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Environmental Philosophy

Volume 11, Issue 2, Fall 2014

Henry Dicks
Pages 175-209
DOI: 10.5840/envirophil20149912

Aldo Leopold and the Ecological Imaginary
The Balance, the Pyramid, and the Round River

Aldo Leopold accorded great significance to the images he used to describe both the land and humankind’s relation to it. Focusing on three key images of Leopold’s “ecological imaginary”—the balance, the pyramid, and the round river—this article argues that the most profound of these is the round river. Contrasting this image with James Lovelock’s portrayal of the earth as Gaia, it further argues that Leopold’s round river can be interpreted as a contemporary, ecological reworking of the primordial, Homeric experience of Being, according to which the foundation of the world is a round river, Oceanus.

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