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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 5.   Spider Webs: African Examples


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We have explored various, diverse metaphors used in different parts of the world to help us make sense of our infinite world, and learn how to survive “in it” until we become one with it again. Symbols of our infinite universe have included the Ocean, the Land, the Wind, and the Sky. We have encountered the infinite with various names as well: God, Buddha, Indra, Great Spirit, and Nature, for example. We have turned to wise scholars from various traditions to help us understand how we weave various weft (ontological) and warp (epistemological) threads to form nets that help us catch our diverse experiences and give them meaning. I have used various examples of “nets” to help us make sense of this process, from fishing nets on our Ocean to Indra’s jeweled net in our Sky.

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