Meditations on meditations on meditations : encountering environmental education and its relationship with René Descartes
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SubjectCartesian Dualism; clockwork universe; environmental discourses; mechanistic thinking; René Descartes
Within my first year of grad school, I discovered that the discourses within and surrounding Environmental Education frequently arrive at a common antagonist. Across popular and academic works alike, the ideas of seventeenth century thinker René Descartes are often framed as responsible for or contributing to the separation of human beings from ourselves and the rest of Being. Descartes is said to be partially or wholly responsible for a spectrum of calamities that have befallen our species and the interconnected systems to which we belong. Though this idea forms an axiomatic premise to numerous scholarly works, none of this, nor so much of what may be found hinged upon it, felt quite right to me. My extracurricular inquiry into the basis of this narrative shattered what I understood to be a load-bearing conceptual structure within the discipline. Year-two of my grad school experience was this thesis and my attempt to make sense of all of the above. Toward that aim, and grounded in an autophenomenological and hermeneutic framework, this research focusses on context: my own environmental and educational background, the relationship I discovered between Environmental Education and Descartes, and a deeper exploration of the time of this philosopher, as well as his work and its legacy. A diversity of ideas, historical and linguistic evidence, and personal experience is brought together to form a response to the popular narrative about Descartes and to tackle the messy and conflicted relationship I found myself forming with both this character and this discipline.
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