Skip to main content

Quotes on the human attempt to dominate nature

Lynn Margulis and Dorion Sagan:

Human beings are not particularly special, apart, or alone. A biological extension of the Copernican view that we are not at the center of the universe deprives us also of our place as the dominant form of life on the planet. It may be a blow to our collective ego, but we are not masters of life perched on the final rung of an evolutionary ladder. Ours is a permutation of the wisdom of the biosphere. We did not invent genetic engineering, we insinuated ourselves into the life cycles of bacteria, which have been directly trading and copying genes on their own for quite some time now. We did not "invent" agriculture or locomotion on horseback, we became involved in the life cycles of plants and animals, whose numbers increased in tandem with ours. ... The reality and recurrence of symbiosis in evolution suggests that we are still in an invasive, "parasitic" stage and that we must slow down, share, and reunite ourselves with other beings if we are to achieve evolutionary longevity.


R. W. Fevre:

"The real truth is that, not only has man failed to overcome nature in any sphere whatsoever but that at best he has merely succeeded in getting hold of and lifting a tiny corner of the enormous veil which she has spread over her eternal mysteries and secret. He never creates anything. All he can do is discover something. He does not master nature but has only come to be the master of those living things who have not gained the knowledge he has arrived at by penetrating into some of nature's laws and mysteries. Apart from all this, an idea can never subject to its own sway those conditions which are neessary for the existence and development of mankind; for the idea itself has come only from man. Without man there would be no human idea in this world. The idea as such is therefore always dependent on the existence of man and consequently is dependent on those laws which furnish the conditions of his existence.
"

George Alfred Wilkens:

"All nature stands on a par with man. I do not take too kindly to that portion of the first chapter of Genesis which puts into the mouth of God the injunction for man to subdue the earth and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over everything that moveth above the earth. ... However, my quarrel is not really with Genesis and that it has God give to man dominion over all the earth, as it is with the implication that because of dominion we are 'better.' Whether one's lot is dominion or subjection doesn't really matter.
"

Mary Oliver:

"Nature...is the wheel that drives our world; those who ride it willingly might yet catch a glimpse of a dazzling, even a spiritual restfulness, while those who ... insist that the world must be piloted by man for his own benefit will be gathering dust but no joy.

"

Alan Watts:

"The rush of waterfalls and the babbling of streams are not loved for their resemblance to speech; the irregularly scattered stars do not excite us because of the formal constellations which have been traced out between them; and it is for no symmetry or suggestion of pictures that we delight in the patterns of foam, of the veins in rock, or of the black branches of trees in wintertime.


"

Sources

Lynn Margulis and Dorion Sagan. Microcosmos. California: University of California Press, 1986, 1997. pp. 195-196

R. W. Fevre. The Demoralization of Western Culture: Social Theory and the Dilemmas of Modern Living. London: Continuum, 2000. p 28.

George Alfred Wilkens. Justice of the Universe: A Philosophy in Accord with Science. Boston: Christopher Publishing House, 1957. p 131-132.

Alan Watts, Nature, Man, and Woman, New York: Vintage Books, 1991 (Copyright 1958). p 124.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Castration at the Battle of Adwa (1896)

On March 1, 1896, the Battle of Adwa "cast doubt upon an unshakable certainty of the age – that sooner or later Africans would fall under the rule of Europeans." In this battle, Ethiopians beat back the invading Italians and forced them to retreat permanently. It was not until 1922 that Benito Mussolini would again initiate designs against Ethiopia; despite Ethiopia's defeat in 1936, the nation ultimately retained its independence. "Adwa opened a breach that would lead, in the aftermath of world war fifty years later, to the rollback of European rule in Africa. It was," Raymond Jonas wrote, "an event that determined the color of Africa." (p. 1) It was also significant because it upheld the power of Ethiopia's Christian monarchy that controlled an ethnically diverse nation (p. 333), a nation in which, in the late 19th century, the Christian Emperor Yohannes had tried to force Muslims to convert to Christianity. (p. 36)The Victorian English spelling…

Review of Cliff Sims' 'Team of Vipers' (2019)

After he resigned his position, Cliff Sims spent two months in Fall 2018 writing Team of Vipers: My 500 Extraordinary Days in the Trump White House. Many stories are told, some already well known to the public, some not. One buys this book, most likely, to gape at the colossal flameout spectacle that is Donald Trump, as with most things with Trump's name. Sims exposes the thoughtlessness, the chaos, the lack of empathy among his fellow insiders in the campaign and later in the White House, but he does not at all acknowledge the real consequences for ordinary Americans — there might as well be no world outside the Trump insider bubble, for all this narrative concerns itself with — and therefore falls far short of fully grappling with the ethical implications of his complicity.Previously, Sims was a journalist. "I had written tough stories, including some that helped take down a once-popular Republican governor in my home state," he says. "I had done my best to be acc…

It is not journalists' job to vet political nominees, but...?

The position of U.S. national intelligence director is open, following the resignation of Daniel Coats. John Ratcliffe withdrew his name from consideration on August 2, 2019, only five days after Trump nominated him. An article in The Guardian about why Trump picked Ratcliffe:Ratcliffe is a frequent Trump defender who fiercely questioned the former special counsel Robert Mueller during his testimony before the House Judiciary Committee hearing last week.Even as Mueller laid bare concerns that Russia was working to interfere with US elections again, Ratcliffe remained focused on the possibility that US intelligence agencies had overly relied on unverified opposition research in investigating the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia.Unfortunately for Ratcliffe, he had embellished his credentials. According to Vox: He had "frequently boasted about overseeing the arrest of 300 illegal immigrants in one day at a poultry plant in 2008," but the operation was much smaller and his role w…