ideas actually made some sense. Just a hastily drawn, shoddy caricature.

But, on the whole, I think the chapter serves its purpose. The Great Bear Rainforest case study piques our interest. The discussion of “interiority” successfully lays the groundwork for one of the key contributions IT has to make to ecological thought. (Not that they’re the only ones — I’m glad they cite Peirce on that, though they might have also mentioned Neil Evernden, whose ‘Natural Alien’ not only argued precisely that, 25 years ago, but drew on those dastardly Romantics to do it.) And the discussion of methodological pluralism raises the stakes for what’s to come.





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