Attitudes to Nature: Ecocentric



Anthropocentrism is not necessarily the ‘norm’. Archaeological evidences demonstrates clearly that many societies in the past were more ecocentric, making no distinction between culture and nature – neither concept appears to have existed. Instead people, along with all other organism, inanimate entities, were an integral part of the whole environment.

Anthropologist, Tim Ingold, has highlighted how similar views are held by many modern hunter-gatherer groups, who tend to have an intimate, familial relationship with their environment, perceiving their surrounding as a ‘mother’ or ‘father’ that provides warmth, shelter and clothing. They have no conception of ‘nature’ and certainly do not perceive that humans are superior to it. Indeed, the views of the Koyukon of Alaska have been summarised thus:

“The proper role of humankind is to serve a dominant nature. The natural universe is nearly omnipotent and only through acts of respect and propitiation is the well-being of humans ensured…human existence depends on a morally based relationship with the overarching powers of nature. Humanity acts at the behest of the environment” (Nelson 1983, 240 cited in Ingold 2000, 68)