The Biophilia Hypothesis edited by Stephen R. Kellert and Edward O. Wilson (Island Press)


excerpts from David Orr:

(on biophilia):
"E O Wilson suggests a deeper sort of attachment that goes beyond the particularities of habitat. We are, he argues, a biological species who will find little ultimate meaning apart from the remainder of life. We are bound to living things by what Wilson describes as an innate urge to affiliate which begins in early childhood and cascades into cultural and social patterns.

"If natural diversity is the wellspring of human intelligence, then the systematic destruction inherent in contemporary technology and economics is a war against the very sources of mind . . . It is impossible to unravel natural diversity without undermining human intelligence as well.

"If you study life deeply, its profundity will seize you suddenly with dizziness . . .
"Let a man once begin to think about the mystery of his life and the links which connect him with the life that fills the world, and he cannot but bring to bear upon his own life and all other life that comes within his reach, the principle of Reverance for Life." A. Schweitzer

Orr proposes:

The recovery of childhood -
we will not enter this kingdom of sustainability until we allow our children the kind of childhood in which Biophilia can put down roots.

Recovering a sense of place -
Call it bioregionalism, or becoming native to our places, either way it means deciding to relearn the arts that Jacquetta Hawkes once described as "a patient and increasingly skillfull lovemaking that persuades the land to flourish".

Education in Biophilia -
Upward mobility has come to mean putting as much distance as possible between the apogee of one's career trajectory and one's roots. We should worry a good bit less about whether our progeny will be able to compete as a "world class work force", and a great deal more about whether they will know how to live sustainably on the earth.

A New Covenant with Animals -
Paul Shepherd is right, to recognise animals and wildness is to decide to admit deeper layers of consciousness into the sunlight of full consciousness again.

The Economics of Biophilia -
The Biophilia Revolution will require national and global decisions that will permit life-centredness to flourish at a local scale.

Biophilia and Patriotism -
Patriotism, the name we give to the love of one's country must be redefined to include those things which contribute to the real health, beauty and ecological stability of our homeplaces and to exclude those which do not. Patriotism as Biophilia requires that we decide to rejoin the idea of love of one's country to how well one uses the country. To destroy forest, soils, natural beauty and wildlife in order to swell the gross national product or to provide short term and often spurious jobs, is not patriotism but greed. Real patriotism demands that we weave the competent, patient and disciplined love of our land into our political life and our political institutions. No one has expressed this idea more clearly than the former Czech President, Vaclav Havel, "We must draw our standards from the natural world. We must honour with the humility of the wise the bounds of that natural world and the mystery which lies beyond them, admitting that there is something in the order of being which evidently exceeds all our competence."

excerpted from David Orr, "Love it or Leave it; the Coming Biophilia Revolution"


Edward O.Wilson:

"The great philosophical divide in moral reasoning about the remainder of life is whether or not other species have an innate right to exist.....

Wilson proposes:

Biodiversity is the creation
"Biodiversity is the most information-rich part of the known universe. More organisation and complexity exists in a handful of soil than on the surfaces of all the other planets combined.

Other species are our kin.
"Biodiversity of a country is part of its national inheritance - the product of the deep history of the territory extending long back before the coming of man.

Biodiversity is the frontier of the future -
"Humanity needs a vision of an expanding and unending future. This spiritual craving cannot be satisfied by the colonisation of space. The other planets are inhospitable and immensely expensive to reach. The nearest stars are so far away that voyagers would need thousands of years just to report back. The true frontier for humanity is life on earth, its exploration and the transport of knowledge about it into science, art and practical affairs. Again, the qualities of life that validate the proposition are: 90% or more of species of plants, animals and micro organisms, lack even so much as a scientific name; each of the species is immensely old by human standards and has been wonderfully moulded to its environment. Life around us exceeds in complexity and beauty anything else humanity is ever likely to encounter.

"The manifold ways by which human beings are tied to the remainder of life are very poorly understood, crying for new scientific enquiry and a boldness of aesthetic interpretation.

excerpted from Edward Wilson, "Biophilia and the Conservation Ethic"


Dorian Sagan and Lynn Margulis:

"All life on earth is a unified spatiotemporal system with no clear-cut boundaries. Encouraging our biophilia, preserving blocks of biodiversity before they are converted to concrete skyscrapers and asphalt parking lots, is a way of enhancing the possibility that human beings will persist into the future. This future may be indefinite, as some few species do not become extinct but "scale back" and become symbiogenically attenuated and reintergrated into new forms of life and patterns of living organization. If we consider, for example, the ancestral oxygen-respirers that evolved into the mitochondria of all plants, animals, and fungi, we would have to say that this mitochondrial "species", codependent as it is, has resisted extinction, surviving and spreading (and still going strong) in multifarious forms for some 2,000 million years. Humanity seems to have been presented with an opportunity, rare in evolution, to do likewise. By allying ourselves more closely with once distant life-forms, by affiliating ourselves biophyletically, not only with the plants and animals whose ongoing demise weighs so heavily at present on our memory, but also with the waste-recycling, air producing, and water-purifying microbes we as yet take largely for granted, we may be able to aid in the flowering of earth life into the astronomically voluminous reaches of space."

excerpts from Dorian Sagan and Lynn Margulis, "God, Gaia, and Biophilia"

The Biophilia Hypothesis
edited by Stephen R. Kellert and Edward O. Wilson (Island Press)