Links to class readings and news events:
- Coates’ dedication in the preface is to his children stating he hopes they will remember their childhood visits to different “natural” environments to local and faraway places, calling them inspirational places. Do you feel that nature is inspirational? Does this give it a value (and if so what)? Is it worth saving?
- 1: Coates calls nature an “objective reality with universal qualities unaffected by … time, culture, and place” and this gives it an “external authority”. Do you think this is true, are there examples of this that you have felt or run across? Does this separate humans from nature?
- Pg 3: Definitions of nature historically: A physical place; The collective phenomena of the world (including or excluding humans);An essence, quality or principle that informs the workings of the universe; A source of authority governing human affairs; A conceptual opposite to culture
- Do you agree with these definitions, do you think any or all are important to our society today? Is it important to define nature, why? (Politics, writings, history, how we feel about it) on the next page he says the definition of nature as a physical place takes away from it, is that true?
- Pg 6 Humans have overcome natural laws, “depending on your standpoint, humanity had either fallen from this state of grace where it had been unencumbered by institutions, or it had risen beyond its barbaric confines through the salutary mechanisms of culture and human laws”. Does this have truth? Are these the only options? Have we overcome natural laws?
- 8 nature is in a constant state of change, which humans could never control, so is preservation worthwhile?
- Pg 14. Topophilia-the idea that we have biases to specific natural features, like animals or trees and these lead to conservation efforts, Do you think these are good or bad? Is it important that we identify these biases? He later describes (pg 39) that during the Greco-Roman times there was a general nature considered as the Gaia concept where individuals (like animal species) are looked at in terms of the entirety of nature instead of their individual value, is there a point to looking at nature in this way, as an environment, rather than just certain species we like or don’t? Where does this place humans?
- Pg 17 the only reason the human impact on nature has grown is because of the increase in population, should we be doing something about this?
- Pg 31 During Greco-Roman times there were specific areas that were set aside because there were believed to be gods dwelling in them that you wouldn’t want to accidentally offend, and he compares these to national parks, do you think that our conservation efforts have improved since those times?
- He makes a point throughout the entire book of describing that nobody is immune to degrading nature, including jainists and monks, and though this is true, it once again removes humans from nature, so is there a value to pointing this out?
- 46 CS Lewis said “what we call Man’s power over nature turns out to be a power exercised by some men over other men with Nature as its instrument” Is this true?
- Do you think it’s fair to blame Christianity for our views about man’s place in nature?
- Is Christianity the only one with beliefs that man is superior to nature? There are many Christian leaders who strongly believed that God put these creatures here and therefore it was our duty to conserve his creation, where others thought this was idolatry
- Pg 63 Humans overtake nature during the 12th century because it no longer spreads fear, people no longer care about destroying it or entering it, is this a valid point?