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CLARK, John. A Social Ecology. 12. The Future of Social Ecology
Article published on 31 May 2004
last modification on 25 April 2015

by r-c.
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1. The Social and the Ecological

2. A Dialectical Holism

3. No Nature

4. The Ecological Self

5. A Social Ecology of Value

6. An Ecology of the Imagination

7. An Ecological Imaginary

8. Freedom and Domination

9. Eco-Communitarian Politics

10. Social Eco-nomics

11. The New Leviathan

The Future of Social Ecology

Future research in social ecology will consist of much more detailed study of these issues and many other questions related to the development of the global economic, political and technological systems and the resulting social and ecological consequences. The critical theoretical framework of social ecology will become richer and more highly articulated as it incorporates these empirically-based studies. At the same time, its theoretical vision of a communitarian regionalism will be enriched and rendered more determinate by the proliferation of empirical, experiential projects in the tradition of Geddes’ regional survey, and its political and economic theory will be transformed as evidence is assimilated from continuing experiments in ecological and communitarian organization and social practice.

Social ecology is at the present moment in a stage of rapid transformation, self-reflection, and expansion of its theoretical horizons. It is in the process of escaping from the dogmatic tendencies that have threatened its theoretical vitality and practical relevance, and the sectarian narrowness that has reactively defined it in opposition to other ecophilosophies. It is ready to withdraw from the «contest of ecologies» and move forward in its theoretical development, in creative dialogue with other philosophies. [1] It is now in a position to realize its potential as a holistic and dialectical philosophy that seeks greater openness and opportunity for growth, works toward a more adequate synthesis of theoretical reflection and empirical inquiry, attains an increasingly comprehensive theoretical scope, and strives for a truly dialectical relation to creative social practice—offering the guidance of reflection and remaining open to guidance by the truth of experience.

The project of a social ecology will certainly gain impetus through the growing awareness of global ecological crisis and deterioration of the ties of human community. Yet it will be moved and inspired most by its affirmative ecological faith—by its love of humanity in all its magnificent expressions, its wonder at the diverse manifestations of life on earth, and its awe at the mystery of being. It will also learn to accept human limitations and the tragic dimension of history, and put aside the illusions of shallow progressivism, revolutionary fantasy, and Promethean heroism. It will find hope rather in a vision of the human community—freed from its quest for domination of self, of others, of objects, of nature—realizing its own good through participating in and contributing to the good of the larger community of life. In pursuing this vision, social ecology realizes its deepest meaning as a reflection on the earth household, a reflection that reveals our place as companions in our common journey.

Notes :

[1I have suggested some of the ways in which dialogue between social ecology and deep ecology might be usefully explored in «How Wide Is Deep Ecology?» in Inquiry 39 (June 1996) : 189-201.

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