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Natural and Artificial
I thought I would clarify something about how I use these terms, since
there is a difference of idea between some of us and how they are used.
The dichotomy "natural vs. artificial" has been equated as "of human
origin vs. everthing else," and I would like to assert that this is not at
all how I use the terms. And this is the only reason I am doing this now,
since I forgot to add this yesterday, so appologies for the pedantry.
>From http://www.askoxford.com/concise_oed/, the OED defines "natural" as:
"_adjective_ - 1) existing in or derived from nature; not made, caused by,
or processed by humankind. 2) in accordance with nature; normal or to be
expected: a natural death. 3) born with a particular skill or quality: a
natural leader. 4) relaxed and unaffected. 5 (of a parent or child)
related by blood. 6) archaic illegitimate. 7) Music (of a note) not
sharpened or flattened.
_noun_ 1) a person with an innate gift or talent. 2) an off-white colour.
3) Music a natural note or a sign (&natl;) denoting one. 4) archaic a
person mentally handicapped from birth."
In the usages for adjectives, I refer the reader to 1 and 2.
"nature" is defined as:
"_noun_ - 1) the physical world, including plants, animals, the landscape,
and natural phenomena, as opposed to humans or human creations. 2) the
inherent qualities or characteristics of a person or thing. 3) a kind,
sort, or class: topics of a religious nature. 4) hereditary
characteristics as an influence on or determinant of personality. Often
contrasted with NURTURE."
Note this inimical dichotomy of "man vs. nature" and "human vs.
"_adjective_ - 1) made as a copy of something natural. 2) contrived or
Note the absence of a reference to man. Artificial, and artifact, derive
from the words _ars_ (L., art) and _facere_ (L., to make), thus a creation
of a sort.
In this case, when I speak of artificial, I speak of something that is,
in fact, not a "natural" occurence or that, which in its "nature," was not
constructed by something else, but that which occurs because it was caused
to be. An anthill, birds' nests, termite mounds, the Devil's Corkscrew,
and the pug breed are all, thus, "artificial." Pugs were born, thus their
creation itself is natural, but their collection and continued
perseverence is NOT natural, in the sense above.
Indeed, my use of natural requires no opposition to artifactual, or
inference to human kind. Instead, I use "natural" as that which, if one
approximates using geology, wave action accumulates a beach by grains of
sand through erosion from other areas: thus, the beach is "natural" since
it occured without any act made upon it. If the beach was "built" (as in
Disneyworld's Typhoon Lagoon or various world resorts) it was not natural,
but artificial, though the sand itself occured naturally (by the same
token as a beach in Hawai`i). As stated before, anything made or acted
upon becomes an artifactual occurrence, even if the source material was
not. Pugs are themselves products of an artificial source while their
existence is natural (sex, meiosis, etc., all generally being unmanaged by
humans), to further explain this and put this into context.
Jaime A. Headden
Little steps are often the hardest to take. We are too used to making leaps
in the face of adversity, that a simple skip is so hard to do. We should all
learn to walk soft, walk small, see the world around us rather than zoom by it.
"Innocent, unbiased observation is a myth." --- P.B. Medawar (1969)
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