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Natural

  • ... Nature is indeed a specious ward, nay, there is a great deal in it if it is properly understood and applied, but I cannot bear to hear people using it to justify what common sense must disavow. Is not Nature modifed by art in many things? Was it not designed to be so? And is it not happy for human society that it is so? Would you like to see your husband let his beard grow, until he would be obliged to put the end of it in his pocket, because this beard is the gift of Nature?

  • Many 'natural' events — like early death, disease, hardship — are neither desirable nor necessary.

  • ... humans are by nature unnatural. We do not yet walk 'naturally' on our hind legs, for example: such ills as fallen arches, lower back pain, and hernias testify that the body has not adapted itself completely to the upright posture. Yet this unnatural posture ... is precisely what has made possible the development of important aspects of our 'nature': the hand and the brain, and the complex system of skills, language, and social arrangements which were both effects and causes of hand and brain.

  • For centuries the word 'nature' has been used to bolster prejudices or to express, not reality, but a state of affairs that the user would wish to see.

  • ... the 'natural' is not necessarily a 'human' value.

  • ... claims about what's 'natural' have long been used to reinforce traditional gender roles and values. ... Even the notion that women should have children at all is based on the idea that a woman's inherent and most important role is that of mother. Shockingly, men's 'innate' roles are a lot more fun than the ones bestowed on women.

  • Often, when the 'natural' is invoked, we are left in the dark as to whether it is meant as an explanation, a recommendation, a claim for determinism, or simply a desperate appeal, as if the 'natural' were some sort of metaphysical glue that could hold our claims or values together.

    • Christine Pierce,
    • "Natural Law Language and Women," in Vivian Gornick and Barbara K. Moran, Woman in Sexist Society ()
  • Natural law is only whatever happens in your lifetime within fifty miles of you.

    • Anonymous,
    • in Jane O'Reilly, The Girl I Left Behind ()