Nature Culture and Progress Essay

Excerpt from Essay :


Jean-Jacques Rousseau on the Origin of Inequality

There are apparent relations that exist between human beings and nature and also among themselves. In these relations also exists differences especially among human beings which attract a lot of attention and need explanations since if all are human beings then why the differences that exist among them. If all mankind have the same will and are from the same source, be it the evolutionary or the supernatural source, then there should be equal opportunities that would make man have equal chances and hence same lifestyle within the community, however, this is not the situation hence the need to get an explanation as to why these differences and discrepancies that exist between people. There have been various attempts to explain what brings the differences between people and among the philosophers that have given famous and renowned explanations is Jean-Jacques Rousseau in his famous writing of Origin of Inequality.

Rousseau first classified the inequalities that exist among people into two major categories; the physical or natural inequality that is established by nature and is characterized by observable traits such as bodily strength, health, age and the qualities of the soul and mind. The other is the political or moral inequality since it is established on agreed upon conventions and it is accepted or authorized by men themselves within the society. The political inequality is characterized by a few enjoying some privileges to the detriment or prejudice of others who are always the majority, for instance being richer than the rest, more respected and honored, more powerful or even being in a position to exact respect and allegiance from the rest.

In this text, there is further illustration on the close relationship that exists between human evolution and the development of inequality among men. He explains that as man became more civilized and developed due to evolution, so did their ways of dealing with nature and fellow mankind that exacerbated the inequality. The text explains the creation of the modern man through conquest of nature and dominating activities that destroyed nature resulting in limited resources hence the inequality that comes with this. Rousseau dismisses the biblical explanation of the occurrence of man and attempts to trace back man to the nature and than natural status that they were originally in. In a nutshell, he argues that the needs of man become increasingly complex as they develop and modernize and intricately intertwined such that the opinion of others is very important (Jean-Jacques Rousseau, 1754).

"Hope Is the Thing with Feathers" by Emily Dickinson

Dickinson is well know for the way she uses nature to explain human existence and/or fuses the natural events and provisions of nature with the daily activities of human beings. Dickinson seems to be convinced that it is until man goes back to nature that he will find the solution to the physical as well as the psychological challenges that he faces. One instance is this selected where she argues that the psychological problems that man has can only be well solved when man goes back to nature.

In the first stanza, "Hope is the Thing with Feathers," Dickinson has made use of metaphorical bird image (nature) to explain the conceptual idea of hope which is psychological (Dickinson & McNeil 2002). Hope is not a conscious thing, it is lifeless, but by offering hope feathers, the poet creates an image in people's minds. The feathers imagery invokes hope they represent hope as feathers enable a person to fly and give the picture of flying away to another new hope and a new dawn. In disparity, broken feathers and wrecked wing grounds an individual and symbolizes the image of a poor person who has gone through difficult life challenges. The experiences results to their wings being broken making them loose the power to have hope for the future.

The second stanza, that talks about "That perches in the soul," uses the imagery of a bird to explain hope. She believes hope perches in people's souls as the hope becomes the home for hope. The subject is viewed as a metaphor as hope rests in people souls the way a bird is known to rest on its own perch. In both the third and fourth stanza the poem talks about a bird singing the tune without any words and does not stop at all. Dickinson makes use of the imagery of continuous bird's songs to depict eternal hope as the bird does not stop singing the hope song. The fifth stanza, which states "And sweetest in the gale is heard," explains the song of hope by the bird as sweetest to the wind (Dickinson & Vendler 2010). It conjures up the real images of bird's hope song whistling above gale sound force winds and gives the promise of an ending storm.

The last three lines in the poem metaphorically explain the feelings of destroyed hope in a person. A person who annihilates hope with brewing rage and negativity feels the pain they have caused to other people. Dickinson makes use of an influential image of a person abashing the hope in a bird to offer warmth and comfort for many people. The hope destroyer causes pain and pain that seem to hurt them deeply. The last set of stanzas "I've heard it in the chilliest lands," shows the poet giving the reader another cause to have hope (Dickinson & Vendler 2010) . The situation seems coldest and saddest lands. Hope is everlasting and everywhere as the birds song of hope is heard as hope exits in the strangest sea. The last two lines, the poem informs people the bird which symbolizes hope does not ask for favor in return for the sweet song.

The striking factor in the poem seems to be absolute simplicity in terms of structure and the words used in the poem. Nevertheless, the content and ideologies being talked about in the poem are far from simple. The notion of hope in "extremity" and hope found in the chilliest land in the strangest sea remains a philosophical process of looking at the world as suggested in the poem (Collins, Hobson & Pacific Editions 2002). The clear and simple way the rhyme scheme operates in conjunction with the use of simple words works in well to counter the content of the poem. The poem is clear and simple with a strong message of pain and hope comes to every person. Hope remains the resistance that maintains human stubborn nature and fighting things life offers.

Paintings of Caspar David Friedrich

Casper was a German romantic artist who lied in the early 1800s and died in 1840 having done a significant number of paintings. His paintings had a stunning attachment to nature and this was a characteristic that was common across his paintings. Being a romantic artist, he used panting to express his thoughts about nature and its supremacy over the life of mankind. In order to practically see how he appropriated nature to suit his themes in paintings, two of his main paintings will be used here; 'The Monk by the Sea' and 'The Stages of Life'.

'The Monk by the Sea'

This is one of the most analyzed and talked about painting done by Casper among his many paintings. It depicts a human being, often identified as the monk here just as the tittle suggests, standing in front of a wide sea and a vast sky. The horizon on this landscape is abnormally low giving way to a huge sky filled with dark grey clouds overhanging the sea. The monk is dismal, barely recognizable despite being the title of the painting. He is also painted with his back to the viewer and his face and body towards the wide sea (Web Gallery of Art, 2013). The monk here has been argued by many that he could be Casper himself contemplating about the dismal nature of his human existence in relation to the vats nature.

The painting draws its inspiration, communication and theme from nature. The vastness of nature that makes the human existence seem dismal is portrayed in the painting. The monk, who represents the human existence in the face of nature, is seen to be very minute and insignificant in the painting as compared to the natural background upon which the monk is superimposed.

The message that Casper wanted to pass across in this painting is that in as much as there is a close relationship, indeed one that cannot be stopped, between man and nature, there is also need to know that nature reigns supreme over man. Man therefore needs to go back to nature, as the monk went back to the sea, in order to rediscover themselves, and one of the rediscoveries as expressed in this painting is that human kind plays second after nature.

'The Stages of Life'

This is yet another painting by Casper that has elicited a lot of debate and attracted many analysts…

Online Sources Used in Document:

Cite This Essay:

"Nature Culture And Progress" (2013, February 20) Retrieved August 17, 2017, from

"Nature Culture And Progress" 20 February 2013. Web.17 August. 2017. <>

"Nature Culture And Progress", 20 February 2013, Accessed.17 August. 2017,