Reflection Paper Week #15
The readings assigned for class over the past 15 weeks have brought up many interesting ideas about nature. Many of the given articles touch on the questions of ‘what is nature’ and ‘what is the human place in nature’. The many authors have presented a variety of different perspectives on the topic of nature. After a semester spent debating nature, I have realized that I do not have a solidified definition of nature or the role that humans have in nature. Despite not having a solid position on the human place in nature, the readings from this semester have taught me about the advantages of learning from multiple perspectives.
In, “The Sand County Almanac,” Leopold views the destruction of nature as the result of humans viewing themselves as conquerors of the natural world. Bill McKibben has a similar view that the destruction of nature is largely anthropocentric. McKibben takes the idea of humans adversely affecting nature by stating that nature has ended. Richard White, on the other hand has a more optimistic opinion of the human relationship with nature than Leopold and McKibben. In, “The Organic Machine,” White believes that we cannot understand human history without natural history, and we cannot understand natural history without human history. Leopold and McKibben seem to view humans as separate from nature, while White views humans as having an intimate relationship with nature.
As Robert Gotlieb points out it in, “Nature in the City,” nature is one of the most complex words in the English language. The complexity of the word “nature” is partly due to the way its meaning and reference points are continually changing. Nature is not only in the eye of the beholder, but also in the language used to describe what one sees. The complexity of defining ‘nature’ is exemplified every week in class when many of the same questions are asked. Does nature still exist? Does nature only exist in the absence of human presence? Are humans a part of nature?
What I believe this course truly taught me is less about nature, and more so about the process of learning. This course was educational in that it made me to constantly second guess myself. Throughout the year, I would read an article from one author and completely agree with them, and then completely switch my views on nature after reading a different author’s essay. Having read a number of contradictory articles, I have realized that it is important to consider multiple perspectives on a topic before making a decision. Before taking this course my opinion was that nature was the outdoors. I now realize that my pre- senior seminar concept of nature was very basic. I now see that there is much more to consider when forming an opinion on nature. This realization of the increased complexity of nature can transcend to almost any subject. I believe that many times people, authors, scientists, and activists become stubborn and only consider their own opinions. If people were more open minded, I feel as though problems would be solved much more quickly.