Monday, March 08, 2010

Nature and Man

Of course a human being is a biological creature, and subject to the "laws" of nature.

So what is the "nature" versus "man" debate all about?

"Man" in this context is the neo-cortex, which at its efficacious best is structured thought, and the inventions of this neo-cortex (which in many cases improve its efficiency), such as planning, tools, scientific theories, technological inventions, computers, statistical modeling, and so on.

In brief: "Man" is Structured Thought, Tools to aid Structured Thought, and Applications of Structured Thought.

"Nature" is the complement (in set-theoretic terms) of "Man". It is the irrational, the evolutionary, the biological, the passionate, the intuitive, the physical, the "real", the starlight (as opposed to a tubelight), ... Whatever is there or has happened in the world without "Man" is "Nature".

"Nature" is evolutionary and continuous, with incremental changes over a long time. "Man" is revolutionary and discrete, with sudden big changes in a short span of time. "Nature" is reality, "Man" is its model. To change a model, and to apply a model, is far easier than to know or change reality. "Nature" is a billion things falling. "Man" is the theory of gravitation: one formula (at least in Newtonian Physics).

Once one man knows that the earth is round, this change in "Man" takes only a few hundred years to propagate and use, for all men. But the "roundness" of earth itself has evolved over billions of years.

"Nature" is a happening, "Man" is a knowing, and the knowledgeable using of that knowing.

The propagation of knowledge in "Man" is memetic. However, the memetic cannot easily penetrate the limbic, the genetic or the neurotic (that's the whole problem with morality, spirituality, self-help, therapy, value-education, etc.). Various pathways are proposed to tackle this divide, their efficacy is uncertain.

Those who see the damage to "Nature" done by "Man" (including the neurotic damage in man), cry for a return to "Nature", and they vehemently oppose knowledge, science, technology, planning, economics, etc. The more radical ones, and those who intuitively get the "point" that the perceived problem is not with the application, but with "Man", oppose the use of neo-cortex itself.

Read any radical spiritual text, and you will agree with me. Search for "mind is the enemy" and you get more than five million web pages as the result. The first ten pages give you a good idea.

Both "man" and "nature" can be cruel and heartless (an atomic bomb, an earthquake). Both can be justified (karma in this life, karma in the past life). Both can be accepted (life is a bitch, there is a higher peace). Both can be criticized (divinity/forgiveness, humanism). Both have their advocates, both have their enemies. Both advocates and enemies contain both "man" and "nature" in them but their allegiance to each varies.

When people say science and spirituality are at war, they think the problem is between a true thought and a false thought. No. The problem is between "Man" and his "Nature". If the belief of Christianity has evolved over 2000 years, it is more "Natural", widespread, deeper, emotionally and culturally hooked than Darwinism, and "Man" cannot expect to overturn this belief overnight. You think Darwinism, or some other piece of "Man" cannot turn into "Nature"? Think again. Buddhism at one point was "Man", now it is "Nature".

Will "Nature" ever be vanquished? Of course not. There will always be starlight. What will happen is that we will pretend "Nature" is no more. The arena will change. We will see our shaved chests, and believe in it. We won't even get to see starlight, only tubelights, or even better, neon lights. Haven't you noticed, the movies, the music are becoming more and more un-"natur"al? CGI in films and artificial sounds in the songs.

Did you notice that recently, human voices in songs are being modulated to sound more robotic (an example Hindi film song from 2008 is here). Another recent hit with modulated voices is here.

Welcome to Manhattan.


unu said...

It is a kind of obsession with one ideology over the other that gives birth to such self distracting views as listed here asif neocortex is something beyond nature. It is this false sense of separation that probably lead some men of true knowing to emphasize on mind, memory and its programming being obstruction(enemy) in many ways but not consequentially as it is portrayed by the blog-master here.

Anonymous said...

Nature is all engulfed. Knowing, not-knowing, happening all are traits of existence. Ponder on this - Not knowing is the most natural state of man. Coming to that point after running through the cycle of conflicts of the structured as well as the constructured mind is the creation in nature called man. Such a natural state though seem like comparable back to animals but it is trait of a fully functional man who lives and enjoy the existence including his own without a separation.

Anonymous said...

well written write up, one sided though.

Anonymous said...

If Man is considering moving back to certain things (including man and its ways) and keeping certain things, it is inherent in the process of Nature(which includes man and its cry, its intuitive and its structured thought or the so-called nature of Nature which is a nourisher and at another stance a destroyer). Some wise men have said - The basic lessons of living(for Man) are embedded in Nature(outside of him) itself of which the man ultimately is a part of.

In the process of man not living in alignment with the bigger nature which surrounds his own physicality its ultimate expression is bound. One reason is due to its own neo-cortex. It would be quite minuscule to consider man to be the neo-cortex and quite irrational for even the rationales to be over-dependent on this structured bounded nature of man.

Man's ultimate expression for the unbounded means that it must become more than natural. But this for most shall be difficult to catch in its true essence. Till then if one cannot become more than natural, then it is better to be natural than to be perverted or even overly rely on neo cortex's calculative perception that to an extent has lead man/nature here.

Anonymous said...

All of man is in nature, but all of nature is not in man.
Man's endeavor to bring all of nature in him is called "quest of knowledge".
This lag between man and nature is what keeps man moving ahead in time and this is what we call progress.
If there were no lag, there would be no knowledge to seek, no progress to be made, there simply would'nt be a man.