How to Burn a Goat
Farming with the Philosophers
Imprint: Baylor University Press
Sales Date: 2019-11-15
224 Pages, 5.00 x 8.00 in
- Published: November 2019
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.
A Burnt OfferingBuying GeeseComing to Terms with ShitLambingGuinea FowlRed in Tooth and ClawPlaying by EarHomecoming and the Future of Higher EducationDoing It and Getting It DoneFallacy of AcquisitionMulesSeptic MattersOrphan ChicksSilky Smooth’s Big AdventureTo a Hare, From a LouseFarmers, Christians, and Intellectuals: Cultivating Humility and HopeNew GuineasSkunks RattlesnakesDead LambsAlexander McCall SmithToo Many EggsOckham, Iris, and the Show CattleWendell, Gene, and Joel: On the Difficulties of Theology and AgricultureDo Sweat the Small StuffNot So Humble, but Near to the GroundSaving SpidersSnakes and ChicksTolstoy and PahomThe Cow in the Parking LotBack to the Rough Ground: The Consolations of TechneCalvesE. B. White’s Adventures in ContentmentGussie, Lloyd, and MochaIn Defense of Watching Grass GrowOrchardsCity of SowsFarming with the Philosophers: Work, Leisure, Wonder, and GratitudeAppendixIris Murdoch’s Vexed Relationship with Christian Faith
What a fun book! A self-described ‘inexperienced philosopher hobby farmer,’ Moore writes about chasing guinea fowl, the virtues of mules, the vices of geese, the sounds heard on a farm, or why it is important to watch grass grow, mixed with quotations by everyone from Wendell Berry to Wittgenstein all in a clean prose style reminiscent of E. B. White. Moore had me laughing out loud and then pondering his wisdom the rest of the day.~Rev. Kyle Childress, Pastor, Austin Heights Baptist Church, Nacogdoches, Texas
Scott Moore has given us a wonderful gift with this book--a book of comedic determined wisdom that only a philosopher trying to be a farmer could describe. On reaching the end of the book my only thought was to read it again not only because Moore writes so well, but because I want to remember how (not) to burn a goat or to understand better the relationship between Plato and pigs.~Stanley Hauerwas, Gilbert T. Rowe Professor Emeritus of Divinity and Law, Duke Divinity School
Moore is on to important issues and is making a significant advance on questions about ethics, the environment, agriculture, and Christianity. How to Burn a Goat takes the reader on an intellectual adventure that opens with a family’s exploration of agrarian life and concludes with an encounter with some of the most profound philosophical insights of classical and modern philosophy.~David Solomon, de Nicola Center for Ethics and Culture, University of Notre Dame
As deftly written, organized and presented, as it is inherently interesting, thoughtful and thought-provoking, How to Burn a Goat: Farming with the Philosophers is a unique and unreservedly recommended addition to both community and academic library Contemporary Philosophy collections and supplemental curriculum reading lists.~The Midwest Book Review
Moore’s writing is entertaining and clear. He has a narrative gift combined with the technical training of a philosopher that allows him to clearly identify and analyze premises in thinking.~Karl C. Schaffenburg, University Bookman