𝘖𝘷𝘦𝘳 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘯𝘦𝘹𝘵 𝘵𝘩𝘳𝘦𝘦 𝘯𝘦𝘸𝘴𝘭𝘦𝘵𝘵𝘦𝘳𝘴 𝘐 𝘸𝘢𝘯𝘵 𝘵𝘰 𝘵𝘢𝘭𝘬 𝘢𝘣𝘰𝘶𝘵 𝘩𝘰𝘸 𝘯𝘢𝘵𝘶𝘳𝘦 𝘵𝘢𝘭𝘬𝘴, 𝘩𝘰𝘸 𝘯𝘢𝘵𝘶𝘳𝘦 𝘵𝘩𝘪𝘯𝘬𝘴, 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘩𝘰𝘸 𝘢𝘭𝘭 𝘰𝘧 𝘯𝘢𝘵𝘶𝘳𝘦, 𝘧𝘳𝘰𝘮 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘮𝘪𝘤𝘳𝘰𝘴𝘤𝘰𝘱𝘪𝘤 𝘵𝘰 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘴𝘺𝘴𝘵𝘦𝘮𝘪𝘤, 𝘩𝘢𝘷𝘦 “𝘴𝘦𝘭𝘷𝘦𝘴”¹.
𝘐𝘧 𝘸𝘦 𝘵𝘩𝘪𝘯𝘬 𝘰𝘧 𝘯𝘢𝘵𝘶𝘳𝘦 𝘢𝘴 𝘣𝘦𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘪𝘯𝘵𝘦𝘭𝘭𝘪𝘨𝘦𝘯𝘵, 𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘯 𝘸𝘦 𝘢𝘳𝘦 𝘮𝘰𝘳𝘦 𝘭𝘪𝘬𝘦𝘭𝘺 𝘵𝘰 𝘱𝘳𝘰𝘵𝘦𝘤𝘵 𝘪𝘵 .
An ancient forest, like the Amazon, is not just the trees and plants, but also the animals, and the people who live and hunt there².
Once a year in the Amazon, at an unpredictable time, plump winged ants fly from their nests to mate with other colonies, usually following rain, lightening and floods. Somehow the colonies coordinate with other colonies, and many other species watch and wait for this hour-long migration, including humans, bats, birds, foxes, snakes, and small felines. All the creatures of the forest watch the signs, and when the short migration happens, they feast on these savory delicacies.
All the beings involved in this process are recognizing the signs and habits of the forest. Signs give us information about past and future.
Nature talks through signs. Any change that happens in nature is a sign³.
Signs are the language of nature.
A change of temperature or season, rainfall, a falling tree, birdsong, a human looking at an animal or an animal looking at a human. Signs only become useful when recognized by another being. The sound of a deer moving in the undergrowth is useful if you are a predator or hunter. Some signs are repeated – “habits” if you like. For example, the change of the seasons and the flowering of a plant. Creatures learn to predict these habits, and what’s more, to make a habit of predicting these habits.
Noticing the signs of nature and the repeated activities (habits) is thinking.
Beings that think have Selves.
When the village women hear their dogs barking, the tone of the bark tells the women that they are hunting an animal, perhaps a deer. When the barking turns to yelping, the women know that the dogs have now become the hunted. The dogs have misinterpreted what they saw in the forest and the deer they were hunting has turned out to be a mountain lion. They have become the victims of their own mistaken thinking.
𝘕𝘦𝘹𝘵 𝘸𝘦𝘦𝘬, 𝘐 𝘸𝘪𝘭𝘭 𝘵𝘢𝘭𝘬 𝘢𝘣𝘰𝘶𝘵 𝘩𝘰𝘸 𝘢𝘭𝘭 𝘣𝘦𝘪𝘯𝘨𝘴 𝘪𝘯 𝘯𝘢𝘵𝘶𝘳𝘦 𝘢𝘳𝘦 𝘪𝘯𝘵𝘦𝘭𝘭𝘪𝘨𝘦𝘯𝘵.
Look deep into nature,
and then you will understand
The clearest way
into the Universe
is through a forest wilderness.
Nature is the true revelation
of the Deity to man.
This is the first in a series of blogs
To read the next in the series, click here:
1 Kals, E., Schumacher, D. and Montada, L. (1999) ‘Emotional affinity toward nature as a motivational
basis to protect nature’, Environment and Behavior, 31(2), pp. 178–202.
2 Kohn, E., 2013. How forests think: toward an anthropology beyond the human. Berkeley and Los
Angeles: University of California Press.
3 Peirce, C., 1998. What is a Sign?. In: Peirce Edition Project, ed., The Essential Peirce: Selected
Philosophical Writings. Vol. 2. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.