Methodologically, my book is environmental philosophy in music education. Environmental philosophy is often connected to a type of reflective writing (consider Thoreau's, Susan Fenimore Cooper's Aldo Leopold's, John Muir's, Mary Oliver's, Gary Snyder's, Edward Abbey's, Robin Wall Kimmerer's, and Annie Dilliard's essays; Rachel Carson's writing stands out for its less-subjective, scientific voice). This led me to write Eco-Literate Music Pedagogy in a subjective, self-reflective voice.
Thoreau begins his groundbreaking essay Walking with the following sentence:
"I wish to speak a word for Nature, for absolute Freedom and Wildness, as contrasted with a freedom and culture merely civil,—to regard man as an inhabitant, or a part and parcel of Nature, rather than a member of society. I wish to make an extreme statement, if so I may make an emphatic one, for there are enough champions of civilization: the minister and the school committee and every one of you will take care of that."
And Susan Fenimore Cooper's Rural Hours (which influenced Thoreau's writing) begins with a reflection on Spring:
"SATURDAY, March 4th.–Everything about us looks thoroughly wintry still, and fresh snow lies on the ground to the depth of a foot. One quite enjoys the sleighing, however, as there was very little last month. Drove several miles down the valley, this morning, in the teeth of a sharp wind and flurries of snow, but after facing the cold bravely, one brings home a sort of virtuous glow which is not to be picked up by cowering over the fireside; it is with this as with more important matters, the effort brings its own reward."
It is interesting that schools are already recognized by Thoreau as champions of civilization in that 1851 essay. Certainly some of my work has pointed to this challenge. Schools teach rooted children in poor rural and urban neighborhoods to become mobile, unsustainable moderns. This becomes an ecological catastrophe. Thoreau's is a type of philosophy that begins with "I."
I wish to speak.
I wish to speak a word for Nature. And what follows is a philosophical exposition rooted in the what Carolyn Ellis called the "Autoethnographic I." Ellis writes:
"Might the researcher also be a subject? Might the 'I' refer to the researcher who looks inward as well as outward?"
Ellis's autoethnography pushes the borders of the artistic presentation of data, but doesn't seem to make theoretical ideas explicit. Autoethnographers seem to prefer to let readers theorize. Much of my research has been either autoethnography or philosophy. Because of the enjoyment I've had reading environmental writings, I want to float between self-reflection and theory, like the great environmental writers do. I want to push theory with my own lived experiences. I want to live philosophy.
And, even way back in Plato's writings, if we're 100% honest with ourselves as philosophers, rather than the objective voice of many 20th Century essays, we find the subjective voice of the self, artistically represented (in his case, in the form of drama). Knowing a little of the editorial and revision process that went into bringing Plato's writings to readers today, it is pretty amazing that any of his voice remains. Much environmental philosophy, then, probably represents (methodologically) a close cousin to ancient Western philosophy.