In my work I ask into the science of the ecology of the Eel River during the 20th and 21st centuries. I search for questions therein of enduring presence and prevailing continuity, often discernible through decades of scientific and epistemological research. These are often questions whose answers, insofar as they are given, govern our understanding of rivers and the beings gathered to them and around them—including us. What questions have already been answered for us, in advance, as it were, when we consider or come to a river such as the Eel? What questions do we answer, or to which questions do we respond, when we consider or come to a river? What and who are the beings, including human, of the Eel River? What do we think, speak, and write of when we think, speak, and write of cause and effect; force, energy, and matter; resources; populations; behavior patterns; and systems (or parts thereof)? What way of thinking, acting, producing, or making opens before us in light of these understandings? What is understanding, and what distinguishes it from knowledgeable scientific explanation? What distinguishes scientific explanation from contemporary religious faith? What is faith? In following these questions, I am led from the ecological food webs of the Eel River into the historical development of the science of ecology from the late nineteenth century to contemporary times. I am also led into close correspondence with several of philosophy’s great voices.
Painting: K. O' Leary, "Morning-Eel River at Benbow"