Nature Versus Civilization Essay, Research Paper
Nature Versus Civilization
In comparing and contrasting Civilization Over Nature by Michael Heiman with Nature Over Civilization by Robert Kuhn McGregor I have discovered that their main themes over lap in one or more ways. They both define “Nature” in totally different aspects. Therefore that is way their main themes appear to be so much different.
Michael Heiman argues that nature was put aside for the capitalistic views of the nineteenth century. This then implies that nature was put aside for the production of civilization. Therefore associating the human race strictly with civilization and not nature. Nature is only made up of the landscape and the animals and plants within it. In Heiman’s example of this he speaks of the exploitation of the Hudson Valley for the transportation of goods across the country. He tells of how the destruction of this area throughout the nineteenth century was overlooked by the artists and tour guides that traveled this route. The viewpoints that Heiman carried throughout his essay had a homocentric orientation towards civilization. As for Heiman’s main theme he proposes that civilization was the ultimate reality.
As for McGregor he proposed to agree with the biocentric view that humans and plants and animals were all living actors in the play of life therefore making humans a part of nature as well. As for the civilization aspect of it all he goes on to explain that animals have their own civilizations in which some of them change the environment in the same ways as our civilization. In the end of it all he believes that nature is the ultimate reality.
In order to compare and contrast we have to first see the main part where they clash. Heiman sees nature as the landscape, plants, and animals therefore making humans the synonym for civilization. McGregor on the other hand says that nature has its own civilization just as humans do. So humans are now a part of nature just as a horse might be. My question is if everything is a part of nature even our own civilization then what makes up “civilization” in his eyes? Nature would have to be the ultimate reality because he is not even comparing it to civilization in a sense. Heiman has a solid argument because he is actually comparing the two. McGregor is right in his essay when he says that if you believe in a biocentric history it is a lonely road because not many other people are on it. In closing I agree with Heiman because there is no way that our civilization can be anywhere near the civilization of any other living organism. Due to how we use up all of our resources and exploit the landscape. Civilization had to have been the ultimate reality no questions asked.
I will compare these two essays with the same four documents in order to show the similarities that each has to other in terms of the document. The four documents that I will be comparing these two essays to are; John James Audubon on Shooting Birds, James Fenimore Cooper Laments the “Wasty Ways” of Pioneers, Hudson River Painters Depict Nature, and Rebecca Harding Davis on Pollution and Human Life in the Iron Mills.
Audubon is a preservationist on birds and is one of the earliest. If I had to chose a side I would say that he would agree with Heiman in saying that civilization over rides nature in this case due to the fact that humans are shooting birds. Instead of birds killing birds or horses killing birds. As the civilization of humans is growing bigger and bigger Audubon saw that this sport was getting bigger and nature was getting exploited. I do not see McGregor agreeing with Audubon because my impression of McGregor in the way of nature is a sort of survival of the fittest.
In Cooper’s essay he talks about the pointless killing of birds as well but with a little different twist being that he heavily criticizes the excessive wastefulness of the pioneers due to the abundance of nature. In respect to the two essays I see a representation of both in similar ways. This document corresponds better with that of McGregor seeing that nature is a larger part of life and everyone is a part of it. Cooper saw that nature was being exploited because there seemed to be an endless supply. According to McGregor that endless supply includes us as human beings. Seeing that Heiman sees the human race as a civilization that would explain why humans are the major cause of the exploitation of birds and in that case nature as a whole.
The paintings of the Hudson River school show the beauty of the Hudson River and the Catskill areas of New York State and portray nature as being dark, wild, mysterious, and sublime. Yet they show civilization as being light, calm, and peaceful. I believe that this is relevant in the way that Heiman says that artists tried to cover up the blemishes that civilization has caused to nature. So therefore Heiman would totally disagree with what these artists are trying to portray. As far as McGregor goes he would like these paintings because they imply that nature is getting along with civilization in a great way.
In the final document by Harding she is trying to make the public aware of the toll that industrialization is taking on nature and human nature. That is interesting in itself she is putting human nature in a different category than nature in general. In regards to McGregor’s essay he would totally disagree with this due to his biocentric theory. He sees all of nature as one. But Heiman would for the most part agree with Harding because he sees our civilization taking a toll on nature yet does not see nature in two parts as she does.
In closure on all of this comparing and contrasting I see more agreement on the main issues rather than disagreement. The two essays see two totally different points of view part in comparing them to the documents there are both similarities and dissimilarities among all comparisons.