What Humans are Doing

  • Keynote Paper


The mark of man on the surface of the earth is as old as the early beginning of mankind. The history of humanity may be envisaged as a struggle against its environment, involving a progressive liberation from the local, natural conditions and the gradual enslavement of the living world by man’s own inventions. Biological motivations explain this tendency. But, as in every human activity, cultural traditions and beliefs encourage us to modify our simple actions and reactions. A philosophical attitude is the primary determining factor of any human attitude. Western philosophies emphasize the supremacy of man over the rest of the world, which only exists to serve him— or so they contend. Since the time of Francis Bacon and Descartes early in the seventeenth century, we have been convinced that we are the masters and possessors of nature. The prodigious progress of the sciences seems to give us the right to do what we want and so to confirm this philosophical attitude. Therefore, it is no wonder that protection of wildlife and sound management of the surface of the earth according to biological laws, did not receive any support from this western philosophy.


Green Revolution Underdeveloped Country Western Philosophy Philosophical Attitude Environmental Future 


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© Nicholas Polunin 1972

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