Saturday 24 August 2013

Nature as 'beyond the human'

The concept of nature as 'what is non-human' or 'beyond human influence' no longer makes any sense. It's a remnant of theology. If you believe humans to have perishable bodies but immortal souls then we are part natural, part supernatural. If you believe that our consciousness, our thought, our reason, our morality, etc. are part of our souls then it makes sense to separate them from 'nature.' If we're made in god's image then it makes perfect sense to see the rest of existence as apart from (and perhaps subservient to) us.

Of course, few actually believe in such nonsense these days (or few would admit to doing so) but our concept of nature still derives from just such a separation.

We can't 'intervene' in nature - we're already part of it. Our influence on the climate is not any more existentially profound than an abnormally large bloom of algae or something. Of course, unlike algae, we have an understanding and awareness of what we are doing but that capacity for consciousness is itself internal to nature - one of its more remarkable products.

Human beings are fully natural beings, just like any other. Given modern understandings of existence 'nature' can only be a synonym for 'reality' or 'the universe.' In other words, it covers everything and as such has no real meaning. As something 'other than the human' it is nonsensical.