Archived project

Postmodernism and Ecology

Goal: This project explored the interrelationships between the theories of postmodernism and the theories of ecology/environmentalism.

Date: 1 January 1995 - 31 December 2001

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Alan Marshall
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A book that deconstructs the modern narrative of "Natural / Cosmic Unity"
An exploration into the meanings (and usefulness) of the Gaia theory as they pertain to environmentalism
Postmodernism was not launched by the development of Warholesque pop art in the 1960s, nor was it initiated by the explosive destruction of the Pruitt–Igoe modern housing project of St Louis, Missouri in 1972, or by the commissioning of Jean-François Lyotard's work on knowledge in advanced societies by the Quebec government in the late 1970s. Postmodernism began with the publication of a paper entitled `The individualistic concept of plant the association' in 1926 by the plant ecologist Henry Gleason. If we dare to characterize postmodernism, emphases on ideas such as heterogeneity, ephemerality, anti-foundationalism, pluralism, fragmentation, indeterminacy, schizophrenia, chaos, antiformalism, discontinuity, absence, playfulness, irony, localism, anarchy and ontological meaninglessness are the ones that tend to abound. The Gleasonian theory of plant associations can be said to reflect such ideas in the ecological arena. Certainly there is room for, and an expanding professional commitment to, a fully-fledged neo-Gleasonian postmodern approach to natural history in which ecological phenomena are examined using non-determinist, pluralist and local perspectives that reject the foundationalism and unifying approach of modernist science and which posits a view of the Earth's biota highlighting fragmentation, anarchism and non-interaction. Community ecology, as opposed to the unifying and totalizing tendencies of ecosystems ecology, might rightly claim to be the intellectual site of such a postmodern natural history. Often, postmodern studies not only attempt to describe a postmodern phenomenon but act to forge new varieties of postmodernism. It is in this vein that this paper seeks to present a non-anthropocentric form of postmodernism; not by dissolving the dualistic barrier that separates humanity from nature (as many environmentalisms would advocate) but by dissolving humanity and nature.
Alan Marshall
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Alan Marshall
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This project explored the interrelationships between the theories of postmodernism and the theories of ecology/environmentalism.
 
Alan Marshall
added a research item
There are scientists around who believe they have discovered God. Scientists like Fritjof Capra and Paul Davies are two notable examples of those scientists who see the presence of divine processes in both Nature and Humanity. Yet the God they have discovered does not look like a pale ghostly white-bearded old man as depicted in so many films and paintings. Instead, according to these scientists of God, God's Earthly image is actually remarkably similar to the colorful fractal swirls inspired by chaos theory, and, also, at times, God seems to look a lot like the orderly chaos that is inherent within the world's stockmarkets. For numerous scientists like Davies and Capra, who adhere to what are called the 'New Sciences' of chaos theory and complexity theory, there is an avowed goal to identify the existence of ultimate meanings and universal processes that run through all phenomena of the entire Cosmos. These meanings and processes are sometimes thought of as scientific conceptions of God. Scholars fond of the New Sciences are also fond of labeling their particular scientific approach as Postmodern since they are convinced that their science is a science that comes after, and goes beyond, Modern science. By rejecting the philosophical baggage of Modern science (such as mechanicism, reductionism, atomism and dualism) in favor of 'new' postmodern principles of organicism, holism, and self-complex- ification, Postmodern Scientists believe they are instigating a paradigm shift towards an ecologically and socially benevolent worldview. However, according to the research I have conducted at the IAS-STS in Graz, such may not be the case. Postmodern Science is a beast incurably infected with mechanicism and probably many other Modernist diseases. It is also the case that there a numerous parasitic idealogues just waiting to pounce on the metaphysical meanderings of Postmodern Science in an effort to claim it as their own and use it as a finalized legitimating schema of the post-communist world.