ISEE Glossary – N


A broad concept including the notions that (a) the universe is wholly natural, not derived from or constituted by any nonnatural component (supernatural or transcendental); (b) empirical science in principle can explain all phenomena; (c) humans are no different in kind from the rest of the universe; and (d) values do not have a supernatural origin or sanction, but are either humanly constructed or grounded in natural phenomena.

Naturalistic fallacy

First identified by G. E. Moore, the practice of identifying goodness with a natural quality like pleasantness or beauty.  For Moore moral goodness is a primitive, unanalyzable, and nonnatural concept that cannot be equated with or explained in terms of natural properties.

Nature writing

Literary nonfiction that intertwines careful, often scientifically-orientated, personal observation of the natural world with spiritual, philosophical, and perhaps even political reflections.  Nature writers are especially concerned with exploring epistemologies of place, encouraging an appreciation of sensual experience, and tracing the relationship between humans and the “more-than-human world.”  If nature writing can be said to have an overarching goal, it is to nudge Western culture towards a more sustainable relationship with the world.  Nature writing is a subset of environmental literature.


The control and management of a weaker nation by a stronger one through economic and cultural measures like trade agreements, the operations of transnational corporations, and particular business models.


The synthesis of Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection with Gregor Mendel’s theory of genetic inheritance by chance mutation and recombination.  Also called the “modern synthesis” and “neo-Darwinianism.”

North/South divide

A geographic division thought to reflect the socio-economic and political divisions between the developed wealthy “northern” countries (Japan, Europe, United States) and the developing or least developed “southern” countries (southern Asia, Africa, Central and South America).  As more and more countries in the South industrialize (Mexico and South Korea for instance), the usefulness of the term will further diminish.