The following is a conversation between Theodore Roszak and Jeffrey Mishlove about ecopsychology. It is posted in it entirety.
Conversations On The Leading Edge
Of Knowledge and Discovery
With Dr. Jeffrey Mishlove
Hello and welcome. I’m Jeffrey Mishlove. Today we are going to explore echo-psychology. With me for the first of a three part series is Dr. Theodore Roszak, a professor of history at California State University at Hayward, a leading social critic and an author of numerous books including The Making of a Counterculture, Where the Wasteland Ends, Person, Planet, and most recently, The Voice of the Earth. Welcome Ted.
TR: Good to be here Jeff.
JM: It’s a pleasure to be with you. In your book The Voice of the Earth, you outline what hopefully will become an entirely new discipline that you call eco-psychology. I think the best way to introduce our viewers to this subject is to talk about what psychology has been up until now. And I think maybe the best place to start would be with Freud himself who was the founder of psychotherapy.
TR: That’s where I decided to start the examination of the psychiatric mainstream. It provides a good baseline. As Freud, whatever else has to be questioned and revised his work as most of the important questions. And even though I disagree with many answers he came up with, I thought the questions where well worth addressing. And so I used Freud and his influence on later figures, positive or negative, as a starting point for a reexamination and a re-envisioning of the psychiatric tradition in the modern Western world.
JM: Well, one of the issues that Freud did address was the environment itself in some very limited sense wasn’t it?
TR: Freud asked a question that was a pregnant question, an important one: What is the relationship of the human psyche to nature in general and to the universe at large? The question you would think every psychiatrist would want to address at some point. It’s the big question– how does the psyche connect with anything outside of the psyche in nature. Freud thought of himself as a scientist examining a scientific material called the human psyche, even though others in psychology think that he indulged in a lot of abstractions about the id and the ego and the super ego and so on. Freud himself thought he was a good solid materialistic scientist studying quite objectively a material called the psyche. When he asked the question “How does the psyche connects with nature at large,” he came up with a very negative assessment. That is, he was convinced the human mind, the psyche, and life in general was a freakish development in the universe. And that decision on Freud’s part haunts the practice of psychiatry and psychotherapy down to the present day. And it has led to the assumption that you can treat the psyche in isolation from the natural environment because there’s no significant, meaningful, human connection. Freud went so far as to regard the human mind as freakish, as purely accidental and perhaps not natural in the sense that it would someday give a return to the unconscious state, to the inert state. Now the problem with that is that it has left us with a severely under-dimensioned psychology, a psychology in which the human mind does not connect with the natural environment. And it is therefore treated wholly within a social context, a family context, perhaps a very personal context but without any outreach to the world beyond — the non-human world — that surrounds us out of which we evolved.
JM: And I suppose the larger significance of this is that it’s not just Freud. But he was in fact representing what was a mainstream opinion at the time he wrote at the end of the last century, one that was widely shared and is still influential in our culture.
TR: Well, I concluded that Freud’s influence in this respect has been absolutely decisive. Jung, his great disciple tried to find his way around this position Freud had adopted and tried to find a more religious, a more spiritual interpretation of the psyche, which is one of the reasons Freud and Jung fell out with one another. Most other followers of Freud and the schools that followed the post-Freudians simply assumed that Freud was correct about the connection between the psyche and the natural environment. The result of this has been is that if you look at psychiatric literature as a whole, there’s almost no mention in it of the non-human world, as if it just doesn’t matter. Indeed you find extreme examples of this in a development following World War 2– existential therapy for example– it is simply assumed that human beings exist in the condition of alienation from nature. Indeed that’s the key problem that you have to address yourself too: Our profound alienation as human being in an alien universe. Well, I decided to go back beyond Freud and then to place his work within a larger framework of spiritual healing, psychotherapy in the most general sense of the term because if you look beyond the modern, Western schools of psychiatry, you find that in traditional societies among primary people, the people we once used to call primitives, that it is understood that sanity and madness have to be defined always in relationship to the natural habitat; and that indeed to a very large extent, madness is understood to be an imbalance between the individual and the natural environment or between an entire tribe or a people and its natural environment. That’s a much larger conception of what sanity and madness are. And so my feeling is that the indigenous cultures have a lot to offer our understanding of sanity and madness in this one significant respect—there has to be a balance between the psyche and the natural world around us. That I think has profound ecological implications.
JM: Well, one of the controversial issues of modern psychiatry and psychology is the whole issue of the social system itself: What happens when the social system is mad or insane?
TR: Yes, Freud also addressed himself to this issue asking the question, how do we define madness? If we decide, if we suspect that an entire culture may be embedded in what he called “collusive madness” or “communal neurosis.” Where does the therapist then look for a baseline to define sanity and madness? Freud raised this issue, but he never came up with a successful answer to it. Later schools like radical therapists have. They have called into question the existing social definition of madness and sanity in ways that have profound social implications. Perhaps an entire society is mad, in which case you don’t simply want to adjust people back into another condition of madness. The way in which I take this issue up is to suggest that there is a madness involved in urban industrial society that has to do with our lack of balance and integration with the natural environment and that this might be an interesting baseline to use for the definition of sanity as we move into the next century. That is, we need to recapture of being embedded in nature, being in the condition of reciprocity with nature that you do find in traditional forms of healing. I don’t think we can simply adopt any other culture’s conception of sanity and madness. We have to work out our own. And that I want to suggest is as much a job of the ecologist as it is of the therapist. So eco-psychology is the term I’ve used to try to define a common ground between two fields that have so far not been on speaking terms—psychologists on the one side and ecologists on the other. Psychology needs ecology; ecology needs psychology. Ideally, you know, someday we wouldn’t use a term like eco-psychology. Psychology would be understood to have an ecological framework. But at this point, that is still to be worked out.
JM: At this point we have ecologists are like profits in the wilderness, warning us that the course our civilization on a global basis is madness, that we’re headed for self-destruction, and that we are fowling our habitats.
TR: I’ve been concerned about the fact that many environmentalists have been sounding out very few notes on appealing to the public. They use fear and guilt because they seek to shock and shame us. I understand why. The problems are urgent, and I accept the urgency of these problems. I don’t question that at all. But it maybe important to ask at some point whether we’ve done too much of that in the environmental movement, which I consider myself to be a part of? And that perhaps we have to find other themes to introduce, other notes to sound that are more positive and more affirmative. At a certain point this becomes a challenge to the environmental movement. Do we believe that human beings are bonded to this planet in a way that would allow us to invoke trust, love, respect and reciprocity as positive motivations for becoming good environmental citizens? Or do we believe there’s nothing more to fall back on than duty based upon guilt, based upon shame? Guilt and shame have their place. But an appeal that is exclusively related to guilt or to shame is, I think, at a certain point going to have detrimental effects. It’s going to turn people off and it’s going to sound terribly negative and challenging in that bad sense in which you confront people with a problem greater than they can take hold of. I would like to see the environmental movement ask it’s self this question: Are we not bonded to this planet by something which is life enhancing and life affirming and which we can appeal to people to find within themselves a voice of the earth which speaks to them with a sense of love, respect and trust?
JM: I suppose ultimately the question is, which will be more effective. The environmentalists see that there’s a job to be done and they’re probably using the means that they believe to be the most effective right now. And I hear you challenging them.
TR: Well, one way to decide this is to simply recognize the truth for us to be told. To begin with we’re dealing with problems that are urgent and life threatening and threatening the lives of other species beyond our own. You simply have to say that if it’s true, it’s true. Now in many cases we’re not sure that it’s true. We’re troubled perhaps because of the uncertainty of the problem and we have to invoke prudence more than certainty in the matter. But in addition to that, even if the problem is an urgent one, you still at some point, I feel, connect with something more positive and affirmative in people. And I believe it’s there. I wouldn’t be saying this if I didn’t believe it was there. So my article of faith is that at a very deep level the human psyche is grafted to the planet out of which we evolve, that there is what I call an ecological unconscious. Now whenever we invoke the unconscious, the depths of the unconscious, what we’re essentially doing is pursuing a philosophical discussion of human nature. We’re asking what makes people tick, what are the foundations of human behavior?
And there’s been of course a lot of speculation about that throughout psychiatric tradition. Some people find sexuality there; others find the archetypes of the high religious traditions there. I’m suggesting that at a certain level of the unconscious mind, what we find is ecological wisdom. And indeed, if that were not there, our species could not have survived and evolved as it has. Exactly what the ecological unconscious is and how it asserts itself and makes itself known, that’s perhaps yet to be discovered once we attend to the problem. But I have floated this phrase, suggested this phrase as a hypothesis– that at the lowest level, the deepest of the unconscious mind, we find a ecological unconscious deeper down even than Freud’s ideas about sexuality or Jung’s ideas about religious archetypes It’s something that connects us intimately, companionably with the flora and fauna, mountains, rivers, the natural world around us.
JM: Well, it would seem to be a pretty logical and sensible thing when you think that we each carry within our bodies, the genetic codes that have evolved over billions of years on this planet and are applicable to all other living systems.
TR: Well, I think that’s one way to look at it, you know, that we carry within ourselves this heritage that takes the form of a genetic code. And then the question is to what degree that affects the psyche. Is the psyche not itself an evolutionary phenomenon? I believe that it is. For that matter, even Freud believed that it was. In fact one of the things that made Freud feel most scientific was the degree to which he could rely uponDarwinand evolution. But Freud had a very skewed idea aboutDarwinand evolution. Freud was very much of a socialDarwin. His image of early humanity was a primal horde made up of rapacious, savage, people, perhaps rather the Victorian vision of primitive people in darkestAfrica. There’s a lot more personal projection in that than real science. So Freud’s use ofDarwin, his use of evolution was kinked, it was distorted. But if we take the same tact that he did– that the human psyche must have evolved out of that kind of a background and that it has behind it thousands of years of evolutionary development– then it’s reasonable to assume that it does connect in intimate and significant ways with the natural environment out of which we evolved; that that’s there to be found; and that the essence of sanity in this case and all cases is tapping the deep unconscious. But the question is what do you find there? And in eco-psychology what you’re looking for is our bond with the natural world.
JM: Well, of course Freud’s idea of the horrors of the id, the aggressive and sexual instincts that we must protect ourselves from, might be thought of as a restatement of the theological notion of original sin that separated us from nature.
TR: There is a lot more religion, crypto religion, lingering in Freud than he himself might have admitted. Psychoanalysis is after all a kind of right of confession. Some people have said that psychoanalysis is a confessional for Protestants. And similarly his vision of the primal horde where the Oedipus complex was established comes very close to being another version of original sin.
JM: Now let’s define for our viewers the Oedipus complex.
TR: Oh, it’s Freud’s conception that once upon a time, he thought of this quite historically he was very literal about this, the sons of the primal horde in some original caveman community rose up against a heavy father that dominated the clan and killed him and then lived in a condition of guilt and that condition is visited down through the ages and is repeated in the life history of every individual human being. It has to do with children.
As Freud saw it there’s always lust for the mother being punished by the father. It’s almost an article of folklore now to talk about it because it’s been called so much into question. But it’s interesting that the imagery here is all sexual and it’s all very negative. It has to do with the foundations of the human mind being filled with guilt, with shame. And psychoanalysis, like confession in the Catholic Church, is a matter of confessing your guilty secrets. And this is pretty much what psychiatry has become for many people. What I’m talking about is the possibility that deeper down than that… but deeper down than that there may be a reservoir of joyous, trusting, and loving connections with the natural world that can also be tapped and brought to the surface. And if we draw upon that, if we find ways to enliven that, to make that vital within the lives of people, then it may then be possible for them to become good environmental citizens in a way that is rewarding and is joyous. And that I think is a possibility the environmental movement could use for good political purposes.
JM: One of the fundamental points you seem to be making is that much of the damage that we human being are doing to our environment, to our habitat, is the result of some sort of an impulsive and obsessive need to cover some bad feelings and some guilt that has been drummed into us unnecessarily; that we don’t understand that we’re basically okay.
TR: Well, we’re not basically okay within an urban industrial society. I mean that I think the environmental movement is exactly right. We have invented a culture that is deeply toxic in many ways. No, I’m not sure we have to strip the whole of that culture, but a lot about it has to change–has to change rapidly and radically. In fact, the amount of change that the environmental movement is demanding of all of us, that we’re demanding of ourselves, makes it urgently important to find the right approach—the right way to address peoples so that they will bring about that. I don’t think fear and guilt alone will do the job. What I’m calling an eco-psychology, and incidentally it’s now becoming a movement of some importance in the therapeutic community, is a matter of asking quite honestly why people do what they do when they are behaving in an ecologically united or backward or destructive way. Ask that question quite seriously. If we are not good environmental citizens, why not? Why do we do the things we do? And eco-psychology would pay attention to that as an important way of understanding human nature. We are out of balance, out of harmony with the natural environment, why? What are the reasons for that? Too often environmentalists will identify some of these habits as simply wicked or greedy in an entirely negative. Then I suppose the approach we take is to scold people and try to talk them out of these bad habits, or lecture them or hector them or bully them out of these bad habits.
I’m suggesting that there might be another approach. And that is to find out why people are doing what they are doing. That is, if you start with a basic principle that there is an ecological unconscious that binds us or bonds us to this planet in a thoroughly, natural way. And if we are not in effect responding to that bond, then there must be a reason why. And we should ask in all sincerity why people are doing what they’re doing that’s ecologically negative. And then listen to their answers. With the same therapeutic sensitivity that a therapists listen when he asks a question about imbalance say in a family or a relationship. This is a relationship. It’s a relationship between people and the natural environment. Why is it out of harmony? And listen closely to the answer. I think the answers might often be quite interesting.
JM: One of the things that you suggest is that Freud may have almost gotten it backwards when he talks about a primal crime against the father that perhaps the crime was against mother– nature.
TR: Well, that’s a rather lyrical way of putting it. But it’s true. I mean usually we think of the earth as a mother figure. And what if the foundations of human madness have more to do with a crime against that mother than they have to do with any transgression against a hypothetical primordial father. At least that’s what I’m suggesting might be the deepest rout of madness and that madness is most highly emphasized most crucially in a society that is becoming more and more urban and industrial and growing further and further away from the mother earth that bore us into life in the first place. So it’s an interesting new image to use for understanding human nature, the nature of madness, the nature of sanity.
JM: It also raises many questions that possibly tie in these ecological issues that you raised with other injustices in our society, for example sexism. And I think many symbolic psycholinguists also view the unconscious itself– the great water– as being feminine.
TR: Well, there are elements here of deep sexual psychology, sexual stereotypes that have to be questioned as well. And again these are issues that did not arise prominently in the psychiatric mainstream until very recently when a feminist critique of standard psychiatry came into prominence. And that’s only been very recently. That also has to be included because they are in any assessment of psychiatry and in the creation of eco-psychology because sexual ballads between the genders is an important aspect of the way in which we address the natural world.
JM: Well, I suppose one of the fundamental issues here is that psychology and psychiatry as we know them today are the products of this very same society which is damaging the planet.
JM: Yes, that’s a problem you see. And I’ve talked with some fledgling eco-psychologists who have developed very strong reservations about the possibility of treating problems of neurosis within a urban framework. That is what if the city is itself shot through with a kind of madness. And I’m talking about something that’s so apparent in the pace and tempo of our daily life that I think it’s almost taken for granted that we are living a kind of crazy life. And all we have to do is be caught on the freeway in a traffic jam you know to recognize the madness of the way we’ve constructed the world around us. The amount of waste and the amount of stress and the amount of tension that we inflict upon ourselves. There’s something crazy about that. Now my problem is, and this is what I observe in my book,
The Voice of the Earth, that when we say we are crazy with what we’re doing in this urban environment, this quite simply has no professional meaning. Because psychiatrists who are themselves products of an urban culture and practice within a urban context are often not prepared to call into question a context that they themselves are tied to. But the madness of cities is an important consideration in eco-psychology. And cities are becoming the only way of life left in the modern world. There’s very little that’s outside of the city. Now if the city is a crazy context in which people live, then there would also be a crazy context in which to carry on psychotherapy. I’m not saying there’s any easy answer to that but again the question is basic. If this is true, then we have to confront that truth and make something of it.
JM: Well, I’m sure virtually every school of psychology would agree that one of the fundamental problems that people have that causes unhappiness has to do with the conflict between the social roles that we are placed in our jobs and in other artificial context that we create as oppose to you know the natural person underneath.
TR: Well, I would think so; you know urban culture is very recent; it’s a very recent development. The first urban society, which wasEngland, is no more than about a century and a half old. So we’re talking about something very recent in human affairs that may not connect very sensibly with our evolutionary heritage. Eco-psychology has to take that historical context into account, that we are talking about a culture that is very new, very come lately. And to which human beings may not be well adapted. The fact that we’re trapped in it simply means that we’re capable of creating a culture that can rise up against us like a Frankenstein’s monster and perhaps destroy us. While before that happens what we need is to get a grip on that culture and subject to it a sort of deep critique that I think only eco-psychology, as opposed to a mainstream psychology, could carry out.
JM: Theodore Roszak, it’s been a pleasure talking to you in this first part of a three part series. We’ve had a chance now to identify some of the fundamental problems of culture as a whole and of the ecology movement and of psychotherapy.
TR: Good to talk with you Jeff.
JM: Yes. And thanks for being with me. And thank you for being with us. I hope that you’ll stay tuned for parts two and three of this series in which we’ll begin to explore further some of the anecdotes to the problems that we have described today. We’ll begin to look at movements in cosmology and in psychotherapy and in culture that offer us a new ecological vision.
ECO-PSYCHOLOGY, PART II
With THEODORE ROSZAK
JM: Welcome back Ted.
TR: Good to be with you Jeff.
JM: In our earlier segment we discussed contemporary psychiatry and psychology. And in a nut shell what we mainly addressed were the deficiencies in psychology as it has developed to date in addressing the connection of the human being with the world of nature at large and I think it is appropriate in this segment to look at the contribution that systems theory and cosmology can play to a larger and a deeper understanding of those ecological and psychological relationships.
TR: I introduce cosmology and some science into the discussion of eco-psychology in a very specific way. And I introduce it primarily because I am trying to follow in the footsteps of Sigmund Freud, who asked the great question how does the psyche connect with the rest of nature. Now I find myself very much in disagreement with Freud’s answer to that question because he sought to answer it within a world view that I think we would now call the old scientific paradigm. The universe scene is a cold, alien, remote machine, which is a mechanistic view of nature. And within that model of nature, Freud could find no significant connection between life and mind and the rest of the cosmos. So he came to a very negative and despairing conclusion. At the turn into the twentieth century there was indeed an entire cult of what might be called entropy, the cult of entropy, which saw the universe as running down towards a bleak dead end. It was called the heat death of the universe. Many intellectuals of that period subscribed to the idea that the universe was destined to simply become a void filled with cold centers. A very despairing conclusion. And Freud subscribed to that.
JM: Based on Newtonian physics.
TR: Based on Newtonian physics and based above all on the great idea of nineteenth century physics which was the second law of thermo-dynamics– entropy. The inevitable, inexorable increase of entropy in the universe. Freud subscribed to that and within that context he saw life and mind as an exception, as an accident, as freakish and doomed to a dead end. And so Freud developed his psychiatry within that framework. Indeed the basis of Freud’s idea of death instinct is entropy. The idea that the universe is naturally a cold dead place. And the death instinct, which he called the most conservative of the instincts, has as its goal returning life to the inert state. That’s the way he described it. That’s what the death instinct is within us. This gave Freud psychology a dark, stoical character. And I think that has haunted psychiatry, psychiatric theory all the way through the twentieth century. It has been sometimes been put even more dramatically by the existentialist schools, which sees human life as inevitably alienated. Deeply alienated with the universe, which is on friendly, remote, distant and holly other. Now I decided to question that deeply in my approach to eco-psychology primarily because within just the last generation, I would say since about the 1950s the last thirty to forty years, there have been profound changes in modern, scientific thought. And most significantly a growing appreciation of the importance of systems in nature. The study of systems in nature is pretty much what science has become in our time. We have come to recognize that at the foundations of the physical universe we are dealing not with atoms that are small indivisible billiard balls that simply stick together in some convenient way, but even the very foundations of matter are deeply systematic, made of particles and forces that are highly complex. The universe as a whole is a hierarchy of systems building up from the very foundations of matter to the great galactic clusters of outer space. And somewhere in the middle of that we have the biological complexity of life on at least one planet, this planet. Where the systems have taken on vitality, life and have evolved toward mind. Our appreciation of this has become profound especially within the last generation. We have come to see the universe as an evolving hierarchy of systems within which we find our place as one of the most complex of systems in the universe. Within that worldview I think Freud would have to come to a very different conclusion. Life and mind far from being freakish and exceptional, are the out growth, the natural and harmonious outgrowth of a lengthy process of evolution that takes us back to the very beginning of cosmic time and what we call the big bang. Over a period of fifteen to twenty billion years since the Big Bang, all of these systems have grown out of one another in a hierarchical way, which means that they are positioned as less complex and more complex systems with lower and higher meaning. And life and mind are part of that process. They are not alien from it; rather, they are part of it. They are layered upon system after system after system in a way that gives us a entirely different vision of nature. In the late twentieth century we know that time and matter have a history. And it is an evolutionary history, an unfolding toward greater and greater net complexity in the universe, and that we find our as thinking, living creatures. And indeed all life on this planet finds its place within that evolutionary process in a way that is graceful and natural. So far from seeing life and mind as something freakish and accidental in the universe, we can know see it as having a natural, evolutionary place, a continuity with the rest of nature. I think there are deep ecological implications in that and if it is integrated with a psychology that does justice to our contemporary scientific vision of nature, the result of that would be a eco-psychology, which is deeply grounded in modern science and can treat life and mind, the psyche, as a natural part of the continuum of nature.
JM: There are growing numbers of profound thinkers in science, philosophy and cosmology who are saying we can longer view the universe as lifeless. And a God or a divine intelligence is somehow outside and apart from the universe. For example, the anthropic principle in cosmology suggests that there are some, at least in one of its strongest forms, suggests there’s an intelligence that created the universe so that we could exist in it, that if any one of a number of physical variables were modified ever so slightly human life would have been impossible.
TR: I draw upon this very speculative line of thought in my book Voice of the Earth primarily because while the anthropic principle which you mentioned is a highly controversial point in contemporary physics and cosmology. It is never the less the sign of the times, some scientists have introduced this idea. Let me try to explain it to you. What is the anthropic principle? The anthropic principle briefly put has to do with the proper place of thinking creatures in a universe. Now there are many interpretations of this principle. One of which is almost a low level and non-controversial totality. The reason things are as they are in the universe is because it is only within such a universe that thinking beings could have come into existence. Here we are as thinking beings and so everything that led up to us must have happened the way it did and could it could have happened on a purely gratuitous or chance or random basis. Nothing is remarkable about that. However, there is another use of the anthropic principle that is deeply controversial. And it contends that life and mind were intended by the universe and are the inevitable outcome of that universe, that there is a purpose within the universe to produce life and mind at some point in the evolution of time. Now, I want to underscore the fact the that most physicist do not accept this because it smacks too much of religion and theology. And we can come back to that later on. But I want to underscore the fact that I’m not defending that idea; I’m not endorsing that idea, I’m simply observing the fact that in contemporary science there respectable figures in cosmology, physical theory that are at least toying with ideas of that kind as the only way to understand as something as complex as life and mind could have come into existence within a life span that is limited– fifteen to twenty billion years. Can that have happened by pure chance? Well, you could never say it couldn’t happen by pure chance. But there are those who can’t believe that it did. And I’m talking about figures as significant as say the astronomer Fred Hoyle, who in many of his writings came to feel that there must be other principles involved that are very different than the mechanistic principles of the old paradigm. I simply observe that there scientists thinking like that, trying to make sense of highly complex systems like living creatures and thinking creatures like ourselves within a universe that has a fixed time span. And some of them are prepared to speculate that the anthropic principle may indeed the idea of a purpose to the universe as a hole. Now most scientists do not accept that, but I think interesting that the idea has appeared within scientific literature at all.
JM: Well, science as it grew out of the nineteenth century was based on I guess what might be called a mechanistic paradigm and that whole paradigm is breaking down. I think it was in the 1930s that Sir James Jeans said that the universe appears to him to be more like a great thought than like a great machine.
TR: This is an intriguing aspect of systems in nature. We now recognize that the universe can be described as an evolving hierarchy of systems. And scientists find it hard to talk about systems without introducing the language of purpose and intention. If you ask why anything in the system does what it does, it impossible to avoid saying in order to. But where does that purpose reside? Where in the system, in a purely physical system, can you find that purpose? And that’s a great problem for scientists. Now many of them will simply say well, this is just a convenient linguistic device. But if you eliminate the convenient linguistic device, it turns out that they’re tongue-tied. There’s no other way to talk about these systems. It’s amazing to me, I’ve collected quite a file of literature in science that uses the language the language of purpose and intention to describe systems, even systems of a tiny organic kind like why an enzyme behaves the way it does or how it describes the behavior of an enzyme or some part of the genetic material. And it always turns out to be the language of consciousness, that there is recognition taking place, there is a purpose, there is information transfer. All of things are much more mental images than mechanistic images. So I think one of the things we may find happening is science as we move into another millennium is that we will find scientists using metaphor of mind more frequently than metaphors of machinery in order to describe how nature acts. And I would take things like the anthropic principle simply to be early, perhaps very tentative assertions of the idea that purpose and intention are deeply engraved in the nature of things so that even if we find they don’t accept the anthropic principle, as I suspect that will happen it will be rejected as an inadequate formulation for various reasons it will never find its way into the textbooks. Systems with their inherent purposes and attentions will become more and more what scientists study, they will become more and more used to the idea of using the language of purpose and there is no way to use that language without invoking metaphors of the mind.
JM: You yourself, I think, point out that even if a scientist chooses to be very strictly mechanistic to describe a human being as nothing more than a machine, there hasn’t been a machine yet that didn’t have a purpose.
TR: Well, there has always been lurking in the background of every mechanistic explanation an element of purpose and intention because there is no such thing as a machine that doesn’t serve a purpose. However, scientists you see have simply gotten used to the idea of using words like mechanism as an element in nature. Now there are no mechanisms in nature, mechanism is imported in from the world of technology. But we have come to associate mechanism with science so deeply that we forget that it came from outside of science. I suspect the same thing might happen with words like idea, purpose, goal, intention, recognition, and language of that kind. I mean already every use of the word information in science, information transfer, in genetics for example, is imbued with elements of mentality. Aldous Huxley once said we must begin to see the universe as mind at large. And I think that maybe something that scientists will find themselves more and more drawn to. The assumption that the universe is much more like an idea, much more like a thinking mind than it is like some kind of a dead machine or simply dancing billiard balls, atoms that are nothing more than little balls of matter than simply bounce off one another and simply somehow shake into or distribute themselves into the universe as we no it.
JM: I know your wife Betty Roszak has been very eloquent in creating poetry that describes for example how our very existence is dependent upon the death of stars that took place eons ago across the galaxy.
TR: Yes, you know there’s a lot more lyricisms in poetry in science these days and many scientists may recognize themselves, though many do. For example, the fact that we refer to stars as having a life span—that they are born and they die. It’s coming to be more and more natural to us to see organic and mental images in nature. And Betty who’s a poetry has drawn upon this to find the lyricisms poetry inherent in the new vision of science, the new cosmology. Some scientists find that actually much more appealing than they’re willing to admit in public.
JM: Well, I very much enjoyed her image of a star sacrificing its self that we might live.
TR: You know, it’s not so farfetched. I mean there is a kind of sacrificial death of a star. Scientist themselves refer to the death in a supernova. You know, it’s not too farfetched to see this as a sacrificial acts that creates the very matter, the heavy matter carbon for example out of which our bodies living things are made. There’s a great deal of poetry to that. And yes it’s an intriguing new way to see poetry in the universe.
JM: Well, one of the other more poetical aspects of eco-psychology, which is very closely linked to modern science, is the Gaia hypothesis.
TR: The Gaia hypothesis, which is again a highly controversial hypothesis in science, is deeply poetic because it uses a mythological reference. Gaia was the Greek earth Goddess. And the Gaia formulated by James Lovelock and Lynn Margulis. They looked around for a name to give this hypothesis. They might have chosen anything I suppose, but they finally came up with a reference to Gaia. Now the Gaia hypothesis tells us that the earth can only be understood as a total system within which living things life– the biomass of the planet, plays a central role in controlling. So it’s very basic aspects of life on earth as the atmosphere, carbon cycle a number of things of this sort have to be understood against the background of an evolving and proliferating life upon this planet. The way in which they decided to package this idea was to imagine that the earth was a living organ, a total system, and they gave it a name– the name was Gaia. No sooner did they do this then this idea, which was meant to be a matter of biochemistry, got out into the culture at large and became deeply evocative. It was a deeply poetic image of the role of life on this planet. And then again you find science perhaps almost in spite of itself bridging over into poetry and to lyrical and rhapsodic expressions. But once again, I would emphasis that at the foundation of the Gaia hypothesis is a deep insight into the systemic character of life on this planet. The fact that it is an extremely complex system that has to be understood as a whole. And within which things are doing what they’re doing presumably with the purpose of preserving and enhancing life on this planet.
JM: When I think of the Gaia hypothesis I think of a statement that you made which is something like this. I believe you said that the central problem of eco-psychology is not what we will do about the earth, but what the earth will do about us.
TR: That’s a good way to put it I think because it challenges us to see that the earth within the terms of the Gaia hypothesis, maybe another player and the most important player in the environmental crisis of our time. If indeed the gaia hypothesis is correct, that the planet seeks to control and to enhance the conditions of life, then in a condition of ecological that we find ourselves in the twentieth century then it maybe to ask whether the planet may not itself be asserting certain influences upon all the life forms upon it, but most importantly us as its principle challenge or irritant. Exerting an influence upon us that will transform our habits and our ways is that a possibility? Well, I think eco-psychology has to ponder the very real possibility that there is a bond that links the human psyche to the Gaia hypothesis. To the intention of the planet as a global system, to preserve and enhance life. In which case we have something to draw upon in our ecological problems that is more than simply social duty. We have deep biological necessity.
JM: Yes, one of the statements and I think many other people in the ecology movement have been quoting a lot is the statement attributed to Chief Seattle who said that one thing he knew when his people knew for certain is that we don’t own the earth. The earth owns us.
TR: Chief Seattle is a bit of a problem Jeff. I’ve gotten a lot of mail about that quote. I didn’t need it because I already that it’s apocryphal.
TR: However, while Chief Seattle may never have said that, somebody said it. And it’s a noble sentiment that I think has a lot of ecological relevance behind it. It’s a deep insight into the systematic nature of life on earth as, well why not, a living organism. And that therefore the role we have to play in the late twentieth century early twenty-first century will be to try to recognize the effect of the call of the voice of the earth upon us, to change our ways and ecological habits. And my feeling is that if we hear that voice clearly and strongly, if it comes through to us aesthetically as well as biologically and many different levels, that we will rather gracefully move to do what is ecologically right and balanced.
JM: We’ve been discussing for the last twenty-five minutes the questions of cosmology, systems theory, the Gaia hypothesis, and the anthropic principle as they apply to eco-psychology. I get the impression that what you’re trying to build here is an intellectual framework which points in one direction and that is that the human mind is very deeply linked to every aspect of nature from the furthest galaxies to the tiniest single cell organisms at the bottom of the sea.
TR: Well, this is I find a powerfully evocative vision of nature to see the world the universe at large as an evolving hierarchy of systems within which life and mind find their place. It means that in some sense, which is as poetic as it is scientific, life and mind were inherent in that universe from the very beginning. They have matured–they have evolved–out of it. You know like the fruit appearing on a tree. Alan Watts, I remembered once said you know the universe at a certain point– people. In the same way in which a tree bares fruit. And that’s to see life and mind as having a very different in the heavens. Deeply rooted all the way back to the beginning. It means that the universe is more of a home for us than we may have realized. Now, I’ll just mention one point, ever since I was aware enough to be studying science, one of the issues that has always come up is the issue of the size of the universe. How vast it is and the vastness, the size of the universe has often been used as a measure of how lonely and alienated and puny and unimportant we are. We now know that it is only within a universe of a certain age and a certain size that life could have come into existence.
JM: That’s the anthropic principle.
TR: That’s right. And that therefore that universe of that size is appropriately our home. We could not have come into existence in any smaller universe in a younger universe. It had to happen in just that universe.
JM: And this is not the controversial aspect of…
TR: No, that part of it is widely accepted. That it’s only after a certain period of evolution and cooling, at which point the universe reaches a certain size, that a planet like Earth could come into existence bearing life upon it. So, rather than the size of the universe being something that dwarfs us, that intimidates us, that overwhelms us, we should recognize—and this is for me a deep insight into the nature of the universe at large—that it is only within that universe that we could be here, that our home has to be of that size, which gives that size, that dimension of things and that magnitude of things more of a nurturing quality than I would’ve ever guessed I could have found.
JM: I gather you’re also, though we don’t have time to cover it, very interested and perhaps impressed by the work of people in the area of physics and consciousness who are suggesting, for example that there are properties of sub-atomic particles photons for example that exhibit qualities that might be the rudiments of consciousness itself.
TR: Well, insofar as any system holds together and all the parts are cooperating in a sense. Let me take the word cooperation. It already implies some type of mentality at work. The parts aware of one another and holding together in certain way. In so far as any of that is perceived in the universe we may be perceiving evidence of mind. And may be what we have to get over is the idea that minds can only be only located in heads. Again, I would invoke Huxley’s phrase that mind at large is the nature of the universe. In the same way as that we’ve gotten used to the idea that a wave does not have to be embodied as it once originally was for us in a mound of water moving through the sea. We can manage waves being liberated from a physical context and appearing as pure energy in a very ethereal way in the universe at large. So it maybe important at some point to recognize that mentality does not have to reside within a skull, within a Brian, within a head.
JM: Theodore Roszak, thank you so much for being with me. And thank you very much for being with us in part two of this three part series. Please tune in again for part three in which we’ll discuss further the principles of eco-psychology.
ECO-PSYCHOLOGY, PART III
With THEODORE ROSZAK
JM: Welcome again Ted.
TR: Good to be with you Jeff.
JM: In parts one and two of this series, we talked about the deficiencies of modern psychology and psychiatry in addressing ecological issues. And we looked at systems theory and cosmology, the Gaia hypothesis, and the anthropic principle as providing a scientific context for an eco-psychology. Let’s begin to look at other cultural elements. I think one of those elements that impressed a great deal is the tradition of nature mysticism that you drew upon, which has actually been a very rich tradition in Western culture.
TR: You know there’s a whole wing of the environmental movement called deep ecology. And deep ecology draws many of its insights from nature mysticism, which is incidentally one of the reasons why standard environmentalists view it with perhaps some suspicion. I don’t. I tend to feel deep ecology draws upon a valid perception of nature as seen from an aesthetic and religious point of view. And that perception of nature is a real one. It’s had tremendous cultural influence in order for it to be honored and integrated into an environmental framework. The deep ecologists are prepared to adopt the insights of great nature mystics, poets like Wordsworth, Saint Francis and the Asian traditions like Taoism, which are very close to the natural world. My feeling is that this is again one of those sources of inspiration that eco-psychology, when it is fully matured, will have to draw upon in addressing the natural world around us. That there’s a wealth of insight about the human continuity with the natural world to be found there that can be translated into therapeutic terms and into ecological terms.
JM: What is nature mysticism?
TR: Well, of course they’re many varieties of nature mysticisms. In the Western-Judaeo-Christian tradition it has always been viewed with a certain alarm and suspicion because it seems to involve deifying the natural world in a way that has often seen to be flirting with heathenism or paganism. There are still certain parts of the Christian community, especially in the Christian community, some suspicion that people want to address the natural world as if it’s alive, vital, and sacred. Generally speaking, I would say nature-mysticism is a sacramental view of the religion of nature. It’s characteristic of most primary people, the religions we think of as traditional religions among primary people– the people that used to be called primitives, almost always based upon the perception of nature as alive and intentional and in touch with us; a nature that must be treated with respect and with reciprocity. So generally speaking, those are the characteristics of nature-mysticisms. The way this is translated into modern ecological terms is along the lines of deep ecology or eco-feminism or feminist spirituality, which are wings of the environmental movement that are seeking to draw upon a deep experience of the life and the intentions of nature, not to simply see it as a realm of resources, but has to be managed for human benefit.
JM: In our previous program, you used the concept mind at large. And it strikes me that when we talk about nature-mysticism, I think about what anthropologists have sometimes disparagingly called animism, the idea that every rock, every tree, every animal has a kind of a consciousness that can speak to us. Are you thinking along these lines?
TR: Yes indeed. Animism is deeply rooted in human culture and in most of the religions of the human past. Perhaps all of them, with the exception of the Judaeo-Christian tradition, have within them a strong representation of animism. Indeed, in terms of an eco-psychology, I think animism is the perception of nature that’s reborn in every human being. Children are naturally animistic in their treatment of nature. It’s reflected in their most spontaneous response to the natural world. They address it as if it had vitality and mentality. It’s reflected in children’s literature, fairy tales, and folklore. My sense of the matter is that children have to almost be forced to stop being animistic in order to be normal and sane in our society. But in other cultures people matured into adult forms of animism. I think for example the ancient Greeks were as civilized as any society we might want to mention. They produced great philosophy, great art, and great literature. What do you make of the fact that they look at the world around them and saw gods and goddesses inherent within it? We don’t know quite what they meant by that perhaps, but we know they saw the natural world as vital and inherently mindful and purposive. They sacrificed to it, they prayed to it, the addressed it, they wrote great poetry addressing themselves to the natural world. So it’s quite possible for a high civilization to be deeply animistic. So animism comes in a variety of forms. The Gaia hypothesis, which we discussed already, is an inherently animistic perception of nature, though for scientific nature purposes it can be cleaned up and put in perhaps biochemical terms. But the eco-feminists (that’s the women’s wing primarily of the environmental movement) have come to see it as a kind of modern animism. Animism is irrepressible because it’s a valid perception of the natural world as having dignity, vitality, and mentality.
JM: The animism of the Gaia hypothesis would be that the planet itself is alive as a living consciousness.
TR: That we can understand a great deal about the planet only by thinking of it as if it were a living organism. And the whole problem is in those words, “as if it were.” Because if that turns to be the only way to understand what the planet is all about, then the perception is not merely metaphorical in a reductive sense of the term metaphor, but it’s a valid perception of nature.
JM: So what you’re suggesting is that a eco-psychology has to reach back historically to the Neolithic understanding that people had of their unity with nature, their intimate psychological unity with nature.
TR: It has to be opened to perhaps even more than that, not only Neolithic, but Paleolithic. In a sense that– I want to make this clear– that there are insights in human culture going all the way back that deserve to be honored. And we should seek to understand them with all the respect we would seek to understand other cultures and their perceptions of reality. I think eco-psychology in is that sense highly comprehensive. It can draw upon modern science, a number of scientific ideas, but it must also, I think, integrate perceptions of nature that may still survive I want to emphasize in children, as they are born into the world, that are certainly represented in the human tradition. So all of that I think is the reservoir of ideas, perceptions, sensitivities that have a place in eco-psychology. This is a profoundly comprehensive vision of human nature.
JM: You also draw upon the work of the psychologist Abraham Maslow, one of the founders of humanistic psychology, who instead of studying on healthy people, his studies were based on the healthiest human specimens he could find, and one of his findings was that these people often exhibited states that he called peak experiences which he described very much akin to the states that mystics throughout history have described.
TR: There’s a lot to be salvaged out of Maslow’s perception, and humanistic psychology is one of the major schools of psychiatric and psychological thought. I find a lot in Maslow. Maslow was however limited in one respect. That is, he thought that we had to find our salvation, our therapeutic breakthrough, and our peak experiences wholly within the human environment. This is something that happened only within the human mind. There’s very little nature to be found in Maslow’s writings. That is, he never managed to connect his therapeutic insights, his theoretical insights with the natural world around him. He more or less subscribed to the idea that I think goes back all the way to Freud, that there is a division in the world between those things that are human and social; and those things that belong to the strict natural sciences. I think eco-psychology would take issue with that bifurcation of reality, and see human culture, human nature, as part of a continuum that is deeply rooted in the whole history of time and the universe.
JM: Well, one of the figures that Maslow sighted is I recall expressing these peak experiences. One example would be someone like the great poet Walt Whitman, who wrote about a grain of sand, a leaf of grass as embodying the ultimate essence of the divinity.
TR: Yes, Walt Whitman is a good-natured mystic and there’s a lot to be drawn from him.
JM: What Maslow seems to be suggesting is that kind of insight is one of the most powerful, one of the highest insights that a human being can have.
TR: The great idea in Maslow– and not only in Maslow, you can also find this in other people– is his perception that the depths of our nature may yield reason of joy and pride and exaltation. The psychiatric tradition is by and large along Freudian lines and grounded in the idea that the unconscious is a chamber of horrors. It’s filled with guilt and repressed criminality and repressed aggression, and repressed lust. That if you look deep within your self, what you find there is cause for shame and essentially what therapy involves is reconciling people to accepting that into their lives and coming to have a more mature understanding of these repressed contents. Maslow, along with Jung and others, was among those who believed that the deeper you look inside, the more reason you find for joy, for celebration; that the foundations for human nature are clean and good and innocent and creative. My feelings is that this is what I believe we would find in what I’ve called the ecological encounter unconscious. That is a bond with the natural world, which makes us at home in the universe and which gives reason for a positive view of life, very different from the more alienated view of life we associated with Freudian orthodoxy or existential therapy or even certain elements of Maslow’s humanistic psychology, which is still alienated from the natural world in a way that makes it hard to connect.
JM: You’ve mentioned Jung a number of times. Jung developed the theory of the collective unconscious, and it seems to me that this may be about as close as we can find within psychology and psychiatry today for the idea that the human unconscious is somehow connected to this larger world of, well Jung referred to archetypes. But if we look earlier to the use of the word archetype, the German poet, Goethe, referred to the phenomenon that the essence of poetry is the same as the essence of nature itself.
TR: Jung was one of the major thinkers that I was able to find most promising as a resource of eco-psychology. And it is precisely his idea of the collective unconscious that I found myself able to draw upon. The only problem I have with Jung is that Jung at a certain point in his career, because he wanted to treat deeply suffering human beings, felt that if necessary he would violate the principles of science in order to treat their wishes and their needs as realities in their own right. And if necessary, if this would sacrifice has scientific respectability, so be it. My feeling is that it is not necessary to make that decision to break with science in the modern world, that there is a great deal in science, especially within the last few generations that can support human needs and aspirations and it’s not necessary to do as Jung did– to sacrifice your scientific respectability. The other aspect of Jung that was a little difficult for me to deal with is the fact that Jung’s collective unconscious is an extremely ethereal, almost fleshless realm of psychological reality. It does not take on the reality of the natural world. Even though Jung himself, incidentally, in his personal life had a strong sense of nature-mysticism, of connection with the natural world, was most at home out of the city in the forest near the water, the running waters
JM: His therapy sessions were often held while walking in the woods.
TR: He had a strong sense of natural connection. That didn’t always show up in his theories, which tend to be more abstract and disembodied. So my strategy in The Voice of the Earth was to interpret that voice in very physical flesh and blood terms, to integrate into Jung’s collective unconscious, a sense of actual, physical nature, of anomaly and vegetation and to find that our connection with nature in its most physical and real form at the depths of our unconscious. And the ecological unconscious for me is not as an abstract idea as Jung’s collective unconscious, it is much more related to our evolutionary background as children of the planet earth.
JM: Several times you’ve referred to eco-feminism and women’s spirituality as being branches of ecology. Could you amplify on that– the feminist perspective and what significance it has for your…
TR: It’s a very deep significance. Among the issues that I think has to be seriously addressed by eco-psychology is the issue that has been raised by eco-feminism. And that has to do with the deep influence of sexual stereotypes– gender stereotypes I should call them– upon our culture. There is a sense in which the whole of civilized history, since the foundings of the whole river-valleys civilizations, has been strongly biased in the direction of patriarchal values, and aggressive values that treat the natural world with hostility and suspicion and significantly that natural world is usually spoken of in feminine terms– mother earth, mother nature. Even more so in the modern Western world, modern science and technology seem to be shot through with a sense of aggressiveness, a spirit of domination, which eco-feminists has identified as a gender stereotype. That is, they’re warping the foundations of our understanding of nature and of technological connection with the natural world. At some point I feel this would be a central issue in eco-psychology, to a deep analysis of the gender stereotypes that continue to operate in the world today. Take a specific issue– the sense we have that the only way you can be secure in the world is to dominate the world, hence all the metaphors we have of conquest, conquering nature, conquering outer space. Images like that are deeply macho, and they’re compulsively masculine. And they influence us to believe that the natural world is an enemy, that it is hostile to us and that we must take it over and manage it and subjugate it to our human needs. Hence, the intense artificiality of urban, industrial society. We live in these cities, in these structures that are manmade and man controlled and it’s within that context that we seek to find a sense of security in the world. Now, from a psychological point of view what this betrays is a tremendous sense of insecurity in the natural world. And I think at some point you would have to address the fact that this has distorted our relations with nature. Is there some other way to find security in the world, other than domination? Here I’ll give you an interesting parallel, which is a psychological parallel. Anyone dealing in family counseling, marriage counseling, will recognize that nothing destroys a relationship in a family or between a husband and wife man and woman more than the feeling that the only way they can relate is by dominance and submission. We readily recognize that is at the root of many broken families, broken marriages, broken relationships. What’s the alternative? Well most therapists would say there has to be trust, there has to be mutual respect. Now in an eco-psychology you would take that same insight into human relationships and try to read it into our relationship with the natural world. Is there some other way to find security in our relations with nature than by way of dominance and submission? I think the eco-feminist viewpoint–the insight–is “yes”, by trusting. By trusting nature to be life enhancing and life supporting. You cannot at every point; in fact it’s a futile exercise to seek to dominate a force as large as the planet, Earth. That we would be much better advised to move within the grain of nature, sort of a Taoist insight into the nature of things. That I think would be a very deep issue in eco-psychology. A deep investigation of how we achieve security in the world– through trust or through domination.
JM: One of the issues that you raise is very basic is calls us to question what is underlying our behavior when we engage in activities that are destructive to nature. Why do we do that, it’s a lack of trust. But let me ask you this, I think I hear you saying that if we just develop a new, self-image, a new psychology, we can address that lack of trust.
TR: Well, yes, we’re being very brief about this, but to spell it out fully, you know one of the deep teachings of modern environmental philosophy is really quite traditional. You cannot simply take and take and take from nature without giving. So the proper relationship between human beings and the natural world is one of reciprocity. Well, reciprocity lies at the root of all of the religious practices of primary people, of traditional societies, a sense that you cannot simply take without giving back. Now we speak of that reciprocity in terms of recycling things. Of using things with thrift of wasting very little. So we can reinterpret this in modern terms that sound abstractly economic. But underlying this is the sense that we must relate to planet as if it were an intentional personal presence with whom a relationship that involves an ethical obligation to reciprocate the generosity of the planet. And if we don’t do that we distort that relationship and seek to make it one of exploitation and domination. This may very well lie at the very root of our ecological crisis in the modern world. And the solution to it is at least along that one level is a psychological of recognizing that we can gain greater security by way of trust and reciprocity than by domination and exploitation.
JM: It seems to me though that you have to go a lot further than simply saying we must trust. And I think of the next steps that you take is to rely on science and say let’s look at natives peoples and let’s look at species of animals that have lived for hundreds of thousands of years in harmony with the environment.
TR: Well, one of the insights of deep ecology, which is challenging and perhaps even disturbing is in fact that our culture, the culture of the modern world the urban industrial world is very recent and very young. It does not have much of a tract record.
JM: Five thousand years maybe.
TR: Well, and urban industrialism is only a few centuries old. On the other hand there are cultures that have survived for a very long period of time in conditions of trust and reciprocity with the natural environment. I don’t want pretend for a moment that I’m not trying to idealize or romanticize those relations between primary societies and the natural world because there’s often recognition that nature can be harsh and be severe. It can be punishing. Gaia is an earth mother; she can be a tough mother, a punishing mother if you want to speak in those terms. That there’s a kind of mature recognition of the fact that those are the terms of life. And you don’t break trust with the planet and seek to dominate it and exploit it for some short-term advantage simply because the going is sometimes rough. I think many environmentalists in more scientific terms of coming to tell us that same thing, that we have to change our lifestyle and our habits of life on this planets in ways that at some points may involve sacrifice, but will nevertheless in the long term give us the capacity to survive with grace and with a adequate standard of living. So this is a very real choice that confronts us about the meaning of security– long term security on the planet and maybe that we are presently trapped within a psychology of domination that has pretty much characterized our style of life– the city with its heavy weight upon the planet exploiting the planet as much as possible to give us all the things we need to create a artificial environment within which we will feel a kind of perhaps false security that cannot outlive three or four or five generations. That may be the essence of our environmental problem that we are seeking security along the wrong root. But the solution is not simply an economic and social political one. It’s also a personal and psychological one.
JM: I suppose the question comes down to where is your bottom line if you feel as Freudians and existentialists do that the bottom line of the human sole is alienation and a need for domination, then it’s easy to justify continued ecological exploitation.
TR: Yes, and the interesting thing about all views of life that are based upon a sense of alienation, inherent and inescapable alienation from nature is that they are deeply tragic. They don’t promise a nice finish. Now I don’t want to suggest that what I am advocating here is the easy way to go or anything of that sort. But what I am saying is that I think there might be a deeper maturity in recognizing that after all we are living on a planet from which we evolved. We cannot therefore be so alienated from that planet that we no longer some participation in that genetic heritage, that evolutionary heritage and that ought to become part of our psychological theory.
JM: Well, it seems to me that the lesson of tragedy is that when we’re faced with situations that seem unavoidably horrible, the best we can do is reach inside of us for that which is noblest and wisest and Theodore Roszak that what I hear you calling us to do. The project of eco-psychology may fail, but even if it were to fail, it could bring out the best in us.
TR: Well, I think it’s a matter of asking us to respond to the ecological crisis with a sense of more than fear or dread, with a sense of acting nobly towards a planet that has nurtured us into existence and which offers us a possibility of great bounty.
JM: Theodore Roszak, thank you so much for being with me.
TR: It’s good to be with you Jeff.
JM: And thank you for being with us for this third part of a third part series on eco-psychology.
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