Farming as Focal Practice

Paul B. Thompson

in Technology and the Good Life?

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print November 2000 | ISBN: 9780226333861
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226333885 | DOI:
Farming as Focal Practice

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This chapter argues not only that farming is an exemplary focal practice, but, moreover, that it is the most primary and comprehensive of all focal practices. For Borgmann, the material event of the shift from things to devices is the most significant of our time; the chapter finds that land should be seen as the largest of these public, focal material things because land and nearly all cultural practices are intertwined. Arguing for the fundamental importance of place over things, the chapter maintains that farming is correlative to a place, not a thing; it warns against a reading of Borgmann that would reduce place to a function of the things that occupy it, a kind of “Kantian environmentalism.” This subtle difference between places and things becomes important when we remember that inhabiting a place is the real issue of reform and when we consider that “land as place is replaced by a version of the device paradigm in which land presents itself as but one of many purchased inputs in the production process.”

Keywords: farming; focal practices; devices; focal material; Kantian environmentalism; device paradigm

Chapter.  7601 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Science

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