The real core of human nature is not any particular body but an enduring pattern of flow. The flow pattern is generated by the interaction of the energy and boundary conditions set by habitat (or cosmotype), genotype, and culturetype, resulting in unending successions of ever-evolving levels of living forms.
Ralph Wendell Burhoe
During this time of editorial transition We pay tribute to Zygons Founding Editor. With thanks for his continuing vision, inspiration, and guidance this issue of Zygon is dedicated to
What is the significance of the first modern Olympic Games established eighty years ago ? This effort to recover a beauty of ancient Greece signifies the end of mind-body dualism that had dominated our culture and education for a millennium and a half.
Paul G. Kuntz
When the Seoul Olympiad was held in September 1988, most peoples interest and most media coverage focused on the athletic events. Such a focus is indeed consistent with the interpretation of philosopher Paul Kuntz in his 1981 article Olympic Games: The Attempt of the Modern World to Recover a Beauty of Ancient Greece in Diotima: Review of Philosophical Research. The rise of modern-day athletics to the point of capturing world-wide attention does indeed serve as a symbol to remind us that humans are both physical and mental creatures.
However, the almost exclusive focus on physical excellence at the Olympics has come to overshadow what was part of the Greek Olympic tradition—namely that the games honored the mental as well as the physical side of human nature. It was in order to recover the mental along with the physical that, prior to the athletic events of the 24th Olympiad, a multi-week fine arts festival, scientific conferences, and the World Academic Conference of the Seoul Olympiad (WACSO) were conducted. Regarding the latter, Park Seh-Jik, president of the Seoul Olympic Organizing Committee, stated: Although the Olympics have always been much more than a simple sports competition, continuously attempting to harmonize the intellectual, moral, and athletic aspects of the Games, the regular World Academic Conference being convened this year is a special feature of the 24th Seoul Olympiad.
Contemporary humanity—especially urban-industrial civilization with its domination of nature—is disturbing complex, integrated, self-regulating systems that have evolved over long periods of time. We are threatening not only biological ecosystems but also human self-regulating capabilities at both the biological and the social-systems levels. This paper presents examples of such disturbance both in the organism—respiratory-cardiovascular problems related to environmental pollution—and at the population level—rates of infant mortality and relations between fertility and mortality in light of economic and emotional factors. Prospects for our future survival and flourishing are thus linked less to technical know-how than to ecological understanding.
bio-cultural adaptation • ecosystems • evolution • self-regulating systems • urbicenose
Napoleon Wolański is professor of natural sciences and head of the Department of Human Ecology at the Polish Academy of Sciences, Warsaw, Poland.
Development and Environment in Southeast Asia by Sulak Sivaraksa
Western-style modernization and economic development have devastated the once fertile lands of Southeast Asia and impoverished and demoralized its people. Recently, however, indigenous movements in the Philippines, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, and Malaysia suggest a return to a notion of development based on core values of Hinduism, classical and Zen Buddhism, and Taoism. These traditions preserve an alternative understanding of the relation between humanity and nature and promote a simpler but dignified economy and lifestyle in harmony with the environment—notions which Western nations must begin to take seriously if the global village is to have any real future.
Eastern wisdom traditions • modernization • the new physics
Sulak Sivaraksa is chairman, Asian Cultural Forum on Development, Thailand, and is associated with the Santi Pracha Dhamma Institute, 303/7 Soi Santipap, Nares Road, Bangkok 10500, Thailand.
East and West in the Face of Technological Change by Marc R. Dupuis
Technological changes affect Western culture in three ways: the ratio between the lifetimes of technologies and the human lifetime is inverted; the three principal realms of human life (the home, the workplace, and leisure activity), as well as political systems, are affected; and the cohesion of the social body is threatened. The impact on Eastern culture is softened by a clearer role assigned to school, the resulting level of education, and the influence of Confucian ethics. However, acculturation will vary among countries, depending on the communication ability in the respective societies and the degree of development of social cellular structures, which are the most able to manage complexity.
Confucianism • East and West • technological changes and society
Marc R. Dupuis is professor of theoretical physical chemistry at the University of Paris 6 (Laboratoire de Chimie Physique, 11 Rue Pierre et Marie Curie, 75005 Paris, France). He has been the science counselor of the French Embassy in Japan and currently is director of the Observatoire Français des Techniques Avancées in Paris. At the Institut National des Langues et Civilisations Orientales, Paris, he teaches on the role of science and technology in Japan.
The position and role of humanity in the world of life is examined in the light of the ontological structure of life itself. This problem is approached by considering the possible units of life representing various modes of life phenomena. I argue that the only meaningful unit of life without interposing some special external conditions is global life framed in a star-planet system. Any other possible unit of life exhibited by various kinds of individuals is conditional in the sense that it would leave out an essential part as co-life. The relationship between human being and the global life should be understood in this general scheme of individual and global life. It is emphasized, however, that human being occupies a unique position in global life in the sense that humanity can promote either a cancerous situation or a healthy higher-order enhancement of the global life.
cofunctionator • co-life • global life • humanity and nature • unit of life
Hwe Ik Zhang is a professor in the department of physics and in the interdisciplinary program of the history and philosophy of science, Seoul National University, Seoul 151-742, Korea.
Toward a New Relation between Humanity and Nature: Reconstructing Tien-jen-ho-i by Shu-hsien Liu
The traditional Chinese idea of tien-jen-ho-i (Heaven and humanity in union) implies that humanity has to live in harmony with nature. As science and technology progress, however, the idea appears increasingly outmoded, and it becomes fashionable to talk about overcoming nature. Ironically, though, the further science reaches the more clearly are its limitations exposed. The exploitation of nature not only endangers many life forms on earth but threatens the very existence of the human species. I propose that a reconstruction of the traditional Chinese idea of tien-jen-ho-i will help us envisage a new and salutary relation between humanity and nature.
functional unity • li-i-fen-shu (the one and the many) • methodological pluralism • organism • regulative principle • tien-jen-ho-i (Heaven and humanity in union)
Shu-hsien Liu is professor and chairman of philosophy, The Chinese University of Hong Kong. He is a leading neo-Confucian philosopher and has published extensively in Chinese and also in English.
Humanity in Nature: Conserving yet Creating by Karl E. Peters
Developing a scientifically grounded philosophy of cosmic evolution, and using the moral norm of completeness as dynamic harmony, this paper argues that humans are a part of nature in both its conserving and emergent aspects. Humans are both material and cultural, instinctual-emotional and rational, creatures and creators, and carriers of stability and change. To ignore any of the multifaceted aspects of humanity in relation to the rest of nature is to commit one of a number of fallacies that are grounded in a dualistic-conquest mentality. Examples of some new developments in philosophy and theology, metaphorical images, and ritual show how to overcome dualism in favor of a dynamic harmony of humanity within nature.
cosmic evolution • dualism • humanity and nature • metaphor • ritual
Karl E. Peters is professor of philosophy and religion at Rollins College, Winter Park, FL 32789 and co-editor of Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science.
The New Faith-Science Debate: Probing Cosmology, Technology and Theology edited by John M. Mangum, reviewed by Philip Hefner