What Is a Philosophy of Nature?

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  • Written By: Sarah Parrish
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  • Last Modified Date: 20 October 2019
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The philosophy of nature is a belief system founded on the idea that a natural state is a desirable one. While the philosophy of nature doesn't cater to people of a particular religion, for many theists who are also natural philosophers, appreciating and experiencing nature and natural beauty is akin to communing with God. Admiring the beauty of a flower, for example, is one small form of participation in the philosophy of nature.

Philosophers of nature include writers like Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry Thoreau, both of whom wrote prolifically. Emerson's "The Method of Nature" and Thoreau's "Walking" and "House-Warming" are written works that are now in the public domain and can be easily accessed for a first-hand view of the philosophy of nature. To fully understand the philosophy of nature, it can be beneficial to learn directly from the nature, itself, and educate oneself beforehand by reading works written by these and other natural philosophers.

Natural philosophy requires an observer to reflect on the existence of creatures in natural states. Tenets such as "life isn't fair" and "might makes right" are laws of nature, while a system of checks and balances, including social contracts, and political strategies have no place in natural philosophy. A natural philosopher would argue that balance isn't something that can be imposed on a system, but is inherent within a system, itself. The balance of species populations in ecosystems, for example, is inherent and not imposed.


Many views that define the philosophy of nature can be found in other philosophies. The appreciation of strength, whether mental or physical, can also be found in Objectivism, for example. The observation that families are close-knit groups, whether those families are elephants, dolphins or human beings, means that a close-knit family is held in high regard for philosophers of nature, but also well-respected in Christianity, Islam and other major world religions. Many observers, however religious they may be, find a great deal of satisfaction in the philosophy of nature.

Through appreciating natural forms and taking an active appreciation of the wilderness, the philosophy of nature also brings environmental awareness and environmental philosophy to a system of morals. For a natural philosopher, pollution is more than a hindrance to species; it's an immorality. It could be argued that most people are natural philosophers because they appreciate some things in a natural state.


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Post 3

I became interested in philosophy of nature after adopting a cat and observing cats' behavior. I see them talking to one another, making friends, having families and caring for one another. Animals are not much different from humans.

Post 2

@bluedolphin-- Nature is also very important in Christianity. There are many verses in the Bible about plants and animals. God actually likens people's troubles and circumstances to those in nature. So nature, its balance and perfection is also an example for people in many ways.

Take when God talks about birds and how they find feed daily despite not having any stored in Matthew 6:26. So just as God takes care of nature and the animals in it, He is saying that He takes care of us similarly.

Post 1

Doesn't the philosophy of nature relate to all religions? After all, in all religions, there is an admiration of nature because it was created by God and bestowed on people as a favor.

For example, in Islam, nature and things in nature are signs of God's magnificence and favor and also a test for people. Respecting nature and the plants and animals that reside in it, is something that is liked by God. On the other hand, destroying nature and not caring for it, can be seen as disrespect to God's creation and therefore indirectly disrespect of God as well.

When I see a beautiful flower or a bird chirping away on a branch, I feel like thanking

God for creating these things and allowing me to witness them. Because nature is like a remedy. It relieves stress and makes us more grateful and grounded human beings. And these are emotions that are universal and applicable to all faiths and belief systems.

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