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Home \ Articles \ Kopytin Alexander. THE ECO-HUMANITIES AS A WAY OF COORDINATING THE NATURAL AND THE HUMAN BEING

Kopytin Alexander. THE ECO-HUMANITIES AS A WAY OF COORDINATING THE NATURAL AND THE HUMAN BEING

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Kopytin Alexander Ivanovich

(St.-Petersburg, Russian Federation)

 

Abstract

The article outlines the main content of a new interdisciplinary field of the eco-humanities, combining ecology and the human sciences. The main subject of the eco-humanities comprises the study of the nature of the human being in the process of self-knowledge and its system of relations with the environment, thereby generating an ontological wholeness of the human being and the living environment. The characteristics of the eco-human approach are given as a pathway to the understanding the human being; when it is considered as a self-conscious part of the united subject of the study, “The Nature – The Human Being”. Both “The Nature” and “The Human Being” constitute two subsystems of a single subject of eco-humanity. 

The problem of environmental consciousness is defined as one of the leading ones in the eco-human approach, especially in such a humanities discipline as ecopsychology. The phenomenon of Love is designated as one of the key phenomena of the humanities and its ecological counterpart – the eco-humanities. When considering this phenomenon, the concept of Ecopoiesis is introduced as a form of ecological intimacy implying the interaction and interpenetration of different living systems and their connection with each other. Ecopoiesis is conceptualized as an eco-human mechanism of biological and cultural production and a factor in the co-evolution of the Human Being and Nature. As a constructive component of eco-humanities, a new generation of eco-human technologies is designated as a method of transforming a person with his/her attitude to the environment, oneself and one’s own ecological essence.

Keywords: the eco-humanities, the eco-human approach, environmental awareness, ecopoiesis, eco-human technologies

 

Introduction

Currently, the global environmental crisis has become a reality. The transition of the global environmental crisis into an ecological catastrophe is a matter of time during which mankind can either take certain steps in order to prevent it or remain in the same positions of uncontrolled exploitation of the natural resources. Attempts are being made to solve the global environmental crisis in various ways - not only by implementing a sustainable development model, which, among other things, assumes technological reorganization, but also by introducing environmental education, working with the environmental awareness of people.

The environmental crisis is taking place against the backdrop of the humanities crisis. In many countries, the volume of humanities and various arts studied in primary and secondary schools, colleges, and universities is declining. One gets the impression that society is turning away from the very subject of the humanities - the human being - switching to other subjects of interest, primarily subjects of high-tech production and consumption.

The near future is even declared as an upcoming “end of the human being", at least in its former form of being. The fate of the human being in the "post-human" age, the age of techno-humanism, is discussed. This idea is not new. Back in the 20th century, post-humanist movements were inspired by the idea of ​​the superman, as proposed by Nietzche, and then by the post-structuralist position (M. Foucault). Already in the XXI century, this idea flourished thanks to the successes of the information civilization.

Against this background, human knowledge sometimes declares itself as one of the factors in the development of high technology. Steve Jobs admitted, for example, that technology alone is not enough, «it is technology married with liberal arts, married with the humanities, that yields us the result that makes our hearts sing» [cit. 15].

The human component is really often presented in the achievements of contemporary civilization as providing a certain impact on human life. The creator of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, for example, studied ancient Greek at school and specialized in psychology at Harvard. According to him, “Facebook is psychology and sociology to the same extent as technology.” [16]

And yet, as M.N. Epstein [13] admits:

“...it is no coincidence that the achievements of giants such as Apple and Facebook are perceived primarily as technical. The point is not only that they are calculated in digital parameters, in units of speed, power, popularity, value, financial investment, stock exchange, etc. The initiative of these achievements of civilization comes from scientific and technical disciplines and companies that attract the humanities to cooperation. The humanities themselves do not put forward any initiatives with an equally wide civilizational potential and generally do not show significant interest in the practical results of their research” (p. 5–6).

Thus, the crisis of the humanities is now obvious. They lose their main meaning and purpose, often turning into an instrument of marketing manipulation, playing the role of a servant of geopolitical forces and high-tech companies. Postmodernism- with its characteristic position of relativism and a skeptical attitude to the human foundations of culture- has also made a significant contribution to the humanities crisis that has developed rapidly over the past decades of the 20th century and at the beginning of the 21st.

The degradation of ecology and the humanities suggests a certain connection between them. In order to overcome the crisis of human knowledge and, at the same time, find a way to prevent the development of the ecological crisis into an environmental disaster, society needs to go through a profound reformation of the entire human paradigm and rethink its subject and purpose. We must admit: ecology needs the humanities as much as the modern humanities need ecology and environmental thinking. The revival of the human being as the main subject of the humanities, possessing a creative, spiritual essence, cannot be realized without a radical change in their attitude to the environment and the natural world. Eco-humanism as a new paradigm of the human being as included in sustainable relations with the environment can become a necessary doctrine for providing their more harmonious co-evolution. Considered not only as a general ideological doctrine but also as a field of constructive innovations, the eco-human platform can generate eco-human technologies that can be applied in education, medicine, the social sphere, as well as the wider cultural context. Such technologies can serve not only the well-being and health of human beings but can also change their environmental consciousness and behavior.

 

Theoretical foundations of the eco-humanities

Initial definitions of human knowledge, the humanities

The humanities are sciences that specialize in the study of the human being and its manifestations in a cultural environment. In contrast to the natural sciences, which study the phenomena of the surrounding world as objects with which a person enters into subject-object relations, the humanities study mainly inter-subjective relations. This means that the knowing subject enters into dialogue with the phenomenon under study, communicates with it using a certain communication method, a language, and seeks to understand this phenomenon in the process of dialogue.

The humanities as a combination of human sciences that study the human being and humanity cover philosophy, cultural studies, religious studies, philology, linguistics, pedagogy, psychology, literary criticism, art history, anthropology, ethnography, cognitive science, and some other sciences. The term “the humanities” is preferable to the term “the human sciences” in those cases when it is necessary to emphasize the unity of human knowledge, the commonality of approaches used in human sciences, as compared to those used in the natural, social, or technical sciences. 

“The humanities establish an area of ​​self-knowledge and self-creation of the human being and humanity. Whatever human science works are written about ... – everywhere, we see the image of the human being in its various incarnations. We compare ourselves with them, we find commonality and differences, which means we understand ourselves more deeply and at the same time become more human ”[13, p. 14].

The humanities study the world of various human manifestations, “helping a person as a subject and object of knowledge to understand and express oneself; understand other people and communicate with them; understand other cultures and historical periods; understand the goals of humanity and the course of history; consciously build our personality in creative interaction with other individuals and cultures; therefore, to be a person in the full sense of the word, a worthy representative of humanity ” [13, p. 14].

 

Ecohumanism. Eco-human approach. Eco-human paradigm

Traditionally, ecology is not included in the humanities, but considered to be close to the natural sciences, since it studies the world of natural objects and the interaction of living organisms and their communities with each other and with the environment. At the same time, there is reason to consider ecology as a meta-science, uniting all spheres and methods of scientific knowledge, including the humanities and their methods.

Moreover, the recognition of the connection of ecology with the human sciences is becoming urgent at present, since, without this factor, a fundamental turn in our approach to solving the environmental crisis cannot occur. Without this, the approach to solving this problem will be based mainly on technological measures, but not on changing the consciousness and self-consciousness of a person and one’s relations with the natural world. In order to introduce ecology into the context of the humanities, to accept the eco-human approach, it is necessary to reconsider the traditional concepts of subjectivity in relation to the natural world and inter-subjectivity, with reference to the interaction of the human being and nature.

The essence of the human being and its subjectivity in the process of its self-knowledge and in the system of its relations with the environment establishes the ontological foundation of “the human being together with the living environment”, as the main subject of the eco-human approach, the eco-humanities. It is necessary to clarify what “the human being together with the living environment” as a main subject of the eco-human approach is, and what ontological status it has. 

Consideration of the natural world from the perspective of relations between the human being and the environment, according to V.I. Panov [12], frames such an understanding of these relations which traditionally has as its basis the epistemological logic of object-object and subject-object relations. According to this paradigm, the human being and nature are separated and oppose each other, assuming, depending on the specific subject of research, the active role of the “subject” acting on the environment or its components, or the reactive (passive) role of the “object” receiving the impact from the environment.

This paradigm is presented in the minds of modern people in two ways. “On the one hand, it is recognized that technological developments caused the ecological crisis. On the other hand, it is proposed that the same technological developments can also be used to solve the environmental crisis, but this, however, creates the danger of new environmental problems arising from overcoming old ones” [12, p. 12–13].

One of the most refined options for overcoming this contradiction is the psychology of environmental consciousness, which raises the question of overcoming the anthropocentric type of consciousness that dictates the subject-object type of interaction with the natural world. This type of consciousness should be replaced, by the eco-centric type of consciousness that implements the inter-subjective interaction between the human being and the natural world [4, 5, 14]. The necessary condition for this is the subjectification of natural objects and the natural world with their ability to perform subjective functions. However, the “world of nature” is not considered from the standpoint of its own subjectivity (that is, nature itself is not recognized as a subject) but from the standpoint of a subjectivity, which a person gives to nature in his subjective, personal attitude to it. “In this sense, despite the inter-subjective relationship of “the human being” to the “world of nature”, they are considered opposed to each other, as with the subject-object relationship of “the human being” to the “world of nature”, that is, within the epistemological paradigm” [12, p. 13].

An ontological, paradigm is possible in the analysis of relationships in the system of "the human being and the natural environment (natural world)”. According to this paradigm, nature acts as the universal foundation of the diversity of natural forms of being. This radically changes the meaning of the relationship between the human being and nature and, accordingly, the meaning of the ecological paradigm. At the same time, the human being acts as a natural form of being, and the human being and nature are not opposed to each other as separate entities, as they are in the system of relations as “subject and object”, “subject and subject”. The human being is considered as an active self-developing part of nature, which implements in its self-realization the general (universal) principles that ensure the self-realization of nature itself in various forms of its manifestation, including the planet as a whole, and as part of the global natural environment.

“Thus, the formation (being) of the system “humanity - planet” acts as a product of a holistic ontological subject that implements in its development universal and common natural principles of the creation of forms of being, common to “humanity”, “planet” and the psyche as different forms of being, but in the ontological plane obeying the principles common to each of them and, at the same time, irreducible to each of them” [12, p. 14]. They are subjects of joint development, communication, cognition, and activity. In relations with each other, they give rise to an ontologically holistic entity with the ability of “expressive and speaking being” (as expressed by M.M. Bakhtin) [1, p. 8].

This property of the environment as having an ontological essence common to the human being and through it acquiring the ability of “expressive and speaking being” has been repeatedly expressed by those who strived to understand human beings- philosophers, poets, artists, visionaries.

In his letters, Vincent van Gogh reveals the pivotal role of nature for creative endeavors. In one of his letters to his brother Theo (Wasmes, June 1879) he explains: “I know no better definition of the word art than this, ‘Art is man added to nature’, nature, reality, truth, but with a meaning, with an interpretation, with a character that the artist brings out and to which he gives expression, which he sets free, which he unravels, releases, elucidates.”

In another letter (The Hague, Sunday, 3 September 1882) he even explained his creative method based on his relatedness to nature when he wrote:

“I’m glad that I’ve never learned how to paint… I don’t know myself how I paint. I sit with a white board before the spot that strikes me — I look at what’s before my eyes — I say to myself, this white board must become something — I come back, dissatisfied — I put it aside, and after I’ve rested a little, feeling a kind of fear, I take a look at it — then I’m still dissatisfied — because I have that marvelous nature too much in mind for me to be satisfied — but still, I see in my work an echo of what struck me, I see that nature has told me something, has spoken to me and that I’ve written it down in shorthand. In my shorthand there may be words that are indecipherable — errors or gaps — yet something remains of what the wood or the beach or the figure said — and it isn’t a tame or conventional language which doesn’t stem from nature itself but from a studied manner or a system. Herewith also a scratch from the dunes. Standing there were small bushes whose leaves are white on one side and dark green on the other, and which constantly move and sparkle. Behind them is dark wood.” [2, p. 47]

A similar meaning was set forth by Marina Tsvetaeva who claimed that “Nature through the human being ‘processes itself to its glory’” or that “the work of art is the same work of nature, but must be enlightened by the light of reason and conscience” [10, P.92].

Possessing the ability of cultural production, the gift to generate speech and text, and understand them, the ability for conscious activity, a person turns natural objects into "expressive and speaking being." In order to recognize nature and natural objects as objects of human (eco-human) discourse, it is necessary to proceed a priori from their perception in the context of human history, recognizing the expressive potential hidden in the depths of Nature of its ability to communicate with humans, as well as its ability, like humans and through humans, to comprehend.

So, the eco-human approach can be defined as the field of human knowledge, an approach to cognition of the human being, when it is considered as a rational and self-conscious part of a single subject of the study, “Nature – the Human Being”, in which both “Nature” and “The Human Being” comprise two subsystems of a single whole, the single subject of eco-mankind.

The eco-humanities are the totality of human sciences that study the human being, the field of self-knowledge and self-creation of humans on the basis of comprehension of its inclusion in the dual subjective entity of “Nature and the human being”. The eco-humanities are associated with the recognition of the ecological/natural essence of the human being, its perception of oneself as an “environmental subject”, and the recognition of one’s eco-identity.

The eco-human paradigm is a system of human knowledge, concepts and ways of thinking, including theories, research methods, postulates and standards, in accordance with which subsequent constructions, generalizations and experiments in the humanities can be carried out. In other words, the eco-human paradigm explains the essence, properties and manifestations of the human being and humanity as parts of the whole subjective entity "Nature and the human being."

The eco-human approach, methods, and technologies are currently inventions of the humanities and comprise new human ideas, new means of their embodiment in the form of cultural practices, creative organizations, and forms of cooperation. The eco-human approach covers those areas of culture that are studied by the humanities: linguistics, literature, art, philosophy, pedagogy, psychology, religion, cultural studies and others.

It must be admitted that the term “eco-humanism” was used by Mikhail Epstein but in a significantly different sense, as a kind of addition to techno-humanism or as one of its sections. In the definition of M.N. Epstein [13], “eco-humanism is the study of those forms and characteristics of the human being that are gradually archaizing, falling into the historical past in connection with the development of the technological environment and the corresponding technical skills and attitudes” (p.129).

Ecologization of the human being, as defined by M.N. Epstein, is what remains in the human being after the transfer of its organic and intellectual functions to technology or artificial intelligence. Eco-humanism is a niche of a “natural” person who has not undergone technical transformations, but remains in nature and culture, within the framework of the specific form of homo sapiens, which was the only form of human being until the 21st century [ibid, p. 129]. Further: “The subject of eco-humanism is the specificity of a person, not reducible to a machine, a person as a native of a ‘conservative’, natural environment, a suffering, mortal creature, physically imperfect, creatively gifted, culturally daring” [13, p.129-130].

 

The problem of environmental consciousness as central for eco-humanity

The problem of environmental consciousness is central for the eco-humanities, especially in such an eco-human discipline as ecopsychology. Environmental consciousness mediates human interaction with the natural, man-made, informational and other types of environment. This problem goes beyond ecopsychology research and is the subject of a number of sciences such as ecology, pedagogy, philosophy and others. The importance of studying environmental consciousness is due to the onset of the global environmental crisis, which led to the establishment of the sustainable development model under UN auspices.

The problem of environmental consciousness is addressed, in particular, by the Laboratory of Ecopsychology of Development, the Psychological Institute of the Russian Academy of Education. An analysis of the subject of research on the ecopsychology of development and types of ecopsychological interactions shows the possibility of a special methodological position in determining the psyche as an object and subject of research. According to this methodological position, the psyche is considered as a form of being, generated as a systemic quality in the process of human interaction with the world [12, C.3]. The research approach used in this case draws special attention to the system of relationships between the human being and the environment (natural, social) in determining the object and subject of research [6, 11].

As a psychological phenomenon, environmental consciousness is seen as inclusive of cognitive, emotional, and behavioral aspects. It is also considered as the condition of a person’s being at different developmental stages and in interaction with different types of environment. Environmental consciousness is considered to be a human willingness to responsibly treat the environment and an ability to use environmental knowledge, ideas and skills in different spheres of life. Environmental consciousness also acts as a worldview component that determines the corresponding behavior of a person in environmentally problematic situations [12, p.6].

At present, technologies for the formation of environmental consciousness are given more attention as they are one of the leading constituents that provide sustainable lifestyles. However, the efforts undertaken appear to be insufficient to ensure qualitative changes in environmental consciousness and the behavior of most people.

 

Love from the viewpoint of the eco-humanities: Ecopoiesis

According to the concept of environmental consciousness, which defines the general logic and purpose of its development in the direction of the ecocentric type of consciousness [4,5,14], the subjectivity of natural objects is considered to be nothing more than a “reflected” subjectivity of the human being. The perception of the natural world as a totality of objects, characteristic of the anthropocentric type of ecological consciousness, excludes the experience of any human emotions addressed to nature as the subject of inter-subjective relationships.

The ontological paradigm that examines the relationship of the human being with the natural environment (the natural world) sets a new perspective on the appraisal of the interactions of the human being with the environment and changes the meaning of the ecological paradigm. With this approach, the human being is considered as carrying out its own development and, at the same time, as involved in the self-development of nature as a whole. This is manifested, in particular, in the emergence of the noosphere, defined, according to V. Vernadsky, as the new state of the biosphere, the highest stage of biosphere development, and the planetary “sphere of reason” [3, 17].

Thus, the system “humanity - planet” acts as a united ontological subject that implements universal, common principles of the formation of various forms of being. These principles are the same for mankind, for the planet, and for the psyche as different forms of being but "in an ontological plane obeying the principles that are common to each of them and, at the same time, irreducible to each of them" [12, p.14].

Recognizing Nature (“the natural world”) as a subject of the discourse of the humanities (eco-humanities) means perceiving it as an integral part, a subsystem of a greater whole, such as eco-humanity. The existence of this two-sided subject is historical and is associated not only with the ability to express oneself through text, but also with the ability to experience such a particular feeling as love. In the whole system of the humanities, love as a powerful human emotion assumes one of the central places, since it affects the spiritual, creative essence of the human being. Love has a special place in spiritual culture as the complex of the intangible elements of human existence in different historical eras, accumulating the meanings, laws, spiritual values, customs, symbols, myths, language, knowledge and experience.

From the perspective of the eco-human approach, a person’s ability to love can be represented as a property of the integral subject “humanity-planet”, implying its creative, spiritual essence, manifested in various acts of generation, creation and creativity. This ability can be denoted by the term "ecopoiesis," derived from the philosophical concept of “poiesis” with its various interpretations characteristic for different historical periods.

For modern humanity, already on the verge of transferring its organic and intellectual functions to technology and artificial intelligence, love can act as a measure of authenticity, holism and interconnection. It may be that the niche of the “natural” human being which has not undergone technical transformations, remains in nature and culture, i.e. within the framework of the homo sapiens, which was the unique form of humanity until the 21st century. Love is also the ethical dominant associated with the determination of the roots of being, which allows the fragmented human being of modernity and its environment to integrate into new configurations of meanings, to gain the ability to connect and get involved in relationships not only with other people, but also with the natural world.

Erich Fromm in his work “The Art of Love” [9] claims that faith in the possibility of love is a rational belief based on the core qualities of human being. Love is the response of the individual to the problem of human existence, an attempt to satisfy not only sexual needs but also the need to overcome one's estrangement and loneliness. Love provides an interpersonal connection, a merging with another person. The recognition of love as a key characteristic of both human subjectivity and that of other forms of earthly life means that love allows all living things to connect with each other during their co-evolution, generating new forms and meanings as a response to the limited existence of any individual natural object and species, including the individual person and humankind in general.

E. C. Wilson [28] formulated the biophilia hypothesis, which postulated a pervasive attraction, an “emotional affiliation” (p.31) that draws people to nature. S.R. Kellert [21] defined it as a “human dependence on nature that extends far beyond the simple issues of material and physical sustenance to encompass as well the human craving for aesthetic, intellectual, cognitive, and even spiritual meaning and satisfaction” [21, p. 20]. Likewise, this “emotional affiliation” that draws people to nature could also be related to the ecological self, originally coined by Arne Naess, in the 1970’s, and elaborated by J. Macy and M. Gahbler [26], to denote the radical interrelatedness of all life forms which broadens one’s sense of identity and responsibility.

The biophilic foundations of human relations with the natural world comprise a significant regulatory and adaptive potential, supporting species diversity and planetary life in general. However, this concept does not provide sufficient reason to explain love as one of the central states and functions of the human being and one of the key phenomena of the eco-humanities. The concept of Ecopoiesis is designed to provide the broader foundations necessary for considering the human being in its relations with the environment. The concept of ecopoiesis is derived from the Greek idea of poiesis that also has a long history as a philosophical category. The introduction of the ecopoiesis concept marks those changes that occur in the quality of the human being during the transition to sustainable development.

The nature and functions of Love (Eros), and poiesis, as its function are initially revealed in the myths and philosophical works of Ancient Greece. These phenomena are, in particular, described in such a work of Plato as "The Symposium", [7]. This work is a philosophical and artistic interpretation of mythological images, primarily the figure of Eros, and reflects the views of Plato himself, his philosophical system, which represents his perception of love, the meaning of human life, and the nature of creative activity.

Eros is the Greek god of love, to whom Cupid correspond in Roman mythology. Eros was also revered as the god of fertility, who knew the primordial Chaos. In the Dionysian Mysteries it is called "protogonos", in other words, the first-born. One of the earliest legends says that it was Eros who forced Uranus (Sky) and Gaia (Earth) to entwine and give birth to numerous descendants. A myth is also widely known that describes the relationship of Eros and Psyche - an earthly, mortal woman who, through love and marriage with Eros and fidelity to her relationship, acquires immortality.

Diotima, as one of the figures in the Platonic "Symposium," describes how, through Love (Eros), mortals gain immortality. This happens on the basis of their creative need, their ability to generate, to create. Thus, poiesis is a function of Love (Eros), a manifestation of creative activity in the broadest sense of the word, supported by the human awareness of its own imperfection and mortality, and the desire to overcome them.

In the history of philosophical thought, the category of poiesis was developed further. In some cases, it is associated with sublimated acts of creative personal activity. Turning to this category, T.V. Surina [8] writes: “In Poiesis, culture physically embodies a spiritually previously existing (eternal) and spiritually non-existent, but having an intention to exist, striving to exist – a materialization of the spiritual and spiritualization of the elemental and natural. In Poiesis, nature, Physis … processes itself into that which didn’t exist before.”(p. 68).

Martin Heidegger calls poiesis "birth", using the term in its broadest sense. To illustrate the function of poiesis, he resorts to natural images: the blooming flower, the appearance of a butterfly from a cocoon. Heidegger also understands poiesis as a threshold event, a moment of ecstasy when something departs from its former state in order to become different.

U. Maturana and F. Varela proposed the concept of autopoiesis, which means self-construction, self-reproduction, and replication of living beings, including humans, all of which are distinguished by the fact that their organization generates themselves as a product without the separation into producer and product. The concept of autopoiesis is one of the criteria that allows us to separate living things from non-living ones.

According to the theory of U. Maturana and F. Varela, living beings are distinguished by an “autopoietic organization”, that is, the ability to self-reproduce, “build” themselves, creating their own components [27, p.21]. Thus, a cell produces the components of its membrane, without which it could neither exist nor produce these components. The researcher of artificial intelligence, Ben Herzel, in his model of reason (psynet-model) considers thoughts, feelings, and other mental entities as self-generating systems within the "system of magicians" [20].

During the last few decades, the innovative ideas concerning the human creative function in the field of expressive arts therapies strive to integrate world traditions with their wider understanding of creativity into the scientific platform [24, 25]. As S. Levine [24] puts it, “Within the framework of expressive arts, we could say that poiesis implies the capacity to respond to the world in which we find ourselves. We suffer, both individually and collectively, when we find ourselves unable to respond, when this capacity for poietic action is restricted and we experience ourselves as being in a helpless situation… The work of the change agent in the field of expressive arts, then, is to restore the capacity for poiesis that the individual or community has lost, and to help them expand the range of play within which they can act.” (p.27). 

He emphasizes that poiesis happens only in the world with others: “We have made this world together; this means that we can make it differently. The particular power of the expressive arts in the field of social change is to help us find our ability to make a new world together. Only by doing so can we leave to future generations a world which they will find worthy of response.” [ibid, p.29]

Rethinking the concept of poiesis from the viewpoint of the eco-human approach allows us to formulate the concept as describing the environmental contact, interaction and interpenetration of different living systems and their connection with each other, providing biological and cultural production. Ecopoiesis is a quality and mechanism of the co-evolution of the human being and nature, a conscious and responsible co-creation of humankind with the natural world, based on its vital (physical), emotional, and spiritual connection with it. Through ecopoiesis, the human being, together with nature, and as part of it continues, learns and generates not only itself and its meanings, but also various forms and meanings of earthly life.

Creative acts are rooted not so much in the need of individual creative self-expression in the traditional sense, but in the motivation to support and serve nature and life and achieve non-duality, a balance between natural and cultural milieu by embracing the transpersonal center of being [18]. 

Ecopoiesis cannot be achieved without love for the Earth and for the beings that inhabit it, including our own selves. Along with conscious awareness, this loving care arrives with its capacity for creativity and creation. Ecopoiesis reigns over planetary life as an expression of the interaction and interpenetration of living systems and their cooperation with each other.  It enables both biological and cultural creation for the co-evolution of humanity and nature.

The concept of ecopoiesis assumes a greater significance as related to the human ability to get involved in meaningful environmental actions, the art of biophilia [22, 23] as a form of co-creation, in which human beings can participate together with other living forms that establish a wider community of subjects. Ecopoiesis as a creative environmental function and one of the functions of eco-identity is expressed through one’s initiatives to care for and respect the environment and to see ecosystems and local green spaces as a source of health and well-being for oneself and others who belong to both the human and the beyond-human-world. 

 

The constructive humanities and eco-humanities. Eco-human technologies

In the new history, the constructive component in the methodology of the natural and social sciences has steadily increased, while in the majority of the humanities it has not been in demand. As recognized by M.N. Epstein [13], “The great paradox of the humanities is that by exploring the creative potential of culture, they are unable to realize this potential in their own activities” (p.13).

At the same time, the humanities can act as an arena not only for cognition, but also for creativity. As applied to the eco-humanities, this means not only comprehending and studying nature as a mirror and a part of the human being, using methods of scientific cognition, and the arts, but also creating something new in the process of such study, engaging in the multiplication of conceivable eco-human creations, generating their variations, and competing models in order to maintain biological and cultural diversity.

Creativity in the humanities begins with understanding. This fully applies to the eco-human sciences. Recognizing the human being as a subject of planetary life is necessary in order to create and use new eco-human technologies necessary to generate eco-humanity as a new coordinated reality of nature and humanity.

Such technologies can be generated in a wide range of scientific disciplines (pedagogy, education, enlightenment, psychology, psychotherapy, medicine, and art) and applied in different social and cultural practices. The constructive component of the eco-human approach enables the following:

- To identify new areas of concern and explore new territories of knowledge, scientific and artistic creation, and to realize the transformative potential of the humanities (philosophy, anthropology, cultural studies, linguistics, psychology, pedagogy) in their connection with ecology;

- To form and develop a complex of new human disciplines, such as ecopsychology, ecopedagogy, ecophilosophy, ecolinguistics, etc.;

- To support the constructive cooperation of eco-human knowledge with technical achievements;

- To develop new methods and genres of eco-human creativity.
The eco-human approach may have a special practical branch and its own ways of influencing cultural life. This is a practical branch of the eco-humanities, which can embrace methods of transforming the phenomena studied, notably, the human being with its attitudes to the environment and itself.

One of the practical branches of the eco-humanities can grow in the field of environmental pedagogy and environmental education, forming environmental consciousness and self-awareness. Its other practical branch can grow in the field of psychology (ecopsychology, psychology of environmental consciousness), penetrating from here to various empirical areas, such as counseling, psychotherapy, personal growth practice, work with families and communities, coaching, organizational psychology and work psychology, and even further, in community psychology, developmental psychology, clinical psychology, psychiatry and neuroscience.

Constructive initiatives of the eco-humanities can be primarily applied to the problem of developing environmental consciousness at different stages of human development and in different environmental conditions. In the coming decades, these methods and technologies may become one of the factors of sustainable (co-evolutionary) development of humankind and nature. Eco-human technologies can also be developed in medicine, contributing to the prevention and treatment of somatic, psychosomatic and mental pathologies, and developmental disorders.

 

Conclusion

The environmental crisis takes place against the background of the degrading humanities. In order to overcome the crisis of human knowledge and, at the same time, prevent an environmental collapse, a reformation of the entire human paradigm and a rethinking of its subject and purpose are required. Modern human knowledge needs an updated concept of the human being, the return of his natural essence to him/her and, together with this, the creation of an effectively working practical framework in the form of new human technologies as well as creative activities in the whole complex of human disciplines, such as philosophy, pedagogy, psychology, art history, cultural studies, philology, linguistics, etc.

Understanding the current situation in the field of ecology and human knowledge allows us to recognize: ecology needs the humanities to the same extent as modern human knowledge needs ecology and ecological thinking. This article has outlined the main content of a new interdisciplinary field – the eco-humanities, combining ecology and the wide spectrum of human disciplines. The essence of the human being and its subjectivity in the process of its self-knowledge and in the system of its relations with the environment establishes the ontological foundation of “the human being together with the living environment” as the main subject of eco-human approach, the eco-humanities.

This article describes the eco-human approach as an approach to the study of the human being, when it is considered as a rational and self-conscious part of the single subject of the united subject, “Nature – The Human Being”, in which both “Nature” and “The Human Being” comprise two subsystems of a single subject, eco-humanity.

Love was identified as one of the key phenomena of eco-humanity and was considered from the perspective of the philosophical concept of poiesis. As a result of considering poiesis in the context of the eco-human approach, the concept of ecopoiesis was defined as an environmental interaction and interpenetration of different living systems, providing biological and cultural creation. Ecopoiesis is a quality and mechanism of the co-evolution of the human being and nature, a conscious and responsible co-creation of humankind with the natural world, based on the vital (physical), emotional, and spiritual connection with it.

As a constructive component of the eco-humanities, eco-human technologies were identified and defined as methods of transforming the human being with its attitude to the environment and itself. Eco-human technologies can be used in the field of pedagogy, psychology, medicine and other fields, in a wide cultural domain, forming environmental awareness and values, contributing to preserving and developing human and natural resources of the planet.

 

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Reference for citations

Kopytin A.I. (2020). The eco-humanities as a way of coordinating the natural and human being. Ecopoiesis: Eco-Human Theory and Practice, 1(1). [open access internet journal]. – URL: http://ecopoiesis.ru (d/m/y)



About the journal

“Ecopoiesis: Eco-Human Theory and Practice” is the first 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.