The Human Situation, Lecture 3 – More Nature in Art

In this lecture, Huxley elaborates on the changes he believes are necessary to “remedy the damage we’ve done and prevent further damage being accomplished” to “the world, the home, in which [man] makes his travels through the universe.” In this connection he proposes three areas of interest: Ethics, philosophy and aesthetics.

His conclusion is “that practically we are in a position to patch up the damage we’ve done and to prevent more damage being done. In practice, it’s going to be exceedingly difficult to do this because there are many factors which militate against it.”



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One comment

  1. Hans says:

    An immediate way to grasp the deep absurdity in the still very popular dogma, that man ought to restrain himself to the developing speed of the “natural environment” surrounding him, is the following picture:
    Because he is so sensible in his feelings and thoughts towards his parents, a young boy decides never to go beyond what they provide him with. “This is the most natural thing” he says, “since they are the cause of my whole existence; they feed me, they cloth me, they bring me comfort when I am ill. Without them, I would not be able to survive.” For the same reason, he also decides that when the parents die, he will die with them. “Anything else would be unnatural, and altogether impossible, since they are the cause of my existence,” he thought “when the cause is gone, the effect must also go.”
    Now the apparently convincing argument of Huxley that “[man] merely has to put a clothespin on his nose and tape up his mouth to find out that he can’t do without his natural environment for more than about 60 seconds” becomes just as ridicules as somebody asking a new born baby to survive without the care of its parents.
    Until man, the development of new technologies that enabled living beings to survive in ever more diverse environments—like the chlorophyll technology enabling the cyanobacteria to store energy for later use instead of being ever dependent on immediate energy sources from the surroundings or the development of stronger cell walls, skin etc, which developed animal life to survive outside of the protective sea/lake environment and live on land—was involuntary, extremely slow and necessitated biological changes in the living being. With the breakthrough that man represents, this changed. We can now make a willful decision to overcome any problem of dependency upon the nature as it was given to us, so to speak, just like a child can and should, step by step, and ever more consciously, make itself independent of its parents.
    Huxley is problematizing the development of new technologies and the following dependency of society upon the same. Considering the preceding discussion the question arises: to what degree would he limit specialization? How far is syphilisation, for example, allowed to go? Is it OK for the ganglia to develop into a regular brain structure, or will he only allow the existence of simple nerves in an animal. Everything else will, after all, make the animal dependent on that structure and thereby make it more vulnerable.
    By this polemic, we see the fraudulence in his dichotomy between a “natural environment” and a “technological environment”.
    From this it should be clear that any attempt to limit the creative potential of man is an artificial attempt to limit creation itself. Artificial, because the only person, who would be able to understand such limits would be the person who would be able to create the complete universe anew.
    Again, the consequence of the Weltanschauung that the very popular Huxley is teaching his pupils, is the guarantied, self-imposed self-extinction of the human species together with all other living beings on this planet, happening when the sun burns out at the latest.

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