Monday, September 2, 2019

Day 53: Talking with plants

A friend of mine just sent me a link to a neat article from the NYT.  I love it because it speaks to a laundry list of magpie objects:
  • What we don't know about plants could fill many books; we are surrounded by them, we eat them, they are critical to our survival on this planet, and yet we treat them as inanimate and uninteresting to a very large degree
  • Scientific objectivism - so many things to say about this, including:
    • the need to decolonize science
    • which is related to the need to recognize other ways of exploring and knowing our world
    • and also related to this funny thing science does where it's so important not to anthropomorphize that we go to the other extreme and refuse to use appropriate basic terminology to describe what we see (like not using the word "learn" to describe some plant behaviors - why not?  because it maintains the specialness of humans?)
  • Interconnectedness.  I love the last quote in the article, about going about the world being surrounded by subjects, rather than objects.  Can you imagine if we did that all the time?  How differently we might be in the world?  This is a broader project of decolonizing our mindsets - instead of thinking of ourselves in a top-down relationship with objects to be used, what if we thought of ourselves in reciprocal relationships with beings that had their own interests, needs, and desires?  
So many things to unpack and think about...


Willow said...

Plants are yummy and healthy and I am thankful for them. :) Do you talk to your plants? I do. I have one shamrock in the house. Its name is Paddy.
I'd love to see photos of your college blanket!

twinsetellen said...

The book referenced in the article was pretty opinion-based. The only problem with that is it was presented as science. Which, to me, is the crux of the matter. It really does make a difference to know if something has value to you in a particular context because of the nature of understanding it; i.e. I really do like (scientific) evidence-based information when it comes to prescribing my antibiotic, and I really do like holistic-spiritual-energy-based knowledge when it comes to how I respond overall to an illness.

My take on the article was that the scientist in question is sound in their scientific method and analysis and adds on a layer to it.

As far as applying words like "learned" and "memory" to plants, I say that if we can apply them to machines and other inanimate objects (artificial intelligence, wool), why not to plants? Seems like a double standard.

Finally (obviously you tapped a few buttons, not in a bad way), it may be of interest to know that at least in some scientific spheres, the pox on anthropomorphism is being eased as we understand more about animal emotion and intelligence.