Nature Part 1

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Reading “Nature,” by Peter Coates was interesting to say the least. It reminded me of a lot of history books I have read at OWU, and it did give me a different perspective on history. Many people throughout time perceived nature differently. I think Coates did a great job dividing the book into the different time periods (Natures of Nature, Ancient Greece and Rome, the Middle Ages, Modernity, and World outside of Europe). Although it was difficult following along with all the scholars he referenced, he did a great job piecing them all together. There were many parts of the book that intrigued me…

  • Nature of the Western world divided into 5 groups. Nature as a physical place, nature as a collective phenomena of the world, nature as an essence, nature as an inspiration, and nature as the conceptual opposite of culture. I can agree with how he divided up the ideas (3).
  • Friedrich Engel’s assertion that “The relation of man to nature is excluded from history and hence the antithesis of nature and history is created, and endorse their call for explanations rooted in the real ground of history,” (20). People tend to neglect the basis of materialistic history, and separate man and nature.
  • In history classes, we talk about ancient civilizations being successful, but we never talked about the naturalistic part. We knew that some have developed a waste system, but weren’t that successful. Human waste and garbage flooded the streets. Also, traffic was a problem in Rome and Caesar banned wheeled traffic for a certain period of time (25). Mining was also a problem as well as lead poisoning.
  • Deforestation was also a problem in the 1100s in France (44). You wouldn’t think that was a problem back then, but timber was an important source for the people at this time.
  • St. Francis’s story- Francis is given a live fish, presumably to eat. Instead, he calls it brother and releases it into the water and praises God. I thought it was interesting that this far back in time, the people looked up to nature, and treated it as equal to human.

I will have more to discuss today in class. Hope to see everyone there!

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