Todd D’Andrea: Coates Notes/Current Event/Proj. Update

‘Nature’, by Peter Coates:

1. Since I was a child, I often remember this mysterious and yet vague line being used among the “wise” adults that I was surrounded by, ‘. . . Nature knows best.’ Here nature is presumed to have external authority, universal qualities unaffected by considerations of time, culture, and place (pg. 1).

Even the corporate website for Sherwin Williams paint has insight on this matter:

“You can study a design challenge and look to nature to learn how nature solves it.”

2. Over the past 20 years, radical groups such as Earth First! (founded in 1980) have expanded the meaning of environmentalism far beyond resource conservation, wildlife protection, the creation of national parks and pollution control (pg. 16).

Earth First website:

Take a look at the ‘Eco-Prisoner’ section.  This was very interesting.  The section                     identifies various environmental and animal activists who are currently incarcerated,           with individual biographies describing their actions.

3. Pythagoreans, in accordance with their belief in the universal possession of a soul, thought all living creatures were rational and that they experienced the same range of emotions as humans (pg. 29).

‘A central tenant of the Pythagorean belief system was the transmigration of the                     soul. This included the transmigration of human souls into the bodies of animals. It               is perhaps for this reason that Pythagoras strictly forbid the consumption of meat,                 resulting in his followers becoming some of the earliest known vegetarians.’ (Source: 

4.‘Any Greek tenderness towards wildlife was largely lost among the Romans, whose mass entertainments revolved around violence.  There games (ludi) were initially dominated by gladiator contests. . . Sometimes creatures were pitted against other creatures.’ (pg. 37).

Artisitic representation of a ludi:




5. The case for Christianity as a revolutionary development contends that its triumph over paganism stripped nature of its divinity (pg. 49).


‘One of the common beliefs is the divine presence in nature and the reverence of the   natural order in life. Spiritual growth is related to the cycles of the Earth and great            emphasis is placed on ecological concerns.’ (Patheos, 2016)

6. In Northern Europe in the late seventh century appeared the iron ploughshare, a heavy-duty device that, to quote White, ‘attacked the land with such violence’, that the cross-ploughing was made redundant. . . But it needed eight rather than two oxen to pull it, which had major repercussions for patterns of land distribution, now dictated not by ‘the needs of a family’ but by the capacities of a ‘power machine’ (pg. 62).

Interesting article on the discovery of a iron ploughshare from the 7th century in 2011:


7. Rene Descartes (1596-1650) supplied the steeliest intellectual reinforcements for the concrete of modernism in terms of its attitude to living creatures. . . The Cartesian dualism. . . acknowledges the Graeco-Christian division of the world into the separate and unequal reams of mind and matter (pg. 75).

YOUTUBE video further explaining Cartesian Dualism (recommend skipping to 0:40-       5:20)

8. Capitalism’s ‘gobble-gobble’ mentality, argues Donald Worster, has unleashed global havoc comparable to the environmental upheavals associated with the Neolithic revolution (pg. 82).


Further reading on what is termed the Neolithic revolution:

9. Whereas present day slash and burn practices in the tropics tend to leave tree stumps in place, Indian agriculturalists frequently grubbed them up and removed them (pg. 93).

This is interesting to me.  The removal of a stump after a tree is cut down is often a         laborious effort and costs property owners more money than simply leaving the tree        stump in the ground.  However, in my opinion this is an eyesore that should be taken         care of.  I am curious to why the Indians did in fact remove the stumps.  I was able to       not find any information on this topic.



10. The fabled frontier thesis of Fredrick Jackson Turner (1893), which rooted American culture, character and intelligence firmly in the unmodified nature that colonists encountered on the frontier, represented the culmination of a way of thinking about nature as a moral quality imbued with a redemptive virtue that rubbed off almost magically on those who came into contact with it, metamorphosing Europeans into Americans (pg. 108).

Simple and straightforward YOUTUBE video further explaining Turner’s argument.

Current Event:

The author argues that the advent of capitalism has actually made the environment better.  This is a part of the article in which he defends the free market society given the recent uptick in support of Socialist policies within the Democratic Party.  The author paints a broad stroke with the advantages of capitalism but does little to support his claim.  I found this interesting given the piece is published on a widely read platform, the National Review.

Project Update:

SIP Grant submitted February 10th.  Once I receive funds, Thomas and I are going to go to two Army surplus stores in Columbus to purchase supplies.

We hope to have the money within 2 weeks.


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