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My Ecological Intelligence

aayzahmirza's picture

Aayzah Mirza 

Paper 8 

December 5, 2015 

In her article Porous Bodies and TranscorporealityStacy Alaimo presents the view that "all entities or bodies are characterized by a porosity that allows the outer world to flow through them", however she fails to acknowledge the semi permeability of human membranes. The concept of ecological intelligence, when based on this assumption, as characterized by Orsden in Ursula Le Guin's Vaster than Empires, who is open to the thoughts and emotions of each and every component of his surroundings, defies the very core of human physiology and subsequently, human nature. The most altruistic of people or the most thoughtful of activists, can only take on certain tasks and impact a certain demographic or area of the world. Environmental activists, are also usually bound to various geographical or conceptual frameworks, as the idea one individual taking on the whole world seems next to impossible. 

Does ecological intelligence then have to be constituted upon taking under consideration impacts of one's on every single constituent of our world? This perception then takes the form of a romantic idea that could have been implemented in a utopian universe, and not one that seems feasible in the world we are currently residing in. I am certainly not an adherent of selfishness and lack of foresight when it comes to determining the impact of our actions, but a supporter of stretching our boundaries to the maximum extent possible, and indeed giving thought to other organisms as well as abiotic elements around us. This is what I took from Bowers notion of ecological intelligence as something that "takes account of relationships, contexts, as well as the impacts of ideas and behaviors on other members of the cultural and natural systems" (Bowers, 45). Yes, despite Bowers' opposition to this form of thinking and writingI just used a personal pronoun. In the world because how are we to contemplate upon our actions, if we don't know the distinction between us and others? I find it hard to believe, that without personal conscience, and a separation between myself and other entities, I would be able to even determine causality between my actions and their impacts. 

This leaves me with the task of analyzing how we can think as ecologically as we can. In my history class, we talk about any particular source, not only in relation to a lot of other things that were going on in that era, and other parts of the world, but also with respect to events that followed. I feel like that encourages contemplation before action, with respect to as many dimensions as we can. The next step is to then to expand the horizons of the students and teach them about different cultures and eras, so they can think about the consequences of their actions in a broader context and subsequently also in relation the environment. One other measure that can be taken is what we discussed in class, which is doing what you would want to be done to you. Although that may not be in accordance with the definitions of ecological intelligence as purported by Alaimo and Bowers, this is what I perceive it to be.  

As long as we obtain the desired end result, which in my view, is being in harmony with other components in the environment, by ensuring our actions do not negatively impact them, the separation of entities in our minds can be justified. In addition, if we develop the philosophy that even though we are not the same, we are inextricably linked with the world, we may be able to adopt my definition of ecological intelligence.

Work Cited

 Alaimo, Stacy, Larval Subjects (Levi R. Bryant), Stacy Alaimo: Porous Bodies and Trans-Corporeality (May 24, 2012)

 Bowers, C.A. "Steps to the Recovery of Ecological Intelligence." OMETECA. 14-15. 43. 


Anne Dalke's picture

yours is the first essay I’ve read (so far this morning) that challenges the ideal of ecological intelligence, by reminding us of the “semi-permeability of membranes,” that “porosity is selective.” You hold out here for the separate, personal conscience, which can contemplate action “with respect to as many dimensions as we can,” but also “determine causality between my actions and their impacts.”

So I’m wondering if you’d like to revise this paper with some concrete examples of what this practice might look (and act!) like. What would “being in harmony with other components in the environment, by ensuring our actions do not negatively impact them,” encompass? How might an awareness that “we are inextricably linked with the world” play out in terms of your definition of (semi-permable) ecological intelligence? I’d like to have a clearer sense of what this might look like on the ground (in the classroom, on the campus?). The example of your history course is, so far, content-free…

Let’s talk about this in your conference this week?