The Virtues of Ignorance Complexity Sustainability and the Limits of Knowledge - Bill Vitek, Wes Jackson
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The Virtues of Ignorance Complexity Sustainability and the Limits of Knowledge - Bill Vitek, Wes Jackson

Written by Bill Vitek, Wes Jackson
Format(s): PDF
Language: English

Release date: April 26, 2010 | Series: Culture of the Land

Human dependence on technology has increased exponentially over the past several centuries, and so too has the notion that we can fix environmental problems with scientific applications. The Virtues of Ignorance: Complexity, Sustainability, and the Limits of Knowledge proposes an alternative to this hubristic, shortsighted, and dangerous worldview. The contributors argue that uncritical faith in scientific knowledge has created many of the problems now threatening the planet and that our wholesale reliance on scientific progress is both untenable and myopic. Bill Vitek, Wes Jackson, and a diverse group of thinkers, including Wendell Berry, Anna Peterson, and Robert Root-Bernstein, offer profound arguments for the advantages of an ignorance-based worldview. Their essays explore this philosophy from numerous perspectives, including its origins, its essence, and how its implementation can preserve vital natural resources for posterity. All conclude that we must simply accept the proposition that our ignorance far exceeds our knowledge and always will. Rejecting the belief that science and technology are benignly at the service of society, the authors argue that recognizing ignorance might be the only path to reliable knowledge. They also uncover an interesting paradox: knowledge and insight accumulate fastest in the minds of those who hold an ignorance-based worldview, for by examining the alternatives to a technology-based culture, they expand their imaginations. Demonstrating that knowledge-based worldviews are more dangerous than useful, The Virtues of Ignorance looks closely at the relationship between the land and the future generations who will depend on it. The authors argue that we can never improve upon nature but that we can, by putting this new perspective to work in our professional and personal lives, live sustainably on Earth.


Review
""This is a bid to make ignorance an explicit and powerful underpinning of a new epistemology. It will attract widespread attention and potentially be one of those books that show up in citations for decades to come." -- Bill McKibben, author of Deep Economy: The Wealth of Communities and the Durable Future" --



""When peak oil, climate change, and other imminent events impose themselves on our industrial economies and begin to undermine the fundamental premises of our culture, I believe that The Virtues of Ignorance will rapidly become a crucial part of the literature of our changing paradigm and will likely be a cornerstone of our new way of being in the world for several decades." -- Frederick Kirschenmann, Distinguished Fellow, Leopold Center, Iowa State University" --



""A refreshing read… The Virtues of Ignorance is an exciting book, for both the questions it attempts to answer and for the new questions it inevitably raises… It's a book that opens your eyes to how much you really can't see." --Lexington Herald-Leader" --



""Utterly fascinating." --Earth Justice In Brief" --



""If we want to avoid a tumbledown fate for our planet, one that equals the tumbledown state of our farms, we would do well to heed [Vitek and Jackson's] advice." -- Tumbledownfarm.blogspot.com" --



""Virtues of ignorance, such as respect and humility, find eloquent and persuasive elucidation in these pages." --Choice" --



""The Virtues of Ignorance is at once subversive, deeply wise, and enormously significant." --Charlene Spretnak, Resurgence" --



""The Virtues of Innocence succeeds in bringing together authors from a diverse range of backgrounds to form a coherent and compelling argument for a worldview that acknowledges and works with the limits to human knowledge.... The new ground opened by [the book] deserves further examination and discussion, and this collection serves as a strong introduction to current thinking about the role of ignorance in human understanding." --Edmund M. Harris, Agricultural Hum. Values" --



""The Virtues of Ignorance provides an excellent foundation for environmental reflection, research, and action.... I have little doubt that [the book] will also raise provocative questions about the nature of knowledge, the subject of one's research, the style of one's teaching, and the methods of one's ethics for other Worldviews readers who necessarily engage with uncertain, limited, and changing knowledge." --Sarah E. Fredericks, Worldviews" --



""Every now and again you come across a read you feel certain will shift the landscape of thought in unpredictable ways. The Virtues of Ignorance is likely to raise a few eyebrows in the scientific community and the fallout is likely to be both stimulating and positive." --Claude Stephens, Forest Echo" --



""Demonstrating that knowledge-based worldviews are more dangerous than useful, the book looks closely at the relationship between the land and the future generations who will depend on it." --Abstracts of Public Administration, Development, and Environment" --



""The questions raised throughout the book encourage a pause for reflection -- on what we think we know and the implications our knowledge has on the world around us." --International Journal of Illich Studies" --

From the Inside Flap
Human dependence on technology has increased exponentially over the past several centuries, and so too has the notion that we can fix environmental problems with scientific applications. The Virtues of Ignorance: Complexity, Sustainability, and the Limits of Knowledge proposes an alternative to this hubristic, shortsighted, and dangerous worldview. The contributors argue that uncritical faith in scientific knowledge has created many of the problems now threatening the planet and that our wholesale reliance on scientific progress is both untenable and myopic.

Bill Vitek, Wes Jackson, and a diverse group of thinkers, including Wendell Berry, Anna Peterson, and Robert Root-Bernstein, offer profound arguments for the advantages of an ignorance-based worldview. Their essays explore this philosophy from numerous perspectives, including its origins, its essence, and how its implementation can preserve vital natural resources for posterity. All conclude that we must simply accept the proposition that our ignorance far exceeds our knowledge and always will.

Rejecting the belief that science and technology are benignly at the service of society, the authors argue that recognizing ignorance might be the only path to reliable knowledge. They also uncover an interesting paradox: knowledge and insight accumulate fastest in the minds of those who hold an ignorance-based worldview, for by examining the alternatives to a technology-based culture, they expand their imaginations.

Demonstrating that knowledge-based worldviews are more dangerous than useful, The Virtues of Ignorance looks closely at the relationship between the land and the future generations who will depend on it. The authors argue that we can never improve upon nature but that we can, by putting this new perspective to work in our professional and personal lives, live sustainably on Earth.

Bill Vitek is associate professor of philosophy at Clarkson University. He has published three books, including Promising, Rooted in the Land: Essays on Community and Place and Applying Philosophy.


Product Details
Paperback: 368 pages
Publisher: The University Press of Kentucky (April 26, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0813192587
ISBN-13: 978-0813192581

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