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[l/m 6/29/94] What is "natural?" Distilled Wisdom (24/28) XYZ

( Part1 - Part2 - Part3 - Part4 - Part5 - Part6 - Part7 - Part8 - Part9 - Part10 - Part11 - Part12 - Part13 - Part14 - Part15 - Part16 - Part17 - Part18 - Part19 - Part20 - Part21 - Part22 - Part23 - Part24 - Part25 - Part26 - Part27 - Part28 )
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Panel 24

See reader questions & answers on this topic! - Help others by sharing your knowledge
A common thread which underlies the fundamental values in
all backcountry discussions is the issues of what is "natural"
and what is its relation to the "human" state?  For most people,
the "woods" offer a place to see the natural world.  That world
IS "reality."  That is where the recreative effect takes places.
Backcountry recreation is a decidedly sub/urban phenomena.

'What is natural?' implies something made by natural as opposed to
artificial processes.  There is something here.  Polyethelene is
not a substance that is mined from the earth.  It is clearly artificial,
man-made.  It does have advantages, and clear environmental problems.
But yes, it is made from "natural" atoms.  Man is a part of nature.
The issue is the scale (economies) of some of these substances.
See "biodegradability" in the dictionary.

If people annoy you with this weak semantic argument,
use the term "non-artificial."  Then see what they do.

It is recognized that people's tastes form a spectrum of
desired experience.  Setting the local extremes, we have the urban
city dweller who likes the bright lights and big city to the logical
extreme (in discussion and occasional practice) of going into the woods nude
without modern fabrics, gear, etc.  Few do the latter, the majority
prefering a comfortable middle ground.  In all probability none of the former
reads this group.  They have no need.

However, underlying these ideas are two fundamental opinions.  The first
derived a specific reading of Judeo-Christian values that Man has
complete domination of the Earth, sometimes called an "anthropocentric"
view to a view where man is just a visitor in the woods and has equal
footing to the animals and plants which live there.  This results in
the "take only pictures, leave only footprints" view of visitation.
The advantage of the latter is that it allows even future generations
of humans to visit under the same conditions.
Also avoid "anthropomophising" non-artificial objects.  Bambi may be cute,
but giving Bambi a momentary edge can play havoc later in life.

A common argument tactic is for the former to accuse the latter of
placing wild things ABOVE humans.  This is not true.  The latter themselves
acknowledge EQUAL footing for wild things.  The latter become
accused of the "one true path" philosophy.  The former try to
justify their opinions with a rational, balanced approach, frequently
called utilitarian.  A better example is to consider the conceptual
shift from the ideas of Copernicus: as humans we considered that the
heavens cirled around the earth, and we "discovered" that in the earth
revolves around the Sun.  To think the biological world revolves around
humans is similarly as silly as the old Aristoltian idea.

Consider the process of extinction.  It is actually not one process, but two,
the first or DIRECT extinction is also termed EXTERMINATION.  This is when
a species or group are specifically targeted: Dodos, passenger pigeons,
badgers, wolves, wolverines, people of Jewish descent.  The second form
of extinction is INDIRECT extinction.  This involves destroying habitat
necessary for the long-term survival of a species and this can include
trees which last hundreds of years longer than human individuals.  Several
species associated with the dodo are now dying because the dodo is gone.

AN interesting rebuke to species preservation comes in areas like
silvaculture and forestry.  It comes under the heading of multi-use,
sustained yield, and other utilitarian banners.  What's wrong with this?
It all sounds logical.  That's part of the problem: logic with inadequate
information.  A forest isn't all one species.  If we destroy the diversity,
we have essentialy for all intents and purposes destroyed the forest.
It is only living an extended artificially cultured life.

So where does this all go?....

R. Nash (used with permission)
The Rights of Nature
Natural Rights

^                                                          ^
 \                        Universe                        /
  \------------------------------------------------------/
   \                       Planet                       /
    \--------------------------------------------------/
     \                   Ecosystems                   /
      \----------------------------------------------/
       \                   Rocks                    /
        \------------------------------------------/
Future   \                  Life                  /
          \--------------------------------------/
           \               Plants               /
            \----------------------------------/
- - - - - - -\            Animals             /
              \------------------------------/
               \           Humans           /
Present         \--------------------------/
                 \          Race          /
                  \----------------------/
                   \       Nation       /
- - - - - - - - - - \------------------/
                     \     Region     /
Ethical               \--------------/
Past                   \    Tribe   /
                        \----------/
                         \ Family /
- - - - - - - - - - - - - \------/
Pre-Ethical                \Self/
Past                        \  /
                             \/

Figure 1. The Evolution of Ethics


				?
\------------------------------------------------------------------/ 
 \                Nature, Endangered Species Act, 1973             /
  \---------------------------------------------------------------/
   \                           Blacks                            /
    \                    Civil Rights Act, 1957                 /
     \---------------------------------------------------------/
      \                       Laborers                        /
       \             Fair Labor Standards Act, 1938          /
        \---------------------------------------------------/
         \                 Native Americans                /
          \           Indian Citizenship Act, 1924        /
           \---------------------------------------------/
            \                  Women                    /
             \         Nineteenth Amendment, 1920      /
              \---------------------------------------/
               \               Slaves                /
                \            Emancipation           /
                 \        Proclamation, 1863       /
                  \-------------------------------/
                   \     American Colonialists   /
                    \       Declaration of      /
                     \    Independence, 1776   /
                      \-----------------------/
                       \       English       /
                        \      Barons       /
                         \Magna Carte, 1215/
                          \---------------/
                           \   Natural   /
                            \   Rights  /
                             \         /
                              \-------/

Figure 2. The Expanding Concept of Rights

On a similar vein on the other side, especially if you are a computer
science major:

%A Herbert Simon
%T The Sciences of the Artificial, 2nd. ed.
%I MIT Press
%C Cambridge, MA
%D 1968?


TABLE OF CONTENTS of this chain:

24/ What is natural?				<* THIS PANEL *>
25/ A romantic notion of high-tech employment
26/ Other news groups of related interest, networking
27/ Films/cinema references
28/ References (written)
1/ DISCLAIMER
2/ Ethics
3/ Learning I
4/ learning II (lists, "Ten Essentials," Chouinard comments)
5/ Summary of past topics
6/ Non-wisdom: fire-arms topic circular discussion
7/ Phone / address lists
8/ Fletcher's Law of Inverse Appreciation / Rachel Carson / Foreman and Hayduke
9/ Water Filter wisdom
10/ Volunteer Work
11/ Snake bite
12/ Netiquette
13/ Questions on conditions and travel
14/ Dedication to Aldo Leopold
15/ Leopold's lot.
16/ Morbid backcountry/memorial
17/ Information about bears
18/ Poison ivy, frequently ask, under question
19/ Lyme disease, frequently ask, under question
20/ "Telling questions" backcountry Turing test (under construction)
21/ AMS
22/ Babies and Kids
23/ A bit of song (like camp songs)

From: mud@frame.com (Mark Drury)
Newsgroups: rec.backcountry
Subject: Re: Defintion of Wilderness

	Roderick Nash goes into considerable detail on the subject of
this defintion in Wilderness_and_the_American_Mind.  Here are but a
few excerpts:

	When it becomes necessary to apply the term wilderness to a
	specific area, the difficulties are compounded.  There is the
	problem of how wild a region must be to qualify as wilderness,
	or, conversely, how much of the influence of civilization can
	be admitted.  To insist on absolute purity could conceivably
	result in wilderness being only that land which the foot of
	man has never trod.  But for many persons minimal contact with
	man and his works does not destroy wilderness characteristics.
	The question is one of degree.  Does the presence of Indians or
	range cattle disqualify an area?  Does an empty beer can?  How
	about airplanes overhead?

And:

	Recently land managers and politicians have struggled without
	marked success to formalize a workable definition of wilderness.
	In the 1920s and 1930s the U.S. Forest Service experimented with
	a variety of terms in an effort to categorize the land under its
	supervision but found that "primitive," "roadless," and "natural"
	were no clearer than the broader category.  What, after all, is
	a road?

Thoughts from two that have thunk it through:

	The explorer and crusader for wilderness preservation, Robert
	Marshall, demanded an area so large that it could not be tra-
	versed without mechanical means in a single day.  Aldo Leopold,
	ecologist and philosopher, set as his standard a region's
	ability to "absorb a two weeks' pack trip."

In the end it is clear that there is no concrete definition:

	Given these problems, and the tendency of wilderness to be a
	state of mind, it is tempting to let the term define itself:
	to accept as wilderness those places people call wilderness.
	The emphasis here is not so much what wilderness is but what
	men think it is.

Little wonder that wilderness is so hard to legislate, but there is
less ambiguity once the term has been applied, legally, to an area of
land and that land can be regulated, enjoyed, and thought of as such.
I recommend Nash's book highly if you've even a fleeting interest in
the history of wilderness and wilderness thought.
_________________________________________________________
Mark Drury			         Internet: a sad,
mud@slinger.frame.com                    sterile nerdvana 



Article 52222 of rec.backcountry:
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From: elsalmon@thuban.ac.hmc.edu (ED SALMON)
Newsgroups: rec.backcountry,talk.environment
Subject: The natural and the artificial (was Re: Multiple-use Trail Perspectives
Date: 8 Jul 94 22:17:53 PDT
Organization: Harvey Mudd College
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NNTP-Posting-Host: thuban.ac.hmc.edu

In article <2vklpr$1sr@speedy.inri.com>, jjf@speedy.inri.com (Josh J Fielek) writes:
>
>In article <2vi84t$j4v@ornews.intel.com>, breivog@ornews.intel.com (Bob Breivogel) writes:
>|> [We are] Defenders of the environment. We have at least as much right to
>|> be "extreme"  in this area as does the NRA on its turf. I don't believe
>|> in compromise in some things. 
>
>Now one question - Do you beleive in creation or in evolution?
>
>If you beleive in creation, you may have a point that man can intrude upon
>nature. 
>
>If you beleive in evolution, you can't take that stance, because if man evolved
>from "apes", through the course of nature, then everything man does is natural,
>and everything you claim is a lie.
>
>Joshua J. Fielek
>Member: Reality.

Reality?  Sounds more like semantic subterfuge to me.  True, according to your
definition, people and everything they do are "natural" because people evolved
from nature.  But this is only a matter of definition.  It does not change the
underlying REALITY that there is a dramatic distinction between wilderness and 
the "civilized", mechanized world that people have built.  It does not change
the fact that the civilized world depends on wilderness for everything from
recreation to vital resources like food, water, air, and energy.  It does not
change the fact that civilization has disturbed and destroyed the wilderness
enough to critically threaten the ability of wilderness to satisfy those needs.

If we want to have any wild land left for recreation 20 years from now, or 50,
or 100, if we want the earth's climate to remain stable, if we want it to be
safe to go out in the sun, if we want to have clean air and water, we must
understand the relationship between civilization and wilderness better.  We
must recognize that people have the power to destroy the wild world and, in the
process, ourselves.

In order to do that, we need to recognize that there IS a distinction between
the civilized, mechanized, human world and the wild world.  We need words for
referring to that distinction.  The most convenient words we have are
"artificial" and "natural".  By adopting a simplistic definition that asserts
that everything that is artificial is automatically natural, you blind people
to real environmental problems and make solutions more difficult.  No matter
whether you are a conservationist or a preservationist, an advocate of "maximum
sustained yield" or deep ecology, if you enjoy wilderness and want some of it
to stay wild, you undermine your own cause by denying that there is a
distinction between nature and the artificial world.

Ed Salmon

wil-der-ness \'wil-der-nes\ n
[ME, fr. wildern wild, fr. OE wildde^-oren of wild beasts]
(13c)
1a (1): a tract or region uncultivated and uninhabited by human beings
1a (2): an area essentially undisturbed by human activity together with
     its naturally developed life community
1b: an empty or pathless area or region <in remote wildernesses
     of space groups of nebulae are found --G. W. Gray +1960>
1c: a part of a garden devoted to wild growth
2 obs: wild or uncultivated state
3a: a confusing multitude or mass: an indefinitely great number or
     quantity <I would not have given it for a wilderness of monkeys
     --Shak.>
3b: a bewildering situation <those moral wildernesses of civilized
     life --Norman Mailer> 

Message-ID: <329CF1A8.B21@MAIL.GIS.NET>
Date: Wed, 27 Nov 1996 17:58:00 -0800
From: David Mann <davemann@gis.net>
X-Mailer: Mozilla 2.01 (Win16; U)
MIME-Version: 1.0
To: eugene
Subject: What is natural update

Eugene,

I hope (against hope) that the holidays bring some time
to slow down and even to play. Hope to learn the basics
of the elusive tele turn a la Dickie Hall before Christmas.

If you are interested in the use of wild places from the
perspective of a Christian theologian, I cannot recommend
more highly Susan Power Bratton's "Christianity, Wilderness
and Wildlife", University of Scranton Press [ISBN 0-940866-14-5].
The book was written as a polemic in response to external
critisisms (specifically Nash and Hardin). It reads like...
well... like a theology book. Awfully dry and stilted in
places but the summaries are very enlightening. She traces
through the use of wilderness in the Hebrew scriptures, the
New Testement scriptures and by the north African, Celtic
and Fransiscan monastics. Very good stuff.

Below you will find my addition/response to the What Is Natural
panel. It is a draft and I would appreciate any comments
or suggestions although you are free to put it out as is.
I am particularly interested if I have correctly attributed
your writing and whether or not it makes sense to mention
White, Hardin and Nash by name. 

Also, I will leave it to you to fiqure out how to fold it into
the panel. I have included the first bit of your essay with
my suggested plug followed by my essay. 

Take care and drop me a note about how life goes should you
ever have 2 or 3 micro-seconds....

Dave


Panel 24

A common thread which underlies the fundamental values in
all backcountry discussions is the issues of what is "natural"
and what is its relation to the "human" state?  For most people,
the "woods" offer a place to see the natural world.  That world
IS "reality."  That is where the recreative effect takes places.
Backcountry recreation is a decidedly sub/urban phenomena.

'What is natural?' implies something made by natural as opposed to
artificial processes.  There is something here.  Polyethelene is
not a substance that is mined from the earth.  It is clearly artificial,
man-made.  It does have advantages, and clear environmental problems.
But yes, it is made from "natural" atoms.  Man is a part of nature.
The issue is the scale (economies) of some of these substances.
See "biodegradability" in the dictionary.

If people annoy you with this weak semantic argument,
use the term "non-artificial."  Then see what they do.

It is recognized that people's tastes form a spectrum of
desired experience.  Setting the local extremes, we have the urban
city dweller who likes the bright lights and big city to the logical
extreme (in discussion and occasional practice) of going into the woods 
nude
without modern fabrics, gear, etc.  Few do the latter, the majority
prefering a comfortable middle ground.  In all probability none of the 
former
reads this group.  They have no need.

However, underlying these ideas are two fundamental opinions.  The first
derived a specific reading of Judeo-Christian values that Man has
complete domination of the Earth, sometimes called an "anthropocentric"
view to a view where man is just a visitor in the woods and has equal
footing to the animals and plants which live there.  [See the note on
Christianity, Science and Anthropocentrism which follows.]  This results 
in
the "take only pictures, leave only footprints" view of visitation.
The advantage of the latter is that it allows even future generations
of humans to visit under the same conditions.
Also avoid "anthropomophising" non-artificial objects.  Bambi may be 
cute,
but giving Bambi a momentary edge can play havoc later in life.


*****************************************

Christianity, Science and Anthropomorphism

The purpose of this essay is to further clarify a point raised above and 
to
offer a responding point of view. In the above, Eugene noted that,
    "...underlying these ideas are two fundamental opinions.  The
    first derived a specific reading of Judeo-Christian values that Man 
has
    complete domination of the Earth, sometimes called an 
"anthropocentric"
    view to a view where man is just a visitor in the woods and has equal
    footing to the animals and plants which live there."

Eugene is correct in noting that only a specific reading of the Judeo-
Christian tradition teaches that humanity is to exercise complete
domination of the earth. Other writers --including Lynn White, Roderick 
Nash and Garrett Hardin-- have not always made this distinction. Lynn 
White concluded his landmark essay  "The  Historical Roots of Our 
Ecological Crisis" by saying that "Christianity is the  most 
anthropocentric religion the world has ever seen." Hopefully, this 
essay will show that the situation is a bit more complex than that.

The Enlightenment produced 2 influential children: science and modern
Protestant theology. Neither science nor western Christian thinking 
are monolithic. In both camps, there is considerable diversity. But 
within both, you will often find 2 recurring themes: platonic dualism 
(separation of the physical from the spiritual/rational combined with the 
supremacy of the spiritual/rational) and anthropocentrism (the supreme 
importance of humanity within nature).

We can see dualism in scientific thought in the scientific method itself.
Something is recognized as scientifically true only when it can be 
expressed in a (rational) scientific or mathematical model; emphasizing 
the validity of the rational over the observed physical phenomena. 
Science is anthropocentric on several levels. From the beginning (Bacon 
and Descartes) the purpose was to relieve human suffering. For example,
consider the continued use of animal testing in medical research. 
Secular philosophies closely linked with science are inherently 
human centered. Empiricism is rooted in human experience.
Rationalism is rooted in mankind's rationality. And of course there 
is secular humanism which clearly places humanity at the pinnacle 
of existence. Finally, the admonition to refrain from anthropomorphising
other animals is rooted in the implicit belief that there is a 
qualitative difference between humanity and the rest of the animal 
kingdom.

Of course, exceptions prove the rule. Apparently, Darwin did believe 
it was wrong to "anthropomorphize", arguing that there is a continuum 
of behaviors and intelligences between humanity and the animal kingdom 
just as there is a continuum in physiology. And arguably, the more 
recent rise of scientific materialism may present us with a secular, 
scientific philosophy that does not place humanity at the center of 
existence.

In like manner, we can see dualism in *some* western theology in it's 
greater emphasis in the spiritual redemption of the individual (combined 
with less emphasis on redemption of societies and the redemption of 
creation), it's greater emphasis of the divinity of Christ (at the 
expense 
of the humanity of Christ) and it's view that untamed land is evil (an 
essential element  of the Protestant work ethic). The anthropocentrism 
of western theology --the original charge made by White et al-- is 
clearly 
present in it's understanding of salvation as being afforded exclusively 
to humanity (again denying social and cosmological redemption). 
It is also clearly seen in the understanding of biblical dominion 
over creation as meaning domination for human purposes, as Eugene 
has correctly noted.

But not all modern, western Christian theology can be properly 
characterized as dualistic/anthropocentric. Another distinct flavor
of Christian thought can be characterized as "Incarnational". In short,
incarnational theology provides "both/and" answers for question that are
typically posed in an "either/or" form. For example:

Q: Is Christ God or was he a man? 
A: The doctrine of the Incarnation says that Christ was fully human while 
   also being fully divine. That is to say, one can not properly separate
   Christ into a divine part and a human part. (Incarnation literally 
means 
   God with us.)

Q: Is humanity's fundamental nature spiritual or physical?
A: Humans are fully physical beings while also being fully spiritual.
   Note, the term "holistic" may not be applicable here as "holistic"
   may merely recognize the existence of physical parts and spiritual
   parts of man instead of seeing the human condition as being both fully 
   physical and fully spiritual.

Q: Are humans animals or is humanity separate from the rest of creation?
A: Humans are both animals and humanity's place in creation is unique.

It is this last question and answer the provides the basis for 
understanding
the incarnational view of how humanity is to treat creation.
Yes, humanity has been given dominion over creation (arguably one of
the most verifiable claims of the faith) but humanity is also tasked
with the responsibility of being a servant to creation. Furthermore, this
servitude is understood as being for the good of creation (the garden) 
and
not for the good of mankind. Humanity's status as fellow creature allows
for humanity to empathize (fully) with creation. Dominion allows for
potentially effectual servitude (as well as the potential for sinful 
destruction).

In discussions with Christians, it may be useful for you to determine
quickly if their thinking is dualistic/anthropocentic or incarnational.
A few good, Turing type questions would include:

Q: What is the most important aspect of Christ?
If Christ's divinity is emphasized, they are likely dualistic. If the 
Incarnation of Christ is mentioned, they are clearly incarnational.

Q: Describe heaven.
If heaven is described primarily in spiritual terms, they are likely 
dualistic. If the resurrection of the body and the remaking of earth are 
mentioned, they are likely to be incarnational.

In closing, it is clear that the rise of dualism and anthropocentrism
in western thought has effected *both* scientific thought and 
religious thought. To understand one, the other must also be considered. 
It is interesting to note that dualism and anthropocentrism are largely 
missing in the theology of the eastern orthodox church, which generally 
speaking, developed without the affects of the western Enlightenment. For 
an exhaustive (or exhausting) treatment of the co-development of 
scientific 
and religious thought in the west, I would refer you to the classic 
"Science 
and Religion" by John Hadley Brook [ISBN 0-521-28374-4]. For a good 
discussion on the place of humanity in creation from an incarnational 
perspective, I would direct you to the very accessible "While Creation 
Waits" by Dale and Sandy Larsen [ISBN 0-87788-949-X].

Dave Mann
damann@lynx.neu.edu

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Subject: Re: What is "natural?" Distilled Wisdom (24/28) XYZ
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The natural experience of being out of doors in an environment that is,
for lack of a better term, "uncivilized", is received differently by
each and every life form-- human, flora, or fauna.  Much like the frog
specimen in a laboratory, you can learn more about the frog by
dissection, but the frog suffers in the process.  The outdoors
experience also suffers through dissection, and since each life form
interprets the experience differently, perhaps is better left in its
holistic form.

-- 

Looking for an H-912 (container).

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