Pocket research design 2: Pre-modern forager societies vs Spinoza’s polis. A model for a more sustainable way of life in our time?

As a part of my ‘pocket research program’, titled “Can we reason with nature?”, this is my second pocket research design. Here, I would like to follow up on a point, that Australian professor in environmental philosophy Freya Mathews raises in her article “Towards a Deeper Philosophy of Biomimicry” (read my pocket summary here):

“The outlines of a bio-synergistic civilization are still far from being worked out. Evidently such a civilization was – very faintly – fore-shadowed by pre-modern forager societies, or those of them at any rate that adhered to proto-ecological guidelines.”

I read two implicit questions in this paragraph that invite to a (pocket) research program:

  1. In what way can pre-modern forager societies be said to adhere to proto-ecological guidelines?
  2. How can these societies serve as a model for a bio-synergistic civilization?

I would like to address these questions, adding a spinozean conceptual framework to a pocket research design with the (working) title:

“Pre-modern forager societies vs Spinoza’s polis. A model for a more sustainable way of life in our time?”

Here is my plan: I want to

  1. find out more about the cosmologies of the Amerindian peoples, and whether they can be said to live according to ‘proto-ecological guidelines’. For this, I will read Philippe Descola’s book “Par-delà nature et culture”, and make a pocket summary, here.
  2. on this background I will write an essay about the extent to which these cosmologies might provide some kind of guidelines for a more sustainable way of interacting with our environment, in our current modern Western mass communities
  3. On the other hand, there is Spinoza’s pantheism, which is conceived in the run-up to modernity, and which explicitly refers to urbanity, the polis. Here I expect to read some Arne Næss and deep ecology. Probably also Matheron. We’ll see, when I get there.

An initial thought: I have often wondered why there are no more research done about a possible connection, between Spinoza’s thinking and pre-modern pagan traditions, including those whom the West must have had knowledge of from the colonies, at Spinoza’s time.

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