The ancient Roman orator Cicero famously believed, "If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need." Contemporary philosopher Scott H. Moore agrees and puts this celebrated aphorism to the test.
In How to Burn a Goat: Farming with the Philosophers, Moore speculates on the practice of farming through the lens of philosophy and literature. He weaves together a tapestry of philosophical reflections on work and leisure, the nature of the virtues, and the role and limitations of technology and higher education with personal reflections on the joys and trials of farm life on his Crawford, Texas, farm.
Full of self-deprecating humor, Moore relates his own experience of a philosopher turned farmer. His efforts at scholar-farmer are haunted by questions from the world’s great minds—"Does Plato’s ‘city of sows’ ring true?," "Can Ockham help break a recalcitrant heifer?," "How can Heidegger help with raising swine?," "What insights does Iris Murdoch offer for pest control?" Combining insight with down-to-earth vignettes, Moore joins Wendell Berry, E. B. White, George Orwell, and many more in recognizing the truths deeply rooted in the management of the practical affairs of a farm.
Moore argues that a return to agrarian roots is needed to restore Aristotelian wonder and wisdom in a world increasingly defined by technology. Rejecting the idea that humans are simply cogs in a wheel, he shows how greater human happiness can be found in the meaningful labor of tending to nature, rather than the ever-expanding march of automation.