Friday, February 12, 2010

Organic concept of nature vs. hostile concept of nature

As outlined in Romantic philosophy. This post is largely inspired by Beiser's book "The Romantic Imperative". The organic concept of nature says that everything is connected in a sort of overall unity, that nature has a main purpose that's realized through many sub-purposes embodied in internal divisions in her. Human beings form an essential part of the natural world, an essential purpose, in face the true purpose of nature is realized through human beings, particularly through the reflective mind of humanity. In response to the question of what exactly is this highest purpose it seems that in their thought the purpose was transmitted through philosophical and artistic reflection on nature, that the contemplation of nature and the production of artifacts, either through the production of philosophy or art, raised the natural world to a higher state. This higher state might be thought of reintegrating nature with itself as manifested through the nature of which human beings are an emanation of. It could also be thought that human use of the natural world ennobles it through the releasing of its inherent possibilities, possibilities that wouldn't be transformed into actualities without human intervention.

Although parts of this philosophy might be seen as naive, for instance the idea that the use of nature by human beings can be contained within natural harmony, there's an interesting ethic here that contrasts with what I could call the hostile theory of nature or the paranoid theory of nature. While some folks view nature as unremittingly harsh, a theater for the struggle for survival, the Romantics, as framed in Beiser, see humanity as enmeshed in the natural world with a purpose that doesn't contradict that of nature as a whole. Humanity's conduct at its best is an emanation of the same natural order that all animals and plants participate in as well as sub purposes of the whole. Humans in the hostile concept of nature are thought to be almost exiles from some other star living on the earth, completely unique, completely opposed on all levels by alien nature that has no place for them. Humans in it are thought to be able to use nature in whatever way they want because of the lack of kinship with it, because of the otherness of nature to humanity. Take away that sharp division and a path for more sensitive intervention opens.

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