Chapter 2 – Conquering Nature through Work

After examining the various myths and beliefs surrounding work, it would be interesting to understand the role of work and its consequences, particularly with respect to the environment it modifies, nature.

Chapter 2

Work conquers nature

“Nature is only commanded by obeying it” Francis Bacon, Novum Organum

This statement by Francis Bacon may seem paradoxical. The common translation of this expression by the English philosopher contrasts the terms command and obey as necessary to each other. The original quotation ” We cannot command Nature except by obeying her ” is more precise: it is impossible for man to act on nature if he does not obey the rules of that nature.

It is a reminder both that Nature sets the rules, that it imposes its law, but also that man, through his work, can overcome nature, and have authority over it.

Work thus appears as the condition to have a role to exert on Nature.

How does Nature impose these rules? How does man manage, through his work, to arrange this nature? Is it good for man to try to subdue nature in this way?

Work is a process that runs counter to nature, in that it shapes it. Nature, however, takes back its rights over work. The new environmental stakes crystallize these relations between nature and work.

I. Work seeks to subdue nature

A. Homo faber

B. Work allows man to extend his hold on nature

II. Respecting nature in its harmony

A. The dream of harmony

B. Protecting nature from the work of men

III. Work and the new challenges of nature

A. Man’s work must be in harmony with the environment

C. The technological revolution facilitates work but threatens nature

Chapter 1 – Work between myths and beliefs