Genius, or just Talent?
When nature stops making human beings, human beings will not be able to make more human beings.
So, why do we always talk as if man is in control of ‘populating the earth’? This sounds a lot like the ‘megalomania’ that the Amerindian accused his European colonizers (Western man) of; i.e. Western man’s belief that he is in charge of the interdependent web-of-life rather than being merely a strand within it.
Do we really believe, like we teach our children, that babies come from two humans, a male and female, by their coming together in the ‘reproductive act’ and, voila,- a new little human being. In this self-congratulation for our claimed, amazing powers of creation, aren’t we forgetting something? Aren’t we forgetting that Nature decided that humans would be here and will decide when there is no longer any need for them? Shouldn’t we be understanding that it is not really ‘us’, the local man and woman, that is making the babies?
Emerson discusses how we western humans tend to confuse ‘talent’ for ‘genius’. The genius of nature not only inhabits and animates the organism but is what created it, while what the organism itself ‘does’ in a local sense is the local ‘talent’ that nature infuses into it. The gardener’s view of the pear tree may be to have it produce many fine pears, but nature has to worry about sustaining balance across the whole bio-diverse ecological web-of-life.
A man and woman DO NOT ‘make babies’, not in a ‘first cause’ sense; it is the genius of nature that ‘makes babies’ (and nurtures their development into adults).
Maybe we are still hung up on old interpretations wherein it was purported that we were the inheritors of God-like powers from God; e.g;
“And God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.” (Genesis)
Or maybe the problem is that we are ‘logical’ thinkers. Logic approaches the phenomenon of reproduction like this; ‘If you put a male and a female together and nine months later you have a baby in addition to the male and female you started with, then the male and the female must have created the baby.’ Logic likes hard facts such as local objects/organisms. Logic doesn’t like the notion of an all-including ætherial flow (energy-field-flow) being the source of apparently ‘hard’ local, independently-existing object-facts.
In the logical picture, what happens to the continually evolving fluid-dynamical continuum of nature in which man is a mere strand-in-the-interdependent-web? Where does this go when our logical propositions take over centre stage?
As Goedel’s theorem that exposes the incompleteness of all finite systems of logic says, ‘logic cannot stand on top of its own shoulders and correct its own incompletenesses’. That is, the male and female are NOT starkly local and independently-existing systems with their own local agency, … they are included in the flow of Nature and nature is the source of humans and many other things which continually co-emerge within an interdependent dynamical unity or web-of-life, so while it may be ‘logical’ to lift out humans and to speak of them/us as if they/we are fully and solely responsible for ‘producing children’, this is like Emerson’s example of the gardener’s focus on a pear tree having pears. The pear tree has this ‘talent’ but it is the genius of nature that gives rise to, and sustains the wonderful biodiverse web-of-life that the pear tree is included in and WHICH MAKES POSSIBLE the pear tree and its pear producing talents. As Emerson puts it, the creation of human beings was never nature’s ‘end-game’;
“But nature seems further to reply, `I have ventured so great a stake as my success, in no single creature. I have not yet arrived at any end. The gardener aims to produce a fine peach or pear, but my aim is the health of the whole tree, — root, stem, leaf, flower, and seed, — and by no means the pampering of a monstrous pericarp at the expense of all the other functions.” -Ralph Waldo Emerson, ‘The Method of Nature’
The next thing you know, Western man, megalomanic logician that he is, will start believing that he can control the climate!