natural or not

Discussion in 'General Philosophy' started by Light Travelling, Apr 20, 2015.

  1. Light Travelling It's a girl O lord in a flatbed Ford Registered Senior Member

    Humanity tends to see itself as being distinct from the natural world around it. Nature and the natural are often defined as those things apart from humans or what humans have made.

    But as a natural animal ourselves, is there any justification for such a view. Is this view based solely on old religious ideas, or is there an inherent tendency in the human psyche to see the world like that.

    Given that humans are as much a part of nature as anything else, can anything at all be said to be unnatural. Whatever humans build must be natural too. No different from other animal constructing their dwellings.
    So where can we draw the line with what is natural or not. Computers have been built by a human animal by using resources taken from this natural planet. So surely Computer programs are also natural.. so can we extend that to AI ?
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  3. C C Consular Corps - "the backbone of diplomacy" Valued Senior Member

    It lingers as a result of the artificial / natural dichotomy. This practical need to classify the endeavors and invented things produced by certain biological agents differently from what falls out of non-intelligent processes abroad. The usage of "natural" in that adjective pair can be taken to refer to the more elementary events / stratums of the cosmos which lack purpose. Whereas "artificial" can be taken to concern a complex, specialized, and far less global level of natural activity where purpose finally emerges. Thus a secular figure of speech which seems to denote humans and their works as "being distinct from nature" can be rescued as merely designating them not being in the basement sub-category of nature rather than not belonging to nature at all.
    Last edited: Apr 21, 2015
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  5. cosmictraveler Be kind to yourself always. Valued Senior Member

    The things man makes, even with using natural things, isn't natural for it isn't found in nature. An example would be steel which is made up of natural things but comes out as man made. IMO
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  7. danshawen Valued Senior Member

    Man did not invent the wheel, sex, photosynthesis, DNA, or the totally free energy beamed down to us from the giant fusion powered nuclear reactor in the sky either.

    That it took so long for us to make such discoveries is a little cognitively challenged for a being that fancies itself and especially its mind to be modeled in the image of something omniscient, omnipotent, and eternal. Kinda begs the question, is this the best you could do, really? Doesn't it?

    It just ain't all that natural. Natural is usually better, It's actually easier to believe, we somehow cobbled ourselves together out of some spit and bailing wire.
  8. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

    This question hinges on the context.

    Is one using "natural" to distinguish from man-made?
    Or is one using "natural" as a descriptor of something possible through the natural laws of the universe - i.e. to distinguish from supernatural / preternatural etc.

    As Cosmictraveler suggests, if the question is in the former context then steel is not "natural".
    But it is still "natural" according to the second context.

    Context is everything!
    (except when it's not!)

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  9. sideshowbob Sorry, wrong number. Valued Senior Member

    It's all relative. A pounding stone is "natural". Animals use them. A stone axe with an attached handle is "less natural". A flint axe with a knapped head is "even less natural"... all the way down to a steel-alloy axe with a fiberglass handle... or a cutting laser. The more we process nature, the "less natural" it becomes but it never becomes completely unnatural.
  10. Light Travelling It's a girl O lord in a flatbed Ford Registered Senior Member

    This is true, the question is why we feel the need for the two contexts?

    There is no logic to a beavers log construction being natural and a man's log cabin being not. Yet we seem to prefer it that way.

    that's how I am seeing it, I don't think we can really do anything umnatural being natural animals ourselves.
    danshawen likes this.
  11. danshawen Valued Senior Member

    Exactly the point I was trying to make. Since we are part of nature, there really isn't anything we could do that is "unnatural".

    "Natural" is just some sort of sales gimmick, and frankly I doubt mother nature herself endorses anything sold under that label.

    Even something like plutonium is natural, because it's made with all naturally occurring protons and neutrons.

    Even sex between something like a tofudabeast and a garthok is natural because, well, OK, that's not natural.
  12. Light Travelling It's a girl O lord in a flatbed Ford Registered Senior Member

    I agree and yes it applies to behaviour as well. People talk of unnatural acts or unnatural behaviour. But we can only act according to our nature.

    I mean how can nature 'go wrong' anyway and who should say what is right or wrong in nature.

    I think people apply this to what they consider to be not normal and then press gang nature into the argument.
  13. wellwisher Banned Banned

    In the theory of evolution and natural selection, although nature tries many things; mutations, not all things that appear will be selected. This is because not all things are optimized to the needs of nature and the environment. The difference between natural and unnatural is natural will be selected, naturally, while unnatural, because it is not optimize, will not be selected naturally. It may be selected artificially, by humans. If so, it will need propping up not found in nature.

    Natural human sexuality, should not need condoms and medications for STD's, because these props are not found in nature during natural selection. Nature is very economical and does not use human props. Humans will add artificial props to human sexuality, to create an illusion of natural, so people can fool themselves.

    If one took away all condoms, and all sex medicines, this is what nature has to work with, during selection. If you think of it, the only things that would work naturally are celibacy and monogamy, since these are the least likely behavior that will create a backlash called sexually transmitted disease, that will eliminate mutant behavior. Humans can support mutant behavior and even call this natural, but it needs props not found in nature. This is unnatural in the sense it would not be part of natural selection, simply because it needs props not found in nature. When nature selects, that is called natural.

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