Nature: Western Attitudes Since Ancient Times / Edition 1

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Overview


In an advertisement for water filter cartridges, we see a tumbling waterfall. The caption reads, "Like nature, Brita is beautifully simple." What kind of thinking is this? Is nature an objective reality that, in its beautiful simplicity, is unaffected by time, culture, and place? The word nature itself: what do we actually mean by it? These are some of the riveting questions examined by Peter Coates as he demonstrates that nature, like us, has a history of its own. Beginning with Roman times, Coates investigates the ideological and material factors that have influenced human perceptions of, attitudes toward, and uses of nature—notably religion and ethics, science, technology, economics, gender, and ethnicity. Nature is seen among its rich panoply of meanings as a physical place, as the collective phenomena of the world, as an essence or principle that informs the workings of the world, as an inspiration and guide for people and a source of authority governing human affairs, and as the conceptual opposite of culture. By examining these aspects of nature, Coates leads us on a spectacular tour of the central intellectual forces of Western civilization. The book is essential reading for those who seek an understanding of the history of ideas and the role of nature in that history.
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Editorial Reviews

Los Angeles Times Book Review
Coates...begins with definition: What is this main character whose life story we would understand? A shape-changer, really; Nature has dozens of forms and faces, presenting a confusion of narrative threads. Coates untangles them well.
David Craig
Peter Coates's study of the evolving meaning of 'nature', in Europe and North America, is preoccupied with the human tendency to invade nature, altering, exploiting and 'reinventing' it....His strength lies in his method of weighing up someone's case or view...by testing it against what was happening on the ground. —London Review of Books
David Craig
Peter Coates's study of the evolving meaning of 'nature', in Europe and North America, is preoccupied with the human tendency to invade nature, altering, exploiting and 'reinventing' it....His strength lies in his method of weighing up someone's case or view...by testing it against what was happening on the ground.
London Review of Books
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780520244788
  • Publisher: University of California Press
  • Publication date: 12/20/2004
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 254
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.63 (d)

Meet the Author


Peter Coates is Senior Lecturer in the Department of Historical Studies at the University of Bristol.
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Table of Contents

1 The natures of nature 1
2 Ancient Greece and Rome 23
3 The Middle Ages 40
4 The advent of modernity 67
5 The world beyond Europe 82
6 Nature as landscape 110
7 Reassessments of nature : romantic and ecological 125
8 The disunited colours of nature 145
9 The future of nature 173
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