Ecological Imagination

Environmental Ethics 32 (2):183-203 (2010)
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Environmental thinkers recognize that ecological thinking has a vital role to play in many wise choices and policies; yet, little theoretical attention has been given to developing an adequate philosophical psychology of the imaginative nature of such thinking. Ecological imagination is an outgrowth of our more general deliberative capacity to perceive, in light of possibilities for thinking and acting, the relationships that constitute any object. Such imagination is of a specifically ecological sort when key metaphors, images, symbols, and the like used in the ecologies shape the mental simulations we use to deliberate—i.e., when these interpretive structures shape what John Dewey calls our “dramatic rehearsals.” There is an urgent practical need to cultivate ecological imagination, and an equally practical need to make theoretical sense of the imaginative dimension of ecological reflection.

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Steven Fesmire
Radford University


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