[permaculture] Permaculture as science

jedd jedd at progsoc.org
Thu Jan 25 19:07:42 EST 2007

 Hi Paul,

 ] I have found that there is a very interesting relationship between 
 ] permaculture and science (love hate comes to mind). 

 Permaculture practitioners and scientists .. do you mean?  I've
 not met all that many scientists, but most of the ones I've met (or
 read) seem to be pretty open minded.  They'd probably, in very
 general terms, be slightly disturbed by the faith-based approach
 adopted by some people, but that attitude wouldn't be limited to
 just those who labelled themselves as as permaculturists.

 ] Scientific theories 
 ] and data are useful is specific situations, and permaculture is strongly 
 ] informed by theories, axioms and hypotheses that have emerged from 
 ] scientific practice, but I would say with confidence that permaculture 
 ] is not science ...

 Whereas I'd say that it very much is a science.  This may be based
 on my desire for it to be science based, and for it to appear science

 I'd also suggest that scientific theories (or rather the developers
 of same) aspire to be useful in all situations .. consider the GUT
 as the prime candidate.  Okay, maybe not of *interest* to everyone
 in ever situation, but certainly widely applicable.  Not that there's
 a comparison made / to be made with permaculture's applicability
 in specific situations or otherwise, by the looks of it.

 ] ... and while founded on 'colloquialized' axioms transfered 
 ] from ecological sciences, permaculture practice leans heavily on an 
 ] intimate, intuition based relationship to land that is not systematic, 
 ] replicable, or even transferable. 

 This is very bad news for anyone who's ever read a permaculture book,
 or done a course, and then tried to replicate or transfer what they've
 learnt to their own plot of land !

 Unless I'm misunderstanding what you seem to be asserting.

 Observation is one of the cornerstones of both pursuits.  Not sure
 how well intuition fits the strictly science definition, but without
 the judicious use of it I doubt much of import would have ever been
 developed out of either camp.

 Intimate is slightly emotive, but I'd happily argue that most
 scientists are intimately aware of things going on in their field of
 research .. it's a bit of a necessity.

 ] The Third Reich had some great scientists 
 ] at work too... and science is piss poor and inefficient at working on 
 ] some kinds of problems.

 It's a bit early on to be deferring to Godwin's Law, isn't it?

 ] Furthermore I would suggest that permaculture incorporates an ethical 
 ] system about 'right relationship' between people and land and the limits 
 ] of technological fixes.  Dick Cheney is focussed on 'getting the job 
 ] done' too, he just has a different 'job' in mind.

 Arguably, the ethical stance has been extrapolated from long-term
 hypothesis about what happens if we follow different courses of
 action.  Along the same lines as the altruism doesn't really exist
 theory, and all that.


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