Network for the Environment and Social (Human) Security

I have, therefore I am!

Posted by on Apr 5, 2011 in Ecology | 0 comments

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Again I venture into a field, where I am not an expert. I do it, because every science owes the public, to be understood. Well, almost everyone. Every average person with an average intelligence should be able to understand and I am such a person. I try to understand it and find the flaws in it. Still, wouldn’t I be thinking about this topic, this post would not be!

Today I want to get into the strange logic of Rene Descartes, who postulated, “I think, therefore I am”.

The recognition to be alive, through thinking, is right in itself. But it tells us only part of the complexity of being alive. It only tells us, that through the act of thinking, one is able to understand that one is alive.

Is a worm able to think? Probably not. At least not as a human being does. Does it follow, that  the worm is not alive? This would be the conclusion, if one follows old Rene’s logic. The worm lives, about this I can contemplate and I can’t say, it does not live. Because it lives and does what a worm does. Without thinking. Perhaps, the worm has a feeling of being alive? Does the worm recognize a dangerous situation, when the birds are picking in the earth or rotten wood? Probably! That’s the way, the worms have survived, until now. Without much of a brain.

Human beings do have brain and the capacity to think. Although it sometimes seems, that this capacity is really only a luxury item. Nice to have, but it is not really needed. And although this capacity is not fully used, people live.

This leads us to put the statement of Descartes on it’s feet, “I live, therefore I think”.

The statement of Descartes is still a major pillar of how the western culture is perceiving life and intellect. Together with Francis Beacon, Descartes is considered founder of a new way of thinking, which gave a new incentive to modern technology. Most of the people are not aware of it, have never even heard of Rene Descartes and his postulate. And they don’t care about it, since they live by a different rule. 

In the modern, consumption oriented society, the old statement has gotten a new meaning.

“I have, therefore I am”.

Our whole live seems to be about having and possessing. The more one consumes, the more one has, therefore one is more! Once, in ancient times, it was true. The bigger the harvest and the more game was hunted, the easier the survival. But what was really needed to survive some thousands of years ago? A shelter, a daily meal and furs as clothes. Survival was hard then and world population grew at a slow pace.

How different is it today?

Survival is still hard but the basic needs in order to survive have changed drastically. At those times if they had a piece of meat every day, even for a short while, it must have been a feast. Probably, meat was only on the menu when the hunt was successful. Otherwise roots and berries were the sole nourishment. This has changed, since humans settled down and started with agriculture and the supply of foodstuff was beginning to be ensured.

With the technology, and the chemicals, the harvest has risen to unknown heights. It would once be considered a legend and a fairy tale.

Today,in the 1.World meat is always available and people consume it as though they would still live in the caves. They eat as much meat as possible and do not think about the ramifications. How much land is needed to grow the livestock on and how much land is needed to grow the fodder. The impact on nature is already a hazard to nature with 7 billion people. This is a situation, which is not sustainable. If all the people in the world, and we soon will be 9 billion,consume meat as the 1.World does, it would lead to the collapse of the global eco-system.

If someone knows of a problem but prefers to ignore it, than this person does not think about it. Does that mean, in the sense of Descartes, that the person does not exists? Or that humanity will have to suffer terribly because we did not think when we had the time? Like today?

And because I want to survive, I have to think harder. Especially at the threshold of two problems, with which humanity is confronted today.

First, the growing world population. Today we are 7 billion people and around 2050 humanity will be 9 billion. All which nature supplies us will have to be divided by 30% more people. This means everyone of us has to share with the other and will have less. Only the absolute necessary!

Second, a Climate Change is a distinct possibility. With unknown consequences.

Is this not reason enough to start thinking and start having less, because this will ensure the survival of humanity?

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