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Agriculture & Philosophy : Agricultural Science in Philosophy: Agricultural Science in Philosophy


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Book Id: WPLBN0100302160
Format Type: PDF (eBook)
File Size: 6.86 MB.
Reproduction Date: 1/1/2020

Title: Agriculture & Philosophy : Agricultural Science in Philosophy: Agricultural Science in Philosophy  
Author: FALVEY, john, LINDSAY, Dr.
Language: English
Subject: Non Fiction, Agriculture
Collections: Philosophy, Authors Community
Publication Date:
Publisher: Thaksin University Press
Member Page: Lindsay Falvey


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Lindsay Falvey, D. J. (2020). Agriculture & Philosophy : Agricultural Science in Philosophy. Retrieved from

A treatment of agriculture, food and related sciences as integral components of philosophy

Agriculture and philosophy have been integrally linked across history and remain so. Philosophy, defined as wise means of humans being at ease in nature, has been fundamental to humans from pre-historical times and expressed in various forms. Those philosophical forms have included myths and legends that explained unfathomable matters to our forebears, and which informed the later development of written philosophy in the form of religious scriptures. Scriptures have thereby been the major written vehicle of philosophy for most of history and across cultures. The language employed in such philosophy relied on agricultural metaphor and used agriculture itself as the means of understanding humans as part of nature, rather than an element standing apart and observing or manipulating. With the development of natural philosophy, which became known as science, it became a major modern contribution to useful knowledge - knowledge that increased contentment and wellbeing, or philosophy. Combining myth, religion, and other knowledge from the world's major cultures, philosophy is discussed using examples from the longest and most widespread human interaction with nature, agriculture. The Enlightenment's philosophical product of agricultural science thus unifies the theme, and supports the ancient conclusion that humans' thoughts and actions form part of nature, and may even be components of a wider interaction than can becomprehended from current approaches.

Prologue This book deals with the transition from knowledge to wisdom. Wisdom justifies the use of the word philosophy throughout the text from its etymology of ‘the love of wisdom’, which across millennia has been interpreted as understanding of life. Such understanding is more than knowledge and in order to avoid more esoteric approaches to wisdom philosophy is discussed as integrating all knowledge including the sciences and experiential learning. I acknowledge at the outset that this may be at odds with modern academic approaches to philosophy. To advance the thesis that this embracing definition of philosophy is essential to all worthwhile human endeavour, agriculture and science are used as two major historical developments that unite learning. For that reason, some facts about food and agriculture are first introduced and are then related to a re-defined philosophy. In this wide sense, philosophy requires criticism of modern culturally illiterate prejudices against religion and myth and an open-minded consideration of non-Western philosophies. With that foundation, Western philosophy from Babylonian times until the present is then summarized, acknowledging that for much of that history, religion has housed learning and understanding. In relying on agriculture as a basis to explain the wider role of philosophy the limited agrarian philosophies are contextualized in a manner similar to literalistic religion. To unify the theme it is then acknowledged that all forms of agriculture spawn applied philosophical and especially ethical issues that can only be reconciled by a broad and integrated philosophy of the central matters of life. That overall approach necessarily corrects the modern separation of science from its home in philosophy, especially in terms of its contextual subject of agriculture and agricultural science. To do this, the philosophical insight that humans are part of nature and cannot be holistically discussed separate from nature pervades each line of thought. As the major human interaction with nature, agriculture provides countless examples to illustrate the wisdom in maintaining this integrated view. Once well established, agriculture supported the emergence of a class of philosophers that integrated and codified past myths, beliefs and folklore. This breakthrough of around 500 BCE seems to have occurred around the globe and to have produced the major world religions. Reason and personality became components of understanding humans, and the religions applied rational interpretations to the myths, beliefs and folklore that had earlier evolved to explain life and humans in nature. Religious explanations – often termed philosophies for non-theistic traditions – employed metaphors from everyday interactions in nature, which in that period led to the pervasive use of agricultural analogies. Philosophy later developed through the major intellectuals who operated within religions, particularly in the Western world. However, when the pace of philosophical advances in the form of science increased, the quest to understand life required an accelerated accommodation of new knowledge. Such a period was the European Enlightenment, which enhanced understanding in a manner that downgraded deistic assumptions and belief. Science and philosophy had been one until that point. We are still in this period but are removed from its history, which has led the philosophical context of millennia within religion to be neglected. Neglect is exacerbated by the academic response of disciplinary separations in order to master the complexity of burgeoning new knowledge. Our present day knowledge is thus poorly applied to the primary philosophical quest for understanding life through awareness of humans existing only as interactions in nature. For at least the past two millennia, philosophers around the globe have communicated to advance understanding. In recent centuries, those conversations have increased and today’s globalized ideas are informing a more profound understanding of life. These subjects are discussed through this book with a constant reference to agriculture and its sciences. As the first rung on the ladder to philosophical understanding, securing the regular supply of healthy food relies on agriculture; the discussion that follows builds on that fact to introduce other interactions that render agricultural science part of genuine philosophy. Done well, modern agricultural science integrates the arts, humanities, social sciences, and the technological or applied and pure sciences. In safely feeding billions more than was ever thought possible, forestalling zoonotic epidemics and continuously improving its interactions with the wider environment, agricultural science also generates multiple philosophical dilemmas. Those ethical and other dilemmas are discussed within the overall quest for understanding life – for living Socrates examined life. The thesis is not new; its lineage stretches back into pre-historical times. That modern secularism and moral relativism are on the rise does not affect that heritage, and its insights. And the insights inform all useful learning, including the agricultural sciences.

Table of Contents
Table of Contents Author’s Preface vii Prologue 1 Chapter 1 – History, Agriculture and Philosophy 4 Where to Begin? 4 The West’s Emergence 8 Panaceas 10 Innovation & Nature 14 Genetics, Climate & Change 17 Adaptive Food Production 20 Chapter 2 – Pan-disciplinary Philosophy 25 Confusion in Language 25 Some Terminology 27 Integrated Philosophy 30 Scientific Philosophy 33 Why Philosophize 36 Chapter 3 – Agriculture, Science & Philosophy 44 Feeding Civilization 44 Agricultural History 46 Philosophical Issues in Agriculture 50 Contextualizing Issues 54 Chapter 4 – Belief, Religion and Philosophy 58 Cultural Literacy 58 Philosophy’s Emergence 60 Integrating Theology 64 Beliefs and -isms 67 Moral Agriculture 70 Evolutionary Philosophy 74 Myths Across Culture 80 Agricultural Folklore 85 Chapter 5 – Myth, Folklore & Tradition 78 The Utility of Myth 78 Agricultural Divinities 89 A Myth of Our Culture 90 Chapter 6 – Eastern Philosophy & Agriculture 95 The Axial Age 95 Indian Traditions 98 Chinese Traditions 105 Other Eastern Traditions 116 Sumeria to Greece 122 Greek Gods 124 Greece to Rome 127 Roman Agriculture & Philosophy 128 Food & Philosophy 132 Europe after Rome 134 Spinozist Agriculture 139 Chapter 8 – The Enlightenment & Agriculture 142 Reason 142 Agriculture in The Enlightenment 144 Natural Philosophy to Science 145 Enlightened Self-Interest 149 Enlightenment Ideas 151 The Scottish Enlightenment 153 Adam Smith & Agriculture 161 Ongoing Enlightenment 164 Chapter 9 – Agrarian Philosophy 167 Literalism’s Limitations 167 Christian Agrarianism 168 Agrarian Ethics 178 ‘Noble’ Peasant Agrarianism 182 Agrarian Faith 184 Agrarianism & Technology 185 Stewardship 187 Chapter 10 – Agriculture & Ethics 191 Meta Issues 191 Ethical Theory 192 Chapter 7 – Western Philosophy: Sumerians to Spinoza Revolutionary Thought 121 Humans as Nature 194 Ethical Dilemmas 197 Ethics and Breeding 198 Choice & Risk 200 Futile Ethical Law 201 Animal Welfare 204 Livestock & Nutrition Ethics 210 Civilization and Its Discontents 213 Respect in Philosophy 215 Consumer Ethics 216 Food and Conflict 219 Chapter 11 – Unifying Understanding 222 Emerging from the Enlightenment 222 Culture, Agriculture and Philosophy 225 Science in Philosophy 229 The Gaia Hypothesis 233 Chapter 12 – Integrated Philosophy 236 Commonalities 236 Commonalities in Morality 240 Expertise 243 Advancing by Integration 245 Stumbling Understanding 248 Goods & Bads 250 Global Megatrends 252 Epilogue Endnotes INDEX


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