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Place, Being, Resonance

A Critical Ecohermeneutic Approach to Education


Michael W. Derby

How do we begin to move beyond a use-relation with «natural resources» towards resonance with a deeply interrelated ecology? Place, Being, Resonance brings insights from the hermeneutic tradition, ecopoetics and indigenous epistemologies of place to bear on education in a world of ecological emergency. An ecohermeneutic pedagogy draws on both critical and lyrical ways of thinking to make a free space for encountering the more-than-human other. The conventional school system has long sat at the vanguard of an ecologically exploitative worldview and something more is called for than retrofitting current practices while reinforcing the substructure of modernity. As educators we walk an existentially trying path of attending to what needs to be called into question and for what presses questions upon us. What presuppositions shape our relation with the natural world? How might we work at the level of metaphor to generate the critical distance required for analysis, while keeping hearts and minds open to encounters that might heal our estrangement? How do we learn to both read place and recognize that we are read? Utilizing fungal mycelium as a way of thinking, this inquiry inoculates the fragmented landscape of education in order to bring learning into resonance with being. Here, along the path, the attentive mind finds little bell-shaped fungi scattering the forest floor, calling us home and provoking our thinking to be deeply imaginative when it needs to be.
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chapter five—inoculating hermeneutics: Heidegger substrates


chapter five

inoculating hermeneutics: Heidegger substrates

A hermeneutic interest in tradition and ancestry (an interest in what Gary Snyder called “the old ways”) requires not simply the protective repetition of such traditions. Hermeneutics incites the particularities and intimacies of our lives to call these traditions to account, compelling them to bear witness to the lives we are living. Hermeneutics demands of such disciplines and traditions that they tell us what they know about keeping the world open and enticing and alive and inviting. And, to the extent that such disciplines and traditions can no longer serve this deeply pedagogical purpose, to that extent they are no longer telling, no longer helpful in our living, no longer true. (Jardine, 1998, p. 2)

Before we consider any specific features of an ecohermeneutic curriculum, I would like to ground this work in the modern hermeneutic tradition via a brief engagement with two of its foundational philosophers: Martin Heidegger (1962, 2001) and Hans-Georg Gadamer (2013). Their philosophical orientations, strategies and some of their key hermeneutic concepts will provide the substrates1 whereby we can inoculate and rethink these philosophers in light of more recent environmental theory and from within a world faced with ecological emergency. Ecohermeneutic inoculation in this respect is a deliquescent move—at once critical and remedial—that compels a tradition to reveal what it knows, what it has yet to teach, and where it needs to reconnect in order to remain in resonance with the world...

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