Western thought, writes Clarence Glacken in this magisterial, highly influential study, centers on three questions: Was the earth made for a reason? Does the earth shape human life? How have humans affected the earth? Tracing these three questions in turn deep into antiquity, Glacken shows how varied the answers have been. Aristotle, for instance, argued that there was purpose in nature, with each thing created for the benefit of something else – especially humans. Christian thinkers extended Aristotle's ideas, although, as Glacken warns, it is incorrect to assume that this presupposes a hostility toward or indifference to the natural world. Glacken closes his tome with the advent of modern science, when theological questions gave way in large measure to more modest, empirical questions of form and process.
PART ONE: THE ANCIENT WORLD
1. Order and Purpose in the Cosmos and on the Earth
2. Airs, Waters, Places
3. Creating a Second Nature
4. God, Man, and Nature in Judeo-Christian Theology
PART TWO: THE CHRISTIAN MIDDLE AGES
5. The Earth as a Planned Abode for Man
6. Environmental Influences within a Divinely Created World
7. Interpreting Piety and Activity, and their Effects on Nature
PART THREE: EARLY MODERN TIMES
8. Physico-Theology: Deeper Understandings of the Earth as a Habitable Planet
9. Environmental Theories of Early Modern Times
10. Growing Consciousness of the Control of Nature
PART FOUR: CULTURE AND ENVIRONMENT IN THE EIGHTEENTH CENTURY
11. Final Strengths and Weaknesses of Physico-Theology
12. Climate, the Moeurs, Religion, and Government
13. Environment, Population, and the Perfectibility of Man
14. The Epoch of Man in the History of Nature
"One of the best and most important books published by a geographer in the English-speaking world in the last hundred years."
– Professional Geographer
"Through a highly interdisciplinary framework, Glacken relates social and natural phenomena to the supposed dichotomy of man and nature [...] Containing a wealth of data and new approaches to the story of the development of human society, the account is absorbing and thought-provoking."