Year of Award
Master of Arts (MA)
Department or School/College
Department of Philosophy
Deborah Slicer, Amy Ratto-Parks
wild, agriculture, technology, farm, thoreau
University of Montana
Feminist Philosophy | Other Philosophy
The thesis discusses wildness within the context of agriculture. Wildness can be characterized as autonomous, innate and Other. As autonomous, wildness can never be fully controlled. Because it is innate, wildness is inborn in human beings and inherent in the Other-than-human world. As Other, wildness cannot be fully understood. Because wildness is Other, our only avenue to knowledge is experience of the Other-than-human world through which wildness is present.
Our ultimate concern is the wildness inherent in humans. By experiencing manifestations of wildness, we provide ourselves with opportunities for co-creation. Co-creation requires humans to be receptive to the Other-than-human world and refrain from attempting to control Other-than-humans and humans alike. Co-creation helps humans attune to our innate wildness, which causes ripples in the rest of the wild community. Thoreau is a model for agricultural co-creation with manifestations of wildness.
Problematically, technology disrupts our co-creative relationships with wildness because it removes us from experience of the land and tends to economically and morally commodify Others. By doing so, we lose context for our relationships and begin to regard Others with ownership. After broadly discussing agricultural technologies and the soil community we look at a central Indiana commodity corn, soybean and corn seed farm to contextualize the problems of technology in modern agriculture.
To amend the problems of technology, we look at the work of Martin Heidegger. Calling upon his notion of ‘Das Ding,’ we see how our notion of focal farming can re-establish relationships with the Other-than-human world and help to resolve moral commodification. We see that community is an essential part of restoring the story to commodified Others. The story of Buffalo Bird Woman provides a final historic example of how we can more fully engage the human community and how focal farming evolves within a tradition.
To end, I suggest that seed-saving is an extraordinarily focal practice and can act as Heidegger’s Das Ding, helping farmers to renew intimate relationships with the Other-than-human world and attune to their inborn wildness. However, seed-saving is only a suggestion, each person needs to find their own autonomous avenue to cultivate wildness.
Reed, Christopher, "Cultivating Wildness" (2016). Graduate Student Theses, Dissertations, & Professional Papers. 10667.
© Copyright 2016 Christopher Reed