Loving the Earth by Loving a Place: A Situated Approach to the Love of Nature

Constructivist Foundations 17 (3):179-189 (2022)
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Abstract

Context: I extend the enactive account of loving in romantic relationships that I developed with Hanne De Jaegher to the love of nature. Problem: I challenge a universal conceptualization of love of nature that does not account for the differences that are inherent to nature. As an alternative, I offer a situated account of loving a place as participatory sense-making. However, a question arises: How is it possible to communicate with the other-than-human? Method: I use panpsychist and enactive conceptual tools to better define this situated approach to the love of nature and to reply to the research question. In particular, I focus on Mathews’s “becoming native” and the generative tensions that unfold in a dialectic of encounter when a common language is not shared. Results: The fundamental difference experienced in encountering the other-than-human is generative for building up the human-Earth connection if we let each other be listened to. I describe the ethical dimension that permeates this type of “enactive listening” at the core of a situated account of love of nature. Implications: Love of nature is of paramount importance in our current climate crisis characterized by environmental anxiety, despair, and anger. A situated love of nature emphasizes the importance of community-based local interventions to preserve the Earth. Love, thus understood as a fundamental moral and political power, is a catalyst for environmental activism. Constructivist content: My article links to participatory sense-making as defined by De Jaegher and Di Paolo, and De Jaegher’s loving epistemology. It offers a broader understanding of participatory sense-making that includes the other-than-human. It also introduces the new concept of “enactive listening.”

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The problem of sentience.Laura Candiotto - forthcoming - Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences:1-21.

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