Saturday, February 4, 2017

--- Naturalistic philosophies ---

Are you natural? Do humans belong to the natural world?

The way I see it - yes and no. Humans are definitely part of the world - created or evolved, the end result in this issue is the same. Humans are part of what is. One way or another humans are inextricably linked to their world.

On the other hand, as soon as people started living in cities, they started seeing themselves as separate from nature. It was most likely a gradual process but that city wall was a border, like an edging around a painting - this is a painting and that is everything else. The wall was security. It kept out all the riff-raff. But it was also a distinction - them and us.

Humans are reprogrammed to act differently than they would if they had not been raised in their society. It's called socialization (or indoctrination). But, maybe humans aren't so different from other social animals. For instance, would wolves experience culture shock if they were set down in the middle of New York city? Are dogs as "unnatural" as humans?

The tricky thing about it is that Humans switched from seeing nature as home to seeing it as something to be conquered, an alien and hostile environment.They started looking to make nature convenient. That works to a certain extent but the law of unintended consequences quickly intervenes to bring balance back into the picture. The balancing act has already brought about several mass extinction events. You don't mess around too much with Mother Nature.

What seems to actually work with nature is to avoid trying to force it, but to become a part of nature and influence it from the inside.

Many naturalistic philosophies usually take the stance that there is no sharp dividing line between individuals and their surrounding - that there is self and other is simply an illusion.

Can you manipulate a red blood cell by force of will? Or a hair? Are you conscious of them? But those are parts of self.

Can you manipulate a tree or a rock by force of will? Are you conscious of them? Why would those not be part of self? They can certainly influence your life. A nice sitting rock is a very welcomed accessory during a long hike and can help you establish homeostasis as an aid to a well-balanced hypothalamus.

I don't know. I guess it really is a matter of viewpoint but it seems to me that seeing the world as part of self is appropriate and more than a little useful.

I worked with the Boy Scouts of the Crane District for many years. When they first came out with the "leave no trace" policy, I was aghast. In the early years, "leave no trace" literally meant "leave no trace" - leave the place as though you were never there. Originally, we were supposed to pack out feces in baggies. Now, most lists of principles say to use catholes (small dugouts, perhaps kicked out by your boot heal).

Besides being unrealistic, LNT was deceitful. Traces are exactly how animals communicate. If you take a hardline leave no trace policy, it is as though you enter someones home, wonder around, and make sure they don't find out you were there. Of course, you can't just leave no trace and it just makes you seem like a sneak.

Maybe, just maybe, the correct stance would be - leave appropriate traces. Leave the place as you would want someone to leave your own home after a visit (assuming you're not a slob).

It helps to educate yourself on the land and wildlife that you will be impacting. My home is a street in Denver. When I take a hike, I am entering other peoples' homes. If I respect them, they will probably tolerate my presence. If I don't, well, they might eat me.

I think I can get behind the more recent, moderated version of "leave no trace." If you want to look at it, you can find a good explanation here:

But entitlement doesn't work in nature. Humanistic philosophies confuse me when people start talking about "rights". Best I can tell, the only reality to the concept of "rights" is "what everyone else around you will let you do without negative consequences". I don't know what an "inalienable right" is. "Endowed by the creator?" I've studied most of the major world religions and read many of their scriptures and I can't, for the life of me, find anything about any inalienable rights endowed by any creator. I don't know where they got that from.

I do believe in a thing called freedom. It always sounds like a right is something someone is entitled to: "I know my rights!" You have rights because you're you - you don't have to work for them - it comes with the warranty.

You have to work for freedoms. You earn freedoms.

I'm a Werewolf. I was known as a self proclaimed Werewolf in Selma and I was respected in all my communities. Did people think I was crazy? If they did, they didn't let it show.

Before I was known as a Werewolf, I was known as a beneficial member of my communities - my professional communities, my city, my church... I was free to be what I was because I earned that freedom.

But I can tell you confidently that, if you wonder onto an avalanche field and start throwing M80s around, you won't have the right to life, liberty, or the pursuit of happiness. You are in someone else's home and they can get away with offing you. In reality and to a certain extent, you have artificial protections in your city but in nature, you have the right to behave yourself and if you chose not to accept that right, you and your lawyer might be eaten.

No comments: