Is Man Part of Nature

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Is Man Part of Nature

Post by romansh » Sat Feb 07, 2009 2:43 am

Is man part of nature; and if so is there anything he can do that is unnatural?
And where do our answers lead us?
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Post by romansh » Sat Feb 07, 2009 5:43 pm

SteveC wrote:What is nature? Can miracles be part of nature, when the plausibility of their existence requires the suspension of nature?
What is unnatural in a world capable of the unnatural?
Of course, I think man is a part of nature. We are just big bugs* crawling all over the Earth. :-)
*kinda like Kafka's Metamorphosis
To answer your second question I would say no; by definition nature have would be be an observable cause an effect.
What in this world do you consider as unnatural?
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Post by SteveC » Sat Feb 07, 2009 7:52 pm

romansh wrote:
SteveC wrote:What is nature? Can miracles be part of nature, when the plausibility of their existence requires the suspension of nature?
What is unnatural in a world capable of the unnatural?
Of course, I think man is a part of nature. We are just big bugs* crawling all over the Earth. :-)
*kinda like Kafka's Metamorphosis
To answer your second question I would say no; by definition nature have would be be an observable cause an effect.
What in this world do you consider as unnatural?
Hate and violence.
You can only see the height of a mountain from its valley.


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Post by romansh » Sat Feb 07, 2009 8:57 pm

SteveC wrote: Hate and violence.
Is nature not full of violence ... for nature is red in tooth and claw.

Hate ... now I don't like to anthropomorhize ... because I don't really know what is going on in another person's mind nevermind in an animal's.

But the closest example I can think of is when a fox gets into chicken coup.
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Post by Neoplato » Sat Feb 07, 2009 9:39 pm

What in this world do you consider as unnatural?
Evil. As defined as the willful intent to bring harm or pain to another. Animals are not capable of evil. Also, the destruction of the Earth and everything that lives. Only man is capable of this; and we're threating life itself more today, then at any other time in history.
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Post by romansh » Sat Feb 07, 2009 10:02 pm

Neoplato wrote:
What in this world do you consider as unnatural?
Evil. As defined as the willful intent to bring harm or pain to another. Animals are not capable of evil. Also, the destruction of the Earth and everything that lives. Only man is capable of this; and we're threating life itself more today, then at any other time in history.
Two Questions
1) This brings the example of a fox in a chicken coup. The fox will decimate the chickens beyond its immediate needs. A cat will play with a mouse?
2) This begs the asumption that we have free will?
I agree with you animals are not capable of evil .... My interpretation of how Campbell interprets much of the Bible and other myths, is that as humans we should let go of the dualistic nature we assume of good and evil.
Campbell wrote:“You yourself are participating in evil, or you are not alive. Whatever you do is evil to someone. This is one of the ironies of creation.”
So when you say animals are not capable of evil you are specifically excluding mankind as an animal and therefore is not a part of nature.

I am totally at ease with evil being an abstract construct and not existing in any reality.

All threads do appear to be connected?
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Post by Neoplato » Sat Feb 07, 2009 11:43 pm

1) This brings the example of a fox in a chicken coup. The fox will decimate the chickens beyond its immediate needs. A cat will play with a mouse?
However, the fox will eat the chickens and the cat will eat the mouse, which is the nature of things. I don't think there is anything "premeditated" here, and there is no monetary benefit.
2) This begs the asumption that we have free will?
We have the power to use logic and reason, whether this is "free will" depends on if a person is being influenced by controling factors (society, culture, religion, etc..)
So when you say animals are not capable of evil you are specifically excluding mankind as an animal and therefore is not a part of nature.
We have logic and reason. Which makes us more than just "animated". We have the power of choice. Which is only within the nature of man.

I do agree with Campbell's quote, but I believe this is all part of perception. There are people who consider me evil because I believe certain things. Sometimes I offend people just because I exist. My perception is this: I have never willfully or intentionally caused harm to anyone and I believe I have benefitted because of this.

Sending someone off to die, so I can make a profit, is not in the nature of reality.
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Post by romansh » Sun Feb 08, 2009 1:06 am

Neoplato wrote: However, the fox will eat the chickens and the cat will eat the mouse, which is the nature of things. I don't think there is anything "premeditated" here, and there is no monetary benefit.
So why does the fox kill all the brood and carry off only what it can carry?
In my experience cats frequently if not usually leave presents. I personally have only seen 'my' cats eat their prey only once or twice.
We have the power to use logic and reason, whether this is "free will" depends on if a person is being influenced by controling factors (society, culture, religion, etc..)
This does not address your orginal definition evil .... as the willfull intent to bring harm ..
Regardless of logic etc ... if we do not have free will we can't bring harm willfully.
We have logic and reason. Which makes us more than just "animated". We have the power of choice. Which is only within the nature of man.
I agree I make choices all the time .... so do animals.
The question remains ... do we make choices freely?
There are people who consider me evil because I believe certain things. Sometimes I offend people just because I exist. My perception is this: I have never willfully or intentionally caused harm to anyone and I believe I have benefitted because of this.

So are you evil or not? You appear to consider others evil based on your moral code or ethics. So based on another person's morality could they consider you evil and would it make it true?
Sending someone off to die, so I can make a profit, is not in the nature of reality.
Ants let their old and sick do the dangerous jobs like guarding the nest at night.
This is a cost effective strategy for the colony.
Is the colony evil?
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Post by SteveC » Sun Feb 08, 2009 5:40 am

romansh wrote: So when you say animals are not capable of evil you are specifically excluding mankind as an animal and therefore is not a part of nature.

I am totally at ease with evil being an abstract construct and not existing in any reality.

All threads do appear to be connected?
Not necessarily. Man is of nature, his flesh. Evil describes his actions. His actions are based on his thinking. Thinking is based on God, Evil is based on a fallen angel. As such, evil is not the nature of man or God, but of the Devil.

Of course all threads are connected, since you lifted this question from another thread where it fit fine within the circular nature of conversations.

Anyway, I used to laugh when Flip Wilson would do his "the Devil made me do it" bit. Turns out, it may have been more true than funny.

There are a great many things in life that we are not in control of; age, hunger, sleep, etc. Where and when we were born, what we are taught and experience. At the end of the day there is only one thing that we have control of, which animals lack, and that is the choice of good and evil.

To the point, there is plenty of evidence of animals consciously choosing good, too. Who knows, they may know more than we do, or be sharing the same struggle on a different level. Which sperm got to be first, to cast you and I? Maybe they decided. :-)

Death is not evil, it is part of the natural cycle of life. The Bible, more than anything other issue, warns not to be afraid of death. Politics is obsessed with death, and the fear of death. Security and keeping people 'safe' is all politicians talk about, even Obama. They are already dead if all they worry about is death. The choice before us is how to live. Evil (fear) is not a natural way to live. Why should Abel fear Cain? Why should we fear terrorists? They seek the same things we seek, it is our communication that has broken down. Blame replace understanding.

Innocence and ignorance are both a natural part of growth, as are experience and wisdom. Nature is a term that can be infused with anything.
You can only see the height of a mountain from its valley.


The radical myth towards which the helix aspires is beyond the desire for money or power, yet which has greater returns than all the power and money in the world could not achieve.
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Post by romansh » Sun Feb 08, 2009 6:47 am

SteveC wrote:
1) Evil describes his actions.
2) As such, evil is not the nature of man or God, but of the Devil.
3) At the end of the day there is only one thing that we have control of, which animals lack, and that is the choice of good and evil.
4) Death is not evil, it is part of the natural cycle of life.
5) The Bible, more than anything other issue, warns not to be afraid of death.
6) The choice before us is how to live.
7) Evil (fear) is not a natural way to live.
8') Nature is a term that can be infused with anything.
1) So evil is a description of actions that presumably are prohibited by a religious text?
2) I thought the strict hebrew translation for devil was adversary? So is the the devil part of nature and therefore does nature have evil?
3) So other than a line or two in the Bible what verifiable evidence do you have for people making choices freely?
4) Agree with you whole heartedly here.
5) I agree, but again outside of the Bible there is no verifiable reason? Thinking about it some more, in some strange interpretations of the Bible, there is hell, you know damnation etc ... That I think would make some a little apprehensive?
6) I do agree, assuming we can reconcile #3
7) I agree - sort of, but using simple math, in the US if the majority are actually afraid, then the majority of those likely belong to an Abrahamic religion?
8') So you have shown.
Last edited by romansh on Sun Feb 08, 2009 4:31 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Post by Clemsy » Sun Feb 08, 2009 3:27 pm

Ah.... evil. What a lovely word. It does allow us to feel so good about ourselves when we see it in others.

Okay...
Is man part of nature; and if so is there anything he can do that is unnatural?
From the larger (largest?) view yes to the former and no to the latter. There's enough bizarre behavior elsewhere in the natural world to parallel what humans can do, from the ridiculous to the sublime.

Rats will eat their young given the proper conditions. Chimps will slaughter the young of a rival female.

Certain bacteria will destroy the host that keeps it alive. (Now don't go all misanthrope on me here... but it is an intimidating image.)

A product of nature will always be a product of nature and anything that product produces, even if a generation removed, is a product of nature. There is nothing in this whole wide universe that is not nature.

Now we come to the cerebral cortex...
cerebral cortex
n. The extensive outer layer of gray matter of the cerebral hemispheres, largely responsible for higher brain functions, including sensation, voluntary muscle movement, thought, reasoning, and memory.
The universe evolved to self-awareness. How elegant. How profound.

How problematic!

With the development of these higher skills comes some troubling ideas.... morals, ethics, responsibility and their children guilt and sin (and god?).

The cerebral cortex didn't develop because some god pointed his finger at us. One may think that a series of genetic 'accidents' got us where we are today. I prefer to think that these supposed accidents, as with the development of life in general, would always happen given the proper conditions. No accident. A process.

That's an assumption on my part. That could be wrong. I like the picture so I'll keep it.

We have a species of field mouse around here that is known to breed out of control, given the proper conditions. When the food source is eliminated, they start eating the bark off the trees. Eventually, in lieu of an infusion of cats, foxes, owls and coyotes, the whole ecosystem is devastated. The niche organisms in an ecosystem aren't programmed to handle a significant upset to the environmental tight rope dance.

Human beings have evolved a mechanism for acting upon the environment in order to resist that slide to species devastation/extinction. Our ancestors survived profound global catastrophes. Those humans who aren't our ancestors didn't. Well, sure that's a big DUH! Clemsy... but a significant one.

So, in taking hold of the environment, and figuring out ways to keep having sex and babies, we came to the ideas of doing it right.... and doing it wrong. New ideas.

From there, things get really complicated. :lol:

(Skip ahead some millions of years past a lot of those complications...)

So here we are, at some process of evolution with this really interesting brain stuff wrapped around our more primal parts like a layer cake, and it would seem some of us have a bit more of it than others, as in "Lets build more thermo-nuclear bombs than it would take to sterilize the planet, in what would be considered a 'wrong' way to manipulate the environment in order to promote survival, as opposed to that's a really stupid idea (evil?).

Right now we're still debating exactly what we should do to keep the planet from heating up enough to end civilization as we know it. Some people deny it's an issue as if 'erring on the side of caution' is a bad idea in this context. :roll:

(Somewhere along the line I heard a theory that the species exists to produce that occasional genius, the rest of us are at some stage of failure in that.

"Against every great idea stand a million mediocre minds?")

However... if the planet does heat up enough to end civilization as we know it, and some of us do survive... maybe the species will be the better for it?

(Wow... I feel really small all of the sudden.)

No doubt the descendants of those survivors (Sorry folks, probably won't be yours!) will have exciting new skill sets to keep the species going.

Of course we all hope we get it right (good) now.

From that larger (largest?) view, this is a test. Only and always a test.

Unfortunately, in this great big ball of gas and dust and empty space moving through that really peculiar thing we call time... failure is an option.

Humanity evolved to maximize its shot at not doing that.

And came up with some really cool stuff along the way.

Cheers,
Clemsy
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Post by romansh » Sun Feb 08, 2009 5:04 pm

Thanks Clemsy,
So yes man is part of nature and no to "is there anything he can do that is unnatural?"
Sort of my take too.

Plus, a summary of our prospective chances:
that really cheered me up this bright sunny Sunday morning.
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Post by Clemsy » Sun Feb 08, 2009 5:19 pm

Eat, drink and be merry, romansh!
Give me stories before I go mad! ~Andreas
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Post by Neoplato » Sun Feb 08, 2009 8:49 pm

Romansh Wrote:
Thanks Clemsy,
So yes man is part of nature and no to "is there anything he can do that is unnatural?"
Sort of my take too.

Plus, a summary of our prospective chances:
that really cheered me up this bright sunny Sunday morning.

(Warning...Passion alert) :evil:

Maybe someone should go tell the victims' families of the D.C. sniper, 9/11, and the Oklahoma bombing that the people responsible were not "evil", it's all a part of human nature.

I side with Socrates, evil is a result of ignorance! :twisted:
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Post by romansh » Sun Feb 08, 2009 10:50 pm

Neoplato wrote: Maybe someone should go tell the victims' families of the D.C. sniper, 9/11, and the Oklahoma bombing that the people responsible were not "evil", it's all a part of human nature.
I side with Socrates, evil is a result of ignorance! :twisted:
Telling them McVeigh and Nichols or their acts are evil will somehow make sense?

Which is more evil the Oklahoma bombing where 168 people sadly died, or in 2004 where the tsunami killed 225 000 people

Which is more evil the genocide of 6 M Jews during WW2 or the death of ~20 M people by influenza in 1918/1919.

"evil is the result of ignorance" ... there are two ways of reading that.
And finally, to have the capability of evil ... this presumes the capability of free will.
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