The Domination of Nature by William Leiss

By William Leiss

The final 3 many years have noticeable expanding main issue over ecology and environmental difficulties. Scientists, social thinkers, public officers, and the general public were aroused by means of the popularity that failure to appreciate the damaging effect of business society and complex applied sciences at the tender stability of natural existence within the worldwide environment may end up in devastating difficulties for destiny generations. William Leiss argues that this worldwide difficulty has to be understood when it comes to deeply rooted attitudes in the direction of nature. He strains the origins, improvement, and social outcomes of an idea whose imprint is in every single place in sleek concept: the assumption of the domination of nature. partly One Leiss lines the assumption of the domination of nature from the Renaissance to the 19th century. Francis Bacon's seminal paintings presents the pivotal aspect for this dialogue and, via an unique interpretation of Bacon's idea, Leiss exhibits how momentous ambiguities within the concept have been integrated into smooth suggestion. via the start of the 20 th century the idea that had develop into firmly pointed out with medical and technological growth. This truth defines the duty of half . utilizing very important contributions by means of eu sociologists and philosophers, Leiss significantly analyses the function of technological know-how and expertise within the smooth international. within the concluding bankruptcy he places the assumption of mastery over nature into ancient standpoint and explores a brand new strategy, in response to the probabilities of the "liberation of nature." initially released in 1972, The Domination of Nature was once a part of the 1st wave of common curiosity in environmental concerns. those concerns have reemerged in lots of industrialized international locations, strengthened via planetary dynamics resembling threats of world warming (or cooling) and ozone depletion. In an intensive new preface Leiss explains why his learn is as correct as ever.

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In the following chapters I have tried to clarify the historical origins of the idea of mastery over nature and to answer the questions posed above. Were it possible to penetrate the multiform guises of the problem and to distill a single statement of it from the vast literature in which mastery of nature figures so prominently, we might phrase it as follows: the cunning of unreason is revealed in the persistent illusion that the undertaking known as "the mastery of nature" is itself mastered.

2 Haldane permitted himself a few pages of fantasy: he imagined a future society likely to emerge from the tendencies of his own day, a society in which human reproduction takes place by means of artificial conception using a select stock of superior genetic types, and in which all the oceans have turned purple as a result of an alga (deliberately cultivated by artificial fertilizers) that had increased enormously the supply of fish available for consumption. Almost immediately, Bertrand Russell replied to Haldane with a polemic called Icarus, or the Future of Science.

12 Paul B. Sears, a botanist and ecologist, sees much the same kind of development: "From the time 14 IN PURSUIT OF AN IDEA: HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVES of Bacon or, to be quite fair, that of Aristotle, scientists have written of the possibilities of a more perfect human society. " ™ And in a book that describes one of the most famous modern Utopias, B. F. " " Many additional examples of a similar type could be cited. The point is relatively simple: the conquest of nature is accomplished through the agency of modern science as a vital element in the quest for Utopia.

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