Wednesday, July 27, 2005

nature pouring forth her maimed and abortive children

Over at The Panda's Thumb there is a story about house mice, carried by whaling ships to an island in the South Atlantic, where they rapidly evolved into vicious carnivores three times the size of ordinary mice, and are now endangering a species of albatross which is not adapted to recognize the mice as predators. Nature has provided the internet with a video of the mice devouring a flightless albatross chick.

Some quotes on the wonders of nature:

From the east:

Buddhist conceptions of natural suffering were thrown into sharp relief on a visit to Wat Bowonniwet, the headquarters of the Thammayut sect of the Thai sangha. Although it was situated in the centre of Bangkok, the temple was a place of striking natural beauty, a pocket of rainforest as it seemed, encircle by the bustle and exhaust of one of the largest cities on earth. Wildlife was everywhere. Lizards darting to and fro across the paths connecting the temple buildings; turtles, paddling in the streams and ponds, or else blissfully sunning themselves at the water's edge. The whole complex was alive with birdsong. Yet our interviewee, a monk and long-term resident of the temple, was no romantic nature lover. Upon being complimented on how wonderful it must be to live so close to so much wildlife, he politely demurred. 'All this is suffering' he said.

Cooper, David Edward, and Simon P. James. 2005. Buddhism, virtue and environment, Ashgate world philosophies series. Aldershot, England; Burlington, VT.: Ashgate. Page 119.

From the West:

Look around the universe. What an immense profusion of beings, animated and organized, sensible and active! You admire this prodigious variety and fecundity. But inspect a little more narrowly these living creatures, the only beings worth regarding. How hostile and destructive to each other! How insufficient all of them for their on happiness. How contemptible or odious to the spectator! The whole presents nothing but the idea of a blind nature, impregnated by a great vivifying principle, and pouring forth from her lap, without discernment or parental care, her maimed and abortive children.

Philo, in Hume’s Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion, bk. XI.

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