“Nature, like us, has a history.”  Indeed it does, this book in both parts was more of a history book and much less engaging than some of our other reads.  Although there are some very interesting facts, the majority of the book was very dry.  I did however like the part where the author quotes someone saying nature is a word with one of the most complicated meanings, which has been a reoccurring topic in class that nature has many definitions. The author attempts to create his own definition of nature through looking at the many cultures and societies that have defined it.  This is a collection of quotes and ideas throughout history about what nature is and how humans interact with it.

Interesting Stuff:

  • I thought it was interesting in chapter 6 how the US soldiers entering Yosemite Valley were so amazed at the “natural” beauty of it, but actually, Native Americans had always altered the valley to maximize game animals and acorns.
  • Environmentalism is for the young and romantic: “Theocles: ‘how comes it that, excepting a few philosophers of your sort, the only people who are enamored in this way, and seek the woods, the rivers, or seashores, are your poor vulgar lovers?’
  • Natural law predates and is greater than man-made laws.  Nature is seen as the moral arbiter, so if nature is good then human nature is good… Or so says 18th century ethicists, but that is still up to debate.
  • Mountains: “temples of Nature” this allusion in Wodsworth’s poetry was seen as idolatrous by Christians of his time.  This brings up a topic we have discussed multiple times in class, that is, environmentalism as a religion but also expresses the romantic ideology of nature.
  •   The idea of Specieism from Peter Singer’s Animal Liberation: some animals are treated better than others… The family dog sometimes was treated better than the house servants, bad animals are not seen as socially acceptable to eat.  It is odd to view specieism within the same ranks as sexism and racism..
  • Darwin and Capitalism: looking at how fierce competition is in a capitalistic society, one can draw a parallel to survival of the fittest.  The most fit companies buy out or out compete using their advantages to survive in the market just like a species would use its advantages to survive out in the wild.
  • Death of Nature: Nature is a human idea of the surrounding world, it is a man-made thought.  The death of nature is the end of what we, as humans, perceive it to be.  If nature is something unaffected by humans, then the idea of nature is dead because everything on earth has been affected by humans.  But there is still life after death, and the idea of nature has to change.

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