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The Virtues of Ignorance Culture of the Land A Series in the New Agrarianism This series is devoted to the exploration and articulation of a new agrarianism that considers the health of habitats and human communities together. It demonstrates how agrarian insights and responsibilities can be worked out in diverse fields of learning and living: history, science, art, politics, economics, literature, philosophy, religion, urban planning, education, and public policy. Agrarianism is a comprehensive worldview that appreciates the intimate and practical connections that exist between humans and the earth. It stands as our most promising alternative to the unsustainable and destructive ways of current global, industrial, and consumer culture. Series Editor Norman Wirzba, Georgetown College, Kentucky Advisory Board Wendell Berry, Port Royal, Kentucky Ellen Davis, Duke University, North Carolina Patrick Holden, Soil Association, United Kingdom Wes Jackson, Land Institute, Kansas Gene Logsdon, Upper Sandusky, Ohio Bill McKibben, Middlebury College, Vermont David Orr, Oberlin College, Ohio Michael Pollan, University of California at Berkeley, California Jennifer Sahn, Orion Magazine, Massachusetts Vandana Shiva, Research Foundation for Science, Technology & Ecology, India Bill Vitek, Clarkson University, New York The Virtues of Ignorance The University Press of Kentucky Edited by Bill Vitek and Wes Jackson Complexity, Sustainability, and the Limits of Knowledge Copyright © 2008 by The University Press of Kentucky except as noted below. “Introduction: Taking Ignorance Seriously” copyright © 2008 by Wes Jackson. “The Way of Ignorance” copyright © 2005 by Wendell Berry from The Way of Ignorance . Reprinted by permission of Shoemaker & Hoard Publishers. All other rights remain with the author. “Toward an Ignorance-Based World View,” copyright © 2005 by Wes Jackson, first appeared, in slightly different form, in The Land Report 81 (Spring 2005) and is reprinted here courtesy of the author. “Toward an Ecological Conversation” first appeared in the online newsletter NetFuture 127 (January 10, 2002) and was reprinted in the New Atlantis as “A Conversation with Nature” (Fall 2003). It is reprinted here, in slightly different form, courtesy of the author. The University Press of Kentucky Scholarly publisher for the Commonwealth, serving Bellarmine University, Berea College, Centre College of Kentucky, Eastern Kentucky University, The Filson Historical Society, Georgetown College, Kentucky Historical Society, Kentucky State University, Morehead State University, Murray State University, Northern Kentucky University, Transylvania University, University of Kentucky, University of Louisville, and Western Kentucky University. All rights reserved. Editorial and Sales Offices: The University Press of Kentucky 663 South Limestone Street, Lexington, Kentucky 40508-4008 All books in the Culture of the Land series are printed on acid-free recycled paper meeting the requirements of the American National Standard for Permanence in Paper for Printed Library Materials. 12 11 10 09 08 5 4 3 2 1 Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data The virtues of ignorance : complexity, sustainability, and the limits of knowledge / edited by Bill Vitek and Wes Jackson. p. cm.— (Culture of the land) Includes bibliographical references and index. ISBN 978-0-8131-2477-3 (hardcover : alk. paper) 1. Agriculture—Philosophy. 2. Sustainable agriculture. 3. Sustainable development. 4. Philosophy and science. 5. Nature and civilization. 6. Conservation of natural resources. 7. Ignorance (Theory of knowledge) I. Vitek, William, 1957- II. Jackson, Wes. III. Series. S494.5.P485V57 2008 601—dc22 2007048494 Manufactured in the United States of America. Member of the Association of American University Presses ...


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