The Patterned and Emergent Boundaries of Wilderness Beings

Ponderings on the Creature at the Edge of the Woods


  • Donna J. Perry University of Massachusetts



This paper explores the permeable boundaries between humans and free-living animals through interweaving the author’s experience with a New England coyote and the cognitional philosophy of Bernard Lonergan.  Human knowledge of wildlife emerges within patterned and variable ecological experiences.  These emergent encounters are mutually created with both human and creature as knowers of one another.  The paper suggests that the variability within human encounters with wild creatures provides a limitation that can serve as an intellectual and moral good. Such encounters call forth human responsibility for ethical decision-making in human-animal relations.


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Author Biography

Donna J. Perry, University of Massachusetts

Donna J. Perry is an associate professor at the University of Massachusetts Worcester, Graduate School of Nursing.  Her research has focused on developing the theory of transcendent pluralism, a theory of human and ecological dignity.  Following recent studies on human intergroup relations and peacebuilding she has returned to a lifelong love of animals to focus on human-animal relations. She is interested in healing transformation within human-animal relations, particularly between humans and wildlife in New England.




How to Cite

Perry, Donna. 2016. “The Patterned and Emergent Boundaries of Wilderness Beings: Ponderings on the Creature at the Edge of the Woods”. Humanimalia 8 (1):93-110.