I came across this old article while trying to get more information about David Suzuki but was shocked about what I read…
In From Naked Ape to Superspecies, human beings are a cancerous superspecies created by Newtonian science called “reductionism” by Mr. Suzuki that has failed to grasp the great mystical concept of the real world.
Forget Newton and Descartes and the science that has created the modern world of long life, abundance, growth and prosperity, says Mr. Suzuki. It’s an ugly and destructive prosperity. In place of the old science, he says there’s a new scientific era dawning.
At this point in the first hour of Superspecies, soft flute music wells in the background. The new science is linked to Buddhism and Hinduism and the “notion of emptiness,” says Mr. Suzuki. It is based in quantum physics, where, according to another expert, it is now “absolute scientific fact that the basis of reality is emptiness.”
Is he talking about we are on the dawn of of a new super race? Is this not what Hilter and others like him were preaching about with NAZISM? And is this “new science” a step in preparing a place for this “Super Species”? If Humans are a Cancer then are those like Suzuki planning on removing that cancer? and is this the true goal of Buddhism and Hinduism? Once again I’m confussed.:shrug:
As I read your quote, I got the impression that the “superspecies” was his term for modern scientific humanity–not a good thing in his eyes. He doesn’t want to wipe out humanity but get us to live more simply, which I’m all in favor of. That’s my impression anyway.
Now that I reread the article I see that superspecies is not the term he is using for this new science. But I’m still confused, what is this new science he is taking about? Do you mean he is refering to mankind presently as a “super species” and the new science he proposes will take mankind beyond where man and science has us today? How does Buddhism and Hinduism fit into all this?
The article is very mocking and pejorative, so it’s hard to get a sense of what he’s actually saying. But it sounds to me as if he thinks that the “superspecies” is cancerous because it is arrogant and self-centered and is trashing the natural world with its science and technology. The “new science” would presumably be humbler and would work with nature rather than domineering over it.
How does Buddhism and Hinduism fit into all this?
Presumably because they focus on the harmony of the whole cosmos, of which human beings are just a small part. But of course he may simply be romanticizing Eastern religions as an alternative to Western thought. Lots of people do.
Since I didn’t see the program, I don’t know what “Superspecies” refers to, but it seems clear that the ‘new science’ is based on quantum mechanics, where Newtonian laws are not explicitly applicable. There are new technologies based on quantum mechanics, like quantum computing, for instance, which have the potential to radically change our world.
Modern physics has demonstrated that matter is subatomic particles, like electrons, neutrons, and photons. Subatomic particles make up the ‘quantum world’. (Whereas our normal world is the ‘macro world’.) This quantum world operates quite differently from our normal, macro world. For instance, Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle states that it is impossible to know precisely both the velocity and location of a subatomic particle. The more you find out about a particle’s velocity, the less you know its location; the more you find out about its location, the less you know about its velocity. Also, everyone knows that E = m c (squared), which means that what we think of as matter, can be converted into energy; and energy can be converted into matter. In other words, since energy is not “solid”, neither, ultimately, is matter.
This is where the “emptiness” idea of Buddhism and Hinduism fit in, according to some people. Actually, Buddhism is the one that talks about “emptiness” per se. Some scientists, like Suzuki, see a connection between the modern physics notion of the ultimate non-solidity of matter; and the Buddhist notion of “emptiness” (sunyata), “emptiness” meaning that all phenomena (matter or energy or supernature) exist in relationship with all other phenomena, that nothing can exist absolutely on its own, that everything is co-produced by myriad causes and conditions. For instance, a chair is “empty”, because a chair is made up of non-chair elements – wood, nails, glue, the human activity, saws; and the wood itself is made up of sun, air, nutrients; and on down the line. So, in a sense, one could say that the whole universe took part in producing the wood, and thus, the chair. The chair is “empty” of inherent, isolated existence. But it is “full” of interdependent existence.
So the non-solidity of matter, found by modern physics, is seen by people like Suzuki as being quite compatible with the Buddhist notion of “emptiness”, where matter is seen as interdependent and, thus, not a “solid” and isolated object.
It should be added that the Buddhist notion of “emptiness” has parallels in certain trends in Western theology as well, including the Christian theology known as process theology.
I haven’t seen the program either and I have just heard of Suzuki’s name mention concerning a past PBS special. I came across the article in my OP while trying to find out more about him, his science and “philosophies”. But you bring some light on how he might relate his ideas on enviroment and its spirtual relationships.
Now this idea of emptiness you mention in your post, if you relate it to society, to science and the world it appears to me to be an idea it that can very be dangerous.
From your link on emptiness:
*]I am not isolated from my surroundings and other living beings.
*]I “create” the world with my own concepts and ideas.
*]The world is like an illusion: how I see the world depends on my own ideas/projections.
*]This world is “my” film, “my” projection, I run the show, so I can change my experience of the world.
*]I can change the world, if I start with my own mind.
*]I can change, as “I” is only a concept, impermanent and dependent on causes and conditions, just like all phenomena (even emptiness itself).
*]Although I can understand this intellectually, I don’t perceive the world that way until I directly realise emptiness!
[/LIST]Could not the idea of an individual being able to change the world, lead to fustration in the individual that actually believes this? And would that frustration of inability to do so, possibly lead same minded individuals to group together to force thier ideas of change upon others? Or the possibilty of a frustrated independant/isolated invididual to strike out at society to bring focus to a needed change they perceive which they feel others fail to see or understand?
I have been to the Web site, but it doesn’t tell how he views/relates his science to his spirituality, I wish I could access the show mentioned in the article. Maybe I need to get his book from the library and see what he may has to say.
Seems here he adheres to a New Age concept of spirituality, wouldn’t you say? From the link you provided.
Today there are many signs that our culture is starting to reconsider its drive to colonize and exploit the rest of the planet. The search for spiritual reconciliation is taking many different forms: finding virtue in crystals, looking for guidance from the movement of the planets, submitting to the demands of sects and cults, seeking rebirth in new forms of old religions, making pilgrimages, gathering at sacred sites. All these, and many other expeditions into the “ supernatural “ or “ paranormal, “ represent a widespread, deeply felt longing for wholeness and purpose on this Earth. Theologians and ecologists are finding common ground as they explore the need to recognize the -sacred in the here-and-now, rather than in the hereafter, and try to help human beings return home to their place in creation.
He starts out his essay by reviewing, in a very general sense, the belief systems of the ancient and modern world and their creation stories. It is an overview that is almost anthropological. He quotes several poets from the 19th and early 20th centuries and some modern ones. So I don’t think he sounds particularly “New Age” in this link.
His “Ecological Vision” follows many of the beliefs of Shinto, the very ancient and current religion of Japan. Some Shinto beliefs include a deep love of nature. Perhaps some of his terminology comes from his Japanese heritage. The link I provided is more about his philosophy than his science.
As for the link you provided, I would call the “Gaia Hypothesis” a philosophical approach to the interconnectedness of life through Ecology, Biomes, physical and mental processes.
I did Google Suzuki and Gaia and got this link of pod casts he made. It also has some of his quotes.
Here is a Wiki on the Gaia Hypothesis which does seem to have some strong scientific structure. You will want to take your time and read the whole article. It is very interesting, especially if you understand some systems theory in mathematics and computer science. (I don’t )
After much initial criticism, a modified Gaia hypothesis is now considered within ecological science basically consistent with the planet earth being the ultimate object of ecological study. Ecologists generally consider the biosphere as an ecosystem and the Gaia hypothesis, though a simplification of that original proposed, to be consistent with a modern vision of global ecology, relaying the concepts of biosphere and biodiversity. The Gaia hypothesis has been called geophysiology or Earth System Science, which takes into account the interactions between biota, the oceans, the geosphere, and the atmosphere. To promote research and discussion in these fields an organisation, “Gaia Society for Research and Education in Earth System Science” was started.
An example of the change in acceptability of Gaia theories is the Amsterdam declaration of the scientific communities of four international global change research programmes - the International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme (IGBP), the International Human Dimensions Programme on Global Environmental Change (IHDP), the World Climate Research Programme (WCRP) and the international biodiversity programme DIVERSITAS - recognise that, in addition to the threat of significant climate change, there is growing concern over the ever-increasing human modification of other aspects of the global environment and the consequent implications for human well-being.
"Research carried out over the past decade under the auspices of the four programmes to address these concerns has shown that:
The Earth System behaves as a single, self-regulating system comprised of physical, chemical, biological and human components. The interactions and feedbacks between the component parts are complex and exhibit multi-scale temporal and spatial variability. The understanding of the natural dynamics of the Earth System has advanced greatly in recent years and provides a sound basis for evaluating the effects and consequences of human-driven change.
Human activities are significantly influencing Earth’s environment in many ways in addition to greenhouse gas emissions and climate change. Anthropogenic changes to Earth’s land surface, oceans, coasts and atmosphere and to biological diversity, the water cycle and biogeochemical cycles are clearly identifiable beyond natural variability. They are equal to some of the great forces of nature in their extent and impact. Many are accelerating. Global change is real and is happening now.
Global change cannot be understood in terms of a simple cause-effect paradigm. Human-driven changes cause multiple effects that cascade through the Earth System in complex ways. These effects interact with each other and with local- and regional-scale changes in multidimensional patterns that are difficult to understand and even more difficult to predict. Surprises abound.
Earth System dynamics are characterised by critical thresholds and abrupt changes. Human activities could inadvertently trigger such changes with severe consequences for Earth’s environment and inhabitants. The Earth System has operated in different states over the last half million years, with abrupt transitions (a decade or less) sometimes occurring between them. Human activities have the potential to switch the Earth System to alternative modes of operation that may prove irreversible and less hospitable to humans and other life. The probability of a human-driven abrupt change in Earth’s environment has yet to be quantified but is not negligible.
In terms of some key environmental parameters, the Earth System has moved well outside the range of the natural variability exhibited over the last half million years at least. The nature of changes now occurring simultaneously in the Earth System, their magnitudes and rates of change are unprecedented. The Earth is currently operating in a no-analogue state."
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