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What is mans relationship to nature

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Daniel A. Primitive man, exemplified by the American Indian, was no better than modern man in his relationship to his environment. Although the religion of the Indian stressed harmony with nature, this attitude did not prevent pollution of the environment nor the acceptance of destructive technology. In fact, low population density and direct dependence upon the environment may make harmony with nature impossible.

SEE VIDEO BY TOPIC: The Butterfly Effect: Interconnectedness of Humans and the Natural World - Cain Landry - TEDxUMaine

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SEE VIDEO BY TOPIC: Alan Watts Human and Nature Relationship

The relationship between nature and culture

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Nature is one of those words that we take for granted. It can be defined as the phenomena of the material world, including the biosphere which was created and is maintained by living processes. In the Western world, where most people live in the built environment, and in urban populations everywhere totalling half of humanity, nature is seen as something external, perhaps to be admired or visited, but not really essential.

Even if nature is seen as important, we more readily accept our physical dependence on nature and natural resources than any real link to our psychology, personality or spirituality. This has not always been the case, and is not true for many other cultures. This breakdown in our relationship with nature has not only led to serious environmental problems, but is also behind psychological and even spiritual problems for many today. Today we have divorced ourselves from any significant relationship with nature and seldom even mention it any more.

In political and economic discourse we refer to the environment, which conveniently places nature outside of us as something marginal or optional, and as a result we are rapidly destroying the natural world. One of the planetary boundaries that we have already exceeded is the loss of biological diversity.

Scientists have said that the extinction rate for species should not exceed 10 times the natural rate i , but it is now times that ii. We are far from prepared to take on that responsibility, essential for our physical survival, and are unconscious of what we are losing. To put our present situation in context, it may help to define four major steps in the evolution of our relationships with nature, as it has evolved down the centuries, from primitive man to the present.

In indigenous cultures organized at the family or tribal level, nature is dominant and omnipresent. Nature is not questioned. There is no separation between man and nature. People live in immediate contact with nature on their farms, in their forests, savannas or deserts, when fishing, etc. There may be attempts to appease natural forces, but not to control them. With the rise of larger communities, economies and trade, nature is seen as natural resources to be exploited.

The vast planet is there for our benefit, constantly renewing itself without limit. The human impacts of agriculture, forestry, fisheries, mining seem tiny relative to the size of the Earth, and changes are so slow that they are hardly noticed. The idea of limits does not seem relevant.

For the urban population, nature becomes separate, outside, rarely experienced directly. Civilization, the human system, is what is seen as important, and nature is to be conquered. As human impacts grow and the population rises, people see that natural areas are becoming scarce, and nature conservation becomes urgent.

Nature is seen to be fragmented and diminishing, and we make efforts to preserve the best examples for future generations, locked up in parks and reserves. Species extinctions become a concern, but at the same time invasive species spread around the world. We no longer live in nature but in the environment - everything outside of us - which human activity has modified or entirely constructed, whether in agricultural landscapes or urban areas, and this is often damaged or polluted as well.

The rapid expansion of the human population and the consumer society makes us the dominant invasive species on the planet. Protection of the environment to ensure human welfare becomes the political priority, but nature is marginalized.

There is still no view at the political level of the natural world as a dynamic system of which we are a part. Today, the loss of nature is imminent. Scientists declare that we are in a new geological epoch, the Anthropocene, when planetary human impacts dominate natural transformations on a geological time scale. Natural systems in their undisturbed form no longer exist, and humans unwittingly take on the responsibility for the maintenance or restoration of the planetary life support systems and renewable natural resources that nature originally created and maintained.

A systems view becomes essential for our own survival. Denial is rife, and the political system has yet to catch up. Our physical, biological or material reality is quite evident, and is all some people pay attention to. We have a body like all animals with physical, social and emotional needs, with a cycle of birth, reproduction and death to ensure the sustainability of the species.

As a social species, we form human communities which in turn are part of the larger ecological systems of the biosphere. Our physical health depends on good nutrition, clean water, exercise, freedom from pollutants and protection from physical risks, which in turn depend in large part on functioning natural systems. At this level, knowledge of our material reality is available to everyone through direct experience and observation.

What first distinguishes us from all other animals is our intellectual reality, which is intangible but easily demonstrated. We accumulate knowledge and science beyond single lifetimes, record and codify it, and pass it on through education. Science allows us to do research and perform experiments, leading to the discovery of the realities of nature at higher levels of generalization and abstraction, and finally to an understanding of complex systems and processes, and the story of the universe, our planet and our own history.

As knowledge accumulates, information technology becomes dominant to provide tools to store, organize and share knowledge. Science has identified multiple realities as we experience it directly, and at the chemical, quantum, mathematical and pure information levels.

It is easier to break down knowledge into ever smaller pieces than to synthesize it into an understanding of complex evolving systems. At this intellectual level, humanity masters and overcomes nature, using it for human purposes and building civilizations. We escape from the limitations that nature placed on the human body.

Nature also serves as a model for the design of human systems, just as natural chemistry is a model for synthetic chemistry. Nature also serves as an inspiration in art, architecture, and engineering. Many fields of design are increasingly turning to organic forms where evolution and natural selection have already solved many design challenges.

Nature is also the object or an important component of many hobbies and forms of recreation, such as gardening, birding, hiking, fishing, skiing, golfing, sailing, rafting, kayaking, diving, etc.

Many tourism destinations include natural features as an important attraction. We even capture and recreate nature in zoos, aquariums and gardens. The traditional Japanese garden tries to express the essence of nature raised to a high art.

The spiritual reality is perhaps the most controversial, since it is marginalized in secular societies and actively denied in some atheist circles. Yet the vast majority of humanity takes it as given that humankind has a spiritual nature and purpose. It is at this level that we find the best expression of the ethical and moral principles associated with our relationship to nature, and some of the most relevant knowledge on how to reestablish a better balance with nature.

It is therefore worth considering in more detail this dimension of reality and source of knowledge. The tools of rationality can shed light on the roles and functions of spirituality even if they cannot "prove" its origin and ultimate purpose.

Spiritual knowledge complements but in no way contradicts scientific knowledge. One significant source of knowledge at the spiritual level is in religious scriptures and texts see Annex.

These include exhortations about respect for nature, moderation in its use, and a prohibition on waste. Nature is given a spiritual significance, with the qualities of God or absolute perfection being reflected in nature. Contemplating nature is therefore a path to spiritual understanding. The wisdom in the revealed religions about nature has a special advantage, since it is reinforced for believers by the power of Divine authority.

Christianity is perhaps the tradition with the least reference to nature, leaning more on Old Testament sources, while the Baha'i Faith has the most detailed references. This is captured succinctly in the statement 'The country is the world of the soul, the city is the world of bodies.

Man is organic with the world. His inner life moulds the environment and is itself also deeply affected by it. The one acts upon the other and every abiding change in the life of man is the result of these mutual reactions.

Beyond any particular religious or philosophical context, there are more general spiritual dimensions to our reaction to nature. The greatness, grandeur, beauty, power, and wonders of nature can invoke in us a sense of humility. This is very healthy in our struggle with our ego, and can help to draw us out of ourselves. For those who are open to it, nature can produce a deep resonance with our spirit or soul. The great spiritual teachers Moses, Buddha, Jesus, Mohammed, Baha'u'llah retreated into the wilderness to prepare for their mission.

People in search, and in many traditional cultures, seek mystical experiences in nature, or find their deeper self or direction in life through being in nature, sometimes as part of coming of age rites on reaching maturity.

If humans have a spiritual reality, then they also have a spiritual purpose, to acquire virtues and attributes of what it is to be really human: love, compassion, forgiveness, trustworthiness, justice, humility, etc. While these are best expressed in human interactions, many can also be fostered by contact with animals and more generally with nature. Respect for all living beings is deeply rooted in most spiritual traditions.

This knowledge of nature from spiritual sources is an important complement to scientific sources of knowledge. It is in no way contradictory, but while science tells us what to do with nature, and how to do it to preserve it, the spiritual knowledge tells us why. It provides moral underpinning to the effort to bring nature back into the politics of the environment.

It can help to understand these dimensions of human reality in relation to nature by comparison with cultures that make no distinction between these dimensions, drawing on my own experience in the Pacific Islands.

Most indigenous peoples traditionally have had a deep spirituality linked to nature, and see themselves as part of nature, often tracing their ancestry back to some totem or part of nature. Nature sends them signs to guide them. They may perform sacrifices or rites to please or appease nature. This traditional knowledge from the ancestors contains much that is scientifically valid, based on generations of observations and confirmations. For example, in New Caledonia, the scope of traditional Kanak knowledge of nature and the environment was very large.

Periodic events like the movements of celestial bodies, the flowering and fruiting of trees, and the migrations of birds and fish were observed and incorporated into their system of knowledge and sense of time.

While the process of the observation of natural phenomena in Kanak society was similar to that of modern science, the intellectual context within which the observations were interpreted was very different. The Kanak did not identify himself as separate from the world around him; on the contrary, he was part of the world and perceived himself by analogy with objects in nature such as the yam, whose cycle symbolized the cycle of life.

The ancestors were born from trees, and the body was identified with the vegetable kingdom. The different plants had symbolic meanings that were used as a kind of language. The land was the spiritual as well as material source of life. The habitat was worshipped, and there was no distinction between magic or myth and the natural world.

The doctors and healers had their special knowledge of sicknesses, medicines and other treatments. A knowledge or skill was intimately related to the myth or magic with which it was inherited.

One missionary describes a skilled sculptor and surgeon whose confidence rested in the gift from his deified ancestors; when he became a Christian, this confidence was destroyed and his skill was lost.

Our Role and Relationship With Nature

Humans exert great pressure on the natural world. At the same time, human health and well-being face huge environmental challenges. Increasingly, these challenges are global in scale such as the relentless rise of greenhouse gases driving climate change, the acidification of the oceans, and shortages of fresh water, fuel, and other natural resources.

Humans were once a fairly average species of large mammals, living off the land with little effect on it. But in recent millennia, our relationship with the natural world has changed as dramatically as our perception of it. There are now more than 7 billion people on this planet, drinking its water, eating its plants and animals, and mining its raw materials to build and power our tools.

To Emerson, the natural world is better than his own, offering mankind all the life and inspiration that is absent from society. Emerson convinces his readers that the relationship between man and nature is sacred, comforting, and vital for survival. He goes about answering this question with several arguments. By slowly drawing out the definition of what nature is Emerson makes a mysterious entity become tangible to his readers. Here Emerson is making an assumption on the reaction of humans to nature.

The Human–Nature Relationship and Its Impact on Health: A Critical Review

During the Middle Bronze Age , the landscapes of most parts of Europe were filled in. Nature became cultivated , and this had costs. It seriously affected social organization as the population spread over larger areas and adapted to local conditions. It also affected the environment , which during the later part of the Bronze Age began to change. This was in part due to climatic changes, but it was furthered by human activity. There was overexploitation of marginal lands; people had moved onto the dunes in areas such as Poland and the Netherlands and into the uplands of Britain, France, and Scandinavia. But, even on less marginal land, centuries of agricultural exploitation began to exact a price.

Nature and Man’s Connection

We are getting something terribly wrong. We need a new mass movement that bears witness to a right way of living on our finite, life-giving planet. Over just the last two decades, science has radically altered its view of the arrangement both of life and of non-living components of the earth. New understandings are emerging that place relationship at the center. Today scientists are admitting that this three-hundred-year-old scientific doctrine is far too simplistic, and are finding that physical substances work and exist in terms of highly complex, interdependent, and changeable contexts and relationships.

Earth as we know it is an incredibly complex and fragile network of interconnected systems that have developed slowly over the last 4.

However, to examine whether there is a link requires research of its breadth and underlying mechanisms from an interdisciplinary approach. This article begins by reviewing the debates concerning the human—nature relationship, which are then critiqued and redefined from an interdisciplinary perspective. It is argued that using an interdisciplinary perspective can facilitate a deeper understanding of the complexities involved for attaining optimal health at the human—environmental interface.

Humans and Nature

However, to examine whether there is a link requires research of its breadth and underlying mechanisms from an interdisciplinary approach. This article begins by reviewing the debates concerning the human—nature relationship, which are then critiqued and redefined from an interdisciplinary perspective. It is argued that using an interdisciplinary perspective can facilitate a deeper understanding of the complexities involved for attaining optimal health at the human—environmental interface. During the last century, research has been increasingly drawn toward understanding the human—nature relationship 1 , 2 and has revealed the many ways humans are linked with the natural environment 3.

SEE VIDEO BY TOPIC: Heart touching inspirational video relationship between human and nature

It is one of the first works to document the effects of human action on the environment and it helped to launch the modern conservation movement. Marsh is remembered by scholars as a profound and observant student of men, books and nature with a wide range of interests ranging from history to poetry and literature. His wide array of knowledge and great natural powers of mind gave him the ability to speak and write about every topic of inquire with the assertive authority of a genuine investigator. He initially got the idea for "man and Nature" from his observations in his New England home and his foreign travels devoted to similar inquiries. He felt that men were too quick to lessen their sense of responsibility and he was "unwilling to leave the world worse than he found it".

Humans & Nature: The Right Relationship

The unity of man and nature. Human beings live in the realm of nature, they are constantly surrounded by it and interact with it. The most intimate part of nature in relation to man is the biosphere, the thin envelope embracing the earth, its soil cover, and everything else that is alive. Our environment, although outside us, has within us not only its image, as something both actually and imaginatively reflected, but also its material energy and information channels and processes. This presence of nature in an ideal, materialised, energy and information form in man's Self is so organic that when these external natural principles disappear, man himself disappears from life.

Oct 16, - Emerson convinces his readers that the relationship between man and nature is sacred, comforting, and vital for survival. Emerson asks his.

Nature is one of those words that we take for granted. It can be defined as the phenomena of the material world, including the biosphere which was created and is maintained by living processes. In the Western world, where most people live in the built environment, and in urban populations everywhere totalling half of humanity, nature is seen as something external, perhaps to be admired or visited, but not really essential. Even if nature is seen as important, we more readily accept our physical dependence on nature and natural resources than any real link to our psychology, personality or spirituality. This has not always been the case, and is not true for many other cultures.

Nature connectedness is the extent to which individuals include nature as part of their identity. These three components make up nature connectedness and are required for a healthy relationship with nature. If an individual feels connected to nature possibly by spending time in it , they may be more inclined to care about nature, and protect the environment.

University of Washington psychology professor Peter Kahn has spent much of his career analyzing the relationship humans have with nature—and he thinks that relationship is more fragile than many of us realize. Kahn works to understand the intersection of two modern phenomena: the destruction of nature, and the growth of technology. Yet there is a limit to the extent technological representations of nature can provide the soothing, restorative, creativity-enhancing benefits of a walk in the real woods.

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