ecophilia — an emerging philosophy
I have been using the name ecophilia for a while without knowing what it is.
“Eco” means home. The house we live in, the land we are part of, the air we breathe, and the water filling us. “Philia” is one of the eight greek words for love referring to friendship.
“The house of right relationship is built on the foundation of friendship. Friendship is the best and purest form of relationship”. Satish Kumar
I knew the essence of ecophilia was to create beauty by living in loving kinship with our home. Inspired by the biophilia hypothesis, as described and popularised by Edward O. Wilson, which suggests that humans possess an innate tendency to seek connections with nature and other forms of life, what particularly fascinated me was that biophilia seemed to combine deep care for the more-than-human world with aesthetics. Beauty is not an inherent part of the sustainability discourse. Yet, I am hungry for beauty. I seek beauty everywhere. In my home, in gardening, in my friendships, in landscapes, or in clothes. I feel most alive in the beautiful.
“In a sense, all the contemporary crises can be reduced to a crisis about the nature of beauty.” John O’Donohue
A knot from fasting, fungi & fractals.
Fifty days ago, I started a 108-day experiment on fasting, fungi & fractals. The aim of the project is an exploration of how to live in the Ecocene. To do that, I explore fasting, fungi, and fractals because they address some of the greatest challenges to moving towards the Ecocene:
- Disconnection (or the inability to live in right relation to humans, and non-humans).
- A lack of responsibility / response(-ability).
The main knot I see from this experiment is that these three aspects are part of an emerging philosophy. And I sense that ecophilia might be that philosophy.
Why a philosophy
The root cause of the crises is that we don’t have coherent stories that we tell ourselves about who we are, why we are here, what we are doing, and what matters to us. In other words, we lack a philosophy to live by.
Philosophy is often associated with abstract and academic discourse. Still, in the ancient world, the philosopher was considered a philosopher not because she developed a philosophical discourse but because she lived philosophically. Philosophy is, above all, a mode of life. Without a philosophy, we can easily be tempted and manipulated. We don’t know who we are or where we are going.
I found that some people are blessed with having a philosophy through their upbringing. They have a strong inner compass and know what to do, what they care about, and how to make decisions based on who they are. To me, those people live in, what Gerald Hüther calls, dignity. Dignity protects us from blindly following mimetic desires and from causing harm to others.
At the same time, the philosophy many of us WEIRDest people grew up with was centered around individualized ideas and goals. I haven’t found a philosophy that adequately addresses the challenges of living in the Ecocene. In my research, I draw a lot on indigenous, relational philosophies, and they are some of the wisest around. Yet, I am still searching for a timely philosophy that I could live by. To me, ecophilia might just be such a philosophy.
Fasting, fractals & fungi — a synthesis and an invitation
In the upcoming months (or years), I will define ecophilia as a lived philosophy for the Ecocene. Although we need a common philosophy as humanity, I don’t believe it is possible or even desirable to have one only. Instead, I would love to co-create personal life philosophies aiming for living in the Ecocene with other beautiful people.
As mentioned in the introduction, philosophy is not an abstract discourse, but a way of life. Yet, one part of living a philosophical life is to engage in discourse. To develop a philosophy, discourse is inevitable, like the Platonic dialogues, which according to Victor Goldschmidt aimed at forming rather than informing students.
I would love to regularly gather with a small group of people to start such a discourse. So if you are interested, get in touch. If you are from Berlin, we could meet at the beautiful moos.garden, which I currently call home. If we are from all over, we can have an online discourse.