Affective Ecology for Sustainability
AbstractAffective Ecology is the branch of ecology that deals with our connecting with Nature. Its epistemological statute is interdisciplinary and founded upon two scientific hypotheses: the biophilia hypothesis and the theory of multiple intelligences. Biophilia can be defined as a set of innate learning rules that have evolved in the human species to enable individuals to benefit from a wholesome relationship with Nature; while naturalist intelligence is the ability to recognise living organisms and natural objects, to take care of them and to interact with them in subtle ways. Biophilia and naturalist intelligence can be considered as the two poles of an educational journey about the environment. Biophilia represents the mental energy that nourishes our relationship with Nature; whilst naturalist intelligence is the full realisation of our inborn biophilic potential to connect to the natural world, to pay it attention, to care and to empathise with it. Starting from this theoretical framework, we have evolved a programme of experimental research that has enabled us to make a number of observations regarding the fascination that Nature exercises upon our psyche. Fascination may indeed account for the affective bond that establishes between human beings and Nature in some circumstances and that may also provide a powerful emotive lever favouring of an ethic of sustainability.