Summary: Coates gives us the history of Nature and the uses of nature in religion, ethics, sciences, gender and economics. Nature can be seen as a physical place. Nature is collective phenomena of the world. Nature informs the inner workings of the world. Nature can be inspirational and a guide for authority. Nature is the opposite of culture.

  • The Natures of Nature
    • Republican Pat Buchanan described aids as Nature’s Retribution. This was due to the unnatural practice of homosexuality.
    • Coates states that many natural features are of human choice. We create the version of nature we prefer.
    • He also says that things that are modified like the grass seed to have shade tolerance are not natural but domesticated.
  • Ancient Greece and Rome- Nature was an internal property rather than a physical territory. The ancient Greek idea of nature deliberated over the over the properties of the human body and the relationship between matter and spirit/ soul.
    • One thing that I found interesting in this chapter is when he discusses how ancient civilizations were reliant on wood. Pollution is another idea that has been considered by many as a modern side effect which is not the case. Coates points out that there was pollution in ancient cities like Babylon to Athens. People would often discharge waste into the streets.
    • Later in the chapter, Coates further discusses the damage that the Roman empire had caused to the environment. Roman soldiers were excused from their regular duties to find animals. The action that the Romans took were blamed for the disappearance of Rhinos, elephants, and lions from North Africa
    • In this chapter discusses how these civilizations depleted the natural resources. This is interesting because we can see the same things happening in today’s society. Oil, Natural Gas, and deforestation.
  • The Middle Ages- Here Coates discusses environmental transformations and how it is often viewed as a modern phenomena.
    • It was very interesting to see that there were forest laws that were enacted to preserve the quail populations.
    • Another interesting point that I found was that hunting was left to the elite for their pleasure. For myself this is not an ethical practice just to hunt to for sheer pleasure. It is different when you are hunting to sustain yourself or your family.
    • Coates also explains nature and the effect on Christianity. There has been controversy over whether or not  Christian doctrine is hostile or sympathetic with environmental consciousness.
    • There’re some that believe that since we are created in God’s image it makes us superior to other creatures. One thing that comes to mind while reading was animal testing.
  • The Advent of Modernity
    • During the Renaissance we take a anthropomorphic view towards the earth. Referring to the earth as a “her” ie mother nature
  • The world Beyond Europe
    • Spirit vs World
    • In this chapter we see that Capitalism has used nature for monetary gain. We see nature as something that can be exploited.

Throughout the book we see that none of these civilizations have been able to completely  to understand nature. There is however been steps that have been taken to preserve what we think is nature.



  1. Has industrialization pushed us farther away from nature?
  2. How do you view nature?
  3. How does our culture alter the ideas of nature?
  4. Is it possible for us as people to set ourselves aside when while  looking at nature and not to try to inject ourselves into the picture?

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