Wednesday, March 29, 2023

Harmonizing with nature

Living in harmony with nature can be understood in many ways. Here are two:

  1. Living in a way that protects and repairs non-human aspects of nature.

  2. Living in a way that harmonizes and accords with our own human nature.

The second mode of harmony with nature implies the first at least to some degree, because the nature of each organism—including humans—involves a degree of harmonization with the rest of the environment. But only to some degree. A species can do a great deal of damage to competing species by simply following out the dictates of its nature—its success can imply the failure of others. Still, our own nature probably calls on a fair amount of stewardship of surrounding nature, so the second mode implies quite a bit of the first mode.

The first mode of harmony with nature is more consequentialist than the second. While the second is focused on living a certain way that is not primarily defined in terms of consequences but in terms of accord with our own nature, the first is focused on consequences to non-human nature. Nonetheless, the first mode still implies a certain degree of the second, in that improving our natural surroundings often is an imperative of our nature.

At the same time, the second mode has implications the first does not. For instance, some forms of transhumanism fit very well with the first mode but none fit with the second mode. It might turn out that a version of the singularity—us all getting digitized and then run in a computer—is good for the non-human aspects of nature, because a computer simulation of our lives might turn out to have much lower energy costs than our meaty existence. Similarly, mass sterilization of humans might be good for non-human aspects of nature, but does not accord with our nature.

One might think of certain agrarian movements as instances of the second mode of harmony, though I do not think the second mode requires agrarianism.

No comments: