3.1 Through meditations
The joy of belonging
One of the key figures in shaping a modern educational movement to end the lonely, often desperate, isolation of Homo sapiens from the other species was the American Joseph Wood Krutch (1893-1971). "We are all in this together," he concluded in 1949, not long after he finished writing a biography of Henry Thoreau. Once a rather melancholic humanist, Krutch now became a kind of pantheist or ethical mystic, caught up in the joy of belonging to "something greater than one's self."
Reading Thoreau again and again was partly responsible for the radical change in Krutch's outlook. The other chief stimulus was a self- education in ecological principles. "Every day," he observed, "the science of ecology is making clearer the factual aspect as it demonstrates those more and more remote interdependencies which, no matter how remote they are, are crucial even for us." Krutch's tutoring in science confirmed him in an organismic sensibility, partly pragmatic, but more fundamentally ethical.
We must be a part not only of the human community, but of the whole ecological community. We must acknowledge some sort of oneness not only with our neighbors, our countrymen and our civilization, but also some respect for the natural as well as the man- made community. Ours is not only "one world" in the sense usually implied by that term. It is also "one earth." It is abundantly clear that our species requires behavioural adaptations for long term survival, based on the political and economic interdependency of the various sections of the civilized world. It is not a sentimental but a grimly literal fact, that unless we share planet Earth with creatures other than ourselves, we shall not be able to live on it for long.
Science has led directly to a moral awakening: a new sense of biological relatedness and communalism. However, Krutch perceived that ecology, "without reverence or love," could become naught but "a shrewder exploitation of what it would be better to admire, to enjoy, and to share in." His own approach to the science helped turn him from the pursuit of self toward a "sense of the community of living things." Spirituality makes the connection. To the Hindu bhakti yogi, compassionate love is the highest vehicle to union with creation. In pursuing creation in this way one becomes more god-like, and from this inner source comes an outward manifestation of selfless love for all creation.
The persistence of this moral undercurrent in ecology as an increasingly quantified discipline means, for one thing, that mid- twentieth- century ecology belongs to the lay mind—to the amateur naturalist and the conservationist—as much as to the scientific establishment. Like Thoreau in his time, it is important that collectively we do not wholly surrender this science to academic experts.
Ecology has always been unusual among the sciences in its accessibility to the ordinary student of nature,-throughout its history it has been shaped by and responsive to the everyday life of all sorts of people: farmers, gamekeepers, foresters, bird watchers, travellers. More than this, it has consistently appealed to many who are otherwise hostile to scientific explanations: As long as ecology has a lay input, it can continue to teach the gospel of organic community, whether or not this is subject to empirical validation.
In practice this means endorsing conservation as one side of the coin of political economy. The problem is that a culture that tends towards conservation management of its natural resources could be a dying culture if others around it do not adopt the same constraints on consumption.
Moral naturalism
The hope that nature will show humanity the way to sound moral values is part of Krutch's faith, and certainly that of the 'Age of Ecology'. But this view has long been a beacon for Anglo-American culture, at least since the eighteenth century. Indeed, few ideas have been recycled as often as the belief that the factual "Is" of nature must become the moral "Ought" of man.
Many have contended that a pronounced pattern or observed direction in nature provides man with all the guidance he needs for "should- ness." If nature is found to be a world of interdependence, then human beings are obliged to consider that characteristic a moral dictum. But if we have to first follow nature, which road do we take? Whose map do we use? How can we keep to the road?
The perennial hope has been that science will show the way. In the case of the ecological ethic, its proponents picked out their values first and only afterward came to science for its stamp of approval. What is really required is a deeper sense of integration between man and nature, a more-than-economic relatedness—and to let all the appended scientific arguments go. "Ought" might then be its own justification, its own defense, its own persuasion, regardless of what "is."
With the decline of religion and its moral tradition in our own time, science has become the universal standard, and for many, it maintains an aura of absolute sanctity. It is seen as an oracle of objective truth, located well above the shaky ground of moral choice, and therefore a perfectly trustworthy source not only of knowledge but of value. Others, noting how often scientists reflect their cultural milieu, are more sceptical of science's claim to detachment; the quality of trust is strained. But even the sceptics look to science for the validation of certain truths. If science cannot, by itself, save society, neither can society be saved without it. The moral values inherent in scientific models cannot be accepted without examination, but the guidance such models provide is indispensable. To judge which of these attitudes is the most valid requires presenting them within an educational framework where "Is" and "Ought" are distinct and unique concepts, but which demonstrates that any attempt to rigidly separate them is probably misguided.
The idea of truth or fact outside the moral context has no meaning for the human mind. Whether imperialist, arcadian, organismic, or something else, values have always been woven into the fabric of science. So much so that when scientists most firmly insist that they have screened out everything but demonstrable fact, the rest of us should nevertheless anticipate moral consequences. In his thoughts about his homeland of Concord Thoreau was beginning to assemble a guide to attaching moral values to our various uses of the environment. These web pages are a development of Thoreau's secular breviary to guide personal actions of atonement that lighten the guilt of humankind for initiating metamorphoses that have been more destructive than creative.
Imagination and place
As early as 1806, John Forster in his Essays in a Series of Letters to a Friend, trying to define the essence of the romantic had written:
"Imagination may be indulged till it usurp an entire ascendency over the mind, and then every subject presented to that mind will excite imagination instead of understanding to work; imagination will throw its colours where the intellectual faculty ought to draw its lines; imagination will accumulate metaphors where reason ought to deduce arguments; images will take the place of thoughts and scenes of disquisitions. The whole mind may become at length something like a hemisphere of cloud scenery, filled with an ever-moving train of changing melting forms, of every colour, mingled with rainbows, meteors and an occasional gleam of pure sunlight, all vanishing away, the mental like this natural imagery, when its hour is up, without leaving anything behind but the wish to recover the vision. And yet, . . . this series of visions, may be mistaken for operations of thought, and each cloudy image be admitted in the place of a proposition, or a reason; and it may even be mistaken for something sublimer than thinking."
Forster's fears of the predominance of imagination over judgement in the evaluation of place were not a problem to later writers.  Kingsley's Alton Locke the Chartist poet, discovers the work of Tennyson and is overwhelmed by the pleasure of imaginative recognition.
... he has learned to see that in all Nature, in the hedgerow and the sandbank, as well as in the alp-  ┬ápeak and the ocean-waste, is a world of true sublimity — a minute infinite — an ever fertile garden of poetic images, the roots of which are in the unfathomable and the eternal, as truly as any ! ..... phenomenon which astonishes and awes the eye. The description of the desolate pools and creeks where the dying Swan floated, the hint of the silvery marsh mosses by Mariana's moat, came to me like revelations. I always knew there was something beautiful, wonderful, sublime, in those flowery dykes of Battersea Fields; in the long gravelly sweeps of that lone tidal shore; and here was a man who had put them in words for me. This is what I call democratic art —the revelation of the poetry which lies in common things. And surely all the age is tending in that direction; in Landseer and his dogs — in Copley Fielding and his downs, with a host of noble artists — and in all authors who have really seized the nation's mind from Crabbe and Burns and Wordsworth to Hood and Dickens, the great tide sets ever outward, towards that which is common to many, not that which is exclusive to the few . . ."
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