[xmca] second nature

From: Andy Blunden <ablunden who-is-at mira.net>
Date: Thu Oct 11 2007 - 20:12:28 PDT

Anyone have an answer to this one?

I sometimes use the term "second nature" to mean the world of artefacts, in
contrast to the "first nature" the world of things existing before and
outside human civilisation. I am interested in where this usage comes from.
According to the Oxford English Dictionary Online, the use of "second
nature" to mean habits and other aspects of the human character which are
developed during our life through participation in activity dates back to
Aristotle, but they record no-one using the term in the way I use it. I see
that Hegel only used the expression in the sense of acquired habits. Max
Stirner appears to be the one, much to my surprise, who started referring
to culture as a "second Nature" but who knows what "culture" meant to the
author of "The Ego and his Own"? Marx in the 1844 manuscripts goes so far
as to refer to human needs which are "second nature" and it would seem
consistent with his idea that he should ascribe "second nature" to the
objectification of those new human needs in the world of artefacts. I do
not feel I am "betraying" Marx in using the term in that way, but so far as
I can see Marx and Engels never use it that way themselves.

Any ideas on who first called the world of material culture our "second
nature" (as opposed to civilised habits)? Was it one of those American
Pragmatists or Benjamin Franklin or someone?


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Received on Thu Oct 11 20:13 PDT 2007

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