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How Do People Conceive the Environment.pdf

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ANTH 206
Peter Rudiak- Gould

Realism Nature is just there People observe it and conceive of it accordingly Problems No room for human agency Different people in the same place think about the env. differently Constructivism Hard version says Nature does not exist as a physical reality at all Only thoughts exist Transcendental relativism Different cultures live in different worlds Which they have created Problems Too philosophically far-fetched No reason for environmental activism We could think our way out of env. problems Softer version says Nature exists but we are free to think anything at all of it Problems What is the use of knowledge of ecological knowledge? Nature CAN surprise us Coproduction Neither (nature or people's view of nature) comes first Nature does have some independence People still have space for agency Why Different Views? 1. We don't live "on" the planet; we live in local areas We don't experience the same world e.g. Marshall Islands: children who think the whole world is made of coral atolls 2. There is too much to know, so we choose what to notice --> influenced by biases and worldviews Confirmation bias 3. The environment is often continuous but our categories are usually discrete We draw lines where there is not actual limits Thus different societies have different categories e.g. When does a child become an adult? When does a fertilized egg become a human being? 4. Observing the environment can tell us how it works, but it won't tell us what to think of it Create different values Case Studies Western Subdue it as a subordinate Protect it It needs us, either as a harsh parent or a protective one Cree Exchange with it as an equal Non-humans are persons too Amerindians of Canada Hunting is cooperative, not competitive Nature gives food to the hunter in the form of animals The hunter in return gives food back to nature by burning the food and releasing the smoke It is arrogant to expect to catch an animal Or over-hunt or under-hunt T
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