Conventional wisdom prizes naturalness over artificiality. In music, for example, we praise the naturalness of culturally indigenous work, and decry the artificiality of a composer using a foreign musical language.

But I wonder if we use these terms too freely.

Artificial means “made by humans.” So in what sense is anything we do not artificial?

Or, to look at it another way, the whole nature-artifice dichotomy is based on a creationist point of view, the belief that human beings were made differently and for different reasons from other species. This perspective doesn’t ring true to me. I see humans as one of thousands, perhaps millions of species in the universe, each one uniquely adapted to survival in its environment.

In other words, human beings, in all their waywardness and complexity, are a product of nature.

So – in what sense is anything we do not natural?

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