The second half of this book was a better read than the first half, By getting away from earlier ideologies of nature, and venturing into more modern attitudes. I also was more prepared this time for the highly detailed style of Coates writing. The first half of the book did not appeal to me, as looking at the old attitudes did not spark any interest. However in the second half, I found there to be more interesting elements and philosophies shown in a more modern context. Due to the vastness of this work, I pinpointed 0ut a some interesting quotes/ideas in each of the chapters.
In Ch. 6, The description of Thomas Jefferson’s view of wilderness, “Wilderness was the raw material out of which nature was fashioned- nature being the improved, privately owned landscape of farms, gardens and rural estates that occupied the middle ground between industrial urban society and untamed savagery”. (123). I really like this idea of wilderness and nature. I do believe it does do both terms justice, nature being a man made concoction out of a untouched wilderness.
In Ch. 7. I found zoologist Ernst Haeckel’s idea interesting about human vs animal consciousness. ” Our own, “human nature”…..has no more value for the universe at large than an ant, the fly of a summer’s day….” (143) This is an interesting point of view, a little radical for me, but interesting know the less.
In Ch. 9. Like the idea of animal vs. animal consciences mentioned in ch. 7 by Haeckel. German thinker, argues that human and animal intelligence differ only in degree. “At the bottom resided dead matter, fated to eternal sleep; just above this were plants in a passive state, followed by the lower animals; then came the more alert consciousness of the higher animals. Humans perched at the apex of self-consciousness, yet remained part of the collective structure”. (181) This idea of structural hierarchy of consciousness , I believe this holds some merit, if you look at apes, and dolphins how they hold a higher level of consciousness than other animals.
Do you believe that human and animal intelligence differ only in degree?
Do you believe that human nature has no more value than a fly or an ant?