The definition of nature is made in a different manner by scientists, philosophers, anthropologists, etc. Nature is a set of inherent qualities being possessed by the entity in question. Each and every entity in this world is marked or defined by certain qualities. These qualities carry out their functioning or working. The conventional meaning of nature is something pristine or untouched and which exists in the wilderness. The forests, wildlife and other natural phenomena are generally grouped under what we call as nature. However, in the process of understanding what is nature, we tend to overlook that not just trees, not just animals, but also the rocks, pebbles, minerals, water, fire, etc. have their respective and unique nature. This definition although, correct in its own way, provides a limited view of what can be referred to as nature.
The difference between what is natural and artificial is explained on the basis of whether the object or entity in question is made by man or just exists naturally. Of course, the entity which hasn’t been altered to any degree can be said as natural. However, the very nature of entities used in the construction of artificial/man-made machines (creations) also doesn’t change. It is the basic nature or qualities of a natural entity that are used in making or creating this artificial artwork. So, nature governs even the artificial world.
One would ask that how can a particular entity be natural and artificial at the same time. Let us have a look at the example of a simple electric bulb; seems artificial, isn’t it? But, observing carefully would bring to your notice that a bulb is actually made from naturally occurring materials. Even the functioning of this seems artificial object is governed by the natural phenomenon of electricity. The differentiation between natural and artificial entities should therefore, be carried out on the basis of careful study of each and every natural phenomenon. In reality, there is nothing like artificial. Assembling the natural entities for humans results into creation of artificial objects like machines. So, how do we know what is natural and what is not? Let us find out…
The classification of natural entities can really be a confusing and mind-boggling work. Given the limited resources and knowledge we can possess even the idea of colonizing our nearest planet – Mars is still a dream for us. The classification of natural entities cannot be done authoritatively by any scientist or researcher. There are thousands of animal and plant species that have become extinct. Newer elements are discovered and even created in laboratories. The idea of properly classifying all the natural entities therefore, seems far-fetched. There are however, few constants that help us explain how this classification can be initiated. Living beings and non-living beings are an important part of nature.
The classification should begin by categorizing natural entities into living and non-living being. There are 6 natural entities – living, non-living, plasma, inertia, space and time. However, is it not that these entities just exist in the nature without any of interaction between themselves. They require some kind of medium in order to interact with each other. This medium is referred to as plasma and which is the third type of natural entity we are talking about. A medium allows movement just like a solvent helps its solutes to travel from one point to the other. Now, there is also a force that provides stability or stops these movements. This force is referred to as inertia.
The interactions of natural entities governed by the medium and inertia require some sort of space to operate. Space is therefore, an important natural entity and which provides a setting or platform for all the reactions and interactions in this world. And last but not least is the crucial factor of time. Without taking this entity into consideration, you cannot just measure or quantify the happenings of this world. The transformation of various entities can be marked or understood only if the time factor is taken into consideration. This 6th and final type of natural entity – time, therefore, defines and provides meaning to every event, every action in this world.
The idea of universe (shape, form, etc.) as presented by researchers may change with availability of information and creation of knowledge. However, the constants which govern the happenings of this universe won’t change. In my view, the knowledge of these constants (living, non-living, plasma, inertia, space and time) provides a clear understanding of true nature of nature.