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Aesthetic solidarity and ethical holism: Towards an ecopedagogy in Western Australia

Lummis, Geoffrey William (2001) Aesthetic solidarity and ethical holism: Towards an ecopedagogy in Western Australia. PhD thesis, Murdoch University.

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In this thesis, I maintain that if humanity is to avoid an ecological catastrophe in the next half century, survival hinges upon the institutional development of a new pedagogy. I suggest an ecopedagogy, in which the human ability to reason might become balanced with aesthetic capacities to think holistically, to feel, and to express feeling intelligently in a complex and dynamic life-world.

Specialisation in Western science and technology has provided Western polities with insight into universal processes, but I believe it now essential that holistic and aesthetic intelligence gain comparable status. In particular, Western humanity has only slowly given specific cultural status to its capacity to represent and experience the sensuous life-world in the contemporary curricula. Educational and other institutions do little to advance people's sense of interconnected meaning with the ecosphere. Unfortunately sense perception, the key phenomenon of a living universe, is reduced by ignorance of how felt images embody intelligence within our life-world. In Western Australia, there is a growing sense of nothingness produced by an internalisation of the global ecological crisis. This sensing of nothingness is an important part of the reform process, but our pedagogical culture needs to move from a separatist world-view to a lifesystems approach. I suggest that we need a social-ecological approach to pedagogy that includes a sensing of aesthetic solidarity, where our society promotes plurality of experience to complement reductionism.

I describe a concept of aesthetic solidarity and ethical holism, that underscores the intrinsic worth of non-human entities as much as of humans, that links sensual intelligence with rational motives, and recognises intelligence of feeling in sentient life. This concept can provide a basis for a positive political and institutional approach to a creative ecopedagogy, one that can monitor sustainability, promote social harmony, and establish a partnership ethic between human innovation and the intrinsic interests of the ecosphere. I suggest solidarity in its most essential form is an appreciation of the fact that the human neurological-cultural realm has evolved from, and is dependent upon, diverse natural systems. Therefore, the anthropocentric realm is an outcome of other organic systems. I see the future of human existence and coevolution, as being dependent upon securing a more authentic and ethical engagement within the solidarity of a biologically diverse planet.

Finally, in Western Australian, an inclusive and a potentially sustainability-centred public curriculum framework document does exist, but the challenge is to help teachers, schools and polity to understand how to use this public document to foster life style and institutional behaviours that accommodate sustainability. The future of a sustainable co-evolution on Earth depends upon the cultural transmission of appropriate core values, key principles and skills that positions ecology centrally in human pedagogy.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): Division of Social Sciences, Humanities and Education
Notes: Note to the author: If you would like to make your thesis openly available on Murdoch University Library's Research Repository, please contact: Thank you.
Supervisor(s): Hallen, Patsy and Booth, Michael
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