Is of course the same as nature

What does "natural" mean here?

The cultural scientist Herrmann Bausinger warns against careless use of the concept of naturalness

Natural way of life, natural nutrition, natural appearance - naturalness is a value concept that is hardly questioned. Nobody stumbles over such characterizations: those who live naturally agree with the laws of nature, and those who behave naturally follow their own nature. The heir to the throne, who shows herself in a pompous ceremony in a moderate presentation; the family, who tailor their diet to the regional cuisine; the master craftsman who speaks as his beak has grown - they can all count on good naturalness grades. Naturalness is considered a virtue.

Even this designation indicates that "natural" behavior is preceded by a decision-making process, because virtue is not a natural occurrence. You choose the natural, so you could also choose differently. Even those who are natural in everyday life make a choice - the grown beak is not a biological fact, but it grows in a social environment. How people behave is always the result of cultural reshaping. Therefore, the appeal to nature - regardless of whether the nature around us or human nature is targeted - is not always helpful. Especially since we are almost always confronted with contradicting provisions in determining what seems natural to us.

Polemics against the "unnatural"

Towards the end of the 19th century, the Swabian philosopher Friedrich Theodor Vischer declared war on fashion. In several essays he attacked the excesses of the fashion of the time; In particular, he raged against the sweeping hoop skirt, the "impertinent" crinoline, the wearers of which claimed the entire sidewalk. He demanded that clothes should be oriented towards nature, namely the female body shapes, which he described with some relish. But he knew he was fighting windmill blades because people tend to be unnatural. It should also be remembered that the body ideal is also dependent on time modes; and in any case Vischer should have found that the nature of the female body in reality rarely corresponds to the ideal proportions he designed. Perhaps that was hidden from him because the bathing manners were less revealing than they are today.

Speaking of bathing customs: their development and, above all, the amusing history of swimwear shed light on the change and instability of the "natural". Pictures of beach life from a hundred years ago are, above all, weird for us; the knee-length swimsuits and the cumbersome arrangements of the gender segregation seem extremely unnatural to us. But there is no doubt that those involved not only perceived their movement in the sea air as being close to nature, but that the social side of beach fun was also natural for them. What counts as natural is what does not require any special justification and what, apparently, has always been that way. To stay on the beach again: nudism (culture, not nature!) Gives its followers the feeling of being part of nature; But that in no way excludes the fact that textile lovers perceive the behavior of the nude, who is not always blessed with an ideal figure, to be unnatural.

What we perceive to be natural mainly has to do with habit

Even with the frequent use of the word "natural" as a filler word, nature does not always come into play in a demanding way. If someone says that they would of course like to come with you or that they would of course agree with you, then this is only aimed at unquestionably self-evident. It can also happen that someone comments on a fat roast pork that it is of course his favorite dish - not because it is a natural product, albeit a problematic one, but because he has "always" liked to eat it. The power of habit linguistically overlays an objective assignment of naturalness. Often it is difficult to distinguish whether the impression of the natural in linguistic usage arises due to the agreement of what is so designated with a natural norm that is somehow thought of or simply due to the familiarity established through repetition.

One could therefore get the idea to dispose of "naturally" in the historical dictionary and to do without it in lively parlance. But that is not possible, of course not! The filler word, which underlines the matter of course in a statement, is indispensable; but also the emphasized approach to nature as an important and resilient quantity of reality can be quite useful. We should just not forget that this is basically just an approximation, a construct of naturalness that is by no means clearly outlined. That sounds complicated, but it quickly becomes clear with examples.

Example sport: what is natural, what is doping?

Take the discussion about doping. It is also conducted so emotionally because it is often not possible to precisely fix the limit at which the normal promotion of physical strength changes into "unnatural" stimulation processes. With this in mind, the proposal has already been made to dissolve the already imperfect control systems and to free doping. This would certainly be the wrong conclusion, since the endangerment of health from doping has been proven. But the discussion should not be simplified by contrasting the unnatural nature of doping procedures with the naturalness of other means that support training. In all cases it is a question of interventions, of shaping and, on this side of the border with doping, sometimes of deformations of human nature.

If they are perceived as natural, this often has more to do with getting used to it than with convincing evidence of a completely compatible promotion of physical nature. Untouched human nature is beyond our grasp. One has tried again and again to find out how the original human nature is represented. In the past there have been experiments in which children should grow up in isolation; The result of this brutal arrangement was only the emergence of deficits and the destruction of viability. And the so-called wolf children, which were more numerous in literature than in reality, did not bring the hoped-for knowledge either. The fascination that emanates from such beings - also in the literary description - is due to the expectation that one could study the pre-cultural state of man on them. This is a miscalculation insofar as you have a human pregnancy and birth behind you, but also an initial cultural imprint.

Nevertheless, it is not wrong to talk about human nature and see naturalness as a possible property. But in both cases the inaccuracy that characterizes our use of language must be taken into account. Naturalness cannot be an absolute term, but is always shown in comparison. A person appears naturally against an obviously artificial background. It can be the court society with its timidly controlled traditional style, it can be the world of stars, in which one expects flashy colors so that a simple appearance looks like a piece of nature, but it can also simply be a family in which certain rigid ones Have formed conventions, the breach of which aims at a freer naturalness. The natural challenges the cementations in society, and often it is a loosening agent that dissolves them.

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