How do you define nature?

Written by Steven Shaviro, “Twenty-Two Theses on Nature” is a publication from a Yearbook for Comparative Literature. His piece challenges the way nature is commonly viewed and provides for 22 alternative explanations for what its true form is, rather than the mundane “the things that surround us.” It pushes for the idea that nature has its own consciousness; it’s constantly changing— with or without human impact. However, this doesn’t mean the consequences of human intervention should be disregarded because nature will still change form. It simply means nature has a mind of her own. Shaviro’s piece shines light on how understanding our relationship with the environment and acknowledging its consciousness is the first step into tackling the climate crisis. 

The first thesis stating nature isn’t “one side of a binary opposition,” was quite striking to me. In the age of the climate crisis, it’s easy to view the issue as “humans vs. nature.” We’re forgetting that humans ARE a part of nature. Humans have always had a relationship with nature, dating from times even before hunters and gatherers. The climate crisis isn’t about humans relying too much on the natural world, it’s about our exploitation of it. It’s imperative to understand how our relationship with our environment has changed throughout the last decades and how it’s no longer something that’s mutualistic.