Human attitude towards environment

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Psychology of nature is a conditional and, certainly, a generalized concept. But if psychology is a science of soul, then it is quite reasonable to speak about soul of nature, its mysterious being which is manifested not only in man himself or society but in all that surrounds us. Nature entrusted a man with unfolding his soul by little through his mind and feelings and people do it gradually, wondering at his prior sluggishness and tardiness every step.

Here let us take a brief look at the structure of human psyche, its originally human and socially introduced elements that determine human attitude towards environment. We’ll refer here to authoritative ideas by C.G. Jung which reveal attitude towards nature depending on whether it is conscious or unconscious and on ethnic features as well. Jung’s work on psychology of Eastern philosophies reveal his broad idea: “just as the human body represents a whole museum of organs, above any racial differences, so we should expect to find that the mind is organized in a similar way and I call it the collective unconscious.This unconscious mind, which results from experiences that are common to all people, does not have conscious contents, but rather latent dispositions to well-known identity reactions”.

Hence, any analysis of human-nature interaction should rest on finding at least three issues that predetermine it: a) human mind b) culture of a certain ethnic group c) original reactions common to all people which were emerged from the collective cohabitation in the distant past.
Aforementioned views, attitudes towards nature by scientists and the common people reveal a philosophical approach to this issue. But we are more concerned with ethnic and psychological analysis which is known to be concrete when it comes to personal and collective peculiarities. Being concrete means emphasizing personal and collective values that guide people in their behavior and actions tailored to achievement of socially important goals or advancement of their own interests. The answers to such questions as what a person guided by in his actions and why are much more important than any general reasoning. We assume that environment protection a public affair as its results have an impact upon lives and health of many people, but the results depend on personal engagement. Therefore it is important to be aware of psychological factors that head people in the right direction and enable him to perform his duties so that a man does not fit himself in the scheme : “good words and no deeds”.

It should be mentioned that the denotation of the expression “attitude to nature” is maladjusted to certain psychological realities. Examples abound. Well-known national conceptions of character point out in its structure a number of attitudes: to ourselves, to things, to labor, to other people. The structural components have some other attitudes but you won’t find the one related to nature. Besides, up to a recent time foreign personality theories also lacked the denotation to “natural” features and characteristics.

While analyzing the problem of ecological awareness and human behavior we prefer adhering to aforementioned scheme (see 159, 160, etc.) which enables to highlight crucial personal issues that influence any activity. The corresponding  concept considers a personality as a set of interrelated and interpenetrated five components (substructure): 1) biopsychic characteristics that make up a natural basis of personality and which come with elements of personal and collective unconscious apart from physical and physiological ones 2) trend as a system of motifs and values: a set of worldview orientations and specific propulsions 3) ability and ensuing knowledge, skills as means to apprehend and alter the world 4) self-esteem and self-respect which predetermine level and nature of human engagement 5) communication skills of a person as crucialcapacity to interact with other people. Referring to these components of personality as applied to ecological analysis we should seek answers for the following questions:

  1. In terms of human inherited and inborn potentials, what serves the basis for his attitude towards nature?

  2. How does nature form a part human outlook; why does a person aim or, on the contrary, does not aim to protect environment?

  3. How is nature revealed in man’s cognitive mechanisms; and what qualities should a man possess to combine his interests and actions tailored to ecological purposes?

  4. How is human “nature” tied with his self-esteem, virtue; and how can his environment-conscious actions contribute to his development and perfection?

  5. Can human communication skills influence his attitude towards nature; and which of those skills should he possess to be actively involved in joint environmental activity?
     

One of the major problems of modern sciences dealing with environment protection is to reveal genetic, “natural”, unconscious mechanisms that serve a basis for human attitude towards nature (like abilities possess inherited and inborn dispositions). Gaining insight into this “nature-bred” subconscious, which is the holy of holies for a man, means to involve into human cognitive process deep psychic resources that can contribute to a man’s environmental awareness. When we refer to analysis of our or other’s intimate feelings, we cannot question some subtile power that predetermines human attitude towards nature. Its indispensable attribute is likely to be some subconscious aspiration for beauty and harmony which are specific to nature itself. V.V.Solovyov puts this idea into the words in his article “The beauty in nature”: “Beauty, even in its early manifestation, is characteristic of something absolutely valuable that exists not for others but for itself; the existence of this beauty pleases and satisfies our soul which gets relaxed and free from life endeavors and troubles”.

The description by N. Ladeyshikov contributes to the credibility of this philosophical musing: “No words can describe the feelings when you are on the Baikal and thus it’s hard to explain it to someone who has never been there. It goes well beyond aesthetic pleasure from its picturesque nature.  One is imbued with respect to Baikal’s mighty, invincibility, savage beauty when looking at its pure, watercolor-blue expanse, its rocks, capes that are like cast-iron and listening to its mighty, measured and calm hum. Its mystic influence becomes obvious. Baikal rises to view as a huge living being, strong and generous, brave and disobedient, severe and forgiving, tender and sly”.

The problem of what nature brings to human soul, what changes his inner soul undergoes is one of the most mysterious and untold ones. An American writer Ralph Emerson made an attempt to answer this question: “The moral influence of nature upon every individual is that amount of truth which it illustrates to him. Who can estimate this? Who can guess how much firmness the sea-beaten rock has taught the fisherman? how much tranquillity has been reflected to man from the azure sky, over whose unspotted deeps the winds forevermore drive flocks of stormy clouds, and leave no wrinkle or stain? how much industry and providence and affection we have caught from the pantomime of brutes? What a searching preacher of self-command is the varying phenomenon of Health?”.

A Siberian writer, Baikal expert Valery Nefedyev wrote a short sketch, called “what is soul”. “After living a few months face to face with nature, I realized that the human nature –all the content of heart, head, blood (color and warmth), moves of body and thought, breath, eyes, ears – is all within nature, in plants, trees, animals, birds but they are sown apart like grains; but humans have them all in one –we call it human soul.

From the very childhood we are shaped by nature’s move, growth, light and color; it teaches us to overcome difficulties, to lead a creative life likening to its creative origin: from primeval emotions to a conscious desire, from desire to words, from words to deeds”.

Nature predetermined “natural” approach to human attitude towards nature and it’s revealed well in male and female positions: women reflect the world around us in a sophisticated, particularized and refined manner. However this matter is questionable.  Our graduate student E. Ostrovskaya studied peculiarities of Baikal perception by men and women and found out that subconsciously men associate nature with mother and women with father. It’s a well-known fact that there are some peculiarities in age-dependent (nature-determined) attitude towards nature.

The fact that a man can reveal in himself a secret of nature and use it for practical purposes is evidenced by such a phenomena as hypnosis, instillation and self-instillation, thought-transference, poltergeist and other mysterious phenomena of parapsychology. But in terms of psychophysics, a man can go to even greater extremes: to keep “power” incorrupt for a long time. Winder of nature, i.e.the incorrupt body of Itigilov lama which enjoys a great popularity in the Baikal region and worldwide; the lama programmed his body from decay, and his body remains physically alive for 75 years (the author of this book puzzled over a fixed period of programming - 75 years; perhaps the lama hoped that by that time, i.e.in 75 years, there will be another miracle –worker capable of ensouling his half-live body).

Various eternal gods who are present on the earth both mind and body (“holy relics”) are taken for a model by common people. Many people are guided by original wisdom, i.e.to be free from routine, from constant desire to eat at pleasure, to hold property and power. And this wisdom is manifested primarily in mergence of soul with nature, when a human path is entwined with road of the universe and soul benefits from it. Here are some lines from the ancient Indian epic called Dhammapada:

The wise leave their homes,
Like swans leave pond.
Our hunger for accomplishment
Is alien to them.
There is nothing to regret about
No matter their bare feet or years.
Their path is unattainable and bright,
As swan’s scent in the sky .

Our original interaction with nature is even more closely connected with the mystery of death. According to ancient Maya, where a man goes to “rest”? What does the other world hold for him? How should he treat his death so that it is “naturally right”? The answers to these questions are also beyond the scope of our mind. The Japanese have a mysterious but wise expression “the dignity of life as well as dignity of death”. Perhaps the dignity of death, inherent of a man, incites a man to join the other world i.e. natural world in a philosophically wise manner and to take death of others in a similar way. The inhabitants of my homeland called Oimur in the Baikal region are well aware of an annual “tradition” to take lives of careless foreshore dwellers. Usually this occurs in summer time at the time of sudden winds or freeze-up period which is more frequent. Due to long-standing tradition, Baikal takes tribute by human lives and grief. Suddenly a young woman will scream as she just turned to widow, she’ll run through the village not willing to admit the death of her husband and cursing the hour when her husband went fishing. And people around are not surprised (death is not a surprise in a war) as they take it for granted and reassure her as well as they can.

Even “suicide bombers” are said to be acceptive to their death. Once I succeeded in getting my fellow-countryman to talk about the loss of his three friends whose boat tipped over. He did not like to recall that incident. But after having a stiff dose of alcohol, he shared some incident details.  Suffering from hypothermia and inability to resist “Baikal’s will”, they would leave for Baikal icy cold fatefully, dispassionately and immovably and , "left" in his cold studio, saying farewell: “I feel absolutely done in, good-bye my friends”. The man might be something of a liar, but such a coldblooded attitude towards own death is after the manner of Baikal. 

Well-known lines by N. A. Nekrasov that describe some “personalities”: “noble motives will come pass but there is nothing to do” can characterize aspirations of some Baikal inhabitants (and others) for nature protection. The path to hell is spread with good causes and in the same manner Baikal is spread with “thoughts” as garbage. No doubt, human attitude towards nature is multi-reasoned. It means, firstly, presence of various internal factors of interaction between a man and nature; secondly, a certain “rankness” of motives (possibility to find out more or less significant) and, thirdly, interrelation of motives.

Displaying flexibility and dynamism of structure and motivation, its complex nature (consists of concrete motives) and simultaneously dependence of most human motives on life-sustaining activities, we should appeal to previously used scheme “a fan of motives” which reveals motivational sphere (set of motives).

Pragmatical motives of interaction between a man and nature are most frequent and tied with human needs. Pragmatism in this case is interpreted as a human orientation to the elements of environment which are necessary and significant in his daily activities: a man cannot live, develop or meet the situation requirements. From our perspective, pragmatical motives can be divided into (see picture 1)

Let us take a brief look at each motive.

  1. Motives of need are, first of all, desires and aspirations to get from the environment things to satisfy physiological requirements. For example, for certain groups of population, omul as Baikal fish taken as a whole, is a means to satisfy hunger and provide some meal especially in the context of social and economic crisis and tight resources. Same can be said about taiga products - meat of wild animals and birds, wild leek, nuts and berries etc. The author of this book was born in post Great Patriotic War period and he can recall from his childhood half-starved winter periods in the Baikal region when people had to survive on three essential products: potatoes, omuls salted in wooden barrels and sauerkraut. At present motives of need are prioritized by “social lowlives”. One cannot ignore the fact that in the old times and nowadays Baikal’s flora and fauna as a provider of natural remedies have been curing ailments and diseases. And such human “needs” will not vanish.

  2. Motives of income is, first of all, an aspiration to stand to benefit from sale or exchange natural products - fish, meat, dead animals’ skins, mushrooms, berries, herbs. The purposes within these motives can be of different scale: satisfaction of vital needs by means of various things and products and, of course, wealth and profit. However, the motive, which is in pursuit of profit, can result in predatory annihilation of flora and fauna units if we condemn to oblivion moral orientations. In Baikal as well as in other Russian settlements, there is a succinct word “khapuga” (grab-all) which can be applied to humans who lack morals and principles in their self-serving deeds thus causing harm to nature. The self-serving motivation tend to escalate in consumer’s society.

The motives of need and income stimulated by complicated social and economic conditions back up centuries-old phenomenon of poaching. The latter spills over into an integral system that forms usual mode of life for considerable part of Pribaikalye inhabitants. We can easily point out poachers “on account of need” who have few opportunities for dignified human existence. Hence, they are in want of benefits and exemptions under local authority’s control. But imagine a man preying upon Baikal for profit motive and who is likely to do harm to nature. This kind of poacher is not able to realize that he reaves and destroys public property and he believes that fish in water or animal in forest belong either to all people, including him or to no one. Therefore a poacher “on account of self-interest” is not troubled by any scruples though he tends to avoid having dealings with authorized bodies. His mind is guided by defense mechanism: “I’m not the only one to lead such a life, there are lots of people who act in a similar way”.

  1. Motives of “booty”, no doubt, are tied with the first two motives-satisfaction of physiological needs and the drive to maximize profits. Any “nature gift” (game, plant food, lake “provisions”) satisfies a man due to its necessity. However it can be interpreted differently. This occurs when a hunter, a fisherman or those who pick berries and nuts need to find confirmation of their power, prudence, dexterity, adeptness and accuracy. It can also be aspiration for revealing “fisherman’s happiness”, luckiness and selectness compared to other luck-seekers. Here the motives are tied with self-esteem and even personal ambitions that can be manifested in acceptable bents (fishermans’, hunters’ and other contests) as well as sadistic ones with regard to plant and animal kingdoms (many countries are known to practice it before, for example, annihilation of bisons by white Americans). Positive motives along with self-assertion effect are psychologically advantageous because like the motives of rest, they foster mental and physiological safety valve.

  2. Motives of rest are tied with human attempt to take a fatigue load off himself, which resulted from performance of social and industrial functions, to relieve tensions and to de-stress and to have some kind of “relief” after puzzling matters or some hard event. The motives of rest are more inclined to become collective as they result in joint activities: family’s gipsy, “friends’ picnic”, “a corporate party” etc. In such cases, nature performs a practical function tailored to help a man and the latter acts as a consumer of environment’s niceties that improve his mental and physical health. However, even if the motives of rest are in a group, they can be absolutely egoistical: a person in a group or beyond it, hazards all consequences which result from his ill deeds towards environment.

The second group of motives can be called social as they have deal more with societal nature of a man or they can be realized in interaction with others. The latter distinguishes social motives from pragmatical ones: elements of pragmatism become socially important due to its consequences, but nevertheless it deals more with individual needs as it gets stimulated by them and social motives value public opinion.

Communication motives rank first among social motives. Hanging out with relatives and dear ones as well as acquainting with people in nature’s lap is a natural reality for any man. People communicate in nature’s lap for different purposes. It can be business talk, sharing life experiences that occur on daily basis, conversations about art, literature, politics and getting insight into people’s inner world.... Finally, it can be a conversation devoted to beauty and wonders of environment, to gifts it grants.

Individual and collective motives of communication related to nature and willingness to share knowledge about it can be called motives of knowledge. The Baikal started to be explored by its first researchers as well as by those who were fascinated by mysteries of nature and thus they explored the environment through individual effort and shared their knowledge with people. It should be noted that people who explore the Baikal on their own initiative are greater in number than “professionals”. Motives of nature transformation are integral with knowledge motives and independent motives when participation in some creative activities is stimulated by desire to participate in socially important activities related to nature. Examples are human assistance in forest plantation or landscaping of city areas.

Social motives of human responsibility for environment are of special value; they are integral with ecological orientations of society, social and ethnic groups and individual. The core of these orientations lies in positions “ nature over a man”, a man over nature”etc. and their interaction with pragmatic and social motives. The responsibility taken by human is expressed in necessity to take care of nature, in realizing all drastic consequences towards environment and which result from human activities. Motives of responsibility determine human actions tailored to protect nature and they are manifested in different ways: from participation in public events of “green” to individual actions (arising from core convictions of a man) like garbage disposal on polluted territories.

Motives of self-identification with nature possess the highest level of impelling and creative power. However self-identification can take two positions: 1) to fulfill his “natural” purpose to the fullest transforming nature according to his plans 2) to act thoughtfully- not to oppose himself to nature, not to contradict it but maintain a harmonious coexistence. Such a motivation is closely tied with human self-esteem and nature-based abilities

In terms of psychology, human self-esteem is tied with awareness of his own nature. There are a number of reasons to it. Firstly, self-esteem cannot do without self-sentiment, i.e. without “delimitation” from things and phenomena around. First of all, a man is a separate, isolated and simultaneously self-conscious “individual” of nature and his self-esteem is directly connected with this fact. Secondly, self-esteem as a direct estimation of one’s own potentials and capacities, is closely tied with natural abilities as appearance (attractiveness), height, physical abilities (strength, turn of speed in running, adeptness etc.), health status. But abilities that foster successful work and respect in society are of greater value for self-esteem. They are called dispositions which developed into abilities. Disposition is not an acquired quality but inherited one and we should be thankful to nature for it endued us with certain ability would show our worth among others.

Our unconscious and conscious criteria for self-esteem depend on whether we equal the “disposition” hopes. Self-discontent, low self-esteem indicate that we failed (or we cannot show abilities in a given situation) to unfold abilities given by nature. High self-esteem, on the contrary, indicates that we are fulfilling (or fulfilled) our purpose and can be proud of it. It is not by chance that eastern philosophy believes that a man is happy in case he accomplishes his socially important functions (regardless their significance) endued by “numens”. Likewise it is manifested in the idea which states that life is considered to be well-spent if a man brought up children and planted a tree. The significance of two aforementioned for a certain individual expressions cannot be overestimated. For the concrete individual the importance of two resulted expressions can't be overestimated. Just as air is fundamental to human health, so a man is in need of awareness that it’s not only “celebrities”, politicians and oligarchs who live well as portrayed by mass media, but any regular citizen. Inherent worth of many people is manifested in their ability to perform simple, daily work and contribute to environment development. The latter is of crucial importance for nature-based character of human self-esteem: it can be appropriate and sufficient having desire to reflect and perceive environment in the right way.

R. Emerson wrote that a man should be aware that “nature’s beauty is the beauty of his own mind. Its laws are the laws of his own mind. Nature then becomes to him the measure of his attainments. So much of nature as he is ignorant of, so much of his own mind does he not yet possess. And, in fine, the ancient precept, “Know yourself” and the modern precept, “Study nature” become at last one maxim”

See also

Literature

  1. A.D. Karnyshev "The Many Faces of Multilingual and Mysterious Baikal"© BSU Publishing House, 2011

Выходные данные материала:

Жанр материала: English | Автор(ы): Karnyshev A.D. | Источник(и): The Many Faces of Multilingual and Mysterious Baikal. Ulan-Ude. 2012 | Дата публикации оригинала (хрестоматии): 2011 | Дата последней редакции в Иркипедии: 30 марта 2015

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Тематический указатель: Irkipedia English