French mathematician and philosopher Blaise Pascal said, “Nature is an infinite sphere whose center is everywhere and whose circumference is nowhere.”
If you were to look up the word nature in the dictionary, you would find several different meanings. The English definition stems from the Latin word naturae, meaning “essential qualities or innate disposition,” which evolved from the Greek word physis.
Defined by the famous Greek philosopher Aristotle, he argued physis, or nature, contained its own source of matter and power. Similar to a seed that gets buried in the ground and later turns into a tree, nature, under this definition, contains its own infinite source of momentum and creative power.
This interpretation intrigued me and reminded me of the Hawaiian word mana, that life force energy that flows through all living things. I’m reminded of how thankful I am to live amongst a culture with such a reverence for the natural world. In Hawai’i, nature and culture are one and the same. How you treat nature reflects how you treat life in general. This differs greatly from Western culture, my culture, where nature is viewed as something separate from the individual.
Through my research (albeit brief) on the question of “What is Nature?” I’ve found while different cultures may have varying definitions on word, there appears to be two schools of thought regarding the subject. Either we see nature as a part of us or separate from us. And that perspective dictates how we interact with our environment.
That’s why I invite you today to ponder this question for yourself. How do you define nature? Whether you live in Hawai’i or visiting, I challenge you to revel on this matter for a moment and let us know how you view and define nature. Send us your thoughts at firstname.lastname@example.org. We can’t wait to see what you have to say.
With much appreciation,
Megan Rose Moseley
We would love to know what your answer to this simple yet very complicated question. It could be one word or an entire essay. Submissions will be reviewed and posted or printed in future issues.