Skip to comments.What Is Natural, and Is It Better?
Posted on 11/18/2013 7:15:18 PM PST by Enza Ferreri
The word natural is treated in a way peculiar in the extreme. This perhaps reflects our confused ideas about nature, or perhaps darker, more sinister misconceptions are at work.
There is a strange dichotomy between the positive connotation of natural in one realm (that encompassing health, food, medicine, environmental management, and the like) and the negative connotation of natural in another realm (social and political organization).
If you use the adjective natural in conjunction with objects of the first group, eg natural remedies, natural substances, natural environment, it is almost invariably taken as a virtue, a good qualitative appreciation.
If, on the other hand, you use natural in discussions of the second group of subjects, for example regarding differences between sexes, sexual orientation or a thorny question such as war, its use is at best controversial, and at worst considered a threat against the march of progress.
In expressions like "natural foods" or "natural medicines", "natural" is taken to mean, among other things, "good" and "not harmful". In the case of remedies or drugs of natural source, the idea is that they shouldn't have the nasty side effects of other drugs.
In fact, there have been cases of harmful side effects of so-called natural and herbal remedies, much the same as the risk exists with all medicines.
And, if you think about it, there's no reason why it should be otherwise. Poisonous mushrooms are natural, and so is snakes' venom.
The idea that substances occcurring naturally should necessarily be good is a fantasy, but a widespread one. Nature knows best is the dogmatic slogan in this field of thought.
But, when we discuss sexual roles, the natural, biologically determined forces moulding the behaviours of men and women are treated as demonic entities to be fought tooth and nail. Something similar applies to many explanations of social facts, events and behaviour in terms of nature, including class differences, race differences, sexual orientation, violence, war.
In all these areas we know better than nature, we can improve on it, or this is the received wisdom.
We dont know whether our view of social organization is indeed better than a more natural one. Of course, the dispute is often about what is natural, but frequently that simply shifts the question, because the sort of people who have utopias and are certain about what the best society would be are also people who defy the most compelling scientific data and reject the most overwhelming empirical evidence when these dont conform with their own pet theories.
I think that both attitudes are wrong, or rather that this dichotomic attitude, which expresses itself in the two faces of the same coin, is wrong. There should not be an a priori value judgement about nature and what is natural, in either direction.
Each situation where we compare something natural with something artificial, or created by human individuals and societies, should be considered according to the particular circumstances of the case and judged accordingly.
Uranium ore is natural. Don’t eat it! ;-)
Rattle snake venom is natural . . .
That stated we are label readers and eat a clean diet. To each his own, though.
Crude oil is natural.
Poison ivy and dog poop are natural and organic.
Nature stinks and at the same time can also be beautiful and fragrent.
natural works for stuff — i make some nice natural lotions. for people moral is the word of art
Basically the problem present goes back to Mr. J.J. Rousseau and the concept of the noble savage.
It is probably one of the most harmful ideas of all time in many ways. You see it manifested in everything from the the anti-vaccine movement to the war energy production.
The noble savage is right up there with Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs (Experimentally proven to be false BTW)and the concept of the great Jewish/Military Industrialist Complex/Illuminati/Free Mason/League of Shadows (take your pick) conspiracy that secretly rules the world.
The idea that natural is inherently better simply because it is natural would be laughable if so many people didn’t buy into it.
My usual response: scorpion venom is all-natural, too, but I’m not going to drink it.
“This Coniine drink is delicious!” - Socrates
Just go with the extra natural super size, hunter-gatherer approved, fair trade stuff.
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