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As the scientific project bore fruit in the industrial revolution, the dominant view of wild nature was as disordered material which could be brought into rational order through science and labor, and thus serve its ultimate purpose of existing for the benefit of mankind.
Cronon wants wilderness to be any part of it.
Wilderness hides its unnaturalness behind a mask that is all the more beguiling because it seems so natural. Muir saw the problem as one of greed for profit unconstrained by higher sensibilities.
For most of us, though, such a debacle would be cause for regret, a sign that humanity had failed to fulfill its own promise and failed to honor its own highest values—including those of the deep ecologists. Hendee et al. In the wilderness the boundaries between human and nonhuman, between natural and supernatural, had always seemed less certain than elsewhere.
This came to be known as the purity policy.
The academic literature on wilderness has tended to focus on other issues—the history of the idea, its influence on policy, and whether it represents a reasonable or appropriate approach to nonhuman nature. Remember this? Today, the prescriptive metaphor is ubiquitous: Columbus should not have sailed.
His student evaluations were emphatic: No one gave more insightful lectures, as beautifully delivered as they were coherent.