What is Nature?
Whether taking a walk in the park, or discussing a killer Typhoon, we consider both to be something called “Nature”. When we talk of space and time, we talk too as if these are products of “Nature”. Well, what exactly is nature?
Merriam-Webster says that nature is, a noun, and, “(1) the physical world and everything in it (such as plants, animals, mountains, oceans, stars, etc.) that is not made by people, (2) the natural forces that control what happens in the world, and (3) the way that a person or animal behaves : the character or personality of a person or animal” (merriam-webster.com).
Merriam-Webster literally defines nature as, “..the forces that control what happens in the world“. This is a pretty bold and large claim, is it not? Some might consider this notion of nature akin to GOD or a Supreme Being which manifests its reality here and now.
Nature is defined as the “physical world and everything in it, not made by people“. Is this too not a bold claim?
I suppose *I* was made by other people (my parents). And I suppose they too were made by other people (their parents) and so and so forth to the beginning of people (whom must have come from a non-people entity, whether another species or divine creation). One must ask then, are we human beings then not nature?
So nature is everything in the physical world that is not of human creation, AND the forces that control what happens in the world.
I think that a Philosophy 101 class at any college could try and look at these two arguments together and have hours of discussions. I bet too, many lawyers would revel in this pairing of claims in any court case.
If nature is the force of control in the world, and nature created humans, than why are human artifacts non-nature?
If indeed humanity is a product of the fruit of nature’s tree, then indeed, all of humanity is in fact nature.
Does this mean our atmospheric pollution and biosphere exhaustion is non-natural or natural? Is then our technology also not nature, or has nature found a way to organize itself synthetically?
What the heck is nature, really?
If by standard definition, which was noted above, NATURE is the forces that control the world and make up the physical world, we ought to really perhaps pay attention to this mysterious all-encompassing force of things and pay it due respect.
Would this not be more fitting for a God than those outlined in our holy texts of various religions? Or, are these all one in the same? Is Nature also God? Is this is a living universe and we are merely a chord within its strumming? Perhaps a short beat and clap amidst its symphony? Do we join into the larger tapestry somewhere?
The Future of our Definitions
It will be interesting to see how human beings into the future continue to redefine their world view, their place here in the cosmos and their perceptions of the active and passive forces of the world as science continues to bring us new information. As new truths are revealed about how our world works, I wonder how our definition of “nature” will change.
So too, humanity will have to confront the finite limits of its resources on planet earth, it will too be interesting to see how our perceptions of our own selves and our assimilation with nature will mature and shift.
If we were to embrace that we truly are nature, we might see ourselves in a whole different light. We might see our relationship to our planet differently. We might recognize that this whole thing is larger than us, it ought to be valued and respected and to some degree, we should take a “walking on eggshells” approach in anything we do in this highly dynamic and variable system (our working Earth). If we embraced nature into our designs, our materials flow and our economies, we might have a whole different world.
What do you think? Write your comments below! I’d love to hear them!