Environmental Determinism and Possibilism: Shaping and Reshaping Life Since the Beginning of Time Possibilism and Environmental Determinism, both completely different in theory, and yet so very linked in purpose. Environmental Determinism is the idea that the environment shapes its inhabitants, and will --or will not-- provide for them to accomplish their goals. While Possibilism is the idea that mankind —for this example it will be routinely mankind and not another species—can accomplish their goal s because it is possible or could become possible with assistance, such as training, tools, equipment, specialized environmental gear, etc. These two ideas can be almost as conflict-ridden as Creationism and Evolution, with both sides of the fight drawing lines in the sand and rallying behind them. Hopefully the reader of this essay will find that Environmental determinism and Possibilism may have different theories, but are not so different when considered towards a problems beginning and ultimately its end.
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Neo-determinism Determinism Philosophy of Determinism is based upon the interaction between primitive human society and strong forces of nature. This is an older philosophy which persisted till World War II. It says that the strong forces of environment control the course of human action. This implies that the history, culture, mode of life, and the level of development of the societal groups and countries are exclusively or largely controlled by the physical environment.
According to Determinism, man is a passive agent, and nature is active agent, which controls and determines the action and decision-making processes of man. As per determinism, the human actions can be explained as a response to the natural environment. Environmental determinism This philosophy says that aspects of physical geography, particularly climate, influenced the psychological mind-set of individuals, which in turn defined the behaviour and culture of the society that those individuals formed.
For example, tropical climates were said to cause laziness, relaxed attitudes and promiscuity, while the frequent variability in the weather of the middle latitudes led to more determined and driven work ethics. The core philosophy is that the supreme achievements of civilisation in any region were always bound up with a particular type of climate and variation in climate led to pulsations in the history and culture of the people.
These geographers who propound this theory say that the civilisations of Egyptians, Mesopotamians, Indus-valley, disappeared because of the climatic changes. The attacks of the central Asian nomads in different directions in the 13th century were also attributed to the drying up of their pastures directions of climatic change. Possibilism Possibilism is reaction to determinism and environmental determinism.
It is based upon the assumption that environment sets certain constraints or limitations, but culture is otherwise determined by social conditions. This theory says that the true and only geographical problem is that to utilisation of possibilities.
Essence of Possibilism is that: Nature provides possibilities and man utilises them according to his culture, traditions, and levels of socioeconomic development. People are not just the products of their environment or just pawn of natural environment. Nature is never more than an adviser. There are not necessities but everywhere possibilities. The range of possibilities in every region is limited more by the price man is willing to pay of what he wants than by the dictates of environment.
For instance, man through his technical skill can grow banana, rice and rubber plants in tundra, Greenland, and Antarctica, but he has to take into consideration the input cost. The prohibitive cost of production of these crops in the extremely cold conditions of these areas will compel man not to grow them in the tundra climate.
This approach has been criticised on several accounts. For example, despite numerous possibilities, man, has not been able to get rid of the obstacles set by the physical forces. The possibilities may be many in the temperate regions but they are very limited in the deserts, equatorial, tundra, and high mountainous regions. Neo-determinism Australian geographer Griffith Taylor, in argued that the limit of agricultural settlements in Australia has been set by factors of the physical environment such a distribution of rainfall.
But he should not, if he is wise, depart from directions as indicated by natural environment. He is like the traffic controller in a large city who alters the rate but not the direction of progress. But wisdom and folly are human concepts. The nature knows nothing of them. This theory says that in no environment are the possibilities limitless and for every choice a price must be paid. Man makes his choice and man himself judges its relative wisdom or folly by reference to goals he himself has established.
Email Environmental possibilism and determinism are theories, put forth in order to comprehend and understand the role played by the physical environmental conditions in the emergence and progress of any human culture or society in a particular location. ScienceStruck explores and lists out the differences between these two concepts. Studies related to this field attempt to establish the human or natural factors underlying the environmental changes occurring at that site. It also tries to understand the sociocultural evolution of humans based on the stimuli provided by their physical living conditions. Till , philosophers believed that human civilizations form and proliferate in certain parts of the world due to the direct influence of the natural physical environment found in those places. They put forth these beliefs in the form of theories which claimed that the environment had deterministic effects on the nature of human society and culture.
Main article: Guns, Germs, and Steel In the Pulitzer Prize winning Guns, Germs, and Steel , author Jared Diamond points to geography as the answer to why certain states were able to grow and develop faster and stronger than others. His theory cited the natural environment and raw materials a civilization was blessed with as factors for success, instead of popular century old claims of racial and cultural superiority. Diamond says that these natural endowments began with the dawn of man, and favored Eurasian civilizations due to their location along similar latitudes, suitable farming climate, and early animal domestication. Crops such as wheat and barley were simple to grow and easy to harvest, and regions suitable for their cultivation saw high population densities and the growth of early cities. The ability to domesticate herd animals, which had no natural fear of humans, high birth rates, and an innate hierarchy, gave some civilizations the advantages of free labor, fertilizers, and war animals. The east—west orientation of Eurasia allowed for knowledge capital to spread quickly, and writing systems to keep track of advanced farming techniques gave people the ability to store and build upon a knowledge base across generations. Craftsmanship flourished as a surplus of food from farming allowed some groups the freedom to explore and create, which lead to the development of metallurgy and advances in technology.
Determinism and Possibilism in Geography
What is the difference between enviromental determinism and possibilism? Those who believe this view say that humans are strictly defined by stimulus-response environment-behavior and cannot deviate. The fundamental argument of the environmental determinists was that aspects of physical geography, particularly climate, influenced the psychological mind-set of individuals, which in turn defined the behaviour and culture of the society that those individuals formed. For example, tropical climates were said to cause laziness, relaxed attitudes and promiscuity, while the frequent variability in the weather of the middle latitudes led to more determined and driven work ethics. Because these environmental influences operate slowly on human biology, it was important to trace the migrations of groups to see what environmental conditions they had evolved under. In Cultural ecology Marshall Sahlins used this concept in order to develop alternative approaches to the environmental determinism dominant at that time in ecological studies.
Environmental Determinism and Possibilism
As per the Environment and Ecology Journal, Environment simply means the natural environment which encompasses all living and non-living things occurring naturally on the planet Earth. The environment is an ecosystem e. Photo-1 which consists of all the living and non-living things in a natural setting composed of plants, animals, insects, microorganisms, rocks, soil, Page 1 of 6 Ronald Valledor Gomeseria, AIU Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering, and Ph. The terrestrial ecosystems are land-based composed of the upland and the lowland areas, while the aquatic ecosystems are water-based composed of oceans, river, and lakes.