Listmember's Ecologies

S.K. Harrison skh23ca at
Mon Dec 10 19:32:29 EST 2001

> From: Claude  Genest <genest at>

> I've enjoyed your dialogue with John on the
> limitations of scientific
> reductionism. While your point is taken that
> science can and does work, I
> agree with John that using the languauge of
> science to the exclusion of all
> others has clearly proven to be catastrophic
> with regards to our handling of
> environmental issues.
> All this is to qualify the real reason for
> replying to your email: I
> couldn't help but chuckle inwardly at the fact
> that, after so ardently
> defending science, you turn around and ask for
> people to describe their land
> in a numerical, material way ( the principal
> way we've been taught to view
> things).

Please note that I said not only "material" but
also "social or otherwise."

I did ask for numbers:
"acreage/square-footage,... number of
days/months/years working that piece of land,
species populations...." 

But also the less tangible characteristics:
"principal difficulties encountered,... strengths
of local human communities"

And I finished with the most open-ended of all:
"ad infinitum."

>  yes, I can see that you are open to receiving
> other information as well, but like many in our

> culture ( myself included) seems like the 
> tendency is to rush to a linear,  
> reductionistic, material "understanding" of the

> land and being so enamored with 
> that "knowledge" that subtler intuitions and 
> pattern understandings get left behind.

With the exception of a few posts in Out of
Control, I have focused until now on an
anthropological defense of skepticism and science
as characteristics which have evolved from the
structure of the human nervous system.

But because I have defended science so ardently
until now, you and others appear to have formed
the impression that my purview has trouble
exceeding the limitations of a scientific monism.
In fact, however, I'm trying to determine where
the limits of science and rationality lie, so
that I can go beyond it *without fooling myself*.

I attend to my own small permanent agricultures
in a spirit of playfulness, abandoning any
purported sage advice if I want to try something
new. I'd prefer to do this in as many areas of my
life as possible, and someday I may succeed.
Right now my memory echoes with the words of
brother Jesus--"unless ye become as children ye
shall not enter the kingdom of heaven." And uncle
Lao Tzu said something like that also, didn't he?


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