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Author Topic: Is Man the "Unnatural Animal?"  (Read 1226 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.
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 #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

Archimid

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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: Today at 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.