Tuesday, October 04, 2016


The Last Word in Ignorance

Aldo Leopold (1887-1948), Round River: From the Journals of Aldo Leopold (1953; rpt. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1993), pp. 146-147:
The outstanding scientific discovery of the twentieth century is not television, or radio, but rather the complexity of the land organism. Only those who know the most about it can appreciate how little we know about it. The last word in ignorance is the man who says of an animal or plant, "What good is it?" If the land mechanism as a whole is good, then every part is good, whether we understand it or not. If the biota, in the course of aeons, has built something we like but do not understand, then who but a fool would discard seemingly useless parts? To keep every cog and wheel is the first precaution of intelligent tinkering.

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