Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Earth Is For Man

Today being Earth Day I thought I would celebrate one of earth's greatest achievements, the evolution of man. We should actually call this Man day. One of the underlying premises of environmentalism is that man is unnatural and is destroying the one true nature by merely existing. But man is natural. He evolved naturally just like all other living things have. If one looks at other life forms, one sees that plants for instance, always act in a self-interested way. They send their roots to exploit water and nutrients and their stems and leaves to exploit sunlight and life giving gasses like carbon dioxide. Everything a plant does it does to maintain and advance its own life. It is a very selfish behavior. You will never see a plant sacrifice itself for another plant. The reason is that self-sacrifice is unnatural. If self-sacrifice were natural, the plant world would soon cease to exist and all other life would follow.

The same is true of the animal world. I've been told that some animals have sacrificed themselves to protect their young. It is true that some animals do die trying to protect their home or young. But defending one's own life is a very selfish action. If say a Wildebeest were to offer its calf, or itself, to a pride of hungry lions, that would be a sacrifice. If you see such a thing, be sure to take pictures. You'll be incredibly rich. Why won't you see it? Because self-sacrifice is unnatural in the animal world too.

And the same is true of humans. There is only one problem. Man's survival was not prewired in any way. As a being of volitional consciousness, he must discover what is and is not in his self-interest. Man is the only creature that can act for his own survival or against it. Every individual human must make this choice. The great philosopher Aristotle identified man as the 'rational animal.' Obviously his mode of survival requires a rational self-interest as opposed to an irrational view of what is in his interest.

Environmentalists don't see man as the rational animal. They only see him as irrational and think that that is the essence of his nature. They want him to sacrifice himself to the wilderness. But sacrifice is not conducive to man's survival. Enviros seem to understand this and that is why they seek it. Most of them refuse even to consider that a rational self-interest will benefit nature in any way.

An even greater philosopher, Ayn Rand, has identified just such a rational self interest, Rational Egoism. So today, I will set aside some time to reread a few passages from her collection on rational egoism The Virtue of Selfishness.

(More info on Objectivism here.)

PS. C august had a good post at Titanic Deck Chairs yesterday on the question of how does a parent defend his kids from the green propaganda they certainly are exposed to. The comments are interesting too.
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