Environmental Philosophy Many authors throughout history have expressed their, or societys, yearning towards a simpler life: a life without responsibilities or obligations, a life without worry or regret. Sigurd Olson expresses such a yearning in his essay “Contemplation”, where through reading Lao Tzu, he had discovered that in order to understand and relate to wilderness, we only need a contemplative mind, which is simple and easy. He suggested that life in wilderness is a continual contemplation and communion with God and Spirit. Moreover, in his essay, “Wholeness”, he suggested that “wholeness is being in tune with the wind, sands, and stars,” and “wholeness is part of simplicity and silence, and of all the components of a wilderness experience.” He also compares our daily life as trivial and only with the contemplation of wilderness that we can achieve the wholeness and serenity. Annie Dillard is another environmentalist that writes about wilderness with deep passion.
In her essay, “A Passion for this Earth”, she wrote about her childhood experiences with a grove of birch trees. Through her daily routine of sitting by the trees, she came to a close connection with the earth and nature. She realized that with every human mood “there is a corresponding season and that our lives are seamlessly connected to the great life of the earth.” In other words, we are a part of the nature and that the way we act and feel are all intertwine with the evolving of the earth. Moreover, Dillard also drew a connection between our “guilelessness of childhood and the revelation of land”. She suggested that in ones childhood, we would roam the land, run around landscapes and be in touch with nature. However, as we grow older, we become more engaged in the daily “civilized” routine and forget about the beautiful wilderness. Dillard suggested that we should all reawaken the memory of the earth that we experienced during childhood, and be able to establish again a connection with the land. Restoration and Reunion with nature is the main idea that Carolyn Merchant wants to get through in her essay.
Her idea of restoration is “a spectrum of emerging disciplines based on imitation, synthesis, and a creative reciprocity between humans and non-human nature.” Human are the one who have the power to destroy and alter nature, therefore we should also have the ability to restore it back to the way before. However, before restoring the nature, we need to understand it and also through understanding, reunion with wilderness as a whole. She further explains this by giving an example of a doctor healing a patient. The doctor must first understand the structure of human body before being able to repair it; it is the same with us trying to restore our earth. Moreover, Merchant also suggested two theories: agroforestry and permaculture. Since the amount of energy needed to support our technology in farming often surpasses the calories the foods themselves supply, agroforestry imitate the way farming traditionally were and restore the “complementary arrangements of trees, crops, and animals in accord with ecological principles in order to maintain productivity without environmental degradation.” On the same plane, permaculture restores the way trees are leveled and tries to provide the necessary energy through this setting.
The principle of mimesis also come through very strongly in her essay, she suggested that “people can use the environment to fulfill real needs, while non-human nature acts reciprocally as partner.” Nature should be treated with respect, and we human are not superior and should not manipulate and dominant the nature. Thomas Berry expresses similar view about the way that we are too much engaged in our modern civilization “businesses” that we forget the beauty of wilderness in his essay “Returning to Our Native Place”. Thomas Berrys view on wilderness is very much a combination of the theories discussed above. He suggested that nature is the true center of all things and human having been wandering away long enough should seek reunion with nature. There is a feeling of intimacy and a sense of presence when we realize that we and the nature are one, we are one “wilderness community” and we share our “existence with the animals and with all natural phenomena.” Through connecting with various living forms of the earth, Berry suggested that we are not only establishing an acquaintance with the general life, but we are also developing an intimate rapport, an co-existing relationship.
He also agreed with the restoration idea of Merchant. Strongly admiring the natives and their traditions, he found that the natives are the only ones who are able to continue their existence outside the constraints of our civilization and stay in touch with nature. He suggested that we should restore things to their traditional ways and call the entire world back to their authentic mode. Civilization, in Berrys mind, can only imperilise the wilderness. The major idea in “The Gift of Wilderness” is the idea of bigness outside ourselves. The authors uses experience of his granddaughter and himself in illustrating the overwhelming sense of smallness that wilderness gives them.
He thinks that wilderness can tell us who we are and our identities lie within wilderness. He also suggested that among all the civilization, Americans are the ones who disturbed the wilderness most, they are merely “people remodeling the Alhambra with a bulldozer, and proud of their yardage”, and their government have been known to endanger the very things they ought to protect. A very interesting idea is being put forward in this essay, the author regards wilderness as playgrounds, schoolrooms, laboratories, and shrine. We need not build these facilities, for they are already around us and we can certainly learn from it. In conclusion, in all the articles, the authors stressed on the beauty of the wilderness.
They all agree that in front of nature, we are indeed very small and insignificant. Humans and other animal species are all part of the wilderness, and in order for the world to be in harmony, we should forget the civilization and our lifestyle nowadays and restore it to our authentic mode. For then, we will be united with the world and be able to feel the wholeness and intimacy with it. Part 2: It is a fast-paced world we live in, define by schedules, choices and options. We awaken at the sound of an alarm clock, stop and go at the whim of a street light, and spend the day under the thumb of our bosses.
As we race down the road of life hoping we are to the path to success, so distracted are we by t …