April 20, 2009
Source: Piedmont 2005

Corrigan, Kevin
Graduate Institute for the Liberal Arts


Project Summary

As a result of the Piedmont Project seminar, I have modified my course below (changes in bold) in order to emphasize the importance of environmental thinking about sustainability in relation to the ecosystem and in order to open up a larger view of our fragile world in which the making of history must include the “goods” of much more than individual or even human specific interests. The goods of other species and indeed of all things are intrinsically part of our own destinies as they are also the concern of any developed stewardship for both place and space. I have included a field trip to Hahn Woods in Week 1 to foreground the significance of locale and familiar place, so often overlooked, extra topics on the environment for essay/research work, and a 2 week segment on the environment and on the history and importance of ecological ideas together with 2 specific works in the bibliography on these questions from Antiquity to the Present. These will be augmented with select readings from Arne Naess and Howard Frumkin (whose presentation at the seminar was first-rate). This final segment is not an addendum to the course, but fits integrally into the overall design, since Homer’s Iliad for instance is very much about human and cosmic ecology just as much as Camus’ Plague is about sustainability issues, disease and healing in an ever fragile balance between city, nature and cosmos.

This is only one aspect of my project. I intend also to develop a book project on ancient thought and ecology, since ironically it is Aristotle, elements of whose thought had to be rejected by the Medieval and Modern worlds in order for modern science to develop, who is explicitly of the view not only that the goods of all species have to be recognized and protected but also that economic, moral, and political education has to be capable of developing in human beings a perspective beyond their own interests. Plato’s notion of the cosmos as a great living organism speaks for itself, but what is little known is later Platonism’s crucial role in the development of an ecological point of view and then of course its pervasive influence in the rise of modern empirical science from Grosseteste and Bacon to Nicolas of Cusa, Copernicus, Kepler, and Newton. The complexity of Neoplatonic scientific thinking and its ability to include value without patronization deserves special attention in the absence of any treatment whatsoever.

I intend also to develop the links between Science and the Arts broadly conceived as far as I can within the ILA, promoting links wherever possible between different schools and colleges. My immediate interest here is to help to develop the Science and Society option into a program more fully integrated with the ILA. I want then to pursue this option with Arri Eisen.

Course Syllabus attached.

Download: Corrigan_2005.pdf (152.3 KB)

Bookmark and Share