“Nature” Review by Mahnoor

Peter Coates takes his readers on a journey through time and mostly-European space to explore the established definitions and abstract, variable concept of “nature.” He follows the evolution of what nature (or what it means to be natural) signifies and how that changes as we evolve, similar to William Cronon’s framework in “The Trouble with Wilderness”. Coates points out overlooked ideas relating to human destruction and environmental degradation existing as far back as ancient Greek and Roman times, trying to demystify the past by illustrating timeless human ‘nature.’ We see the philosophical contrasts from the Enlightenment to the Romantic period, and how those effect the concept of nature and how humans relate to it. His discussion on the treatment of and misleading view about indigenous peoples was interesting as well, especially in relation to the video from the 70s we viewed in class about the “crying Indian” and pollution. This was an insightful book for sure, but it would lose me sometimes.

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