One of my favorite abandoned aspects of geography has to be the teleological/cosmological study of man and the surrounding world. My scientific and religious beliefs give me a background into what once again can prove useful and help bring back geography into the mainstream.
Of the most important scientific discoveries two of them have to be the first law of thermodynamics and the rejection of spontaneous generation. The first law of thermodynamics states that matter (energy) can be neither created nor destroyed. Those who rejected spontaneous generation laid down the law saying living things can only come from other living things.
The above accepted scientific facts pose a problem; however. If matter cannot be created or destroyed where did the universe come from? The Big Bang only explains the expansion of the condensed universe spreading out over some unknown chaos. The chicken came from the egg of a proto-chicken but where did the first living cells come from? I have seen drawings which show lighting hitting somesort of primeval soup but I do not care how many times you zap dirty water, nothing is going to come out of it.
I use religion to explain these mysterious while others may choose a different route. What matters is that there is something much deeper that went on and our current concept of science cannot come close to explaining it.
Why does this all matter? Well, even though I see humans as part of nature, we clearly seem to be the main actor at the present time. For some reason we seem to be the only ones able to reason and know what is right and what is wrong. We all have the ability to mold the Earth on a massive scale. Tying this all together we have the ability (and some may say God given mandate) to be the caretakers of the world.
The field of geography with its man-land tradition is the perfect science to be home of this philosophical investigation into how man can be a better caretaker. I am not advocating abandoning the practical doings of geographers. Far from it I am just asking geographers to keep the cosmological role of man in the back of their heads as they do their real world geographical investigations. I do not call for this to be the driving philosophy like the fads of making everything quantitative or how some geographers sought to change the science through Marxist studies. Just keep my recommendations in the back of your head as the little conscience that peaks up once in a while. Even the smallest of ideas can make big changes.