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The idea of Nature in Utopia

Part 1 Dissertation 2004
Eman Ahmed
University of Nottingham
Utopias symbolise our search for perfection, an enduring human need. The desire to attain a perfect physical environment and a high standard of living has become characteristic of western life. Since the beginning of time nature has been subject to imagination and experimentation explored in literature and art or abused and exploited in the West. Nature plays a huge role in the creations of our beliefs, values and perceptions of life, and hence I have chosen to discuss its position and relevance to utopian ideals.

Reflections of western attitudes to nature tend to be critical of how man abuses nature. These are often in response to the current ecological crisis. Man’s approach to nature continues to have a role in shaping our political philosophy and concept of culture. There is a need to acknowledge the limits to which nature can be stretched and to value, conserve and recognise our dependence upon it. Utopian ideals are often under-rated when considering the role they play in challenging the nature of nature.

The utopian vision is an essential component of every society and culture. It is a dream of perfection to which mankind can aspire, inducing us to surpass the constraints of our existing social structure. This ability exists to accept and prefigure the future, its potential and progression to what is radically new.

If the utopian vision is to be permanently realised it is vital that it is deep-rooted in an ecological ideology. This stance transcends the limitations of time, as nature is fundamentally dynamic; a self-balancing system that necessarily reacts to human evolution. We must know nature for an ecological social structure to embody a natural capacity for change. In nature ecosystems exist in balance, linked through an inter-flow of matter and energy. If one aspect upsets the systems balance, other parts respond as to restore balance. This feature is needed in society and the utopian visions of the future.

Eman Ahmed

Artifice reconfigures and in consequence re-presents nature. That has always been since primal creation. Man shapes the natural environment after the imagined perfection of his ideal habitat. Given contemporary concerns with regard to the natural environment, this dissertation makes us realise that recent ecological speculations are not novel, but are in fact a modulation of various ideas regarding nature that have gone on before the 21st century. This excellent dissertation has begun what promises to be extremely promising postgraduate research work. This is a provocative and insightful study of our frail attempts to reconfigure the immortal face of nature.

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