Masanobu Fukuoka’s The One Straw Revolution presents a great philosophy of farming that seeks to cooperate with the nature. It has been the basis of the natural way of growing things. Well, the benefits reach far and wide, and the standpoint sends a strong message. However, this research paper seeks to strike a balance by taking into account the human intellect and the impossibility of Fukuoka’s concept taking full charge in all human existence and particularly in farming. It is a great work of taking care of the nature, but then, human beings seek to control it due to their superiority in the intellectual matters.
The Natural Way of Growing Things
There have been many definitions and standpoints on what ‘substrata’ is in the liberal arts. Well, the reference made has all been the same despite the different approaches used to define it. To me, ‘substrata’ can mean simply a theory of perception. An assertion as perceived can be referred to as ‘substrata’. Masanobu Fukuoka’s perception on the natural way of farming that has been extended to other things has invited both support and criticism to it from different settings (Fukuoka 67-93). While the natural way of growing things has produced positive results, the perception can be viewed differently, as a retrogressive idea. Naturally, human beings have some degree of awareness of personal existence that is not evident among other species. Thus, this research paper takes the view that the natural way of growing things conflicts with the nature of human beings in advancing knowledge.
Natural farming as proposed by Fukuoka is founded on the nature free of intervention and meddling by human beings (Mollison & Fukuoka 4-8). It seeks to restore the nature from the destruction occasioned through human action and knowledge as well as to resurrect the humanity that was separated from God. While it has seen a great success, naturally, the concept of growing things can be termed as an unstable ’substrata’. It can only take effect in an ideal society or in a community where knowledge is extinct. Well, it is not possible. Despite the benefits realized in the process, it is obvious that human beings would not suppress their ego and desires to see the concept work.
The human awareness is the province of ordinary persons like theologians and philosophers. It incorporates life finitude, the personal existence of others, and the possibility of having other worlds (Schlosser 3-21). With this point of view, it is not easy for people to adopt the natural way of growing things. Human beings see the possibility of other worlds emerging from the one they live in at present. Therefore, the inventions and other developments are characteristic of a natural human sense. Fukuoka’s substrata will, thus, be unstable in this way.
The questions of when humans came into the world, the reason why they are on the earth, and what becomes of them after they die are key factors that prompt the human actions and application of knowledge in what they do. Thus, it is uncertain that human beings would just throw seeds into an unplowed land and leave them to grow. While Fukuoka has seen the viability of his concept, the question of how, when, and why are ever present in the minds of human beings. These are the key prompts that may void Fukuoka’s substrata. Human beings are always haunted by what is happening in their environments (Soccio 34-45). They would also want to determine the manner in which these things are happening and, if possible, the reason of all.
When human beings ask themselves such questions, it is unlikely that they will just let things happen naturally. Such questions are motivated by both curiosity and anguish inspired through the prospect of an individual’s misfortune in a given occasion. For instance, all crops may not grow in a similar manner in the field. The disparities in growth experienced raise the questions of “why.” The farmer would want to know why some crops did well in the fields compared to others. From that question, the gathering of knowledge begins, and something must be done to avert these shortcomings. Growing things naturally is, therefore, challenged by the human way of seeing and explaining things.
Fukuoka shows how the way human beings look at farming impacts the manner in which they see health, nature, spiritual health, school, and life at large. For him, the purification of the human spirit connects with the healing of the land (Fukuoka 1-4; 10-34). Fukuoka proposes an approach to the life and farming in which this healing occurs. The ideas suggested by Fukuoka are amazing and outstanding. However, not every detailed proposed in the book, The One Straw Revolution, would work in every corner of the earth. There is some kind of uniqueness that is experienced in different settings, for instance, in the areas with harsh winters. All the same, the idea of having a simple life and allowing the nature to direct farming practices, without using chemicals, and may be tilling the land for monoculture is very much welcome and valuable.
Concerns about the health of human beings as proposed by Fukuoka could also raise questions. Eating hydroponic foods and commuting to the office and again relaxing at the television front are harmful to people’s health. It is opposed to a case when people live at a number of acres and grow their own food and do some other things. It sounds unoriginal, but in Fukuoka’s perception, it is plausible, lovely, and very important. The success that Fukuoka has achieved has been through cooperation with the nature (Fukuoka 3-4; Kraay 491-499). However, it is the nature of human beings to improve on the natural environment through the conquest.
The natural way of growing things is definitely an ideal and an unstable ’substrata’. After a decision has been made to deal with the symptoms and signs of a problem, it is usually assumed that the corrective measures will amicably address the issue itself. Unfortunately, they hardly ever do. The list of examples offered makes it clear that we need to bear such in mind not only in farming but also in our entire life. It is important for human beings to get more fresh air and do a number of exercises for the body to remain healthier. Fukuoka’s theory of growing things naturally encourages people to feel the idea strongly enough to start it, but there is a struggle because it is going against the very nature of human beings.
Philosophy tries to study truth and wisdom. Causality acts as the link that exists between particular occasions or events termed as a cause and another event which would simply be termed as the effect. The second occurrence is a result of the first. It is how human beings determine the usefulness of the things they see and how they can improve them. The philosophical handling of causality goes beyond quite a lengthy historic time (Salles 41-80). Causality hypothesizes that there are regulations and laws through which the occurrence of a particular thing of a specific class relies on the happening of another entity belonging to another class. Fukuoka seems to overlook this fact. The initial entity is the one termed as the cause whereas that which comes after it is the effect.
The study of such things like causality has attracted the attention of many philosophers who have drawn a lot of concern in trying to give an empirical account of the same. Such efforts cannot go without mention. The natural way of growing things is likely to raise a lot of controversy, and the chances are that it may not apply in the whole human society. Each aspect of knowledge originates from experience. For one, knowledge emanates from various relations and combinations of ideas, and secondly, knowledge depends on the cause of reasoning and its effect. This latter is regarded as matters of authenticity of knowledge and acts as its elementary basis. The search for knowledge by the human beings cannot limit them to letting things happen naturally. While Fukuoka has a firm assertion that seems to accrue benefits, it is not the characteristic of human beings not to confront the nature.
One of the greatest philosophers, David Hume, has made two very important kinds of perceptions of the mind by distinguishing ideas and impressions. According to Hume, impressions come directly out of experience and may point towards simple sensations, internal impressions, movements like sensual perceptions, and emotions. Apparently, they are vivacious, forceful, and lively. For instance, in view of a wall, they could convey color, size, and texture (Salles 67-112). Therefore, they are irresistible. Fukuoka’s concept of growing things naturally would thus be challenged. Ideas are internal reflections of such impressions and convey what an individual was initially conscious of while experiencing an impression. These are normally stored in the memory and can be thought out and imagined whilst not presently being experienced.
Apparently, many people would be troubled by the opening of the door to ‘the natural way of growing things’ together with skepticism as a consequence arising from the manner in which this kind of farming is done. It is evident because quite a big population still uses other farming methods other than those proposed by Fukuoka. All knowledge rests on the existence of material objects independent of minds or ideas. The objects around us are responsible for the ideas we conceive in our minds. On the other hand, the ideas we posses take after the objects in the material universe; although, some qualities that objects seem to have are not in these objects but rely on the minds of individuals.
Fukuoka’s concept is ideally unstable because it ignores the aspect of time. Time elapsed has a lot of effect on the vividness and clarity of an idea, and the further a certain thing is from an individual, the difficult it is to associate with, indicating the relationships of place and time. The relationship of cause and effect is a kind of understanding that when a certain cause X yields an effect Y several times, one anticipates from this understanding that the moment a cause X happens, an effect Y will certainly occur; although, there could be nothing concerning the form and nature of cause telling us anything concerning the effect. Hume has presented two arguments for his perception of ideas. When making an analysis of ideas, an individual could simplify and derive these impressions out of them, and if an individual does not have a particular impression, he / she fails to make the corresponding idea and will be forced to estimate the knowledge which was initially anticipated from that experience. The impressions make foundations for ideas that are coming from the basis of all knowledge and understanding (Soccio 34-45).
The connection of ideas from experiences, like those of farming as postulated by Fukuoka, refers to the power that a cause has in bringing about the effect. There is a significant link between the effect and the cause. The moment a cause gains, then the effect gains significantly. When we observe the natural way of growing things and other events in the world, the observation is made of certain events being followed by the others. If an event X occurs constantly right before an event Y could happen, the human mind, though habit, makes a particular connection between both events where the initial event would act as the cause for the event coming afterwards. All the same, drawing such a conclusion requires the observation of such a conclusion and cannot be observed. The link is assumed by the individual; even though there was no new image in the universe to be observed, a new correlation idea was formed. This new feeling of being in a position of predicting an outcome, the new formed impression, is the source for the particular idea of the necessary connection.
It is, therefore, obvious that human beings would incline to the newly acquired knowledge and confront the nature. It is not in the nature of human beings to cooperate with the nature and accept what it brings forth. Through the human actions, the human race has applied the knowledge gained through the nature to control the things that affects its lineage. The natural way of growing things though having some truth in it can only take place in an ideal world where the human race is the same as the nature in general in matters of insight and intellect.
Unlike Fukuoka, no individual can have a complete certainty that promotes open mindedness and permits the proportioning of beliefs founded on evidence. It is psychologically impossible for an individual to achieve a state of the absolute doubt and to be in a position from where to work backwards, and each is an indubitable truth. There is no chance to even come to a point of an infallible principle as proposed by Fukuoka since we are not warranted in any way.
Despite disagreeing with conventional farming methods of tilling the land, Fukuoka’s proposition and moving a step further, the position held concerning a natural way of growing things and admitting the likelihood of continued existence of views and ideas over time being dependent on God’s existence or may be some sort of divine perceiver is still not clear. The life is characterized by the choices we make. The choices made are dependent on logic which determines the quality of the life that human beings live. According to Aristotle, human beings are ‘rational animals.’ Thus, the capacity to reason is very unique to human beings, and it happens to be a very important aspect in the life that we live. The use of logic and reason would thus make human beings confront the nature which Fukuoka wants them to cooperate with.
The human soul has order as well as desires and passions that need to be controlled. Logic carries with it a very essential power to make sure that the potential, passions, and desires in human beings are well-guided; otherwise, they could be destructive. Logic is very important in creating a well-balanced life. The happiness of the soul is brought by the use of reason. Logic enhances order in the individual persons and the society at large. Letting the nature loose and fail to control it would turn out to be catastrophic to human beings. Human beings love order and live in the well-organized societies in the well-defined boundaries.
The manner in which we use logic determines the perception of other people towards us. It is basically realized through language. Logic is concerned mainly with the pursuit of truth which matters a lot in the life of any individual. Logic is, thus, useful in defining the complex scenarios in the life of human beings, especially where consistency is desperately needed. The process of thought that leads to making informed conclusions from assertions and percepts is all founded on logic. To make any meaningful existence, logic is very crucial. It brings a meaning to the life. It is what defines the life that we live in and more especially through construing logic in language and self expression. The life presents a lot of options to human beings. Therefore, individuals must weigh these options to come up with the most succinct one. There cannot be good choices and variety if logic is not applied to. This variety is needed even in farming. Variety can only come to being if we control the nature the much it is possible for us. The beauty of living is making adventures in the world we live in. Apparently, Fukuoka’ theory of perception will make human beings uncivilized creatures. Hence, the human race will remain to be a heap of savages.
Fukuoka’s natural way of growing things seems to blend with the philosophy. According to the Stoics, human happiness is occasioned by a good life and its flow (Salles 45-76). Living up to par and inharmony with the nature is actually what forms the basis of human happiness according to the Stoics. Living in accordance with a direct experience of what takes place naturally is what brings this fulfillment of human happiness. The ethics, as put forward by the Stoics and Fukuoka as well, is in particular a very robust version of human happiness. Based on the foundation of Stoicism, virtue is a very sufficient and important aspect for human happiness. It also confirms with the ancient dialogues as presented by Plato. For instance, the conventional arête Greek concept is not really similar as defined by virtue with connotations of Christianity of patience, charity, and uprightness. This is because arête takes into account a number of excellences in non-moral aspects like beauty and physical strength. The natural way of growing things is believed to place an individual at a position congruent with the nature. On the other hand, conflicting with the nature is perceived to be the beginning of all human troubles. For Fukuoka, what cannot be contained in the nature is most likely to fall out of space, a place where there exists no happiness.
The subject of cooperating with nature has really attracted a lot of debate. The nature cannot be destroyed, but there is a way human beings tend to confront it. Human beings can live more holistically and more simply. The moment we understand that people lose happiness and joy in an effort of possessing them, the reality of natural farming will be achieved. The end goal of farming is not the growing of various crops, but rather the cultivation and perfection realized by human beings. Another important point to note is that the nature is joyful. In any society of human beings, there is life and death and people ever are affected by sorrow.
Well, despite the fact that life and death co-exist in the surface of the earth, humor is also present. For instance, Fukuoka states that Einstein was awarded a Nobel Prize for giving an explanation to something concerning physics. Einstein’s explanation is surprising. It caused human beings to think that the universe is multifaceted beyond all possible comprehension. A citation of the disturbing peace of the spirit of human beings should have been the prize instead.
When a garden is created and human beings are conscious of the things that are growing therein, there is a tendency of the human beings to grow form being in close proximity with the similar natural cycles that affect the garden contents. Fukuoka’s natural way of growing things is embedded in the manner in which the flower bud is going to bloom outbefore human beings. Likewise, the ripe fruit sends a message that a season of its growing ends ,whereas signals of passing seasons and others coming are realized when we see stalks withering. Such synchronicity realized between seasons and plants is a very lively picture of natural patterns that affect all life. Human beings are also an expression of such patterns that are the very defining factors of natural farming. The differences come in because human beings have a superior intellect than all other things and would always want to confront the nature.
The notion of natural farming embraces the viewpoint of doing the least. It is a standpoint where the nature is allowed to master farmers, whereas the human role in making decisions takes a very insignificant part. It is close to impossibility. Owing to the nature of the human intellect, it is unlikely that human function and role in the farming process would be of no consequence. Fukuoka acknowledges the nature to be the entirety which all creatures were formed of and what sustains them all. Fukuoka proposes that we should stop looking for extra things to do in order to improve on the nature and what it offers in order to grow better food. Instead, Fukuoka believes that human beings should look out for the things they are not supposed to do. This simplicity of approach brings out a new understanding of the nature and self that can be impractical in the real world set-up.
We have all seen the importance of weeding, digging, pest control, pruning, and the addition of fertilizers. Taking on a natural way of growing things would require that we take a step backwards and seek to establish what the nature can do (McKenna 770-773). The minds of human beings are already pre-occupied with knowledge and understand and do as they please. Additionally, human beings have supported the green philosophy, but the ever growing human population has prompted the use of controlled and well-managed pieces of land for farming.
The natural way of growing things is assertive and does not give room for other options. The excellence of growing things naturally cannot override the human nature. Human beings have a free will. They have some specific sort of capacity of logical agents to make a choice of action from a number of alternatives. The free will in human beings is a deliberative choosing based on values and desires that originate from the surrounding (Campbell 105-111). Since the creation, ‘wild life’ has always been distinguished from the ‘rational’ parts of the human nature. The human nature has a lot of psychological complexity.
The rational nature of human beings includes their ability to judge ends either as pleasing or worth pursuing and regard their value; although, satisfying them could end up in significant unpleasantness as pointed out by Fukuoka in tilling the land for farming. Human beings act with a free will when they act based on their considered judgments concerning what is good for them regardless of whether the actions conflict with other nature’s desire or do not. It could appear to be restrictive because many people are held responsible for the actions that proceed from ‘animal’ desires and other natural aspects conflict with the assessment that human beings make out of their free will (Diakopoulou 1-3). A more plausible suggestion is when human beings act with a free will when their deliberation is sensitive to their judgments about the best in a given situation whether or not they act upon the given judgment.
Change is inevitable, and when it comes, human beings are prompted to use their own free will to make decisions that are aimed at combating the changes. Definitely, farming comes along with changes as the different growing seasons pass on. The nature of human beings determines to will specific general ends guided by the most general aim of doing ‘good’. A number of people believe that Fukuokan philosophy is the basis of what is presently known as permaculture (Bell 23-46). It is important to note that Masanobu Fukuoka was the only Japanese farmer who worked with rice and winter grain in a climate normally experienced in the southern region of Japan (Tkaczyk 4-7). Another important factor to consider is that these crops are no-till methods that do not really require the application of chemicals. Different farming ways require different approaches based on the crops being grown. It would, thus, not be prudent to conclude that the natural way of growing things is applicable to all kinds of farming.
Fukuoka and his proposals should be set apart from farming generally and specifically permaculture. This is mainly because The One Straw Revolution is a fundamentally philosophical work of literary way of life. Actually, Fukuoka’s philosophy and the book read as though it were a bible for naturalists. Even though the book is written in the anecdotes and language of a farmer, the messages goes beyond these boundaries. The ideas unfold from a man who came to close terms with issues of death and thereafter decided to form an overwhelmingly new affiliation with the nature. In reality, the nugget of Fukuoka’s wisdom is that humans aim rather at struggling to command and control the nature. The philosophy of rowing things naturally is embedded in working with and learning from the nature.
Fukuoka says that building a fortress is wrong from the beginning. Although there is an excuse given that it is for the defense of the city, the castle is the result of the personality of the ruling lord and applies coercion on the surrounding region. Fukuoka further continues in his fear of attack and the fortification for the protection of the town, stocking up of weapons and firmly locking them up. It raises questions whether such words come from a farmer or a seasoned philosopher. From the look of it, it is easy to think that Fukuoka is just criticizing the nuclear arms race. However, in reality, he is talking about the farmers’ warlike mindset that is focused on leaf-munching pests as evil foes that should be fortified against, fervently sought out, and ultimately destroyed.
The advice given by Fukuoka is very sound. His ideas are very fruitful and establish good rapports with the world. The prose made by Fukuoka is very elegant; although, it is concise. It is very full with a lot of meanings. All the same, this work offers a very poetic andintelligent critique of industrial practices of agriculture as well as the linear concepts of the nature together with the progress that underlay such practices. Actually, Fukuoka goes to a greater length to declare that the science and its methods limit the humans’ experience and understanding of the nature. This declaration is indeed true yet still debatable because the scientific methods have also gained credit in their applications both in farming and in other areas.
The permaculture ethics offer a sense of place in the bigger scheme of things. It guides humans to the right livelihood in concern with the universal community and the surrounding environment, instead of selfishness and indifference shown to other things. Such ethics have demanded human beings to see things and act in a manner that is responsible in connection to each other and the earth as a whole (Fry 1-6). Human beings should take care of the earth and all that is contained in it either living or non-living. It includes animals, land, plants, air, and water as well. All the same, the human nature in all these things is superior, and its role in permaculture needs to be well-defined. Permaculture is a good concept, but Fukuoka seems to get it far and move things out of reach.
It is also important to take care of people along with promoting self-reliance and the responsibility of the community and ensure access to the resources that are required to live. The most important thing is to set limits to the consumption and the population, giving away humans’ surplus time, money, information, labor, and energy to attain the objectives of caring for the earth and the population contained therein. Natural diversity must be added to these principles highlighted here. It is only achievable with the humans’ intervention and input to improve what the nature provides. It is true that many animals and insects return with no fertilizer, no chemicals, and no cultivation (Whitefield 122-35). However, the most important thing is to create a balance of the nature so that every species survive but not at the expense of the other. The natural way of growing things is, thus, a wonderful concept but may be considered an unstable substrata when it comes to general farming and looks at the intellectual aspect of human beings. It goes way beyond the borders and may only be applicable in an ideal set-up where human beings are deprived off their abilities.