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Wilderness is one of the most potent and contentious concepts in Western, particularly North American, framings of society-nature relations. As a symbol of humankind's moral and spiritual condition, it is deeply imbedded in Western philosophy and religion. As an actual place, it lies at the heart of political-economic struggles over the future courses of development and biodiversity protection around the world. When wilderness is debated among scholars and scientists, it is more often about the idea of wilderness than actual wild places.

The Idea of Wilderness

The idea of wilderness can be categorized into one of three roughly historical trends: Ancient, classical, and romantic. The origins of the ancient view are traceable to the Neolithic revolution in the Fertile Crescent of the ancient Mediterranean, according to ...

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