Why is it Impossible to Know Nature?

Scientists think they can understand nature. That is the stand they take. Because they are convinced that they can understand nature, they are committed to investigating nature and putting it to use. But I think an understanding of nature lies beyond the reach of human intelligence. Masanobu Fukuoka

Why is it impossible to know nature? That which is conceived to be nature is only the idea of nature arising in each person’s mind. The ones who see true nature are infants. They see without thinking, straight and clear if even the names of plants are known, a Mandarin orange tree of the citrus family, a pine of the pine family, nature is not seen in its true form.

An object seen in isolation from the whole is not the real thing.

Specialists in various fields gather together and observe a stalk of rice. The insect disease specialist sees only insect damage; the specialist in plant nutrition considers only the plant’s vigour. This is unavoidable as things are now.

As an example, I told the gentleman from the research station when he was investigating the relationship between rice leaf-hoppers and spiders in my field “Professor, since you are researching spiders, you are interested in only one among the many natural predators of the leaf- hopper. This year spiders appeared in great numbers, but last year it was toads. Before that, it was frogs that predominated. There are countless variations.”

It is impossible for specialised research to grasp the role of a single predator at a certain time within the intricacy of insect inter-relationships. There are seasons when the leaf-hopper population is low because there are many spiders. There are times when a lot of rain falls and frogs cause spiders to disappear, or when little rain falls neither leaf-hoppers nor frogs appear at all.

Methods of insect control which ignore the relationships among the insects themselves are truly useless. Research on spiders and leaf-hoppers must also consider the relation between frogs and spiders. …. Furthermore, there are four or five different kinds of spiders … I remember when somebody came rushing over to my house early one morning to ask me if I had covered my field with a silk nets or something… overnight the rice stubble and low-lying grasses had become completely covered with spiderwebs. Waving and sparkling with the morning mist, it was a magnificent sight. It only lasts for a day or two. If you look closely there are several spiders in every square inch they are so thick on the field that there’s hardly any space between them, in a quarter of an acre there must be how many thousands, how many millions!

When chemicals are put into a field, this is all destroyed in an instant.


Ref: “The One-Straw Revolution” by Masanobu Fukuoka p. 25 – 28 Excerpts