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An Evolutionary Perspective on the Relationship Between Humans and Their Surroundings: Geoengineering, the Purpose of Life & the Nature of the Universe [Englisch] [Taschenbuch]

Neil Paul Cummins

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1. Januar 2012
What is the relationship between humans and their surroundings? In order to understand the nature of this relationship we need to take the evolutionary perspective; we need to see the universe as an evolving entity which for billions of years has been very gradually been bringing forth new arrangements, and we need to appreciate that humans are some of these arrangements. The author claims that we live in an epoch in which a violent clash exists. The interactions between humans and their surroundings typically lead to the belief that humans are radically different from their surroundings. Yet, human knowledge has advanced to the point which has revealed the evolutionary perspective. The belief that humans are radically different from their surroundings violently clashes with the belief that the entire universe is an evolving entity which very gradually brings forth new arrangements. The author explores three interrelated aspects of the relationship between humans and their surroundings. Firstly, he seeks to understand why the violent clash exists: Why do contemporary humans typically consider themselves to be radically different from their surroundings? This exploration entails a consideration of how the human perceptual apparatus works, why human perceptions are inevitably constrained, and how conceptions of their surroundings are formed within humans. Secondly, he considers the likelihood that humans could actually be very similar to their surroundings; this entails an exploration of various phenomena such as mind, consciousness, naturalness, awareness, the senses, perception and 'what-it-is-likeness'. Thirdly, he considers whether the human species has a special place in the evolutionary process. This book takes the reader on quite a journey, covering issues such as the limits of our knowledge concerning evolution, the problem of consciousness, directionality in evolution, the location of pain, the purpose of life, how many senses a typical human has, the nature of perception, environmental science, the phantom limb phenomenon, the cosmic significance of technology, planetary astrobiology, the philosophy of biology, human uniqueness, the question of what it means to be human, the nature of the universe, the question of what a mind is, panwhat-it-is-likeness, global warming, the nature of awareness, and the need for planetary geoengineering.

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Mehr über den Autor

I am interested in the link between three issues. Firstly: Does the human species have an important place on an evolving planet? Secondly: If the answer to this question is yes, how does this relate to the environmental crisis and human-induced global warming? Thirdly, how does all of this relate to the lives of individual humans - their decisions, their actions, and the spiritual dimension of their existence. I have a PhD in Philosophy, a first-class BSc in Environmental Studies, an MA in Philosophy (distinction) and a BA in Economics (2.1). I have given talks concerning my work in Venice and Marburg. My view is that the human species has an important place on the Earth, and in the Solar System, because its purpose is to geoengineer the temperature of the Earth's atmosphere.

My most comprehensive and definitive work is: 'The Philosophy of Global Warming'. If you are thinking about reading one of my books then I would recommend reading this one. In 'The Philosophy of Global Warming' you will learn:

What the philosophy of global warming is and why it is of great importance.

Why the decision-making process concerning the appropriate human response to global warming requires a consideration of the evolutionary forces which propel the planet.

Why cutting fossil fuel emissions is a futile exercise.

What the human species is and how it relates to the non-human life-forms of the Earth.

Why the human species has a special place in the universe and how this is related to global warming.

What it means to say that your life has a purpose.

Why the evolution of technology and the evolution of spirituality are deeply interconnected.

Why there is an urgent need for the technological regulation of the temperature of the Earth's atmosphere.

The book has 3 parts. Part 1 contains 12 chapters each of which contains a particular theme which is of relevance to the philosophy of global warming. Taken as a whole this part of the book can be thought of as providing a detailed overview of my philosophical worldview. Part 2 is a lengthy dialogue in which I respond to an Objector who poses 86 questions, queries and objections relating to my philosophical worldview. Part 3 contains 37 articles which expand on particular topics relating to the philosophy of global warming. I hope that by the end of the book you will have a clear understanding concerning your, and our, place in the universe and how this relates to global warming.

Here are the contents of the book:


The Purpose of This Book



1) What is the Philosophy of Global Warming?

2) The Two Paths Facing Humanity

3) Two Types of Global Warming

4) The History of Our Solar System

5) What is Life?

6) What is the Human Species?

7) Technology and the Environmental Crisis

8) Why Life Benefits From Technology

9) Is the Damage Already Done?

10) The Evolutionary Processes Which Propel the Planet

11) Humans in the Cosmos

12) The Interplay between Technology and Spirituality


A plethora of objections, questions and queries relating to my philosophical worldview are posed and answered


Was the Cosmic Bringing Forth of Humans 'Inevitable'?

Two Routes to the Need for Geoengineering

The Need for Geoengineering

The Nature of the Universe

Links between My Philosophy & the Buddhist Theory of Atoms

The GreenSpirit Journal Comments on ITHSS

The First Book Critiquing ITHSS

Ahead of the Curve

The Need for a New View of Humans in the Cosmos


Human Population & the Environmental Crisis

The Growing Realisation of the Need for Geoengineering the GMST

Humans and Other Animals

Animals Think like Humans

Earth 'Four Years from Disaster'

The Futility of Emissions Cuts

Prepare for Extreme Global Warming

Emissions Cuts: The Gap between Ambition & Reality

Accelerating Polar Ice Melting & Geoengineering

Evolution versus Creationism

The Calm before the Carbon Storm

Perceptions of Global Warming

Global Warming: Perceptions, Responses & Energy Policy

Global Warming & the Anthropocentric and Ecocentric Attitudes

George Monbiot on Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide Concentrations Reaching 400ppm

The Three Questions & the Philosophical Worldview

The Environmental Crisis & the Colonization of Space

Technology and Stewardship

The Inevitability of Geoengineering

The Conceptual Framing of Geoengineering

The Technological Healers of the Earth

The Concept of 'Future Generations'

Is Fracking Good or Bad?

Extreme Weather Events & Global Warming

How Much of Man is Natural?

Friedrich Hölderlin and the Environmental Crisis

Friedrich Hölderlin: A Final Reflection

Further Reading

Keeping in Contact

This is the first section of the book:

The Purpose of This Book

The purpose of this book is to get you to think about the philosophy of global warming. I am very hopeful that the information that is presented will change how you perceive the human presence on the Earth. I am hoping that you will conclude that the human presence on the planet is a positive one, a sign that the Earth, life, and even the Solar System, is positively thriving. I have three main reasons for hoping to convince you of this.

Firstly, I sincerely believe it to be true, and as a deeply philosophical person I simply have the desire to express the truth and to help other people to see the truth. You might be curious as to the source of my beliefs. Furthermore, you might be thinking, are my beliefs just my beliefs or are they 'the truth'? All I can really say on this is that the beliefs and views that I outline in this book seem to me to arise from an episode of direct personal insight which was backed up by subsequent knowledge acquired from the insight and work of others. I am not an expert on the phenomenon of direct personal insight, of personal revelation into the truths of the universe, but I believe that it is possible that the universe can directly endow individuals who are in a certain state (a state of 'receptivity') with certain truths about itself. Perhaps such an endowment was the catalyst for my move into academia in my mid-twenties. My childhood years were spent in the deepest depths of the Cornish countryside, surrounded by thousands of trees and very few people. In my mid-twenties I had been living on a very small island, which is situated in the Atlantic Ocean, for a number of years. Again, as with my childhood years, I was surrounded mainly by non-human nature, the powerful ocean waves, the sometimes fierce weather, the plentiful beaches and the wilderness. After several years of doing a menial, unfulfilling and soul-destroying job on this island something changed within me, some kind of awakening occurred. There arose within me a new sense of openness; I spent time just looking at my surroundings, really looking; things appeared slightly differently than they did before, more alive, more vibrant. Questions and insights bubbled up within me and I had little choice but to seek to follow their lead. These initial experiences and questions led to a journey of well over a decade; a journey that involved attaining a first class BSc in Environmental Studies, an MA in Philosophy, a PhD in Philosophy, an international writing prize, conference speeches in Venice and Marburg, and finally, this book.

Secondly, I am slightly concerned by the increasing dominance of the view that the human presence on the planet is a destructive one. This view increasingly pervades the media, the arts, culture, various academic disciplines, politics and even religion. I recently attended a conference where there were speakers from a variety of religions and I was surprised by what they said. Not a single speaker had anything positive to say about human existence; there was talk of environmental destruction, overpopulation, and it was even suggested that the theological talk of a special place for the human species on the planet (the view of human dominion) was a view that needed to be rejected. According to this increasingly dominant view humans are, at best, just one species among many, and at worst they are the despicable destroyers of life. This view concerns me because it has led to movements such as the Voluntary Human Extinction Movement (VHEMT) which was founded in 1991. If it is widely accepted that the human presence on the planet is a negative one, and that there are too many humans on the planet, then it seems increasingly likely that plans will be instigated to cull the human species; in other words, billions of people could ultimately be needlessly killed (I don't know exactly how this might be done, or who might do it, but I know there are people who think this would be desirable and who think about how it could be done; there are even people who think that it is already being done). Needless mass murder based on a false philosophy is something that I would like to see averted.

Thirdly, if the place of the human species on the Earth that I outline in this book is widely accepted, then a range of positive outcomes can result. We can celebrate our uniqueness, celebrate the joy that we are bringing to the Earth, rather than wallowing in despair at the thought that we are seemingly destroying the planet without really wanting to. Because states such as joy and despair ripple out from all sources where they exist, a more joyous philosophy would result in a more peaceful and joyous planet. We can also increasingly appreciate the value and perspectives of all individuals, all cultures, all perspectives, all life-forms, all personalities, as each of these has a positive role to play in the glorious evolutionary unfolding of the Earth. Furthermore, the realisation of our place on the planet, our purpose as a species, can enable us to reallocate our limited resources so that this purpose is more speedily fulfilled. Currently an enormous amount of resources are wasted on global warming mitigation schemes; these resources could be more optimally allocated. The creative energies of individuals can simultaneously be optimised. The outcome of this optimisation, through speeding up the fulfilment of our purpose, would be to more speedily bring about a more sustainable and harmonious existence, an increasingly peaceful and spiritual human presence on the Earth.

I have used a variety of writing styles, perspectives and approaches to present the information in this book. There are three parts to the book. Part 1 contains twelve chapters each of which contains a particular theme which is of relevance to the philosophy of global warming. Taken as a whole this part of the book can be thought of as providing a detailed overview of my philosophical worldview. Part 2 is a dialogue in which an objector to my philosophy poses a multitude of questions/queries/concerns and I provide responses. Part 3 contains a plethora of articles each of which illuminates certain aspects of my philosophy. The reason for this three-pronged approach is that what I am trying to get you to see is complex and it involves interconnections between many different phenomena. You are also likely to come across things which violently clash with your existing beliefs. My hope is that the three-pronged approach will both help you to understand particular points, and also to comprehend the bigger picture. You might find a particular chapter irrelevant at the time of reading it, but if you are open to the possibility that every chapter, every paragraph, is but a small jigsaw piece, then by the end of Part 3 you should be able to see the complete interconnected cosmic puzzle. There might be a complete transformation in the way that you see the world around you. In order to get the most out of the book I would definitely recommend starting at the beginning and moving through page by page, rather than jumping ahead to various sections that seem particularly interesting. I have attempted to slowly build up an overall philosophical worldview as the book progresses; that which appears in the latter stages of the book assumes an understanding of that which comes before.

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