Al Hakim, Thank you,
As you say, science is a fishnet used to create and capture the general at the expense of the particular. Much of our modern culture rests on the scientific foundation of general concepts because we have found them more useful than attending to the particular. Noting the individual particulars that make this fish or this apple a real, unique and particular part of our world, does little to help us know how to cook it. An apple gets baked, or eaten raw. A fish gets broiled or fried. In using science, we live in a conceptual consciousness, or we think conceptually. Its useful. We need not note the precise color or size or nature (LED vs incandescent) of the red light at the traffic intersection. See red--stop (at least in the US and the parts of UK I've visited
. We do, of necessity, live in a largely conceptual consciousness.
I simply don't have time to fully explore and acquaint myself with each and every traffic light I meet!
As an alternate to the conceptual consciousness of science, some authors recognize the notion of aesthetic thinking. In one explanation humans evolved out of aesthetic consciousness, leaving it behind during the paleolithic transition to neolithic agriculture. Conceptual consciousness is described as “retrograde” (c.f. Max Oelschlaeger, “The Idea of Wilderness” 21-22).
OK, call me retrograde, along with others, as a simple visit to Mr Google illustrates. While some of the more informative articles are available only by subscription, such a visit does inform as to the depth of interest (at least by some) in the notion of “aesthetic consciousness”; and illustrates that the kind of thinking that is going into developing, describing and applying an understanding of “aesthetic consciousness”.
One article (STOKROCKI, M. and SAMORAJ, M., 2003. The Green School as an Ecological, Aesthetic, and Moral Folk Experience in Poland
. Journal of Cultural Research in Art Education, 21, pp. 44-44-59) “...is an exploration of the meaning of an ecological school experience..
”. “ Its roots are in sociology (Bruyn, 1966), psychology (Merleau-Ponty, 1962), philosophy (Husserl, 1931), and phenomenology (Wojnar, 1978)"
. In a concluding sentance the authors write “Samoraj summarized, "As a consequence of recent political and social changes in the world, we need to think about new areas of education, for example education for living in communities, and education for cultural dialogue" .... At the root of the Green School experience is aesthetic consciousness without which the spirit may not survive"
"The spirit may not survive" Indeed. Can we do otherwise than join those working towards “education for living in communities, and education for cultural dialogue...without which the spirit may not survive”? While much of the current work on (that I've found) deals with “arts education” for elementary age students (5 to ~14 yrs); perhaps part of a druid life extends this notion into “adult education” and “life long learning”.
Another article, again reporting a primary level education experience suggests a similar direction (BIRT, D., KRUG, D.H. and SHERIDAN, M., 1997. Earthly matters: Learning occurs when you hear the grass singing
. Art Education, 50(6), pp. 6-6).
“Learning occurs when you hear the grass singing”; indeed yes and the trees talking.
This may not be the exact direction research into a druid's experience might take, but at least it is starting line. A starting line, that is, if moving beyond the mediocrity of the "Touchstone” article. Joey did an excellent critique of the subject article (which, in my view was not worth the time to read).
How should a well written “Talking with Trees” article read? Need it address both the softer individual experiences reflecting “aesthetic consciousness”; and the harder, more objective experiences validated though science's “conceptual consciousness”? And yes there is objective scientific evidence that we do indeed talk with, or at least to trees. Perhaps not so much talking as yelling, screaming brutally, crudely, shouting obscenities; but we do talk to trees with every application of Agent Orange; with every clear cut harvest; with every orchard planted in tidy rows, pruned and force fed a petrochemical based plant food.
Humans may be largely indifferent to the subtleties of our chemical environment (except for our rather insensitive senses of smell and taste). Internally, we do depend both on a sophisticated chemical communication complex; and on the electrical communication network of nerves. Trees, as far was we now, depend entirely on their chemical communication complex for internal communication (and thought?). Externally, leaves and particularly roots are laden with sophisticated sensitive chemical sensors. Sensors into which we now shout who knows what obscenities with all the chemicals we release into the air, water and soils.
I wonder what a prescription antidepressant released into the soil translates into oakspeak. And that's only one (our) side of the conversation. We talk about tree huggers (I'm wearing my tree hugger t-shirt as I type:) If mommy must make it "feel better", along with the hugs come kisses (at least in my fam trad -- “..mommy kiss my boo-boo, make it better..”). Maybe more intimate conversation between trees and humans, at least based on what we think we know in "conceptual consciousness" requires acceding to the trees penchant for chemical conversation. Along with hugging that tree, maybe I'll need to include a few kisses (french? right on the leaves?). Or maybe I'm not yet ready to let ol Lady Oak know that much about me yet. Who knows what She'll think of me when She finds out about last night's extra stout? Acorn stew anyone?
Any one up for “blood brothers” with yonder Yew ?
Well, it is all just theory. No doubt in need of much further development; but that's how science, which is performed in conceptual consciousness works. Hash out a theory, then put it to the test.
Just a thought, Will