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Man and the natural world : a history of the modern sensibility

Author: Keith Thomas
Publisher: New York : Pantheon Books, ©1983.
Series: George Macaulay Trevelyan lectures, 1979.
Edition/Format:   Print book : English : 1st American edView all editions and formats
Summary:
Preserving the environment, saving the rain forests, and preventing the extinction of species may seem like fairly recent concerns, but in Man and the Natural World, Sir Keith Thomas explores how these ideas took root long ago. In this entertaining and illuminating history, Thomas aims not just to explain present interest in preserving the environment and protecting the rights of animals, but to reconstruct an  Read more...
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Genre/Form: History
Document Type: Book
All Authors / Contributors: Keith Thomas
ISBN: 039449945X 9780394499451 0394727126 9780394727127
OCLC Number: 8763734
Notes: "Expanded version of the George Macaulay Trevelyan lectures delivered in the University of Cambridge in Lent term 1979"--Preface.
Errata slip inserted.
Description: 425 pages : illustrations ; 25 cm
Contents: Human ascendancy --
Natural history and vulgar errors --
Men and animals --
Compassion for the brute creation --
Trees and flowers --
The human dilemma.
Series Title: George Macaulay Trevelyan lectures, 1979.
Responsibility: Keith Thomas.

Abstract:

Preserving the environment, saving the rain forests, and preventing the extinction of species may seem like fairly recent concerns, but in Man and the Natural World, Sir Keith Thomas explores how these ideas took root long ago. In this entertaining and illuminating history, Thomas aims not just to explain present interest in preserving the environment and protecting the rights of animals, but to reconstruct an earlier mental world as well. Throughout the ages humankind has attempted to rationalize its place in nature. At no time was the idea of exploiting the earth for our own advantage so sharply challenged as in England between the sixteenth and late eighteenth centuries. For it was during these years that there occurred a whole cluster of changes in the way in which men and women, at all social levels, perceived the natural world around them. Thomas seeks to expose the assumptions which underlay the views and feelings of the inhabitants of early modern England toward the animals, birds, vegetation, and physical landscape among which they spent their lives. The issues raised here are even more alive today than they were just ten years ago. This fascinating work deftly shows that it is impossible to disentangle what the people of the past thought about plants and animals from what they thought about themselves.

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