EDA's proposal is something entirely different. It is not "analysis of ecological discourse" -- not even of anti- or pseudoecological discourse. It is squarely "ecological analysis of discourse". Of any type of discourse, not only of environmental ones. What is ecological is the analysis, not necessarily the discourse. As a part of ecosystemic linguistics, it is an ecological discipline that studies language phenomena, not a linguistic discipline that studies ecological phenomena. It reminds us of ecolanguage (ecolinguagem), as can be seen in Matos et al. (2014). It pushes forward some ideas of positive discourse analysis (Martin 2004, 2006; Vian Jr. 2010), although this is heavily influenced by Faiclough's critical discourse analysis.
Traditional discourse analysis, both Pêcheux's and Anglo-Saxon's tendencies, draw heavily on ideology and power relations. This is very important. However, the ideology in this case is Marxist, frequently filtered by Louis Althusser's philosophy. The British line of discourse analysis is based on a less radical form of Marxism, as is the case with Gramsci's and the Frankfurt School's ideas. So far so good. The problem is that Marxist ideology contains at least three characteristics that are unacceptable in an ecological view of the world (EVW). The first one is conflict, between "dominant" and "dominated" class. EDA, on the contrary, prefers to look for the ecological view of the world and Oriental philosophies, like Hinduism, Budhism and Taoism (Couto 2012). In order to begin to understand the difference between the two views, let us see the case of polar concepts like good-evil, larg-small, white-black, high-low etc. Occidental view of the world sees them as antagonic, as one against the other, it is one or the other. According to the ecological and Oriental views, good only exists if related to evil and vice-versa; large only in relation to small; white only in comparison with black and so on. In other words, these philosophies see them as forming a whole, inside which they are articulated along the same axis. They are seen from the side of harmony, together with everything that has to do with it, not from the viewpoint of the antagonism of ideologies, above all Marxist ideology.
It is true that suffering and pain are a kind of protection living beings have against death. Were it not for them, living beings would not mind when their body was mutilated. For this reason, everyone of them is always looking for its own self-realization or well-being, as can be seen in deep ecology. Death exists to give continuity to life, in order for nature to recycle matter of one being into another. Notwithstanding all this, whenever pain, suffering and death are avoidable they must be avoided. This is what EDA suggests.
In regard to the ecological concepts that may (and must) be used in the analysis of texts-discourses, let me begin with diversity. To accept diversity entails an attitude of tolerance towards the other, above all when s/he is different from us. Not accepting it entails intolerance, what may lead to aggression and violence, mainly against the minorities of all types. Acceptance of diversity presupposes an attitude of cooperation and harmony; the second concept is already present in biological ecology, under the name of harmonic interactions, both intraspecific and interspecific. In the first case, there are the interactions among human beings; in the second, there are the interactions between them and beings of other specices. In ecosystemic linguistics this harmony is known as communion.
In the opposite side is the stance of subordination of the weak to the more powerful and the consequent imposition of the will of the later on the former. This is a question of power, which may lead to fundamentalism, which is frequently associated to violence. For this reason, the deep ecology that inspired EDA recommends a Gandhian attitude (Gandhi is one of the sources of inspiration of DP), that is, firm but non violent. As we have seen, EDA respects diversity of all kinds, i.e., natural, mental and social.
Intimately associated with diversity there is the question of interactions (inter-relations, relations). Nothing is isolated inside the ecosystem, everything is related to everything, directly or indirectly. For this reason, the ecosystem is a network of inter-relations that obtains between and among organisms and environment. Interaction and diversity are intimately related. The more diverstity there are, the more interactions will obtain. But, interaction is also intimately associated with the harmony of the whole, hence, with the concept of holism. The interactions are multilateral, multipolar and pluricentric. As Edgar Morin pointed out, there is no center in the interior of an ecosystem. Totalitariansms of all kinds, on the contrary, are monocentric and centripetal, what frequently leads to conflicts since diversity is not welcome.
Adaptation is one side of the coin whose other side is evolution. It is well known that evolution takes place cyclically. Everything in nature moves in cycles. This is the case witht alternations such as night/day, the seasons of the year, the biological rhythm of our organism and so on. Even in culture and language changes are cyclical. In the world of fashion, for example, how many times we see disigners, those who dictates what is fashionable, say that "now what existed in the1960s and 1980s is chic"? It is enough to create a new term to designate the phenomenon, as, for instance, retro. In Couto (2012: 179-199) there are some examples of cyclical evolution in literature and in language. This leads us to the domain of recycling, which could be a precarious solution for capitalist consumerism. Unfortunately, only a minority of people are aware of the fact that consumerism and disposability are prujudicial to the maintenance of life on the surface of the earth, above all in the long term. To do this it is necessary to practice a sustainable economy, that is, one that takes ecology into consideration.
Ecological ideology defends the three "r", i.e., reduction, reuse and recycling. Discarding everything instead of reducing, reusing and recycling implies the use and abuse of natural resources -- and not only of living nature --, besides polluting it. Our intervention in nature is increasing each day and becomes increasingly predatory. This brings suffering to other living beings, as in the case of exagerated meat consumption, which requires the sacrifice of hundreds, thousands, millions of animals. The extensive raising of cattle destined to slaughterhouses -- and for milk production -- requires large portions of grass-lands for them to graze with one only grass species, as, for instance, bracchiaria plantaginea. This entails the reduction in the diversity of flora and fauna and the appearance of insects. In order to reduce them, one avails oneself of pesticides. As is well known, pesticides kill the microorganisms living in the ecosystem at stake, that is to say, their annihilation leads to the disappearance of the birds and other species that feed on insects.
Back to the holistic vision, to the ecosystem as a whole, we note that it inter-relates with the environing ecosystems, giving and taking matter, energy and information to/from them. In other words, this whole shows up the characteristic of openness, sometimes also called porosity. Together with diversity this characteristic implies tolerance with beings of other species, other ethnic groups, besides running against ethnocentrism, racism and the all remaining "-isms" some of which are mentioned above. It shows us that nothing is isolated. On the contrary, everything is influenced from the outside, besides influencing it. It leads us to be receptive and respect the opinion of the other, even when we disagree whith her/him. To accept it not in order to adopt it, but in order to respect it. After all, the concepts of "right" and "wrong" are socially created, what implies that they are relative. Besides not existing in nature, they vary from community to community and from social segment to social segment. If we are to use the concept of "wrong", it should be applied to what causes suffering as it is understood in the present context. What does not cause suffering cannot be legitimately considered wrong.
There are several other ecological concepts that can be used in EDA. Among them there are the already mentioned harmonic versus disharmonic relationships, both intra and inter-specific. Among the inter-specific harmonic relationships we could mention inquilinism, and mutualism. In regard to the inter-specific disharmonic relationships, there are above all predatism (predator versus prey) and parasitism. Here one could argue that the predator causes suffering in its prey. This is true. However, it is also true that this is part of the trophic chain of living nature. It is a way of maintaining its balance, its sustainability. Among the intra-specific disharmonic relationships we could mention competition, which also exists inter-specifically. What we call communion in ecosystemic linguistics -- a pre-requisite to communication -- belongs to the intraspecific harmonic relationships. That is to say, in general ecology, as well as in its philosophical, sociological and anthropological versions, we have all the necessary and sufficient concepts for the critical study of texts/discourses refering to the most diverse subjects. Keeeping in mind the fact that biology is the science of life, we do not need to fear biologism. Using general ecology as a basis for cultural -- and linguistic -- studies is assuming the point of view of life, rightly studied by biology of which general ecology -- and ecolinguistics, above all ecosystemic linguistics -- is a part.
We should fight even against the depredation of inanimate nature. If we do not take care of the waters, for instance, they may be polluted to the point of poisoning not only humans but also all living beings. They can even disappear, in which case humans would also disappear. We would not even have oxygen to breathe. We ought not use certain products that cause the greenhouse effect because we run the risk of being toasted or of dying of skin cancer. It is not simply a question of having an apocalyptic or catastrophic view, a doomsday view. It is a question of being realistic. What we have seen up to now points in this direction. Why not care, why not being prudent?
The "subject" of this syllogism is death. Death is directly related to life, since former only exists in relation to the later, and viceversa. When we talk about life, death is implied because only living beings die, and all living beings die. In this case, we are coming near the ecological view of the world, since life is studied by biology, and ecology is a part of biology.
As stated in Webster's Encyclopedic Unabridged Dictionary, syllogism is an "argument the conclusion of which is supported by two premises, of which one (major premise) contains the term (major term) that is the predicate of the conclusion, and the other term (minor premise) contains the term (minor term) that is the subject of the conclusion; common to both premises is a term (middle term) that is excluded from the conclusion". The handbooks of introduction to logics tell us that syllogism does not describe anything, its value would lie only in the internal logical relations. However, when we look at it from a historical point of view, we see that Socrates refers to a man that existed in ancient Greece, whereas men refers to the totality of being like him (men and women). As to mortal, it refers to a feature or quality of all living beings, not only men and women. These facts were already pointed out by Russell (1982: 56-57), reporting to Parmenides. Therefore, the three pillars of the argument contained in the syllogism refer to the natural world, immediately or mediately. Without this reference there would be no logical conection whatsoever. As the thinkers of the Port-Royal school have emphasized, there are logical connections only between entities of the real world (natural, mental, social). Without these entities the syllogism would be meaningless.
Again as with the proverbs, the first time the text of the syllogism was produced there was a speaker saying to a hearer that All men are mortal. Socrates is a man. Therefore, socrates is motal, somewhere in ancient Greece. That is to say, in this initial moment the sentence was part of a full ecology of communicative interaction, which included a scenario. Unfortunately, it is practically impossible to recover this ECI. We only infer that it may have existed due to the fact that the "utterance" has been repeated all along history. If it is a repetition, there must have been a first repetition, a moment following the very first one, when it was proffered for the first time. In other words, the historical dimension is also important, as can be seen in Bertrand Russel's text mentioned above.
As to the logical connectors, they may be interpreted in terms of inclusion: Socrates belongs to the class of men. The latter, on its side, belongs to the class of living beings. For the simple fact of belonging to this class, men die, i.e., they are mortal. The relation of inclusion exists in nature independently of a living being to observe it. Couto (2009: 284-285) mentions the case of the of the stone inside a fruit. It is there without being placed there by a living being. Nor is it dependent on an animated being to observe it and "create discursively". Inclusion is one of the most primitive relations, in the sense of primeval. It is the relation par excellence. So much so that the preposition that codifies it, in, exists in practically all languages of the world, and is one of the first to be acquired by children. In summary, even "logical relationships" have to do with the natural world in which the drama of life develops.
There are basically two types of valid scientific studies. The first is the one that brings new data to our knowledge, as when physics discovers a new body, as an asteroid, a planet or a galaxy. Unfortunately, in the domain of human sciences we can hardly "discover" new facts. But, it is possible to present a new interpretation of facts already known and interpreted by other theoretical models. If the new interpretation is more interesting than the previous one, the new theoretical model may be considered valid. Otherwise it must be discarded. I am sure that EDA can shed new light on the discourse analysis. It may even happen that it does not catch on, that is, it is possible that it will not to be accepted and/or not to be considered valid by adhrents of the other tendencies. However, one thing is sure: there does not exist any other proposal of a model of discourse analysis whithin the domain of the ecological view of the world, departing from within ecology, not from without.
Couto, Hildo Honório do. 2007. Ecolingüística: estudo das relações entre língua e meio ambiente. Brasília: Thesaurus Editora.
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