Man And The Natural World (Penguin Press History)

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9780140146868: Man And The Natural World (Penguin Press History)

An account of the changing attitudes in people towards nature and the environment between 1500-1800, and comparing and contrasting this with our present attitude towards it.

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From the Back Cover:

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.

About the Author:

Keith Thomas is a Fellow of All Souls College, Oxford. He was formerly President of Corpus Christi College and, before that, Professor of Modern History and Fellow of St John's College. RELIGION AND DECLINE OF MAGIC, his first book, won one of the two Wolfson Literary Awards for History in 1972. He was knighted in 1988 for services to the study of history.

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