Published 14 June 2017
SEI researcher Freya Mathews has recently published an essay for the Center for Humans and Nature, which questions whether or not we are part of nature or separate from it? Freya explains that how we answer this question, depends on how we define the term “nature.”
In one sense, “nature” comprises of everything, and is seen as the ‘realm of the purely physical as opposed to that of the supernatural. From this point of view, we are clearly part of nature and everything we do is perfectly natural.’
At the other end of the spectrum, “nature” is often defined in dualistic terms, where ‘humans are set apart from and above nature by virtue of our unique mental faculties, such as intellect or reason.’ Freya argues that most environmentalists wish to overturn this standpoint in replace of environmental ethics that respect and protect nature.
Freya suggests that both epistemological standpoints cannot provide the answers to our pressing environmental issues, and calls for a review what we mean by “nature.” Freya suggests that it may be more constructive to interpret nature not externally (the above standpoints), but internally.
To read Freya’s full essay, click here.