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Conflicting sources of our
ambivalent attitudes about nature.

AncientLucretius | Plato | African traditions observed | early modern ideas


deforestation in the Himalayan Hill Country, of northern India and southern Nepal.


"We are the absolute masters of what the earth produces".

In short, "by our hands we endeavor, by our various operations on this world, to make, as it were, another nature." (p.32)

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John Evelyn
(Fumifugium; 1661) 1620-1706 (45)

"London restoration 1660s-1680s her inhabitants breath nothing but an impure and thick mist, accompanied by a fuliginous and filthy vapor Corrupting the lungs and disordering the entire habit of their bodies.

{Order of Heaven} (46) It is this horrid smoke which obscures our churches ­ which fouls our clothes and corrupts the waters, so as the very Rain, "which, with its black and tenacious quality, spots and contaminates whatever is exposed to it".

Planting and preserving woods and copses (common forested areas), and Trades are manifest nuisances Brewers, dyers, Soap and Salt boilers, Lime burners Is this a model for Environmental Protest?

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Sir James Frazier
on the Golden Bough and the significance of forested lands. (28)

Africa The Bobo peoples of French Sudan They practiced a worship of trees Tree symbolizes both features in their minds at the same time. At once the Tree Earth Forest The Earth The Forest produce a good crop in which the spirit of the forest is believed to reside Earth and Forest the 2 great divinities of productivity (29) How many spirits require propitiation today in our confusion of Land to resources and materials to be conspicuously consumed.

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Lucretius (37)

The power of life is broken and the earth exhausted scarce produces tiny creatures "but the same with generated them which feeds the now form herself."

"all things gradually decay, and go to the tomb outworn by the ancient lapse of years."

Origin of decline, decay, demise of civilization. Lucretius said all things begin from seeds,

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Plato (36)

"but the earth has fallen away all round and sunk of sight ... there are remaining only the bones of the wasted body, the richer and softer parts of the soil having fallen away a mere skeleton of the land being left."

True husbandmen Were lovers of home And of a noble nature Plato's writings are the origin of the idea that humans create a "second nature" within the physical world as part of the cosmos and of a past Golden Age.

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Derek Wall, Green History: a reader in environmental literature, philosophy and politics 1994.

Nature | Greek etymological orgins | words we use | Worldviews | Critical view | Ecology as a diagram | Model of nature | Ecology defined | Methods 


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This page was Last revised on 11-20-2003.

- By Joseph Siry -