The natural world has more to teach us than the artificial one. Discuss.
October 25, 2017
When I give my students an in-class writing assignment, I write the assignment with them in class; I am subjected to the same constraints as they are, except that I type (the advantage of which should not be understated.) I'll post some of what I write here, not to show how an essay should be written (i.e. model essay) but as a way to subject myself to the same kind of scrutiny as they experience. I write decently (IMHO) but I make the same mistakes of not being informed about what I write about, not having a clear enough structure to an argument, having nothing to say (and subsequently having to make stuff up...)
Our natural world has more to teach us than our artificial one. Discuss.
We live in a grey area between the natural world and the artificial one. We see the conflict between the natural world and and the artificial world play out in front of us on a daily basis, whether it comes in the form of the nature reserve that has to be cleared in order to make way for a highway, or the dead birds that are washed ashore because of an oil spill. The discussion of whether our natural world has more to teach us than our artificial one is an important one to have because it rationalises the choices of urban planning and environmental conservation. In order to investigate this, we first have to consider what it means to “teach”.
Teaching suggests that the person imparting the knowledge has more knowledge about a particular issue than the person receiving it. Our natural world, which by definition could imply anything on this earth that is not a product of man’s intelligence, holds unknown secrets which could constitute untapped knowledge. Our artificial world, which by definition would be anything which is a product of man, is a representation of man’s knowledge. With that in mind, it could be argued that our natural world has more to teach us because it holds more untapped knowledge than the artificial world.
The natural world could hold many secrets that could help man survive as a species. Man is plagued by diseases and natural disasters. These diseases and natural disasters are a product of nature; sometimes, they are a direct reaction that nature has towards the artificial world. There have been many cures for diseases that have been found in plants, for example. In studying weather patterns, the natural world has also taught us the consequences of our actions. Besides man, the other greatest threat to man is the way the natural world is unable to sustain the artificial world and hence it is in studying, appreciating and learning from the natural world that the survival of man depends on.
If man is man’s greatest threat, than being taught how to be a better man would be a pivotal lesson in our survival. The natural world helps us to inculcate values which helps us to become better people. With power comes great responsibility; taking care of the natural world teaches us values such as responsibility, integrity, humility. These values are difficult to learn from the artificial world — whether we define the artificial world as a car or a job. Taking care of a car or performing a job well can nurture responsibility but it is ultimately self-serving. Taking of the natural world would imply a selflessness for another living thing, which often can involve a sacrifice on the part of the person. If I were to eat less beef to take care of the natural world, for example, it would entail a sacrifice on my part. The natural world teaches us a sense of selflessness because in taking care of this natural world it would entail a bigger sacrifice than if we take care of things in the artificial world.
The discussion of whether one has more to learn from the natural world or the artificial one is a subjective one, but as someone who has always been brought up with the concern of the environment in mind, it is easy for me to see the value in the natural world over the artificial one. Unfortunately, our way of life shows an imbalanced obsession with the artificial world, whether we think of artificial intelligence, artificial beauty or artificial ambition. People are unwilling to learn from the natural world, although it has so much to teach us, because of the perceived inconveniences in brings, which could exist because the powers-to-be want to hold on to their artificial world.