Arboreality: A Partial Phenomenology of Trees 1

I enjoy being the type of almost-30- year old woman who climbs trees. On a gently sunny Sunday, I stopped by a beautiful little park overlooking the bay. I sat for a time on the verdant grass where I could best see the buildings and structures that make up the peninsula and the misty marine layer covering the bay. In the distance, Mt. Diablo rose like a mirage on the eastern horizon. Eventually, I decided to climb a tree.

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Reconsidering Interiors as Forests

Worldwide, deforestation has the potential to cause unforeseen changes especially in light of climate change. This has lead me to question where all of the trees we continually cut down go and how they show up in our lives. In the modern West, we are constantly surrounded by trees and wood products in our daily lives, yet we rarely consider them as such. Many wood or wood-based products are concealed by a veneer of plastic or within the folds of fabric. My own mediations on my home as a middle-class American living in a wood-framed condo illustrate the shift in consciousness that I propose around the forests of our homes.

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What Barfield Thought

To take a broad sweep, the Inkling’s project revolved around the relation and tension between rationality and imagination. The Inkling’s were reacting against the hyper-rationality in England in their time, as exemplified through World War I and II, and taking cues from the Romantics to argue for the value of imagination. However, the argument was never for imagination instead of rationality, but the inter-relational dance between both rational faculties and imaginative faculties as two avenues in pursuit of truth. Of the four primary Inkling members, Owen Barfield provided the most developed theoretical treatment of the truth giving potentialities of imagination.

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The Quest for Integral Ecology

Integral ecology is an emerging paradigm in ecological theory and practice, with multiple and varied integral approaches to ecology having been proposed in recent decades. A common aim of integral ecologies is to cross boundaries between disciplines (humanities, social sciences, and biophysical sciences) in efforts to develop comprehensive understandings of and responses to the intertwining of nature, culture, and consciousness in ecological issues. This article presents an exploration of the different approaches that have been taken in articulating an integral ecology. Along with a historical overview of the notion of integral ecology, we present an exposition of some of the philosophical and religious visions that are shared by the diversity of integral ecologies.

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