Non-human nature

Conceiving nonhuman nature as system, as instigating its own self-productive evolution rather than as a mere vista, has profound implications-ethical as well as biological-for ecologically minded people. Human beings embody, at least potentially, attributes of nonhuman development that place them squarely within organic evolution. We require a way of thinking that recognizes that “what-is” as it seems to lie before our eyes is always developing into “what-it-is-not,” that it is engaged in a continual autopoetic, self-organizing process in which past and present, seen as a richly differentiated but shared environment, give rise to new contingent conditions that open toward life and afford emergent properties within the system of the world allowing for change. Accordingly, the human and the nonhuman can be seen as aspects of a co-evolutionary system/environment, and the emergence of these systems can be located in the evolution of the nonhuman, without advancing naive claims that one is either “superior to” or “made for” the other.

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