Everything Flows by Lynn De Jonghe scroll down for statement and annotated bibliography
ABOUT THE PRESENTATION:
EVERYTHING FLOWS takes a non-religious perspective based on the knowledge of scientists, naturalists, artists, architects, and philosophers. However, many individuals from different religious backgrounds may find that its themes resonate with their particular beliefs and ethical principles.
This resonance is likely because we humans draw on a shared history of chemical makeup, genetic evolution, sensory experience, and consciousness.
Some people might refer to the ecohumanist perspective as secular, atheistic, humanist, or even “nonist.” Indeed, ecohumanism (or ecological humanism) draws on many of the ideas of the humanist tradition. But ecohumanism expands the boundaries of humanist thinking to include reverence for animal life, for all life, and for the conditions for life becoming, which are provided by our beloved pale blue planet.
Some might argue that this perspective represents a “spiritual but not religious” view. However, I prefer to avoid this term because it rests on an outdated distinction between spiritual and material, at odds with current process thinking. Recent scholarship has shown us that that the once fabled mind-body division is a false dichotomy. We now know that all thought, all consciousness, is grounded in the body. And therefore, the traditional distinctions between cognitive and affective, between emotion and reason, between spiritual and rational are also to be understood, not so much as separate categories, but as shades of consciousness. As Whitehead might say, such categories are examples of misplaced concreteness.
The process philosophy that informs this view of ecohumanisn has a rich history that extends back to Heraclitus in Greece, to Lao Tse in China, and to the Vedic sutras of India. Although John Dewey and William James provided glimpses of an existence defined by a creative process of becoming, it was Alfred North Whitehead who fully elaborated the philosophy of process over materialism, a process which integrates all occasions of becoming from the infinitely small to the infinitely immense. Whitehead’s masterpiece, Process and Reality, stands as a monument of twentieth century thought. Since its publication in 1929, Whitehead’s work has been extended and elaborated by theologians led by John B Cobb, Jr., David Ray Griffin and Philip Clayton, by naturalistic philosophers such as Nicholas Rescher and Robert Mesle, and by scientists such as Ilya Prigogine, David Bohm, and Roger Penrose.
Because of its insistence on the unity of existence, the interconnected webs of life, and the process of creative becoming, process philosophy is especially suited to addressing the question of how to advance ecological humanism, and how to create ecologically sustainable societies.
Lynn Sargent De Jonghe, 12/2/20
Everything Flows: An Annotated List of Selected Resources on a Process Approach to Ecohumanism By Lynn Sargent De Jonghe, December 2020
Anielski, Mark. (2018). An Economy of Well-Being: Common Sense Tools for Building Genuine Wealth and Happiness. New Society Publishers, 2018. In a powerful answer to the struggling financial world around us, Anielski identifies how our existing debt and wealth management systems no longer serve our communities and our ability to live together in a just and balanced society.
Berry, Thomas. (2000). The Great Work: Our Way into the Future. Crown, 2000. One of the most eminent cultural historians of our time presents the culmination of his ideas and urges us to move from being a disrupting force on the Earth to a benign presence. This transition is the Great Work -- the most necessary and most ennobling work we will ever undertake.
Bohm, David. (1980). Wholeness and the Implicate Order. (1980) Routledge, 1980. The renowned physicist and mathematician develops a theory of quantum mechanics which treats the totality of existence as an unbroken whole. Originally considered controversial, this view has gradually come to be embraced by many cutting-edge scientists, including Roger Penrose, the 2020 Nobel laureate of physics.
Bowers, C. A. (2001) Educating for Justice and Community. University of Georgia Press, 2001. Bowers outlines a strategy for educational reform that confronts the rapid degradation of our ecosystems by renewing the face-to-face, intergenerational traditions that can serve as alternatives to our hyper-consumerist, technology-driven worldview.
Carson, Rachel. (1951, 2018) The Sea Around Us. 3rd Ed. Oxford University Press, 2018. One of the most influential books ever written about the natural world, it remains as fresh today as when it first appeared over six decades ago. Carson's genius for evoking the power and primacy of the world's bodies of water, combining the cosmic and the intimate, is almost unmatched. Today, with the oceans endangered, Carson's book provides a timely reminder of both the fragility and the centrality of the ocean and the life that abounds within it.
Carson, Rachel. (1955, 2017) The Sense of Wonder, a Celebration of Life for Parents and Children. Harper, 2017. In teaching her grandnephew, Roger, about the natural wonders around her Maine cottage, Carson began to see them anew herself, and wanted to relate that same magical feeling to others who might hope to introduce a child to the beauty of nature. “If a child is to keep alive his inborn sense of wonder,” writes Carson, “he needs the companionship of at least one adult who can share it, rediscovering with him the joy, excitement and mystery of the world we live in.”
Clayton, Phillip et. al. (2020) The New Possible: Visions of Our World Beyond Crisis. Cascade Books, 2020. 2020 upended our lives, leading us to ask, where is our world heading next? Will pandemic, protests, economic instability, and social distance lead to deeper inequalities, more nationalism, and further erosion of democracies around the world? Or are we moving toward a global re-awakening to the importance of community, mutual support, and the natural world? The New Possible offers twenty-eight visions of what can be, if instead of choosing to go back to normal, we choose to go forward to something far better. Assembled from global leaders on six continents, these essays are not simply speculation. They are an inspiration and a roadmap for action.
Clayton, Phillip and Schwartz, Andrew (2019) What is Ecological Civilization? Crisis, Hope and the Future of the Planet. Anoka, MN Process Century Press, 2019. The present trajectory of life on this planet is unsustainable, and the underlying causes of our environmental crisis are inseparable from our social and economic systems. The massive inequality between the rich and the poor is not separate from our systems of unlimited growth, the depletion of natural resources, the extinction of species, or global warming. What is urgently needed is a new vision for the flourishing of life on this planet, a vision the authors call an ecological civilization.
Clayton, Phillip. Editor. (2006) Mind and Emergence: from Quantum to Consciousness, NY: Oxford University Press, 2006. Clayton assesses the case for emergent phenomena in the natural world and their significance for philosophy and theology. Complex emergent phenomena require irreducible levels of explanation in physics, chemistry and biology. This pattern of emergence suggests a new approach to the problem of consciousness, which is neither reducible to brain states nor proof of a mental substance or soul. Although emergence does not entail classical theism, it is compatible with a variety of religious positions.
Cobb, John B. Jr. and Daly, Herman. (1994) For the Common Good: Redirecting the Economy Toward Community, the Environment and a Sustainable Future. 2nd Edition. Boston: Beacon Press, 1994. Economist Herman Daly and theologian John Cobb, Jr. demonstrate how conventional economics and a growth-oriented industrial economy have led us to the brink of environmental disaster, and show the possibility of a different future.
Cohen, William J. (2019) Ecohumanism and the Ecological Challenge: The Educational Legacy of Lewis Mumford and Ian McHarg. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2019. In 1966 Lewis Mumford, one of the most respected public intellectuals of the twentieth century, speaking at a conference on the future environments of North America, said, “In order to secure human survival we must transition from a technological culture to an ecological culture.” In this book William Cohen shows how Mumford’s conception of an educational philosophy was enacted by Ian McHarg, the renowned landscape architect and regional planner at the University of Pennsylvania. McHarg advanced a new way to achieve an ecological culture―through an educational curriculum based on fusing ecohumanism to the planning and design disciplines.
Davis, Wade. (2009) The Wayfinders: Why Ancient Wisdom Matters in the Modern World. Anansi Press, 2009. An eminent anthropologist makes his case for the relevance of diverse and ancient perspectives in the Massey lectures of 2009. Just as many animal species are at risk today, so are the cultures representing the great human legacy of ancient knowledge and expertise. Davis argues that a central challenge of our time is to rediscover and appreciate the diversity of the human spirit.
Diamond, Jared (2011, 2005) Collapse; How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed. Rev ed. New York: Viking, 2011. The author explores how climate change, the population explosion and political discord create the conditions for the collapse of civilization.
Fowles, John. (1979, 2000) The Tree. 30th Anniversary Edition Harper, 2000. From the brilliant novelist of The French Lieutenant’s Woman and The Magus, comes this classic meditation on creativity and the natural world. Poet W.S. Merwin wrote in his review: “For years I have carried this book with me on travels to reread, ponder, envy.”
Francis. (2015) Laudato Si’: Encyclical Letter of Pope Francis on Care for Our Common Home. (Vatican city: Libreria Editrice Vaticana 2015. In his papal encyclical Pope Francis invites all Christians into a dialogue with every person on the planet about our common home. We as human beings are united by the concern for our planet, and every living thing that dwells on it, especially the poorest and most vulnerable. Pope Francis outlines the current state of our common home, the human causes of the ecological crisis, the need to address ecology for the common good, and a call to action for humanity.
Godfrey-Smith, Peter (2020) Metazoa: Animal Life and the Birth of the Mind. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2020. In his acclaimed 2016 book, Other Minds, the philosopher and scuba diver Peter Godfrey-Smith explored the mind of the octopus―the closest thing to an intelligent alien on Earth. In Metazoa, Godfrey-Smith expands his inquiry to animals at large, investigating the evolution of subjective experience with the assistance of far-flung species. As he delves into what it feels like to perceive and interact with the world as other life-forms do, Godfrey-Smith shows that the appearance of the animal body well over half a billion years ago was a profound innovation that set life upon a new path. In accessible prose, he charts the ways that subsequent evolutionary developments―eyes that track and bodies that move through and manipulate the environment―shaped the subjective lives of animals. The author claims to be a materialist rather than process thinker, buy many of his comments suggest otherwise.
Goodenough, Ursula. (1998) The Sacred Depths of Nature. NY: Oxford University Press, 1998. Eminent biologist Ursula Goodenough shows us that the scientific world view can be a wellspring of solace and hope. She reconciles the modern scientific understanding of reality with our timeless yearnings for reverence and continuity. Looking at topics such as evolution, emotions, sexuality, and death, she makes it possible for even non-scientists to appreciate that the origins of life and the universe are no less meaningful because of our increasingly scientific understanding of them.
Javna, John, Javna, Sophie, and Javna, Jesse. (2008) 50 Simple Things You Can Do to Save the Earth: updated for the 21st century. Hyperion, 2008.50 Simple Things, the revolutionary 1990 bestseller, is back in a completely revised, updated edition, written by the original author and his two children–one that is just as innovative and groundbreaking as the original. The authors have teamed up with 50 of America's top environmental groups, including The Natural Resources Defense Council, the National Wildlife Federation, and Rainforest Action Network. Each group has chosen one issue and provided a simple, step-by-step program that will empower young people and their families to become citizen activists in the fight to save the Earth.
Leopold, Aldo (1966, 1949) The Sand County Almanac, NY: Oxford University Press, 1966. A Sand County Almanac is a foundational text in environmental science, which many credit with launching a revolution in land management. Written as a series of sketches based principally upon the flora and fauna in a rural part of Wisconsin, the book, originally published in 1949, gathers informal pieces written by Leopold over a forty-year period as he traveled through the woodlands across America.
Kendi, Ibram. (2019) How to Be an Anti-Racist. One World, 2019. In this follow-up to his National Book Award-winning Stamped from the Beginning, Kendi explains that racism is ultimately structural. Racism directs attention away from harmful, inequitable policies and turns that attention on the people harmed by those policies. Kendi employs history, science, and ethics to describe different forms of racism; at the same time, he follows the events and experiences of his own life, adapting a memoir approach that personalizes his arguments. Kendi's title encompasses his main thesis: simply not being racist isn't enough. We must actively choose to be antiracist, working to undo racism and its component polices in order to build an equitable society.
Koutroufinis, Spyridon and Pikarski, Rene. (2020) Unprecedented Evolution: Continuities and Discontinuities between Human and Animal Life and the Future of Humanity. Process Century Press, 2020.The authors of these essays examine core dimensions of the human condition in light of biophilosophy and process metaphysics, which they apply to anthropological issues such as the survival of the human species and the biosphere as a whole. With a general focus on the unique capacity for symbolization as marking an important and influential factor in human evolution, the authors address key issues in biophilosophy, such as the specific ways we differ from other species, our capacity to symbolize, and our playfulness and proclivity for mythmaking.
Lakoff, George and Johnson, Mark (1999) Philosophy in The Flesh: the Embodied Mind and its Challenge to Western Thought. Basic Books, 1999. Two eminent scholars delve into the implications of recent research which demonstrates clearly that the mind is embodied. Thought requires a body–not in the trivial sense that we need a physical brain to think with, but in the profound sense that the very structure of our thoughts comes from the nature of the body. Nearly all of our unconscious metaphors are based on common bodily experiences. Most of the central themes of the Western philosophical tradition are called into question by these findings.
Mazzucato, Mariana (2020) The Value of Everything. PublicAffairs; Illustrated edition (May 12, 2020) The Value of Everything argues that American companies have for too long been valued according to the amount of wealth they capture for themselves rather than for the value they create for the economy.
McHarg, Ian. (1995) Design with Nature, 25th edition. NY: Wiley, 1995. In the twenty-five years since it first took the academic world by storm, Design with Nature has done much to redefine the fields of landscape architecture, urban and regional planning, and ecological design. It has also left a permanent mark on the ongoing discussion of mankind's place in nature and nature's place in mankind within the physical sciences and humanities. It offers a practical blueprint for a new, healthier relationship between the built environment and nature. It provides the scientific, technical, and philosophical foundations for a mature civilization that can replace the polluted, bulldozed, machine-dominated, dehumanized, explosion-threatened world that is disintegrating before our eyes.
McKibben, Bill. (1989, 2006) The End of Nature. Rev Ed. NY: Doubleday, 2006. This impassioned plea for radical and life-renewing change is today still considered a groundbreaking work in environmental studies. McKibben's argument that the survival of the globe is dependent on a fundamental, philosophical shift in the way we relate to nature is more relevant than ever. McKibben writes of our earth's environmental cataclysm, addressing such core issues as the greenhouse effect, acid rain, and the depletion of the ozone layer.
Mesle, C. Robert (2008) Process-Relational Philosophy: An Introduction to Alfred North Whitehead. Templeton Press, 2008. Mesle breaks down Whitehead's complex writings, providing a simple but accurate introduction to the vision that underlies much of contemporary process philosophy and theology. In doing so, he points to a "way beyond both reductive materialism and the traps of Cartesian dualism by showing reality as a relational process in which minds arise from bodies, in which freedom and creativity are foundational to process, in which the relational power of persuasion is more basic than the unilateral power of coercion."
Morris, Brian. (2017) Pioneers of Ecological Humanism. Black Rose Books, 2017. In this triple intellectual biography, Brian Morris discusses three intellectual giants who made an enormous, though often overlooked, contribution to modern ecology: Lewis Mumford, René Dubos, and Murray Bookchin. Morris argues that they forged a third way beyond both industrialism and anti-modernism: ecological humanism (also known as social ecology), a tradition that embraces both ecological realities and the ethical and cultural wealth of humanism.
Mumford, Lewis. (1966, 1970) The Myth of the Machine: Technics and Human Development. Vol. 1. Harcourt Brace, 1970. A pioneer of ecological humanism, Mumford explains the forces that have shaped technology since prehistoric times and shaped the modern world. He shows how tools developed because of significant parallel inventions in ritual, language, and social organization and calls for the creation of an ecological culture.
Nicholson, Daniel J. and Dupre, John, Eds. (2018) Everything Flows: Towards a Processual Philosophy of Biology. Oxford University Press, 2018. Everything Flows explores the metaphysical thesis that the living world is not made up of substantial particles or things, as has often been supposed, but is rather constituted by processes. The biological domain is organized as an interdependent hierarchy of processes, which are stabilized and actively maintained at different timescales. Even entities that intuitively appear to be paradigms of things, such as organisms, are actually better understood as processes. Unlike previous attempts to articulate processual views of biology, which have tended to use Alfred North Whitehead's panpsychist metaphysics as a foundation, this book takes a naturalistic approach to metaphysics. It submits that the main motivations for replacing an ontology of substances with one of processes are to be found in the empirical findings of science.
Orr, David W. (2016) Dangerous Years; Climate Change, the Long Emergency and the Way Forward. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2016. The award-winning, internationally recognized leader in the field of sustainability and environmental education considers the future of civilization in the light of what we know about climate change and related threats. Even with the Paris Agreement of 2015, Earth systems will not reach a new equilibrium for centuries. Earth is becoming a different planet -- more threadbare and less biologically diverse, with more acidic oceans and a hotter, more capricious climate. Furthermore, technology will not solve complex problems of sustainability. Yet we are not fated to destroy the Earth, Orr insists. He imagines sustainability as a quest and a transition built upon robust and durable democratic and economic institutions, as well as changes in heart and mindset. The transition is beginning from the bottom up in communities and neighborhoods. He lays out specific principles and priorities to guide us toward enduring harmony between human and natural systems.
Orr, David W. (2004) Earth in Mind; On Education, Environment and the Human Prospect, 2nd Ed. Rev. Island Press, 2004. Noted environmental educator Orr focuses not on problems in education, but on the problem of education. Much of what has gone wrong with the world, he argues, is the result of inadequate and misdirected education that: alienates us from life in the name of human domination; causes students to worry about how to make a living before they know who they are; overemphasizes success and careers; separates feeling from intellect and the practical from the theoretical; and deadens the sense of wonder for the created world.
Oliver, Mary (2016) Upstream: Selected Essays. New York: Penguin, 2016. Oliver’s body of work includes nearly three dozen volumes of poetry and collections of prose. This group of essays combines elements of a journal, a commonplace book, and a meditation. The natural world pictured here is richly various, though Oliver seems most drawn to waterways. All manner of aquatic life—shark and mackerel, duck and egret—accompany her days, along with spiders, foxes, even a bear. The message of her book for its readers is a simple and profound one: open your eyes.
Penrose, Roger. (2012). Cycles of Time: An Extraordinary New View of the Universe. Random House, 2012. Penrose shows how the expected fate of our ever-accelerating, expanding universe–heat death or ultimate entropy–can actually be reinterpreted as the conditions that will begin a new “big bang.” The Nobel prize winner explains standard and non-standard cosmological models, the role of the cosmic microwave background, and the paramount significance of black holes as he makes a strong scientific case for expanding the boundaries of our thinking.
Prigogine, Ilya and Stengers, Isabelle. (1996) The End of Certainty: Time, Chaos, and the New Laws of Nature. The Free Press, 1996. The Noble Prize-winning physicist teams with noted Whitehead scholar, Isabelle Stengers, as they move beyond determinism to explore the probabilistic processes of the real world. They argue that we live in a world of definable probabilities, in which life and matter evolve continuously in the direction of time, and in which certainty is an illusion.
Rescher, Nicholas. (2000) Process Philosophy: A Survey of Basic Issues. University of Pittsburgh Press, 2000. The author, a well-known philosopher who has written on many issues, holds that process philosophy is not identical with the philosophy of any one particular thinker. Rescher surveys the basic issues and controversies surrounding the philosophical approach known as process philosophy. Process philosophy views temporality, activity, and change as the cardinal factors for our understanding of the real—process has priority over product, both ontologically and epistemically. Rescher examines the movement’s historical origins, reflecting a major line of thought in the work of such philosophers as Heracleitus, Leibniz, Bergson, Peirce, William James, and Whitehead.
Sagan, Carl. (1980) Cosmos. NY: Random House, 1980. Sagan integrates different perspectives to broaden understandings and explore enigmas of the ever-changing yet constant world around us–its distant, cold enormity and intimate, warmer closeness. He combines a variety of disciplines, including science, literature, philosophy, and history to analyze what shapes the Cosmos and our relationship to and perception of it.
Sandel, Michael. (2010) Justice: What’s the Right Thing to Do? Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2010. Affirmative action, same-sex marriage, physician-assisted suicide, abortion, national service, the moral limits of markets―Sandel relates the big questions of political philosophy to the most vexing issues of the day, and shows how a surer grasp of philosophy can help us make sense of politics, morality, and our own convictions as well.
Scanlon, T. M. (2000) What We Owe to Each Other. Belknap Press, 2000. According to T. M. Scanlon's contractualist view, thinking about right and wrong is thinking about what we do in terms that could be justified to others and that they could not reasonably reject. He shows how the special authority of conclusions about right and wrong arises from the value of being related to others in this way, and he demonstrates how familiar moral ideas such as fairness and responsibility can be understood through their role in this process of mutual justification and criticism. The producer of the acclaimed TV series, The Good Place, distributed chapters of this book for discussion by the cast and crew before every film session.
Swimme, Brian and Tucker, Mary Evelyn (2011) Journey of the Universe. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2011. This book and its beautiful companion film tell the epic story of the universe from an inspired new perspective, weaving the findings of modern science together with enduring wisdom found in the humanistic traditions of the West, China, India, and indigenous peoples. The authors explore cosmic evolution as a profoundly wondrous process based on creativity, connection, and interdependence, and they envision an unprecedented opportunity for the world's people to address the daunting ecological and social challenges of our times.
Tapp, Robert B. editor. (2002) Ecohumanism. Amherst, NY Prometheus Books. 2002. Humanists are sometimes accused of being so focused on the human race that they ignore the environment and other species. This book is designed to address these criticisms. The contributors, all humanists in the naturalistic tradition, show that in fact humanism as a worldview has much to offer environmentalism.
Thandeka. (2018) Love Beyond Belief: Finding Access to Spiritual Awareness. Polebridge Press. 2018. Using insights from the brain science of emotions, the author narrates two millennia of lost-and-found stories about love beyond belief as the access point to the heart and soul of spiritual life. Many people today identified as "spiritual but not religious" people – estimated to be one in four US adults – have found the access point to spiritual experience that Western Christianity lost: unconditional love. Thandeka tracks the history of this lost emotion.
United Nations. UNESCO. (2000) Earth Charter Commission. The Earth Charter. https://earthcharter.org/read-the-earth-charter/ The Earth Charter was adopted in the year 2000 by the United Nations with the mission of addressing the economic, social, political, spiritual, and environmental problems confronting the world in the twenty-first century. It is divided into for major sections: respect and care for the community of life; ecological integrity; social and economic justice; and democracy, non-violence and peace.
Varela, Francisco, Thompson, Evan, and Rosch, Eleanor (2017) The Embodied Mind: Cognitive Science and Human Experience. Rev Ed. MIT Press, 2017. This classic book, first published in 1991, was one of the first to propose the “embodied cognition” approach in cognitive science. It pioneered the connections between phenomenology and science and between Buddhist practices and science—claims that have since become highly influential. Through this cross-fertilization of disparate fields of study, The Embodied Mind introduced a new form of cognitive science called “enaction,” in which both the environment and first-person experience are aspects of embodiment.
Whitehead, Alfred N. (1929) The Aims of Education and Other Essays. NY: The Free Press, 1967. This classic collection of essays contains “The Rhythm of Education,” which describes learning proceeding from stages of romance, through precision, to generalization. In his preface, Whitehead stated: One main idea runs through the various chapters, and it is illustrated in them from many points of view: the students are alive, and the purpose of education is to stimulate and guide their self-development. It follows as a corollary from this premise, that the teachers also should be alive with living thoughts. The whole book is a protest against dead knowledge and inert ideas.
Whitehead, Alfred N. (1929, 1978) Process and Reality; Corrected Edition edited by David Ray Griffin and Donald W. Shelburne. NY: The Free Press, 1978. One of the major philosophical texts of the 20th century, Process and Reality propounds a system of speculative philosophy, known as process philosophy, in which the various elements of reality can be understood to occur in consistent relationships to each other.
Wilkerson, Isabel. (2020) Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents. Random House, 2020. The author presents a portrait of an unseen phenomenon in America as she explores, through deeply researched narratives about real people, how America today and throughout its history has been shaped by a hidden caste system, a rigid hierarchy of human rankings beyond race and class, a system that influences people’s lives and behavior and the nation’s fate. Linking the caste systems of America, India, and Nazi Germany, Wilkerson explores eight pillars that underlie caste systems across civilizations, including divine will, bloodlines, and stigma. Wilkerson writes about the surprising health costs of caste, in depression and life expectancy, and the effects of this hierarchy on our culture and politics. Finally, she points forward to ways America can move beyond the artificial and destructive separations of human divisions, toward hope in our common humanity.