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The Rediscovery of the Wild

The Rediscovery of the Wild

Peter H. Kahn
Patricia H. Hasbach
Copyright Date: 2013
Published by: MIT Press
Pages: 280
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  • Book Info
    The Rediscovery of the Wild
    Book Description:

    We often enjoy the benefits of connecting with nearby, domesticated nature -- a city park, a backyard garden. But this book makes the provocative case for the necessity of connecting with wild nature -- untamed, unmanaged, not encompassed, self-organizing, and unencumbered and unmediated by technological artifice. We can love the wild. We can fear it. We are strengthened and nurtured by it. As a species, we came of age in a natural world far wilder than today's, and much of the need for wildness still exists within us, body and mind. T he Rediscovery of the Wild considers ways to engage with the wild, protect it, and recover it -- for our psychological and physical well-being and to flourish as a species. The contributors offer a range of perspectives on the wild, discussing such topics as the evolutionary underpinnings of our need for the wild; the wild within, including the primal passions of sexuality and aggression; birding as a portal to wildness; children's fascination with wild animals; wildness and psychological healing; the shifting baseline of what we consider wild; and the true work of conservation.The hardcover edition does not include a dust jacket.

    eISBN: 978-0-262-31282-0
    Subjects: Biological Sciences, Psychology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. About the Contributors
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. xi-xxxvi)
    Peter H. Kahn Jr. and Patricia H. Hasbach

    Many people who currently advocate for the importance of nature in human lives focus on what’s close at hand: domestic, nearby, everyday nature. It might be a local park, one’s own garden, one’s dog, a nearby walking trail, or birds finding sustenance in urban feeders. But domestic nature is only part of what we need. The other part is wild nature. For as a species we came of age in a natural world far wilder than today, and much of the need for wildness still exists within us, body and mind.

    Wildness often involves that which is big, untamed, unmanaged,...

  5. 1 Quantifying Wildness: A Scientist’s Lessons about Wolves and Wild Nature
    (pp. 1-26)
    Cristina Eisenberg

    A doe burst out of the forest and tore across the meadow, two wolves in close pursuit. This drama unfolded not twenty feet from where my young daughters and I knelt in our garden peacefully pulling weeds, our pant legs wet with morning dew. One black, the other gray, the black wolf in the lead, they closed in on the doe’s haunches. In less than two heartbeats they pierced the woods on the far side of the meadow, leaving a wake of quaking vegetation.

    We live at the base of a mountain in northwest Montana, in a lush, verdant valley....

  6. 2 The Wild and the Self
    (pp. 27-50)
    Jack Turner

    In spring 1989, while returning from a walking meditation retreat in Death Valley, our little group stopped at a Mexican restaurant in Lone Pine, California. We scattered to several tables, and—rather pathetically hungry for news—grabbed various pages of an abandoned newspaper. We ordered courses and casually glanced through the usual unnerving trivia. Then someone said, “Edward Abbey died.”

    No one knew what to say; the article provided little detail. But I felt something important had ended, as when the loss of a warrior in battle seems a prelude to defeat.

    After we returned home to our zendo, I...

  7. 3 The Old Rules
    (pp. 51-70)
    Elizabeth Marshall Thomas

    We consider ourselves at the top of the evolutionary ladder. Of course we do. We invented the ladder. Who else would we put at the top? Never mind that every other life-form has abilities that either we lack entirely or share in a reduced manner. We walk on our hind legs, we talk, and we use tools. These are the features that matter. Other life-forms don’t do these things, or not as well, and thus are not as advanced by our standards. This has not been a beneficial concept for our planet, and may yet bring the planet to its...

  8. 4 Wild Wings
    (pp. 71-92)
    Bridget Stutchbury

    There is no doubt that people, young and old, need experiences with nature to feel and function well. Nature is restorative in terms of cognition and well-being, not simply because it is calming and peaceful, but also because it mildly stimulates our attention as well as replenishes our ability to direct attention to specific activities and problems. But what constitutes a nature experience? Studies have shown that merely seeing pictures of high-definition nature images does not have the same restorative effect as seeing, or being in, nature itself (Berman, Jonides, & Kaplan, 2008; Kahn et al., 2008; Kahn, Severson, &...

  9. 5 Children and Wild Animals
    (pp. 93-118)
    Gail F. Melson

    Developmentalists are just beginning to consider the importance of wilderness and “wildness” in children’s lives. This theoretical and empirical neglect of the “wild” is surprising, for a number of reasons. First, a contextual, systemic approach to the study of children’s development (Fogel, Greenspan, King, Lickliter, Reygadas, Shanker, Toren, 2008; Melson, 2008) is now widely accepted. Since the publication of the groundbreaking classicThe Ecology of Human Developmentby Urie Bronfenbrenner (1979), a study of child development in context—often called “the ecological systems approach”—has emerged as the dominant paradigm. This approach mandates careful attention to all elements—physical, social,...

  10. 6 Living Out of Our Minds
    (pp. 119-138)
    G. A. Bradshaw

    Physical fences were no accident in James’s world. Miners, trappers, and settlers poured across the continent, ax blows silenced murmuring pines and hemlocks, and miles of fences converted seamless landscapes into complex quilts of ownership. By the time the psychologist died on the eve of World War I, the US wilderness was well under way to domestication.

    My awakening to James’s cosmic consciousness occurred in another land, far away, in Africa. The colonial grip there has also tried to twist nature into submission. Damage is pervasive. In the South and East, the most noticeable impact is on wildlife. Postcontact numbers...

  11. 7 A Wild Psychology
    (pp. 139-156)
    Ian McCallum

    I know what I want to do for the rest of my life. I would like to be a voice, however insignificant, for the wild animals of the world, the wild places, and most important, the wild part of the human psyche. This decision is born out of my concern for the environmental issues of our time, especially the human contribution to our present state of affairs. We are in trouble. Our home is a mess. In our search for reasons, it would appear that we have failed to grasp the reality of our timing, place, and balance in the...

  12. 8 Culture and the Wild
    (pp. 157-180)
    E. N. Anderson

    All cultures worldwide must necessarily confront the contrast between cultural management and representation of the land and the lack thereof—between more “cultured” and more “natural” environments (Lévi-Strauss, 1964). Some contrast the human realm with the wilderness; others have quite different ways of conceptualizing the contrast. Differences in cultural views are associated with differences in actual management. Some cultural groups hardly affect the landscape at all. Others work to manage the natural landscape for the sustainable use of resources. Still others completely transform large sections of the land, but leave other sectors less affected, either for resource use or recreation...

  13. 9 Five Feathers for the Cannot Club
    (pp. 181-206)
    Dave Foreman

    If we look far and deep and wide, the key question that looms for Man is, “How do we fit in and live with all the other Earthlings for the long haul?”¹ Now I know it is unlike Man to look or think long and wide and deep. We seem hemmed in by short, narrow, shallow sight. By thinking with such blinders, we see ourselves as the only thing that has meaning and our few years as all time.

    One hundred and fifty years ago, Charles Darwin lengthened, widened, and deepened our ken. His “theory” of evolution, though, is truly...

  14. 10 The Rewilding of the Human Species
    (pp. 207-232)
    Peter H. Kahn Jr. and Patricia H. Hasbach

    As a species, we came of age on the savannas of East Africa and lived a life more wild than we do today. Much of that wildness exists still within the architecture of our bodies and minds, and needs to be rediscovered, re-engaged, developed, and lived—we need to be rewilded—for us as a species to flourish.

    That is the short of our position. To make good on it, or least begin to, in this chapter we develop five overarching ideas. First, we seek to reinstate the importance of the primal self in relation to the natural world—especially...

  15. Name Index
    (pp. 233-240)
  16. Subject Index
    (pp. 241-250)