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Abstract: In this essay, Deborah Bird Rose takes up Val Plumwood's challenge that Western thought needs radical revitalization by pursuing the liveliness of the biosphere and human ontologies of connectivity. The first part looks at obstacles to the West's understanding of Earth as a place of lively, interactive connectivities that promote diversity, complexity, and relationality. In this context Rose offers a brief overview of Indigenous animisms. The second part explores the question of liveliness. It is taken as given that the West now seeks ontological legitimacy in science, and so this discussion focuses on what biological scientists have contributed to contemporary ontology wars. The third part examines trauma in the Garden of Eden narrative, highlighting both the disaster of the story and its continuing relevance. Drawing on the work of theologians, in particular, Rose seeks in this section to recuperate a mythic foundation for a Western animism from within that great site of loss. [ABSTRACT FROM AUTHOR]; Copyright of Educational Theory is the property of Wiley-Blackwell and its content may not be copied or emailed to multiple sites or posted to a listserv without the copyright holder's express written permission. However, users may print, download, or email articles for individual use. This abstract may be abridged. No warranty is given about the accuracy of the copy. Users should refer to the original published version of the material for the full abstract. (Copyright applies to all Abstracts.)
Using data for 25,780 species categorized on the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List, we present an assessment of the status of the world’s vertebrates. One-fifth of species are classified as Threatened, and we show that this figure is increasing: On average, 52 species of mammals, birds, and amphibians move one category closer to extinction each year. However, this overall pattern conceals the impact of conservation successes, and we show that the rate of deterioration would have been at least one-fifth again as much in the absence of these. Nonetheless, current conservation efforts remain insufficient to offset the main drivers of biodiversity loss in these groups: agricultural expansion, logging, overexploitation, and invasive alien species.Though the threat of extinction is increasing, overall declines would have been worse in the absence of conservation. Though the threat of extinction is increasing, overall declines would have been worse in the absence of conservation.
<p>Autism spectrum conditions (ASC) are neurodevelopmental disorders characterized by abnormal social cognition. A core feature of ASC is disrupted Theory of Mind (ToM), our ability to take the mental perspective of others. ASC is also associated with alexithymia, a trait characterized by altered emotional interoception and empathy. Here, we applied structural MRI covariance analysis to assess whether ASC and alexithymia differentially affect structural brain networks associated with sociocognitive and socioaffective functions. Based on previous functional MRI findings, we expected disrupted ToM networks (centered on dorsomedial prefontal cortex [dmPFC], and temporo-parietal junction [TPJ]) in ASC, while alexithymia would affect networks centered on fronto-insular cortex (FI), regions associated with interoception of emotion and empathy. Relative to controls, ASC indeed showed reduced covariance in networks centered on dmPFC and TPJ, but not within FI networks. Irrespective of ASC, covariance was negatively modulated by alexithymia in networks extending from FI to posterior regions. Network findings were complemented by self-reports, indicating decreased perspective taking but normal empathic concern in ASC. Our results show divergent effects of ASC and alexithymia on inter-regional structural networks, suggesting that networks mediating socioaffective processes may be separable from networks mediating sociocognitive processing.</p>
The human ability to make inferences about the minds of conspecifics is remarkable. The majority of work in this area focuses on mental state representation (`theory of mind'), but has had limited success in explaining individual differences in this ability, and is characterized by the lack of a theoretical framework that can account for the effect of variability in the population of minds to which individuals are exposed. We draw analogies between faces and minds as complex social stimuli, and suggest that theoretical and empirical progress on understanding the mechanisms underlying mind representation can be achieved by adopting a `Mind-space' framework; that minds, like faces, are represented within a multidimensional psychological space. This Mind-space framework can accommodate the representation of whole cognitive systems, and may help to explain individual differences in the consistency and accuracy with which the mental states of others are inferred. Mind-space may also have relevance for understanding human development, intergroup relations, and the atypical social cognition seen in several clinical conditions.
Towards the end of her eventful and productive life, Val Plumwood was turning toward Indigenous people and cultures as a way of encountering the lived experience of ideas she was working with theoretically. At the same time, she was defining herself as a philosophical animist. As I understand her term, she was making connections with animism as a worldview, but rather than mimic or appropriate indigenous animisms she was developing a foundation that could be argued from within western philosophy. Her beautiful definition of philosophical animism is that it opens the door to a world in which we can begin to negotiate life membership of an ecological community of kindred beings. Thus, her animism, like indigenous animisms, was not a doctrine or orthodoxy, but rather a path, a way of life, a mode of encounter. In the spirit of open-ended encounter, I aim to bring her work into dialogue with some of my Australian Aboriginal teachers. More specifically, I focus on developing an enlarged account of active listening, considering it as the work participants engage in as they inter-act with other sentient creatures. I take a country or place based perspective, engaging with life on the inside of the webs and patterns of connection.
We are living in the midst of the Earth’s sixth great extinction event, the first one caused by a single species: our own. In Wild Dog Dreaming, Deborah Bird Rose explores what constitutes an ethical relationship with nonhuman others in this era of loss. She asks, Who are we, as a species? How do we fit into the Earth’s systems? Amidst so much change, how do we find our way into new stories to guide us? Rose explores these questions in the form of a dialogue between science and the humanities. Drawing on her conversations with Aboriginal people, for whom questions of extinction are up-close and very personal, Rose develops a mode of exposition that is dialogical, philosophical, and open-ended.An inspiration for Rose—and a touchstone throughout her book—is the endangered dingo of Australia. The dingo is not the first animal to face extinction, but its story is particularly disturbing because the threat to its future is being actively engineered by humans. The brazenness with which the dingo is being wiped out sheds valuable, and chilling, light on the likely fate of countless other animal and plant species. "People save what they love," observed Michael Soulé, the great conservation biologist. We must ask whether we, as humans, are capable of loving—and therefore capable of caring for—the animals and plants that are disappearing in a cascade of extinctions. Wild Dog Dreaming engages this question, and the result is a bold account of the entangled ethics of love, contingency, and desire.