The Helpful Gardener wrote:There are scientists who understand the need for natural systems thinking in solving ecological issues, looking for solutions that mirror O-sensei's thoughts more than Descartes or Newtons.
I had this conversation with the translator of this book, Larry Korn, and he remains adamant that scientific thinking is anathema to the process of natural farming. I think this will likely be a topic for discussion, one of many ideas this book raises. I respect that Fukuoka-sensei returned to the earth and did things more simply, more naturally, and I have done what I can to mimic that in my own garden. The results have been surprising to me (I suspect that he would not be
Since Fukuoka-sensei had a degree in Agronomy, he was indeed inculcated in the chemistry of the time as well as in the thoroughness for which the Meiji culture was well known in adopting Western ways. Quite a burden, which in his crucial illness in his mid-20s he threw over, returning to his family's land, just in time for the military mobilization of the Japanese nation, another burden to him and to his country(wo)men.
We receive Science News
, Scientific American
(which used to be a scientific journal and is now more like a popular scientific magazine), National Geographic
, and Science
(which is a peer-reviewed journal) at this house. Science News
are weeklies; NatGeo
So I am well versed, since I actually read articles of interest in all four publications, in the machinations of what Korn would likely describe as The Enemy, scientific thinking. However, I've noticed over the past 10 to 15 years that the tenor of the reports in Science
, especially, has changed. There are many more interdisciplinary reports than there used to be. "Scientific thinking" itself isn't what it used to be, at least not in most of the reports I read. The last few issues of Science
, contrary to previous practice, no longer name the field of specialization for a report (e.g., paleoclimatology, crystallography, geosciences); there are too many fields to which a given report pertains! Scientists are having to take a broader perspective than formerly, and this can only be for the better.
Just today, SciAm
arrived. There's an article by Prof. Curtis W. Marean discussing a genetic bottleneck the human species survived approx. 195,000 years ago. This article draws from genetics, climatology, mathematics, archaeology, paleoanthropology, botany, geology, and others, and therefore is highly inter-disciplinary, but there is more...
Many scientists are now learning by re-creating ancient technologies. Rather than restricting themselves to logical abstractions regarding unearthed artifacts, these scientists are re-creating, or attempting to re-create, products which exactly duplicate the artifacts. This is crucial to the article at hand, "When the Sea Saved Humanity." Scientists--exactly like Fukuoka-sensei himself did--started at the beginning and used the same rock, silcrete, to flake tools as the ancient inhabitants of the cave had done to test an idea about available technology 165,000 years ago. Fukuoka-sensei started with rice straw, which was in abundance, and the earth. Like O-sensei, the scientists recorded what happened. Did it work? Did it not work? If not, what might work next time?
This is the *essence* of the scientific method.
O-sensei may have thrown over the sterile teachings of an educational system he no longer needed or could tolerate, but he was a careful and patient observer and (as I remember; I don't have a copy of TOSR
at hand yet) kept notes. What more could anyone ask of any...scientist, gardener, or farmer?
Please give us an idea of what Larry Korn means when he says he has no use for "scientific thinking," if he so venerates O-sensei's work but at the same time doesn't seem to value the process of O-sensei recording his observations (i.e., using the scientific method) over so many years?