Man’s Attitude Towards Nature as Being Superior As mans attitude towards nature evolved, western culture perceived man as the central and most important part of nature. This egocentric attitude has acted to the extreme detriment of nature. Yes, I believe this to be true and I will prove it by looking at resourcism and speciesism. Resourcism is the exploitation of the worlds resources. Our consumption rate, especially in the western world, is overwhelming.
In the beginning, we were a hunter and gatherer society, perceiving man and animals as equals. Everything was shared, there was no claims of ownership, especially land. The two most significant events in our conquest of the planet was the creation of agriculture and the industrial revolution. The development of agriculture gave us control over what we grew and ate. Mass amounts of land were cleared in order to make room for new crop fields.
Science is considered to be knowledge, knowledge is power and therefore science is mastery. The continued advancement of science created what is known as the industrial revolution. This is where our over consumption began. We were now able to drill into the earth and extract unrenewable resources and make them into many new products. This attitude of power and control over the resources of the earth has lead us to think of ourselves as the most important part of nature.
We took what the earth had to offer, and there was no one to stop us. Speciesism is the exploitation of plants and animals. At first, we feared animals but once we domesticated animals we gained a sense of power and dominance. We now view animals as commodities, curiosities, and even as our selves. As commodities, we sell, buy and hunt animals. Fish are considered to be a commodity, so are domesticated animals as well as some wild animals. As curiosities, we have animals for entertainment. Zoos, circuses, bullfights, marine land, etc.
. The problem with this is the animals are kept in cages and often have poor living conditions, they are to some, being held captive. Many people would prefer watching them in their natural habitats doing natural things. Bears do not normally roll on balls in bright coloured skirts just so people can laugh. This is degrading to the animals but once again it reminds us that we are the top species, the one who controls all the others. We even view animals as our selves, this is true when it comes to children’s enjoyment.
Stuffed animals, cartoons and especially Walt Disney depict animals as humans. In cartoons we see animals talking like us, walking like us, doing all the things we normally do. Children are exposed to this egocentric attitude at a very early age, almost every child will want to visit disney world. With plants, it is in our gardening that we exemplify control. We all know of those large gardens with mazes that are geometrically correct, notice how every hedge is trimmed perfectly.
In the hunter and gather society, their hierarchy had animals and humans as equals, but today we have god at the top, humans in the middle and nature at the bottom. Some believe that animals were created for our benefit this belief which I hold myself comes from Genesis, the first book in the bible. Chapter 1, verse 26 says “And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth”. In conclusion, we now view our selves as the central and most important part of nature. It is this new attitude that has acted to the excessive degradation of nature. Things are still in the process of changing, with the environment high on our list of priorities, we are beginning to view nature in a different light, as something to be protected and preserved for future generations.