[A-List] Terms "natural" and "ecological"
cb31450 at gmail.com
Wed May 2 12:47:40 MDT 2012
Terms "natural" and "ecological"
Charles Brown charlesb at CNCL.ci.detroit.mi.us
Tue May 12 13:17:21 PDT 1998
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Without discounting Carrol's caveat on "natural" and "ecological"
sowing confusion, there are important concepts such as "nature-for-us"
which are valid for deciding what is to be done in relation to nature.
"Nature" is vast and invincible vis-a-vis humanity. How many stars are
there ? More than a trillion ? The earth is also powerful relative to
us, in the sense that we cannot obliteate the whole earth. An
unnatural mode of life is one that leads to destruction of
nature-for-us, "pissing in our own soup" so to speak. This is pretty
clear with respect to "external" nature. The confusion is sown in
discussions of "internal" nature or bodily instincts. All other
species' activity is dominated by instincts and individuals learning
from living individuals. Humans uniquely learn from dead generations
of the species (history) and a larger portion of living species
members (society); AND humans retain bodily instincts that are
preserved and overcome (dominated) by this socio-historical learning,
but not utterly obliterated by learning. The internal ecological and
natural challenge is to prophesize what is the optimum balance of
learning and instinct for happiness and survival. The external
ecological or natural challenge is an analogous prophesy.
The concept of "natural" is "what is in relation to us", or for-us.
>>> Carrol Cox <cbcox at rs6000.cmp.ilstu.edu> 05/12 2:36 PM >>>
> then nothing is unnatural. The term becomes
Correct, the term always has been meaningless except in contexts where
there is a mutually agreed on *verbal* definition of it. Whenever it
appears in polemics, bourgeois or marxist, in the context of arguing
that a given position ir activity of *some human* is "unnatural" in
contrast to the "natural" position or activity of *some other human*
it serves only to sow endless confusion. *Never* use it in a context
in which disagreement over its meaning exists. "Ecology" should
probably also be used in a "neutral" or technical sense. Then one can
argue whether a given set of ecological relations are destructive,
constructive, or irrelevant. As a polemical term (positive or
negative) it clearly only creates confusion.
This debate is moving in a positive direction: a debate grounded on
the assumption that all parties of it (a) hold fundamental positions
in common and (b) are operating in good faith. Use of such blank
checks as "ecology" or "natural" as polemical terms can destroy those
The core meaning of "nature" in any context has to be, "what is."
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