Education: An Effort Against Nature

Modern authors such as Jean-Jacques Rousseau saw education as an effort against the tendencies of human nature.

Humans start out with wild dispositions using violence to achieve their desires, be disorganized, and act egotistically. Education uses culture to interfere with our natural tendencies and accomplish the opposite.

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Nature vs Culture

Nature is often seen as the opposite of culture - nature cannot be the result of human interference, and cultural development is achieved against nature.

There is also another take on the relationship between nature and culture. Studies suggest that culture is part of the ecological niche.

Studies in the history of human development show that culture in an anthropological sense is part of adapting to the environmental conditions we live in.

For example, hunting allowed hominoids to move from the forest into the savannah, changing their diet and living habits. The invention of weapons developed into a series of skill sets charaterizing our cultural profile, from butchering tools to ethical rules about the proper use of weapons.

Over the past decades, the view that came to be most plausible is that culture is part of the ecological niche within which humans live. Through the ages, we bring our culture along with us.

Our imparting of culture does not seem to be directly related to genetic information. It is also horizontal among individuals within the same generation. You can learn to make lasagna or speak another language even if you have not been exposed to it from the start.

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RELATED IDEAS

Four possible metrics serve as indicators to see if our chance of collapse is falling or rising.

  1. Temperature is a clear metric for climate change.
  2. Complexity is represented by GDP.
  3. The ecological footprint is an indicator of environmental degradation.
  4. Inequality. The typical measurement of the Gini Index shows inequality has decreased slightly globally but increasing within countries. As the Gini Index only measures relative changes in income, it may be misleading.

Temperature, complexity, and environmental degradation have been trending steeply upwards.

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IDEAS

Beyond Selfish Interests

Competitive self-interest, when revealed to be just behavior and not human nature, clears the way for better and richer solutions to tackle the looming problems of the future.

A mindset shift is needed to move away from competition and realize the symbioses that make life possible for millions of species.

Example: Short-sighted self-interest that results in continued fossil-fuel extraction is just greed and doesn't do any good for our species, or to life.

Climate Change

We live in a fossil fuel society. But while they proved to be extremely valuable, the catastrophic climate change they are creating now threatens to derail that society. Two centuries ago we reached the limits of what agriculture could do, now global warming is imposing a limit on what fossil fuels can safely do. 

It has created the greatest challenge human society has ever faced - moving back to relying on the daily influx of energy from the Sun to meet the huge energy needs of eight billion people and counting.

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