What is more important, humans or nature? What are five reasons that support each side?

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arielrawson eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Humans are more important than nature:

1) The idea of nature requires the human mind, consciousness, knowledge to conceptualize and qualify what the existence (or nature) of nature even is to give nature legible form in language

2) The history of human civilization is the history of the domination of nature to human mastery -- think of the transformations of vast natural landscapes into urban and agricultural human settlements, the development of technology, sciences, etc.

3) The increasingly accepted idea of the Anthropocene attests to the fact that humans are a geologic force with the power of altering the trajectory of the earth (a role that nature supposedly once played)

4) In addition to humans mastering nature, they also can create nature -- artificial or synthesized natures (think AI or Genetically Modified Organisms)

5) Nature cannot be transformed into wealth without modification by socially necessary human labour 

Nature is more important than humans:

1) Humans evolved from nature; nature is the primordial stuff of human life, social life

2) Even after having evolved a distinctly cultural nature, it is natural (as in environmental) factors that shape the possibilities and impossibilities of particular cultural formations 

3) Whenever humans think they have mastered nature, nature comes back with a vengeance...it is non-discriminatory in its destructiveness to other forms of life and human life alike 

4) Nature is a necessary precondition for not just wealth creation but subsistence (biological sustenance)

5) Humans lose their humanity as they destroy nature and their relationship to the (pre-technocratic) natural -- both at a philosophical level and material level, as their mode of production breaches the limit of planetary boundaries