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February 6th, 2019
Natural is one of the most ambiguous words we have and because of this infinitely hazy property, it is used in all sorts of circumstances when our phrasing could be much more accurate, precise and helpful to those who are willing to listen.
We might for example hear someone say that it is not natural for so much plastic to be in the oceans and by extension in the seafood that we eat.
While such a sentiment has good intentions, it does not use language accurately. Natural is defined as anything that exists or is caused by Nature.
Another way to phrase this is to say anything possible within the laws of physics is natural.
Such a definition puts a different spin on the idea of plastic in oceans being unnatural. It’s physically possible, so does this not mean it’s natural?
Many would say no, but due to a poor understanding of the words being used. A better word would perhaps be ‘good’. Plastic in the oceans might be a natural occurrence but that doesn’t mean it’s good.
A counter-argument might be that something is unnatural because it’s caused by humans. And yet humans evolved due to the same mechanisms that created sea life and even dictate the movement and existence of oceans. Surely humans are a product of nature and by extension anything that humans do is a natural phenomenon, making plastic in oceans.. natural.
What is really in conflict here is imagined concepts. Nature and Natural exist more as idyllic concepts of perfection and harmony in our mind more than they exist as well defined words. When our actions or any occurrence is in conflict with those idyllic concepts we label them as unnatural.
But there is an important caveat here. Nature has given rise to humans and subsequently to language and conceptual thought. We can further extrapolate on this and draw the conclusion that Nature created the concept of unnatural. Nature also created through us this idyllic concept of nature which it clearly does not keep in accord with. Nature not only created the contradiction, it created the concept and opportunity of being down right wrong.
Nature, if anything seems to be a restless push to rampantly experiment with what is possible within the laws of physics.
The structure of this process, whether we call it evolution, or identify it within other domains or processes will be explored much further in the first Tinkered Thinking miniseries. Stay tuned and in the mean time, remember that everything is natural, it’s the context we need to be careful about, and most often this means paying close attention to the words we use and what they actually mean. Otherwise we might paint ourselves into a corner without realizing it claiming things like: Nature is Unnatural.
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