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Geography - William’s Ideas of Nature

Autor:   •  January 5, 2019  •  2,921 Words (12 Pages)  •  38 Views

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Central questions we are interested in – what kind of justice assumes to speak for another? What is a justice that produces inequality? This question is related to question of what kind of environment, or what kind of nature, excludes human history.

“As I understand it, we have here a case of a definition of quality which becomes, through real usage, based on certain assumptions, a description of the world.”

- Fact that he uses quote of Burke following that – “In a state of rude nature, there is no such thing as a people. The idea of a people is the idea of corporation. It is wholly artificial; and made, like all other legal fictions, by common agreement. While the particular nature of that agreement, was and is collected from the form into which the society has been cast”

- Particular significance for his argument

- This citation of Burke defines a citation of good government, how English commonwealth should look, idea of its nature, modern conservatism, vision that articulated itself as a negative response to radical response of inequality of French revolution

Idea of natural law in Darwin is not the same natural law we find in Burke. After Darwin, the law does not articular a simple and completed progression (savagery → civilization), but rather a progression developed empirically.

“I think nature had to be seen as spate from man, for several purposes. Perhaps the first form of the separation was the practical distinction between nature and God: that disntiction which eventually made it possibile to describe natural processes in their own terms; to examine them without any prior assumption of purpose or design, but simply as processes”

“Agricultrual improvements and the industrial revolution follow clearly from this emphasis, and many of the practical effects depended on seeing nature quite clearly and even coldly as a set of objecs, on which men could operate”

There is empirical science, and there is this separated mind. There is this idea of neutrality. There are conjoined histories of applied science on one hand and wild nature on the other hand – different ideas of nature that are contingent of separation fo people from world. There is the idea of the scientists (universal observer, separated mind, objective manager of nature). Williams describes the idea as idea of humans being outside of nature – nature that is testable, subject to manipulation, improvement. Yet, at same time, these laws of nature were supposed to be universal and as such, they are the rules of human society as well. The purpose of knowledge and scineitifc investigation or one idea of that purpose is to understand how to control these laws.

What is so useful to read William’s essay is that he shows how these two seeimgly contradictory ideas of nature (nature is wild and beyond society vs. nature is universal) are historically produced and histocially linked – it wasn’t that new social practices came along and invented new ideas of nature; instead, the ideas of nature that we have are the product of merging social experience and different ideas express different experiences – different social situations and interests of those who made them; common sense understandings of nature reflect something more than just individual interests/experiences.

“A real experience of society was projected, by selective examples, on to a newly alienated nature. Under the veneer of civilization as this natural savagery: from Wells to Golding this could be believed, in increasingly commonplace ways. What had once been a ratification, a kind of natural condonation, of rtuthless economics selfishness – the real ideology of early capitalism and of imperialism – became, towards our own day, not only this but a hopelessness, a despair and end of significant socil effort; because if that is what life is like, is naturally like, any idea of brotherhood is futile. Then build another refuge perhaps, clear another beach. Keep out……herd”

- He is talking about effects of ideas of nature.

- these images are familiar to us – we know this kind of environmentalism, as cronan shows us, this kind of wilderness.

- What are the effects of this kind of wilderness? What does it do to any idea of brotherhood? How does it make change futile to a certain idea of nature?

- Williams is saying these ideas of nature reflect changes in entire society or in a political economy – histocially determined experiences of capitalism/imperialism of what Williams calls – ruthless economic selfishness – becomes projected on nature as an immutable law of the physical/biological world.

- The idea of survival of the fittest and competition, that we see in all kinds of ecological theories, are perceived to be natural laws of ecology/biology/society and there is a law to even manage the so-called market.

“As the explotaition of nature continued, on a vast scale, and especially in the new extractive and industrial processes, the people who drew most profit from it went back, where they could find it (and they were very ingenious) to an unspoilt nature, to the purchased estates and the country retreats”

- REMEMBER THIS QUOTE for the movie we are gonna watch on Wednesday

- Same time that industrial revolution is happening, we get new ideas about production of nature (parks, origin of national park system)

“And since the time…..who insist on making very full connection and relationships” – Cronan’s article literally just builds on this quote. How is it that wilderness gets defined? Who has access to it? (pg 81)

“But a significant number of others are in the plainest sense hypocrites. Established a powerful points in the very process which is creating the disorder, they change their clothes at week-ends, or when they can get down to the country; join appeals and campaigns to keep one last bit of England green and unspoilt; and then go back, spirituall refreshed, to invest in the smoke and the spoil”

- As Cronan says, the creation of particular human cultures in particular moments of human history, places made by same wealth extracted from other places were imagined as both degraded and developed – strip mines, refineries,

- But these are the origins of national parks in the US

- This is the story that Cronan tells so well – removal of Indians to create an uninhabited wilderness

“How the Amazon’s cashews and Cacao point to cultivation



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