RE: NANFA-- Off topic: For the philosophers among you

Jay DeLong (
Thu, 26 Oct 2000 14:46:45 -0700

> Jeffers' observation is contrary to most people's assessment of the
> relationship of the human race to the rest of the planet. Does/should
> everything revolve around us as the crown of creation on the
> planet, or are we more of an accident who now consume half of the
> photosynthetic product on the planet? Since I'm not running for
> election I'll support the latter.
> Thanks, Sajjad!
> --Bruce Stallsmith

Well, Bruce, you're going to get some people to nod their heads, and at the
same time piss lots of others off :-) Personally I look forward to the day
when ideas like these provide us with a common focus-- a sign of
intellectual maturity-- or morality-- rather than some philosophical
viewpoint. But it won't happen in our lifetimes and like I said before,
we're going to go backwards before we go forward. Species and their
ecosystems will continue to disappear forever, and though we may become smug
and think ourselves prosperous if we judge prosperity by human development
and resource use and the Dow Jones Index, our quality of life and that of
our descendants will decline until we realize we need to take steps now to
conserve what we have. Here's another quote along the same lines of

"The oldest, easiest-to-swallow idea was that the
earth was man's personal property, a combination of
garden, zoo, bank vault, and energy source, placed
at our disposal to be consumed, ornamented, or pulled
apart as we wished. The betterment of mankind was, as
we understood it, the whole point of the thing. Mastery
over nature, mystery and all, was a moral duty and
social obligation.

In the last few years we were wrenched from this way
of looking at it, and arrived at a general understanding
that we had it wrong. We still argue the details, but
it is conceded almost everywhere that we are not the
masters of nature that we thought ourselves; we are as
dependent on the rest of the system as are the leaves or
midges or fish. We are part of the system. One way to
put it is that the earth is a loosely formed, spherical
organism, with all its working parts linked in symbiosis."

--Lewis Thomas (1974),
from "The Lives of a Cell: Notes of a Biology Watcher"

Jay DeLong
Olympia, WA

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