Category Archives: Agriculture

The Garden

The Garden of Earthly Delights by Hieronymus Bosch

“The Garden is the optimal juxtaposition of nature and culture” – Jordan Peterson (on the Ben Shapiro Show)

A Garden is a wonderful exemplar, not only metaphor, of how humans ought to (must!) relate to the world if we hope to live in harmony with natural processes. 

Humans are unique in their ability and willingness to transform the environment around them. 

The problems begin when we overestimate what we can build, understand, govern and control without pathological side effects.

Gardening is ‘engineering’ in which what we build is the context in which we hope living organisms will flourish that in turn create a favorable environment for us to flourish within. We don’t, and can’t, build the organisms — they must build themselves. 

The attempt to industrialize the nurturing of living organism for human benefit, as in industrial agriculture and animal farming, has led to ecosystem damage, unethical treatment of animals, and in its most acute form, massive systemic risk that is deeply under-appreciated.

These negative aspects are not incidental, but flow directly from the framing and assumption set. The mistake is to treat these systems as a complicated machines, rather than organic and complex.

In order to direct complex living systems towards human ends, without pulling out the rug from underneath ourselves as a result of unintended consequences, we must recognize that our ability to build must be applied in a way that generates environments within which self-organizing, living systems can generate themselves. 

You don’t build a sunflower. You don’t build a tree. You can’t. 

The best you can do is create the conditions in which the sunflower will thrive as it builds itself. 

The Garden is the exemplar for achieving harmony between man’s imposition onto the world, and the world’s essential self-generating nature.