Humanizing Nature / Naturalizing Humans
In Madness & Society, Eric Fromm writes that all of man's strivings emerge from his fall from nature. Unlike
animals, man is the only animal that can ask the question why, attach and build meanings, create a purpose for
doing things. Unlike animals whose brain development indicates a relatively low memory capacity, man has a
tremendous memory potential. It is this memory potential that is both his gift and bane. Though we talk about
choice, we have however not progressed to a level where we are able to exercise choice over our memories, so
whatever we experience, observe, sense enters our memory and consciousness. In daily life, these memories are
continuously getting accessed, reinforced or reduced. Hence these memories form an important part of our reality.
The ability to discern what is reality and what is memory is still being experimented on and studied by
When I read writing of philosophers, spiritual guides like John Mohawk, JD Krishnamurthy, Rudolf Steiner, Mahatma
Gandhi, Eckhart Tolle I find that they recognized this limitation of the human mind. The ancient Indians of
America were highly spiritual beings. They worshiped mother nature and all her creations. They understood nature
as a complex system of which we are parts.
They also understood that no matter what we would never be able to transcend this system. The entire need for freedom, transcendence, creation was an illusion, a symptom of brain development. Hence though possible to achieve and work towards, they restricted their needs and wants, their wisdom made them peaceful beings who choose to live within the system they were part of and utilize their intellect to ensure a balance. Sustainability was truly practiced by them.
One of the effects of this memory development and general progress in society is that, human mind's ability to
process information has increased. At the same time so has the compulsive need to do so. Take the example of our
personal computer. The advances in processing speeds have been tremendous, we are amazed by it, however the other
side, so has power consumption increased, need to have higher memory capacity, need formore graphics acceleration
...the needs never stop.
Similarly identification with the mind, extreme importance give to this ability to process which we call intellect instead of remaining a tool is becoming the master itself. The microchip always needs a power source, similarly the brain always needs some thoughts to function. The only time we can say we are conserving energy is when we goto sleep (PC: Sleep Mode), that time too we have dreams, thus we can understand that continuous thinking is an energy consuming activity and requires some or the other source.
Now create a scenario, where no problems existed in the world. There was nothing to solve, what would happen, we
would all go mad. The developed brain would no longer be able to function. It would not know how to spend the
time. Memory development has also led to the concept of time. Would one be able to spend
60 years without any thoughts, quite difficult, thats why we revere the spiritual gurus, because they have been
in intense penance to break this vicious cycle we are caught in. The way I see it, when they come back from
penance and take on followers etc, they are not asking you to give up the worldly things, they are asking you to
attempt to search for this universal truth this light, until then you will think you are making choices, but you
are simply a response mechanism of your memory and brains need - from which your concept of self arises.
I define this to be real development. In development we talk about choices, by having a spiritual orientation and
understanding one is actually then not bound by social norms, hierarchy etc. Wants are minimized, justifications
are irrelevant, just a simple world and your choices.
That's what a choice essentially is: a choice.
If a justification existed it would not be your choice, but the outcome of that justification.
Eckhart Tolle in his best seller – The Power of Now talks about the illusion of time. When we have desires, they are actually expectations of future events that are yet to unfold. If you ask a question why? Then you would conclude that because the present is not what you want, you are thinking about the future.
This rejection of the present for the future, and since the future is still to come, you end up with having nothing - neither present, nor future. This then leaves one with a feeling of emptiness, loneliness and manifestation of depression. All of us, no matter what suffer from some sort of depression. This is not bad, but just an effect of things. Werner Erhard says acceptance is the key to happiness. But if one were to accept, then all reasons, all becauses would vanish. There would be no more justifications for one's actions. How would one function, all purpose would be lost, all social searching would end
We have to recognize that meaning, purpose, spirituality are our creations. There are no answers to find, life is
empty and meaningless. Don't get depressed, its the paradox you should constantly confront. You have nothing at
the same time you have everything. You have to create a purpose for yourself, for your life, its your creation,
its an illusion you are building for yourself, out of your own choice. That's the way it is. Animals also live for
100 years they don't have our problems. When we are both part of the same natural system, can we be governed by
different rules, processes. No!! Both are the same, recognize this.
The only differentiating factor - your gift - how you use it, depends upon the choices you make, which depend upon
the frameworks you have. There are no prizes for utilizing you gift the best, don't make that your
purpose. You will then stop living and instead be driven. Build frameworks, abandon frameworks till you are so
thoroughly fed up with them, that you no longer need them to function, you have attained Zen
Man cannot understand himself in isolation. It is only through comparison with things physically external to him that he is able to reference himself. Now this may appear to be a absolute referencing, however since he is unclear of the way nature works and no universal truth has been passed down to him in a form understandable to him, this has become a circular referencing. Whether he sees things the way they are, or they are the way they are because he sees them is a paradox, he will not get out of.
The effect of this is that as he understands himself more, he projects the same onto the external world and is
actually humanizing nature.
Let me explain how?
Max Webber wrote about bureaucracy being characterised by division of labour, a clear authority hierarchy, formal
selection procedures, detailed rules and regulations and impersonal relationships. If we look at the human body,
we realise it to be the most complex organisation. It epitomises the organisational efficiency attainable in
nature with a large number of cells performing specialised functions, complex procedures for converting food to
various nutrients. Now if we look at the way science and society have progressed what we observe is that during
the 18th century a large part of science was directed towards understanding of the human anatomy and physiology.
From observing the human being, society developed notions and understanding about itself. It is the study of an
individual that is finally generalised to a group.
Hence what I conjecture is that Max Webber's definition of Bureaucracy relates to the organisation of the human
body. Let me illustrate this point.
Division of Labour: Division of labour in the human body begins at the cellular level. Specialization of cells for immunity, digestion, body repair, oxygen carrying etc, leads to development of functional grouping in the form of organs (heart, lungs, kidney). This is then further clubbed under digestive, reproductive, neural systems.
Authority Hierarchy: In animals it is generally the amygdale that controls the flight or fright mechanism. It is concerned with survival. In human the objective is different. As the goal of any organisation is to grow and develop, the human body’s growth and development is also monitored by the apex. Decision making and choices that would impact the entire human organisation lies with the brain, animalistic survival is still with the amygdale, auto – reflex response is done through the spinal cord, in case of disease automatically the blood generates antibodies etc. Hence there is a clear hierarchy between the needs and available power / control.
Formal Selection: In an organisation this process is used to filter the input to it. In the human body we have a sense of smell, sight, hearing, taste. All these go towards filtering out the kind of information we receive about the environment. Again the formal rules are internalised by the sense organs and have been set into the apex body that is the brain.
Detailed rules and regulations: As with any organisation, even in the human body there are rules and regulations for the effective function of the entire system. Each cell has to perform its functions under certain constraints of alkalinity, acidity, temperature. How much it should produce, when to produce etc. is predetermined. When rules are broken as in the case when less insulin is produced it leads to organisational disease like diabetes. When individual cells break rules (mutate) it causes cancer. Hence again the organisation is governed by rules and regulations.
Impersonal Relationships: It is only the brain that is consciousness. It is aware about the functioning of the various organs. Individually the organs lack consciousness. The kidney is not aware about the existence of the heart. As long as it is guaranteed a supply of blood it will keep filtering it. In the event that one kidney fails the other one does not decide to go on strike because his best friend died. The organs simply do their functions and achieve their goals.
Hence what we observe is that the enormous complexity that the human body is able to achieve, the kind of tasks
that we have accomplished can be credited to a Bureaucratic Structure. As our understanding of this complexity
increases, we build similar complexity in society so that there is a match within internal and external.
To prove the point -
Earlier in medicine we thought that diseases had single causes. There was a linear relationship between cause and effect. Hence explosion in allopathic medicine. Similarly in development it was thought that economic solutions were needed to all the world problems. In agriculture the 'Green Revolution' was under way. Single solution of increased fertilizer, pesticide etc
All these solutions simplistic in nature and during same phase in human history. Now we are realising at one school of medicine is not enough, similarly in agriculture too organic, BD are emerging. In development holistic is the buzz word.
Look at the human body, the brain is at the top, limbs at the bottom. The limbs obey the commands of the brain. In the event that there is brain damage the limbs revolt. Internationally it can be seen the the idea leader in the world are the northern countries, the physical work is carried out in the southern world. Most revolts have also taken place in the southern world. Just like our human body is intricately network and interlinked so are we creating society to be.
Globalization is such a phenomena where various parts are getting interdependent on each other. Earlier in society we had diverse cultures and languages, slowly slowly these have gotten lost. There is need for a common communication for everyone to get interlinked. Similar process exists in the human body. Just as we are discovering genes for certain properties of the human body and behaviour so are we finding certain explanations for social phenomena
However as we understand Bureaucracy today, there is a negative connotation to the term. Politics seem to have
mired the meaning and our understanding of it. Modern man has been in existence since the past 5000 years,
Webber’s concept the last 40 years. Hence I would say that keeping the human body as the template, the development
of societal organisations is still at a nascent stage. Weber’s Bureaucracy has still not been realised. So don’t
So what does the future look like? Given globalisation, interactions between cultures, traditions, societies, wars we can all look at that from the perspective of the growth of the organisation called SOCIETY. Just as physical evolution of the human body took place over time, similarly currently cultural evolution of SOCIETY is taking place. The most efficient organisation looks like the kind in which a few groups will dominate (the intellects – akin to the brain), there will be high specialization, formalisation. Large levels of communication between groups, mutual give and take etc all for the benefit of the larger collective called SOCIETY.
How this will happen I do not know? But I feel it will involve the loss of my identity, my individualism, my consciousness (like the organs) as a reaction to the external. I will make a choice to EXIST. Good or bad I do not know, but I know I will be taken care off; I will not be left behind, I WILL BELONG!!
So let's assume what I have proposed maybe happening to a certain extent, then what?
I feel that we are moving further away from nature by a lot of our actions. However nature has always been, it always will. No matter what you cannot transcend it. If you try to hard to get out of the system, you will break disturb the processes. When that happens, the system will repair itself. It has been doing so before we were born and will continue to do so. Global warming, I feel is nature's response to repair itself, too many idiotic humans disturbing the system, let me throw in a few earthquakes, few tsunamis and raise the water level, reduce their numbers. Will it make a difference to nature if the entire world is covered with water, will it complain, I guess NOT.
But you would, it would make a difference to you!!!
I don't know how to end, because I am afraid of prescribing some way of being as the ideal. I am confronted with the paradox right now, guess that's all I can say, keep confronting it, engaging with it...
Nature will look after itself anyway!