Gardening - Philosophy for Everyone: Cultivating Wisdom
February 2011, Wiley-Blackwell
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Gardening: Cultivating Wisdom: Philosophy for Everyone
A garden is a refuge, a source of solitude and tranquility, and with each pulled weed and summer time harvest, a gardener renews their commitment to the “good life.” Gardening and philosophical contemplation have been intertwined from the very beginning, and both provide a considerable measure and a sustainable source of beauty and peace.
Gardening: Cultivating Wisdom is written by and for the green-thumbed thinker, the practical gardener, the salad gardener (“Food Glorious Food”), the architect, the archaeologist, and the artist at work among the ferns. The essays unearth a collection of themes such as the search for true happiness (“Cultivating Our Garden: David Hume and Gardening as Therapy), urban and landscape design elements embodied in the creation of Central Park (“The Pragmatic Picturesque: The Philosophy of Central Park”), the principles of aesthetics in the garden setting, and the historical significance of gardening for food (“Brussel Sprouts and Empire: Putting Down Roots”).
The contributors draw upon the philosophies of leading thinkers such as Epicurus (“Epicurus, the Garden, and the Golden Age”), Plato (“Gardener of Souls: Philosophical Education in Plato's Phaedrus”), and Confucius. They build their case from examples from the fields of history, theology (“Escaping Eden: Plant Ethics in a Gardener’s World”), archival studies, musical theory (“Gardens, Music and Time”), art history, anthropology, and classics.
The book is represented by five sections which illuminate the rewarding nature of gardening on a physical and philosophical level (Part I: The Good Life), the power of the garden as a cultural and political statement (Part II: Flower Power), the garden as spectacle (Part III: The Flower Show), the metaphysical garden (Part IV: The Cosmic Garden), and the gardens of the philosopher’s themselves (Part V: Philosophers' Gardens).