About Nature…

14 Jun

An educated person is supposed to “love Nature”, to enjoy the fields of flowers during Spring, to watch birds, insects, animals, but behind this feelings, and so to be wise thoughts, there is all the wild activity, ruthless, without pity, struggle for life, continuous destruction and rebirth. So, what is going on, why this feeling of “love of Nature”? We are well told about the struggle for life that takes place within the natural world, but Man feels other kind of Love too, “love for the struggle for the life of others”. According to Henry Drummond, a scientist and evangelist that exercised a strong influence in his generation, particularly young people, in “From Self-ism to Other-ism is the supreme transition of history” [1]:

We have arrived at a point from which the Ascent of Man takes a fresh departure, a point from which the course of Evolution begins to wear an entirely altered aspect.  No consummation ever before occurred in the progress of the world as the rise to potency in human life of the Struggle for the Life of Others. The Struggle for the Life of Others is the physiological name for the greatest word of ethics-Other-ism, altruism, Love. From Self-ism to Other-sim is the supreme transition of history. It is therefore impossible to lodge in the mind with too much solidity the simple biological fact on which the Altruistic Struggle rests. Where this a late phase of Evolution, or a factor applicable to single genera, it would still be of supreme importance; but it is radical, universal, involved in the very nature of life itself.

As this world is full of Mephystos, here I propose listening Liszt…How the human consciousness can take wings much further away than the actual vision of the natural world…

Why we feel a need to understand the “secrets of nature” was a leitmotiv of Sigmund Freud researches on the nature of dreams. Freud had Leonardo da Vinci  as a pioneer, the “first natural scientist” [1a] and with his peculiar way, Freud wrote:

The core of his nature, and the secret of it, would appear to be that after his curiosity had been activated in infancy in the service of sexual interests he succeeded in sublimating the greater part of his libido into an urge for research. [1a]

The writing of Sigmund Freud, certainly contributed for the actual view of human nature (mainly unveiling with Jung the significance of the unconscious), not withstand the controversial interpretations offered by his theories.


Watch this video (in French), entitled “La Matière et la Vie”, about Sigmund Freud (with an interview to her daughter, in English), and the period of history where he lived.

The old meaning of the word nature is the essential character or quality of a thing. Another meaning is: Nature is the force behind the cosmos. More recently, we use this term to refer to all what is opposed to human society and their cultures. This opposition implies that or Nature is superior, or it is inferior to human society. The implications were seen by the English political philosopher Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679) who, profoundly shocked with English Civil War, gave a dramatic account of that period of history in his opera magna Leviathan [2]:

[…] state of nature is brutal and violent, and so the task of political philosophy is to describe the forms of government that will most effectively prevent the disintegration of society into nature”.

Thomas Hobbes and his masterpiece, Leviathan. Image cedit: nandhi.com

But, with the Enlightenment, it occurs a shift in this view of nature, considering her superior to the human society since it displays order and harmony, and reason, a frame of mind that helps to development of Newtonian Physics at the hands of Sir Isaac Newton, still nowadays the major source of intellectual construction used by engineering. Incidentally, we may refer that the so-called inertial law, or Newton’s first law was most probably inspired by Newton’s reading of Leviathan. The order and harmony apparently displayed by Nature at that time, was a source of teaching to the human society, at the seventeenth century in Europe disgraced by absolutist governments and a society structured in a feudal order. In the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, with the Romanticism, a new shift occurred, and Nature continues to be worth of studying, but Nature was much more than Order and Reason, was a source of diversity and fecundity.

Nowadays, it is clear that the meaning of ‘Nature ‘ is a concept central to ideology (i.e., a set of ideas and concepts that shape our understanding of the world). Anything that is perceived as ‘natural’ is not challenged or questioned. Marxists aim to construct a human society on the grounds of scientific principles, such as we learn from Nature. This is very clear in Friedrich Engels writings. Georg Lukács (1885-1971), Hungarian philosopher and founder of the so-called Western Marxism, created a new term that frame the experience of society, that takes into account the products of human society, culture and invention: he used the term ‘second nature’. It is not enough referred but in Franz Kafka writings the natural world is foundational to his stories. He used the natural world to «destabilize the idea of humanity»[2a0]. In one of his strange stories, “A Report to an Academy”, he tells the story of an ape that discovered the only way out of the cage was to imitate the humans…One day the ape, after “becoming human” observes human acrobats in a variety show: «What a mockery of Holy Mother Nature! Were the apes to see such a spectacle, no theater walls could stand the shock of their laughter» [2a1].

Shiva: everything in the natural world emanates from Shiva, according to Hinduism. Image credit: redgreenandblue.org

The idea of nature, with its important notions about the human nature and in what consists the underlying substratum of reality, is presently lacking in our educational system [2a2]. It is lacking an education from Nature, and so enlarging our field of consciousness, our role as bio-transformers, and the delicate balance we must achieve.  In a “global world” humanity must achieve a new synthesis between Westerner and Easterner visions of the ‘natural world’, enriching human nature, since in the West our vision is based on the concept of cause, and in the East they use the concept of synchronicity. Carl Jung was deeply influenced by his reading of the I Ching (Book of Changes), an ancient text in China, dating back to the Shang Dynasty (Bronze Age 1700BC-1050BC), where chance plays a fundamental role on the natural world, and events don’t necessarily obey to a timely order.

Mandala. Image credit: adamapollo.info

In this era of political and economic turmoil, more than ever scientists must take their share of responsibility in fighting for a promising the future. Science and the view of nature that may result from this endeavour, brings to the stage the politicization of various issues, like in climate research areas. This is clear in a recent Editorial from the prestigious magazine Nature [2a].

Science and its outcome, the technological progress, decisively contributed to the “globalization process”, the intermingling of different cultures and economies, dramatically changing our view of the universe and, consequently, of “Nature”. Until the middle of the 20th century, science was still concerned with the philosophical interpretation of nature, giving to us new thoughts about “how nature works”. This concern is very clear in a famous book red by generations of scientists and written by Werner Heisenberg, a book entitled “Physics and Philosophy: the Revolution in Modern Science” [3]. It is not by hasard that science in Germany went so far when compared to other countries, just before the Nazi collapse [4]. What we understand by our own experience and accounts like those shown in Ref. [4] is that the progress in Science and Technology, the breakthroughs, are done by people working and thinking individually, not in teams. Without any doubt, freedom in science and in our societies are the best path to follow in order to attain social, cultural and economic progress [4a].

Werner Heisenberg. Image credit: brasilescola.com

It is clear to us that Science gave to us a new interpretation of nature, and Science still is a framework with which mankind can evolve to upper stages of development, since the secure process of reasoning provided by the scientific method, opens to the human mind new fields of conscience, offering to our brains (in fact, at the beginning just an assembled machine needed for survival) new virtual “organs” that help the brain to work and evolve: books, pencils, computers, internet, ships, airplanes, rockets, spacecrafts, drugs,…It is clear that these outcomes of the technological progress, give to each of us new powers and ability to think, to invent, to create and produce new ideas, in a synergetic process that step by step become to be studied. All that outcome of the technological progress, heir of the scientific thinking, enlarge the human mind, offering to our specie a potential of evolution that unfortunately our (shortsighted) politicians (as recently pointed out by the Dalai Lama in an interview to the BBC) are far way to grasp the potential. According to Carl Jung (1875-1961), the goal of personal development must be the expansion of consciousness in order to keep pace with our vast unconscious. Undoubtedly, internet raises our levels of consciousness [5].

Alternatively, and in my viewpoint, the ideology that dominates the world seeks intentionally to maintain this potential well below the point of evolution that our minds and our souls deserve, forcing humanity to an underdevelopment that concurs to slavery, and this is probably the source of the lack of interest we see worldwide for the scientific endeavour, with the notable exceptions of China, India and South Korea, countries that have well understood that fundamental science and technological progress go hand-by-hand, and when well clarified, may render social and economic progress possible.

The new (unscientific) vision of the ‘natural word’ in the minds of most of our “leaders”…and the status of the human species they envisage in their shortsightedness.

REFERENCES:

[1] The Ascent of Man, by Henry Drummond 

[1a] SIGMUND FREUD: THE SECRETS OF NATURE AND THE NATURE OF SECRETS, by JAMES W. BARRON, RALPH BEAUMONT, GARY N. GOLDSMITH, MICHAEL I. GOOD, ROBERT L. PYLES, ANA~MARIA RIZZUTO AND HENRY F. SMITH, MASS, in Int. Rev. Psycho-Anal. (1991) 18, 143

[2] Leviathan, by Thomas Hobbes

[2a0] Beyond Nature Writing: Expanding the Boundaries of Ecocriticism, by Karla Armbruster,Kathleen R. Wallace

[2a1] A Report to an Academy, by Franz Kafka

[2a2] Lost in Space? Education and the concept of nature, by Michael Bonnett, Studies in Philosophy and EducationVolume 23, Numbers 2-3 (2004), 117-130,

[2a] Political science, Editorial appeared in Nature, Volume: 483, Pages: 123–124 , Date published: (08 March 2012)

[3] Physics and Philosophy: the Revolution in Modern Science, by Werner Heisenberg

[4]  The History of Science and Technology: A Browser’s Guide to the Great …, by Bryan H. Bunch and Alexander Hellemans

[4a] Liberal positivism. A pamphlet for rationality and freedom in science and society, and other divertimenti on philosophy of science, economics and intelligent design. [Kindle Edition], by Jesus Zamora Bonilla

[5] The Spirit of the Internet: Speculations on the Evolution of Global Consciousnee, by Lawrence Hagerty

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