My name is Evan Edwards, and I’m a teaching fellow at DePaul University. I am completing my PhD in the philosophy department, but also teach in the liberal studies and environmental science programs. I focus primarily on 19th century American and German thought, and especially on the places where the emerging science of ecology made connections with American theorizations of democracy. My dissertation takes up this intersection in the work of Ralph Emerson, Henry Thoreau, and Walt Whitman, in order to better make sense of the normative status that Nature has with respect to popular sovereignty.
The title of the blog refers to a line from Whitman’s “Song of Myself,” where he writes that “To walk up my stoop is unaccountable . . . . I pause to consider if it really be, That I eat and drink is spectacle enough for the great authors and schools, A morning-glory at my window satisfies me more than the metaphysics of books.” In the alley behind my apartment building, and across the major road that runs near it, hundreds of morning glories blossom when the weather is right for them. I love to walk by them when I leave my place because they remind me of this line, where Whitman takes two of the most mundane moments in a day – coming home from work, and taking a meal – and turns them into rich stores of poetic and philosophical material. That the morning glory flower at his window satisfies him more than Kant, Hegel, Plato, even the Bible, means that something in this ubiquitous blossom offers a radically different way of observing the world; something, perhaps, even more radical than the headfuck that occurs in the first few moments after you realize the import of some of these great thinkers’ most profound ideas. After years of study, we forget the critical edge that Plato’s cave allegory has when encountered for the first time, or the marvelous sense of certainty that accompanies Descartes’ insight that our existence is somehow made certain by the act of thought, or the absolute rage that is built into Marx’s analysis of the wage relation, or the awe we felt the first time that Spinoza’s metaphysics began to make sense. Whitman offers another image – that of a diurnallly blooming flower rather than a concept – as the source of this deeply satisfying feeling of experience.