Monday, January 29, 2007

Some thoughts about Pan's Travail

I am finding it interesting to read Hughes' book keeping in mind the other articles we have read, particularly Proctor's article. Certain statements that Hughes makes--things which I normally would have passed right by--strike me. For example, at the end of chapter 3, Hughes says that the various crises he's described "represent a true ecological disaster caused by human actions" (35). Something about this sentence seemed odd to me when I first read it, as if it had a logical flaw. The problems he's describing--infertile land, basically--are problems because they render nature useless to humans. To turn around and say they are caused by "human actions" seems oversimplified and redundant because if humans hadn't acted on nature, then there would be no context for the problems in the first place. (Might it be more accurate to say the problems were caused by poor management of nature rather than simply "human actions"?) It brings back the whole idea of intrinsic versus instrumental value of nature--in this case, Hughes assumes a very instrumental view, here and throughout the book (as he probably should, since he is describing the role of the environment in shaping civilizations). I don't really take issue with Hughes's point of view at all, and I understand what he is saying, but it is something that jumped out at me in light of the Proctor article. Just things to ponder, I suppose.

I also noticed the superscript 2 on CO2 in the Marx. And I agree, even though it's kind of trivial, it really takes away some credibility. That's very basic knowledge, I would think.

Haha good point about the beans. I wondered why they ate leafy vegetables but not beans. Hmmm. I guess it has to do with eating the seeds, because that's the part that becomes new life, right?

Katie Hansen

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