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Relational Ontologies


Barbara Thayer-Bacon

Relational Ontologies uses the metaphor of a fishing net to represent the epistemological and ontological beliefs that we weave together for our children, to give meaning to their experiences and to help sustain them in their lives. The book describes the epistemological threads we use to help determine what we catch up in our net as the warp threads, and our ontological threads as the weft threads. It asks: what kind of fishing nets are we weaving for our children to help them make sense of their experiences? What weft threads are we including and working to strengthen, and what threads are we removing or leaving out? It is important to carefully re/examine these most basic ways of catching up what sustains us in our ocean of infinite experiences, as the threads we weave for our children will determine what they catch up in their nets, until they are old enough to re/weave their own. Relational Ontologies reweaves America’s epistemological and ontological fishing net on a larger scale, turning to indigenous cultures and diverse spiritual beliefs for assistance in reforming American schools.

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Chapter 4.   Sky: Indra’s Net


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We have considered different, diverse metaphors so far to help us contemplate the concept of infinity as a starting place for relational ontological theories that have developed in various parts of the world. I began with the Ocean as a symbol for infinity, and described ontological and epistemological theories as the warp and weft threads in our fishing nets that we use to help us give meaning to our experiences and “catch up” or “capture” what we need to survive from the infinite Ocean, while we are distinct from the Ocean, until we become one with it again. In Chapter 1, I turned to a description of William James’s radical empiricism as we further explored water, in terms of streams, and concepts as being like nets. In Chapter 2, we explored the Land (Earth) as a symbol of infinity and indigenous concepts concerning Nature in a net of sustainability. In Chapter 3, we considered Plants (trees and grass) as symbols of infinity and rhizomatic models of interconnectivity. In this chapter, I turn to the Sky as another example of infinity that has been referenced in various ways throughout time.

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