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Friday, 20 September 2019

Après nous, le déluge (2)

Wednesday's blog on intolerance and urbanisation was an important one - to me. Urbanisation is one of the most stealthy threats that I know of. Nevertheless, its urgency may not have been clear to everyone. I received a comment to that extent. Urbanisation is an example of après nous, le déluge. Why worry about something you will not live to see?

Our limited life expectancy might be the most important reason why certain long-term issues do not get our full attention. We tell ourselves that certain issues are not our problem. It's the problem of future generations. It does not really matter to us whether that future includes our grandchildren. Why do humans behave like an ostrich in these matters?

Probably, our perspective on long-term issues would be (very) different if our life expectancy would be 300 to 700 years. In the Old Testament, biblical longevity was even longer: up to almost 1,000 years. The Sumerian King List also mentions kings with extreme longevity. Genesis 6:3 limits modern human life expectancy to 120 years.

Our common indifference with long-term issues (eg, climate) probably relates to how we perceive causality. It's (very) hard for humans to envisage our current actions and its future consequences. Due to the long-term consequences, (many) other causes could have caused the relationship between (historical) cause and (future) effect.

The causality argument is a conscious, rational argument. However, deep down our subconscious knows that we are cheating by using such logical arguments. So, why do humans behave like an ostrich in these matters?

Following the problem-solving principle called Occam's razor, the most logical explanation is that (most) humans are too selfish to care about the future. The final words of my 2017 blog on Advantage vs Empathy still linger on my mind:
"Our relentless efforts in gaining advantage (eg, Knowledge, Power), might be what really separates humans from anything else on this planet. This might be my most pessimistic blog ever."

The other "thing" that separates humans from anything else on this planet is consciousness. I have noticed several recent articles on that topic that "beg" for a follow-up blog: The Ultimate Mystery?, Why we need to study consciousness, Can our self-conscious minds save us from our selfish selves?

"To be stupid, selfish, and have good health are three requirements for happiness, though if stupidity is lacking, all is lost." A quote from a letter to the French poet Louise Colet by Gustave Flaubert (1821-1880), a French novelist.

Selfish (2017) by Future feat. Rihanna

Note: all markings (bolditalicunderlining) by LO unless stated otherwise

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