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The Philosophy Of Wilderness

At this crucial juncture in environmental degradation, where it is claimed that threats to our physical environment have reached the highest echelons in the times of our generation; it is important to understand the place of humans vis-a-vis nature.  The فلسفة of wilderness and its relationship with natural world has answered the questions posed by contemporary problems. What actually is the meaning of wilderness? Wildness is often talked about as something which depends on perception of one person or the other.  The roots of the word wilderness reveal that wilderness is a place unique to wild animals.  The central root in this word is wild and is found as wilde in old English and surviving examples defined it as adjective for wild animals and plants that were not domesticated.51PsCFBZDXL._SX327_BO1,204,203,200_

The word wilderness has been in the Wilderness Act of 1964 as: “in contrast with those areas where man and his own works dominate the landscape … as an area where the earth and its community of life are untrammelled by man, where man himself is a visitor who does not remain.”  The concept of wilderness has played an intriguing and important role in culture of America and in the development of American environmentalism. The major objective of colonisation, as broached by the vanity of imperialists was the conquering of wilderness.  Even after spending ample time in the wilderness, man did not conquer wilderness but was rather conquered by it.55327_girl-writing_lg-1

After a long time the sense of wilderness was embroiled into near extinction because it was increasingly being thought that: wilderness was a man made creation.  Thoreau’s statement: “In wilderness is the preservation of the world” is popular with everybody including amateurs. Most of us have an inclination towards living in a natural ambience. We often go hiking and strolling in a natural environment rather than spending time with our smart phones walking inside our own house. So all these assumptions bottle down to a very disclosive question i.e. when did our inclination for wilderness become suitable. It was not always something that was desirable. Leafing through the pages of classical literature will show us that wilderness was something to be afraid of – it was believed to be place inhabited by dark spirits that was entered by people against their will with much fright and apprehension. The crude wilderness had nothing to provide civilised man. The only value this wilderness had laid in its exploitation for human use viz. a city or a town. Every milestone in road of civilisation was a fight against the setback of wilderness by mankind. Clark and Lewis were sent to discover how the land of wilderness could be exploited; they did not come explore the scenic beauty of parks and good places.

Earlier all organised and good were believed to a thesis and therefore wilderness was considered to be its antithesis which was the place dwelled by beasts and satans.  So why did Thoreau ply that wilderness is the preservation of the world in 1862? Since wilderness was thought to be a repugnant place for a long time, it was very difficult to convince people to protect this dreadful wasteland . Frederick Jackson Turner in his famous book “The Frontier in American  History” that wildness was an essential part of American culture which changed the nature of wilderness. In 1932 MacKaye( in his article) claimed  that sunshine and breathing  fresh air are good for people to the and therefore that frontier recreation  would be healthy  for the people.

John Muir  belonging to  Sierra Nevadas in 1869 said that “No description of Heaven that I have ever heard or read of seems half so fine.”  Therefore to protect the nature around us it is important to cogitate about the picture of nature inside our head. John Muir wrote that many civilised people are finding going to the mountains to evoke the same feeling as of going to home. He said that “Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountain is going home; that wildness is necessity; that mountain parks and reservations are useful not only as fountains of timber and irrigating rivers, but as fountains of life.” The nature is not only useful for providing resources for commercial exploitation but also providing something important for enjoying life.

A crucial question that is important for environmentalism that needs to be answered is that what does a man think about his relationship with nature?

People have started paying heed to the fact that outdoors affected physical, emotional, spiritual and mental health of human beings. This natural philosophy was also found in the Nacktkultur movement of Europe. It underlined the importance of a wholesome vegetarian diet, daily exercises and  austere outdoor lifestyle and naked living. However environmentalists and people have failed to preserve the wilderness. It is believed that they can never achieve this because wilderness is not a tangible, real thing. It is an event born out of perception. In reality what people are doing is preservation of natural world but they fail to do so because they often duck to answer right array of questions. Then what is the need to preserve the wilderness? The natural world and its trail in the form of wilderness are significant to be preserved because it is not only related to the safety of one person but to the whole mankind. Though preservation of wilderness cannot solve all the problems of environment like climate change but it may aid in resolving many problems including climatic change.

The philosophy of wilderness integrates it with the science of ecology. It led to the growth of arguments for the protection of wilderness and constructed a moral nexus between human relations to non-human natural environment which was called as land ethic. As wilderness wasteland is an  interdependent system of plants, animals, soils and natural processes, its preservation will mean the protection of biotic community. Wilderness is also an important shelter  for protecting wildlife, especially the large predators that have extinguished in other places.  Preservation of wilderness had led to safeguarding the road less areas, and this strategy has the potential of protecting the biodiversity.