Sheeps bones in field; very much nature

Roture is an existing word in French, but in this post, I introduce it as an alternative for how the words nature and natural are defined and used in modern green thinking.

The origin of contemporary Western environmental thinking can be traced back to the work of the French philosopher Jean Jacques Rousseau. In his time, Rousseau introduced an attractive alternative to the then prevailing Christian doctrine of Original Sin. His idea that people are born innocent and subsequently corrupted by society was later translated by people such as William Wordsworth and Henri David Thoreau into the mantra which still holds today: industry pollutes and ordinary people are innocent.

Definition of nature

Rousseau also has a peculiar definition of nature. He and his green successors hold a romantic view of nature. They have defined nature as something to be admired and protected, as if nature is only beautiful and not also limiting and destructive. Using the word nature for that is incorrect; Roture (romantic or Rousseau nature) is a better fitting term. We need to be clear what we talk about, when we talk about nature.

As a result, the conflict between the development of mankind and the conservation of the natural environment is played out on a much smaller stage; that of the conflict between industrial pollution and romanticized nature (Roture). Significant parts of the larger conflict remain hidden in our collective unconscious.

In practice, this leads to endless contradictions. For example: an Environmental Impact Assessment is required for the construction of a road but not for researching a life enhancing drug; laws regulate industrial pollution but not the consumption of industrial products; many NGOs are involved in environmental protection but also in providing development aid; levies are constructed against flood and this is not regarded as an environmental impact; and less toxic pesticides are being developed but the fight against malaria is continuing.

Emily Dickinson

The sky is low, the clouds are mean. A traveling flake of snow across a barn or through a rut, debates if it will go. A narrow wind complains all day, how someone treated him. Nature, like us is sometimes caught without her diadem.

1 reply

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] Bewust of onbewust dragen orthodoxe media nog het standpunt uit dat ‘de ander’ en ‘de industrie’ verwijtbaar zijn voor verwoesting van de natuurlijke onschuld. En dat ‘het kind’ of ‘het individu’ onschuldig is. De Natuur is Goed en De Maatschappij is slecht, of Het Systeem. Een mythe die wij beschrijven in hoofdstuk 9 van Ecomodernisme, het Nieuwe Denken over Groen en Groei, waarvan de oorsprong ook volgens milieuconsultant Jos Tissen ligt bij Jean Jacques Rousseau en de 19de eeuwse Romantiek. […]

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Other posts about Nature

Panda coinJos Tissen

A visualization of the conflict between development and conservation

This page aims to visualize the conflict between development and conservation. Sets of images are presented to show that an incomplete definition of nature and an incomplete sense of accountability will ultimately hinder our progress.
Train in front of The Hague skylineJos Tissen

Polarization and reducing the environmental burden

Polarized engagements are normal and almost feel natural. Why is it beneficial to continue like this; who wins? In this post, I would like to demonstrate that a polarized approach is ineffective and how environmental communication can be improved. Simple logical tests can be applied to invalidate polarized arguments and to identify common ground. An analysis of payoffs and costs can reveal further options for bridging differences.
Sheeps bones in field; very much natureJos Tissen

The definition of the words nature and natural

Roture is an existing word in French, but in this post, I introduce a new and different meaning of the word. Contemporary Western environmental thinking uses the word nature in a manner that is ill-suited for environmental challenges such as the debate about global warming.
Theater visitors in anticipationJos Tissen

The difference between subjective and objective environmental data

Informed decisions need to be based on unbiased information; but is that even possible? It is important to realize that questions and statements are value driven. When I look at data, I want to separate the facts from their cultural interpretation.
Laakmolen Den HaagJos Tissen

What are the limits of green ideology?

The ideology of the current environmental movement is a product of the society we live in, but it is not as effective as it needs to be. We need to start a new conversation about the environmental impacts that we have. Otherwise, we don’t see what we have achieved nor what we could be achieving.
Pirat sign on Scheveningen beachJos Tissen

How to depolarize the environmental debate

There is something theatrical about the polarization in our society between those advocating development and those advocating environmental conservation. The discussions appear to be between opposites, but are actually between partial definitions of these opposites. Like a play within a play. Such polarization is a distortion of responsibility.