Illuminates the far-reaching harms of believing that natural means “good,” from misinformation about health choices to justifications for sexism, racism, and flawed economic policies.

Product Code: 6960
ISBN: 9780807010877
Format: Hardback
Publisher: Beacon Press
Published Date: 04/07/2020
Pages: 264
Availability:In stock
N/A
Price: $28.95

People love what’s natural: it’s the best way to eat, the best way to parent, even the best way to act - naturally, just as nature intended. Appeals to the wisdom of nature are among the most powerful arguments in the history of human thought. Yet Nature (with a capital N) and natural goodness are not objective or scientific. In this groundbreaking book, scholar of religion Alan Levinovitz demonstrates that these beliefs are actually religious and highlights the many dangers of substituting simple myths for complicated realities. It may not seem like a problem when it comes to paying a premium for organic food. But what about condemnations of “unnatural” sexual activity? The guilt that attends not having a “natural” birth? Economic deregulation justified by the inherent goodness of “natural” markets?

In Natural, readers embark on an epic journey, from Peruvian rainforests to the backcountry in Yellowstone Park, from a “natural” bodybuilding competition to a “natural” cancer-curing clinic. The result is an essential new perspective that shatters faith in Nature’s goodness and points to a better alternative. We can love nature without worshipping it, and we can work toward a better world with humility and dialogue rather than taboos and zealotry.


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Introduction

PART I: Myth

CHAPTER 1
In the Beginning

CHAPTER 2
The True Vine

CHAPTER 3
States of Nature

PART II: Ritual

CHAPTER 4
Hey Bear!

CHAPTER 5
Let Food Be Thy Medicine

CHAPTER 6
Deepak Chopra’s Condo

PART III: Law

CHAPTER 7
The Invisible Hand

CHAPTER 8
The Rhythm

CHAPTER 9
God-Given Talent

Afterword: Salvation
Acknowledgments
Notes
Select Bibliography
Index

“A useful stepping-off point for a relevant topic.” - Kirkus Reviews

“A nuanced plea for a more informed relationship with the natural world . . . Evocative, convincing . . . Rich with interviews, anecdotes, and citations, Levinovitz’s work makes a strong case for the wisdom of compromise and humility.” - Publishers Weekly

“In a fascinating tour across time, cultures, and ideas, Alan Levinovitz shows us how the worship of an abstract idea of nature can lead us astray in everything from our health to the laws we pass and even how we structure our governments and our way of life. This book is required reading for anyone who wants to face the scientific and moral challenges of the twenty-first century with a clear head.” - Tom Nichols, author of The Death of Expertise

“The idea of ‘natural’ is one of the most potent forces in our culture, shaping everything from cosmetics to public policy—sometimes for the better, more often not. What makes ‘natural’ so powerful is, in part, the fact that it is seldom laid bare and considered carefully. In Natural, Alan Levinovitz does that and more. With elegant prose, engaging stories, and nuanced judgments, he thoughtfully explores an idea that shapes our mental landscape.” - Dan Gardner, author of Risk: The Science and Politics of Fear

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