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Morality and Modernity: Cronon and Daston’s Understanding of Nature Essay (Critical Writing)

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Updated: Apr 16th, 2020

Introduction

Though the policy of sustainability is a rather recent development, the idea of balancing out nature and the results of people’s work is not new (Hardin, 1982). However, it seems that the balance will never be reached.

Cronon, Daston and the Movie

Cronon claims that nature should be viewed as something that is intrinsically wild and that should and will be adapted towards the needs of industries; in other words, Cronon makes it obvious that nature is manufactured. In his turn, Daston also offers the understanding of nature as something that people can and will shape so that nature would not stand in the way of progress and that its resources should be used to the maximum.

In the recent movie, however, a completely different approach towards nature, which is based on the idea of sustainability, is provided. Although there is no connection between the ideas expressed by Cronon and Daston and the ideas that the authors of the movie are trying to convey, the latter can still be viewed through the lens of the texts in question, for the shock value will help appreciate the sustainability approach.

Manufactured Landscapes and Histories

As one must have expected, the readings in question also fail to make a connection between nature, manufacturing, and histories. Neglecting the needs of nature and showing little respect to the natural resources, Cronin and Daston address how landscapes relate to the history of the humankind next to never.

The movie, on the other hand, shows the impact that nature has had on people and the way they live. Which is more important, the movie also shows the impact that people have had on nature over centuries; for example, the shot of a junkyard at 0:24:45 is a graphic example of people’s impact on nature (Baichwal, 2006).

Manufactured Landscapes and Values

When watching the movie, one can see clearly that the director promotes a sustainability approach, which presupposes that the industry makes as little harm to the nature as possible (Baichwal, 2006). The texts in question, however, lack the given delicate attitude:

“Although wilderness may today seem to be just one environmental concern among many, it, in fact, serves as the foundation for a long list of other such concerns that on their face seem quite remote from it” (Daston, 2010, 73). Also, Cronon mentions that nature is a tool and, therefore, “a source of values” (Cronon, 1996, 26).

Manufactured Landscapes and Cultures

When considering Cronon and Daston’s ideas, one will see inevitably that the conflict between nature and people remains unresolved by both authors. Nature is either considered a tool for people to use for their purposes (Cronon, 1996) or to be feared as something unexplored and, therefore, hostile (Daston). The movie, on the contrary, provides an alternative approach that helps people relate to nature and get on terms with it (Baichwal, 2010).

The Texts and the Film, Back to Back

As it has been stated above, there is little relation between the ideas of the movie and the texts; moreover, at a certain point, it becomes obvious that the ideas in the movie are the exact opposite of the ideas in the text

Conclusion

Therefore, it can be considered that the movie and the text do not have anything in common. Cronon states that nature is manufactured by people, i.e., influenced and shaped by them so that it could be used for manufacturing and producing certain goods, and Daston emphasizes that nature is wild and will never be tamed.

The movie, however, shows clearly that nature develops in its specific way, though still providing the resources that people use further on various industries; these are the people who harm nature and pose a threat to it with their unreasonable policies, neglecting the ethical aspect in relationships between people and nature (Leopold, 1949).

Still, even though the ideas expressed in Cronon and Daston’s works and the movie are diametrically opposite, the former still has helped analyze the latter. To be more exact, Daston and Cronon’s paper helped evaluate the credibility of the movie, as well as understand the specific approach that is used in the movie to explain the techniques used in the company.

Though, technically, the movie cannot be considered a successful explanation of how the company’s production clockwork ticks, the idea of how natural resources are used for a specific industry become much clearer once the movie is considered from the point of view offered by Daston and Cronon. Though there is no connection between the texts and the movie, the latter provide enough food for thoughts to address the questions raised in the former.

Reference List

Baichwal, J. (2006). Manufactured landscapes. YouTube. Web.

Cronon, W. (1996). The trouble with wilderness, or, getting back to the wrong nature. In Cronon (ed.), Uncommon Ground. New York, NY: W. W. Norton, 69–90.

Daston, (2010). The world in order. Bronx, NY: Fordham University Press.

Hardin, G. (1982). The tragedy of the commons. Science, 162, 1243–1248.

Leopold, A. (1949). The land ethic. In Leopold (ed.) A Sand County almanac. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 201–226.

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IvyPanda. "Morality and Modernity: Cronon and Daston’s Understanding of Nature." April 16, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/morality-and-modernity-cronon-and-dastons-understanding-of-nature/.

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IvyPanda. 2020. "Morality and Modernity: Cronon and Daston’s Understanding of Nature." April 16, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/morality-and-modernity-cronon-and-dastons-understanding-of-nature/.

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IvyPanda. (2020) 'Morality and Modernity: Cronon and Daston’s Understanding of Nature'. 16 April.

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