The History of Nature and the Dancing Octopus

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I always had a passion for photography, especially nature photography. I used to have my own business in photography in high school. Even though in college my inner photographer has not been utilized as much, I have a lot of appreciation for photography. I felt this particular selection was fitting for this class, because it makes us realize(or at least me) that there are still so many undiscovered places in the ocean  and it is worth protecting. I mean, who doesn’t love that dancing octopus?

Nature: Western Attitudes Since Ancient Times

In Nature: Western Attitudes Since Ancient Times, Coates attempts to contextualize the history of one of the most multivariate used words in the English language: nature. To Cotes, just like us humans, nature has a history.

Through the first few chapters, Coates attempts to contextualize the way humans have understood and socially constructed nature, historically. It seems that through time nature has always had intrinsic value to humans. For parts of Greek and Roman eras, nature was used and treated in concordance to the spiritual life of humans in order to make deities happy. For periods of the Middle Ages, nature was used as a place for humans to conceptualize deep thoughts and concepts and could only be understood by intellectual thinkers. Through the descriptions Coates lays out in the first half of the book, one can only remark that nature has intrinsic value if it benefits mankind. Which had me questioning whether this was true to all humans. Do all humans think nature is only intrinsically valuable for their own use? I think that most if not all things have value. Mosquitos might kill thousands of people, but they have value. That value might be to carry deadly diseases. The value of nature and living thing in nature, to me, have value, good or bad for humans. Part of me wants to believe that Coates would agree with me, but on the other hand, he might remark that since nature is socially constructed, it could only make sense that nature is valuable if it benefits humans. It is hard for me to understand how and why intricate value does not always have to benefit humankind, but this book got my wheels turning and I am eager to read the second half.

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