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The World in Which We Occur, The World in Which We Occur, 0817315810, 0-8173-1581-0, 978-0-8173-1581-8, 9780817315818, , , The World in Which We Occur, 0817380175, 0-8173-8017-5, 978-0-8173-8017-5, 9780817380175,

The World in Which We Occur
John Dewey, Pragmatist Ecology, and American Ecological Writing in the Twentieth Century
Neil W. Browne

Trade Cloth
2007. 256 pp.
Price:  $39.95 s
E Book
2009. 256 pp.
Price:  $39.95 d

American philosopher John Dewey considered all human endeavors to be one with the natural world. In his writings, particularly Art as Experience (1934), Dewey insists on the primacy of the environment in aesthetic experience. Dewey’s conception of environment includes both the natural and the man-made. The World in Which We Occur highlights this notion in order to define “pragmatist ecology,” a practice rooted in the interface of the cultural and the natural. Neil Browne finds this to be a significant feature of some of the most important ecological writing of the last century.
To fully understand human involvement in the natural world, Browne argues that disciplinary boundaries must be opened, with profound implications for the practice of democracy. The degradation of the physical environment and democratic decay, for Browne, are rooted in the same problem: our persistent belief that humans are somehow separate from their physical environment.
Browne probes the work of a number of major American writers through the lens of Dewey’s philosophy. Among other texts examined are John Muir’s My First Summer in the Sierra (1911); Sea of Cortez (1941) by John Steinbeck and Edward Ricketts; Rachel Carson’s three books about the sea, Under the Sea-Wind (1941), The Sea Around Us (1951), and The Edge of the Sea (1955); John Haines’s The Stars, the Snow, the Fire (1989); Barry Lopez’s Arctic Dreams (1986); and Terry Tempest Williams’s Refuge (1991). Together, these texts—with their combinations of scientific observation and personal meditation—challenge the dichotomies that we have become accustomed and affirm the principles of a pragmatist ecology, one in which ecological and democratic
values go hand in hand.

Neil W. Browne is Assistant Professor of English at Oregon State University Cascades, where he teaches American literature and culture.

"Browne (Oregon State Univ., Cascades) looks at Dewey's pragmatic ecology and applies it to frequently overlooked texts by major American environmental authors: John Muir's My First Summer in the Sierra (1911), John Steinbeck and Edward Ricketts's Sea of Cortez (1941), Rachel Carson's littoral texts (from Under the Sea Wind, 1941, through The Edge of the Sea, 1955), John Haines's The Stars, the Snow, the Fire (1989), Barry Lopez's Arctic Dreams (CH, May'86), and Terry Tempest Williams's Refuge (1991). Browne pursues the argument--articulated by Hugh McDonald in John Dewey and Environmental Philosophy (CH, Jul'04, 41-6458)--that Dewey's pragmatism is concomitant with his naturalism and democratic ideal, that Dewey is a monist and sees all experience as continuous and nonhierarchical. For example, Browne successfully illustrates Lopez's 'green' perspective in which human and nonhuman life are inextricably dependent, one of Lawrence Buell's requirements for a text to be 'environmental' (per his canonical The Environmental Imagination: Thoreau, Nature Writing, and the Formation of American Culture, CH, Sep'95, 33-0121). This crisp study, Browne's first book, derives from an article he contributed to Interdisciplinary Studies in Literature and Environment: ISLE (summer 2004), 'Activating the 'Art of Knowing': John Dewey, Pragmatist Ecology, and Environmental Writing.' Summing Up: Recommended. Lower-division undergraduates through faculty."

“Neil Browne has produced an illuminating study of John Dewey’s philosophy that provides the first sophisticated theoretical grounding for the field of ecocriticism. . . . A particular strength is its emphasis upon aspects of Dewey’s work that anticipate intellectual developments at the end of the 20th century. These include Dewey’s philosophical embrace of Darwinian thought and evolutionary biology; his rejection of the dualisms of mind and body, nature and culture, human and non-human that have dominated Western philosophy; and Dewey’s insistence upon the contingency and situatedness of human knowledge of the dynamic natural world.”
—Louise Westling, author of The Green Breast of the New World: Landscape, Gender, and American Fiction

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