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The Ancient Perspective on Nature

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Lesson

People in ancient Mesopotamia lived in constant fear of the chaos, danger, ferocity of nature and they valued subduing, controlling and pushing back nature. Wilderness was something to be tamed and pushed back by civilization. In the Gilgamesh epic poem, Enkidu is transformed into a civilized man who protects the domestic animals from the wild animals. In Egypt, there were gods of the Black Land and gods of the Red Land. God sees everything in the world as entirely under his control.

Outline

I. Rousseau's View of the Nobility of the Savage and the Goodness of Wilderness

A. Highly urbanized environment

B. Shrinking wilderness

C. Vanishing Species

II. Ancient Mesopotamians Believed Civilization was a Gift From Heaven to Push Back the Wilderness [Akkadian is the language, Gilgamesh, Uruk, Enkidu]

A. Quote from Gilgamesh Tablet 1

B. Quote from Gilgamesh Tablet 2

III. Egyptian Concept of Nature and Civilization [Set, Osiris, Amun-Ra, Horus, maat]

IV. Job and His Friends Come From a Conventional Wisdom in Which Human Society and Order are Good

V. Violent Creatures Represent Evil and Chaos and are Outside This Order

VI. God Describes a Creation That is not Exclusively Anthropocentric

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