GardenBoy

“The land provides the greatest abundance of good things, but doesn’t allow them to be taken without effort.”

“Furthermore, the land also freely teaches justice to those who are capable of learning; for it does people favors in proportion to how well they serve it.”

“Agriculture also contributes toward training people in cooperation.” Xenophon, Oeconomicus

The land provides. The land teaches. In Xenophon’s view the land is a benefactor of mankind, precisely in how it calls for and responds to human cultivation. It is as though the land cultivates us as we cultivate it.

In spring most all of us feel a primordial urge: to turn the soil, to plant; even if only in a pot. If Xenophon is right, there is much more to be reaped than food for the body.

We can even be trained in cooperation: to be united in working toward some worthy end.

Here I argue that the co-operating of father and son in the garden may be a potent inoculant against an epidemic of boyhood unhappiness. A Father’s Hand in the Garden: 3 Reasons to Garden with Your Son.

Xenophon (430-354 B.C.) was a soldier, historian, and philosopher of Athens. Like Plato he wrote dialogues featuring Socrates as a great teacher. Among these dialogues is Oeconomicus, translated as The Estate Manager, in which we gain insight into the structure and principles of the ancient household.

Originally posted at Bacon from Acorns.

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John A. Cuddeback is a professor and chairman of the Philosophy Department at Christendom College in Front Royal, Virginia, where he has taught since 1995. He received a Ph.D. in Philosophy from The Catholic University of America under the direction of F. Russell Hittinger. He has lectured on various topics including virtue, culture, natural law, friendship, and household. His book Friendship: The Art of Happiness was republished in 2010 as True Friendship: Where Virtue Becomes Happiness. His writings have appeared in Nova et Vetera, The Thomist, and The Review of Metaphysics, as well as in several volumes published by the American Maritain Association. Though raised in what he calls an ‘archetypical suburb,’ Columbia, Maryland, he and his wife Sofia consider themselves blessed to be raising their six children in the shadow of the Blue Ridge on the banks of the Shenandoah. At the material center of their homesteading projects are heritage breed pigs, which like the pigs of Eumaeus are fattened on acorns, yielding a bacon that too few people ever enjoy. His website dedicated to the philosophy of family and household is baconfromacorns.com.

1 COMMENT

  1. “Agriculture also contributes toward training people in cooperation.” Xenophon, Oeconomicus

    So Xenophon was an early historical anthropologist. Of course now it’s commonplace knowledge that the rise of agriculture led people to cooperate, i.e. move away from egalitarian societies and more towards centralized, hierarchical ones, and then to socialism/capitalism.

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