When we think of “nature” we are likely to think of something like endless landscapes, possibly filled with wild animals and plants. In other words, our idea of nature is opposed to civilisation and embraces animals, plants, and possibly minerals in a human-free environment
The problem with this sort of associations is that it is heavily culturally influenced, for instance, by Eighteenth c. paintings about “nature” (e.g., the ones by William Turner). By contrast, this imagery of "nature" just did not exist as such in the West before Romanticism. A conspicuous example is the comparison of the art of gardening in the Renaissance and in the Romanticism: in the first case, architects created well-ordered gardens, with logical and often geometrical structure, which are apparently human-made. By contrast, Romantic gardens aim at looking non-human made, and have stones instead of sculptures, grottoes instead of sculpted pavillons, ponds and water falls instead of fountains, etc. (As paradigmatic example of Renaissance garden architect one may think of Philibert de l’Orme (late 16th. c.) and compare his gardens with, e.g., the Grotto at Bowood, 18th c.)
The same applies to poetry, where "nature'' plays a similar role, think, e.g., of the following lines by
Yet not a city, but a flood of ruin
Is there, that from the boundaries of the sky
Rolls its perpetual stream; vast pines are strewing
Its destined path, or in the mangled soil
Branchless and shattered stand: the rocks, drawn down
From yon remotest waste, have overthrown
The limits of the dead and living world,
Never to be reclaimed (Percy B. Shelley, Mont Blanc).
In fact, for contemporary Westerners it is difficult to think of “nature” outside the precincts of the Romantic exaltation of wild flora, fauna and landscapes as opposed to civilization and its flaws.
With these lines I do not mean to say that this concept of "nature" is a new creation of Romanticism. In fact, it has notable anticipations (e.g., the use of labyrinths already hints at "wild'', "dangerous'' environments such as a real wood) and could not be thinkable without the preceding history of Western culture, from Lucretius to the king Arthur's legends. Moreover, Western European Romanticism is most probably not the first time and place where "nature'' has been conceptualised in this way. Nonetheless, we as Western scholars must be aware of the prejudices we carry with us due to the lasting influence of Romanticism (and its appendixes and antagonists, including Positivism:-)).
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(If you are curious about "nature" in Indian philosophy, you can check the label "nature" in my previous blog.)