Ecology of Love

When we rediscover ecology as a vibrant love story, we can unlearn the violent habits of our civilisation

A 6-week course exploring the ecology of love with biophilosopher, writer, and marine biologist Dr Andreas Weber.

Course preview

Course modules

We are born into a profound curiosity for life marked by a desire to explore, experience and relate. The ever-unfolding world that a newborn baby hears, touches, puts into their mouth and looks at is deeply enchanting. As the child grows, this inquisitiveness transforms into an even more vivid curiosity for the world, particularly towards fellow living beings. Adults, too, love ‘nature’ in the vast majority, they feel drawn to its aliveness. We can observe two things through this: first, our primary experience of life is not neutral, but is instead a process of being magnetically pulled towards the world, towards others, towards relating. Life is a desire to meet life. And second, this yearning for encounter is marked by bliss, by the essential joy of being alive. This experience is not exclusive to humans. Although the natural sciences have previously described the physical world as a collection of inert objects, through the lens of attraction, we see a pervading desire even on the most fundamental level of matter. For example, hydrogen particles desire to be as close to oxygen particles as possible, a fruitful relationship that yields water, the element of life. The Earth and the Moon also enjoy a tender relationship, with the tides being our planet's yearning movement towards its celestial companion, creating an abundance of marine life as a consequence. If we no longer experience our cosmos from the perspective of cause-and-effect alone, we'll sense agency wherever we go, and feel held by a loving Earth among the vast swathes of space.

We experience attraction to the world through our senses, through our organismic, animal bodies. The sensuous experience of being living flesh among other living flesh determines much of how we relate with the world. Our profound desire to relate is felt in our bodies and realised through the contact between bodies, in gentle touch, wild embrace, violent rupture and bacchanalian feasts. For too long Western culture has tried to understand and dominate the world from a detached, rational view. This is a delusion. Our bodies know better. Our bodies know that to be alive is to be in an erotic relationship with other living bodies and ultimately with the world itself. Western society has regrettably forgotten about this profound Eros of existence, as much of it has been branded as ‘sexual’ by Christian institutions, only to reemerge as hollow hedonistic gratification within an estranged civilisation. The original Eros embraces the sexual, but is much larger: it is the desire to become a self through the other. Eroticism inhabits the space inbetween, the relational field, the separations which paradoxically draw us together. This is the yearning of all life, to dwell in and simultaneously traverse this domain of profound enlivenment. This desire is always a desire of the flesh. Ecosystems, as the realms of living relationships in which life feeds more life, are incarnations of Eros: they are embodied love processes. Eros, then, is the poetic logic of life visible in every ecosystem. We are attracted to ‘nature’ because it charges us with the realisation of our erotic desire for life. In an erotic ecology, to live means to love.

Our embodied experience gives us clear instructions on how the bliss of being can be maintained and expanded through relating: be (and become) yourself by allowing others to be (and become) themselves. This is the way of the poppy, the oriole, the flowering meadow, and also the way ancestral cultures organise their responsibility for the stewardship of life. Unfortunately this is not how the West understands and practices love. Our culture has divorced its understanding of love from the ways of the Earth. Consequently, our most personal experience of love, romance, follows a completely different trajectory, and all too often leaves the participants in it empty, suffering and separated. While the erotic idea of love works in second person mode, through the other and their enrichment, romantic love works in first person mode. This goes back to Plato, who introduced the powerful myth of the love partner as the ‘lost half’ of the self. Modern love theories understand love as something to be acquired and ultimately contained, not as a practice. The lover is an object required to fill what is missing in the self. This denies the erotic idea of the self developed in the previous session: a self is that which is, paradoxically and poetically, able to relate because it is able to create itself through relating. Contemporary Western romance preaches a narrow version of love in which we must own, change, and control the other so that they satiate our egoic thirst for superficial validation. This is anathema to life itself. Without allowing ourselves to be ourselves and others to be others, we cannot relate with true compassion, care, and integrity. Personal love can only be fertile if it is part of a broader ecological love, that which desires to give life as well as receive it.

Eros as life is an ardent desire for change and self-transformation. This is what it means to relate. Identity, therefore, is only brought about by relating. Identity is a process, a continuous unfolding and enfolding, not a substance. Erotic ecology shows us that life is about creating identities and unmaking them at the same time. Every body, every cell, recreates itself from other bodies, other cells. It is self-as-other. Every self is made of many others: a body is made up of symbionts which, only in their togetherness, allow it to flourish. We also consist of several human identities: maternal cells live in the bodies of children deep into their adult lives and embryonic cells can thrive within their mother for decades after birth. So where is the identity of the self? Instead of binaries, the Eros of ecology favours transformation, plurality, and the queering of identities. The self is an ecosystem, and the participants of that ecosystem act according to an overarching common need. Many organisms change sex during their life cycles depending on external cues. There are species who develop through budding only, and others, like aphids, who are parthenogenetic: they only give birth to females, without fertilisation. Sex is not determined by a single chromosomal switch, as was long believed, but by the intricate interaction of several different developmental networks which can be stimulated by external influences like culture. From the perspective of an erotic ecology, life does not mean clinging to the chimera of a fixed identity, but instead means becoming productive through relating and through an ever blossoming identity.

If Eros is constant transformation, surrendering to Eros means making peace with dying. An erotic ecology describes living relationships as love processes, but some of those relationships consist in individuals becoming edible to others. What many perceive as the ‘violence’ of nature is the fact that in order to live we must accept death, both our own and the death of others. Without death there is no life. This is not a theoretical statement about biological objects: it is a biological necessity. If the identity of the self can only come about as a continuous transformation, it needs to constantly shed its form and emerge anew. Paradoxically, self must become another in order to remain a self. This is the shortest description of death as an erotic process. It shows that death is a transition, not a clear-cut conclusion. It is the way a self keeps itself alive through the reformation of identity. We become soil which becomes plant matter which becomes food to another. The best way to understand death as a erotic transformation is by viewing it from the perspective of the gift: death enables me to give what has been part of myself away so that it can serve others. Every outbreath is a little death, as in it my embodied self sheds part of its carbon substance as CO2. An organism is dying, all the time, through its aliveness. It gives itself away and receives the gift of life from others. To be truly alive therefore means that we have to become edible.

Why is life erotic? Why does it desire for individuals to be, individuals who are full of the yearning to relate and transform themselves through others? Why is the cosmos filled with this longing to be in contact? We can only ask these questions if we accept that the inner experience we started with, the profound attraction to the world, the compelling desire to unfold through relations, is foundational to this living, breathing, ever-unfolding reality. Every longing to connect mirrors the desire of the larger reality to be productive, to be fecund, to allow life to be. The erotic world exists because this force desires to give life. To be a body, like we are and like every living being is, means to translate this deep desire into our own emotions and actions. Matter is not outside of the desire to give life and touch life, but it is its vehicle, its joy and eventually its suffering. Through the erotic dimension we can understand that everything is a pulsating body and a feeling inside, and that we are forever connected with it. The bliss of feeling alive which we carry in our center and which we rejuvenate through erotic interactions is the same desire for aliveness which sits in the center of reality. Everyone, every body, is a fragment of this whole, of this magnificent constellation of aliveness.

Course information

Ecosystems are love stories. Our most profound ways to relate and to feel, to exchange and to be touched, are ecological forms of gifting life, of loving. When we rediscover ecology as a vibrant love story, we can unlearn the violent habits of our civilisation. Over six weeks we’ll explore this story with biophilosopher, writer, and marine biologist Dr Andreas Weber, diving deep into a world of mutual belonging.

We’ll unravel separatist myths and reweave the beauty of biology back into the fabric of ecological wisdom, inquiring into a diverse ecosystem of themes such as erotic ecology, animism, queer ecology, death, enlivenment and more. Supported by a background in marine biology, cultural studies and philosophy, Andreas will help us integrate science, mysticism and environmental thinking so that we can perceive the world anew through an ‘ecology of love’, an ecology which understands systems of living relationships as bearing both the practical and spiritual principles of a living cosmos.


A 6-week live online course held via Zoom organised by advaya and curated and hosted by Dr Andreas Weber. A 2-hour session per week with lectures and Q&A. Includes a course pack to guide you through the course with weekly readings, resources and activities. Participants are encouraged to share insights with one another via a dedicated Discord forum.


16th November - 21st December 2022, each Wednesday at 6 - 8pm GMT. Participants are welcome to join course late as sessions will be recorded.


Online via Zoom and Discord. Links will be sent out prior to the course start date.


The teacher and co-creator of this course is Dr Andreas Weber. You can find out more about Andreas by clicking here. This course is co-created by advaya’s Lead Curator, Hannah Close.


In this conversation hosted by Hannah Close from advaya, ahead of the course, Andreas Weber elaborates on his theories and thoughts around erotic ecology, an ecology of love, what we've gotten wrong about "love", stringing together his fresh analyses on love, life, death, identity, and everything in between, on an autumnal day.

For more on these topics, join us on the course.

Course Includes

6 Modules
12 Sessions
1 Teacher
Curated readings, resources and embodied practices
Community discussion area
Video and audio available


Dr Andreas Weber

Andreas is a Berlin based author & independent scholar. He has degrees in Marine Biology & Cultural Studies, having collaborated with theoretical biologist Francisco Varela in Paris.

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What our students say

This course really helped me redefine what love is. Or maybe allowed me new ways of articulation when it comes to love. I attended the course while pregnant so most themes really spoke to me. I was giving of myself to create the other. Parts of me (for instance, the mother of one) were dying to allow others to be born.  Now, with a newborn and a child, I sometimes listen to the audio recordings of the classes as I go about my days. Hannah and Andreas managed to deliver this beautiful piece of art, a philosophy that's even closer to my heart as it weaves mysticism across many disciplines - it felt accessible and, that, I really appreciated.

by Sara El-Sayeh

Learning Outcomes

  • Develop your understanding of the role of love, eros and death within ecology
  • Better understand the role of matter within a cosmology of desire
  • Widen your perspective regarding the extent of relational entanglements within the world
  • Expand your notion of the ‘other’ by exploring its relation to self and world
  • Gather knowledge, tools and practices for deepening a multitude of relationships in your own life
  • Broaden your knowledge of useful terms and concepts and be part of questioning what a new ecologically intregrous language might look like (or a language towards flourishing for all)
  • Move beyond Western, dualistic, and binary notions of love that dictate that romantic love is the ultimate acquisition/achievement, and work towards a more democratic, pluralistic practice of love
  • Better understand how to love as both a practice and as a form of relating with ecological integrity
  • Question the role of meaning within the cosmos