Environmental scientist and writer Haydn Washington argues that we will not solve the environmental crisis unless we change our worldview and ethics, and to do so we must rejuvenate our sense of wonder at nature.
This book focuses on humanity’s relation with nature, and the sense of wonder and belonging common to indigenous cultures and children everywhere. Drawing on events in the author’s own four decades working to protect wild places, and the current literature on wonder, it examines what a sense of wonder is, what it has been called in different cultures, and our high points of wonder at nature. It also looks at the ‘Great Divide’ in worldview between anthropocentrism and ecocentrism, and considers the problem of anthropocentric theory in academia, arguing that the focus should instead be on harmony with nature. The book concludes with an examination of why wonder has become buried in Western society and considers ways in which it can be revived, including rituals and education. It also considers how wonder helps humanity to become ‘whole’. The final chapter presents the road back to wonder and how wonder towards nature can be restored in Western society.
This book will be of great interest to environmental scientists, conservation biologists, environmental philosophers and ecological ethicists, as well as environmentalists, educators, eco-psychologists, and students looking at sustainability, deep ecology, and environmental philosophy and ethics.
Table of Contents
Foreword Introduction – a sense of wonder 1. Wonder over the Ages 2. Do we all wonder? 3. Illuminating moments 4. The great ethical divide - anthropocentrism vs ecocentrism 5. Harmony - not ‘theory’ 6. Gaia and the sense of wonder 7. The wonder of wilderness 8. Problems which bury wonder 9. The Ritual of Finding Wonder 10. Education for wonder 11. Wonder – helping humanity become whole 12. The road back to wonder End poem: ‘Not for me’
Haydn Washington is an environmental scientist and writer of over 40 years’ experience. He is currently an Adjunct Lecturer at the Pangea Research Centre, School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of New South Wales, Australia. He is the author of six books on environmental issues, including Human Dependence on Nature (2013), and Demystifying Sustainability (2015).
Featured Author Profiles
"A Sense of Wonder Towards Nature is exactly what’s largely absent among those discussing the most important issue for humanity – how to sustain the ecosystems that support civilization. This book is a brave, readable, necessary, and powerful attempt to include it." — Paul R. Ehrlich, co-author of Jaws: The Story of a Hidden Epidemic
"Awe and respect for our surroundings invokes a sense of reverence and responsibility to protect nature’s abundance and generosity. Haydn Washington’s book is a much needed reminder of our utter embeddedness in and dependence on nature for our survival and well-being." — David Suzuki, author, scientist, broadcaster
"Start wondering about wonder, the amazing human capacity to wonder, with the focus on the natural world, often wild. Washington analyzes with remarkable penetration our global senses of residing on the local landscapes about which we care - with both love and fear. His ultimate vision urges belonging and reverence for our wonderland planet - a wonder of wonders on Earth." — Holmes Rolston III, environmental philosopher, Colorado State University, USA
"Haydn Washington cuts through the waffle and dogma of academia to focus on something critical – humanity’s sense of wonder towards nature. He rightly argues wonder is something transformative that can cut through society’s deep anthropocentrism. I recommend this book to all who feel a mystery to life, to all who love the land." — John Seed, deep ecologist, lead author of Thinking Like a Mountain
"In many ways, this is a Wonderful book. Not only does it skillfully combine prose and poetry, in describing the beauty of nature, but it also uniquely captures the sense of wonder itself. A truly inspirational book for audiences ranging from nature lovers to scholars and students of all disciplines." — Helen Kopnina, author of Sustainability: Key Issues
"The book’s focus is on the stance of wonder and its importance for a healthy relationship between human beings and the natural world. It blends personal narrative, environmental insights from iconic thinkers, indigenous worldviews, nature poetry, philosophical analysis, and critique. It aims both to expand knowledge surrounding its subject-matter and to spur change." — Eileen Crist, author of Keeping the Wild
"Haydn Washington’s book makes the deeply practical implications of wonder especially clear. I fervently wish it well. May it go forth and re-awaken us to the natural world!" — Patrick Curry, author of Ecological Ethics
"Haydn Washington’s work is a fantastic help on our way to abandon the separation between everything "human" and nonhuman "nature". Washington explores the outline of a new science of shared subjectivity, which is radically embracing our human feeling of being part of a world deeply alive and in urgent need of reciprocity." — Andreas Weber, author of The Biology of Wonder