Ecological Imagination and Aims of Moral Education Through the Kyoto School and American Pragmatism

In Paul Standish & Naoko Saito (eds.), Education and the Kyoto School of Philosophy. Springer Verlag. pp. 109-130 (2012)
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Cross-cultural dialogue between the Kyoto School of modern Japanese philosophy and the classical pragmatist tradition in American philosophy can help educators to clarify aims for greater ecological responsiveness in moral education. This dialogue can contribute to meeting an urgent practical need to cultivate ecological imagination, and an equally practical need to make theoretical sense of the way in which ecological perception becomes relevant to moral deliberation. The first section of this chapter explores relational thinking in the Kyoto School and American pragmatism to help develop, in the second section, a concept of ecological imagination. A fine-tuned ecological imagination is a capacity we already count on in our best environmental writers, educators, scientists, and policy analysts. Moral deliberation enlists imagination of a specifically ecological sort when the imaginative structures we use to understand ecosystemic relationships shape our mental simulations and what John Dewey calls our “dramatic rehearsals.” The final section draws from the foregoing to clarify some appropriate aims for contemporary moral education. Enriched through cross-cultural dialogue about the relational networks in which our finite lives are embedded, a finely aware ecological imagination can make the deliberations of the coming generation more trustworthy.

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Steven Fesmire
Radford University


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