Technology is human nature we have a terrible image of nature and technology, says philosopher Koert van Mensvoort. In his book Next Nature, he argues for a new perspective on both and the role of humans in them.
Our image of nature is a romantic concoction that mainly benefits marketers. Provide images of the heart (or whatever passes for that in advertisements), but the label ‘natural’ somewhere and checkout. In his book Next Nature, nature has become a product, says philosopher Koert van Mensvoort. Most cool off-road vehicles can be found in the city, and peach shampoo doesn’t use any fruit, but that shouldn’t spoil the fun. “Sex sells. But nature sells even better’, writes Van Mensvoort.
The fuss about whether or not to feed starving animals in the Oostvaardersplassen is the perfect illustration for Van Mensvoort of our complex relationship with nature. He also gives a witty example from his own experience at a holiday park. A swan defended its territory by purposefully snatching ducklings that came too close in its beak and shaking it to death. The visitors to the park were shocked. That swan was declared insane. Something wasn’t right here. Nature is beautiful, but it must remain fun. And above all meet our performance.
According to Van Mensvoort, it is time that we stop with our convulsive ideas about nature and nature. The character that we encounter is no more than a joint agreement. We call this part nature and not that. “We’ll point it out, put a fence around it, and go for a walk on Sunday.” He, therefore, reacts against the idea that we should go back to nature because that situation never existed. In his words, we must move towards the heart, which is inextricably linked to technology.
Koert van Mensvoort is the founder of the Next Nature Network. He is a multimedia artist, philosopher and university fellow at the Eindhoven University of Technology.
Man is a technological creature, argues Van Mensvoort. Our ability to develop technology has transformed us from an insignificant animal somewhere in the middle of the food chain to a dominant species. That is not negative, but something to be happy about and which we can do a lot of good with. He is getting tired of the negative view of the man of many self-proclaimed nature lovers. The idea that if man disappears from the picture, everything is peaceful, and all life forms live together perfectly harmoniously shows once again that our image of nature is entirely wrong.
Cooking And Clothing, Technology Is Human Nature
According to Van Mensvoort, nature and technology are intertwined been the case for a long time, but we hardly see that. Dairy and grain manufacturers also like to use ‘pure nature’, even though agriculture is one of the most influential technologies in our daily lives. But who sees agriculture as a technology? Virtually no one. The same goes for cooking – heating food to make it more edible and digestible. Or clothes. That was a brilliant idea, says Van Mensvoort. That you wrap an animal fur around you so that you are better protected against the cold. A technology, in other words, an action with which we can better arm ourselves against the natural (but now the actual) circumstances Technology is human nature
Van Mensvoort offers new definitions to give us a better grip on what nature is and what we consider technology. We should no longer put the two against each other but see them more like a scale. A scale that runs from ‘born’ (=nature) to ‘made’ (=technology). But is there still a scale, from ‘autonomous’ (= operating independently or character) to ‘controlled’ (= technology).
Hen, you immediately see no dichotomy between nature and technology, but that four flavours are possible. That banana is both born and controlled, for example. It is certainly not a pure natural product. And that we may have created the global financial system, but that we are not (anymore) under control. Like we can’t control volcanoes and earthquakes. The economic system, megacities, and the internet have become forces of nature.
Technosphere ,Technology Is Human Nature
By looking at both nature and technology in this new way, Van Mensvoort wants to help us think carefully about our future, the Earth, and everything that now lives on it. There is no strict division between the technosphere (all technology on Earth) and the biosphere (all life on Earth); they are inextricably linked. The biosphere and the geosphere (the lifeless Earth) are connected. We should not close ourselves off to technology but embrace it to shape our future in the best possible way.
Van Mensvoort does not think about the role and influence of technology. At the same time, he’s not a blind technology admirer either, which is precisely why his book is such a pleasure to read. Technology offers many opportunities, but we need to think carefully about how we want to use it and the dangers. We can only do that if we look at it openly and honestly and don’t cling to nostalgic visions of a nature that never existed. On to the Next Nature. And not just for a marked out walk on Sunday afternoon Technology is human nature.