Nature: Part 1

To be completely honest, I didn’t enjoy this book one bit.  I actually had a pretty hard time getting through the first 5 chapters.  But, such is life.  There were a few parts I found generally interesting that I would like to share.

  • On page 7, there was a nice little example of how we actively manage nature to keep it in a desired state because we prefer this particular version of nature. Coates uses the example of the blades of grass on a suburban lawn, saying that the grass is a part of nature but they then “enter the realm of artifice through their collective identity as a lawn.”  He poses the question of how natural this lawn then becomes if dandelions and daises establish themselves on the lawn as well. I find this very interesting because we do tend to manipulate everything in this world to our liking, especially nature.  Everything we have comes from the nature around us, which is something I don’t think most people want to realize.  I believe we should begin treating nature with a little more respect and stop constantly changing it for unimportant reasons.
  • I enjoyed reading the blurbs about Aristotle and how he taught that everything in nature existed just for people.  How ignorant is this thought?  To think the world was created to for the mere pleasure of human beings.  If this is true, why are there so many existing animals that we have no purpose for?  Why do we have certain ecosystems that we know so little about?  Why are our human practices now causing chaos to the climate?  He also actually referred to animals as ‘living pieces of property.’ And what I find ironic is that this was coming from a man that we think to be one of the greatest minds to have ever been.  No wonder ignorance is spread among many people when it comes to the ‘idea’ of global warming.
  • Furthering the above discussion, the Graeco-Roman world-view held that, in the great chain of being, man perched right under the gods.  They believed it was absurd to think the earth was created for plants and it is very unlikely that the gods took all this trouble for the sake of dumb, irrational creatures (animals).  So obviously, the earth was created for us, and only us.
  • After this disappointing blurbs throughout the book, it was nice to actually come to something that was seemingly pleasant.  On Page 37, Coates explains how, in Greek mythology, an ethical hunter is someone who was respectful of his game and who was linked to his prey by a sacred bond.  After hearing the very cruel ways some other humans viewed animals, it was nice to know that at least some people respected animals and believed the earth did not simply belong to humans.
  • In this reading, I have also learned a new word, anthropocentrism- the belief that meaning stems from human sources and that nothing has value independent of the human valuer.  I think throughout this reading I have learned (by the help of this definition as well) that humans are overly selfish beings.  We take the land from animals and claim it as our own.  We mess up the entire ecosystem and don’t think twice about it.  We eat animals like they were never living beings.  We think the entire planet revolves around us.  We may have some features that makes us seem as an elite species compared to certain animals and plants, but does that give us the right to completely take over this world?  I’m not even sure I would use the world elite, because we are not the best.  We may have technology, money, and every other thing we could ever wish for, but does that make us the best?  Do we actually know what true happiness is?  I don’t particularly think so.  I think plants and animals know true happiness much better than we could ever even fathom.

Questions:

  • Why do you think people think it is okay to completely dominate nature just because we can?
  • Why do we manipulate nature so much?

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