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Nature Before Literacy, Nature In Antiquity, Pre-socratic Ideas Of Nature, Nature In Greek Rationalism

No interpretation of the idea of nature is good for all people in all places at all times. The interpretive position here reflects pivotal conceptual developments of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

Charles Darwin's century brought home forcefully the reality of time, of evolutionary process that ultimately transforms all things. Darwin's contemporary T. H. Huxley believed that evolution forced the question of our place in nature upon us. Twentieth-century science posed a further interpretive challenge. We have reached the end of credible claims to certainty concerning nature. Given uncertainty, open-ended inquiry becomes the hallmark of rationality, and the idea of nature remains inevitably in flux. A third interpretive factor emerges at the intersection of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. The present cultural trajectory is on a collision course with the evolved biophysical scheme. The interpretive challenge is to account for the predicament of a naturally evolved species whose cultural evolution has led to maladaptive ideas of nature that must be transformed in order to avert biophysical catastrophe.

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