Did you ever stopped to think about What is nature? what is natural? How do we grasp nature? What is our relation with it? Most of those answers are not as trivial as we might think. If we won’t force ourselves to contemplate on these matters, they will escape from our perception, which is a shame. We can learn a great deal about ourselves, humans and human nature, by looking at the way we look at nature. It tells more on us than on nature itself, so it’s important.
Nature is important for us. We go camping or travel to the countrysides and go long distances just to see famous places where nature is in its fullest, like waterfalls and forests. Nature decorates our desktops with pictures of Trees, mountains, vegetation and animals. Most of us keep plants at home to give the house a little of a green a touch. We plant trees on our streets, Kids get fascinated by animals and nature, drawing pictures of animals and trees. We give flowers to other people and put flowers on graves. Why? do we need nature? And the big question is why we don’t see we are rejecting it all together.
But first, what is nature? What is natural? Does it mean anything that is not made by humans? All the things that developed not by humans? If we will look at this thing closer, we can easily get confused. We can’t argue about minerals, because they exist thanks to various physical laws. But, we can agree that if we dig a tunnel, we won’t consider it natural. But, and that is a big but, what about ants? They also dig tunnels. Beavers construct dams. Spiders make webs, are those natural? Some people might say that those are natural. But, if it’s not natural because sentient beings made them, so most of the nature we see in the world is actually not natural at all. It is “constructed”.
Bees make our beloved flowers to bloom. Woods and jungles are also constructed because Vegetation doesn’t take shape only in a random fashion. There are mind control mushrooms that spreads by sending spores that invade insect’s bodies, forcing the insects to go a to the places that are most suitable for the mushroom to grow. When it arrives there, the spore give an order to the insect to stay in that place until it dies (by biting that branch of the tree or just stay there) until they die due to the spore development. Other trees use chemical “weapons” to decrease the numbers of animals that eats them, or use it to kill other plants that “invade” their territory. Vines climb existing vegetation and so on.
Pearls are material we treat the same as stones and diamonds, but pearls are not natural because clamps make them. What about our atmosphere? is it a natural phenomenon? The only way oxygen was introduced to our atmosphere was through plant’s photosynthesis. The byproduct of this process is oxygen which was produced for enough time in big enough amounts, that it made the current atmosphere’s composition. At first the oxygen was deadly for most life forms, those who survived came into terms with it, now we cannot live without it. We all learn about the cycle of water, but not less important is the nitrogen cycle, which is the only way that animals to consume nitrogen which is important as a building block for organic bodies. The nitrogen cycle breaks the strong connection between nitrogens atoms (N2). The importance of this cycle lie in the fact that most animals can’t break this connection and consume the much needed nitrogen. This “natural” cycle happens thanks to micro-organisms that can break the N2 connection.
Maybe nature is everything that came to be, meaning if it exists, then it is possible, thus natural. This includes everything we’ve built made or constructed as civilization. Thus, space rockets and the International Space Station are natural things. So as every cellphone and every computer. Our cities are the same as forests, and highways as rivers. But of course that we don’t treat cities the same as nature, otherwise we would have “plant” concrete blocks instead of flowers in our homes and gardens. We don’t put robots in a zoo for people to see. We don’t say “if you want to enjoy nature you should go watch some skyscrapers”. people don’t breathe in car’s smog to chill out. So, I guess this is not nature for us.
The last paragraph may be a bit too extreme, but we get confused about the definition of “nature”. This confusion is apparent in beauty products. they are “natural” products that are made off “natural ingredients”. But hand creams and conditioners do not exist in nature. We won’t find any shampoos or hand creams in the jungle. The only thing that comes close to a shampoo in nature is animal’s tongue. A lot of the commercials for beauty products sell us the idea that our hair will look “natural” if we will use their product regularly. But the reality is that is it is the opposite of the natural state of our hair. All we need to do In order to get a natural look is… nothing. Leave your hair untouched for a week, and the messy oily stinky hair you will get IS the hair in its natural look. But we don’t like our natural smell and look and We put great efforts to change it.
So I guess the answer is elusive one. We see nature as something that exclude us and happen on its own. Though we also refer to “normative” behavior as natural. So I will discuss this normative and natural “human behavior”.