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The Uncomfortable Dichotomy of Nature

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posted on Jan, 20 2011 @ 12:18 AM
As many of you probably know, I spend a great deal of time in the ATS chatroom (Something I recommend that all of you with the cursory number of posts try at some point - as it's a wonderful way to pass the time and often is a way to see, in real time, what makes ATS such a magical website.). Well, tonight a very interesting debate broke out, and became very heated. Having watched, and partially participated in this debate, I thought that I would throw together a thread as a means of including the rest of ATS in the conversation.

So, without further ado, here is the crux of that debate, stated as impartially as possible:

The Uncomfortable Dichotomy of Nature

When we think of the word "nature" we probably find our inner site filled with images, such as these:

These are beautiful images and it is very easy for us to refer to them as "natural". They are, after all, pure, pristine, primal, untouched by mans hand, and compelling to us on an aesthetic and emotional level.

But nature, even in its raw form, does have a darker side:

In our conversation this is the point where a few diverge from being comfortable with the label of "natural". At this juncture a few will leave the word "nature" behind, and will begin to find terminology which suggests some level of moral value. Some begin to use terms like "act of God", thus taking natural process out of the loop. This face of nature is far less beautiful. This face of nature can be downright frightening. And we are left to ponder... Are the difficult things natural or are they somehow a perversion of nature?'

Now, how about these things?:

Surely the above cannot be natural?!?!

Or can they be?

If man is a product of nature then, does it not follow that all of his creations and machinations are as well? Is man capable of producing anything that is not natural? It seems contrary, to me, to consider it from either perspective. To think ourselves outside of nature, vain... to think our ugliness natural, demeaning.

But how is any of the above any different, really, than... anthill...

...or a beavers dam?

I found this debate very intriguing, so now I put it to you great minds of ATS... Which side of the argument holds water? Where does the line of "nature" begin and end?


posted on Jan, 20 2011 @ 12:41 AM
Nature ends where civilization begins.....

posted on Jan, 20 2011 @ 02:50 AM
Hello everyone,
I've been reading this site for a few months now and have recently signed up with the intention of posting and becoming involved.

I wanted to respond to your post because nature is something I have to think about and work with daily. As an ecologist or if you just spend a lot of time in the bush you start to notice the systems in nature. For example, most people assume that the best state for forests to exist as are stable climax forest communities, that pristine state described by the OP, and that an event such as a windstorm or forest fire to be a terrible and destructive force something 'bad', something that needs to be avoided at all costs. However for some forests, these destructive natural disturbances(or whatever you like to call them) are vital for the propagation of the species in the community.

Lodgepole pine forests in the interior regions of British Columbia, the province I live in, are a perfect example of this : their cones are actually 'activated' by the heat and will not open without fire. In that region forest fires occur in regular cycles and the organisms that live there coexist and some, like the pines and other pioneer species, are well adapted to utilize fire in a positive way.

As for the images of waste and destruction in the original post and whether they're natural or not I'd have to agree that as a product of the Earth it must be natural. Natural however, does not mean good or bad and what is bad for one form of life may be good for another.
edit on 20-1-2011 by dug88 because: make it more readable

posted on Jan, 20 2011 @ 08:50 AM
We tend to define things in terms of Natural or Man made. As you have pointed out, moral judgements about the "goodness" or "badness" of those things is strictly Man made. There are no judgements in nature. Nature just is.

I am of the opinion that what is on the earth, we adapt, manipulate, alter to suit our purposes with not alot of thought about what this means. If we want to do it, we do.

There are things that happen in nature, we cannot control. It amuses me that people think we can somehow control the climate, volcanos, and other "forces of nature". Science gives us the illusion often, that we are in control, control is the illusion. We cannot control ourselves, let alone forces on such a large scale. Even if we were somehow to do it, we could not control or foresee the consequences.

We are a result and reflection of our Earth, good and bad, we cannot alter that.

Not sure I am on topic, lol.

The elements we create with are natural, and when they decay, even when that takes a really really long time, they return as they were. We, both inside and outside, take "dirt" and make "dirt". It may look different, but ultimately that is what it is.

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