Gardening and Philosophy


Dan O’Brien (ed.)
Research Fellow
Oxford Brookes University

Gardens were important at the dawn of philosophy -- Plato and Epicurus taught in them -- and they raise a broad spectrum of philosophical questions. This book hopes to address those concerning meaning and representation, the good life, political philosophy, ontology and metaphysics, religion and bioethics. Below are some suggested topics, although others are welcome.

§ Epicurus’ garden and its role in his philosophy
§ Plato and the groves of Academe
§ Gardens as representations of nature
§ Can gardens be works of art?
§ Gardens as expressions of emotion
§ Gardening, happiness and eudaimonia
§ Does gardening inculcate ethical virtues?
§ The kitchen garden and self-sufficiency
§ Allotments and socialism
§ Gardens and national identity
§ Can a garden be moved?
§ Is this the same garden as last year?
§ Gardens and religious symbolism
§ Eden
§ Zen gardens
§ Voltaire, theodicy and “cultivating our garden”
§ The ethics of killing slugs and pests

Abstract of paper (approx. 250 words) submission deadline: January 15, 2009
Final papers should be between 4000–5000 words. 
Abstracts should be submitted by email to