EDITOR’S INTRODUCTION: ECOPOIESIS IN A TIME OF CHALLENGES
We are proud to introduce a new issue of the ECOPOIESIS journal during this critical period of human existence. As populations all over the world are threatened, we have to ask ourselves: What is worth saving? What is worth our dedication? What can we embark upon in this time of global challenges?
The coronavirus pandemic and its wide-ranging, worldwide social, psychological and economic impact invite us to search for answers to these questions from an integrative perspective, incorporating not only the biomedical sciences, but also ecology, the humanities, the arts and cultural knowledge. Global civilization appears to be very fragile in this situation in which the virus has rapidly brought greater entropy to the world. Yet at the same time, human beings are revealing their resilience, both in terms of the biomedical and social measures taken in response to the virus, as well as people’s creative responses; their ecopoietic, proactive stance in this time of pandemic.
Nature and culture work as autonomous but synergetic systems: both are parts of the whole web of life on this planet. We could acknowledge, then, that the entropy brought about by COVID-19 concurrently creates more freedom from the pre-existing order and brings us to the realm of potentiality. Ecologist Andre Gorz believed that times of crisis are also times of greatest freedom. When societies collapse, and our hopes and values also collapse, the future ceases to be a continuation of past tendencies. It is in this situation that we can and must improvise and creatively turn to the future, the domain of possibility.
According to Robert Ulanowicz, ecosystems can be considered healthy or unhealthy according to their ability to mutually augment the whole community and component communities at multiple levels, to facilitate their continued successful functioning, to be resilient in response to new situations and stress, and to change and develop in a continual process which maximizes their developmental options. This is also true of the current global situation.
We cannot ignore the great advances in biomedicine that have enabled humankind to defeat and control most infectious diseases, whose pandemic outbreaks have killed millions of the world’s population in past centuries, such as cholera, bubonic plague, smallpox, influenza, and more recently, HIV/AIDS. We often criticize the Cartesian tradition for its positivistic/objectivistic worldview with its concomitant inability to see the subjective qualities of the world around and the total interdependence of living systems. Yet this worldview has helped us to identify infectious agents and develop a system of more or less effective treatments and preventive measures. As we see, however, humankind remains very vulnerable, and new outbreaks of infectious diseases continue to occur. Nonetheless, this does not mean that we should totally deny the positivistic/objectivistic stance towards the world. Rather, we might search for more complex solutions to the issues arising from human relations with the biosphere as well as with the social, economic and cultural milieus.
Positivistic/objectivistic science alone cannot help us reach and properly understand the emotional and spiritual realms which are essential for human beings to live through crises. Both science and the arts need to be engaged in order to empower human beings to cope emotionally and restore themselves in the wake of pandemics and other powerful challenges that global civilization is now facing, as well as to build up effective connection between humans and the more-than-human world.
We are referring here to resilience, a proactive attitude which enables us to recover, especially on the psychological and cultural levels, instead of being passively treated by medicine. A significant phenomenon we observe is the huge separation this pandemic has created between countries and between human beings. It is not only the biological virus, but also the emotional damage caused by that separation and the fear of others that is undermining our emotional health and well-being. And yet we see that people are longing for connection. In this situation, the arts can express and hold human resilience and our connectedness. In doing so, they support a proactive stance in the world that provides an inner and outer ecology of well-being in the face of disasters.
The ECOPOIESIS journal itself arose out of this spirit, as the founders worked to bring together the humanities and the ecological perspective into their original interconnection on the basis of a renewed understanding of the role of the human sciences and the arts in human existence. The word that seems to sum up this understanding is ecopoiesis, the capacity of human beings to respond to difficulty and suffering and to transform them through their creative and visionary ability to bring beauty into the world. In doing so, we attune our vision and our actions to planetary life and the ecosphere. Once the idea for the journal arose, it seemed only natural to use this word as our emblem.
The international events related to the implementation of “The Future We Want” (Resolution of the 2012 UN International Forum on Environment and Sustainable Development, Rio de Janeiro, RIO +20) reflect mankind’s efforts to find complex solutions to complex challenges. In 2020, the results of four important decades for promoting Sustainable Development Strategy were summarized. One of these International Decades is being actively implemented today: 2013–2022 - International Decade for the Rapprochement of Cultures. Within the framework of this decade, the relevance of our journal is clearer, aimed not only at bringing cultures closer together, but also at integrating different approaches to the problem of knowing ourselves, the world around us and nature, of which humankind itself is an integral part.
This issue of ECOPOIESIS aims to bring together those who have dedicated themselves to the spirit of eco-human potentiality, the spirit of ecopoiesis, in all the countries in which they work. The scope of geographical and cultural environments and locations that the contributors represent in this issue is remarkably wide and embraces Latin and North America, Australia, Europe and Asia. There is no dogma that unites us, only the belief that we are able to respond creatively and that our response can be synchronized with the response of the more-than-human world.
By affirming ecopoiesis as a fundamental capacity of human existence, we build resilience in the face of suffering. To make the world a better place, we must stop the destruction of nature and, instead, relate to the natural world according to the principle of ecopoiesis: acting so as not to impose a plan formulated from above but rather to respect what reveals itself to us and to respond creatively to bring out the inherent potentialities of what is arising in the present. We at the ECOPOIESIS journal pledge to work towards this goal.
Stephen K. Levine
In accordance with the Law of the Russian Federation on the Mass Media, the Federal Service for Supervision of Communications, Information Technology and Mass Communications (Roskomnadzor) on September 22, 2020, the web-based publication - The peer-reviewed scientific online journal "Ecopoiesis: Eco-Human Theory and Practice" was registered (registration number El No. FS77-79134).
“Ecopoiesis: Eco-Human Theory and Practice” is the international multidisciplinary Journal focused on building an eco-human paradigm, disseminating eco-human knowledge and technology based on the alliance of ecology, humanities and the arts. Our journal aims to be a vibrant forum of theories and practices aimed at harmonizing the relations of mankind and the natural world in the interests of sustainable development, the creation of Eco-Humanity as a new community of human beings and more-than-human world. The human being is an ecological being, not separate from the world. The Ecopoiesis journal is based on that premise and aims to develop a body of theory and practice within that framework.
The Journal promotes dialogue and cooperation between ecologists, philosophers, doctors, educators, psychologists, artists, musicians, designers, social activists, business representatives in the name of eco-human values, human health and well-being, in close connection with concern for the environment. The Journal supports the development and implementation of new environmentally-friendly concepts, technologies and practices in the various fields of health and public life, education and social work.
One of the priority tasks of the Journal is to demonstrate and support the significant role of the arts in their alliance with ecology and the humanities for the restoration and development of constructive relations with nature, raising environmental awareness and promoting nature-friendly lifestyles.
The Journal publishes articles describing new eco-human concepts and practices, technologies and applied research data at the intersection of humanities, ecology and the arts, as well as interviews and conference reports related to the emerging eco-human field. It encourages artwork, music and other creative products related to eco-human practices and the new global community of Eco-Humanity.