Terms & Concepts

I learn by going where I have to go —Theodore Roethke


dgewood Wild invites wide-ranging conversation around some of the most important issues of our time.

As we move ever deeper into the Pandoracene – an era when rampant environmental change and instability become the new status quo – it becomes necessary to re-examine cultural assumptions inherited from the preceding era of relative stability, here termed The Time Before.

On this web page, I provide thumbnail definitions for forty-odd terms that in various ways help to sustain such a re-examination. While some of these terms are already in wide circulation, others (preceded by an asterisk) are either newly applied or new in themselves – new bottles for new wine.

Taken together, these terms lay foundation to a newly emerging, science-based, Pandoracene-responsive world view intriguingly resonant with modes of understanding/being usually associated with Indigenous Peoples.

Visitor Alert. Are you considering a visit to Edgewood Blue? If so, then you might want to spend an hour or so familiarizing yourself with the terms presented below. That done, there’s really no pressing need to ponder this website further; simply link to You Brew for details on how to set up a group visit.

cloud by Trevor Goward

First Approximation

  • Life: matter that matters, a moral construct.
  • Emergence: a principle long-known, long-ignored, but recently revitalized and now foundational to biological and Earth Systems science, according to which the properties of the whole are other than the properties of the parts.
  • *Head Understanding versus Heart Understanding (TBA): If head understanding – the kind of understanding that passes grade school exams – could turn the Climate Crisis around, then the Climate Crisis would not now exist. Therefore, the time has come, at this late hour, to open out to Heart Understanding or, if you prefer, durable caring. Enter Edgewood Wild.
  • *New World Dawning: an emerging, science-based understanding of the nature of the Living World and our relation to it. See also Enlivenment.
  • The Anthropocene: the (now-defunct) name of a proposed new geological epoch during which human activity has been the dominant influence on climate and the environment.
  • *The Pandoracene: beginning in the early 2000s, a period of indefinite duration in which continuous human-induced environmental instability and wreckage is the new global status quo; a fearsome time. See also The Great Ruination, below.
  • *The Great Ruination (TBA): a synonym of the Pandoracene (above), emphasizing its necessary broad-scale consequences both for physical order of the Living World and for the geopolitical order of the human world.
  • *The Time Before (TBA): all of recorded human history prior to the felt onset of the Pandoracene in the early 2000s – a period of about five thousand years.
  • *The Lichen Rule: an organizing principle common to all enduring complex adaptive systems (see below), according to which the parts must ultimately refer themselves to the needs of the whole while the whole confers resilience on the parts. See also Rights and Responsibilities, below.
  • Rights & Responsibilities Theory (TBA): the proposition that all rights and freedoms necessarily come with corresponding duties of responsibility, the shirking of which sooner or later undermines the polity that sustains them, and causes them to be withdrawn. See also The Lichen Rule, above.
  • Corporate Capture (TBA): the subversion of the long-term public interests of the many to the short-term corporate interests of the few.
  • *Top-down versus Bottom-up: as used here, living things viewed holistically as emergent (top-down) versus reductionistically as particulate (bottom-up); non-compatible approaches pertinent to life and life-like systems at all spatial and hierarchical scales, from the cell to Gaia.
  • Social Construct (TBA): a concept of convenience that has been made up by people within a particular society and generally accepted as true, or even truth.
  • *The Diorama Fallacy (TBA): the (often unspoken) assumption that the Living World that Sustains Us is mere backdrop to the unfolding of human destiny and accordingly without agency.
  • *The New Original Sin (TBA): a Pandoracenean term for discretionary greenhouse gas emissions.
  • *Discretionary Footprint (TBA): an approximate quantitative measure of one’s voluntary contribution to Arctic Ocean ice melt effected by two of the most notable personal contributors to global greenhouse gas emissions, namely air travel and travel aboard cruise ships.
  • *Culture of More versus Culture of Enough (TBA): a pair of contrasting terms pertinent to the collective mindset of a particular society, presumably in need of no explanation.
  • The Jevons Paradox: the observation that technological efficiencies usually result in increased demand rather than the predicted reductions in energy or material expenditure.
  • *The Shadow People: those who, having been born and raised in the Time Before (see above), adhere to assumptions and values out of alignment with the Pandoracenean times they now inhabit.
  • *The Living World That Sustains Us: a phrasal replacement for the much-outmoded terms nature and natural world, approximately synonymous with David Abram’s the more-than-human-world; also a quasi-prayer of gratitude.
  • The Earth: the name of the third planet from the sun in the Milky Way galaxy; the only astronomical object in the universe known to sustain life.
  • Gaia: the Earth System regarded as a quasi-organism; broadly synonymous with Biosphere, but emphasizing its emergent functioning while at the same time opening a window to the mystical.
  • *Gaia Brackets All (TBA): the proposition that humans serve their own long-term interests only when they operate within the sustaining limits of an emergent planetary system four billion years in the making.
  • *Gaian Reconciliation (TBA): an as-yet-aspirational process by which human lifeways are brought gradually into alignment with the capacity of the Living World to sustain organized human civilization into the long term.
  • *Gaianism: a personal commitment to lifeways that accord insofar as possible with greenhouse gas emissions prerequisite to Gaian Reconciliation (see above); also Environmentalism 2.0.
  • *New Pragmatics: a canny expansion of human self-interest beyond the self-reflective human bubble to include the capacity of the Living World to sustain organized human civilization into the long term.
  • The Eight Intelligences (TBA): the idea that human aptitude can be roughly discriminated into eight different modes – including naturalistic intelligence – all of which manifest in different degrees in different people. See Howard Gardner.
  • The Full Quiver (TBA): the suggestion of E.O. Wilson that tribal societies tended to produce in each generation individuals endowed with particular sets of talents and predispositions; and these taken together – its “full quiver“- conferred survival value in times of stress.
  • Bi-hemispheric Mind: a science-based insight whereby the left and right hemispheres of the human brain each presents the world to us in deeply incongruous ways; see below.
  • Left Hemispheric: noun: a person who perceives the Living World predominantly as revealed by the left hemisphere, resulting in a relationship grounded in self-interest narrowly defined, and therefore tending toward the adverse outcomes of the Pandoracene (see above); also adjective: pertaining to such a person.
  • Right Hemispheric: noun: a person who perceives the Living World predominantly as revealed by the right hemisphere, resulting in a relationship grounded in self-interest broadly defined, and therefore tending toward Gaian Reconciliation (see above); also adjective: pertaining to such a person.
  • *The Conglomerate We (TBA): a reminder that the “we” invoked by writers, thinkers and speakers often necessarily encompasses incongruous world views arising, in part, from the fundamentally dual nature of the bi-hemispheric human mind.
  • Command & Control (TBA): an outmoded but still prevalent belief system that, by mistaking the Living World for a machine, erroneously assumes that human self-interest is well served by pulling “management levers” of one form or another.
  • Complex Adaptive Systems (TBA): as used here, any life system at any hierarchic level, from the cell to Gaia, whose dynamic interactions yield emergent properties different from the properties of its component parts, and whose emergent behaviour intelligently tracks changing inputs.
  • *The Born Naturalist: a person endowed with high naturalistic intelligence defined as a pronounced capacity for learning about the Living World and/or experiencing it as a quasi-moral agent.
  • Biophilia: according to E.O. Wilson, an innate human tendency for powerful emotional response to the Living World, now much overwritten by socially constructed (see above) rationalist beliefs of command and control (see above). Compare Ancestral Memory Trigger, below.
  • *Ancestral Memory Trigger (TBA): any form of Gaian apprenticeship whose long practice can awaken an enduring sense of being deeply “at home” in the Living World That Sustains Us. Examples discussed in this website are Willder Trails and Stone Work.
  • Practice of the Wild (TBA): a term introduced by American essayist and environmentalist Gary Snyder in his book of the same name, but here more narrowly applied in two senses: (1) long-term apprenticeship to Response Potential (see above); and (2) an apprenticeship protocol recommended for Born Naturalists training to become Pandoracene Pathfinders.
  • *The Pandoracene Pathfinder: an aspirational societal function crucial to human thriving in the Pandoracene (see above), by which Born Naturalists (see above) are encouraged to work toward eventual Gaian Reconciliation through the act of instilling Gaian literacy in the population at large.
  • *The Stranglehold of Grace: a hypothetical future time when ever-accumulating societal and personal wreckage wreaked by the Climate Crisis forces a commensurate Marshall-Plan-scale Climate Response, following which the future may once again begin to open out.

Next up: About the Universe