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The concept of the domination of nature can be traced to the 17th-century Scientific Revolution and the subsequent period of the Enlightenment, which was the 18th-century philosophical and social movement that transformed visions of society, science, and nature. Previously, nature and the material world were commonly believed to be a living organism comprised of earth, air, fire, water, and “ether” that formed the stars and planets. Spiritual and religious frameworks that regarded nature as a living being independent of human will provided cultural and moral constraints to the overexploitation of nature.

Seventeenth-century thinkers developed a philosophical commitment to rational science, logical thinking, and mathematical reasoning that allowed nature to be known, managed, mastered, and dominated. According to Francis Bacon (1571–1626), the key conceptual author of the ...

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