Try to Look at Us This Way

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Khethil
 
Reply Thu 14 Jan, 2010 03:47 pm
Subject: Humanity and it's "place"

I know we like to ping-pong between the extremes of naturalism and the often-false dichotomy drawn between our nature and the natural world. But what do you all think of this:
[INDENT]On this planet, there is one species that brings self-aware consciousness to the table, in the community of life. It is the one thing humans have that all the others don't. What they express (how they live, their problems, ideals, needs, productive and destructive behaviors alike, etc.) are but an indicator of what any life form, in this setting, might manifest - if only it could.
[/INDENT]Nothing earth shattering, I don't think, but I thought it post-worthy.

Thanks
 
Justin
 
Reply Thu 14 Jan, 2010 03:55 pm
@Khethil,
Interesting indeed. Had to read it a couple times. The 'if it could' on the end is sort of confusing.

What made you post it? Is this out of a book?
 
Zetherin
 
Reply Thu 14 Jan, 2010 03:59 pm
@Khethil,
You're basically saying our human nature, that which we so much praise and exalt above all others, would most likely be no different than X creature's nature, if X creature had the same intelligence and semantic capacity we do?
 
Jebediah
 
Reply Thu 14 Jan, 2010 04:00 pm
@Khethil,
I don't think I understand. An amoeba, if it could have ideals, would have something similar to human ideals? Is that what the "if it could" part means?
 
Khethil
 
Reply Thu 14 Jan, 2010 04:25 pm
@Khethil,
Yea, the thought somewhat chained off a book I'm reading.

Clarification: We are the only creatures, we know of, that are self-aware, sentient and intelligent. We are also a part of this natural world; being a product OF it. If both of these are true, then it might stand to reason that all that we are (think, feel, do, etc.) are manifestations of the natural world.

... taken a step further, that our needs and desires (most being based on emotions - which aren't endemic to humans - and basic communal and physical needs) might also be the same needs any other entity, from this planet, all of which don't have a voice.

We have a rich and communicative consciousness; alone and singular in this world. If nature had a "voice", where might that voice come from?

Us?
 
Jebediah
 
Reply Thu 14 Jan, 2010 04:44 pm
@Khethil,
Khethil;120012 wrote:
Yea, the thought somewhat chained off a book I'm reading.

Clarification: We are the only creatures, we know of, that are self-aware, sentient and intelligent. We are also a part of this natural world; being a product OF it. If both of these are true, then it might stand to reason that all that we are (think, feel, do, etc.) are manifestations of the natural world.

... taken a step further, that our needs and desires (most being based on emotions - which aren't endemic to humans - and basic communal and physical needs) might also be the same needs any other entity, from this planet, all of which don't have a voice.

We have a rich and communicative consciousness; alone and singular in this world. If nature had a "voice", where might that voice come from?

Us?


If nature had a voice, it couldn't say anything because it isn't capable of it. If nature was self aware I suppose it wouldn't want to be destroyed, maybe it would decide to make there be more apple trees, I don't know, because it isn't self aware...
 
Three dog
 
Reply Thu 14 Jan, 2010 07:31 pm
@Jebediah,
Nature could still be self-aware, but unable to act.
 
Jebediah
 
Reply Thu 14 Jan, 2010 07:41 pm
@Three dog,
Three_dog;120035 wrote:
Nature could still be self-aware, but unable to act.


Well, I don't think so. But the suggestion is that we should try that perspective on for size. I'm not sure why though.
 
BaaBaa phil
 
Reply Thu 14 Jan, 2010 09:11 pm
@Khethil,
the question is a bit ambiguous. clarify a bit, please. you're not really asking a question it's more of a statement.

opposing the product of the natural world: we reproduce from ourselves, it's pretty false to say we produce from another being in some sort.
our natural world is more of a victom, and us a parasite.
your question is a product of a being thinking it's superior from anything else.
it's completely irrational, really; me saying it's irrational is based on your saying nature would have to have a voice, if you can't perceive something why ask the question?
it's more of an ideal ( a superior ideal).

a minor response to "try looking it at this way," it's completely absurd to be honest.
this question is completely similiar to believing in a god (a fictional character)
 
Khethil
 
Reply Fri 15 Jan, 2010 07:03 am
@BaaBaa phil,
Well, apparently this wasn't enunciated very well. I do need to do more thinking on it:

  • We are a part of nature; a product of and reliant upon same


  • "Nature" is a word; a concept that describes what is "naturally" - that being, all that has not been artificially imposed/changed/created by conscious intent (a loose, working definition here). I don't see "it" as anything sentient, self-aware nor able to express as a single entity.


  • I do see a difference in what we do (as a matter of conscious will) and what is "naturally"; we have to be careful though, it's a slippery slope. There are aspects of overlap and the line between 'natural behavior' and 'nature, when you toss a self-aware, intelligent being into the mix, becomes blurred


  • What we do, what we've done - when we act irresponsibly - hurts and destroys "it"; and since we are inseparable from it, in so doing we hurt ourselves/our world. But in understanding this, we tend to draw what I call a false-dichotomy.


  • The uniqueness in us, in nature, has to do with a simple practical truth: That we are the only self-aware/self-conscious creature we know of - the only one capable of "stepping back", in our minds, and evaluating what is, what's not, and contextualizing intellectually.


  • This is where the "voice" concept comes in: That perhaps being, that intellect within us, as a part and parcel to nature, which can evaluate, think, and act with a conscious will.


  • This might give us an obligation to ourselves (and to other lifeforms here) to use such intellect for the protection of this "community"


  • Yes this makes us different - unique - even so we can't deny our connection.

And yea... I'm still workin on this; and I'll confess to the need to think this through more. I believe what's occurring to me is what is, likely, already obvious to those who have thought it out: That we are not only connected with the natural world, but contained in it. That the very thing which gives us the ability to destroy through pollution and resource-depletion (inventiveness, ability to evaluate and make decisions based on specific criteria) is also the very thing that enables us to fulfill the role of "advocate"; and perhaps might even obligate us to do so.

It's just that I've always viewed us as somehow "outside", and we're not - no matter what we've done, what we are is inseparable. Lemme toss this about more.

Apologies for the murkiness in lack of precision here; sometimes I forget that for most folks here, such posts are seen as fodder for criticism, axe grinding and degradation. Thanks for the reminder
 
xris
 
Reply Fri 15 Jan, 2010 08:36 am
@Khethil,
We are most definitely a product of nature so we must be the voice of nature. If nature has others ways of expressing itself is in its determination. We are the vocal announcement , without the ability to fully understand our purpose. Nature procured us, nurtured us and by its determination created us.
 
Zetherin
 
Reply Fri 15 Jan, 2010 10:11 am
@Khethil,
Khethil wrote:
It's just that I've always viewed us as somehow "outside", and we're not - no matter what we've done, what we are is inseparable. Lemme toss this about more.

Oh, I agree, it's quite the epiphany when one actually realizes this. We're still a part of nature, despite our unique perspective.

Quote:

Apologies for the murkiness in lack of precision here; sometimes I forget that for most folks here, such posts are seen as fodder for criticism, axe grinding and degradation. Thanks for the reminder


I don't think that's fair to say. Most people here have been gracious, despite how vague you initially were.
 
Three dog
 
Reply Fri 15 Jan, 2010 10:25 am
@Zetherin,
Yes, it is quite unsettling to think that, while we might be unique here on Earth, we are still part of the same. :brickwall:
 
Zetherin
 
Reply Fri 15 Jan, 2010 10:34 am
@Three dog,
Three_dog;120150 wrote:
Yes, it is quite unsettling to think that, while we might be unique here on Earth, we are still part of the same. :brickwall:


I don't think it's unsettling at all. It's enlightening, at least to me. It's so very easy for us humans to place ourselves on that grand pedestal, proclaiming mastery of the universe. But, really, we're just creatures, creatures here on Earth, albeit with the very unique abilities aforementioned.
Not a bad thing at all. It's a stepping stone to humbleness, I think. A humbleness we often misplace during our climb up that pedestal.
 
Jebediah
 
Reply Fri 15 Jan, 2010 10:45 am
@Khethil,
I agree that we are a product of nature and reliant upon it. With the way you've defined nature you are saying that we are part natural and part unnatural (the conscious part). I'm not sure the conscious is unnatural, but I don't think that's important in this context.

Khethil wrote:
What we do, what we've done - when we act irresponsibly - hurts and destroys "it"; and since we are inseparable from it, in so doing we hurt ourselves/our world.
This is where you are still murky--saying that being irresponsible is bad doesn't lead us anywhere. You still have to show what makes a given action irresponsible.

Khethil wrote:
This might give us an obligation to ourselves (and to other lifeforms here) to use such intellect for the protection of this "community"
Well, in a hypothetical where it was best for the world, nature, our community and the other lifeforms if we as a species went extinct, would you take that option?

I don't really see an argument for a non anthropocentric take on the issue. We use nature for our own gain and we don't have it's best interests at heart--because it doesn't have any interests, only we do. So pollution etc is only bad if it comes back to hurt us out of proportion to the benefit it provides.
 
Khethil
 
Reply Fri 15 Jan, 2010 10:54 am
@Khethil,
Thanks guys,

Yea I think it's important to find what our role is, if any, in considering ourselves part of the larger community. But the foundation for this is our philosphy on how and where we fit (if at all). I think we do - intertwined yet sometimes polarized by our unique attributes.

Above nature? Certainly not - perhaps the more pertinent question is what might be our specific responsibilities are here, given our abilities (ability to rationalize, direct our behavior as well as wholesale destruction). Does it imbide a moral commitment?

... woops, just fell into ethics somewhat, didn't we
 
Zetherin
 
Reply Fri 15 Jan, 2010 10:58 am
@Khethil,
Khethil wrote:
... woops, just fell into ethics somewhat, didn't we


You fell into one of the things that we can consider as humans.

Given our abilities, should we oblige ourselves to act in a certain way? From where are we getting this sense of duty?
 
Three dog
 
Reply Fri 15 Jan, 2010 11:00 am
@Zetherin,
Zetherin;120153 wrote:
I don't think it's unsettling at all. It's enlightening, at least to me. It's so very easy for us humans to place ourselves on that grand pedestal, proclaiming mastery of the universe. But, really, we're just creatures, creatures here on Earth, albeit with the very unique abilities aforementioned.
Not a bad thing at all. It's a stepping stone to humbleness, I think. A humbleness we often misplace during our climb up that pedestal.


I think it is unsettling. Humans are generally not accustomed to thinking of themselves as part of everything (outside of those who believe in a divine plan). If most people stop and think of how we are infinitesimally small compared to everything and, more importantly, a part of it. An analogy would be voting in an election. We are all apart of the decision, but we are all a very small part and each of us individually has no real bearing, we must be taken as a whole. :detective:
 
Jebediah
 
Reply Fri 15 Jan, 2010 11:00 am
@Zetherin,
No obligation except to ourselves.

Quote:
If most people stop and think of how we are infinitesimally small compared to everything


We aren't small, we are humongous giants made up of millions of cells, and trillions of atoms. Most people don't stop and consider how much bigger we are than a quark.

Whether or not we are too arrogant isn't related to our ability to picture the size of the universe.
 
Aemun
 
Reply Tue 19 Jan, 2010 06:50 am
@Jebediah,
Does anyone else feel our place within the ecosphere or Gaia as it is commonly known, is as a cancer?

We reproduce out of control and consume everything we can, destroying the ecosphere and most of the things in it.

Even given our huge potential for knowledge we still choose capitalism as our political system. A Darwinian ideology which says everyone for themselves - a rat race.

Potentially we will wipe ourselves out in the next century and I can't help but think 'no great loss'.
 
 

 
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