jueves, 15 de marzo de 2012

THE RESILIENCE AND FRANCIS OF ASSISI: THE ROOTS OF MODERN ECOLOGY



MANY PHILOSOPHERS FOUND MOTHER NATURE AS A PATH TO MODERN SPIRITUALITY

1. THE PHILOSOPHY OF NATURE, THE ECOLOGY AND FRANCIS OF ASSISI

The Philosophy of Nature has always been an interesting part of philosophical thought. A part of it can be represented as a holistic way of thinking which is full of life. We need to consider the mounting crisis of our environment and the home we all share in order to care for the Earth and for ourselves. The idea of a common home is suggested by the Greek origins of the word ‘ecology’; a word which has been in use since 1866 and has come to refer to the study of the milieu in which living beings exist.

Although the Cartesian-Kantian epistemological position has been the dominant paradigm of the "modern" Aristotelic-Newtonist-Materialistic mind, it has not been the only one, for at almost precisely the same time that the Enlightenment reached its philosophical climax in Kant, a radically different epistemological post-modern vision began to emerge from the Platonic-Agustinian-Romantic perspective, first visible in Francis of Assisi, then in Goethe with his study of natural forms, developed in new directions by Schiller, Schelling, Hegel, Coleridge, and Emerson, and articulated within the past century by Rudolf Steiner.


NEWTON: THE ROOTS OF MATERIALISM
Each of these thinkers gave his own distinct emphasis to the developing perspective, but common to all was a fundamental conviction that the relation of the human mind to the world was ultimately not dualistic but participatory. While science, with the passing centuries, has been sectioned into progressively smaller disciplines from ‘mother philosophy’, ecology is the first integrative discipline that embraces many others: biology, geology, chemistry, physics, and the social sciences; all of these are involved in building the tree of our future.



Today, Francis of Assisi is considered by the Catholic Church to be the Patron Saint of ecology. This participatory path, developed in different ways by Francis of Assisi, Goethe, Hegel, Steiner, and others, can be understood not as a regression to naiveparticipation mystique, but as the dialectical synthesis of the long evolution from the primordial undifferentiated consciousness through the dualistic alienation. It incorporates the postmodern understanding of knowledge and yet goes beyond it. 


The interpretive and constructive character of human cognition is fully acknowledged, but the intimate, interpenetrating and all-permeating relationship of Nature to the human being and human mind allows the Kantian consequence of epistemological alienation to be entirely overcome. The human spirit does not merely prescribe Nature's phenomenal order; rather, the spirit of Nature brings forth its own order through the human mind when that mind is employing its full complement of faculties, intellectual, volitional, emotional, sensory, imaginative, aesthetic, epiphanic. In such knowledge, the human mind "lives into" the creative activity of Nature. Then the world speaks its meaning through human consciousness


FRANCIS OF ASSISI: THE ROOTS OF MODERN ECOLOGY

The word "environment" adds a human dimension to the concept of ecology. It brings out the particular interaction of the human being with his habitat. The resilience of Francis of Assisi as a symbol adds a particular brand of mysticism in a church that by the end of the thirteenth century had become increasingly and militantly institutional. Francis is an example of an even today too modern mentality far from the media of our politicians and our ruling class. That the birds still sing the day after an atomic explosion, is a very franciscan observation that encloses an ancestral wisdom about resilience. Today, our tortuous relationship with our environment is more an ethical than a technical one. Our approach, the way we choose to interact with Nature, is the most important consideration for the future, not the scientific word ecology.



FRANCIS OF ASSISI, THE PATRON SAINT OF ECOLOGY



The attitude we take towards the creatures of Nature will invite us (or not) to face that part of the global responsibility which each person bears due to his participation, to whatever degree, in the social and economic life of our species. This participation, though scientific proof is still lacking, should bear an awareness of the consequences of atmospheric pollution caused by the chemical, radioactive, plastic, and oil industries that are released into the air. And this awareness must be promoted. Governments are strongly urged to enforce corrective measures against the main culprits such as energy producers, transport systems and urban developers, so as to avert potential catastrophes. In today's world, our consciousness of our relationship to the elements of Nature is often subdued, relegated somewhere to the deep recesses of our awareness. 




2. A MODERN PATH TO SPIRITUALITY: CANTICLE OF THE CREATURES OR OF THE SUN


Francis of Assisi lived life very close to the ground, enmeshed in the natural world where he found the glories of God revealed. His ascetic lifestyle, physically rough, sharpened his appreciation of sensual reality which he sublimated into mystical experience.

FRANCIS OF ASSISI CANTICLE OF CREATURES COLLAGE



SAN DAMIANO CRUCIFIX SPOKE TO FRANCIS OF ASSISI

Canticle of Creatures or of the Sun, is Francis of Assisi's most famous song, summing up his incredible relationship to the natural world, and arriving, as it does, at the end of his life, it highlights the central importance of Nature in his spirituality. Written when he was frail, sick, and blind, he recalled the glories of Nature and their lessons for him throughout his life, identifying them in his inimitably religious style as images of the divine.

Francis, God's troubadour, it is said, would have maintained that all creatures, including man, are fundamentally equal. Sister Water, Brother Fire, Sister Moon, Brother Wind, Sister Mother Earth, these terms express the lowering of the human being from his lofty position far above all other creatures to a democratic presence among brothers and sisters, all created by the Almighty and loving God.



The current political interpretation of its Canticle of Creatures is rather out of place in our time. Some read the Canticle as a protest against man's domination of the environment, proposing a radical equality among all creatures, and they also overlook its undeniably theocentric structure. No doubt, the text has a strong cosmic quality which is part, however, of a theocentric structure that descends from the Almighty through the Universe and the elements down to the stones, the flowers, and the rivers to come back again into God. A path to rebirth.

Christmas, the symbol of rebirth, was Francis' favorite day. Once, when the Solemnity of the Lord's Nativity fell on a Friday, one of the friars, Brother Morico, said that the friars should not eat meat and should fast. Francis replied, "You sin, Brother, calling the day on which the child was born to us a day of fast. It is my wish that even the walls should eat meat on such a day, and if they cannot, they should be smeared with meat on the outside" (from the Second Life of St. Francis of Assisi by Friar Thomas of Celano). We can imagine the walls smeared with meat, all to celebrate the birth of the Son of God as a man. Francis uses the image of meat (flesh) to highlight the Incarnation.



To those inspired by the teachings of Francis of Assisi, a peace guaranteed by atom bombs or nuclear missiles is unthinkable, a betrayal of Christ, but also of the countless millions of human beings victims of malnutrition, poverty, and hunger; all of them beings made in image and likeness of God.

CAN WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION GUARANTEE PEACE?





In the centuries following the death of Francis of Assisi, a world of religious pilgrimage and miracle play, so characteristic of medieval time, gave way to a new form of learning: the humanism, the centralized governments, the scientific investigation, and the expanding horizons (both physical and mental) of the Renaissance.


AN IMPORTANT ELEMENT IN RENAISSANCE SCIENCE IS TO UNDERSTAND THAT ARGUMENT FROM ANALOGY FORESHADOWS SCIENTIFIC INQUIRY. IF X WERE LIKE Y, THEN INFORMATION ABOUT HOW GOD CREATED MAN AND THE UNIVERSE COULD BE INFERRED, INCLUDING THE BELIEF THAT MAN (THE MICROCOSM) WAS IN MINIATURE LIKE THE UNIVERSE (THE MACROCOSM). NOTE THE FIGURE OF SPEECH THAT CAME FROM THIS COMPARISON TODAY CALLED FRACTAL.

SOME LINGUISTS BELIEVE THAT THE MIND HAS CERTAIN INNATE PROPERTIES, ONE OF WHICH IS THE ABILITY TO REASON IN TERMS OF BINARIES OR OPPOSITES: X -- Y. THE TECHNICAL NAME FOR THIS PROCESS IS THE CORRESPONDENCE THEORY, IN WHICH THE LARGER UNIT (MACROCOSM, I.E. UNIVERSE) "CORRESPONDS" TO THE SMALLER UNIT (MICROCOSM). THUS:

RIVER CORRESPONDS TO BLOOD
AIR CORRESPONDS TO BREATH
LAW CORRESPONDS TO REASON
DISORDER CORRESPONDS TO PASSION

IT CAN BE OBSERVED FROM THESE PRE-SCIENTIFIC ANALOGIES THAT RENAISSANCE THEORIES OF THE UNIVERSE SUGGEST A DIVINE PROVIDENCE WHO, LIKE A KING, CREATES AN ORDERED WORLD, BUT MAN WHO ALLOWS PASSION TO DOMINATE REASON CAN SOMETIMES DISRUPT THAT GOOD ORDER. SHAKESPEARE GIVES EXPRESSION TO THIS CONCEPT IN ULYSSES' SPEECH ON "ORDER AND DEGREE" FROM HIS TROILUS AND CRESSIDA.

No single part of human life was untouched by this change on Renaissance: now our modern world is the result of such a vision of the world or paradigm in which we live in. Francis instructed the brothers to the effect that no tree that had to be cut down should be totally destroyed. Its stump should be left in such a condition that it could sprout again, thus providing a symbol of the rebirth. We, humanity, are in the same situation: the resilience of Nature is the living reflection of Francis’ teachings, are we aware of all of its implications?


CANTICLE OF THE SUN (OR OF THE CREATURES) FRANCIS OF ASSISI
AMBIENT SYMPHONY BY ZERO PROJECT
You can download Ambient Symphony for free here


3. ASSISI AS A SYMBOL OF RESILIENCE


Assisi was hit by two devastating earthquakes, that shook Umbria in September 1997. But the recovery and restoration have been remarkable, although much remains to be done. Massive damage was caused to many historical sites, but the major attraction, the Basilica di San Francesco, reopened less than 2 years later. Cities take centuries to grow, but they can die in the relative blink of an eye. Work on the church of Assisi was started in 1228, the year of Francis's canonisation, and constructed slowly over the next 300 years.

FRESCO BY GIOTTO IN THE BASILICA OF SAN FRANCESCO, DEPICTING A MOTHER RECOVERING THE DEAD BODY OF HER DAUGHTER FROM A COLLAPSED BUILDING. THE TRADITION ATTRIBUTES THE DESTRUCTION TO AN EARTHQUAKE, AND TELLS ALSO THE MIRACULOUS REANIMATION OF THE DEAD DAUGHTER BY THE SAINT FRANCESO.

Giotto's fresco series, completed in 1295, is the most famous work of art, but there are plenty of other priceless works in both the Upper and the Lower Church attributed to Cimabue and Simone Martini, among others. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) quickly put in to help salvage the damaged artworks. In Assisi, some 70 per cent of the town's buildings were evacuated because of safety fears.


ASSISI 1997

No hay comentarios: