October 15, 2014
Seminar in Composition
What is Nature?
I believe in our world as it stands today, if you were to perform a random sampled experiment and asked people how they would define nature, you would get the same general answer. I claim general because everyone knows that trees and plants are nature but there may be a few different words thrown around in different definitions. Personally, I would define nature like this – everything that happens naturally in our world before it is effected or disturbed by beings; the growth, death and cycles that make a full life. Let me explain a little; I find everything in this world lives in the metaphorical ‘circle of life’ and that life is born and that life will too die. In between life and death may not be so natural as to call it natural and that is why I said “before effected or disturbed” because everything around us shapes us in some particular way or another. For example, there are many theories about human nature and our instincts that we are born with, I believe in John Locke’s ‘tabula rasa’ theory and as we grow, we develop personalities.
Why do I believe nature should be defined this way? Most simply because in a short and sweet definition, I find that my definition covers the broad spectrum of life. There are always exceptional situations but the assignment is to write a quality essay not a book. I do not see much comparison with my definition and Wilder’s view ‘that which culture destroys, replaces, than mourns.’ It reads almost as if Wilder is not defining nature as it is but nature as civilization makes it. I am sure Abbey would definitely agree with Wilder that as a culture we seem to take nature for granite and tear it down to create structures we want. This view is not wrong but the natural definition of nature (no pun intended) has nothing to do with what has happened but what is supposed to be. That is where I find my definition more accurate, nature is what happens in this universe before we effect it, after that it just becomes artificial.
Yes, we replace nature but only few ‘mourn’ it for what it was. One of those few is Abbey and even though I have a track record of going against him in many of my writings, in this case I do believe his view of nature. Without a direct quote, from information gathered in Desert Solitaire I believe Abbey’s definition of nature probably goes along the lines of the natural world that humanity has yet to mess up or the last remaining remnants of our world that is beautiful and matters. Abbey is one that cherishes all the little blemishes of Arches and the other national parks he has worked in, from making the juniper tree an important figure to befriending a snake, whether it is actually truthful or not, Abbey still appreciates our primitive nature and what the world used to be compared to what we are turning it into. Abbey and I follow the same path in our views of nature and the natural world, only he holds the extremist title over me.
Even though I do not completely understand what Lewontin is talking about in his Biology of Ideology, I find some comparisons in our ideals of nature. He points out “the contrast between genetic and environmental, between nature and nurture” (Pg. 29, Lewontin), basically going along with my claim that there is the natural world and the natural being and then there is how we morph them through ‘nurture.’ Nature is a broad topic that can be endlessly discussed because it is what we live with, nature is everything. Science is the study of all natural things in the universe and science is quite possibly the broadest topic that humans embark on. Interpreting that Wilder is in her own corner of this fight in opinions of nature, there is certainly evidence to back her up but I would bet my money on two prolific professionals in Abbey and Lewontin and then me to argue our side.