Monday, October 31, 2011

Nature or Nurture?

Where does one draw the line between the natural and the artificial? A simple answer would be anything made by a human is artificial. As final as this response may seem, it ignores the fact that the artificial came out of the natural. That is, the natural eventually gave way to the artificial by means of evolution. Therefore anything artificial is really a product of the natural. But intuition nags us to consider the immense differences between man made things, and the other stuff that is left to itself. At what point in our evolution did we start becoming artificial? If there is a point, why the change? How did that natural cause give rise to a artificial effect? The first artificial expression began within a natural context. With that said, the natural did something artificial. Wouldn't that mean that the natural is artificial because it acted so? This problem can be applied to the supposed dichotomy between nature and culture (e.g. nature and nurture). How did nature give rise to culture and why the difference if one came from the other? If we define artificial as something made by humans, we must recognize that all life forms have their own kind of artificiality. To assume that the rest is natural and we are an intrusion into the picture is detrimental to our relationship to nature. That attitude is what manifests the exploitation of the environment for profit. If we can transition from seeing ourselves on the other side of a dichotomy with nature, to considering ourselves as one of the many expressions of it- albeit a very unique one- we can start to see how we are not only in the world but of it as well, thus feeling more at home in the cosmos.