General Question

nikipedia's avatar

What makes something "artificial"?

Asked by nikipedia (28049points) July 14th, 2008

At no point is matter spontaneously created (that we know of), so anything we call artificial, fake, synthetic, unnatural, etc. came from something in nature originally. When does it cease to be “natural”?

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5 Answers

shared3's avatar

I think this is a very interesting with a variety of answers. One example of the distinction I can think of is “artificial” or “natural” flavor additives. The natural ones are just as processed and is often actually more unhealthy/dangerous than the artificial ones. The distinction here is that the natural ones are made from naturally occurring sources, like the cochineal dye made by crushing thousands upon thousands of insects. An artificial variant would be created using chemicals that normally don’t interact with each other. I actually need to go, so I’ll just leave my answer like this. There are other examples.

cyrusbond's avatar

Id have to say after humans have messed with the chemical makeup, structure, or compostion of something. Example, a carrot grown to be sweet. Good question btw.

kapuerajam's avatar

citric acid

Harp's avatar

I agree that this is a problematic distinction. It can’t come down to degree of manipulation alone. Chocolate, for instance, undergoes more manipulation than most other products on our food shelves (the finished product in no way resembling the raw materials), but would still be considered a “natural” product by most standards. Leather is likewise a highly manipulated product, but somehow passes the “natural” test.

If we use ethyl alcohol to extract vanillin from vanilla beans to make vanilla extract, we consider that a “natural flavoring”, but if we use ethyl alcohol to extract vanillin (the exact same molecule) from wood, we consider that an “artificial flavoring; and again, if we store brandy in oak barrels and allow the brandy’s ethyl alcohol to extract the vanillin from the oak, well that’s “natural” somehow.

Virtually none of the fruits or vegetables on our tables bear any resemblance to their uncultivated ancestors; all are products of centuries of genetic manipulation. But all pass for “natural” except for those whose genes were manipulated in a lab instead of in a greenhouse.

When Polistes dominulus, the paper wasp, mixes chewed wood fibers with its saliva to make a water-resistant building material, is it doing something fundamentally different from the contractor who mixes portland cement, sand and water to pour a concrete slab?

pathfinder's avatar

I thing.This could be like a dinner whith nice girl but the dinner arenge by rich guy.When they re eating they talking about them self.The nice girl ask him,so honey haw was your day in work.That guy start to talk yust.The girl listening and keep smile.This could be more than dinner. The guy earning many and buying things around him.Here is it Booth of them know that they cover them self in mask.Don t they see the artificness?Is it emptyness…..................................................

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