From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
"There are times when I wonder whether nature isn't really the one to hold responsible. It seems a lot easier to blame nature than to blame men (although blaming society runs a close second)." --Combat in the Erogenous Zone (1972) by Ingrid Bengis
"I am come in very truth leading to you Nature with all her children to bind her to your service and make her your slave." --"The Masculine Birth of Time" (1603) by Francis Bacon
Nature, in the broadest sense, is equivalent to the natural world, physical universe, material world or material universe. "Nature" refers to the phenomena of the physical world, and also to life in general. The term generally does not include manufactured objects and human interaction unless qualified in ways such as, e.g., "human nature" or "the whole of nature". Nature is also generally distinguished from the supernatural, the unnatural and the synthetic.
From Middle English natur, nature, from Old French nature, from Latin nātūra (“birth, origin, natural constitution or quality”), future participle from perfect passive participle (g)natus (“born”), from deponent verb (g)nasci (“to be born, originate”) + future participle suffix -urus. Replaced native Middle English cunde, icunde (“nature, property, type, genus, character”) (from Old English ġecynd), Middle English lund (“nature, disposition”) (from Old Norse lund), Middle English burthe (“nature, birth, nation”) (from Old English ġebyrd and Old Norse *byrðr). More at kind.
Aesthetics and beauty
Beauty in nature has historically been a prevalent theme in art and books, filling large sections of libraries and bookstores. That nature has been depicted and celebrated by so much art, photography, poetry and other literature shows the strength with which many people associate nature and beauty. Reasons why this association exists, and what the association consists of, is studied by the branch of philosophy called aesthetics. Beyond certain basic characteristics that many philosophers agree about to explain what is seen as beautiful, the opinions are virtually endless. Nature and wildness have been important subjects in various eras of world history. An early tradition of landscape art began in China during the Tang Dynasty (618–907). The tradition of representing nature as it is became one of the aims of Chinese painting and was a significant influence in Asian art.
Although natural wonders are celebrated in the Psalms and the Book of Job, wilderness portrayals in art became more prevalent in the 1800s, especially in the works of the Romantic movement. British artists John Constable and J. M. W. Turner turned their attention to capturing the beauty of the natural world in their paintings. Before that, paintings had been primarily of religious scenes or of human beings. William Wordsworth's poetry described the wonder of the natural world, which had formerly been viewed as a threatening place. Increasingly the valuing of nature became an aspect of Western culture. This artistic movement also coincided with the Transcendentalist movement in the Western world. A common classical idea of beautiful art involves the word mimesis, the imitation of nature. Also in the realm of ideas about beauty in nature is that the perfect is implied through perfect mathematical forms and more generally by patterns in nature. As David Rothenburg writes, "The beautiful is the root of science and the goal of art, the highest possibility that humanity can ever hope to see".
Art in nature and nature in art
- Mother Nature
- Nature (philosophy)
- Naturalism (philosophy): any of several philosophical stances, typically those descended from Materialism and Pragmatism that do not distinguish the supernatural from nature. This includes the methodological naturalism of natural science, which makes the methodological assumption that observable events in nature are explained only by natural causes, without assuming either the existence or non-existence of the supernatural.
- Balance of nature (biological fallacy): A discredited concept of natural equilibrium in predator:prey dynamics.
- The Greek word physis (φύσις).