Curt Stager of Paul Smith’s College is rethinking who we are.
We’ve become a major force of nature in this new Anthropocene epoch; politics and psychology have now become branches of ecology, and how we think, feel, and act has consequences of geological scope that will echo deep into the future.
By "entertainment, fantasy, and religions" do you mean things like the computer, even perhaps A|N? Har. I think you are 100% correct in your assessment. Now, to wean us away from such things without using religion! There is no grace, there is no guilt, true to yourself do what you wilt. Yeah, it's purloined Crowley, but he purloined from Sir Francis Burton, Nietzsche, and Rabelais.
This is getting very deep, get back to basics please, and don't worry so much, by the time all these catastrophes happen we will be long gone. Mankind wont wake up any time soon, and no amount of philosophising or debate will cure the world of its need for profit and gain
Ruth, I will echo, edited slightly, some of what Alan wrote. I will then add a thought.
We who are here now won't be here when the shit comes down. I had no children so I need not concern myself with the fates of any offspring.
I conclude from the anguish I see in discussions you've started recently that you might have offspring.
Is that the reason for your anguish?
In previous mass extinctions, a few in various species did survive. Ditto for H.Sapiens.
I have no children, but the future of mankind means everything. Absent sentient aliens, we are the meaning-makers. The universe is really the-universe-as-we-know-it. Were only microbes left, what exists would be far simpler. I can't imagine not concerning myself with the fates of humans who succeed me. I identify as a member of our species. Were there no future for humanity past a few hundred years, a real possibility given the complexity of the situation we've created, whatever life I have left would be impoverished, hollowed out.
You don't see our possible self-extermination as an existential crisis?
My hope rests in humanity's reinvention - wiser than our current form. Realizing how the planet's habitability is an extension of our selves can be a first step. Marshall McLuhan taught us to see our tools as extensions of our selves. "The automobile is an extension of the foot." What Curt Stager said is the next level, far beyond "No man is an island."
We teeter at a bifurcation. We die of our limitations or choose to overcome them by embracing this greatness.
Empathy is sometimes a heavy burden.
Having some beats having none. Having too much wrecks my attempts at hedonism.
You don't see our possible self-extermination as an existential crisis?
Only if it happens while I'm here.
I don't see an inherent conflict between enjoying pleasure and empathy, Tom. Pleasure doesn't have to be self-centered or materialist. There has to be joy in life. We just can't live only for short term satisfaction.
Seeing pleasure opposed to empathy might reflect a Dominator Culture bias. In Partnership Culture empathy lies at the heart of pleasure. See Sacred Pleasure by Riane Eisler.
Ruth, in your recipe for living, how much Dominator Culture and how much Partnership Culture do you use?
Overall US culture is Dominator, but there are movements, cultural elements, and subcultures which are more Partnership. You can recognize Dominator Culture because it's based on inequality and violence. When men have a voice and women don't, when power is based on weapons, warriors, and intimidation, you see Dominator culture at work. The "Man Box", wherein male worth is provisional, real men are warriors/rescuers, and "soft" feelings (empathy) are weakness is Dominator.
Not all men fit themselves into the "Man Box". My husband and secondary partner are nice guys who treat women as equals. One sign is how much a man actually listens to what women say.
I remember being astonished by a male doctor whose voice tones conveyed nurturance rather than the obligatory (if sometimes subtle) projections of intimidation which usually identify a voice as male.
Peace movements are Partnership culture. Nurturing careers tend more toward Partnership. I also see a lot of Partnership in the Polyamory subculture, where gender equality and generous love (rather than ownership) are the norm. In graduate school, the PEP department (psycho-educational process) was relatively Partnership. PEP taught listening skills, communication skills, and leadership skills (that didn't fit the Dominator model).
US entertainment is overrun by Dominator Culture, excepting for "Too Cute".
The obvious Dominator culture includes the religious institutions that preach and teach dependence, subordination, obedience to authority. I look forward to the day when new people on this site are not writing about their fears of revealing they are atheists, when a person can state, with pride and dignity, that they do not recognize evidence of the existence of god.
I think it is pretty generally known locally that I am a non-believer, and in my line, it is not a financial advantage to have it widely known. There is a parallel to coming out lgbtq: the majority still believe in something radically different from what you know. Prejudice is sure to follow. You get used to it.
More on the "Man Box": http://www.atheistnexus.org/group/hangwithfriends/forum/topics/men-...
And when I read "nice guys who treat women as equals", I found myself thinking that it's sad that people even have to point out such things, that it isn't simply the unspoken common situation like "guys who get up in the morning" or "guys who eat food".
The more Partnership movements and subcultures could still grow, and influence the larger culture.
Compounding variable keep popping up that gives urgency to an already important issue of climate change.
The speed of ice melt as discussed by Andrew C. Revkin, Consider Clashing Scientific and Societal Meaning.... Some collapses occur in a flash of an object striking Earth, creating instantaneous consequences. Others occur slowly as accumulated particles in the air caused by volcanoes or by human caused pollution, slowly creating conditions that change climate. Another is the drift of tectonic plates that changes water flow as continents split apart and move across the face of the planet.
His references give different points of view:
Curt Stager, a paleoclimatologist and author of “Deep Future”: writes of responses by people affected by changing sea levels. He gives the example of people who were devastated by Hurricane Sandy and the rush to rebuild on the same sites, in spite of the fact that the surge that caused the damage was only the beginning evidence of more sea level rise. He reports The Netherlands and New York actively plan for further coastal water rise.
David Grinspoon, astrobiologist: Not only will coastal cities and lowlands be inundated over a relatively short period of time, given the geologic time scale, it will occur within the lifetimes of our descendants. Weather patterns and agriculture will change, some becoming more moist, others more dry. Changes will be so profound that we cannot predict at this time. We know there will be change, just where and how severe are still unknowable.
Kim Stanley Robinson, novelist: Our sense of space and time will need to adjust, moving away from parochialism and toward a world-view of all being a part of a much larger whole. We need to stop thinking about what we can do with engineering and science, and think more in terms of the health of the planet and what we should do. She points out two other compounding variable, there are volcanoes under the West Antarctic Ice Sheet, and there are changes in sea current temperatures that melt sea-glaciers from underneath. These speed up the ice melt.
With the propaganda poured into developing coal, oil and gas fields, in the face of a threat to ice melt, I wonder if the population will pay attention in time to prevent more damage than will already occur.
So many compounding variables, so many voices calling for more fossil fuel burning when we should be stopping that form of energy as soon as possible. There are reasonable people offering alternatives, and their voices need to be heard.