John Muir Nature

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Throughout history, a central question to human identity has been “can I improve myself?”. To naturalist John Muir, the answer to this is irrevocably yes. Muir goes beyond just arguing that a person can improve themselves and goes on to theorize on the best way to go about this enhancement. Muir believes that the best way to improve yourself is through experiences with nature, as is evident in the collection of his written works titled Essential Muir: A Selection of John Muir’s Best Writings. By interacting with wild, untouched nature, people can learn more about not only about themselves but also engage in a spiritual experience with God. Nature provides a setting in which people can both remember, dream, feel alive, and experience a paradoxical…show more content…
This claim is based upon the developing idea during the late 19th early 20th centuries that humans are inseparable from nature, a belief that coincided with the development of uniformitarianism. Because of the concept that humans and nature are intrinsically tied, by improving nature, we improve ourselves. However, Muir is not advocating for manmade improvement that requires taming land. In fact, he thinks that the act of civilizing land deteriorates nature by causing even “the noblest forests of the world, the ground, once divinely beautiful” to become “desolate and repulsive”. Instead, the environment should be left alone and allowed to be wild. In order to ensure that humans are being beneficial, not harmful to the environment, Muir claims that humans should engage with nature in a two fold manner. First, they must study nature in a scholarly and scientific sense. Then, they must go into the wild, with their book knowledge to understands what is really going on in the nature around them. By both understanding and experiencing the environment, which simultaneously improves it, a person is consequently understanding more and improving…show more content…
Because of uniformitarianism, Muir and his contemporaries believed that humans are a part of nature. This further implies that perhaps, nature too can interact with God. Muir affirms this notion when he writes that in order to get an answer a Sequoia should “ask the lord”. Because there is now a relationship that exists between God and nature beyond the simple idea that nature was meant for human consumption and human use, Muir implies that mankind can better connect with God if they understand all of his creations. So by extension, if man can understand himself more clearly by engaging with nature, then he will understand God better and thereby improve himself because he will be closer to God. As a result, the improvement of nature is a spiritual journey just as it is an intellectual, personal, and scientific
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