Is Everything In Nature Natural?

Friday, 6 December 2013

Natural vs. ArtificialWhy the difference between 'natural' and 'artificial'?

Isn't it obvious that in nature everything is natural?
Everyone seems to imply that man-made structures harm the environment. Beaver dams can also harm the environment, but they are still considered natural. We humans are a 'natural' species, but, because of the guilt we get from being intelligent species, everything we do is considered unnatural. 

Of course, seen through a christian reality tunnel, things are surprisingly easy…:

"All things are artificial, for nature is the art of god."


(Thomas Browne)

Artificial means literally man-made. Bur are ant colonies not also 'artificial'? …So when it comes down to it, it really is a matter of semantics on the part of those who preach: All by-products of most species, like ants or beavers are viewed as natural and good. All by-products of one species: man however are seen as unnatural and therefore bad.

But's let's assume there is a difference between artificial and natural. What is better then?
Bertrand Russell, the English logician and philosopher apparently wasn't really sure:

"Whether artificial man will be better or worse than the natural sort I do not venture to predict."


(Bertrand Russell)

American writer John Updike put it like this:

"Natural beauty is essentially temporary and sad; hence the impression of obscene mockery which artificial flowers give us."


(John Updike)

And artificial Intelligence is certainly no match for natural stupidity, as Steve Polyak remarked:

"Before we work on artificial intelligence why don't we do something about natural stupidity?"


(Steve Polyak)

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