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The Primacy of Interrelating: Practicing Ecological Psychology with Buber, Levinas, and Merleau-Ponty

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This study explores the primacy of interrelating and its ecopsychological significance. Grounded in evidence from everyday experience, and in dialogue with the phenomenology of Martin Buber, Emmanuel Levinas, and Maurice Merleau-Ponty, we discover that humans are inherently relational beings, not separate egoic subjects. When experienced intimately (not just conceptually), this realization may transform our (often pathological) interrelationship with the beings and presences in the community of nature. Specifically, interrelating is primary in three ways: 1) interrelating is always already here, transpiring from the beginning of the human species and human culture, from the beginning of every infant's life, and (most significantly) from the continuously arising beginning of every presencing moment; 2) the quality of our interrelating is truly what matters most, the most important expression of and facilitator of health, compassion, and justice for humankind and the rest of nature; and 3) interrelating is the ever-present path via which we discover/create and carry on our (inter)existence. Interrelating is an existential given—indeed we are our interrelating—yet we are summoned ethically to cultivate our way of interrelating so as to serve others and the non-human natural community. Thus interrelating is our essence, our calling, and our path.

Affiliations: 1: Duquesne University


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