Nature Notes

When describing nature, he makes a good point of how nature is considered a part of us, but at the same time quite apart from us.

  • Understanding nature in the Western world can roughly be divided into 5 categories
    • Nature as a physical place, those places unmodified by people
    • Nature as the collective phenomena of the world or universe
    • Nature as an essence, quality and/or principle that informs the workings of the world or universe
    • Nature as an inspiration and guide for people and source of authority governing human affairs
    • Nature as the conceptual opposite of culture
  • How can nature be an opposite of culture
    • Natures essentialism, the separation of nature and culture, and nature’s superiority or inferiority to culture.
  • To ‘denature’ something means to change or remove its essential qualities
  • Nature can sell cigarettes, cars, and shampoo as effectively as can sex.
    • Which many companies take advantage of, like nature valley and water bottle companies that use plastic bottles as carriers
  • Environmental history was launched by ecological sentiments and the environmental movement during the same decade
  • Environmental groups like Earth First, expanded the meaning of environmentalism far beyond resource conservation, wildlife protection, and pollution control.
  • Coates emphasizes the fact that we take for granted our capacity for environmental damage
    • Emphasizes many historian authors that have written bout nature

Ancient Greece and Rome

  • This chapter was different because it went back and talked about the attitudes towards nature.
  • Made light to the fact of the colonization of land as populations got bigger to feed those growing populations
  • Plato didn’t regard erosion as evidence of any fundamental malfunctioning
  • Pythagorean vegetarianism was backed by a hierarchical theory of evolution according to which meat-eating by any life form reeked of lowly savagery.
    • Avoiding meat was a way to purify the soul.
  • Green thinkers today look back on Greek and other ancient religious beliefs as being conducive to earth care.
  • In Roman times, when it came to a man-made image or a tree, the former usually prevailed.
  • Greek tenderness towards wildlife was lost among Romans, who preferred violence for entertainment.
Romans fighting in the Coliseum against animals and other gladiators for entertainment.
  • Go along talking about the history of coliseum and how may deaths of animals and people were recorded.
    • Talk about the impact of killing so many animals and how they damaged their physical environment for entertainment.

Middle Ages

  • Christianity is deeply indicated in every aspect of the life of the medieval mind.
  • Cistercian monks have been credited with a pivotal role in deforestation during the 12th and 13th centuries. Britain
  • When the bubonic plaque (Black Death) hit England, it claimed 20 million lives across Europe
    • Represented 25-40% of the population
    • Fields were abandoned, marginal lands surrendered to brush and trees, and crops gave way to less labor intensive pastoralism.
  • Coates makes the statement that saying anything definitive about Christian views on nature is as dodgy as trying to establish a n early Christian attitude to women, alcohol, and homosexuality.
  • 18th century- “Enlightenment project” is pinpointed as the locomotive of modernity
  • Galileo gave nature an abstract existence separate from humanity, though meaning and values remained from the aspect of the human mind.
  • Nature is always being molded and penetrated.

Nature as Landscape

  • John Clare is now embraced as a spiritual forefather of today’s radical environmentalism.
  • Eighteenth century English landowners did more to recreate the ambience of Virgilian pastoralism than erect temples of flora.
  • Ha-ha fence (or wall). A fence that was hidden in a ditch and got its name from exclamation of surprise when strollers found that their sauntering’s beyond a house was suddenly interrupted.
    • Ha-ha lent the impression of an unbroken landscape to someone gazing from the windows of a house.
    • Was lost however to those on the other side of it. In Raymond William’s words “a visible stamping of power”. It was not meant to give the cowherd the sense that the estate was part of a shared landscape.

Ha-ha Fence

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