The Philosophy of Global Warming

If you are interested in the relationship between the human species and the rest of life on Earth, individual and collective human purpose, evolution, cosmology, the nature of reality, astrology, spirituality, and how all of this relates to global warming & the environmental crisis of modernity, then I am sure that you will like my new book 'The Philosophy of Global Warming'. In the post below I have provided the book description, the list of contents and the first two sections of the book. You can find out how to get hold of the book by clicking on this link:

The Philosophy of Global Warming

Monday, 19 March 2012

Saviours or Destroyers: The relationship between the human species and the rest of life on Earth

My latest book is now available. Here is the book description:

"There are many ways in which humans can conceptualise the relationship between their species and their surroundings; these 'surroundings' can be taken to be the rest of the life-forms which exist on the Earth, or everything non-human that exists in the universe. In this book I focus on various possible relationships between the human species and the rest of the life-forms that exist (and those that have existed, and those that will exist in the future) on the Earth. Is there no deeply significant and meaningful relationship? Or, is the human species superior in some way? Or, is the human species inferior in some way?

If you are familiar with my previous work you will be aware that I am particularly interested in how the relationship we are exploring relates to the 'environmental crisis'. I have suggested that the human species is superior in some way, and that the environmental crisis/human-induced global warming are positive events which indicate that the human species is fulfilling its role as saviour of life on Earth.

I take this book to be a valuable addition to my previous writings. In it I consider at length the opposing view that the human species is an 'inferior destroyer' of the rest of life on Earth. I also outline the whole range of ways in which it is obvious that technology is in the interests of life on Earth. I also develop the view that the universe is a 'feeling universe' whose movements/evolution is directed by all parts of the universe seeking to move to higher states of feeling; and I explore how this plays out in the day-to-day lives of individual humans as they seek to live more happy and fulfilling lives. Furthermore, I describe how we live in an epoch which can best be described as a 'birthing process'; life on Earth is bringing forth the technological armour which will ensure its future survival. This is a birthing process, which like almost all births, entails a lot of pain and suffering. I suggest that this process will come to an end when the temperature of the atmosphere is being successfully technologically regulated. Finally, I outline the serious environmental problems that we face on the surface of the Earth and urge that we take both technological and non-technological actions to address these problems. If we can successfully do this then we can forge a sustainable and harmonious future for all life on Earth."

At the start of Chapter Two I quote an all too familiar view:

"The lesson we need to learn urgently is this: we cannot do without the rest of the planet’s biodiversity, but it can do very well without us."

My objective in this book is to make it clear why this contemporarily fashionable view is completely and utterly wrong. This view has been forwarded and propagated by a wide range of intellectuals, academics and environmentalists. I hope that through this book, and the rest of my writings, that these people will come to see where they have gone wrong. Some components of the view that I forward in the book are open to debate. However, that the human species is the saviour of life, rather than the destroyer which the rest of life on Earth "can do very well without", is so obvious that it shouldn't be one of these debatable components.


Monday, 12 March 2012

The first book critiquing ITHSS

In my last blog entry I quoted some text from the first journal article (that I am aware of) which refers to my work. The first full-length book responding to my work has now appeared. The book is written by Peter Xavier Price who is based at the Sussex Centre for Intellectual History. Price provides an interesting critique of my first book:

His book is entitled:

Here is some of what he has to say:

"What is it about humanity that places it far above other life-forms? Why does it often perceive itself to be so unique when the natural world is teeming with biological anomalies? Perhaps even more tentatively, can humans truly claim to be the remedial agents destined to solve the current global environmental crisis? In Neil Paul Cummins' recent book, Is the Human Species Special?, the author sets out to address these very questions by speculating that mankind is indeed special because it represents the pinnacle of the evolutionary process. Employing a radical thesis which bears a remarkable resemblance to the infamously distorted dictum of the Vietnam War (i.e., that of 'destroying the village in order to save it'),  Cummins suggests that mankind has reached a paradoxical stage in its development, whereby its imminent downfall may suddenly prove to be the means of its ultimate redemption. Thus, in this swashbuckling interpretation of the human response to environmental uncertainty, Cummins paints a picture of the human condition as seemingly analogous to the closing act in a grand, teleological narrative of biological endeavour and primordial purpose. 'Could it be', he speculates, 'that in order to fulfil its purpose and be the saviour of planetary life … humanity had to believe that it was potentially the destroyer of planetary life?'. 

From the outset, it is important to note that Cummins' publication is an accomplished work – at once entertaining as it is erudite. The author clearly exhibits the full depth and range of his innate interdisciplinarity as he weaves seemingly disparate strands from his economic, environmental and philosophical background into a tightly argued and well-constructed piece. But what, we may be entitled to ask, are the inherent pitfalls to the bold thesis that he has constructed? Indeed, some may even believe that it falls short at the first hurdle. For how, they might argue, can the wiping out of a whole village constitute any sort of liberation for its inhabitants? Yet, as valid as this criticism may appear to be on the surface, it should be acknowledged that Cummins does in fact cover his tracks in this respect when he proposes that it is the imminence of the environmental disaster (rather than the purported disaster itself) that will ultimately ensure the planet's survival. Therefore, as far-fetched as the overarching argument may appear to be to some, it is simply wrong to accuse the author of outright contradiction.

This essay, then, is in large part an attempt to sketch out a far more convincing alternative to Cummins' arguments; but not, as may be expected, to what is essentially the central argument contained therein. In doing so, it aims to redeploy Cummins' ideas and to use them as a catalyst for further discussion; though, perhaps, in a direction that he mostly neglects or even ignores. At this initial stage, and in the interests of brevity, we may wish to describe this endeavour 'an assessment of the relative absence of history in Cummins' idiosyncratic account of human specialness'. For, appositely, this essay also seeks to highlight the importance of recognising humanity's unique sense of its own historicity – and, by extension, the decisive role that this must surely play in any adjudication of what it is to be an exceptional species. It is hoped, therefore, that we have already gone some way towards accounting for the choice phrases (i.e. 'historical dimension' and 'historicisation of humanity') which both comprise the frontispiece to this work. Nonetheless, what they mean in precise terms should become increasingly transparent as the essay develops. Suffice it to say that, having achieved this, we will then be in a much better position to review the suppositions undergirding Cummins' work."

"Indeed, Cummins' shortcomings are even further compounded by his exploitation of a number of schemes within his thesis which, as we have shown, are demonstrably historical, and yet do not appear to be historically accounted for. For it surely cannot have escaped notice that Mandeville’s early account of wealth-creation, via the paradox of 'unsocial sociability', bears more than a passing resemblance to the author's bio-evolutionary (or even quasi-eschatological) account of the potentially redemptive qualities of 'fallen' man. A similar case may even be inferred by his adoption of decidedly Malthusian concepts, about which, again, there appears to be no acknowledgment at all.  Yet, even more significantly, Cummins' account of what he calls the 'trajectory of human evolution from hunter-gatherer to technological society' —indeed, the very thread upon which his whole argument is based—appears, in truth, to be little more than the eighteenth-century Scottish 'four-stages-theory', albeit in slightly modified form. Had Cummins acknowledged this interesting fact, he might even have reached the conclusion that we may now be entering (or already find ourselves in) a quinquennial, climatical phase of a potential 'five-stage theory', replete with its own conundrums and challenges. Since he does not, it is with deep regret that the author seems so unable to construct a thesis containing greater reference to, and perhaps greater reverence for, crucial historical antecedents. For, if he had done so, it certainly would have been that much more difficult to dispute so many of the arguments contained therein."

I particularly like the suggestion that my work extends the Scottish 'four-stages-theory', and that we are now in a: "quinquennial, climatical phase of a potential 'five-stage theory', replete with its own conundrums and challenges."


Thursday, 8 March 2012

The GreenSpirit Journal Comments on ITHSS

I thought I would share with you some comments which were made concerning my first book:

in a recent edition of the GreenSpirit Journal (2011, 13:3). The book was mentioned in an article entitled "A New Fire, a New Mind" which was written by June Raymond. Here is what she had to say:

"Another thing that left me thinking was a book I read recently which asks some very challenging questions about what we as a species are doing here on this planet. It deals with some very deep and radical questions about our role in creation and in the future of the Earth. The proposal that the author makes is that we were put here so that when the Earth becomes too hot, because of the sun's heating up, we will be able to save our planet through our technology; for example we might be able to create satellites with mirrors which could reflect the sun's heat away...And so to return to the question, 'Does the human species have a purpose? and if so what is it? Is it to rescue life on planet Earth and if so how? The conclusion, that Earth created us to rescue it when the sun becomes too hot, and the present global warming is going to help us get our act together in preparation for this, is in terms of the best modern scientific thinking, not unreasonable."

I consider the view that I outline in ITHSS - that the environmental crisis and human-induced global warming are positive events in the evolving cosmos - to be quite radical. These events are almost always, well ALWAYS (apart from me!), portrayed as negative events. So, I am happy that I have seemingly been able to present the view in a way that makes it seem "not unreasonable" and compatible with "modern scientific thinking". That was my actually my primary objective in writing ITHSS - to make the view seem at least plausible ("not unreasonable") to people. The next stage is to persuade people who are already open to the remote plausibility of the view, that the view is actually the most plausible view.

By the way, if you haven't read ITHSS yet, an ebook/kindle version has just become available on amazon. I am also told that within a week or so people will be able to 'search inside' the book on amazon for free.