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Anthropocentric, Interdependence, Adaptation

hirakismail's picture

I have chosen three words to explore: anthropocentric, interdependence, and adaptation.

Anthropocentric had definitions which highlighted different elements of the words in 3 dictionaries, the OED, Merriam Webster, and I picked out the definitions that emphasized different aspects of the word that might prove useful as we proceed with this class.

OED: Centring in man; regarding man as the central fact of the universe, to which all surrounding facts have reference.

MW: Interpreting or regarding the world in terms of human values and experiences. Assuming human beings to be the final aim and end of the universe.

Etymonlin (Etymology): 1822, from inter- + dependence.


So these definitions show anthropocentric to be a word referring to how people view the world through a specifically human-focused lens. People whose decisions and thoughts are based on how humans fare in the world or how the environment should be tweaked and treated with specific regard to human life and convenience would be referred to as anthropocentric.

Moving on to interdependence:

OED: The fact or condition of depending each upon the other; mutual dependence

MW: Determined or conditioned by another. (could not find “interdependent” here, so searched “dependent”) ...mutually reliant on each other

Etymonlin (Etymology): 1822, from inter- + dependence.


I chose this word because in its essence it covers a lot of what goes through my mind when I think about human relationships with the environment; how they are and how they should improve. A realization of the interdependency between humans and the environment would be the first step toward any breakthrough in positive action for the environment.

And finally, adaptation:

OED: The action or process of adapting one thing to fit with another, or suit specified conditions, esp. a new or changed environment, etc.

MW: Adjustment to environmental conditions: as

a: adjustment of a sense organ to the intensity or quality of stimulation

b: modification of an organism or its parts that makes it more fit for existence under the conditions of its environment The ability of a species to survive in a particular ecological niche, especially because of alterations of form or behavior brought about through natural selection.

Etymonlin (Etymology): c.1600, "action of adapting," from Fr. adaptation, from L.L. adaptationem (nom. adaptatio), noun of action from pp. stem of adaptare (see adapt). Meaning "condition of being adapted" is from 1670s. Sense of "modification of a thing to suit new conditions" is from 1790. Biological sense first recorded 1859 in Darwin's writings.

This term of course is essential in any discussion about the environment. The way the very elements of the environment such as plants and animals survive is by adjusting to living conditions and human-induced problems such as waste and pollution. The ability for plant-life to adapt to man-made structures and to still flourish in this regard is something I wish to explore this semester as well, especially during my hour observation at the pond. That location on campus is practically a reserve because the fence prevents most students from entering the pond, leaving it mostly untouched by humans. It is affected more by the geese and ducks that migrate there, and all the other small animals and plant-life that thrive there. This is in contrast to the Cherry Blossom tree right outside the fence where I will be sitting. This area is frequented by students much more; people walk by the outside border of the fence and also sit under the trees, and to see the contrast between the two areas will help add to my understanding of the word “adaptation”.

I found Nan's exploration of the word "country" to be very expansive. I liked the differentiation she made between the words "nation," "state," and "country." She pointed out that "country" as a word could have a very political context as well as refer to a rural expanse of land, both of which we as a class will probably be concerned with this semester, especially the latter. The nuanced and changing meanings of these words throughout the years was interesting to see.