Balance in nature

Linnaeus emphasizes the balance of nature in countless formulations. The maintenance of equilibrium seems to be the foremost achievement of nature. For Linnaeus, the balance of nature is a purpose, and the Creator has given the animals various tasks for this purpose: the scavengers make sure that stinking bodies do not accumulate, the herbivores prune the plants, the small birds keep insects at bay so that our crops are not destroyed, and so on.

This is the basic idea in Politia naturæ – all organisms have a role in the governance of nature. There are insects that have the policing task of keeping plants under surveillance. But to prevent them from becoming too zealous in the exercise of their office and abusing their powers of authority, God has set insect-eating animals as rulers over them.

The idea of ​​equilibrium was prevalent in ecology well into the 20th century, but today's ecological theories are hesitant towards ideas of a general equilibrium in nature, and emphasize that certain processes move towards equilibrium, but that there are many reasons why equilibrium is not reached. But questions about how organisms are regulated are still one of the main research fields in ecology.

Herein lies a paradox. On the one hand, Linnaeus' naive interpretations of the purposes of organisms are the hardest for us to accept. On the other hand, his ideas about organisms regulating each other were perhaps the most important for the development of ecology during the 19th century.

Last modified: 2022-10-25