In my first entry, I quoted from Richard Mabey’s book (The Perfumier and the Stinkhorn ), ending by suggesting that whilst in principle ‘..feelings can precede or follow the moment of exact observation without necessarily contaminating its truthfulness … in practice, marrying these two approaches is tricky work, and raises all kinds of puzzles about the terms of our experience of nature.’
He then goes on to ask ‘ Can you, for instance, closely observe a living organism without in some way taking it out of context, literally or perceptually? Can emotional engagement with nature amount to a kind of subtle take-over? Is it possible for us to sympathetically take another creature’s sensory viewpoint without becoming anthropomorphic`? Do the technological devices by which we enlarge our understanding of nature enhance or diminish our sense of kindredness with it? The natural scientist depends on them for information, but mistrusts their subjectivity and fallibility, and is chiefly interested in how they lead to an explanation of nature . The romantic revels in them for their own sake. They provide sensual experiences as well as sensory data, and are agencies we share with the rest of nature’.
These are interesting questions … but, of course, we can’t solve such complex philosophical questions on our walk – however, I would be interested to share some of your thoughts. It IS my belief that philosophical questions such as these are often best explored whilst engaged in doing something – in our case, whilst walking. Our embodied experiences on the walk can serve as a catalyst to encourage thought and reflection.