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What's the difference between "man-made" and natural?

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    1) If humans are products of nature...

    2) Our brains and the bodily tools we were given by nature to survive and advance are what make us human, so maybe they are products of nature...

    3) So anything we invent [skyscrapers, aeroplanes, weapons of mass destruction, etc.] is a product of our tools, and maybe our inventions should too, be perceived as products of nature...

    Given this, how is it possible to distinguish between something that's "man-made" and something that's "natural"? It's believed that man-made forces have terribly interfered with nature and caused irreversible environmental damage, but if we are part of nature, are we really interfering?
    It's something that's always puzzled me!
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    www.dictionary.com
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    Well, what is a 'tool' anyway? The original tools where either stones or sticks, but they did not become 'tools' till human beings found a use which was beyond what it had naturally developed to become. And that's what, I think, the distinction between 'man-made' and 'natural' is. A computer won't occur 'naturally' without a designer, everything else in the universe does.
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    Thanks Mister Troll but I have a large number of resources at hand. Plus I didn't ask for any definitions that would require a dictionary, I asked for an explanation which you failed to provide. Go troll another thread, I don't want ignorant scum polluting mine.
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    (Original post by D.R.E)
    Well, what is a 'tool' anyway? The original tools where either stones or sticks, but they did not become 'tools' till human beings found a use which was beyond what it had naturally developed to become. And that's what, I think, the distinction between 'man-made' and 'natural' is. A computer won't occur 'naturally' without a designer, everything else in the universe does.
    I just meant our brains and our hands & etc... Basically physical features of ours that help us survive, not stones or sticks.

    Our brains and bodily tools we were given by nature to survive...
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    In terms of the way we use the words in a normal conversation the use of "natural" is slightly inaccurate.

    When we say "natural", or particularly when we contrast "natural" to "man made", the term "natural" arbitrarily denotes that than which is in nature; but not that which is a product of man.

    The use of the term is arbitrarily skewed. Homo sapiens children are regarded as natural, as are homo sapiens, it is merely products they produce, or behaviors they exhibit which other species do not, that are deemed (arbitrarily) unnatural.
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    (Original post by An Aspiring Guy)
    1) If humans are products of nature...

    2) Our brains and the bodily tools we were given by nature to survive and advance are what make us human, so maybe they are products of nature...

    3) So anything we invent [skyscrapers, aeroplanes, weapons of mass destruction, etc.] is a product of our tools, and maybe our inventions should too, be perceived as products of nature...

    Given this, how is it possible to distinguish between something that's "man-made" and something that's "natural"? It's believed that man-made forces have terribly interfered with nature and caused irreversible environmental damage, but if we are part of nature, are we really interfering?
    It's something that's always puzzled me!
    Things that are described as "man-made" or "artificial" could be better described as being explicitly designed. They did not come into being without an external designer. There was a conscious process of designing them for a purpose.

    Natural things are (to use the phrase Richard Dawkins coined) "Designoid" - while they may appear designed, they are in fact not, and have come into being without an external designer but simply of their own accord. No conscious design process.



    Whether our actions really could be considered as harmful to natures is all about degrees, certainly in some ways we are simply part of the evolution and adaptation process, something for other species to work around, but in other ways we are forcing changes at a rate which is far too fast for natural processes to adjust to it.
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    (Original post by An Aspiring Guy)
    I just meant our brains and our hands & etc... Basically physical features of ours that help us survive, not stones or sticks.
    I see the distinction you are making, especially the 'bodily tools' idea, but I still maintain my earlier point. 'Bodily tools' have developed naturally, that is without design or planning, whereas 'tools' (wrenches, spanners, computers, cars etc) have developed through concious design and planning.

    The 'natural' existence of the brain did not make the existence of those further tools inevitable, although it was the designer.
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    (Original post by D.R.E)
    I see the distinction you are making, especially the 'bodily tools' idea, but I still maintain my earlier point. 'Bodily tools' have developed naturally, that is without design or planning, whereas 'tools' (wrenches, spanners, computers, cars etc) have developed through concious design and planning.

    The 'natural' existence of the brain did not make the existence of those further tools inevitable, although it was the designer.
    Is a dam created by beavers not akin to a dam created by humans?

    Is a nest created by ants not akin to an apartment complex created by humans?

    Where does the difference lie? Beaver dams and ants' nests are still seen "natural" aren't they? They required some sort of survival instinct to be created and aren't we just doing the same thing? Our instinct for survival leads us to come up with these creations that help us survive (dams for secure water supplies [as water is an extremely valuable commodity] and apartment complexes to live in)
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    (Original post by An Aspiring Guy)
    Is a dam created by beavers not akin to a dam created by humans?

    Is a nest created by ants not akin to an apartment complex created by humans?

    Where does the difference lie? Beaver dams and ants' nests are still seen "natural" aren't they?
    1) It is.
    2) It is.
    3) There is no distinction; just a misuse of the word 'natural'.
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    (Original post by D.R.E)
    1) It is.
    2) It is.
    3) There is no distinction; just a misuse of the word 'natural'.
    How would you define it in this context? Why can't we call our creations natural?
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    (Original post by An Aspiring Guy)
    It's believed that man-made forces have terribly interfered with nature and caused irreversible environmental damage, but if we are part of nature, are we really interfering?
    It's something that's always puzzled me!
    I think this raises an important issue about nature and conservation. Conservation is often presented as though it is a good thing in itself, as though it is somehow divinely 'good' that we have an unpolluted, ecologically diverse planet. This argument somehow represents us as some kind of parasite, invading this perfect, natural Earth from the outside.

    In reality we are part of nature, and we should avoid abstract ideas about destroying what is natural. We should really focus on how damaging the Earth is actually hurting us. It's wrong to think of the natural world as a good thing in itself. Nature is only worthwhile because human beings are around to appreciate it and to make use of it. If there were no humans then the world might as well not exist.
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    (Original post by An Aspiring Guy)
    How would you define it in this context? Why can't we call our creations natural?
    Something that exists 'naturally' exists without design or plan, as I said previously. Something that is 'man-made' is something that exists through design and planning. The mistake I think you are making is conflating 'man-made' with 'artificial', which are not the same things.
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    (Original post by An Aspiring Guy)
    How would you define it in this context? Why can't we call our creations natural?
    Obviously the distinction of man-made and natural is arbitrary but I suppose its merely so we can distinguish what is made by humans and what is not made by humans (I know how painfully obvious this sounds and I'm cringing as I type.

    We could sub-divide the natural catagory into further catagories such as beaver-made or ant-made but I dont think people particularly care. Things are usually defined as natural if they occur in nature regardless of human interference (beavers will still make dams, ants will still make hills).

    You could argue that everything is natural and that man-made is merely a catagory of that (much like beaver-made).

    I do like a bit of lexicon-play :rolleyes:
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    (Original post by Cornish student)
    I do like a bit of lexicon-play :rolleyes:
    Don't we all?


    An interesting point that might bear on this discussion is the fact that in Latin artificiosus and artificium (which both denote skill) are predicate of artifex; which means a craftsman.

    Whereas the naturalis is simply that than which is other than artificium, or that than which is by birth,

    It would seem that if we were discussing this issue in Latin, it would mean that immediately we would distinguish skyscrapers and human tool use as the work of artifex, or un-natural.

    The question would then be if we were to qualify a bever dam as artificial, or a product of birth. That question rests upon the knowledge of the method of building the dam, if that knowledge came from birth (as in, instinct) then that bever dam would be natural, yet if it were learned, it would be artificial.

    Darn confusing English language, why can't it be more straightforward - like Latin?

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    Nature being all forces and material world that is not the result of a consciencely imposed design; where conscienceness is an emergent property of evolution (making it difficult to draw a line at where conscienceness starts or ends).

    Nature > Organisms consciencely imposed process in order to achieve a purpose > Result = Designed
    Nature > Unconscienciously imposed process [Via sentient organism or not] > Result = Natural

    It could be argued taking a turd is a conscious process and therefore turd is designed. However, the form that turd takes is of irrelevant purpose [unless your a connisseur of it] and also the design of the organisms digestive and excretory system is not contingent upon a choice/design.
    Also an adendum: It is also an involuntary process in some sense.
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    If you leave a pile of metal for 10 years alone, will it turn into a bridge? No, hence why man's input is made. If something is "man-made" it needs an input from man to occur or come into existence. Natural means that it naturally occurs without any input from man in order for it to be "made".
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    man made would exclude things made by women such as jam or tea-cosies

    bear

    :badger:
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    (Original post by obstupefacere)
    Don't we all?


    An interesting point that might bear on this discussion is the fact that in Latin artificiosus and artificium (which both denote skill) are predicate of artifex; which means a craftsman.

    Whereas the naturalis is simply that than which is other than artificium, or that than which is by birth,

    It would seem that if we were discussing this issue in Latin, it would mean that immediately we would distinguish skyscrapers and human tool use as the work of artifex, or un-natural.

    The question would then be if we were to qualify a bever dam as artificial, or a product of birth. That question rests upon the knowledge of the method of building the dam, if that knowledge came from birth (as in, instinct) then that bever dam would be natural, yet if it were learned, it would be artificial.

    Darn confusing English language, why can't it be more straightforward - like Latin?

    The english language is quite ambiguous really, if you compare it to other languages. Quite interesting the concept of learned behavior denoting the creation being artificial and innate knowledge being natural.

    It gets even more confusing if humans selectively breed animals so that they produce certain behaviours, like silk worms producing an excess of silk! Is it natural because they innately know how to produce it or is it artificial due to the ammount of human input which affects the quality and quantity of the silk produced?

    (Original post by the bear)
    man made would exclude things made by women such as jam or tea-cosies

    bear

    :badger:
    Ha
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    One thought that comes to my mind is that usual action by nature is linked to procreation or reproducing it's own kind and survival more than luxury. An animal builds a better dwelling to get the best mate. However in human context the attraction towards luxury prestige social status, etc plays a role. Maybe this reason behind the activity or the goal towards which the act is steered makes the difference.

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