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Life is a Miracle
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Living for almost 40 years on a family farm in Kentucky has led Berry to place a high value on local knowledge born of a long and affectionate engagement of the intellect and imagination with a particular place. To readers of his poems, novels (Memory of Old Jack, etc.) and essays (The Unsettling of America, etc.), it will be no surprise that in his latest essay collection, he argues cogently and passionately against the proposition E.O. Wilson puts forth in Consilience, that our best hope for preserving the biosphere lies in linking facts and fact-based theory across disciplines under the hegemony of the natural sciences. Though a conservationist, like Wilson, Berry strongly believes that the materialist prescription for what ails usÄecologically, culturally and spirituallyÄwill simply bind us more tightly to the often destructive, profit-driven triad of science, technology and industry. It will also move us further away, avers Berry, from what he sees as the sense of propriety that calls on us to base our thoughts and actions on our inescapable interdependency with the planet's other life forms. Berry also opposes the belief underlying Consilience, that scientific analysis can ultimately explain everything: "to reduce the mystery and miracle of life to something that can be figured out is inevitably to enslave it, make property of it and put it up for sale." In opposition to this view, Berry proposes evaluating our behavior and work on how they affect "the health and durability of human and natural communities." To do that, he contends, we must go beyond Wilson's empirical knowledge to imaginative knowledgeÄto knowing things "intimately, particularly, precisely, gratefully, reverently, and with affection." Agent, the Spieler Agency. (June) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.

"One of America's most respected and celebrated writers provides a thought-provoking analysis of, and a concise rebuttal of, E. O. Wilson's Consilience. "[A] scathing assessmentBerry shows that Wilson's much-celebrated, controversial pleas in Consilience to unify all branches of knowledge is nothing more than a fatuous subordination of religion, art, and everything else that is good to scienceBerry is one of the most perceptive critics of American society writing today."-Lauren F. Winner, Washington Post Book World "I am tempted to say he understands [Consilience] better than Wilson himself A new emancipation proclamation in which he speaks again and again about how to defy the tyranny of scientific materialism."-Colin C. Campbell, Christian Science Monitor "Berry takes a wrecking ball to E. O. Wilson's Consilience, reducing its smug assumptions regarding the fusion of science, art, and religion to so much rubble."-Kirkus Reviews"

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