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The definitions all present a slightly different take on Nature. Some include human involvement while others strictly separate Nature from human influences. In my opinion it makes little sense to exclude the creations of humans, as we are clearly as much a part of nature as any other living being. Therefore all our acts, even seemingly strange behaviours and “artificial“outcomes should be included. This means that a plastic cup, a car and a computer are as much a part and outcome of nature as is a tree, cat or human. Just because we make distinctions between living, non-living and man made things doesn’t mean that it is not all ultimately the result of the same big system.


 

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After all, plastic cups, cars and computers essentially consist of natural elements. It is just that we humans’ have the knowledge, skills and capacities to transform these naturally existing resources into the mentioned functional items. At the same time, a more liberal inclusion of things is not enough to explain and define nature. It is not the elements and products that matter, but rather the recognition of nature being a force that is the most crucial aspect, because without it, life and their creations would never have developed in the first place.


Some people may disagree with this conclusion and understandably sense an argument in support of intelligent design. Here I need to point out that is not my intention to support the notion of intelligent design. At the same time I must admit that I do recognize an aspect of this idea, which may be of great relevance (See “Is intelligent design really so unintelligent?”).


My current view of Nature is that it is not just about gravity, magnetism, electrical charges, chemical processes and other more or less presently known physical principles. If it were, then Nature as a force would not “necessarily” generate phenomena that exhibit “direction”. We call this direction evolution. Things keep getting more complex and enhanced over time, with an increase in aptitude upon previous capacities and conditions. This phenomenon is to be found in all forms of life and if it would not take place we would never have evolved from single procaryotic cells and beyond into what we are today. This I believe is the most crucial point to be recognized.

 

Having come to the concluding view that nature is essentially a driving force, my definition of nature is that it is...

     "an innate energy that allows the generation of progressive outcomes"

This definition is different to others in that it recognizes Nature to be a force with the potential to create progressive outcomes. It is only “potentially” possible for Nature to unfold its power if particular conditions are present. I.E: Water, soil, certain temperatures and other bio-chemical prerequisites.


As you can see it isn’t easy to define nature as one thinks and yet we are quick to judge and label things as natural and unnatural. Nature remains the big unknown force which is key to all life on earth and likely the entire universe. Hopefully you are able to recognize that there may be more to nature than what we have been told and what meets the eye.


Lastly, no matter what nature is or what it specifically entails, what is important to realise is that we are a pro-active and reciprocal elements within Nature, elements with a growing amount of potential. What we think and do matters and have an enormous impact on how the world will continue to unfold. Each one of us has the potential to change the world. (link coming soon - See chapter “What you can do”).


--- Discuss this topic in the forum. ---

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Nature is everything that isn’t man made

This may be people’s most common perception of nature. However, if humans are considered part of nature, so should be their creations, in fact all their creations without any restrictions. The ability to construct and use tools is a capacity that nature enables us to do. There are some animals that use tools in order to get food, escape or defend themselves. Like the Egyptian vultures, Woodpecker finches, Green herons, hooded monkeys and chimps for example.

Of course humans’ capabilities to build and utilize tools and materials are far superior to animals. But nevertheless, the principle remains the same. Animals and humans’ alike are trying to the best of their abilities to complete a particular task or reach a specific goal. The only difference is that humans have a much greater range of options, which consequently results in much more diverse creations and outcomes.


A primitive state of existence; untouched and uninfluenced by civilization or artificiality

This definition is similar to the first definition as it separates human creations from “natural” existence.


The material world and its phenomena

This is a very broad description and perhaps a bit too general.


The world and its naturally occurring phenomena, together with all of the physical laws that govern them

This is also a fairly broad account, with the inclusion of mentioning physical laws.


The forces and processes that produce and control all the phenomena of the material world

In this explanation reference is made to forces instead of physical laws. However, it is not clear what is meant with forces. Is it solely about physical laws or does it recognize nature as a force separately in addition?


The whole system of the existence, forces, and events of the physical world that are not controlled by human beings

This explanation recognizes the entire physical existence and the forces of the world, but disregards humans as a reciprocal component.


Living organisms and their environments

This definition is also general as it includes “all living organisms and their environments”. It is also open to interpretations about what is meant with “their environments”? Does this description refer to traditionally mainstream recognized “natural” environments, or extend out thoroughly, with the inclusion of human made environments? The latter would include “artificial” products such as steel, concrete, glass and plastic materials which are part of a modern day human environment. There is also no mention of a force that allows all this to happen.


The external world in its entirety

This again is a broad definition without mention of a force, the probably most important feature and characteristic of nature.


The physical world including all natural phenomena and living things

This is similar to the last definition with the inclusion of all “natural phenomena”, but with no distinct mention of a force.


A creative and controlling force in the universe

This definition presents a slightly different take as it focuses solely on the force behind all the created phenomena.


The forces and processes collectively that control the phenomena of the physical world independently of human volition or intervention, sometimes personified as a woman called "Mother Nature."

This definition has also its focus on a force (or several forces). However, I question the necessity of pointing out Natures’ independency from human volition and intervention. Else one could point out the independency from all other species and living things, including plants and bacteria, which would only reopen the question “What is nature?”

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     What is Nature?

 

It is generally the view that Nature is everything that isn’t created by humans. At the same time a distinction of Nature is made by differentiating between living (biotic - animals and plants) and non-living nature (abiotic - such as water, rocks and gases).

Other definitions for nature are that it is…


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Everything that isn't man made
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A primitive state of existence; untouched and uninfluenced by civilization or artificiality
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The material world and its phenomena
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The forces and processes that produce and control all the phenomena of the material world
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The whole system of the existence, forces, and events of the physical world that are not controlled by human beings
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The world and its naturally occurring phenomena, together with all of the physical laws that govern them
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Living organisms and their environments
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A creative and controlling force in the universe
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The external world in its entirety
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The physical world including all natural phenomena and living things
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The forces and processes collectively that control the phenomena of the physical world independently of human volition or intervention, sometimes personified as a woman called "Mother Nature"


Following is a brief review on the listed definitions above, as all of them seem to be somewhat lacking.  A suggestion for another defintion, perhaps one that is more comprehensive is offered afterwards also. But have a look for yourself. Perhaps you can relate to those already established defintions, or find the proposed view also not encomassing enough. Either way, don't forget that you have the option to voice yourself in the forum section.