People in different societies often have different understandings of their relationships with their natural environments. Examine such differences studying at least THREE contrasting societies. Do these differences reflect the relationships that people have with one another in these societies?
In this essay I shall examine the understandings of mans relationship with their natural relationship by examining such relationships in four separate societies. These being; the Mbuti of the Congo region/ Zaire; the Mardu Aborigines; the Lele of the Kasai and in contrast our own western society and the changes throughout history.
Western Society is inevitably influenced by the teachings of the Bible. However throughout history the interpretations have varied throughout history as each generation has inevitably drawn what it wished to suit there own cultural situation and also inevitable the interpretations of the Christian church have also inevitably been influenced by philosophy and popular pools of thought throughout time.
For Aristotle, everything had a purpose; plants were there for animals and animals there for the use of man. There were, for him three elements to the soul, but only man was capable of having a rational soul. The Stoics also believed that "nature existed solely to serve mans interests." (Thomas 1983: 17) Our society has grown with this background of belief. Theologians could readily look to the bible to back these theories up. It was interpreted that in the Garden of Eden man had god given control and rights over everything (nature) within. After the fall or original sin this right was lost and man and beast no longer had the harmonious relationship of the past. Plant life itself became harder to manipulate, domestic animals required coercion into service and wild animals with claws and sharp teeth threatened mans survival. After the Flood and Noah God returned man's right over the natural world "Every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you" (Thomas 1983: 18)
With such a background of belief nature has been viewed previously as separate and distinct from the world of men. It was there to be battled with, tamed or controlled. Every animal had been viewed in terms of its usefulness to man.
However this intrinsic dogma, it could be argued, was a result of interpretation. There are plenty that would argue that in the past, Christianity and western society had ignored the interpretation of the Bible that argues man's responsibility for God's creatures. It could be argued that man's view of nature as an object that was to be used and controlled stemmed not from religion but from peasant culture and the emergence of an economy based on the exchange of money rather than services and the acquisition of personal property.
Rene Descartes held the view that animals were like machines, capable of complex behaviour, as a computer is capable of doing complex mathematical calculations or a clock capable of telling the time,...