Nature and Madness
Publication Year: 1998
Published by: University of Georgia Press
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Paul Shepard's introduction, written in 1982, places this work in its intellectual context: the analysis of human character as a natural phenomenon. But his ideas also have tremendous moral weight. Despite our present environmental destructiveness, he says, we are capable of being good, not just as individuals but as a species....
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This is a progress report. Initially my effort was to seek and understand the historical origins of an environmental esthetic. In Man in the Landscape I examined Renaissance sources of the American traditions of landscape painting and gardening as kernels from which our leisure takes its expression in travel and nature study. But that esthetic is...
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My question is: why do men persist in destroying their habitat? I have, at different times, believed the answer was a lack of information, faulty technique, or insensibility. Certainly intuitions of the interdependence of all life are an ancient wisdom, perhaps as old as thought itself, occasionally rediscovered, as it has been...
2. The Domesticators
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Of half the time since the beginning of the momentous revolution by which agriculture and village life began to reshape the condition of human existence we know almost nothing of the felt experience. On how the world was seen we have only surmises based on bits of material culture, dug up like fossil imprints of ideas. Archaeology...
3. The Desert Fathers
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If ideas have habitats in which they originate and prosper, then the desert edge might be called the home of Western thought. Historically this is common knowledge, for the peoples of the dry landscapes of Egypt, Sumer, Assyria, Palestine, and the Eastern European and Eurasian borders of the Mediterranean Sea fashioned many of the concepts that define Occidental civilization....
4. The Puritans
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The concepts, illusions, and dreams about nature that mark Protestant thought are not, to me, comprehensible in terms only of the Reformation. Those notions saturate the modern world; its radio preachers, newspaper editorialists, and corporate warlocks alike make pronouncements whose origins are many centuries old.1 Their...
5. The Mechanists
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It is odd, after seventy centuries of city life, that we continue to be uneasy about it and uncertain as to what is wrong. The situation is like those psychological illnesses in which the patient shows a devilish capacity to obscure the real problem from himself. A demon seems to make false leads,...
6. The Dance of Neoteny and Ontogeny
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In the ideology of recent times—of progress and the self-making of the person and the society, of the ego's selection of choices of what-to-be, appended to a body—the child is a sac physiologique that is fostered and that grasps or obtains thought and intelligence. Epigenesis is a contrary concept of life cycle (or ontogeny). The person emerges in a genetic calendar by stages, with time-critical constraints and needs, so that instinct and experience act in concert....
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Page Count: 200
Publication Year: 1998