Metaphysical Ecology

22 March 2011


In my post on Integral Ecology I began to formulate an extended conception of ecology. I had earlier attempted, in several posts, a parallel extended conception of history that I called Integral History.

After I wrote Integral Ecology I have since learned that the term “integral ecology” has already been employed. In fact, there is a book titled Integral Ecology: Uniting Multiple Perspectives on the Natural World by Sean Esbjorn-Hargens Ph.D. and Michael E. Zimmerman Ph.D., and a blog devoted to expressing the development of the ideas given exposition in the book, Integral Ecology, Michael E. Zimmerman’s blog. Looking a little further, I discovered that there is a blog and a journal called Integral Theory. As though that weren’t enough, a few days ago I was in the library and I saw a book titled Integral Spirituality. At that point I knew I needed to discontinue my use of “integral,” which has apparently become an overused term of late.

It appears, then, that my terminology for my efforts was ill-chosen, and I should have Googled these terms before I used them. Mea Culpa. I didn’t take these basic steps, and so now I must compromise with my earlier formulations. Finding the perfect language for the expression of one’s ideas is often a difficult undertaking, and when one finds what one feels are adequate terms, one is understandably hesitant to surrender them. A perfect neologism or a clever turn of phrase can make the difference between a memorable formulation that can be immediately understood intuitively, and a formulation that is forgotten as soon as it has been given an exposition. This is one reason in my post An Unnamed Principle and and Unnamed Fallacy, I didn’t even attempt to name the principle or the fallacy I attempted to describe: I did not yet (and still do not) have the perfect language to express this fallacy, so my formulations remain tentative and my references must include my awkward “unnamed fallacy” locution. All is all, this is an admittedly unsatisfying state of affairs.

It is, then, with regret that I will discontinue my use of the phrase “integral ecology,” but I am not going to give up on the development of the idea of a purely general and therefore more comprehensive extended sense of “ecology.” While those who have already made use of the phrase “integral ecology” are also moving in the direction of an extended sense of ecology, I do not wish to have my efforts conflated with their very interesting efforts, as my ideas have different sources and aspire to distinct ends. My project is ultimately and pervasively a philosophical project, and so I will express myself in language more closely derived from the philosophical tradition.

I‘ve spent some time with my Roget’s Thesaurus trying to find an alternative formulation, and none of the synonyms for “integral” were exactly what I wanted, so for the present, and perhaps beyond the present, I will henceforth attempt to express myself in the idiom of Metaphysical Ecology and Metaphysical History. While I can understand why these terms might be off-putting to some, in the long run I think these will be better formulations for my thought, since the generalization of ideas that I seek will ultimately converge on philosophical ideas.

For some time I have been working on a post to extend the ideas I initially formulated in Integral Ecology, specifically to give a fuller exposition of time in the setting of an extended ecology. This exposition is largely unaffected by my changed terminology or my discovery that others have been developing a conception of integral ecology. So I will now continue with the development of what I will call Ecological Temporality, although now formulated in a setting of Metaphysical Ecology (and metaphysical history, which we will see is convertible with the same).

I‘ve thought about going back over old posts and reformulating them according to my newer terminology, but for the time being at least I will allow them to stand as they are.

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