Radical ecolinguistics: starting small and the case for positive action
Prof. Stephen Cowley is Professor of Organisational cognition at the University of Southern Denmark (Slagelse Campus). He received his Ph.D. in Linguistics from the University of Cambridge in 1994 with a thesis entitled The Place of Prosody in Italian Conversations. He has edited/co-edited 9 Special Issues that include Simplexity, agency and language, (Language Sciences, 2019), 6 volumes that include Distributed Language (Benjamins, 2011), and Cognition beyond the brain; computation, interactivity and human artifice (Springer (2nd edn, 2017). His publication list consists in over 100 articles and book chapters.
In Organisational cognition, one asks how, given a socio-technological infrastructure, persons co-ordinate while using the biology of cognition. Practices, languaging and experience link life and cognition through distributed systems (https://www.academia.edu/32892457/Thinking_values_and_meaning_in_changing_cognitive_ecologies). From this systemic perspective, persons, communities and organizations self-fabricate. In human life, distributed systems enable people to link practices to materiality by drawing on embodiment. Since persons are alive –and happen in language – investigation of social organising enables one to build practical theories based on observing how systems self-maintain and, over time, develop. Languaging serves in altering experiences, organizations and communities.
Human living unites organized activity, languaging and, thus, molecular processes of organic coding: values derive from a history of lived experience. Since the human is alive, one can reject both anthropocentrism and structuralism. On the systemic view, ecolinguistics turns to languaging or, in other terms, observing, contingency and, above all, how parties speak, feel and act on behalf of the living world (including humans). In practice, the experience raises bio-ecological awareness (https://www.academia.edu/30073667/Ecolinguistic_terrain_language_and_the_bio-ecology). Human appraisals can thus serve to enrich the lives of persons, organisations and, above all, non-human inhabitants of the living world. By using bio-ecological awareness, we link the languaged, living and how we use opportunities for action. Simply, persons, groups and organizations can use experience – and languaging – to alter attitudes, discourse and, above all, practice. In challenging stories that appeal to techno-science, markets and identities one turns to, not humanistic values, but our kind of biogenic sensibility (https://www.academia.edu/36578646/Language_and_life_is_meaning_biosemiotic.). Thus, while endorsing Halliday’s challenge to growthism and classism, tracing human life to embodiment enables radical ecolinguists to work in local settings. Putting discourse in its place, they can aid persons, groups and communities to undertake positive action through languaging.