Environmental Holism And The Biophilic Hypothesis In Urban Planning

1376 words - 6 pages

Sustainability is becoming a much more common approach to many parts of society, a major one being urban planning. This technical and political process is concerned with the use of land and design of the urban environment. Transportation networks, housing, and preservation and conservation of natural systems are all considered in urban planning. Though many ideas about sustainable living communities and urban planning have been proposed, most people are still hesitant to build a working model due to the expenses, change, and lack of interest in environmental health. This relatively new idea is still being developed and has much controversy around it, but there are ethical and biological theories that propose we should proceed in this direction of life. Holism suggests the idea of caring for nature as a whole, and it agrees with the ideas of biophilia and sustainability. Holism supports the idea that humans have an obvious biofilic nature, confirms the need for sustainability, and proves that environmental theories should be considered in urban planning and other development.
The biophilia hypothesis suggests that there is an instinctive bond between human beings and other living systems. Edward O. Wilson introduced and popularized the hypothesis in a book he published. He defines biophilia as "the urge to affiliate with other forms of life." The term "biophilia" means "love of life." It was first used to describe the psychological attraction to vital and living things by Erich Fromm. Wilson uses the term to propose that human beings subconsciously seek a connection with the rest of nature. He proposed that there is a possibility that we have an affiliation with nature rooted in our biology. For example, people prefer daylighting in their homes over light bulbs. Nature does not only mean plants in parks or forests, but also the weather and animals are also closely involved. One example of this is the importance of animals, especially in relation with children. Children, and even adults, can develop a nurturing relationship with pets.
The idea that humans have biophilic tendencies and preferences is strongly related to biological evolution. Humans prefer to be near things in nature. Though these preferences are refined through experience and culture, these attractions are still a hypothetical product of biological evolution. For example, adult humans are generally attracted to baby mammal faces. They find their large eyes and small faces appealing across many species of mammals, more so than adult mammals. The biophilia hypothesis suggests that this positive emotional response helps increase the survival rates of all mammals. People will often take risks to save and care for domestic and wild animals. Another example of this is how people will keep flowers and plants in and around their homes. Children enjoy playing outside, which is not only healthy, but is argued to be important for developmental psychology. We have...

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