Saturday, September 19, 2009

predicament

Integral World | The authors think that, because all living beings alter their environment (which is, of course, true), every human work and artifact is "natural". Not so. From a darwinian perspective, „natural“ is only what is evolutionary-tested or what is tested by natural selection in the eons of evolutionary time. For example, a beaver's dam is „natural“ not because it's part of nature (everything is, so „natural“ and this is a pleonasm) but because it's an evolutionary-tested artifact which has its root in the beaver's genetic heritage; an ant-city is likewise natural, etc. But a human dam or human city is surely not natural in the sense that they are rooted in our evolutionary past or that they are part of our genetic heritage.

This is the reason why a beaver's dam or ant-city is not problematic (ecologically or for the beaver's and ant's well-being, quite the opposite) in difference from a human dam or city. Industrial technology is unnatural not because it's technology – there is technology in hunter-gatherer society as well – but because it's part of industrial society, the most unnatural (that is, with the biggest adaptive gulf) social order in human history ever. Acknowledgement of the theory of bio-social discontinuity – perhaps through a better familiarity with Shepard's theory – could be helpful here.

All human behaviour is, in some sense, „regressive“ and „atavistic“ because it's all about the satisfaction of fundamental (genetic) needs, or, if that isn't possible (because humans live in an unnatural social environment), about finding substitutes. These substitutes can be the accumulation of political and economic power over other people and nature, consumerism or the construction of some collective illusion, like transcendental (celestial) beings, „historical progress“ or something else. I wrote about that in detail in a previous article "Limits of Spiritual Enlightenment" (Markus 2009a).

For the authors, ecological values depend on „higher moral development“ or „ecological consciousness“. But hunter-gatherers have no „ecological consciousness (in the contemporary sense, at least) and they are presumably in the lowest level of (spiritual and material) „development“… but nevertheless they have the best ecological balance – from a clean and wild environment to long-term sustainability – of all human societies. And quite the opposite: industrial society – with the „highest level of development“ and the most „ecological consciousness – have the worst ecological balance. How is that possible?

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