If I am talking about the surface of Mars, is this still nature, comparable to uninhabited places on earth, or does nature exclusively describe not man-made things on earth.

I am asking this question in Astronomy, because I would like to know what astronomers or other people dealing with extraterrestrial science on a regular basis think about it.

  • $\begingroup$ Why would it not count as nature? $\endgroup$ – Keith Thompson Oct 23 '14 at 0:28
  • $\begingroup$ I had a tiny argument about it. I am defending the "radical" side of abstraction of nature as everything not man-made. Other people have the stance that since Mars is, first, not on Earth, and secondly an essentially uninhabitable blob drifting in an uninhabitable void, and therefore outside of the concept of nature. I imagine that viewpoint as a romantic one, but I was not sure what the consensus would be. $\endgroup$ – P.R. Oct 23 '14 at 20:33

ARTFL Nature:

  1. The existing system of things; the world of matter, or of matter and mind; the creation; the universe.

That definition includes the surface of Mars, and the core of Betelgeuse.

  • $\begingroup$ It seems that there are different definitions of it. Do you naturally think of nature if you think about Mars? $\endgroup$ – P.R. Oct 22 '14 at 23:58

I'm not a professional astronomer, but I still think I may be able to help.

In response to your comment to WayfaringStranger's answer

Do you naturally think of nature if you think about Mars?

No, not really. I think that this is also partly due to society's perception of nature as a whole. Wikipedia gives a decent explanation of this:

Natura was a Latin translation of the Greek word physis (φύσις), which originally related to the intrinsic characteristics that plants, animals, and other features of the world develop of their own accord.

But it goes on to say

The concept of nature as a whole, the physical universe, is one of several expansions of the original notion; it began with certain core applications of the word φύσις by pre-Socratic philosophers, and has steadily gained currency ever since.

So the original concept of nature was life, but we've expanded since then into everything that isn't made by humans.

So I suppose it depends partly on your personal viewpoint (or time period!), but it does seem like nature today refers to the entire universe.


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