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Author Topic: Is Man the "Unnatural Animal?"  (Read 9396 times)

Tor Bejnar

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Re: Is Man the "Unnatural Animal?"
« Reply #50 on: May 16, 2019, 02:54:39 PM »
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Australian Aborigines lived in harmony with nature for over 2,000 generations before the rapacious colonisers arrived.
Maybe, but probably not!
From Wikipedia: Australian megafauna
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The cause of the extinction is an active, contentious and factionalised field of research where politics and ideology often takes precedence over scientific evidence, especially when it comes to the possible implications regarding Aboriginal people (who appear to be responsible for the extinctions).[4] It is hypothesised that with the arrival of early Australian Aboriginals (around 70,000~65,000 years ago), hunting and the use of fire to manage their environment may have contributed to the extinction of the megafauna.[5] Increased aridity during peak glaciation (about 18,000 years ago) may have also contributed, but most of the megafauna were already extinct by this time.
I won't deny (also on that site)
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The neutrality of this section is disputed. ...
Arctic ice is healthy for children and other living things.

wdmn

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Re: Is Man the "Unnatural Animal?"
« Reply #51 on: May 16, 2019, 09:46:24 PM »
"Australian Aborigines lived in harmony with nature for over 2,000 generations before the rapacious
colonisers arrived."

As Tor B said, "probably not."

I also don't think it's pretty racist to say "Europeans = culture, Aborigines (or North American Natives) = nature." What they had no culture?

More importantly, this is exactly the mythological thinking about nature that I've been questioning since the start of this thread. You're just as correct to call nature an unstable as you are to call it harmonious (i.e. living in harmony -- if that is true -- would be no more natural than not). This is because 'nature' is a totalizing concept. It encompasses everything that has emerged in the universe; it has tendencies towards stability as well as to chaos. As someone who studies climate, you should know that! We attempt to understand the events of today by comparing them to, for example, "the great dying." Mother Nature has wiped out 99% of the species (her "children," to extend the metaphor) that have evolved on this planet.

At the very least be empirically correct if you insist on being logically incoherent.

wili

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Re: Is Man the "Unnatural Animal?"
« Reply #52 on: May 16, 2019, 09:55:17 PM »
Words are what they are used to mean. Through much of its history in English, at least, the word 'nature' and 'natural' where used as a contrast to humans, the latter generally being the opposite of 'man made.'

We have to, at least, acknowledge this history, it seems to me, if we want to now redefine these terms.

Otherwise, it is like a modern white racist pointing out the fact that race is a construct, then saying that, therefore, he can't be a racist...even as he goes on to continues his bigoted words, thoughts and actions.
"A force de chercher de bonnes raisons, on en trouve; on les dit; et après on y tient, non pas tant parce qu'elles sont bonnes que pour ne pas se démentir." Choderlos de Laclos "You struggle to come up with some valid reasons, then cling to them, not because they're good, but just to not back down."

wdmn

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Re: Is Man the "Unnatural Animal?"
« Reply #53 on: May 16, 2019, 10:11:04 PM »
Words are what they are used to mean. Through much of its history in English, at least, the word 'nature' and 'natural' where used as a contrast to humans, the latter generally being the opposite of 'man made.'

We have to, at least, acknowledge this history, it seems to me, if we want to now redefine these terms.

Otherwise, it is like a modern white racist pointing out the fact that race is a construct, then saying that, therefore, he can't be a racist...even as he goes on to continues his bigoted words, thoughts and actions.

You're partially correct. To understand what a word means we look at how it's used. However, language use depends on presuppositions. The way that we use our language can become untenable if the presuppositions embedded in the common usage clash with the rest of what we know about the universe.

So, I gave the standard definition in my first post, and again in subsequent posts. I did not pretend like it was a mystery as to what the common usage is, just that this common usage is charged with a mythology that undermines science and clear thought. What I did is variously called, "doing philosophy," "thinking," or "metaphysics."

The whole point is to no longer go about using the words in the same way (in contrast to your example of the racist).

wili

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Re: Is Man the "Unnatural Animal?"
« Reply #54 on: May 17, 2019, 02:47:22 AM »
Well, at least I get to be 'partially correct'! Yeah me! :)

I'm not sure what definition of mythology is here, but I suspect that if you looked a bit deeper, you would find what you might consider 'mythology' lurking behind many of our words and much of what we say, including in scientific and (especially) philosophical circles.

I'm not sure it can be avoided, in natural language, anyway. 
"A force de chercher de bonnes raisons, on en trouve; on les dit; et après on y tient, non pas tant parce qu'elles sont bonnes que pour ne pas se démentir." Choderlos de Laclos "You struggle to come up with some valid reasons, then cling to them, not because they're good, but just to not back down."

wdmn

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Re: Is Man the "Unnatural Animal?"
« Reply #55 on: May 17, 2019, 03:19:56 AM »
Well, at least I get to be 'partially correct'! Yeah me! :)

I'm not sure what definition of mythology is here, but I suspect that if you looked a bit deeper, you would find what you might consider 'mythology' lurking behind many of our words and much of what we say, including in scientific and (especially) philosophical circles.

I'm not sure it can be avoided, in natural language, anyway.

Sorry for sounding patronizing.

I agree. I've been quoting Wittgenstein who said, "there's a whole mythology embedded in our language," and he meant this across the board. It is also important to remember that most of our scientific language did not emerge as such, but comes from other regions of speech.

Archimid

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Re: Is Man the "Unnatural Animal?"
« Reply #56 on: May 17, 2019, 01:28:51 PM »
The discovery of how to make fire through experimentation (at first accidental)

Fire, like agriculture and language, were likely not discovered by accident. It is more likely that the physiological characteristics of Homo species makes humans discover fire again everywhere it is possible or necesary. The same with language and agriculture. They are a byproduct of the characteristics of humans and the characteristics of the environment.
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wili

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Re: Is Man the "Unnatural Animal?"
« Reply #57 on: May 18, 2019, 09:09:02 PM »
It does look like ag of various sorts did develop independently in a number of places, but that probably had as much to do with the long, relatively mild (until recently) inter-glacial period we've been in as it did with physiological developments of humans.

I'm not sure if we can know whether the domesticity of fire and the development of languages had several origins. It seems likely, but I'm not sure it's provable at this point. Links to evidence either way would be most welcome.

The development of language itself likely caused major shifts in the "physiological characteristics of the Homo species," our inability to breath and swallow at the same time (beyond the age of 6 months or so), for example.
"A force de chercher de bonnes raisons, on en trouve; on les dit; et après on y tient, non pas tant parce qu'elles sont bonnes que pour ne pas se démentir." Choderlos de Laclos "You struggle to come up with some valid reasons, then cling to them, not because they're good, but just to not back down."

Archimid

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Re: Is Man the "Unnatural Animal?"
« Reply #58 on: May 19, 2019, 03:50:41 AM »
I think it is clear that agriculture is discovered independently over and over again. The evidence for that is convincing.

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It does look like ag of various sorts did develop independently in a number of places, but that probably had as much to do with the long, relatively mild (until recently) inter-glacial period we've been in as it did with physiological developments of humans.

I believe it is an interaction of nature and the physiology of humans. If the Holocene climate stability happened in a world without bipedal, omnivorous creatures that are excellent tool makers and planners and posses clear verbal communication the modern agriculture and cities that followed would've never happened.

The opposite is also true. Humans would have never settled and create modern agriculture and knowledge without the climate stability of the Holocene. The would forever remain nomads.

For language here is a lot less evidence, but I think it is a fair bet that language evolved over a very long time frame. So there were definitely many individuals over a very long time and likely across geographies all evolving towards the use of language and each creating their own rules for the meaning of the sounds.

Again, the Goldilocks period of the Holocene allowed humans to thrive. Sounds became written language, the advances of one generation were passed onto others. Mathematics emerged, engineering, arts. All a big strike of climatic luck and the potential of the species.
I am an energy reservoir seemingly intent on lowering entropy for self preservation.

wdmn

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Re: Is Man the "Unnatural Animal?"
« Reply #59 on: May 19, 2019, 04:59:11 AM »
I believe it is an interaction of nature and the physiology of humans.

Here we go again. How can the physiology of humans be separate from nature? It's like saying the interaction of the physiology of spiders and nature lead to the creation of webs.

wili

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Re: Is Man the "Unnatural Animal?"
« Reply #60 on: May 19, 2019, 05:12:40 AM »
"All a big strike of climatic luck..."

But was it,  ultimately, 'luck,' in the positive sense, anyway?

All those and many other factors converged to give us modern industrial society, the most powerful planet destroying mechanism that we know of.
"A force de chercher de bonnes raisons, on en trouve; on les dit; et après on y tient, non pas tant parce qu'elles sont bonnes que pour ne pas se démentir." Choderlos de Laclos "You struggle to come up with some valid reasons, then cling to them, not because they're good, but just to not back down."

Bruce Steele

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Re: Is Man the "Unnatural Animal?"
« Reply #61 on: May 19, 2019, 07:19:38 AM »
I always wonder what the draw of industrialization was that delivered us here ? 
I have always been lucky to be around animals, I am friendly with them and for what it's worth they return affection . But there is the gnawing truth I have blood on my hands and I think sometimes it is the revulsion of that , our rather universal moral compass that abhors death that pushed us to accept machines over beasts of burden.
 With the machines there is death too, but it is harder to make the connection . The mining of the minerals, the coal and pollution of the water and the air . Whole ecosystems threatened but somehow a civilization doesn't feel it , not like a farmer taking a load of pigs to market feels it. I am not talking just for myself , most people feel bad taking animals to slaughter .
 We are conflicted  we hate death and pain but they follow us , whether we want to look or not ,and machines make ignoring so easy. So maybe being a little closer to the connection between man and his food and the moral quandary that requires is a good thing.  That you give other animals love and affection and a good life and understand very viscerally you owe them something every day you are around them. And that is something we gave up for our machines and it was a mistake.
 There are many who believe we can still make this thing work , I happen to believe we should walk it back a least to the point where we can feel some responsibility for our actions. That pit in the bottom of your stomach that tells you you still have a moral compass. That moral compass that tells you to be kind to animals . That compass can help in so many ways . And when a machine threatens too much, kill it.


   

sidd

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Re: Is Man the "Unnatural Animal?"
« Reply #62 on: May 19, 2019, 09:24:01 AM »
Re: I have blood on my hands

Aye, so do I. I often think that if all of us raised and slaughtered our own meat, we would eat far less of it.

sidd

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Re: Is Man the "Unnatural Animal?"
« Reply #63 on: May 19, 2019, 03:53:33 PM »
Here we go again. How can the physiology of humans be separate from nature? It's like saying the interaction of the physiology of spiders and nature lead to the creation of webs.

That is a good analogy. Millions of years of evolution, evolution being the interaction between the environment and the species, equipped spiders to make spider webs anywhere the environment allows it. It is the same for humans.

It is nothing but a useful illusion that we are separate from the environment. We depend on our stable environment for our very lives and our actions are dictated by the environment. When the environment is just right we do have some leeway in what to do, but that only holds for as long as the environment is favorable. Most of our experiences and that of our ancestors lie within the realms of favorable climate. The beautiful Holocene.

Anyone who has experienced floods, storms or heatwaves know that their choices are limited to what the environment allows.
I am an energy reservoir seemingly intent on lowering entropy for self preservation.

wili

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Re: Is Man the "Unnatural Animal?"
« Reply #64 on: May 19, 2019, 05:12:32 PM »
At every moment we are physically becoming the environment around us and the environment is becoming us. It's also called breathing. :)

And even if you hold your breath, the pores in your skin are still 'breathing,' atoms of O2 becoming physical parts of our bodies, CO2 leaving our bodies to become part of the larger world.

I think if people (especially those in power) spent some time every day meditating on this irrefutable fact, we might be able to get to a different relationship with our surroundings, which are actually ourselves.
"A force de chercher de bonnes raisons, on en trouve; on les dit; et après on y tient, non pas tant parce qu'elles sont bonnes que pour ne pas se démentir." Choderlos de Laclos "You struggle to come up with some valid reasons, then cling to them, not because they're good, but just to not back down."

nanning

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Re: Is Man the "Unnatural Animal?"
« Reply #65 on: May 20, 2019, 04:34:40 AM »
In think my first posts (Replies #23 and #47) were not clear enough. Perhaps the descriptions hereunder will improve on that.

There were (in this context) two kinds of tribe. Almost all were peaceful and not 'above' nature but, and a rarity I think, there were some conquering tribes. Also in the period when we were still nomadic.

I think this is an extremely important distinction to make because it deeply influences your way of thinking about humanity and human nature and also about the "Unnatural Animal" I think (to stay on topic).


Conquesting Tribes:

- Having a group of armed violent men, trained in combat; later a standing army.

- Going into the territory of other (peaceful) tribes with this group of armed violent men and kill, steal from and oppress them. Then call it 'your' land, you 'own' it.

- When the violent men return 'home' they'll probably be heroes and their gets leader a higher social status and, of course, 'king' of the conquered territory and people. e.g. "Alexander the GREAT".

- Having a social hierarchy and thus inequality, male domination, poor & rich people etc., other language to express violence, sexism and different groupbehaviour (status).
I can imagine questions from the peaceful (saner) tribe, newly conquered: "Dear sir-the-conquerer, what is combat? What is war? What is a 'king'? What is a 'wife'? What is ownership? What is rich? What is powerful?".

- Then slowly erode the peaceful culture and language until the conquered tribe thinks like you. Enforce your culture by violence.

- These conquesting tribes feel and think they have supremacy over those peaceful tribes. Another level of insanity that is, together with the standard supremacy-insanity over nature, the basis of our whole western 'world'.

- Better technology gives you a weapon-advantage or otherwise which means you become more 'powerful'.

- Nowadays almost all remaining original peaceful cultures are diluted to such an extent that they have a strong social hierarchy, armies and language with violence & sexism etc. The conquering violent tribes have conquered the whole human world. Also conquered nature and it's own poor people. Rich people, because of supremacy over poor people, have another layer of insanity.

PLEASE DON'T FORGET ABOUT ALL THE NON-VIOLENT TRIBES TROUGHOUT HISTORY.

YOU ARE NOW PART OF THE COMBINED CONQUERING TRIBES' END-RESULT: EVERYTHING IS CONQUERED OR EXPLORED.

YOU ARE NOT TO BLAME, THIS IS NOT ALL OF HUMANITY; YOUR/OUR CULTURE IS INSANE.
"It is preoccupation with possessions, more than anything else, that prevents us from living freely and nobly" - Bertrand Russell
   Simple: minimize your possessions and be free and kind    It's just a mindset.       Refugees welcome

ASILurker

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Re: Is Man the "Unnatural Animal?"
« Reply #66 on: May 20, 2019, 11:48:43 AM »
YOUR/OUR CULTURE IS INSANE.

Hi nanning, you're going to get a lot of push back (and into much trouble) if you insist on talking so much rational logic and common sense based on the historical evidence and the scientific knowledge of today.

I'll just grab a couple of useful extracts if you don't mind, as they could well be repeated often until it sinks into the human consciousness.

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So, to me, unnatural is a state of mind and the destructive actions that follow from it because all supremacy makes insane and insanity is always destructive. With natural I mean with regard to the systems of living nature because nature is everything; the universe.

and
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Your predators didn't have this insane thought of supremacy. That's the distinction. Ecosystems are not stable at all levels, more a sort of complex metastability. What you describe is an example of that instability. Swarms of locusts are also within ecosystems. They are not insane or violent or anything like that. Same with temporary invasions of parasites and diseases and algae.
and
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Technology use comes with a high responsibility with regard to all other life.

wdmn

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Re: Is Man the "Unnatural Animal?"
« Reply #67 on: May 20, 2019, 02:37:06 PM »
Nanning and/or Lurk,

Can you please tell us what caused/causes this insanity? i.e. What was the cause of this insane culture?

Can you please tell us what caused humans to create so much technology?


The more specific you can be the better. As in, if you can provide dates, locations, etc.

Thanks

wdmn

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Re: Is Man the "Unnatural Animal?"
« Reply #68 on: May 20, 2019, 06:14:41 PM »
Lurk,

I've paid attention to your posts on this board. This is not the first thread you have attempted to derail, and I am not the first person that you have lashed out at in a way completely disproportional to the context.

No one else on this board has called me disrespectful.

Calm down.

nanning

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Re: Is Man the "Unnatural Animal?"
« Reply #69 on: May 20, 2019, 07:54:33 PM »
Thank you Lurk for your reaction. I see it as high praise. Didn't expect it to happen. Wow.
"It is preoccupation with possessions, more than anything else, that prevents us from living freely and nobly" - Bertrand Russell
   Simple: minimize your possessions and be free and kind    It's just a mindset.       Refugees welcome

nanning

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Re: Is Man the "Unnatural Animal?"
« Reply #70 on: May 20, 2019, 08:11:50 PM »
@wdmn

What causes supemacy? Once you get more money or a high status or popularity or whatever. I don't know. I sensed it once as a feeling when I had an important function in a big company; "I am worth more", and I tuned away from it, almost a bit scared. What causes it? I don't know. Perhaps something to do with ancient emotional group behaviour.

What cause humans to create so much technology? Well, first your use of humans in a generalised context is wrong. My previous posts tried to point to the fact that 'we humans' is much more than just the current global culture you're in. It is a bubble, a veil, a 'normal' and makes you unable to think clearly about humanity and human nature. There are many of these 'normal's and bubbles in this culture. All the peaceful tribes don't fit your assumption of technology use.
I touched on the subject of technology in a pevious post in the context of more 'powerful'. First in combat/weapons and the spin-off brought much more. I am not sure of this explanation but it fits the picture.
I'm sorry wdmn, I am not able to provide dates and locations. I'm just a broad thinker and not an expert.
"It is preoccupation with possessions, more than anything else, that prevents us from living freely and nobly" - Bertrand Russell
   Simple: minimize your possessions and be free and kind    It's just a mindset.       Refugees welcome

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Re: Is Man the "Unnatural Animal?"
« Reply #71 on: May 20, 2019, 08:12:27 PM »
Thank you Lurk for your reaction. I see it as high praise. Didn't expect it to happen. Wow.

You're welcome nanning. You deserved it and more. Keep your expectations LOW - you'll likely never get another one from anyone else.

ASILurker

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Re: Is Man the "Unnatural Animal?"
« Reply #72 on: May 20, 2019, 08:19:53 PM »
@wdmn

What causes supemacy? Once you get more money or a high status or popularity or whatever. I don't know. I sensed it once as a feeling when I had an important function in a big company; "I am worth more", and I tuned away from it, almost a bit scared. What causes it? I don't know. Perhaps something to do with ancient emotional group behaviour.

What cause humans to create so much technology? Well, first your use of humans in a generalised context is wrong. My previous posts tried to point to the fact that 'we humans' is much more than just the current global culture you're in. It is a bubble, a veil, a 'normal' and makes you unable to think clearly about humanity and human nature. There are many of these 'normal's and bubbles in this culture. All the peaceful tribes don't fit your assumption of technology use.
I touched on the subject of technology in a pevious post in the context of more 'powerful'. First in combat/weapons and the spin-off brought much more. I am not sure of this explanation but it fits the picture.
I'm sorry wdmn, I am not able to provide dates and locations. I'm just a broad thinker and not an expert.

Quote
What causes it? I don't know.
The insanity of supremacy is caused by insanity. This video nails it. It's about PRIVILEGE and the internal DISTORTIONS IT CREATES which twists "advantages" into a sense of SUPREMACY and EXCEPTIONALISM


bbr2314

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Re: Is Man the "Unnatural Animal?"
« Reply #73 on: May 20, 2019, 08:32:31 PM »
<snip, knock it off or I'm putting you back on moderation as well; N.>
« Last Edit: May 20, 2019, 08:37:21 PM by Neven »

nanning

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Re: Is Man the "Unnatural Animal?"
« Reply #74 on: May 20, 2019, 08:44:24 PM »
Great video Lurk, thank you. It confirms a lot of my observations and conclusions. I think I can trust the source though I am careful when some media so closely matches my understanding.

Isn't social hierarchy a bitch. It is obvious from the video to me, that people are the same independent of their wealth or gender.
"It is preoccupation with possessions, more than anything else, that prevents us from living freely and nobly" - Bertrand Russell
   Simple: minimize your possessions and be free and kind    It's just a mindset.       Refugees welcome

Tim

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Re: Is Man the "Unnatural Animal?"
« Reply #75 on: May 20, 2019, 09:17:43 PM »
Great video Lurk, thank you. It confirms a lot of my observations and conclusions. I think I can trust the source though I am careful when some media so closely matches my understanding.

Isn't social hierarchy a bitch. It is obvious from the video to me, that people are the same independent of their wealth or gender.

nanning, you ought to read Daniel Quinn's short book called Ishmael. I think it will match with your ideas and add some more thoughts to your insights.

I have avoided this thread, because my eyes glaze over now whenever I see people confusing (as you've pointed out) what is really just the one culture of civilization, and instead use phrases that imply "all humans" ... like, the human race, human history, mankind, etc etc ... when they are really only speaking about the behaviors of the one particular culture called civilization, and then treating that as if that was all of humanity since forevers and evers.

It really is quite a myth bubble civilization has set up around itself.

Quinn took this idea quite far, and he even tied it into the use of language to support the self reinforcing myth that I just pointed out as being one of the ways that the mythology bubble is spread as reinforced, and how resistant people are to acknowledging they are even in such a culture (ie, your 'bubble' you mentioned.) He also tore apart a whole lot more pertaining to the ideas you just expressed too. He did give a date, a reason, shows a historical trajectory, and follows the emergence of this culture's anthropological footprint as it emerged and eventually engulfed the entire planet, which is where we now are today.

https://www.docdroid.net/0XmirAy/daniel-quinn-ishmael.pdf

I'll also send you to page 122 of his second book as well for his particular walk through history showing this singular cultures track as it spread out across the world and either wiped out, or assimilated, all other cultures in it's path as it expanded due to it's quirky worldview (which it now thinks is the entire "human" worldview instead of being just a particular culture that emerged with it's own unique worldview, alongside other cultures that the one culture has now pretty much eliminated from the earth.)

I think you'll find yourself reading your own thoughts as you read his light, easy to read material presented in the format of a Socratic discussion.

Remember, go to page 122 of this one, but do read all of the above Ishmael first (150 or so pages.)

https://newsfromthefront.files.wordpress.com/2012/03/daniel-quinn-the-story-of-b.pdf

The insanity you speak of was also noticed by the Cree as well, and labeled "Wetiko" ... which basically translates into "narcissistic cannibal." You may want to research that concept too.

You're not the only one who's intuited such things, and Quinn actually traced the evolution of this culture back to it's initial emergence through being heavily well read and informed about anthropology and civilization history.

Good luck. I think you'll really relate to Quinn's ideas quite a bit, and it will add some thoughts to your bag.


nanning

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Re: Is Man the "Unnatural Animal?"
« Reply #76 on: May 20, 2019, 09:45:12 PM »
Thank you very much. Really appreciated. I'll look into it.

But I've got much more. And it is not from intuition but through the scientific method; truth finding. And I see a lot.
And I sort of talk to myself out loud in thought trains. Talking out loud means what you think and speak gets into reality (atmospheric pressurewaves) and comes back via your ears and a through a different set of almost general programmable filters. Neuroplasticity works. Accellerated feedback in your scientific proces and personal development. Not intuition.
"It is preoccupation with possessions, more than anything else, that prevents us from living freely and nobly" - Bertrand Russell
   Simple: minimize your possessions and be free and kind    It's just a mindset.       Refugees welcome

wdmn

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Re: Is Man the "Unnatural Animal?"
« Reply #77 on: May 20, 2019, 10:00:11 PM »
You guys seem confused. I will take the blame as it appears I haven't explained myself well enough.

We're not debating here whether the destruction of the earth is desirable or not. We could be debating whether it is moral; I've yet to hear good arguments for why it is immoral, though it seems obvious that it is. To call it "unnatural" is just a way of calling it "immoral," but in a way that is fallacious. It doesn't give any reasons why something "unnatural" should be immoral, unless that is the very definition of the term, in which case you might as well just call the behaviour immoral, since it avoids the problem of explaining how a natural cause can give rise to an unnatural effect.

There is some irony in that the tone that you three have taken is easy to interpret as being one of supremacy. Cursed to dwell on this board with those of lessor consciousness, such as myself, who are incapable of understanding.

I will attempt one more time: I am not debating whether it's only one small segment of society that is "insane," or whether destroying the earth is insane, or whether this culture of supremacy is contagious, etc. etc. all of which are irrelevant to the questions raised in the first post of this thread.

In particular, I have asked two of you what causes this unnaturalness, this insanity or supremacy. So far the answers provided are:

1) You can't tell me, because I'll never understand
2) the insanity is caused by the insanity
3) You don't know what causes it

1 and 3 are non-starters for this discussion.

2 is circular.

So, granted that I'm not as intelligent as the three of you, it doesn't seem to me that you've provided much for me to work with in terms of an argument for how immoral behaviour (I'll grant you that much of the behaviour you describe is immoral) is caused by something unnatural -- whatever that means.

As for nanning's comments about tech:

You can split the world into peaceful and non-peaceful tribes, and connect this to technology. It's an interesting hypothesis, which would require a lot of evidence to have any merit.

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Re: Is Man the "Unnatural Animal?"
« Reply #78 on: May 20, 2019, 10:19:35 PM »
Not sure if I was who your comment was directed at or not wdmn. Just to clarify, I only just heard nanning present a few unusual concepts, and wanted to recommend a book I thought they might be interested in. It wasn't really all that related to the general discussion, or you. I just heard them say a couple of specific things and thought I might toss them a book to read, since discussion about those concepts aren't common.

Sorry if it was inappropriate to jump in and recommend a book in response to a single comment like that. Maybe I'll consider deleting my comment after I return from an errand. I wasn't actually even following the other discussions in the thread very closely. I just happened upon that one comment by chance, and got all blurty with a book recommendation.  ;)

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Re: Is Man the "Unnatural Animal?"
« Reply #79 on: May 21, 2019, 06:52:38 AM »
@wdmn (Reply #78)

I define morality is a general code of conduct between lifeforms and within a species, social or not. In ecosystems there is little choice because there are many constraints. Get it wrong and you die. Humans have much more choice because technology made us free from many constraints of living nature. The more technology, the further away and greater chance of bad/low morality. Less constraints, more choice.
Morality is about an optimal organisation (towards an utopia). There is no 1 optimum. Without living nature's constraints we need to restrain ourselves. Nowadays almost nothing from nature restrains us, holds us back, puts limits on... Oops, a superfast climate catastrophy and mass extinction. Finally some contraints. A bit too late but hey, what were we thinking.
In these terms "unnatural" is having morality that would otherwise (without technology) be fatal (in the long term).

Your last paragraph:
Quote
You can split the world into peaceful and non-peaceful tribes, and connect this to technology. It's an interesting hypothesis, which would require a lot of evidence to have any merit.
This mixes the definitions. On the one side there are peaceful nature tribes wich are exactly that because they don't develop technology, because they are not insane in their supremacy over nature.

Men mimicking large predators (which provoke fear) with technology. Now they provoke fear. POWERRRR. I can easily imagine this.
Just a possible explanation for the conquering tribes' supremacy over living nature. Insanity.
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Re: Is Man the "Unnatural Animal?"
« Reply #80 on: May 21, 2019, 09:33:56 AM »
Re:  "unnatural" is having morality that would otherwise (without technology) be fatal (in the long term)

Needs a narrower definition of technology. Are we allowed to use pencil and paper to evade deleterious consequences ?

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Re: Is Man the "Unnatural Animal?"
« Reply #81 on: May 21, 2019, 06:57:43 PM »
@sidd

Your question is ambiguous to me, so I split it into two possible contexts I see.

1. In contemporary culture context. I can't tell if a particular high technology is "unnatural" i.e. destructive. Pencil and especially paper are highly technological. Please understand that the reference point from where to think from in this context is what most part of humanity was about: non-conquering peaceful tribes. Almost all tribes in history were peaceful and with nature; don't take more than you need. They were overrun, conquered and disappeared.

2. In the context of which technology is unnatural. Fire? Clothes? I am not very interested in the precise point of change from natural to unnatural. Being able to make fire sure was a mighty technology.It was neccessary for us to be able to cook our food and keep warm. The important point is to realise that your "normal"'s (all things you call normal in your culture) are just a small part of all the earlier cultures' "normal"'s and for the most part outside the "normal"'s of peaceful nature tribes. When thinking about humankind please realise that this culture you're is an exception. The conquering tribes were an exception.

If you mean something else, I'm sorry I didn't answer your question and please could you state it unequivocal

No social hierarchy example:
https://phys.org/news/2018-08-massive-monumental-cemetery-built-eastern.html
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Re: Is Man the "Unnatural Animal?"
« Reply #82 on: May 22, 2019, 08:01:13 AM »
I certainly believe that man is a part of nature. At the most basic level, we are elemental. We are made of the same stuff as the grass, the seas, and the rocks. We come from this earth and will return to it.

It begs the questions: Is it natural for man to fly? To go to space? To explode a nuclear weapon? To commit genocide?

It is natural to be curious. To wonder how a bird flies. From this simple inquiry, we have the intelligence to take it to where we are today - sending spacecraft into the cosmos. We also learned how to kill from above, thus removing the death mask of our 'enemy'.

It is natural to want to be warm. To wonder where heat comes from. From this simple inquiry, we have the intelligence to split an atom and harness its energy to create heat and electricity. We have also learned to harness its power to destroy civilizations.

It is natural to want to be secure. To want our family to have the best it can have. We seem all too willing to displace others for our own comfort. We can use our natural ability to fly over those who have what we want and drop a nice natural nuke on their heads in order to get what we want.

We have the ability to alter the course of nature. But we possess the ability to destroy our home. No animal could do such thing. Though we can consider that humans are tribal and territorial in nature and it will always lead to conflict. Which results in destruction.

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Re: Is Man the "Unnatural Animal?"
« Reply #83 on: May 22, 2019, 10:17:36 PM »
I certainly believe that man is a part of nature. At the most basic level, we are elemental. We are made of the same stuff as the grass, the seas, and the rocks. We come from this earth and will return to it.

It begs the questions: Is it natural for man to fly? To go to space? To explode a nuclear weapon? To commit genocide?

It is natural to be curious. To wonder how a bird flies. From this simple inquiry, we have the intelligence to take it to where we are today - sending spacecraft into the cosmos. We also learned how to kill from above, thus removing the death mask of our 'enemy'.

It is natural to want to be warm. To wonder where heat comes from. From this simple inquiry, we have the intelligence to split an atom and harness its energy to create heat and electricity. We have also learned to harness its power to destroy civilizations.

It is natural to want to be secure. To want our family to have the best it can have. We seem all too willing to displace others for our own comfort. We can use our natural ability to fly over those who have what we want and drop a nice natural nuke on their heads in order to get what we want.

We have the ability to alter the course of nature. But we possess the ability to destroy our home. No animal could do such thing. Though we can consider that humans are tribal and territorial in nature and it will always lead to conflict. Which results in destruction.

I suppose part of my hope in starting this thread was that such questions as "is it natural for man to fly?" would start to appear as senseless; that they arise from a residue of a moralizing, mythological conception of "nature" that makes no sense in terms of what science has taught us about the evolution of human beings (as well as other things). Once we realize that nothing that is occurring now is a violation of nature (though it may threaten our survival), we have to realize that nature is something quite different than the harmony loving "Mother Earth" of our folk tales.

The question of naturalness should simply drop away as meaningless. Here we are. We are a creature that currently has a tremendous impact on our planet. That impact is threatening and destroying many other creatures, as well as ourselves. Are we capable of changing course? Do we really desire to change course? What would be the best course to take?

An appeal to nature answers none of these questions (I'm not being stupid, of course things like biomimicry might provide answers, and understanding how the rest of the world works can provide guides in terms of what works, but we can't un-mix the cocktail of consciousness or tech); there's no going back to a lost harmony, simply because no such harmony ever existed (to put this in the language of the book of Genesis, if that is helpful to anyone: the tree was already in the Garden, and with it the Serpent); all of the hard work in coming to self-awareness, understanding ourselves, and navigating our course through these tribulations remains to be done.


wdmn

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Re: Is Man the "Unnatural Animal?"
« Reply #84 on: May 23, 2019, 05:33:58 AM »
@wdmn

Hi wdmn, if you don't mind I will try to correct people when I think they are wrong in an important way until I grow tired. It should be possible to reach some here because there are many very intelligent posters and lurkers. But is extreme intelligence enough? I don't think so. It is maybe a prerequisite but as important is the way you use your intelligence. It doesn't operate well in an abstract world. The evolutionary design is for living in nature and outside.

Quote
Once we realize that nothing that is occurring now is a violation of nature
Who do you mean by 'we'? And 'no violation of living nature'? Agent Orange over the tree-of-life is 'no violation of living nature'? How do you see 'nature'?

Quote
The question of naturalness should simply drop away as meaningless. Here we are. We are a creature that currently has a tremendous impact on our planet. That impact is threatening and destroying many other creatures, as well as ourselves.

I object to your use of "we". Are e.g. the uncontacted indiginous tribes from the Amazon not human?
Why do people always project from their own specific culture "the normal" as encompassing all humans? That is not correct. You have to fight this pojecting tendency to correct your human worldview. It seems a small correction but it is hard to make because it is a 'deep and fundamental' correction and requires a lot of practice I think.
From these Amazon tribes' viewpoint (and the viewpoint I sketched in recent posts here) your text is wrong and very harsh. As if their culture and actions are in any way to blame. The same goes for the ghost of all the earlier peaceful cultures that got eliminated by our conquering violence. Just imagine hypothetically you could line them (people from all eliminated cultures) up and give them your account of 'we'. They will be very insulted and rightly so. Do  you  understand  that? Please?

This quote:

Quote
..a moralizing, mythological conception of "nature" that makes no sense..

is strange if you then later in your post use a mythological context:

Quote
no such harmony ever existed (to put this in the language of the book of Genesis, if that is helpful to anyone: the tree was already in the Garden, and with it the Serpent); all of the hard work in coming to self-awareness, understanding ourselves,..

Finally, your first paragraph gives me the idea that my explanations were not satisfactory. Do you know how you want the answer?

A nice song: The Korgis - Everybody's Got To Learn Sometime
"It is preoccupation with possessions, more than anything else, that prevents us from living freely and nobly" - Bertrand Russell
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Re: Is Man the "Unnatural Animal?"
« Reply #85 on: May 23, 2019, 05:54:45 AM »
I suppose the cyanobacteria that brought on the Great Oxygenation Event couple billion years ago that killed all the obligate anerobics and brought on the Huronian snowball earth were equally unnatural ...

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Re: Is Man the "Unnatural Animal?"
« Reply #86 on: May 23, 2019, 07:02:23 AM »
Nanning,

You may be trolling, and so I will try not to be too pedantic.

1) You inserted "living" before nature, which may be revealing of what you mean when you say "nature," but quickly would lead you into all sorts of problems. All inanimate parts of the universe would be "unnatural," and, as sidd aptly put, death, and even mass death, are clearly part of 'living' nature, and it's hard how you could give a definition of life that doesn't make some gesture towards death. (And I'm not sure why you don't just use the term 'life' as opposed to 'living nature').

2) If they are human, it doesn't negate the truth of the statement that, "we have had a tremendous impact on our planet," nor does it if they aren't, so I'm not sure why you're making that argument. In fact, ironically, is you that is making a contingent developments in culture and technology into essential ones. If those amazonian tribes people are human, then it would follow that given the right (or wrong) circumstances they would behave in the same manner as any other human. Or are they not human?

3) No not strange, done entirely consciously precisely to illustrate how embedded mythologies are in our concepts. The idea of a fall from a harmonious life due to the arrival of consciousness is the story of the Fall from Eden. That is the story that, in various ways, comes up again and again in arguments that you and others have made. I put my argument back into mythological language to make that clear.

4) I didn't actually respond to your previous post at all, because I'm not really interested in your arm chair theories of everything, at least not in this thread. This thread is about a question that you've avoided answering again and again: how does an unnatural effect arise from a natural cause? Or, how does an unnatural cause arise within a natural world?

nanning

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Re: Is Man the "Unnatural Animal?"
« Reply #87 on: May 23, 2019, 07:58:55 AM »
@sidd

I have respect for your continuing inquisitiveness. It would be great if you really tried to understand what I mean. There are no scientific papers to read and no factchecking and modelling, just thinking with all the information and finding significant patterns. It took a long time for me to get to the clarity I have in this, even after I found the patterns.


To address your supposition:

Those lifeforms (photosynthesising cyanobacteria) didn't have supremacy. Living nature, global interconnecting ecosystems and weather for example are chaotic systems. You can see it as an example of a bifurcation.
From wikipedia: Bifurcation Theory
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bifurcation_theory
Quote
Most commonly applied to the mathematical study of dynamical systems, a bifurcation occurs when a small smooth change made to the parameter values (the bifurcation parameters) of a system causes a sudden 'qualitative' or topological change in its behavior.

The small smooth change is here likely the advent of photosynthesis. Maybe I'm too simplistic because I'm not a specialist but I think Bifurcation Theory is applicable here.


It is tempting to equal conquering humans' destructive behaviour to that of those bacteria. The difference is supremacy and technology. You could say that in living nature, every technology use outside ecosystems is insane. Sane then means you are living within living nature's bounds.


e.g. If some lifeform gets by accident (without purpose) in, say, an isolated ecosystem with less specific constraints, then that results in what western humans would call destruction; "It murdered those lifeforms". But it isn't/didn't. It is natural. Living nature and ecosystems are not stable.
When humans bring lifeforms ('invasive' species) to ecosystems far away (with technology and supremacy), then it IS destruction. Do you see the difference? It is a subtle but fundamentally different worldview and therefore a difficult concept to grasp.

Humans from contemporary western culture don't abide by living nature constraints. They think they are above it. That's a low morality with regard to other life, but we don't get punished for it because our technology shields us from the natural consequences. Well, not really considering the existential problem we have. Technology will not save us. Magic doesn't exist. All fantasy. The right path is towards very low tech and doing most things by yourself, manual, and take no more other life for your sustenance than you need. We are just 1 leaf on the tree-of-life. We are not an advanced lifeform! Nothing in living nature is special or better or of higher value. Value is a western human concept.
"It is preoccupation with possessions, more than anything else, that prevents us from living freely and nobly" - Bertrand Russell
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nanning

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Re: Is Man the "Unnatural Animal?"
« Reply #88 on: May 23, 2019, 05:05:10 PM »
I find it nice to get reactions but I'm not going to refute every part I disagree with of an excerpt of a book.
I am going to bed in a couple of hours, but want to post this as a preliminary (or final?) response:

living nature = life + ecosystems (=interaction of life)

'competition', other than in play (incl. sports; "who's the best?", for fun), is a conquering tribes' concept.


P.S. Lurk, did you leave the forum? I (we?) miss you but I understand your motivation.
"It is preoccupation with possessions, more than anything else, that prevents us from living freely and nobly" - Bertrand Russell
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wili

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Re: Is Man the "Unnatural Animal?"
« Reply #89 on: May 23, 2019, 11:24:52 PM »
nanning, all of Lurk's posts seem to have been scrubbed from the forum, except where others quoted parts of them...hmmmm...

He doesn't even show up on my 'ignore' list.

Musta really crossed some line! :o
"A force de chercher de bonnes raisons, on en trouve; on les dit; et après on y tient, non pas tant parce qu'elles sont bonnes que pour ne pas se démentir." Choderlos de Laclos "You struggle to come up with some valid reasons, then cling to them, not because they're good, but just to not back down."

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Re: Is Man the "Unnatural Animal?"
« Reply #90 on: May 23, 2019, 11:33:36 PM »
nanning, all of Lurk's posts seem to have been scrubbed from the forum, except where others quoted parts of them...hmmmm...

He doesn't even show up on my 'ignore' list.

Musta really crossed some line! :o

He did that himself, just like last time. It's a weak and nasty thing to do. Lurk is himself the very thing he rails against.
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Re: Is Man the "Unnatural Animal?"
« Reply #91 on: May 24, 2019, 12:36:43 AM »
Wow.

Thanks for the clarification, and...good assessment!
"A force de chercher de bonnes raisons, on en trouve; on les dit; et après on y tient, non pas tant parce qu'elles sont bonnes que pour ne pas se démentir." Choderlos de Laclos "You struggle to come up with some valid reasons, then cling to them, not because they're good, but just to not back down."

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Re: Is Man the "Unnatural Animal?"
« Reply #92 on: May 24, 2019, 12:49:01 AM »
Quote
It is tempting to equal conquering humans' destructive behaviour to that of those bacteria.

It is exactly the same thing. The search for energy to preserve low entropy(life). In both cases humans and bacteria had an environment that was perfect for their search for energy. In both cases the abundance of energy caused a thermodynamic imbalance that broke down the climate. I'm sure the bacteria were as oblivious about the changes they caused as we are.

Climate change denial and ignoring climate change is the natural animal response to climate change.

What would be unnatural is if humans manage to re-establish equilibrium.
I am an energy reservoir seemingly intent on lowering entropy for self preservation.

wili

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Re: Is Man the "Unnatural Animal?"
« Reply #93 on: May 24, 2019, 01:33:38 AM »
"I'm sure the bacteria were as oblivious about the changes they caused as we are."

Except...we're not...
"A force de chercher de bonnes raisons, on en trouve; on les dit; et après on y tient, non pas tant parce qu'elles sont bonnes que pour ne pas se démentir." Choderlos de Laclos "You struggle to come up with some valid reasons, then cling to them, not because they're good, but just to not back down."

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Re: Is Man the "Unnatural Animal?"
« Reply #94 on: May 24, 2019, 01:51:06 AM »
Once again the discussion returns to consciousness...

No one has come out right and said what so many have implied: consciousness is what makes us unnatural. Consciousness is thus not the result of evolution, but something else. Mythological residue identified.


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Re: Is Man the "Unnatural Animal?"
« Reply #95 on: May 24, 2019, 02:30:22 AM »
Quote
Except...we're not...

Define "we".  Most people are blind to the threat. Some people aren't. If the blind people get their way, then to an outside observer it would look as if we were blissfully unaware about climate change.

However, if humanity manages to find equilibrium there is an argument for humans being unnatural.
I am an energy reservoir seemingly intent on lowering entropy for self preservation.

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Re: Is Man the "Unnatural Animal?"
« Reply #96 on: May 24, 2019, 05:46:09 AM »
Sooo, we'd be super-natural??!! Cool!

Obviously, the whole thread is basically about semantics: What do we mean by 'natural.'

We can define it to mean 'everything' and then it becomes rather redundant...why not just say 'part of everything' rather than 'natural.'

But really, one could argue that coming up with the very definition (as it has generally been used in the last 200 years or so) of 'natural'--something apart from humans--is what has made us 'unnatural.'  We are unnatural, because we have defined nature as what is outside of humans.

 That's been our 'story' (or mythology, if you will), and we've been sticking to it! :)

Realizing the untenable nature of such a definition can be a step toward reconnecting humans with the world, I suppose, just as realizing the contradictions inherent in capitalism can be a step toward rejecting that ideology in part or in whole.

But I'm not sure our discussion here has moved anyone in that direction (though it was perhaps part of getting Lurk self-banished, which is some kind of accomplishment, I guess! :) )
"A force de chercher de bonnes raisons, on en trouve; on les dit; et après on y tient, non pas tant parce qu'elles sont bonnes que pour ne pas se démentir." Choderlos de Laclos "You struggle to come up with some valid reasons, then cling to them, not because they're good, but just to not back down."

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Re: Is Man the "Unnatural Animal?"
« Reply #97 on: May 24, 2019, 08:13:42 AM »
wili, it wasn't just this roundabout thread. Noticed that ASI(Lurk)er really blew his top in a couple of the other threads, one was immediately deleted and the other (after he deleted his account) sometimes yesterday.

Confessing that I also went Lurk in this thread and deleted my earlier comments (including video snippets from Ruddimans lecture where he clearly explains why), because I think those working hard on beeing natural (Exxon, BP, Koch et al.) would be the only happy pigs in the barn.

Edit; deleted the Exxon ads.
« Last Edit: May 24, 2019, 12:32:27 PM by Sleepy »
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Re: Is Man the "Unnatural Animal?"
« Reply #98 on: May 24, 2019, 09:16:20 AM »
I want to thank you all for the replying posts here because it has revealed to me that some points in my understanding need refinement, a better definition of words or other adjustment.

Like the photosynthesis from cyanobacteria, you could say intelligence & technology is also just a small change leading to bifurcation. But there is also non-human intelligence and -technology (e.g. birds; psittacula and corvid).
So there is something else why humans are different from other intelligent technology-using life. Why humans are an unnatural animal.

Do you agree with this as a basis for further answering the thread's question?
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Re: Is Man the "Unnatural Animal?"
« Reply #99 on: May 24, 2019, 11:05:59 AM »
@wili

By calling it semantics you mean to denigrate it. Actually the thread is about metaphysics: the underlying presuppositions of our language/thought. It's something that many people neglect to think about, and, I believe, something worth making an effort to think about.

@sleepy
You honour me.... did my thread lead to those ads?

You can't stifle thought. Follow it through and be prepared to meet the enemy where the enemy already is. As I've mentioned previously in this thread, we're all familiar with the line, "the climate has always changed." Well, it is true. The climate changes. There are different baselines. When we talk about "natural" we usually mean a certain baseline. It is also true that mass extinctions occur. Scientists call this the sixth. As sidd pointed out, abrupt changes in the composition of the atmosphere also occur. So why is this one bad?

The environmentalism that romanticizes some sort of harmonious "nature" has failed.

Be prepared to meet the enemy where the enemy already is. Don't try to put the cat back in the bag, or denigrate my efforts at clear thinking as "semantics."

Please....



wdmn
« Last Edit: May 24, 2019, 11:12:24 AM by wdmn »