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Nature, Social Construction of

Many people consider nature to be whatever it is they see through the window of an automobile while passing through rural areas. Looking out they see fields, forests, birds, and perhaps a mammal such as a deer. This common view of nature as whatever the individual happens to see of the world is without critical awareness. It can be considered a form of naïve realism that believes that what one sees is what one gets. However, questions about the accuracy of this picture of “reality” have been with us since the beginning of Western philosophy and continue to be raised in modern studies by sociologists.

The philosophic question “what is real?” is an issue because some human experiences are of things that appear to be ...

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