Table of contents
Table of Contents.pdf
The table of contents for Feeling for Stones is given here. The excerpts offered on the website have been highlighted in yellow to show where they fit in the book.
Introduction to FFS.pdf
Introduction to book
The introduction lays out the basic themes and questions of Feeling for Stones, identifying the serious challenges we face today. It notes that the last millennium is the one that has shaped us as we adapted to a slowly rising human population. Only in the past fifty years have our numbers suddenly shot up and our demands on the environment reached an unprecedented scale. Now the habits of slow evolution need to change, but how might that happen?
Neighbourhoods of Invention.pdf
Neighbourhoods of invention
This excerpt uses the story of Lincoln Inn’s Fields in London to look at the way changing rights in land became one of the foundations of the industrial revolution. It also argues that one of the pre-industrial skills of rural England was the ability to make complex social agreements, an ability that helped redefine the whole social system. This excerpt shows how fundamental social change was, and still is, rooted in changing definitions of who has rights to what resources. These rights not only define our relationships with each other, but with the land that supports us.
Chapter Six: “Darwin’s Face” explores the role of health and education in systemic change in pre-industrial England. Improved health and education have been two critical foundations of all successful industrial societies. However, when the industrial system was being invented in England, education improved gradually over time, but health did not, largely because of a failure to control epidemic disease. This excerpt asks why life expectation in England did not begin to rise significantly until the late 19th century, and raises the possibility that epidemic disease may once again become a driver of change.
Footpaths and fears - Ellsworth in New England.pdf
Footpaths and fears: Ellsworth in New England
Josias Ellsworth arrived in Windsor, Connecticut in 1646, at the height of the English Civil War. He was seventeen years old, probably a refugee from the war in England. In his lifetime, land management in Connecticut passed from the Indian tribes to the English settlers, with their very different ambitions. This excerpt shows what we might have gained had the English settlers learned more from their Indian hosts about their ability to foster biological abundance. Unfortunately, this learning never took place because 90% of the Indians in New England died, were killed or moved away in Josias Ellsworth’s lifetime.
Mask of order in abundant life.pdf
The mask of order in abundant life
The 19th century European colonisation of Africa is very recent compared to the English colonisation of New England. When Europeans first travelled to Africa, they discovered astonishing biological diversity and abundance. This excerpt argues that Africa’s diversity was the result of African beliefs and political systems. It then explores the degree to which those older social institutions have survived into the 21st century to see if they might offer a new opportunity to learn from non-European traditions about the creation and maintenance of abundant life.
Chapter Eight is the last chapter of Feeling for Stones. It appears here in its entirety as it summarises the lessons accumulated in the book as a whole. These lessons fall under three broad headings. First, there is the role of necessity and neighbourliness in social learning. Second, extremity can force us to engage across social boundaries to create new institutions out of the conflicts between conquered and conquering cultures. Third, it looks at what it might mean to live ecologically. Amongst other things, we may find ourselves living and thinking at a smaller scale – learning to live more like members of localised tribes than citizens of highly organised states by using loose networks to achieve larger goals.
Meeting Pablo Neruda.pdf
Meeting Pablo Neruda
It is said that the quality of a book is determined by the quality of the material that is thrown away. This essay was written after travelling in Chile in 2002, but the book manuscript kept returning to African issues so, in the end, this piece of writing was left out. It is included here because the story of ‘meeting’ Pablo Neruda returns to an important theme in the book: the possibility that Western people might learn from non-European peoples and their traditions.