I am reading a book in which the authors set forth the evils of belief in “The Great Chain of Being.”
The Great Chain of Being is, in fact, firmly ingrained in our culture and spirits. It leads to certain grave errors that are commonly acknowledged but difficult for teachers to correct.
The first of these is Anthropocentrism, “the view that man is the measure of all things.”
That man is the measure of all things can apparently be traced back to Protagoras. Please read at least the opening section in this article.
Back to the book:
…the Great Chain of Being is a view that considers human uniqueness qualitatively superior to that of other organisms, an idea with no scientific value.
This coming from scientists. It made me laugh. Further, they extol the virtues of nominalism. But what is nominalism if not the view that man is the measure of all things?
Does anthropocentrism really arise from a belief in a Great Chain of Being? I think it arises from looking at nature.
What’s wrong with anthropocentrism? Nothing. Is it a grave error? No.
Isn’t it self-refuting to teach students that humans are nothing special, or for that matter, to teach them science? Yes.
Is recognition of qualitative differences of no scientific value? I’m skeptical.
Welcome to TSZ, Roy. Who is “we”? Homo sapiens collectively?
It does seem to me that the developed-world niche that we have carved out is possibly doomed in the long-term.
Thank you, I apologize for coming late to this thread, but I only recently found the site. I hope that you will find my comments fairly open-minded, if somewhat amateur-ish.
Interesting question. I would say that, despite what little stock I put in universals and abstract categories, I was referring to the human race at large. Perhaps some isolated groups which still exist in some form of survival equilibrium with their surroundings would be exempt, but I do think that the majority of our species views self-consciousness as a special power which bestows a degree of wide-ranging immunity from natural pressures.
I am not yet familiar enough with the rules of posting to cite the specific source, but a book by a well-known atheist references the fact that most people believe themselves to be exceptions from most rules (paraphrased heavily). I think that we do view our species as somehow superior to plants and other animals, and we typically view ourselves as individually superior to at least the larger part of our own species.
What is the alternative?
It seems to me that as people get well off, population growth plummets.
Is that a hypothesis? 😉
Wouldn’t you agree that that only applies if you further dissect the human race at large? Portions of the population which are more educated and financially stable have less children, but the overall population of the Earth is still increasing. I doubt that we’ll understand the exact interplay of environmental pressures and our own degree of civilization until after it has collapsed.
But then perhaps it will be too late to do the analysis?
Seems to be an observation.
Inexplicable in Darwinian terms!
Agreed. I avoid delving into the discussion too often because of its eugenic associations, but those of us (myself included) living in a state of climate-controlled suburban stasis are probably conditioning our portion of the species for a quick extinction following any significant environmental cataclysms.
It will have to be done by the aforementioned extra-terrestrial hypocrites.
Any interest in speculating whether it can be rationally correlated to the fact that more complex animals have smaller broods of off-spring? It’s a bit of a stretch, but both trends are well-documented.
There are all kinds of trends, many of them contradictory.
What I see among the middle and upper middle class is a trend toward less energy use. I don’t have numbers, and am quite likely to be wrong, but I see lots of energy using devices — TVs, computers, lights, getting more efficient.
It’s an odd fact that after a decade of government subsidy of solar power, that energy providers are starting to complain about competition from rooftop solar. To the point that supposedly liberal places like California are talking about penalizing solar, adding grid connection fees, etc.
The world bank is fussing at India for developing a domestic solar industry.
As I watch news of solar technology, I think we have reached a tipping point. I think the world will be mostly renewable energy within thirty years. Maybe less.
And I think there is a clear trend toward smaller families as health and well being improve. To the point where countries that should know better are worried about population decline.
When I was a kid, Protestants talked about being outbred by Catholics. Now its Christians worried about being outbred by Muslims.
For what it’s worth (probably nothing), my opinion is that as women get control of their own lives, they have fewer children. Often none. I can’t see this trend reversing.
I guess I’m an optimist.
I think it’s quite simple. Childbearing is risky and painful, and child rearing is expensive in time and effort. Women who have a choice have fewer children.
Religions have traditionally been concerned with outbreeding competitive tribes.
I think that’s coming to an end (but not without some violence).
As your graph above shows, that is completely airtight. The only question that I have is whether, over time, more women have a choice? I haven’t taken the time to exhaustively research this, but the continued average increase of the human population suggests that the move to fewer children is localized in the top few percent of each developed nation’s economic strata. The poor majority with few options are still breeding at a faster rate than unity.
I think the lack of options are entirely attributable to religion and culture.
As you eliminate coercion, the numbers go down.
Traditional societies have made childbearing the only available occupation for women.
I’m having trouble framing your response in terms of human survival as a species. Culture, taken broadly, encompasses a huge amount of constraints and variables. Religion is generally taken a subcategory of culture (at least in my experience). It would appear to me that people with fewer options are having more children, who in turn will have fewer options. I know, firsthand, some of the difficulties in climbing the social ladder in a civilized country. How much harder must that be in 3rd world regions?
I would say that the real question is not whether human population growth will eventually slow, but whether it will be primarily due to cultural evolution or natural pressures (e.g. climate change, drought, flooding, etc.). Due to the fact that a smaller and smaller percentage of each region’s population controls a larger and larger portion of the available resources, my money is on the second option tipping the scales.