Nature – Tidbits

Chapter One

  • Nature is often presumed to be an objective reality with universal qualities unafffected by consideractions of time, culture and place (1)
  • Understandings of nature in the western world can roughly be divided into five historically important categories: The physical, the essence, the inspiration and the opposite of culture
  • Nature has been attributed with approved human values and ideals to validate and raise above debate particular visions and ideologies.
  • A fundamental issue for Aristotle in Physics was the distinction between natural entities whose essence is innate, and artificial entities whose essence derives from an external source.
  • Emerson: “Nature…refers to the essences unchanged by man.  Art is applied to the mixture of his will with the same things.
  • We enshrine what is in fact a transitional ecosystem not because nature has endowed grassland with special significance but because we prefer this particular version of nature.
  • Some natural environments are so carefully contrived that casual observers often fail to appreciate the degree of cultural selection that went into it.

Chapter Two

  • Fourty four of the sixty six meanings of nature listen by Arthor Lovejoy and George Boas were already current in classical times.
  • Nature stems from the latin nascene, to be born
  • Decline of the Roman emire tied firectly to resource depletion
  • Lead Poinsoning partictularly responsible for the withering away of the ruling oligarchy afflicted with an inordinately high dose of still births, sterility and mental degeneracy.
  • By destroying pagan animism, christianity made it possible to exploit nature in a mood of indifferance to the feelings of nauture.
  • All agrarian societies, ancient or modern, are imbuted with the imperatice to domesticate the physical environment.
  • According to the Pythagreans, avoiding meat was ultimately a way to purify the soul.

Chapter Three

  • It is frequently held that the natural world will benifit from benign neglect.
  • The Norman conquest was no more a confrontation with virgin soil than was the european inbasion of North America launched by Columbus.
  • Many areas of England were treeless by the Bonze Age.
  • During the Saxon era, forest clearence fell in populairity.
  • In a period characterized by temperatures a few degrees warmer than typical, Englands population tripled.
  • Environmental reprocussions of the Bubonic Plauge were substantial, causing whole towns and regions to be abandoned.

Chapter Four

  • Mankind experienced a decisive alienation from nature between the Renaissance and the scientific revolution.
  • By transforming nature from a living organism into a machine – simply unfeeling, inert matter…the new mechanistic philosophy assiosted the commodification of nature.
  • The Calvanistic notion that it was man’s duty to God to subdue the earth reinforced existing beliefs.
  • Scientific knowlege means technological power over nature.
  • Galileo gave nature an abstract existence apart from humanity, but its meanings and values remained to be found and bestowed by the human mind

Chapter Five

  • The lone cypress stands as a peerless monumnet to capitalisms bid to privatize, incorporate and commodify nature.
  • Since the onset of the modern eram western Europe has operated as an often overwhelming source of cultural, economic and ecological pressure on the remainder of the globe.
  • The concept of the noble savage grew of European guilt and longing.
  • Once humans became agriculturalists, the almost parasidical character of prehistory was irretrivably lost.
  • The designation of the Indian as a pioneer ecologist certainly entails a loose understanding of ecology.

One Response to Nature – Tidbits

  1. […] Week 07: Coates Nature Preface and ch. 1-5 […]

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