Вы находитесь на странице: 1из 304

compiledcompiled byby

O.O. TKACHENKOTKACHENKO

GeneralGeneral IssuesIssues OfOf PhilosophyPhilosophy ForFor MedicalMedical StudentsStudents

O. TKACHENKO General Issues Of Philosophy For Medical Students

Contents

4

Nature 11

37

Person 59

Meaning of life

Morality 89

95

Value (personal and cultural) 108

Religion

62

Human

Being

Ideology 111

Aesthetics

117

Civilization

131

Society 147

Civil society 156 Law 161 Freedom 190

190

Freedom of speech 196

205

Violence 209 United Nations 225

Globalization

Political correctness 264 Future 269 Knowledge 277 The Structure of Scientific Revolutions 282 Technology 291

Freedom of thought

Freedom of religion

241

3

Being

In philosophy, being is the object of study of metaphysics, and more specifically ontology. In its most indeterminate sense, being could be understood as anything that can be said to be, which is opposed to nonexistence. For example one could ask: “why is there something instead of nothing?” Where “something” implies being. For a metaphysician the main problem is not the scientific question of how the universe works, but why the universe (or anything such as a rock) is.

As speech utterances in the English language, questions such as the above only have meaning if the utterer and the hearer both can code and decode its words into concepts understood by both of them, raising questions of how they acquired such understandings. One is the concept of nothing. As nothing cannot be known by any means or method it must mean, in the context of the question, that a specific named object is present or not present in the observer's experience of a set of objects, conditions for which English uses "is" or "is not." The object therefore cannot be the same, at least in language, as its being present, as it may or may not be present. French Academy member Étienne Gilson summarized this long-known characteristic of the experienced world as follows:

the "

anything existent), or being itself, a property common to all that which can rightly be said to

same word is the present participle of the verb 'to be.' As a verb, it no longer signifies something that is, nor even existence in general, but rather the very act whereby any given reality actually is, or exists. Let us call this act a 'to be,' in contradistinction to what is commonly called 'a being.' It appears at once that, at least to the mind, the relation of 'to be' to 'being' is not a reciprocal one. 'Being' is conceivable, 'to be' is not. We cannot possibly conceive an 'is' except as belonging to some thing that is, or exists. But the reverse is not true. Being is quite conceivable apart from actual existence; so much so that the very first and the most universal of all the distinctions in the realm of being is that which divides it into two classes,

that of the real and that of the possible."

word being is a noun

it signifies either a being (that is, the substance, nature, and essence of

the

Whether or not an object is present in a set; that is, exists there as a being, is based on universal experience or evidence of it. Existing objects are present to the experience of anyone. It is a legitimate goal therefore for philosophers of being to try to find a principle or element – a "something" – accounting for the presence of the object over the other possibility, its non- presence. Instead, the philosopher encounters a problem:

"Now, if the 'to be' of a thing could be conceived apart from that which exists, it should be represented in

our mind by some note distinct from the concept of the thing itself

nothing we can add to a concept in order to make it represent the object as existing; what happens if we

add anything to it is that it represents something else."

In point of fact, it is not so. There is

Where being, the noun, is readily accessible to experience and classifiable, being, the participle, is not:

"In short

at all concerning this not unimportant detail: the actual existence, or non-existence, of what we call reality If he himself [the philosopher] did not exist, he would not be there to ask questions about the nature of

reality

topic for philosophic speculation

which is clearly recognized as inconceivable"

philosophy may perhaps be able to tell us everything about that which reality is, but nothing

on the other hand, this fundamental fact, which we call existence, soon proves a rather barren

It certainly looks like a waste of time to speculate about an object

This is not a rejection of existence by Gilson, a leading modern metaphysician in the classical

tradition: "philosophers are wholly justified in taking existence for granted

and in never

4

mentioning it again

experience, not subject to proof or investigation, as it is the grounds of proof. A thing must be real, or exist, before anything true or proved can be said about it.

" In Gilson's view, the participial being is a given, a primitive of

However, Gilson concedes some doubt on the possibility of being wrong: "yet, this is taking a

chance, for, after all, being itself might happen not to be existentially neutral. In other words, it is

quite possible that actual existence may be

launches into a history of attempts to conceptualize the inconceivable from the ancient Greeks to the present. Some philosophers who have had more noteworthy theories are Parmenides, Leucippus, Plato, Aristotle, Augustine, Plotinus, Aquinas, Descartes, Spinoza, Leibniz, Hegel, Heidegger, and Sartre.

" He then

an efficient cause of observable effects

Etymology

Given the origins of the term in Western philosophy, the term has deep historical roots in other languages: Greek to einai, Latin esse, Spanish ser, Fr. être, Ger. sein.

In the English language being (i.e. be+-ing) by synecdoche, the use of the whole to mean the part, being is also the word used for conceptualizing subjective aspects fundamental to the self —related to and somewhat interchangeable with ideas about human "existence" and "living" — in which "being" or "[one's/a] state of being" is rooted in personal experience, and reflected in aspects of innate personal character. In its objective usage —as in "a being," or " human being" —it refers to a discrete life form that has properties of mind (i.e. experience and character) such that transcend that of mere organisms (that have only "life functions").

The substantial being

The term "problem of being" references many different problems, or many different expressions of a general problem, in the history of philosophy. The most general view of it, mentioned in the initial paragraph above, was stated succinctly also by the physician turned philosopher- psychologist, William James: "How comes the world to be here at all instead of the nonentity

which might be imagined in its place?

from nothing to being there is no logical bridge."

Being and the substance theorists

The deficit of such a bridge was first encountered in history by the Pre-Socratic philosophers during the process of evolving a classification of all beings (noun). Aristotle applies the term category (perhaps not originally) to ten highest-level classes. They comprise one category of substance (ousiae) existing independently (man, tree) and nine categories of accidents, which can only exist in something else (time, place). In Aristotle, substances are to be clarified by stating their definition: a note expressing a larger class (the genus) followed by further notes expressing specific differences (differentiae) within the class. The substance so defined was a species. For example, the species, man, may be defined as an animal (genus) that is rational (difference). As the difference is potential within the genus; that is, an animal may or may not be rational, the difference is not identical to, and may be distinct from, the genus.

Applied to being the system fails to arrive at a definition for the simple reason that no difference can be found. The species, the genus and the difference are all equally being: a being is a being that is being. The genus cannot be nothing because nothing is not a class of everything. The trivial solution that being is being added to nothing is only a tautology: being is being. There is no simpler intermediary between being and non-being that explains and classifies being.

5

The being of Parmenides Pre-Socratic reaction to this deficit was varied. As substance theorists they

The being of Parmenides

Pre-Socratic reaction to this deficit was varied. As substance theorists they accepted à priori the hypothesis that appearances are deceiving, that reality is to be reached through reasoning. Parmenides reasoned that if everything is identical to being and being is a category of the same thing then there can be neither differences between things nor any change. To be different, or to change, would amount to becoming or being non-being; that is, not existing. Therefore being is a homogeneous and non-differentiated sphere and the appearance of beings is illusory. Heraclitus, on the other hand, foreshadowed modern thought by denying existence. Reality does not exist, it flows, and beings are an illusion upon the flow.

Aristotle knew of this tradition when he began his Metaphysics, and had already drawn his own conclusion, which he presented under the guise of asking what being is:

"And indeed the question which was raised of old is raised now and always, and is always the subject of doubt, viz., what being is, is just the question, what is substance? For it is this that some assert to be one, others more than one, and that some assert to be limited in number, others unlimited. And so we also must consider chiefly and primarily and almost exclusively what that is which is in this sense."

and reiterates in no uncertain terms: "Nothing, then, which is not a species of a genus will have "

an essence – only species will have it

Aristotle's theory of act and potency

One might expect a solution to follow from such certain language but none does. Instead Aristotle launches into a rephrasing of the problem, the Theory of Act and Potency. In the definition of man as a two-legged animal Aristotle presumes that "two-legged" and "animal" are parts of other beings, but as far as man is concerned, are only potentially man. At the point where they are united into a single being, man, the being, becomes actual, or real. Unity is the basis of

6

actuality: "

than one." Actuality has taken the place of existence, but Aristotle is no longer seeking to know what the actual is; he accepts it without question as something generated from the potential. He has found a "half-being" or a "pre-being", the potency, which is fully being as part of some other substance. Substances, in Aristotle, unite what they actually are now with everything they might become.

'being' is being combined and one, and 'not being' is being not combined but more

The transcendental being

Many of Thomas' writings were condemned as heretical in 1270 and 1277, but his dedication to the use of philosophy to elucidate theology was so thorough that in 1567 he was proclaimed a saint and most of his philosophy became Catholic dogma. Those who adopt it are called Thomists.

St. Thomas' analogy of being

In a single sentence, parallel to Aristotle's statement asserting that being is substance, St. Thomas pushes away from the Aristotelian doctrine: "Being is not a genus, since it is not predicated univocally but only analogically." His term for analogy is Latin analogia. In the categorical classification of all beings, all substances are partly the same: man and chimpanzee are both animals and the animal part in man is "the same" as the animal part in chimpanzee. Most fundamentally all substances are matter, a theme taken up by science, which postulated one or more matters, such as earth, air, fire or water (Empedocles). In today's chemistry the carbon, hydrogen, oxygen and nitrogen in a chimpanzee are identical to the same elements in a man.

If substance is the highest category and there is no substance, being, then the unity perceived in all beings by virtue of their existing must be viewed in another way. St. Thomas chose the analogy: all beings are like, or analogous to, each other in existing. This comparison is the basis of his Analogy of Being. The analogy is said of being in many different ways, but the key to it is the real distinction between existence and essence. Existence is the principle that gives reality to an essence not the same in any way as the existence: "If things having essences are real, and it is not of their essence to be, then the reality of these things must be found in some principle other than (really distinct from) their essence." Substance can be real or not. What makes an individual substance – a man, a tree, a planet – real is a distinct act, a "to be", which actuates its unity. An analogy of proportion is therefore possible: "essence is related to existence as potency is related to act."

Existences are not things; they do not themselves exist, they lend themselves to essences, which do not intrinsically have them. They have no nature; an existence receives its nature from the essence it actuates. Existence is not being; it gives being – here a customary phrase is used, existence is a principle (a source) of being, not a previous source, but one which is continually in effect. The stage is set for the concept of God as the cause of all existence, who, as the Almighty, holds everything actual without reason or explanation as an act purely of will.

The transcendentals

Aristotle's classificatory scheme had included the five predicables, or characteristics that might be predicated of a substance. One of these was the property, an essential universal true of the species, but not in the definition (in modern terms, some examples would be grammatical language, a property of man, or a spectral pattern characteristic of an element, both of which are defined in other ways). Pointing out that predicables are predicated univocally of substances; that is, they refer to "the same thing" found in each instance, St. Thomas argued that whatever can be

7

said about being is not univocal, because all beings are unique, each actuated by a unique existence. It is the analogous possession of an existence that allows them to be identified as being; therefore, being is an analogous predication.

Whatever can be predicated of all things is universal-like but not universal, category-like but not a category. St, Thomas called them (perhaps not originally) the transcendentia, "transcendentals", because they "climb above" the categories, just as being climbs above substance. Later academics also referred to them as "the properties of being." The number is generally three or four.

Being in the age of reason

Although innovated in the late medieval period, Thomism was dogmatized in the Renaissance. From roughly 1277 to 1567, about 300 years, it dominated the philosophic landscape. The rationalist philosophers, however, with a new emphasis on Reason as a tool of the intellect, brought the classical and medieval traditions under new scrutiny, exercising a new concept of doubt, with varying outcomes. Foremost among the new doubters were the empiricists, the advocates of scientific method, with its emphasis on experimentation and reliance on evidence gathered from sensory experience. In parallel with the revolutions against rising political absolutism based on established religion and the replacememt of faith by reasonable faith, new systems of metaphysics were promulgated in the lecture halls by charismatic professors, such as Kant, Nietzsche and Hegel. Although influential for a time their popularity did not generally survive the horrors of ideological warfare, as the competing ideologies utilized their systems in their platforms. The late 19th and 20th centuries featured an emotional return to the concept of existence under the name of existentialism. These philosophers were concerned mainly with ethics and religion. The metaphysical side became the domain of the phenomenalists. In parallel with these philosophies Thomism continued under the protection of the Catholic Church; in particular, the Jesuit order.

Empiricist doubts

Rationalism and empiricism have had many definitions, most concerned with specific schools of philosophy or groups of philosophers in partucular countries, such as Germany. In general rationalism is the predominant school of thought in the multi-national, cross-cultural Age of reason, which began in the century straddling 1600 as a conventional date, empiricism is the reliance on sensory data gathered in experimentation by scientists of any country, who, in the Age of Reason were rationalists. An early professed empiricist, Thomas Hobbes, known as an eccentric denizen of the court of Charles II of England (an "old bear"), published in 1651 Leviathan, a political treatise written during the English civil war, containing an early manifesto in English of rationalism.

Hobbes said:

"The Latines called Accounts of mony Rationes

word Ratio, to the faculty of Reckoning in all other things

but conceive a summe totall

names agreed upon, for the marking and signifying of our thoughts

and thence it seems to proceed that they extended the

When

a man reasoneth hee does nothing else

of the consequences of generall

For Reason

is nothing but Reckoning

"

In Hobbes reasoning is the right process of drawing conclusions from definitions (the "names agreed upon"). He goes on to define error as self-contradiction of definition ("an absurdity, or senselesse Speech") or conclusions that do not follow the definitions on which they are supposed

8

to be based. Science, on the other hand, is the outcome of "right reasoning," which is based on "natural sense and imagination", a kind of sensitivity to nature, as "nature it selfe cannot erre."

Having chosen his ground carefully Hobbes launches an epistemological attack on metaphysics. The academic philosophers had arrived at the Theory of Matter and Form from consideration of certain natural paradoxes subsumed under the general heading of the Unity Problem. For example, a body appears to be one thing and yet it is distributed into many parts. Which is it, one or many? Aristotle had arrived at the real distinction between matter and form, metaphysical components whose interpenetration produces the paradox. The whole unity comes from the substantial form and the distribution into parts from the matter. Inhering in the parts giving them really distinct unities are the accidental forms. The unity of the whole being is actuated by another really distinct principle, the existence.

If nature cannot err, then there are no paradoxes in it; to Hobbes, the paradox is a form of the

absurd, which is inconsistency: "Natural sense and imagination, are not subject to absurdity" and

"For error is but a deception

the possibility of it is inconceivable. And words whereby we conceive nothing but the sound, are

those we call Absurd

substance", "free subject." Of the scholastics he says:

But when we make a generall assertion, unlesse it be a true one,

" Among Hobbes examples are "round quadrangle", "immaterial

"Yet they will have us beleeve, that by the Almighty power of God, one body may be at one and the same time in many places [the problem of the universals]; and many bodies at one and the same time in one

place [the whole and the parts];

from their disputing philosophically, in stead of admiring, and adoring of the Divine and "

Incomprehensible Nature

And these are but a small part of the Incongruencies they are forced to,

The real distinction between essence and existence, and that between form and matter, which served for so long as the basis of metaphysics, Hobbes identifies as "the Error of Separated Essences." The words "Is, or Bee, or Are, and the like" add no meaning to an argument nor do derived words such as "Entity, Essence, Essentially, Essentiality", which "are the names of nothing" but are mere "Signes" connecting "one name or attribute to another: as when we say, A

man, is, a living body, wee mean not that the Man is one thing, the Living Body another, and the "

Is, or Being another: but that the Man, and the Living Body, is the same thing; "Metaphysiques," Hobbes says, is "far from the possibility of being understood" and is "repugnant to naturall Reason."

Being to Hobbes (and the other empiricists) is the physical universe:

The world, (I mean

say, Body; and hath the dimension of magnitude, namely, Length, Bredth and Depth: also every part of

Body, is likewise Body

Body, is no part of the Universe: and because the Universe is all, that which is no part of it is nothing; and

consequently no where."

the Universe, that is, the whole masse of all things that are) is corporeall, that is to

and consequently every part of the Universe is Body, and that which is not

Hobbes' view is representative of his tradition. As Aristotle offered the categories and the act of existence, and Aquinas the analogy of being, the rationalists also had their own system, the great chain of being, an interlocking hierarchy of beings from God to dust.

Idealist systems

In addition to the materialism of the empiricists, under the same aegis of Reason, rationalism produced systems that were diametrically opposed now called idealism, which denied the reality of matter in favor of the reality of mind. By a 20th-century classification, the idealists (Kant,

9

Hegel and others), are considered the beginning of continental philosophy, while the empiricists are the beginning, or the immediate predecessaors, of analytical philosophy.

Being in continental philosophy and existentialism

Some philosophers deny that the concept of "being" has any meaning at all, since we only define an object's existence by its relation to other objects, and actions it undertakes. The term "I am" has no meaning by itself; it must have an action or relation appended to it. This in turn has led to the thought that "being" and nothingness are closely related, developed in existential philosophy.

Existentialist philosophers such as Sartre, as well as continental philosophers such as Hegel and Heidegger have also written extensively on the concept of being. Hegel distinguishes between the being of objects (being in itself) and the being of people (Geist). Hegel, however, did not think there was much hope for delineating a "meaning" of being, because being stripped of all predicates is simply nothing.

Heidegger, in his quest to re-pose the original pre-Socratic questions of Being (of why is there something rather than nothing), wondered at how to meaningfully ask the question of the meaning of being, since it is both the greatest, as it includes everything that is, and the least, since no particular thing can be said of it. He distinguishes between different modes of beings: a privative mode is present-at-hand, whereas beings in a fuller sense are described as ready-to- hand. The one who asks the question of Being is described as Da-sein ("there/here-being") or being-in-the-world. Sartre, popularly understood as misreading Heidegger (an understanding supported by Heidegger's essay "Letter on Humanism" which responds to Sartre's famous address, "Existentialism is a Humanism"), employs modes of being in an attempt to ground his concept of freedom ontologically by distinguishing between being-in-itself and being-for-itself.

Being in Islamic philosophy

The nature of "being" has also been debated and explored in Islamic philosophy, notably by Ibn Sina, Suhrawardi, and Mulla Sadra.

Quotations

As far as we can discern, the sole purpose of human existence is to kindle a light of meaning in the darkness of mere being. - Carl Jung

Under the heading ‘Individuality in Thought and Desire’, Karl Marx, (German Ideology 1845), says:

"It depends not on consciousness, but on being; not on thought, but on life; it depends on the individual's empirical development and manifestation of life, which in turn depends on the conditions existing in the world."

10

Nature

Nature Bachalpsee in the Swiss Alps; generally mountainous areas are less affected by human activity Much

Bachalpsee in the Swiss Alps; generally mountainous areas are less affected by human activity

mountainous areas are less affected by human activity Much attention has been given to preserving the

Much attention has been given to preserving the natural characteristics of Hopetoun Falls, Australia, while maintaining visitor access.

11

Lightning strikes during the eruption of the huge Galunggung volcano in 1982 Nature , in

Lightning strikes during the eruption of the huge Galunggung volcano in 1982

Nature, in the broadest sense, is equivalent to the natural world, physical world, or material world. "Nature" refers to the phenomena of the physical world, and also to life in general. It ranges in scale from the subatomic to the cosmic.

The term "nature" may refer to living plants and animals, geological processes, weather, and physics, such as matter and energy. The term is often refers to the "natural environment" or wilderness—wild animals, rocks, forest, beaches, and in general areas that have not been substantially altered by humans, or which persist despite human intervention. For, example, manufactured objects and human interaction are generally not considered part of nature, unless qualified as, for example, "human nature" or "the whole of nature". This more traditional concept of "nature" implies a distinction between natural and artificial elements of the Earth, with the artificial as that which has been brought into being by a human consciousness or a human mind.

Etymology

The word nature is derived from the Latin word natura, or "essential qualities, innate disposition", and literally means "birth". Natura was a Latin translation of the Greek word physis (φύσις), which correlated plants, animals, and other features of the world as developing of their own accord. The concept of nature as a whole, the physical universe, is one of several expansions of the original notion; it began with certain core applications of the word φύσις by pre-Socratic philosophers, and has steadily gained currency ever since.

12

Earth

Earth View of Earth, taken in 1972 by the Apollo 17 crew. This image is the

View of Earth, taken in 1972 by the Apollo 17 crew. This image is the only photograph of its kind to date, showing a fully sunlit hemisphere of the Earth.

Earth (or, "the earth") is the only planet presently known to support life, and its natural features are the subject of many fields of scientific research. Within the solar system, it is third nearest to the sun; it is the largest terrestrial planet and the fifth largest overall. Its most prominent climatic features are its two large polar regions, two relatively narrow temperate zones, and a wide equatorial tropical to subtropical region. Precipitation varies widely with location, from several metres of water per year to less than a millimetre. 71 percent of the Earth's surface is covered by salt-water oceans. The remainder consists of continents and islands, with most of the inhabited land in the Northern Hemisphere.

Earth has evolved through geological and biological processes that have left traces of the original conditions. The outer surface is divided into several gradually migrating tectonic plates, which have changed relatively quickly several times. The interior remains active, with a thick layer of molten mantle and an iron-filled core that generates a magnetic field.

The atmospheric conditions have been significantly altered from the original conditions by the presence of life-forms, which create an ecological balance that stabilizes the surface conditions. Despite the wide regional variations in climate by latitude and other geographic factors, the long- term average global climate is quite stable during interglacial periods, and variations of a degree or two of average global temperature have historically had major effects on the ecological balance, and on the actual geography of the Earth.

13

Historical perspective

Historical perspective Plankton ( Phylum Pediastrumboryanum ) have existed on Earth for at least 2 billion

Plankton (Phylum Pediastrumboryanum) have existed on Earth for at least 2 billion years.

Earth is estimated to have formed 4.54 billion years ago from the solar nebula, along with the Sun and other planets. The moon formed roughly 20 million years later. Initially molten, the outer layer of the planet cooled, resulting in the solid crust. Outgassing and volcanic activity produced the primordial atmosphere. Condensing water vapor, most or all of which came from ice delivered by comets, produced the oceans and other water sources. The highly energetic chemistry is believed to have produced a self-replicating molecule around 4 billion years ago.

Continents formed, then broke up and reformed as the surface of Earth reshaped over hundreds of millions of years, occasionally combining to make a supercontinent. Roughly 750 million years ago, the earliest known supercontinent Rodinia, began to break apart. The continents later recombined to form Pannotia which broke apart about 540 million years ago, then finally Pangaea, which broke apart about 180 million years ago.

14

Land-based plants and fungi have been part of nature on Earth for about the past

Land-based plants and fungi have been part of nature on Earth for about the past 400 million years. These have needed to adapt and move many times as the continents and climates changed.

There is significant evidence, still being discussed among scientists, that a severe glacial action during the Neoproterozoic era covered much of the planet in a sheet of ice. This hypothesis has been termed the "Snowball Earth", and it is of particular interest as it precedes the Cambrian explosion in which multicellular life forms began to proliferate about 530–540 million years ago.

Since the Cambrian explosion there have been five distinctly identifiable mass extinctions. The last mass extinction occurred some 65 million years ago, when a meteorite collision probably triggered the extinction of the non-avian dinosaurs and other large reptiles, but spared small animals such as mammals, which then resembled shrews. Over the past 65 million years, mammalian life diversified.

Several million years ago, a species of small African ape gained the ability to stand upright. The subsequent advent of human life, and the development of agriculture and further civilization allowed humans to affect the Earth more rapidly than any previous life form, affecting both the nature and quantity of other organisms as well as global climate. By comparison, the oxygen catastrophe, produced by the proliferation of algae during the Siderian period, required about 300 million years to culminate.)

The present era is classified as part of a mass extinction event, the Holocene extinction event, the fastest ever to have occurred. Some, such as E. O. Wilson of Harvard University, predict that human destruction of the biosphere could cause the extinction of one-half of all species in the next 100 years. The extent of the current extinction event is still being researched, debated and calculated by biologists.

Geology

15

Three types of geological plate tectonic boundaries. Geology (from Greek: γη , gê , "earth";

Three types of geological plate tectonic boundaries.

Geology (from Greek: γη, , "earth"; and λόγος, logos, "speech" lit. to talk about the earth) is the science and study of the solid and liquid matter that constitutes the Earth. The field of geology encompasses the study of the composition, structure, physical properties, dynamics, and history of Earth materials, and the processes by which they are formed, moved, and changed. The field is a major academic discipline, and is also important for mineral and hydrocarbon extraction, knowledge about and mitigation of natural hazards, some engineering fields, and understanding past climates and environments.

Geological evolution

The geology of an area evolves through time as rock units are deposited and inserted and deformational processes change their shapes and locations.

Rock units are first emplaced either by deposition onto the surface or intrude into the overlying rock. Deposition can occur when sediments settle onto the surface of the Earth and later lithify into sedimentary rock, or when as volcanic material such as volcanic ash or lava flows, blanket the surface. Igneous intrusions such as batholiths, laccoliths, dikes, and sills, push upwards into the overlying rock, and crystallize as they intrude.

After the initial sequence of rocks has been deposited, the rock units can be deformed and/or metamorphosed. Deformation typically occurs as a result of horizontal shortening, horizontal extension, or side-to-side (strike-slip) motion. These structural regimes broadly relate to convergent boundaries, divergent boundaries, and transform boundaries, respectively, between tectonic plates.

16

Atmosphere, climate, and weather

Atmosphere, climate, and weather Blue light is scattered more than other wavelengths by the gases in

Blue light is scattered more than other wavelengths by the gases in the atmosphere, giving the Earth a blue halo when seen from space

The atmosphere of the Earth serves as a key factor in sustaining the planetary ecosystem. The thin layer of gases that envelops the Earth is held in place by the planet's gravity. Dry air consists of 78% nitrogen, 21% oxygen, 1% argon and other inert gases, carbon dioxide, etc.; but air also contains a variable amount of water vapor. The atmospheric pressure declines steadily with altitude, and has a scale height of about 8 kilometres at the Earth's surface: the height at which the atmospheric pressure has declined by a factor of e (a mathematical constant equal to 2.71 The ozone layer of the Earth's atmosphere plays an important role in depleting the amount of ultraviolet (UV) radiation that reaches the surface. As DNA is readily damaged by UV light, this serves to protect life at the surface. The atmosphere also retains heat during the night, thereby reducing the daily temperature extremes.

).

Terrestrial weather occurs almost exclusively in the lower part of the atmosphere, and serves as a convective system for redistributing heat. Ocean currents are another important factor in determining climate, particularly the major underwater thermohaline circulation which distributes heat energy from the equatorial oceans to the polar regions. These currents help to moderate the differences in temperature between winter and summer in the temperate zones. Also, without the redistributions of heat energy by the ocean currents and atmosphere, the tropics would be much hotter, and the polar regions much colder.

Weather can have both beneficial and harmful effects. Extremes in weather, such as tornadoes or hurricanes and cyclones, can expend large amounts of energy along their paths, and produce devastation. Surface vegetation has evolved a dependence on the seasonal variation of the weather, and sudden changes lasting only a few years can have a dramatic effect, both on the vegetation and on the animals dependent on its growth for their food.

17

A tornado in central Oklahoma. A supercell thunderstorm. The planetary climate is a measure of

A tornado in central Oklahoma.

A tornado in central Oklahoma. A supercell thunderstorm. The planetary climate is a measure of the

A supercell thunderstorm.

The planetary climate is a measure of the long-term trends in the weather. Various factors are known to influence the climate, including ocean currents, surface albedo, greenhouse gases, variations in the solar luminosity, and changes to the planet's orbit. Based on historical records, the Earth is known to have undergone drastic climate changes in the past, including ice ages.

18

The climate of a region depends on a number of factors, especially latitude. A latitudinal band of the surface with similar climatic attributes forms a climate region. There are a number of such regions, ranging from the tropical climate at the equator to the polar climate in the northern and southern extremes. Weather is also influenced by the seasons, which result from the Earth's axis being tilted relative to its orbital plane. Thus, at any given time during the summer or winter, one part of the planet is more directly exposed to the rays of the sun. This exposure alternates as the Earth revolves in its orbit. At any given time, regardless of season, the northern and southern hemispheres experience opposite seasons.

Weather is a chaotic system that is readily modified by small changes to the environment, so accurate weather forecasting is currently limited to only a few days. Overall, two things are currently happening worldwide: (1) temperature is increasing on the average; and (2) regional climates have been undergoing noticeable changes.

Water on Earth

have been undergoing noticeable changes. Water on Earth Panorama of the Iguazu waterfalls in Brazil. Water

Panorama of the Iguazu waterfalls in Brazil.

Water is a chemical substance that is composed of hydrogen and oxygen and is vital for all known forms of life. In typical usage, water refers only to its liquid form or state, but the substance also has a solid state, ice, and a gaseous state, water vapor or steam. Water covers 71% of the Earth's surface. On Earth, it is found mostly in oceans and other large water bodies, with 1.6% of water below ground in aquifers and 0.001% in the air as vapor, clouds (formed of solid and liquid water particles suspended in air), and precipitation. Oceans hold 97% of surface water, glaciers and polar ice caps 2.4%, and other land surface water such as rivers, lakes and ponds 0.6%. Additionally, a minute amount of the Earth's water is contained within biological bodies and manufactured products.

19

Oceans

Oceans A view of the Atlantic ocean from Leblon, Rio de Janeiro. An ocean is a

A view of the Atlantic ocean from Leblon, Rio de Janeiro.

An ocean is a major body of saline water, and a principal component of the hydrosphere. Approximately 71% of the Earth's surface (an area of some 361 million square kilometers) is covered by ocean, a continuous body of water that is customarily divided into several principal oceans and smaller seas. More than half of this area is over 3,000 meters (9,800 ft) deep. Average oceanic salinity is around 35 parts per thousand (ppt) (3.5%), and nearly all seawater has a salinity in the range of 30 to 38 ppt. Though generally recognized as several 'separate' oceans, these waters comprise one global, interconnected body of salt water often referred to as the World Ocean or global ocean. This concept of a global ocean as a continuous body of water with relatively free interchange among its parts is of fundamental importance to oceanography.

The major oceanic divisions are defined in part by the continents, various archipelagos, and other criteria: these divisions are (in descending order of size) the Pacific Ocean, the Atlantic Ocean, the Indian Ocean, the Southern Ocean and the Arctic Ocean. The Pacific and Atlantic may be further subdivided by the equator into northerly and southerly portions. Smaller regions of the oceans are called seas, gulfs, bays and other names. There are also salt lakes, which are smaller bodies of landlocked saltwater that are not interconnected with the World Ocean. Two notable examples of salt lakes are the Aral Sea and the Great Salt Lake.

20

Lakes

Lakes The Lácar Lake is a lake of glacial origin in the province of Neuquén, Argentina.

The Lácar Lake is a lake of glacial origin in the province of Neuquén, Argentina.

A lake (from Latin lacus) is a terrain feature (or physical feature), a body of liquid on the surface of a world that is localized to the bottom of basin (another type of landform or terrain feature; that is, it is not global) and moves slowly if it moves at all. On Earth, a body of water is considered a lake when it is inland, not part of the ocean, is larger and deeper than a pond, and is fed by a river. The only world other than Earth known to harbor lakes is Titan, Saturn's largest moon, which has lakes of ethane, most likely mixed with methane. It is not known if Titan's lakes are fed by rivers, though Titan's surface is carved by numerous river beds. Natural lakes on Earth are generally found in mountainous areas, rift zones, and areas with ongoing or recent glaciation. Other lakes are found in endorheic basins or along the courses of mature rivers. In some parts of the world, there are many lakes because of chaotic drainage patterns left over from the last Ice Age. All lakes are temporary over geologic time scales, as they will slowly fill in with sediments or spill out of the basin containing them.

21

Rivers

Rivers Macal River in Belize at San Ignacio, in November, 2001. A river is a natural

Macal River in Belize at San Ignacio, in November, 2001.

A river is a natural watercourse, usually freshwater, flowing toward an ocean, a lake, a sea or another river. In a few cases, a river simply flows into the ground or dries up completely before reaching another body of water. Small rivers may also be called by several other names, including stream, creek, brook, rivulet, and rill; there is no general rule that defines what can be called a river. Many names for small rivers are specific to geographic location; one example is Burn in Scotland and North-east England. Sometimes a river is said to be larger than a creek, but this is not always the case, due to vagueness in the language. A river is part of the hydrological cycle. Water within a river is generally collected from precipitation through surface runoff, groundwater recharge, springs, and the release of stored water in natural ice and snowpacks (i.e., from glaciers).

22

A rocky stream in Hawaii. Streams A stream is a flowing body of water with

A rocky stream in Hawaii.

Streams

A stream is a flowing body of water with a current, confined within a bed and stream banks. In the United States a stream is classified as a watercourse less than 60 feet (18 metres) wide. Streams are important as conduits in the water cycle, instruments in groundwater recharge, and they serve as corridors for fish and wildlife migration. The biological habitat in the immediate vicinity of a stream is called a riparian zone. Given the status of the ongoing Holocene extinction, streams play an important corridor role in connecting fragmented habitats and thus in conserving biodiversity. The study of streams and waterways in general is known as surface hydrology and is a core element of environmental geography.hi.

23

Ecosystems

Ecosystems Loch Lomond in Scotland forms a relatively isolated ecosystem. The fish community of this lake

Loch Lomond in Scotland forms a relatively isolated ecosystem. The fish community of this lake has remained unchanged over a very long period of time.

Ecosystems are composed of a variety of abiotic and biotic components that function in an interrelated way. The structure and composition is determined by various environmental factors that are interrelated. Variations of these factors will initiate dynamic modifications to the ecosystem. Some of the more important components are: soil, atmosphere, radiation from the sun, water, and living organisms.

24

An aerial view of a human ecosystem. Pictured is the city of Chicago Central to

An aerial view of a human ecosystem. Pictured is the city of Chicago

Central to the ecosystem concept is the idea that living organisms interact with every other element in their local environment. Eugene Odum, a founder of ecology, stated: "Any unit that includes all of the organisms (ie: the "community") in a given area interacting with the physical environment so that a flow of energy leads to clearly defined trophic structure, biotic diversity, and material cycles (ie: exchange of materials between living and nonliving parts) within the system is an ecosystem." Within the ecosystem, species are connected and dependent upon one another in the food chain, and exchange energy and matter between themselves as well as with their environment. The human ecosystem concept is grounded in the deconstruction of the human/nature dichotomy and the premise that all species are ecologically integrated with each other, as well as with the abiotic constituents of their biotope.

A smaller unit of size is called a microecosystem. For example, a microsystem can be a stone and all the life under it. A macroecosystem might involve a whole ecoregion, with its drainage basin.

Examples of ecosystems

· agro-ecosystems

· Agroecosystem

· Aquatic ecosystem

· Chaparral

· Coral reef

· Desert

· Forest

· Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem

· Human ecosystem

· Large marine ecosystem

· lentic ecosystems

· Littoral zone

25

· lotic ecosystems

· Marine ecosystem

· Prairie

· Rainforest

· Savanna

· Steppe

· Subsurface Lithoautotrophic Microbial Ecosystem

· Taiga

· Tundra

· Urban ecosystem

Wilderness

· Taiga · Tundra · Urban ecosystem Wilderness Old growth European Beech forest in Biogradska Gora

Old growth European Beech forest in Biogradska Gora National Park, Montenegro.

Wilderness is generally defined as areas that have not been significantly modified by human activity. The WILD Foundation goes into more detail, defining wilderness as: "The most intact, undisturbed wild natural areas left on our planet - those last truly wild places that humans do not control and have not developed with roads, pipelines or other industrial infrastructure." Wilderness areas can be found in preserves, estates, farms, conservation preserves, ranches, National Forests, National Parks and even in urban areas along rivers, gulches or otherwise undeveloped areas. Wilderness areas and protected parks are considered important for the survival of certain species, ecological studies, conservation, solitude, and recreation. Some nature writers believe wilderness areas are vital for the human spirit and creativity, and some Ecologists consider wilderness areas to be an integral part of the planet's self-sustaining natural ecosystem (the biosphere). They may also preserve historic genetic traits and that they provide habitat for wild flora and fauna that may be difficult to recreate in zoos, arboretums or laboratories.

26

Life

Life Female mallard and ducklings - reproduction is essential for continuing life Although there is no

Female mallard and ducklings - reproduction is essential for continuing life

Although there is no universal agreement on the definition of life, scientists generally accept that the biological manifestation of life is characterized by organization, metabolism, growth, adaptation, response to stimuli and reproduction. Life may also be said to be simply the characteristic state of organisms.

Properties common to terrestrial organisms (plants, animals, fungi, protists, archaea and bacteria) are that they are cellular, carbon-and-water-based with complex organization, having a metabolism, a capacity to grow, respond to stimuli, and reproduce. An entity with these properties is generally considered life. However, not every definition of life considers all of these properties to be essential. Human-made analogs of life may also be considered to be life.

The biosphere is the part of Earth's outer shell – including air, land, surface rocks and water – within which life occurs, and which biotic processes in turn alter or transform. From the broadest geophysiological point of view, the biosphere is the global ecological system integrating all living beings and their relationships, including their interaction with the elements of the lithosphere (rocks), hydrosphere (water), and atmosphere (air). Currently the entire Earth contains over 75 billion tons (150 trillion pounds or about 6.8 x 10 13 kilograms) of biomass (life), which lives within various environments within the biosphere.

Over nine-tenths of the total biomass on Earth is plant life, on which animal life depends very heavily for its existence. More than 2 million species of plant and animal life have been identified to date, and estimates of the actual number of existing species range from several million to well over 50 million. The number of individual species of life is constantly in some degree of flux, with new species appearing and others ceasing to exist on a continual basis. The total number of species is presently in rapid decline.

27

Evolution

Evolution An area of the Amazon Rainforest in Brazil. The tropical rainforests of South America contain

An area of the Amazon Rainforest in Brazil. The tropical rainforests of South America contain the largest diversity of species on Earth.

Life, as it is currently understood, is only known to exist on the planet Earth. The origin of life is still a poorly understood process, but it is thought to have occurred about 3.9 to 3.5 billion years ago during the hadean or archean eons on a primordial earth that had a substantially different environment than is found at present. These life forms possessed the basic traits of self- replication and inheritable traits. Once life had appeared, the process of evolution by natural selection resulted in the formation of ever-more diverse life forms.

Species that were unable to adapt to the changing environment and competition from other life forms became extinct. However, the fossil record retains evidence of many of these older species. Current fossil and DNA evidence shows that all existing species can trace a continual ancestry back to the first primitive life forms.

The advent of photosynthesis in very basic forms of plant life worldwide allowed the sun's energy to be harvested to create conditions allowing for more complex life. The resultant oxygen accumulated in the atmosphere and gave rise to the ozone layer. The incorporation of smaller cells within larger ones resulted in the development of yet more complex cells called eukaryotes. Cells within colonies became increasingly specialized, resulting in true multicellular organisms. With the ozone layer absorbing harmful ultraviolet radiation, life colonized the surface of Earth.

28

Microbes

Microbes A microscopic mite Lorryia formosa . The first form of life to develop on the

A microscopic mite Lorryia formosa.

The first form of life to develop on the Earth were microbes, and they remained the only form of life on the planet until about a billion years ago when multi-cellular organisms began to appear. Microorganisms are single-celled organisms that are generally microscopic, and smaller than the human eye can see. They include Bacteria, Fungi, Archaea and Protista.

These life forms are found in almost every location on the Earth where there is liquid water, including the interior of rocks within the planet. Their reproduction is both rapid and profuse. The combination of a high mutation rate and a horizontal gene transfer ability makes them highly adaptable, and able to survive in new environments, including outer space. They form an essential part of the planetary ecosystem. However some microorganisms are pathogenic and can post health risk to other organisms.

29

Plants and animals

Plants and animals There are many animal species on the planet. The distinction between plant and

There are many animal species on the planet.

The distinction between plant and animal life is not sharply drawn, with some categories of life that stand between or across the two. Originally Aristotle divided all living things between plants, which generally do not move, and animals. In Linnaeus' system, these became the kingdoms Vegetabilia (later Plantae) and Animalia. Since then, it has become clear that the Plantae as originally defined included several unrelated groups, and the fungi and several groups of algae were removed to new kingdoms. However, these are still often considered plants in many contexts. Bacterial life is sometimes included in flora, and some classifications use the term bacterial flora separately from plant flora.

Among the many ways of classifying plants are by regional floras, which, depending on the purpose of study, can also include fossil flora, remnants of plant life from a previous era. People in many regions and countries take great pride in their individual arrays of characteristic flora, which can vary widely across the globe due to differences in climate and terrain.

Regional floras commonly are divided into categories such as native flora and agricultural and garden flora, the lastly mentioned of which are intentionally grown and cultivated. Some types of "native flora" actually have been introduced centuries ago by people migrating from one region or continent to another, and become an integral part of the native, or natural flora of the place to which they were introduced. This is an example of how human interaction with nature can blur the boundary of what is considered nature.

30

Wildebeest in Ngorongoro Conservation Area, Tanzania. Note the tendency to congregate, one of nature's displays

Wildebeest in Ngorongoro Conservation Area, Tanzania. Note the tendency to congregate, one of nature's displays of what is sometimes called the herding instinct or herd behavior.

Another category of plant has historically been carved out for weeds. Though the term has fallen into disfavor among botanists as a formal way to categorize "useless" plants, the informal use of the word "weeds" to describe those plants that are deemed worthy of elimination is illustrative of the general tendency of people and societies to seek to alter or shape the course of nature. Similarly, animals are often categorized in ways such as domestic, farm animals, wild animals, pests, etc. according to their relationship to human life.

Animals as a category have several characteristics that generally set them apart from other living things, though not traced by scientists to having legs or wings instead of roots and leaves. Animals are eukaryotic and usually multicellular (although see Myxozoa), which separates them from bacteria, archaea and most protists. They are heterotrophic, generally digesting food in an internal chamber, which separates them from plants and algae. They are also distinguished from plants, algae, and fungi by lacking cell walls.

With a few exceptions, most notably the sponges (Phylum Porifera), animals have bodies differentiated into separate tissues. These include muscles, which are able to contract and control locomotion, and a nervous system, which sends and processes signals. There is also typically an internal digestive chamber. The eukaryotic cells possessed by all animals are surrounded by a characteristic extracellular matrix composed of collagen and elastic glycoproteins. This may be calcified to form structures like shells, bones, and spicules, a framework upon which cells can move about and be reorganized during development and maturation, and which supports the complex anatomy required for mobility.

31

Human interrelationship

Human interrelationship Despite their natural beauty, the secluded valleys along the Na Pali Coast in Hawaii

Despite their natural beauty, the secluded valleys along the Na Pali Coast in Hawaii are heavily modified by introduced invasive species such as She-oak.

modified by introduced invasive species such as She-oak. A confluence of "natural" and a "made"

A confluence of "natural" and a "made" environment

Although humans currently comprise only a minuscule proportion of the total living biomass on Earth, the human effect on nature is disproportionately large. Because of the extent of human influence, the boundaries between what humans regard as nature and "made environments" is not

32

clear cut except at the extremes. Even at the extremes, the amount of natural environment that is free of discernible human influence is presently diminishing at an increasingly rapid pace.

The development of technology by the human race has allowed the greater exploitation of natural resources and has helped to alleviate some of the risk from natural hazards. In spite of this progress, however, the fate of human civilization remains closely linked to changes in the environment. There exists a highly complex feedback loop between the use of advanced technology and changes to the environment that are only slowly becoming understood. Man- made threats to the Earth's natural environment include pollution, deforestation, and disasters such as oil spills. Humans have contributed to the extinction of many plants and animals.

Humans employ nature for both leisure and economic activities. The acquisition of natural resources for industrial use remains the primary component of the world's economic system. Some activities, such as hunting and fishing, are used for both sustenance and leisure, often by different people. Agriculture was first adopted around the 9th millennium BCE. Ranging from food production to energy, nature influences economic wealth.

Although early humans gathered uncultivated plant materials for food and employed the medicinal properties of vegetation for healing, most modern human use of plants is through agriculture. The clearance of large tracts of land for crop growth has led to a significant reduction in the amount available of forestation and wetlands, resulting in the loss of habitat for many plant and animal species as well as increased erosion.

Aesthetics and beauty

species as well as increased erosion. Aesthetics and beauty Salmon fry hatching. The root of the

Salmon fry hatching. The root of the Latin "natura" ("nature") is "natus," from "nasci" ("to be born").

33

Summer field in Belgium (Hamois). The blue flower is Centaurea cyanus and the red one

Summer field in Belgium (Hamois). The blue flower is Centaurea cyanus and the red one a Papaver rhoeas.

Beauty in nature has historically been a prevalent theme in art and books, filling large sections of libraries and bookstores. That nature has been depicted and celebrated by so much art, photography, poetry and other literature shows the strength with which many people associate nature and beauty. Why this association exists, and what the association consists of, is studied by the branch of philosophy called aesthetics. Beyond certain basic characteristics that many philosophers agree about to explain what is seen as beautiful, the opinions are virtually endless.

Looked at through the lens of the visual arts, nature and wildness have been important subjects in various epochs of world history. An early tradition of landscape art began in China during the

Tang Dynasty (618-907). The tradition of representing nature as it is became one of the aims of Chinese painting and was a significant influence in Asian art. Artists learned to depict mountains and rivers "from the perspective of nature as a whole and on the basis of their understanding of

as if seen through the eyes of a bird." In the 13th century, the Song Dynasty

the laws of nature

artist Shi Erji listed "scenes lacking any places made inaccessible by nature," as one of the 12 things to avoid in painting.

In the Western world the idea of wilderness having intrinsic value emerged in the 1800s, especially in the works of the Romantic movement. British artists John Constable and JMW Turner turned their attention to capturing the beauty of the natural world in their paintings. Before that, paintings had been primarily of religious scenes or of human beings. William Wordsworth's poetry described the wonder of the natural world, which had formerly been viewed as a threatening place. Increasingly the valuing of nature became an aspect of Western culture. This artistic movement also coincided with the Transcendentalist movement in the Western world.

Many scientists, who study nature in more specific and organized ways, also share the conviction that nature is beautiful; the French mathematician, Jules Henri Poincaré (1854–1912) said:

34

The scientist does not study nature because it is useful; he studies it because he delights in it, and he delights in it because it is beautiful. If nature were not beautiful, it would not be worth knowing, and if nature were not worth knowing, life would not be worth living. Of course I do not here speak of that beauty which strikes the senses, the beauty of qualities and of appearance; not that I undervalue such beauty, far from it, but it has nothing to do with science; I mean that profounder beauty which comes from the harmonious order of the parts and which a pure intelligence can grasp.

A common classical idea of beautiful art involves the word mimesis, the imitation of nature. Also in the realm of ideas about beauty in nature is that the perfect is implied through symmetry, equal division, and other perfect mathematical forms and notions.

Matter and energy

perfect mathematical forms and notions. Matter and energy The first few hydrogen atom electron orbitals shown

The first few hydrogen atom electron orbitals shown as cross-sections with color-coded probability density

Some fields of science see nature as matter in motion, obeying certain laws of nature which science seeks to understand. For this reason the most fundamental science is generally understood to be "physics" – the name for which is still recognizable as meaning that it is the study of nature.

Matter is commonly defined as the substance of which physical objects are composed. It constitutes the observable universe. The visible components of the universe are now believed to compose only 4 percent of the total mass. The remainder is believed to consist of 23 percent cold dark matter and 73 percent dark energy. The exact nature of these components is still unknown and is currently under intensive investigation by physicists.

The behavior of matter and energy throughout the observable universe appears to follow well- defined physical laws. These laws have been employed to produce cosmological models that successfully explain the structure and the evolution of the universe we can observe. The mathematical expressions of the laws of physics employ a set of twenty physical constants that

35

appear to be static across the observable universe. The values of these constants have been carefully measured, but the reason for their specific values remains a mystery.

Beyond Earth

for their specific values remains a mystery. Beyond Earth NGC 4414 , a typical spiral galaxy

NGC 4414, a typical spiral galaxy in the constellation Coma Berenices, is about 56,000 light years in diameter and approximately 60 million light years distant.

constellation Coma Berenices, is about 56,000 light years in diameter and approximately 60 million light years

36

The deepest visible-light image of the universe, the Hubble Ultra Deep Field, contains an estimated 10,000 galaxies in a patch of sky just one-tenth the diameter of the full moon. Image Credit: NASA, ESA, S. Beckwith (STScI) and the HUDF team.

Outer space, also simply called space, refers to the relatively empty regions of the universe outside the atmospheres of celestial bodies. Outer space is used to distinguish it from airspace (and terrestrial locations). There is no discrete boundary between the Earth's atmosphere and space, as the atmosphere gradually attenuates with increasing altitude. Outer space within the solar system is called interplanetary space, which passes over into interstellar space at what is known as the heliopause.

Outer space is certainly spacious, but it is far from empty. Outer space is sparsely filled with several dozen types of organic molecules discovered to date by microwave spectroscopy, blackbody radiation left over from the big bang and the origin of the universe, and cosmic rays, which include ionized atomic nuclei and various subatomic particles. There is also some gas, plasma and dust, and small meteors. Additionally, there are signs of human life in outer space today, such as material left over from previous manned and unmanned launches which are a potential hazard to spacecraft. Some of this debris re-enters the atmosphere periodically.

Although the planet Earth is currently the only known body within the solar system to support life, current evidence suggests that in the distant past the planet Mars possessed bodies of liquid water on the surface. For a brief period in Mars' history, it may have also been capable of forming life. At present though, most of the water remaining on Mars is frozen. If life exists at all on Mars, it is most likely to be located underground where liquid water can still exist.

Conditions on the other terrestrial planets, Mercury and Venus, appear to be too harsh to support life as we know it. But it has been conjectured that Europa, the fourth-largest moon of Jupiter, may possess a sub-surface ocean of liquid water and could potentially host life.

Recently, the team of Stéphane Udry have discovered a new planet named Gliese 581 d, which is an extrasolar planet orbiting the red dwarf star Gliese 581. Gliese 581 d appears to lie in the habitable zone of space surrounding the star, and therefore could possibly host life as we know it.

Human

37

Humans commonly refers to the species Homo sapiens (Latin: "wise man" or "knowing man"), the

Humans commonly refers to the species Homo sapiens (Latin: "wise man" or "knowing man"), the only extant member of the Homo genus of bipedal primates in Hominidae, the great ape family. However, in some cases the term is used to refer to any member of the genus Homo.

Humans have a highly developed brain, capable of abstract reasoning, language, introspection, and problem solving. This mental capability, combined with an erect body carriage that frees the hands for manipulating objects, has allowed humans to make far greater use of tools than any other species. Mitochondrial DNA and fossil evidence indicates that modern humans originated in Africa about 200,000 years ago. Humans are a cosmopolitan species; widespread in every continent except Antarctica, with a total population of 6.8 billion as of November 2009.

Like most higher primates, humans are social by nature. However, humans are uniquely adept at utilizing systems of communication for self-expression, the exchange of ideas, and organization. Humans create complex social structures composed of many cooperating and competing groups, from families to nations. Social interactions between humans have established an extremely wide variety of values, social norms, and rituals, which together form the basis of human society.

Humans are noted for their desire to understand and influence their environment, seeking to explain and manipulate natural phenomena through science, philosophy, mythology and religion. This natural curiosity has led to the development of advanced tools and skills, which are passed down culturally; humans are the only species known to build fires, cook their food, clothe themselves, and use numerous other technologies.

Name

The English adjective human is a Middle English loan from Old French humain, ultimately from Latin hūmānus, the adjective of homō "man". Use as a noun (with a plural humans) dates to the 16th century. The native English term man is now often reserved for male adults, but can still be used for "mankind" in general in Modern English. The word is from Proto-Germanic *mannaz, from a Proto-Indo-European(PIE) root *man-, cognate to Sanskrit manu-.

38

The generic name Homo is a learned 18th century derivation from Latin homō "man", ultimately "earthly being" (Old Latin hemō, cognate to Old English guma "man", from PIE *dʰǵʰ e mon-, meaning 'earth' or 'ground').

History

mon- , meaning 'earth' or 'ground'). History A reconstruction of Australopithecus afarensis , a human

A reconstruction of Australopithecus afarensis, a human ancestor that had developed bipedalism,

but which lacked the large brain of modern humans

The scientific study of human evolution encompasses the development of the genus Homo, but usually involves studying other hominids and hominines as well, such as Australopithecus.

"Modern humans" are defined as the Homo sapiens species, of which the only extant subspecies

is known as Homo sapiens sapiens. Homo sapiens idaltu (roughly translated as "elder wise

human"), the other known subspecies, is now extinct. Homo neanderthalensis, which became extinct 30,000 years ago, has sometimes been classified as a subspecies, "Homo sapiens neanderthalensis", but genetic studies now suggest a divergence of the Neanderthal species from Homo sapiens about 500,000 years ago. Similarly, the few specimens of Homo rhodesiensis have also occasionally been classified as a subspecies, but this is not widely accepted. Anatomically modern humans first appear in the fossil record in Africa about 195,000 years ago, and studies of molecular biology give evidence that the approximate time of divergence from the common ancestor of all modern human populations was 200,000 years ago. The broad study of African genetic diversity headed by Dr. Sarah Tishkoff found the San people to express the greatest genetic diversity among the 113 distinct populations sampled, making them one of 14 "ancestral population clusters". The research also located the origin of modern human migration

in south-western Africa, near the coastal border of Namibia and Angola.

The closest living relatives of humans are gorillas and chimpanzees, but humans did not evolve from these apes: instead these apes share a common ancestor with modern humans. Humans are probably most closely related to two chimpanzee species: Common Chimpanzee and Bonobo. Full genome sequencing has resulted in the conclusion that "after 6.5 [million] years of separate evolution, the differences between chimpanzee and human are ten times greater than those

39

between two unrelated people and ten times less than those between rats and mice". Suggested concurrence between human and chimpanzee DNA sequences range between 95% and 99%. It has been estimated that the human lineage diverged from that of chimpanzees about five million years ago, and from that of gorillas about eight million years ago. However, a hominid skull discovered in Chad in 2001, classified as Sahelanthropus tchadensis, is approximately seven million years old, which may indicate an earlier divergence.

Human evolution is characterized by a number of important morphological, developmental, physiological and behavioural changes, which have taken place since the split between the last common ancestor of humans and chimpanzees. The first major morphological change was the evolution of a bipedal locomotor adaptation from an arboreal or semi-arboreal one, with all its attendant adaptations, such as a valgus knee, low intermembral index (long legs relative to the arms), and reduced upper-body strength.

Later, ancestral humans developed a much larger brain – typically 1,400 cm³ in modern humans, over twice the size of that of a chimpanzee or gorilla. The pattern of human postnatal brain growth differs from that of other apes (heterochrony), and allows for extended periods of social learning and language acquisition in juvenile humans. Physical anthropologists argue that the differences between the structure of human brains and those of other apes are even more significant than their differences in size.

Other significant morphological changes included: the evolution of a power and precision grip; a reduced masticatory system; a reduction of the canine tooth; and the descent of the larynx and hyoid bone, making speech possible. An important physiological change in humans was the evolution of hidden oestrus, or concealed ovulation, which may have coincided with the evolution of important behavioural changes, such as pair bonding. Another significant behavioural change was the development of material culture, with human-made objects becoming increasingly common and diversified over time. The relationship between all these changes is the subject of ongoing debate.

The forces of natural selection have continued to operate on human populations, with evidence that certain regions of the genome display directional selection in the past 15,000 years.

40

Paleolithic

Paleolithic Artistic expression appeared in the Upper Paleolithic: The Venus of Dolní V ě stonice figurine,

Artistic expression appeared in the Upper Paleolithic: The Venus of Dolní Věstonice figurine, one of the earliest known depictions of the human body, dates to approximately 29,000–25,000 BP (Gravettian).

Anatomically modern humans evolved from archaic Homo sapiens in Africa in the Middle Paleolithic, about 200,000 years ago. By the beginning of the Upper Paleolithic 50,000 BP (Before Present), full behavioral modernity, including language, music and other cultural universals had developed.

The broad study of African genetic diversity headed by Dr. Sarah Tishkoff found the San people to express the greatest genetic diversity among the 113 distinct populations sampled, making them one of 14 "ancestral population clusters". The research also located the origin of modern human migration in south-western Africa, near the coastal border of Namibia and Angola.

The out of Africa migration is estimated to have occurred about 70,000 years BP. Modern humans subsequently spread to all continents, replacing earlier hominids: they inhabited Eurasia and Oceania by 40,000 BP, and the Americas at least 14,500 years BP. They displaced Homo neanderthalensis and other species descended from Homo erectus (which had inhabited Eurasia as early as 2 million years ago) through more successful reproduction and competition for resources.

Evidence from archaeogenetics accumulating since the 1990s has lent strong support to the "out- of-Africa" scenario, and has marginalized the competing multiregional hypothesis, which proposed that modern humans evolved, at least in part, from independent hominid populations.

Geneticists Lynn Jorde and Henry Harpending of the University of Utah propose that the variation in human DNA is minute compared to that of other species. They also propose that during the Late Pleistocene, the human population was reduced to a small number of breeding pairs – no more than 10,000, and possibly as few as 1,000 – resulting in a very small residual

41

gene pool. Various reasons for this hypothetical bottleneck have been postulated, one being the Toba catastrophe theory.

Transition to civilization

the Toba catastrophe theory. Transition to civilization The rise of agriculture, and domestication of animals, led

The rise of agriculture, and domestication of animals, led to stable human settlements.

domestication of animals, led to stable human settlements. The path followed by humans in the course

The path followed by humans in the course of history

Until c. 10,000 years ago, most humans lived as hunter-gatherers. They generally lived in small nomadic groups known as band societies. The advent of agriculture prompted the Neolithic

42

Revolution, when access to food surplus led to the formation of permanent human settlements, the domestication of animals and the use of metal tools. Agriculture encouraged trade and cooperation, and led to complex society. Because of the significance of this date for human society, it is the epoch of the Holocene calendar or Human Era.

About 6,000 years ago, the first proto-states developed in Mesopotamia, Egypt's Nile Valley and the Indus Valleys. Military forces were formed for protection, and government bureaucracies for administration. States cooperated and competed for resources, in some cases waging wars. Around 2,000–3,000 years ago, some states, such as Persia, India, China, Rome, and Greece, developed through conquest into the first expansive empires. Influential religions, such as Judaism, originating in the Middle East, and Hinduism, a religious tradition that originated in South Asia, also rose to prominence at this time.

The late Middle Ages saw the rise of revolutionary ideas and technologies. In China, an advanced and urbanized society promoted innovations and sciences, such as printing and seed drilling. In India, major advancements were made in mathematics, philosophy, religion and metallurgy. The Islamic Golden Age saw major scientific advancements in Muslim empires. In Europe, the rediscovery of classical learning and inventions such as the printing press led to the Renaissance in the 15th and 16th centuries. Over the next 500 years, exploration and colonialism brought much of the Americas, Asia, and Africa under European control, leading to later struggles for independence. The Scientific Revolution in the 17th century and the Industrial Revolution in the 18th–19th centuries promoted major innovations in transport, such as the railway and automobile; energy development, such as coal and electricity; and government, such as representative democracy and Communism.

With the advent of the Information Age at the end of the 20th century, modern humans live in a world that has become increasingly globalized and interconnected. As of 2008, over 1.4 billion humans are connected to each other via the Internet, and 3.3 billion by mobile phone subscriptions.

Although interconnection between humans has encouraged the growth of science, art, discussion, and technology, it has also led to culture clashes and the development and use of weapons of mass destruction. Human civilization has led to environmental destruction and pollution, producing an ongoing mass extinction of other forms of life called the holocene extinction event, that may be further accelerated by global warming in the future.

Habitat and population

43

Humans often live in family-based social structures and create artificial shelter. Early human settlements, were

Humans often live in family-based social structures and create artificial shelter.

Early human settlements, were dependent on proximity to water and, depending on the lifestyle, other natural resources, such as arable land for growing crops and grazing livestock, or seasonally by hunting populations of prey. However, humans have a great capacity for altering their habitats by various methods, such as through irrigation, urban planning, construction, transport, manufacturing goods, deforestation and desertification. Deliberate habitat alteration is often done with the goals of increasing material wealth, increasing thermal comfort, improving the amount of food available, improving aesthetics, or improving ease of access to resources or other human settlements. With the advent of large-scale trade and transport infrastructure, proximity to these resources has become unnecessary, and in many places, these factors are no longer a driving force behind the growth and decline of a population. Nonetheless, the manner in which a habitat is altered is often a major determinant in population change.

Technology has allowed humans to colonize all of the continents and adapt to virtually all climates. Within the last century, humans have explored Antarctica, the ocean depths, and outer space, although large-scale colonization of these environments is not yet feasible. With a population of over six billion, humans are among the most numerous of the large mammals. Most humans (61%) live in Asia. The remainder live in the Americas (14%), Africa (14%), Europe (11%), and Oceania (0.5%).

Human habitation within closed ecological systems in hostile environments, such as Antarctica and outer space, is expensive, typically limited in duration, and restricted to scientific, military, or industrial expeditions. Life in space has been very sporadic, with no more than thirteen humans in space at any given time. Between 1969 and 1972, two humans at a time spent brief intervals on the Moon. As of March 2010, no other celestial body has been visited by humans, although there has been a continuous human presence in space since the launch of the initial crew to inhabit the International Space Station on October 31, 2000. However, other celestial bodies have been visited by human-made objects.

44

Since 1800, the human population has increased from one billion to over six billion. In 2004, some 2.5 billion out of 6.3 billion people (39.7%) lived in urban areas, and this percentage is expected to continue to rise throughout the 21st century. In February 2008, the U.N. estimated that half the world's population will live in urban areas by the end of the year. Problems for humans living in cities include various forms of pollution and crime, especially in inner city and suburban slums.

Humans have had a dramatic effect on the environment. As humans are rarely preyed upon, they have been described as superpredators. Currently, through land development, combustion of fossil fuels and pollution, humans are thought to be the main contributor to global climate change. Human activity is believed to be a major contributor to the ongoing Holocene extinction event, which is a form of mass extinction. If this continues at its current rate it is predicted that it will wipe out half of all species over the next century.

Biology

Anatomy

Human body types vary substantially. Although body size is largely determined by genes, it is also significantly influenced by environmental factors such as diet and exercise. The average height of an adult human is about 1.5 to 1.8 m (5 to 6 feet) tall, although this varies significantly from place to place. The average mass of an adult human is 54–64 kg (120–140 lbs) for females and 76–83 kg (168–183 lbs) for males. Weight can also vary greatly (e.g. obesity). Unlike most other primates, humans are capable of fully bipedal locomotion, thus leaving their arms available for manipulating objects using their hands, aided especially by opposable thumbs.

Although humans appear hairless compared to other primates, with notable hair growth occurring chiefly on the top of the head, underarms and pubic area, the average human has more hair follicles on his or her body than the average chimpanzee. The main distinction is that human hairs are shorter, finer, and less heavily pigmented than the average chimpanzee's, thus making them harder to see.

The hue of human skin and hair is determined by the presence of pigments called melanins. Human skin hues can range from very dark brown to very pale pink. Human hair ranges from white to brown to red to most commonly black. This depends on the amount of melanin (an effective sun blocking pigment) in the skin and hair, with hair melanin concentrations in hair fading with increased age, leading to grey or even white hair. Most researchers believe that skin darkening was an adaptation that evolved as a protection against ultraviolet solar radiation. However, more recently it has been argued that particular skin colors are an adaptation to balance folate, which is destroyed by ultraviolet radiation, and vitamin D, which requires sunlight to form. The skin pigmentation of contemporary humans is geographically stratified, and in general correlates with the level of ultraviolet radiation. Human skin also has a capacity to darken (sun tanning) in response to exposure to ultraviolet radiation. Humans tend to be physically weaker than other similarly sized primates, with young, conditioned male humans having been shown to be unable to match the strength of female orangutans which are at least three times stronger.

Humans have proportionately shorter palates and much smaller teeth than other primates. They are the only primates to have short, relatively flush canine teeth. Humans have characteristically

45

Oxygen

Nitrogen

1.9

38.8

kg

kg

Constituents of the human body

1.4%

25.5%

   

In a person weighing 60 kg

Other

Carbon

2.4

10.9

kg

kg

9.5%

0.6%

Constituent

Weight

Percentage of atoms

Hydrogen

6.0

kg

63.0%

crowded teeth, with gaps from lost teeth usually closing up quickly in young specimens. Humans are gradually losing their wisdom teeth, with some individuals having them congenitally absent.

Physiology

Human physiology is the science of the mechanical, physical, and biochemical functions of humans in good health, their organs, and the cells of which they are composed. The principal level of focus of physiology is at the level of organs and systems. Most aspects of human physiology are closely homologous to corresponding aspects of animal physiology, and animal experimentation has provided much of the foundation of physiological knowledge. Anatomy and physiology are closely related fields of study: anatomy, the study of form, and physiology, the study of function, are intrinsically tied and are studied in tandem as part of a medical curriculum.

Genetics

Humans are a eukaryotic species. Each diploid cell has two sets of 23 chromosomes, each set received from one parent. There are 22 pairs of autosomes and one pair of sex chromosomes. By present estimates, humans have approximately 20,000–25,000 genes. Like other mammals, humans have an XY sex-determination system, so that females have the sex chromosomes XX and males have XY. The X chromosome carries many genes not on the Y chromosome, which means that recessive diseases associated with X-linked genes, such as haemophilia, affect men more often than women.

Life cycle

as haemophilia, affect men more often than women. Life cycle A 10mm human embryo at 5

A 10mm human embryo at 5 weeks

The human life cycle is similar to that of other placental mammals. The zygote divides inside the female's uterus to become an embryo, which over a period of thirty-eight weeks (9 months) of gestation becomes a human fetus. After this span of time, the fully grown fetus is birthed from the woman's body and breathes independently as an infant for the first time. At this point, most

46

modern cultures recognize the baby as a person entitled to the full protection of the law, though some jurisdictions extend various levels of personhood earlier to human fetuses while they remain in the uterus.

Compared with other species, human childbirth is dangerous. Painful labors lasting twenty-four hours or more are not uncommon and sometimes leads to the death of the mother, or the child. This is because of both the relatively large fetal head circumference (for housing the brain) and the mother's relatively narrow pelvis (a trait required for successful bipedalism, by way of natural selection). The chances of a successful labor increased significantly during the 20th century in wealthier countries with the advent of new medical technologies. In contrast, pregnancy and natural childbirth remain hazardous ordeals in developing regions of the world, with maternal death rates approximately 100 times more common than in developed countries.

In developed countries, infants are typically 3–4 kg (6–9 pounds) in weight and 50–60 cm (20– 24 inches) in height at birth. However, low birth weight is common in developing countries, and contributes to the high levels of infant mortality in these regions. Helpless at birth, humans continue to grow for some years, typically reaching sexual maturity at 12 to 15 years of age. Females continue to develop physically until around the age of 18, whereas male development continues until around age 21. The human life span can be split into a number of stages: infancy, childhood, adolescence, young adulthood, adulthood and old age. The lengths of these stages, however, have varied across cultures and time periods. Compared to other primates, humans experience an unusually rapid growth spurt during adolescence, where the body grows 25% in size. Chimpanzees, for example, grow only 14%, with no pronounced spurt. The presence of the growth spurt is probably necessary to keep children physically small until they are psychologically mature. Humans are one of the few species in which females undergo menopause. It has been proposed that menopause increases a woman's overall reproductive success by allowing her to invest more time and resources in her existing offspring and/or their children (the grandmother hypothesis), rather than by continuing to bear children into old age.

There are significant differences in life expectancy around the world. The developed world is generally aging, with the median age around 40 years (highest in Monaco at 45.1 years). In the developing world the median age is between 15 and 20 years. Life expectancy at birth in Hong Kong is 84.8 years for a female and 78.9 for a male, while in Swaziland, primarily because of AIDS, it is 31.3 years for both sexes. While one in five Europeans is 60 years of age or older, only one in twenty Africans is 60 years of age or older. The number of centenarians (humans of age 100 years or older) in the world was estimated by the United Nations at 210,000 in 2002. At least one person, Jeanne Calment, is known to have reached the age of 122 years; higher ages have been claimed but they are not well substantiated. Worldwide, there are 81 men aged 60 or older for every 100 women of that age group, and among the oldest, there are 53 men for every 100 women.

Diet

Humans are omnivorous, capable of consuming both plant and animal products. Varying with available food sources in regions of habitation, and also varying with cultural and religious norms, human groups have adopted a range of diets, from purely vegetarian to primarily carnivorous. In some cases, dietary restrictions in humans can lead to deficiency diseases; however, stable human groups have adapted to many dietary patterns through both genetic specialization and cultural conventions to utilize nutritionally balanced food sources. The human diet is prominently reflected in human culture, and has led to the development of food science.

47

Until the development of agriculture approximately 10,000 years ago, Homo sapiens employed a hunter-gatherer method as their sole means of food collection. This involved combining stationary food sources (such as fruits, grains, tubers, and mushrooms, insect larvae and aquatic molluscs) with wild game, which must be hunted and killed in order to be consumed. It has been proposed that humans have used fire to prepare and cook food since the time of their divergence from Homo erectus. Around ten thousand years ago, humans developed agriculture, which substantially altered their diet. This change in diet may also have altered human biology; with the spread of dairy farming providing a new and rich source of food, leading to the evolution of the ability to digest lactose in some adults. Agriculture led to increased populations, the development of cities, and because of increased population density, the wider spread of infectious diseases. The types of food consumed, and the way in which they are prepared, has varied widely by time, location, and culture.

In general, humans can survive for two to eight weeks without food, depending on stored body fat. Survival without water is usually limited to three or four days. Lack of food remains a serious problem, with about 36 million humans starving to death every year. Childhood malnutrition is also common and contributes to the global burden of disease. However global food distribution is not even, and obesity among some human populations has increased rapidly, leading to health complications and increased mortality in some developed, and a few developing countries. Worldwide over one billion people are obese, while in the United States 35% of people are obese, leading to this being described as an "obesity epidemic". Obesity is caused by consuming more calories than are expended, so excessive weight gain is usually caused by a combination of an energy-dense high fat diet and insufficient exercise.

Sleep

Humans are generally diurnal. The average sleep requirement is between seven and nine continuous hours a day for an adult and nine to ten hours for a child; elderly people usually sleep for six to seven hours. Experiencing less sleep than this is common in modern societies; this sleep deprivation can have negative effects. A sustained restriction of adult sleep to four hours per day has been shown to correlate with changes in physiology and mental state, including fatigue, aggression, and bodily discomfort.

48

Psychology

Psychology A sketch of the human brain imposed upon the profile of Michelangelo's David. Sketch by

A sketch of the human brain imposed upon the profile of Michelangelo's David. Sketch by

Priyan Weerappuli

The human brain, the focal point of the central nervous system in humans, controls the peripheral nervous system. In addition to controlling "lower", involuntary, or primarily autonomic activities such as respiration and digestion, it is also the locus of "higher" order functioning such as thought, reasoning, and abstraction. These cognitive processes constitute the mind, and, along with their behavioral consequences, are studied in the field of psychology.

Generally regarded as more capable of these higher order activities, the human brain is believed

to be more "intelligent" in general than that of any other known species. Some are capable of

creating structures and using simple tools—mostly through instinct and mimicry—human technology is vastly more complex, and is constantly evolving and improving through time.

Although being vastly more advanced than many species in cognitive abilities, most of these abilities are known in primitive form among other species. Modern anthropology has tended to bear out Darwin's proposition that "the difference in mind between man and the higher animals, great as it is, certainly is one of degree and not of kind".

Consciousness and thought

Humans are one of only nine species to pass the mirror test—which tests whether an animal recognizes its reflection as an image of itself—along with all the great apes (gorillas, chimpanzees, orangutans, bonobos), Bottlenose dolphins, Asian elephants, European Magpies

and Orcas. Most human children will pass the mirror test at 18 months old. However, the usefulness of this test as a true test of consciousness has been disputed, and this may be a matter

of degree rather than a sharp divide. Monkeys have been trained to apply abstract rules in tasks.

49

The human brain perceives the external world through the senses, and each individual human is influenced greatly by his or her experiences, leading to subjective views of existence and the passage of time. Humans are variously said to possess consciousness, self-awareness, and a mind, which correspond roughly to the mental processes of thought. These are said to possess qualities such as self-awareness, sentience, sapience, and the ability to perceive the relationship between oneself and one's environment. The extent to which the mind constructs or experiences the outer world is a matter of debate, as are the definitions and validity of many of the terms used above. The philosopher of cognitive science Daniel Dennett, for example, argues that there is no such thing as a narrative centre called the "mind", but that instead there is simply a collection of sensory inputs and outputs: different kinds of "software" running in parallel. Psychologist B.F. Skinner argued that the mind is an explanatory fiction that diverts attention from environmental causes of behavior, and that what are commonly seen as mental processes may be better conceived of as forms of covert verbal behavior.

Humans study the more physical aspects of the mind and brain, and by extension of the nervous system, in the field of neurology, the more behavioral in the field of psychology, and a sometimes loosely defined area between in the field of psychiatry, which treats mental illness and behavioral disorders. Psychology does not necessarily refer to the brain or nervous system, and can be framed purely in terms of phenomenological or information processing theories of the mind. Increasingly, however, an understanding of brain functions is being included in psychological theory and practice, particularly in areas such as artificial intelligence, neuropsychology, and cognitive neuroscience.

The nature of thought is central to psychology and related fields. Cognitive psychology studies cognition, the mental processes' underlying behavior. It uses information processing as a framework for understanding the mind. Perception, learning, problem solving, memory, attention, language and emotion are all well researched areas as well. Cognitive psychology is associated with a school of thought known as cognitivism, whose adherents argue for an information processing model of mental function, informed by positivism and experimental psychology. Techniques and models from cognitive psychology are widely applied and form the mainstay of psychological theories in many areas of both research and applied psychology. Largely focusing on the development of the human mind through the life span, developmental psychology seeks to understand how people come to perceive, understand, and act within the world and how these processes change as they age. This may focus on intellectual, cognitive, neural, social, or moral development.

Some philosophers divide consciousness into phenomenal consciousness, which is experience itself, and access consciousness, which is the processing of the things in experience. Phenomenal consciousness is the state of being conscious, such as when they say "I am conscious." Access consciousness is being conscious of something in relation to abstract concepts, such as when one says "I am conscious of these words." Various forms of access consciousness include awareness, self-awareness, conscience, stream of consciousness, Husserl's phenomenology, and intentionality. The concept of phenomenal consciousness, in modern history, according to some, is closely related to the concept of qualia. Social psychology links sociology with psychology in their shared study of the nature and causes of human social interaction, with an emphasis on how people think towards each other and how they relate to each other. The behavior and mental processes, both human and non-human, can be described through animal cognition, ethology, evolutionary psychology, and comparative psychology as well. Human ecology is an academic discipline that investigates how humans and human societies interact with both their natural environment and the human social environment.

50

Motivation and emotion

Motivation is the driving force of desire behind all deliberate actions of humans. Motivation is based on emotion—specifically, on the search for satisfaction (positive emotional experiences), and the avoidance of conflict. Positive and negative is defined by the individual brain state, which may be influenced by social norms: a person may be driven to self-injury or violence because their brain is conditioned to create a positive response to these actions. Motivation is important because it is involved in the performance of all learned responses. Within psychology, conflict avoidance and the libido are seen to be primary motivators. Within economics, motivation is often seen to be based on incentives; these may be financial, moral, or coercive. Religions generally posit divine or demonic influences.

Happiness, or the state of being happy, is a human emotional condition. The definition of happiness is a common philosophical topic. Some people might define it as the best condition that a human can have—a condition of mental and physical health. Others define it as freedom from want and distress; consciousness of the good order of things; assurance of one's place in the universe or society.

Emotion has a significant influence on, or can even be said to control, human behavior, though historically many cultures and philosophers have for various reasons discouraged allowing this influence to go unchecked. Emotional experiences perceived as pleasant, such as love, admiration, or joy, contrast with those perceived as unpleasant, like hate, envy, or sorrow. There is often a distinction made between refined emotions that are socially learned and survival oriented emotions, which are thought to be innate. Human exploration of emotions as separate from other neurological phenomena is worthy of note, particularly in cultures where emotion is considered separate from physiological state. In some cultural medical theories emotion is considered so synonymous with certain forms of physical health that no difference is thought to exist. The Stoics believed excessive emotion was harmful, while some Sufi teachers felt certain extreme emotions could yield a conceptual perfection, what is often translated as ecstasy.

In modern scientific thought, certain refined emotions are considered a complex neural trait innate in a variety of domesticated and non-domesticated mammals. These were commonly developed in reaction to superior survival mechanisms and intelligent interaction with each other and the environment; as such, refined emotion is not in all cases as discrete and separate from natural neural function as was once assumed. However, when humans function in civilized tandem, it has been noted that uninhibited acting on extreme emotion can lead to social disorder and crime.

Sexuality and love

Human sexuality, besides ensuring biological reproduction, has important social functions: it creates physical intimacy, bonds, and hierarchies among individuals; may be directed to spiritual transcendence (according to some traditions); and in a hedonistic sense to the enjoyment of activity involving sexual gratification. Sexual desire, or libido, is experienced as a bodily urge, often accompanied by strong emotions such as love, ecstasy and jealousy. The extreme importance of sexuality in the human species can be seen in a number of physical features, among them hidden ovulation, the evolution of external scrotum and penis suggesting sperm competition, the absence of an os penis, permanent secondary sexual characteristics, the forming of pair bonds based on sexual attraction as a common social structure and sexual ability in females outside of ovulation. These adaptations indicate that the importance of sexuality in humans is on a par with that found in the Bonobo, and that the complex human sexual behaviour has a long evolutionary history.

51

Human choices in acting on sexuality are commonly influenced by cultural norms, which vary widely. Restrictions are often determined by religious beliefs or social customs. The pioneering researcher Sigmund Freud believed that humans are born polymorphously perverse, which means that any number of objects could be a source of pleasure. According to Freud, humans then pass through five stages of psychosexual development (and can fixate on any stage because of various traumas during the process). For Alfred Kinsey, another influential sex researcher, people can fall anywhere along a continuous scale of sexual orientation (with only small minorities fully heterosexual or homosexual). Recent studies of neurology and genetics suggest people may be born with a predisposition to one sexual orientation or another.

Culture

Culture is defined here as a set of distinctive material, intellectual, emotional, and spiritual features of a social group, including art, literature, sport, lifestyles, value systems, traditions, rituals, and beliefs. The link between human biology and human behavior and culture is often very close, making it difficult to clearly divide topics into one area or the other; as such, the placement of some subjects may be based primarily on convention. Culture consists of values, social norms, and artifacts. A culture's values define what it holds to be important or ethical. Closely linked are norms, expectations of how people ought to behave, bound by tradition. Artifacts, or material culture, are objects derived from the culture's values, norms, and understanding of the world.

Language

The capacity humans have to transfer concepts, ideas and notions through speech and writing is unrivaled in known species. Unlike the call systems of other primates that are closed, human language is far more open, and gains variety in different situations. The human language has the quality of displacement, using words to represent things and happenings that are not presently or locally occurring, but elsewhere or at a different time. In this way data networks are important to the continuing development of language. The faculty of speech is a defining feature of humanity, possibly predating phylogenetic separation of the modern population. Language is central to the communication between humans, as well as being central to the sense of identity that unites nations, cultures and ethnic groups. The invention of writing systems at least 5,000 years ago allowed the preservation of language on material objects, and was a major step in cultural evolution. The science of linguistics describes the structure of language and the relationship between languages. There are approximately 6,000 different languages currently in use, including sign languages, and many thousands more that are considered extinct.

Spirituality and religion

Religion is generally defined as a belief system concerning the supernatural, sacred or divine, and moral codes, practices, values, institutions and rituals associated with such belief. The evolution and the history of the first religions have recently become areas of active scientific investigation. However, in the course of its development, religion has taken on many forms that vary by culture and individual perspective. Some of the chief questions and issues religions are concerned with include life after death (commonly involving belief in an afterlife), the origin of life, the nature of the universe (religious cosmology) and its ultimate fate (eschatology), and what is moral or immoral. A common source in religions for answers to these questions are beliefs in transcendent divine beings such as deities or a singular God, although not all religions are theistic—many are nontheistic or ambiguous on the topic, particularly among the Eastern religions. Spirituality, belief or involvement in matters of the soul or spirit, is one of the many different approaches humans take in trying to answer fundamental questions about humankind's

52

place in the universe, the meaning of life, and the ideal way to live one's life. Though these topics have also been addressed by philosophy, and to some extent by science, spirituality is unique in that it focuses on mystical or supernatural concepts such as karma and God.

Although the exact level of religiosity can be hard to measure, a majority of humans professes some variety of religious or spiritual belief, although some are irreligious: that is lacking or rejecting belief in the supernatural or spiritual. Other humans have no religious beliefs and are atheists, scientific skeptics, agnostics or simply non-religious. Humanism is a philosophy which seeks to include all of humanity and all issues common to humans; it is usually non-religious. Additionally, although most religions and spiritual beliefs are clearly distinct from science on both a philosophical and methodological level, the two are not generally considered mutually exclusive; a majority of humans holds a mix of both scientific and religious views. The distinction between philosophy and religion, on the other hand, is at times less clear, and the two are linked in such fields as the philosophy of religion and theology.

in such fields as the philosophy of religion and theology. Statue of Confucius on Chongming Island

Statue of Confucius on Chongming Island in Shanghai

Philosophy and self-reflection

Philosophy is a discipline or field of study involving the investigation, analysis, and development of ideas at a general, abstract, or fundamental level. It is the discipline searching for a general understanding of reality, reasoning and values. Major fields of philosophy include logic, metaphysics, epistemology, philosophy of mind, and axiology (which includes ethics and aesthetics). Philosophy covers a very wide range of approaches, and is used to refer to a worldview, to a perspective on an issue, or to the positions argued for by a particular philosopher or school of philosophy.

53

Art, music, and literature

Art, music, and literature Allegory of Music (ca. 1594), a painting of a woman writing sheet

Allegory of Music (ca. 1594), a painting of a woman writing sheet music by Lorenzo Lippi.

Artistic works have existed for almost as long as humankind, from early pre-historic art to contemporary art. Art is one of the most unusual aspects of human behaviour and a key distinguishing feature of humans from other species.

As a form of cultural expression by humans, art may be defined by the pursuit of diversity and the usage of narratives of liberation and exploration (i.e. art history, art criticism, and art theory) to mediate its boundaries. This distinction may be applied to objects or performances, current or historical, and its prestige extends to those who made, found, exhibit, or own them. In the modern use of the word, art is commonly understood to be the process or result of making material works that, from concept to creation, adhere to the "creative impulse" of human beings. Art is distinguished from other works by being in large part unprompted by necessity, by biological drive, or by any undisciplined pursuit of recreation.

Music is a natural intuitive phenomenon based on the three distinct and interrelated organization structures of rhythm, harmony, and melody. Listening to music is perhaps the most common and universal form of entertainment for humans, while learning and understanding it are popular disciplines. There are a wide variety of music genres and ethnic musics. Literature, the body of written—and possibly oral—works, especially creative ones, includes prose, poetry and drama, both fiction and non-fiction. Literature includes such genres as epic, legend, myth, ballad, and folklore.

54

Tool use and technology

Tool use and technology An archaic Acheulean stone tool Stone tools were used by proto-humans at

An archaic Acheulean stone tool

Stone tools were used by proto-humans at least 2.5 million years ago. The controlled use of fire began around 1.5 million years ago. Since then, humans have made major advances, developing complex technology to create tools to aid their lives and allowing for other advancements in culture. Major leaps in technology include the discovery of agriculture - what is known as the Neolithic Revolution; and the invention of automated machines in the Industrial Revolution. In modern times, the invention of the Internet has allowed humans to share information faster than ever before. The use of electricity as power is vital in the modern human world.

Archaeology attempts to tell the story of past or lost cultures in part by close examination of the artifacts they produced. Early humans left stone tools, pottery and jewelry that are particular to various regions and times.

Gender roles

The sexual division of humans into male and female has been marked culturally by a corresponding division of roles, norms, practices, dress, behavior, rights, duties, privileges, status, and power. Cultural differences by gender have often been believed to have arisen naturally out of a division of reproductive labor; the biological fact that women give birth led to their further cultural responsibility for nurturing and caring for children and households. Gender roles have varied historically, and challenges to predominant gender norms have recurred in many societies. As a whole, partriarchal societies (i.e., in which men hold the greater degree of economic and political power) have been predominant, and matriarchal or egalitarian societies less common.

55

Race and ethnicity

Humans often categorize themselves in terms of race or ethnicity, sometimes on the basis of differences in appearance. Human racial categories have been based on both ancestry and visible traits, especially facial features, skin color and hair texture. Most current genetic and archaeological evidence supports a recent single origin of modern humans in East Africa. Current genetic studies have demonstrated that humans on the African continent are most genetically diverse. However, compared to the other great apes, human gene sequences are remarkably homogeneous. The predominance of genetic variation occurs within racial groups, with only 5 to 15% of total variation occurring between groups. Thus the scientific concept of variation in the human genome is largely incongruent with the cultural concept of ethnicity or race. Ethnic groups are defined by linguistic, cultural, ancestral, national or regional ties. Self- identification with an ethnic group is usually based on kinship and descent. Race and ethnicity are among major factors in social identity giving rise to various forms of identity politics, e.g.:

racism.

There is no scientific consensus of a list of the human races, and few anthropologists endorse the notion of human "race". For example, a color terminology for race includes the following in a classification of human races: Black (e.g. Sub-Saharan Africa), Red (e.g. Native Americans), Yellow (e.g. East Asians) and White (e.g. Europeans).

Referring to natural species, in general, the term "race" is obsolete, particularly if a species is uniformly distributed on a territory. In its modern scientific connotation, the term is not applicable to a species as genetically homogeneous as the human one, as stated in the declaration on race (UNESCO 1950).

Genetic studies have substantiated the absence of biological borders, thus the term "race" has de facto disappeared from the scientific terminology, both in biological anthropology and in human genetics.

What in the past had been defined as "races"—e.g., whites, blacks, or Asians—are now defined as "ethnic groups" or "populations", in correlation with the field (sociology, anthropology, genetics) in which they are considered.

56

Society, government, and politics

Society, government, and politics The United Nations complex in New York City, which houses one of

The United Nations complex in New York City, which houses one of the largest political organizations in the world.

Society is the system of organizations and institutions arising from interaction between humans.

A state is an organized political community occupying a definite territory, having an organized

government, and possessing internal and external sovereignty. Recognition of the state's claim to

independence by other states, enabling it to enter into international agreements, is often important to the establishment of its statehood. The "state" can also be defined in terms of domestic conditions, specifically, as conceptualized by Max Weber, "a state is a human community that (successfully) claims the monopoly of the 'legitimate' use of physical force within a given territory."

Government can be defined as the political means of creating and enforcing laws; typically via a

bureaucratic hierarchy. Politics is the process by which decisions are made within groups. Although the term is generally applied to behavior within governments, politics is also observed

in all human group interactions, including corporate, academic, and religious institutions. Many

different political systems exist, as do many different ways of understanding them, and many

definitions overlap. Examples of governments include monarchy, Communist state, military dictatorship, and theocracy. All of these issues have a direct relationship with economics.

57

War

War The atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki immediately killed over 120,000 humans. War is a

The atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki immediately killed over 120,000 humans.

War is a state of widespread conflict between states or other large groups of humans, which is characterized by the use of lethal violence between combatants and/or upon civilians. It is estimated that during the 20th century between 167 and 188 million humans died as a result of war. A common perception of war is a series of military campaigns between at least two opposing sides involving a dispute over sovereignty, territory, resources, religion, or other issues. A war between internal elements of a state is a civil war.

There have been a wide variety of rapidly advancing tactics throughout the history of war, ranging from conventional war to asymmetric warfare to total war and unconventional warfare. Techniques include hand to hand combat, the use of ranged weapons, and, more recently, air support. Military intelligence has often played a key role in determining victory and defeat. Propaganda, which often includes information, slanted opinion and disinformation, plays a key role in maintaining unity within a warring group, and/or sowing discord among opponents. In modern warfare, soldiers and armoured fighting vehicles are used to control the land, warships the sea, and aircraft the sky. These fields have also overlapped in the forms of marines, paratroopers, naval aircraft carriers, and surface-to-air missiles, among others. Satellites in low Earth orbit have made outer space a factor in warfare as well, although no actual warfare is currently known to be carried out in space.

58

Trade and economics

Trade and economics Buyers and sellers bargain in a market Trade is the voluntary exchange of

Buyers and sellers bargain in a market

Trade is the voluntary exchange of goods and services, and is a form of economics. A mechanism that allows trade is called a market. The original form of trade was barter, the direct exchange of goods and services. Modern traders instead generally negotiate through a medium of exchange, such as money. As a result, buying can be separated from selling, or earning. The invention of money (and later credit, paper money and non-physical money) greatly simplified and promoted trade. Because of specialization and division of labor, most people concentrate on a small aspect of manufacturing or service, trading their labour for products. Trade exists

between regions because different regions have an absolute or comparative advantage in the production of some tradable commodity, or because different regions' size allows for the benefits

of mass production.

Economics is a social science which studies the production, distribution, trade, and consumption

of goods and services. Economics focuses on measurable variables, and is broadly divided into

two main branches: microeconomics, which deals with individual agents, such as households and businesses, and macroeconomics, which considers the economy as a whole, in which case it considers aggregate supply and demand for money, capital and commodities. Aspects receiving particular attention in economics are resource allocation, production, distribution, trade, and competition. Economic logic is increasingly applied to any problem that involves choice under scarcity or determining economic value. Mainstream economics focuses on how prices reflect supply and demand, and uses equations to predict consequences of decisions.

Person

A person is a legal concept both permitting rights to and imposing duties on one by law. In the

fields of law, philosophy, medicine, and others, the term has specialised context-specific meanings. In many jurisdictions, for example, a corporation is considered a legal person with

59

standing to sue or be sued in court. In philosophy, "person" may apply to any human or non- human actor who is regarded as self-conscious and capable of certain kinds of thought; for example, individuals who have the power to reflect upon and choose their actions. This could also extend to late fetuses and neonates, dependent on what level of thought is required.

Scientific approach

As an application of Social psychology and other disciplines, phenomena such as the perception and attribution of personhood have been scientifically studied. Typical questions addressed in social psychology are the accuracy of attribution, processes of perception and the formation of bias. Various other scientific/medical disciplines address the myriad of issues in the development of personality.

Who is a person?

· Persons - In contemporary global thought, once humans are born, personhood is considered automatic via Legal fiction created by a Birth certificate.

· Animals - Some philosophers and those involved in animal welfare, ethology, animal rights and related subjects, consider that certain animals should also be granted personhood. Commonly named species in this context include the Great Apes, cetaceans, and elephants, because of their apparent intelligence and intricate social rules.

· In animistic religion, animals, plants, and other entities may be persons or deities.

· Certain societal constructs - certain social entities, are considered legally as persons, for example some corporations and other legal entities. This is known as legal, or corporate, personhood.

In addition speculatively, there are several other likely categories of beings where personhood might be at issue:

· Unknown intelligent life-forms - for example, should alien life be found to exist, under what circumstances would they be counted as 'persons'?

· Artificially created life - at what point might human-created biological life be considered to have achieved personhood?

· Artificial intelligence - assuming the eventual creation of an intelligent and self-aware system of hardware and software, what criteria would be used to confer or withhold the status of person?

· Modified living humans, cyborgs - for example, how much of a human can be replaced by artificial parts before personhood is lost, if ever?

o

Further, if the brain is the reason people are considered persons, then if the human brain and all its thought patterns, memories and other attributes could also in future be transposed faithfully into some form of artificial device (for example to avoid illness such as brain cancer) would the patient still be considered a 'person' after the operation?

o

If the person (or "individual") could go back in time and relate to his/her earlier self. Would it then be two persons yet the same being. Or one person in two bodies?

o

Are the surgical separations of conjoined twins cases more complicated, challenging and controversial than abortion?

· Do we have to consider any "willing and communicative (capable to register its own will) autonomous body" in the universe, no matter the species, an individual (a person)? Do they deserve equal rights with the human race?

60

Such questions are used by philosophers to clarify thinking concerning what it means to be human, or living, or a person, or an individual.

Implications of the person/non-person debate

The personhood theory has become a pivotal issue in the interdisciplinary field of bioethics. While historically most humans did not enjoy full legal protection as persons (women, children, non-landowners, minorities, slaves, etc.), from the late 18th through the late 20th century, being born as a member of the human species gradually became secular grounds for the basic rights of liberty, freedom from persecution, and humanitarian care.

Since modern movements emerged to oppose animal cruelty (and advocate vegan philosophy) and theorists like Turing have recognized the possibility of artificial minds with human-level competence, the identification of personhood protections exclusively with human species membership has been challenged. On the other hand, some proponents of human exceptionalism (also referred to by its critics as speciesism) have countered that we must institute a strict demarcation of personhood based on species membership in order to avoid the horrors of genocide (based on propaganda dehumanizing one or more ethnicities) or the injustices of forced sterilization (as occurred in many countries to people with low I.Q. scores and prisoners).

While the former advocates tend to be comfortable constraining personhood status within the human species based on basic capacities (e.g. excluding human stem cells, fetuses, and bodies that cannot recover awareness), the latter often wish to include all these forms of human bodies even if they have never had awareness (which some would call pre-people) or had awareness, but could never have awareness again due to massive and irrecoverable brain damage (some would call these post-people). The Vatican has recently been advancing a human exceptionalist understanding of personhood theory, while other communities, such as Christian Evangelicals in the U.S. have sometimes rejected the personhood theory as biased against human exceptionalism. Of course, many religious communities (of many traditions) view the other versions of the personhood theory perfectly compatible with their faith, as do the majority of modern Humanists.

The theoretical landscape of the personhood theory has been altered recently by controversy in the bioethics community concerning an emerging community of scholars, researchers, and activists identifying with an explicitly Transhumanist position, which supports morphological freedom, even if a person changed so much as to no longer be considered a member of the human species (by whatever standard is used to determine that).

Nonhuman sentient beings as persons

The idea of extending personhood to all animals has the support of legal scholars such as Alan Dershowitz and Laurence Tribe of Harvard Law School, and animal law courses are now taught in 92 out of 180 law schools in the United States. On May 9, 2008, Columbia University Press published Animals as Persons: Essays on the Abolition of Animal Exploitation by Professor Gary L. Francione of Rutgers University School of Law, a collection of writings that summarizes his work to date and makes the case for non-human animals as persons.

There are also hypothetical persons, sentient non-human persons such as sentient extraterrestrial life and self-aware machines. The novel and animated series Ghost in the Shell touch on the potential of inorganic sentience, while classical works of fiction and fantasy regarding extraterrestrials have challenged people to reconsider long held traditional definitions.

61

Meaning of life

Meaning of life Where Do We Come From? What Are We? Where Are We Going? One
Meaning of life Where Do We Come From? What Are We? Where Are We Going? One

Where Do We Come From? What Are We? Where Are We Going? One of Post-Impressionist Paul Gauguin's most famous paintings.

The meaning of life constitutes a philosophical question concerning the purpose and significance of life or existence in general. This concept can be expressed through a variety of related questions, such as Why are we here?, What is life all about?, and What is the meaning of it all? It has been the subject of much philosophical, scientific, and theological speculation throughout history. There have been a large number of answers to these questions from many different cultural and ideological backgrounds.

The meaning of life is deeply mixed with the philosophical and religious conceptions of existence, consciousness, and happiness, and touches on many other issues, such as symbolic meaning, ontology, value, purpose, ethics, good and evil, free will, conceptions of God, the existence of God, the soul, and the afterlife. Scientific contributions are more indirect; by describing the empirical facts about the universe, science provides some context and sets parameters for conversations on related topics. An alternative, human-centric, and not a cosmic/religious approach is the question "What is the meaning of my life?" The value of the question pertaining to the purpose of life may coincide with the achievement of ultimate reality, or a feeling of oneness, or a feeling of sacredness.

62

Questions

Questions Philosopher in Meditation (detail) by Rembrandt Questions about the meaning of life have been expressed

Philosopher in Meditation (detail) by Rembrandt

Questions about the meaning of life have been expressed in a broad variety of ways, including the following:

· What is the meaning of life? What's it all about? Who are we?

· Why are we here? What are we here for?

· What is the origin of life?

· What is the nature of life? What is the nature of reality?

· What is the purpose of life? What is the purpose of one's life?

· What is the significance of life?

· What is meaningful and valuable in life?

· What is the value of life?

· What is the reason to live? What are we living for?

These questions have resulted in a wide range of competing answers and arguments, from scientific theories, to philosophical, theological, and spiritual explanations.

63

Scientific inquiry and perspectives

Scientific inquiry and perspectives DNA, the substance containing the genetic instructions for the development and

DNA, the substance containing the genetic instructions for the development and functioning of all known living organisms.

Claims that descriptive science can shed light on normative issues such as the meaning of life are highly disputed within the scientific and philosophy-of-science communities. Nevertheless, science may be able to provide some context and sets some parameters for conversations on related topics.

Psychological significance and value in life

Science may not be able to tell us what is of essential value in life, but some studies bear on related questions: researchers in positive psychology (and, earlier and less rigorously, in humanistic psychology) study factors that lead to life satisfaction, full engagement in activities, making a fuller contribution by utilizing one's personal strengths, and meaning based on investing in something larger than the self.

One value system suggested by social psychologists, broadly called Terror Management Theory, states that all human meaning is derived out of a fundamental fear of death, whereby values are selected when they allow us to escape the mental reminder of death.

Neuroscience has produced theories of reward, pleasure and motivation in terms of physical entities such as neurotransmitter activity, especially in the limbic system and the ventral tegmental area in particular. If one believes that the meaning of life is to maximize pleasure, then these theories give normative predictions about how to act to achieve this.

Sociology examines value at a social level using theoretical constructs such as value theory, norms, anomie, etc.

64

Origin and nature of biological life

The exact mechanisms of abiogenesis are unknown: notable theories include the RNA world hypothesis (RNA-based replicators) and the iron-sulfur world theory (metabolism without genetics). The theory of evolution does not attempt to explain the origin of life but the process by which different lifeforms have developed throughout history via genetic mutation and natural selection. At the end of the 20th century, based upon insight gleaned from the gene-centered view of evolution, biologists George C. Williams, Richard Dawkins, David Haig, among others, conclude that if there is a primary function to life, it is the replication of DNA and the survival of one's genes.

However, though scientists have intensively studied life on Earth, defining life in unequivocal terms is still a challenge. Physically, one may say that life "feeds on negative entropy" which refers to the process by which living entities decrease their internal entropy at the expense of some form of energy taken in from the environment. Biologists generally agree that lifeforms are self-organizing systems regulating the internal environment as to maintain this organized state, metabolism serves to provide energy, and reproduction allows life to continue over a span of multiple generations. Typically, organisms are responsive to stimuli and genetic information tends to change from generation to generation as to allow adaptation through evolution, these characteristics optimalizing the chances of survival for the individual organism and its descendants respectively. Non-cellular replicating agents, notably viruses, are generally not considered to be organisms because they are incapable of "independent" reproduction or metabolism. This controversy is problematic, though, since some parasites and endosymbionts are also incapable of independent life. Astrobiology studies the possibility of different forms of life on other worlds, such as replicating structures made from materials other than DNA.

Origins and ultimate fate of the universe

other than DNA. Origins and ultimate fate of the universe The metric expansion of space. The

The metric expansion of space. The inflationary epoch is the expansion of the metric tensor at left. (WMAP image, 2006)

65

Though the Big Bang model was met with much skepticism when first introduced, partially because of a connection to the religious concept of creation, it has become well supported by several independent observations. However, current physics can only describe the early universe from 10 43 seconds after the Big Bang (where zero time corresponds to infinite temperature), a theory of quantum gravity would be required to go further back in time. Nevertheless, many physicists have speculated about what would have preceded this limit, and how the universe came into being. Some physicists think that the Big Bang occurred coincidentally, and when considering the anthropic principle, it is most often interpreted as implying the existence of a multiverse.

However, no matter how the universe came into existence, humanity's fate in this universe appears to be doomed as —even if humanity would survive that long— biological life will eventually become unsustainable, be it through a Big Freeze, Big Rip or Big Crunch. It would seem that the only way to survive indefinitely would be by directing the flow of energy on a cosmic scale and altering the fate of the universe.

Scientific questions about the mind

The true nature and origin of consciousness and the mind itself are also widely debated in science. The explanatory gap is generally equated with the hard problem of consciousness, and the question of free will is also considered to be of fundamental importance. These subjects are mostly addressed in the fields of cognitive science, neuroscience and philosophy of mind, though some evolutionary biologists and theoretical physicists have also made several allusions to the subject.

physicists have also made several allusions to the subject. Hieronymus Bosch's Ascent of the Blessed depicts

Hieronymus Bosch's Ascent of the Blessed depicts a tunnel of light and spiritual figures, often described in reports of near-death experiences.

66

Reductionistic and eliminative materialistic approaches, for example the Multiple Drafts Model, hold that consciousness can be wholly explained by neuroscience through the workings of the brain and its neurons, thus adhering to biological naturalism.

On the other hand, some scientists, like Andrei Linde, have considered that consciousness, like spacetime, might have its own intrinsic degrees of freedom, and that one's perceptions may be as real as (or even more real than) material objects. Hypotheses of consciousness and spacetime explain consciousness in describing a "space of conscious elements", often encompassing a number of extra dimensions. Electromagnetic theories of consciousness solve the binding problem of consciousness in saying that the electromagnetic field generated by the brain is the actual carrier of conscious experience, there is however disagreement about the implementations of such a theory relating to other workings of the mind. Quantum mind theories use quantum theory in explaining certain properties of the mind. Explaining the process of free will through quantum phenomena is a popular alternative to determinism, such postulations may variously relate free will to quantum fluctuations, quantum amplification, quantum potential and quantum probability.

Based on the premises of non-materialistic explanations of the mind, some have suggested the existence of a cosmic consciousness, asserting that consciousness is actually the "ground of all being". Proponents of this view cite accounts of paranormal phenomena, primarily extrasensory perceptions and psychic powers, as evidence for an incorporeal higher consciousness. In hopes of proving the existence of these phenomena, parapsychologists have orchestrated various experiments. Meta-analyses of these experiments indicate that the effect size (though very small) has been relatively consistent, resulting in an overall statistical significance. Although some critical analysts feel that parapsychological study is scientific, they are not satisfied with its experimental results. Skeptical reviewers contend that apparently successful results are more likely due to sloppy procedures, poorly trained researchers, or methodological flaws than to actual effects.

Western Philosophical perspectives

The philosophical perspectives on the meaning of life are those ideologies which explain life in terms of ideals or abstractions defined by humans.

67

Ancient Greek philosophy

Ancient Greek philosophy Plato and Aristotle in The School of Athens fresco, by Raphael. Platonism Plato

Plato and Aristotle in The School of Athens fresco, by Raphael.

Platonism

Plato was one of the earliest, most influential philosophers to date — mostly for realism about the existence of universals. In the Theory of Forms, universals do not physically exist, like objects, but exist as ghostly, heavenly forms. In The Republic, the Socrates character's dialogue describes the Form of the Good. The Idea of the Good is ekgonos (offspring) of the Good, the ideal, perfect nature of goodness, hence an absolute measure of justice.

In Platonism, the meaning of life is in attaining the highest form of knowledge, which is the Idea (Form) of the Good, from which all good and just things derive utility and value. Human beings are duty-bound to pursue the good, but no one can succeed in that pursuit without philosophical reasoning, which allows for true knowledge.

Aristotelianism

Aristotle, an apprentice of Plato, was another, early, most influential philosopher, who argued that ethical knowledge is not certain knowledge (like metaphysics and epistemology), but is general knowledge. Because it is not a theoretical discipline, a person had to study and practice in order to become 'good', thus if the person were to become virtuous, he could not simply study what virtue is, he had to be virtuous, via virtuous activities. To do this, Aristotle established what is virtuous:

Every skill and every inquiry, and similarly, every action and choice of action, is thought to have some

good as its object. This is why the good has rightly been defined as the object of all endeavor [ Everything is done with a goal, and that goal is "good". —Nicomachean Ethics 1.1

]

68

Yet, if action A is done towards achieving goal B, then goal B also would have a goal, goal C, and goal C also would have a goal, and so would continue this pattern, until something stopped its infinite regression. Aristotle's solution is the Highest Good, which is desirable for its own sake, it is its own goal. The Highest Good is not desirable for the sake of achieving some other good, and all other ‘goods’ desirable for its sake. This involves achieving eudaemonia, usually translated as "happiness", "well-being", "flourishing", and "excellence".

What is the highest good in all matters of action? To the name, there is almost complete agreement; for uneducated and educated alike call it happiness, and make happiness identical with the good life and successful living. They disagree, however, about the meaning of happiness. —Nicomachean Ethics 1.4

Cynicism

In the Hellenistic period, the Cynic philosophers said that the purpose of life is living a life of Virtue that agrees with Nature. Happiness depends upon being self-sufficient and master of one's mental attitude; suffering is consequence of false judgments of value, which cause negative emotions and a concomitant vicious character.

The Cynical life rejects conventional desires for wealth, power, health, and fame, by being free of the possessions acquired in pursuing the conventional. As reasoning creatures, people could achieve happiness via rigorous training, by living in a way natural to human beings. The world equally belongs to everyone, so suffering is caused by false judgments of what is valuable and what is worthless per the customs and conventions of society.

Cyrenaicism

Cyrenaicism, founded by Aristippus of Cyrene, was an early Socratic school that emphasised only one side of Socrates's teachings — that happiness is one of the ends of moral action and that pleasure is the supreme good; thus a hedonistic world view, wherein bodily gratification is more intense than mental pleasure. Cyrenaics prefer immediate gratification to the long-term gain of delayed gratification; denial is unpleasant unhappiness.

69

Epicureanism

Epicureanism Bust of Epicurus leaning against his disciple Metrodorus in the Louvre Museum. To Epicurus, the

Bust of Epicurus leaning against his disciple Metrodorus in the Louvre Museum.

To Epicurus, the greatest good is in seeking modest pleasures, to attain tranquility and freedom from fear (ataraxia) via knowledge, friendship, and virtuous, temperate living; bodily pain (aponia) is absent through one's knowledge of the workings of the world and of the limits of one's desires. Combined, freedom from pain and freedom from fear are happiness in its highest form. Epicurus' lauded enjoyment of simple pleasures is quasi-ascetic abstention from sex and the appetites:

When we say

pleasures of sensuality, as we are understood to do, by some, through ignorance, prejudice or wilful misrepresentation. By pleasure we mean the absence of pain in the body and of trouble in the soul. It is not by an unbroken succession of drinking bouts and of revelry, not by sexual lust, nor the enjoyment of fish, and other delicacies of a luxurious table, which produce a pleasant life; it is sober reasoning, searching out the grounds of every choice and avoidance, and banishing those beliefs through which the greatest tumults take possession of the soul.

that pleasure is the end and aim, we do not mean the pleasures of the prodigal or the

The Epicurean meaning of life rejects immortality and mysticism; there is a soul, but it is as mortal as the body. There is no afterlife, yet, one need not fear death, because "Death is nothing to us; for that which is dissolved, is without sensation, and that which lacks sensation is nothing to us."

Stoicism

Stoicism teaches that living according to reason and virtue is to be in harmony with the universe's divine order, entailed by one's recognition of the universal logos (reason), an essential value of all people. The meaning of life is freedom from suffering through apatheia (Gr:

απαθεια), that is, being objective, having "clear judgement", not indifference.

70

Stoicism's prime directives are virtue, reason, and natural law, abided to develop personal self- control and mental fortitude as means of overcoming destructive emotions. The Stoic does not seek to extinguish emotions, only to avoid emotional troubles, by developing clear judgement and inner calm through diligently practiced logic, reflection, and concentration.

The Stoic ethical foundation is that good lies in the state of the soul, itself, exemplified in wisdom and self-control, thus improving one's spiritual well-being: "Virtue consists in a will which is in agreement with Nature." The principle applies to one's personal relations thus: "to be free from anger, envy, and jealousy".

Enlightenment philosophy

The Enlightenment and the colonial era both changed the nature of European philosophy and exported it worldwide. Devotion and subservience to God were largely replaced by notions of inalienable natural rights and the potentialities of reason, and universal ideals of love and compassion gave way to civic notions of freedom, equality, and citizenship. The meaning of life changed as well, focussing less on humankind's relationship to God and more on the relationship between individuals and their society. This era is filled with theories that equate meaningful existence with the social order.

Classical liberalism

Classical liberalism is a set of ideas that arose in the 17th and 18th centuries, out of conflicts between a growing, wealthy, propertied class and the established aristocratic and religious orders that dominated Europe. Liberalism cast humans as beings with inalienable natural rights (including the right to retain the wealth generated by one's own work), and sought out means to balance rights across society. Broadly speaking, it considers individual liberty to be the most important goal, because only through ensured liberty are the other inherent rights protected.

There are many forms and derivations of liberalism, but their central conceptions of the meaning of life trace back to three main ideas. Early thinkers such as John Locke, Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Adam Smith saw humankind beginning in the state of nature, then finding meaning for existence through labour and property, and using social contracts to create an environment that supports those efforts.

Kantianism

an environment that supports those efforts. Kantianism Immanuel Kant is regarded as one of the most

Immanuel Kant is regarded as one of the most influential thinkers of the late Enlightenment.

Kantianism is a philosophy based on the ethical, epistemological, and metaphysical works of Immanuel Kant. Kant is known for his deontological theory where there is a single moral obligation, the "Categorical Imperative", derived from the concept of duty. Kantians believe all

71

actions are performed in accordance with some underlying maxim or principle, and for actions to be ethical, they must adhere to the categorical imperative.

Simply put, the test is that one must universalize the maxim (imagine that all people acted in this way) and then see if it would still be possible to perform the maxim in the world. In Groundwork, Kant gives the example of a person who seeks to borrow money without intending to pay it back. This is a contradiction because if it were a universal action, no person would lend money anymore as he knows that he will never be paid back. The maxim of this action, says Kant, results in a contradiction in conceivability (and thus contradicts perfect duty).

Kant also denied that the consequences of an act in any way contribute to the moral worth of that act, his reasoning being that the physical world is outside one's full control and thus one cannot be held accountable for the events that occur in it.

19th century philosophy

Utilitarianism

that occur in it. 19th century philosophy Utilitarianism Jeremy Bentham The origins of utilitarianism can be

Jeremy Bentham

The origins of utilitarianism can be traced back as far as Epicurus, but, as a school of thought, it is credited to Jeremy Bentham, who found that nature has placed mankind under the governance of two sovereign masters, pain and pleasure, then, from that moral insight, deriving the Rule of Utility: that the good is whatever brings the greatest happiness to the greatest number of people. He defined the meaning of life as the "greatest happiness principle".

Jeremy Bentham's foremost proponent was James Mill, a significant philosopher in his day, and father of John Stuart Mill. The younger Mill was educated per Bentham's principles, including transcribing and summarising much of his father's work.

Nihilism

Nihilism rejects any authority's claims to knowledge and truth, and so explores the significance of existence without knowable truth. Rather than insisting that values are subjective, and might be warrantless, the nihilist says: "Nothing is of value", morals are valueless, they only serve as society's false ideals.

Friedrich Nietzsche characterized nihilism as emptying the world, and especially human existence, of meaning, purpose, comprehensible truth, and essential value; succinctly, nihilism is the process of "the devaluing of the highest values". Seeing the nihilist as a natural result of the idea that God is dead, and insisting it was something to overcome, his questioning of the nihilist's life-negating values, returned meaning to the Earth.

72

The End of the World , by John Martin. To Martin Heidegger, nihilism is the

The End of the World, by John Martin.

To Martin Heidegger, nihilism is the movement whereby "being" is forgotten, and is transformed into value, in other words, the reduction of being to exchange value. Heidegger, in accordance with Nietzsche, saw in the so-called "death of God" a potential source for nihilism:

If God, as the supra-sensory ground and goal, of all reality, is dead; if the supra-sensory world of the Ideas has suffered the loss of its obligatory, and above it, its vitalizing and up-building power, then nothing more remains to which Man can cling, and by which he can orient himself.

The French philosopher Albert Camus asserts that the absurdity of the human condition is that people search for external values and meaning in a world which has none, and is indifferent to them. Camus writes of value-nihilists such as Meursault, but also of values in a nihilistic world, that people can instead strive to be "heroic nihilists", living with dignity in the face of absurdity, living with "secular saintliness", fraternal solidarity, and rebelling against and transcending the world's indifference.

20th century philosophy

The current era has seen radical changes in conceptions of human nature. Modern science has effectively rewritten the relationship of humankind to the natural world, advances in medicine and technology have freed us from the limitations and ailments of previous eras, and philosophy —particularly following the linguistic turn— altered how the relationships people have with themselves and each other is conceived. Questions about the meaning of life have seen equally radical changes, from attempts to reevaluate human existence in biological and scientific terms (as in pragmatism and logical positivism), to efforts to meta-theorize about meaning-making as an activity (existentialism, secular humanism).

Pragmatism

Pragmatism, originated in the late-nineteenth-century U.S., to concern itself (mostly) with truth, positing that only in struggling with the environment do data, and derived theories, have meaning, and that consequences, like utility and practicality, also are components of truth. Moreover, pragmatism posits that anything useful and practical is not always true, arguing that what most contributes to the most human good in the long course is true. In practice, theoretical claims must be practically verifiable, i.e. one should be able to predict and test claims, and, that, ultimately, the needs of mankind should guide human intellectual inquiry.

Pragmatic philosophers suggest that the practical, useful understanding of life is more important than searching for an impractical abstract truth about life. William James argued that truth could be made, but not sought. To a pragmatist, the meaning of life is discoverable only via experience.

73

Existentialism

Existentialism Edvard Munch's The Scream , a representation of existential angst. Each man and each woman

Edvard Munch's The Scream, a representation of existential angst.

Each man and each woman creates the essence (meaning) of his and her life; life is not determined by a supernatural god or an earthly authority, one is free. As such, one's ethical prime directives are action, freedom, and decision, thus, existentialism opposes rationalism and positivism. In seeking meaning to life, the existentialist looks to where people find meaning in life, in course of which using only reason as a source of meaning is insufficient; the insufficiency gives rise to the emotions of anxiety and dread, felt in facing one's radical freedom, and the concomitant awareness of death. To the existentialist, existence precedes essence; the (essence) of one's life arises only after one comes to existence.

Søren Kierkegaard coined the term "leap of faith", arguing that life is full of absurdity, and one must make his and her own values in an indifferent world. One can live meaningfully (free of despair and anxiety) in an unconditional commitment to something finite, and devotes that meaningful life to the commitment, despite the vulnerability inherent to doing so.

Arthur Schopenhauer answered: "What is the meaning of life?" by determining that one's life reflects one's will, and that the will (life) is an aimless, irrational, and painful drive. Salvation, deliverance, and escape from suffering are in aesthetic contemplation, sympathy for others, and asceticism.

For Friedrich Nietzsche, life is worth living only if there are goals inspiring one to live. Accordingly, he saw nihilism ("all that happens is meaningless") as without goals. He discredited asceticism, because it denies one's living in the world; denied that values are objective facts, that are rationally necessary, universally-binding commitments: Our evaluations are interpretations, and not reflections of the world, as it is, in itself, and, therefore, all ideations take place from a particular perspective.

Absurdism

Albert Camus, the French Algerian philosopher who is often associated with existentialism but enthusiastically refused the term, is famous for propounding his theory of the Absurd. According to absurdism, there is a fundamental disharmony that arises out of the co-presence of man and the universe. Man has a desire for order, meaning, and purpose in life, but the universe is indifferent and meaningless; the Absurd arises out of this conflict.

As beings looking for hope in a meaningless world, Camus says that humans have three ways of resolving the dilemma.

74

· Suicide: The first solution to the dilemma is simply to end one's life. Camus rejects this choice as cowardly.

· Religious belief in a transcendent world: Such a belief would posit the existence of a realm that is beyond the Absurd, and, as such, has meaning. Camus calls this solution “philosophical suicide” and rejects it because it amounts to the destruction of reason, which in his view is as fatal as suicide of the body.

· Accept the Absurd: According to Camus, this is the only real solution. It is to accept and even embrace the absurdity of life and to continue living. The Absurd is a crucial characteristic of the human condition, and the only true way to deal with this is bold acceptance of it. Life, according to Camus, can “be lived all the better if it has no meaning.”

Secular humanism

all the better if it has no meaning.” Secular humanism The "Happy Human" symbol representing Secular

The "Happy Human" symbol representing Secular Humanism.

Per secular humanism, the human race came to be by reproducing in a progression of unguided evolution as an integral part of nature, which is self-existing. Knowledge does not come from supernatural sources, but from human observation, experimentation, and rational analysis (the scientific method): the nature of the universe is what people discern it to be. Like-wise, "values and realities" are determined "by means of intelligent inquiry" and "are derived from human need and interest as tested by experience", that is, by critical intelligence. "As far as we know, the total personality is [a function] of the biological organism transacting in a social and cultural context."

People determine human purpose, without supernatural influence; it is the human personality (general sense) that is the purpose of a human being's life; humanism seeks to develop and fulfill: "Humanism affirms our ability, and responsibility, to lead ethical lives of personal fulfillment that aspire to the greater good of humanity". Humanists promote enlightened self-

75

interest and the common good for all people. The happiness of the individual person is inextricably linked to the well-being of humanity, as a whole, in part, because we are social animals, who find meaning in personal relations, and because cultural progress benefits everybody living in the culture.

The philosophical sub-genres posthumanism and transhumanism (sometimes used synonymously) are extensions of humanistic values. One should seek the advancement of humanity and of all life to the greatest degree feasible, to reconcile Renaissance humanism with the twenty-first century's technoscientific culture, thus, every living creature has the right to determine its personal and social "meaning of life".

From a humanistic-psychotherapeutic point of view, the question of the meaning of life could also be reinterpreted as "What is the meaning of my life?" Instead of becoming bogged down in cosmic or religious question about overarching purpose, this approach suggests that the question is intensely personal. There are many therapeutic responses to this question, for example Viktor Frankl argues for "Dereflection", which largely translates as ceasing to endlessly reflect on the self, instead of engaging in life. On the whole, the therapeutic response is that the question of meaning of life evaporates if one is fully engaged in life. The question then morphs into more specific worries such as "What delusions am I under?", "What is blocking my ability to enjoy things?", "Why do I neglect loved-ones?".

Logical positivism

Logical positivists ask: What is the meaning of life? and What is the meaning in asking? If there are no objective values, then, is life meaningless? Ludwig Wittgenstein and the logical positivists said: "Expressed in language, the question is meaningless"; because, in life the statement the "meaning of x", usually denotes the consequences of x, or the significance of x, or what is notable about x, et cetera, thus, when the meaning of life concept equals "x", in the statement the "meaning of x", the statement becomes recursive, and, therefore, nonsensical, or it might refer to the fact that biological life is essential to having a meaning in life.

The things (people, events) in the life of a person can have meaning (importance) as parts of a whole, but a discrete meaning of (the) life, itself, aside from those things, cannot be discerned. A person's life has meaning (for himself, others) as the life events resulting from his achievements, legacy, family, et cetera, but, to say that life, itself, has meaning, is a misuse of language, since any note of significance, or of consequence, is relevant only in life (to the living), so rendering the statement erroneous. Bertrand Russell wrote that although he found that his distaste for torture was not like his distaste for broccoli, he found no satisfactory, empirical method of proving this:

When we try to be definite, as to what we mean when we say that this or that is "the Good," we find ourselves involved in very great difficulties. Bentham's creed, that pleasure is the Good, roused furious opposition, and was said to be a pig's philosophy. Neither he nor his opponents could advance any argument. In a scientific question, evidence can be adduced on both sides, and, in the end, one side is seen to have the better case — or, if this does not happen, the question is left undecided. But in a question, as to whether this, or that, is the ultimate Good, there is no evidence, either way; each disputant can only appeal to his own emotions, and employ such rhetorical devices as shall rouse similar emotions in others . Questions as to "values" — that is to say, as to what is good or bad on its own account, independently of its effects — lie outside the domain of science, as the defenders of religion emphatically assert. I think that, in this, they are right, but, I draw the further conclusion, which they do not draw, that questions as to "values" lie wholly outside the domain of knowledge. That is to say, when we assert that this, or that, has "value", we are giving expression to our own emotions, not to a fact, which would still be true if our personal feelings were different.

76

Postmodernism

Postmodernist thought - broadly speaking - sees human nature as constructed by language, or by structures and institutions of human society. Unlike other forms of philosophy, postmodernism rarely seeks out a priori or innate meanings in human existence, but instead focuses on analyzing or critiquing given meanings in order to rationalize or reconstruct them. Anything resembling a 'meaning of life', in postmodernist terms, can only be understood within a social and linguistic framework, and must be pursued as an escape from the power structures that are already embedded in all forms of speech and interaction. As a rule, postmodernists see awareness of the constraints of language as necessary to escaping those constraints, but different theorists take different views on the nature of this process: from radical reconstruction of meaning by individuals (as in deconstructionism) to theories in which individuals are primarily extensions of language and society, without real autonomy (as in poststructuralism). In general, postmodernism seeks meaning by looking at the underlying structures that create or impose meaning, rather than the epiphenomenal appearances of the world.

Instinctivism, Social Darwinism and Evolutionary Psychology

According to Instinctivism, the ultimate meaning of life is to seek the fulfillment of the human instincts. Instinctists believes that all actions in life are results of instincts and in particular reproductive needs. Instinctivism demonstrates how the existence of human individual being the result of reproduction instinctly lead human to achieve the reproduction goal in a cycle. Instantism emphasizes that when people think critically, they shall realize the ultimate goal for every actions they do is to attract the opposite sex. Instinctivism's central idea can be followed in this way:

As it is accepted that people are taught to learn in school. Why study hard? To receive good grades. Why receive good grades? To be able to go to college. Why go to college? To have a good occupation. Why a good occupation? To have wealth. Why wealth? To buy nice cars; To buy nice house; To buy nice products. Why all the nice things to make one look good? Ultimately to attract the opposite sex, to fufill the basic need of reproduction and the continuence of the human race.

Common arguments used by instictivismists that all of humanities action can be explained by our goal of procreation are the following: Why are people so opposed to homosexual marriage? Because homosexual couples can not reproduce. Why do people love each other? Because love leads to sexual intercourse, which contributes to the population of the human species. Why do mothers love babies before they are even born? Because it contributes to the maintenance and increase of the population of the human species. Why are so many people against abortion? Because it is a deterrent to procreation. Why are there so many doctors and so much medicine? To maintain the population of the human species. Why is murder such a big crime? Because it decreases the population of the human species.

Many of these approaches often consider the goal of life to be "maximizing reproductive fitness", arguing that adherents of approaches which do not do so are doomed to die out. The view becomes somewhat less reductionist - albeit at the expense of increased ambiguity -with the introduction of the concept of a meme. (cf. Dawkins Selfish Gene)

Naturalistic pantheism

According to naturalistic pantheism, the meaning of life is to care for and look after nature and the environment.

77

Religious perspectives

The religious perspectives on the meaning of life are those ideologies which explain life in terms of an implicit purpose not defined by humans.

Western and Middle Eastern religions

not defined by humans. Western and Middle Eastern religions Symbols of the three main Abrahamic religions

Symbols of the three main Abrahamic religions – Judaism, Christianity, and Islam

Zoroastrianism

Zoroastrianism is the religion and philosophy named after its prophet Zoroaster, which influenced the beliefs of Judaism and its descendant religions. Zoroastrians believe in a universe created by a transcendental God, Ahura Mazda, to whom all worship is ultimately directed. Azhura Mazda's creation is asha, truth and order, and it is in conflict with its antithesis, druj, falsehood and disorder.

Since humanity possesses free will, people must be responsible for their moral choices. By using free will, people must take active role to play in the universal conflict, with good thoughts, good words and good deeds to ensure happiness and to keep chaos at bay.

Judaism

Judaism's most important feature is the worshiping of a single, omniscient, omnipotent, omnibenevolent, transcendent God, who created the universe and governs it. Per traditional Judaism, God established a covenant with the Jewish people, at Mount Sinai, revealing his laws and commandments in the Torah. In Rabbinic Judaism, the Torah comprises the written Pentateuch (Torah) and the oral law tradition (later transcribed as sacred writing).

In the Judaic world view, the meaning of life is to serve the one true God and to prepare for the world to come. The "Olam Haba" thought is about elevating oneself spiritually, connecting to

78

God in preparing for "Olam Haba"; Jewish thought is to use "Olam Hazeh" (this world) to

elevate oneself. "Al shlosha devarim," a well-known song which is often chanted at the point of

a shabbat service when the torah is marched around the sanctuary, describes that "the world

stands on three things: on torah, on worship, and on acts of lovingkindness." This concept further explains the Jewish mentality towards the meaning of it all.

Christianity

Jewish mentality towards the meaning of it all. Christianity Christ the Redeemer statue on Corcovado mountain

Christ the Redeemer statue on Corcovado mountain in Rio de Janeiro is symbolic of Christianity, illustrating the concept of seeking redemption through Jesus Christ.

Though Christianity has its roots in Judaism, and shares much of the latter faith's ontology, its central beliefs derive from the teachings of Jesus Christ, as presented in the New Testament. Life's purpose in Christianity is to seek divine salvation through the grace of God and intercession of Christ. (cf. Gospel of John 11:26) The New Testament speaks of God wanting to have a relationship with humans both in this life and the life to come, which can happen only if one's sins are forgiven (John 3:16-21), (2 Peter 3:9).

In the Christian view, humankind was made in the image of God and perfect, but the Fall of Man

caused the progeny of the first Parents to inherit Original Sin. The sacrifice of Christ's passion, death and resurrection provide the means for transcending that impure state (Romans 6:23). The means for doing so varies between different groups of Christians, but all rely on belief in Jesus, his work on the cross and his resurrection as the fundamental starting point for a relationship with God. Under the Christian view, people are justified by belief in the propitiatory sacrifice of Jesus' death on the cross. The Gospel maintains that through this belief, the barrier that sin has created between man and God is destroyed, and allows God to change people and instill in them

a new heart after His own will, and the ability to do it. This is what the term 'reborn' or 'saved'

almost always refers to. This places Christianity in stark contrast to other religions which claim that believers are justified with God through adherence to guidelines or law given to us by God.

79

In the Westminster Shorter Catechism, the first question is: What is the chief end of Man?, that is, What is Man's main purpose?. The answer is: Man's chief end is to glorify God, and enjoy him forever. God requires one to obey the revealed moral law saying: love the Lord our God with all our heart, with all our soul, with all our strength, and with all our mind; and our neighbour as ourselves. The Baltimore Catechism answers the question "Why did God make you?" by saying "God made me to know Him, to love Him, and to serve Him in this world, and to be happy with Him forever in heaven."

The Apostle Paul also answers this question in his speech on the Areopagus in Athens: "From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us."

In Mormon theology (Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints) the purpose of life is to become more like God.

Islam

In Islam, Man's ultimate life objective is to serve Allah (the Arabic equivalent for "God") by abiding by the Divine guidelines revealed in the Qur'an and the Tradition of the Prophet. Earthly life is merely a test, determining one's afterlife, either in Jannat (paradise) or in Jahannum (Hell).

For the pleasure of Allah, via the Qur'an, all Muslims must believe in God, his revelations, his angels, his messengers, and in the "Day of Judgment". Qur'an describes the purpose of creation as follows: "Blessed be he in whose hand is the kingdom, he is powerful over all things,who created death and life that he might examine which of you is best in deeds, and he is the almighty, the forgiving" (Qur'an67:1-2)and "'And I (Allâh) created not the jinn and mankind except that they should worship Me (Alone). " (Qur'an 51:56). Worship testifies to the oneness of God in his lordship, his names, and his attributes. Terrenal life is a test; how one acts (behaves) determines whether one's soul goes to Jannat (Heaven) or to Jahannam (Hell).

The Five Pillars of Islam are duties incumbent to every Muslim; they are: Shahadah (profession of faith); Salah (ritual prayer); Zakah (charity); Sawm (fasting during Ramadan), and Hajj (pilgrimage to Mecca). They derive from the Hadith works, notably of Sahih Al-Bukhari and Sahih Muslim.

Beliefs differ among the Kalam. The Sunni concept of pre-destination is divine decree; like-wise, the Shi'a concept of pre-destination is divine justice; in the esoteric view of the Sufis, the universe exists only for God's pleasure; Creation is a grand game, wherein Allah is the greatest prize.

Bahá'í Faith

The Bahá'í Faith emphasizes the unity of humanity. To Bahá'ís, the purpose of life is focused on spiritual growth and service to humanity. Human beings are viewed as intrinsically spiritual beings. People's lives in this material world provide extended opportunities to grow, to develop divine qualities and virtues, and the prophets were sent by God to facilitate this.

80

South Asian religions

Hindu philosophies

South Asian religions Hindu philosophies A golden Aum written in Devanagari. The Aum is sacred in

A golden Aum written in Devanagari. The Aum is sacred in Hindu, Jain and Buddhist religions.

Hinduism is a religious category including many beliefs and traditions. Since Hinduism was the way of expressed meaningful living for quite a long time immemorial, when there was no need for naming this as a separate religion, Hindu doctrines are supplementary and complementary in nature, generally non-exclusive, suggestive and tolerant in content. Most believe that the ātman (spirit, soul) — the person's true self — is eternal. In part, this stems from Hindu beliefs that spiritual development occurs across many lifetimes, and goals should match the state of development of the individual. There are four possible aims to human life, known as the purusharthas (ordered from least to greatest): Kāma (wish, desire, love and sensual pleasure), Artha (wealth, prosperity, glory), Dharma (righteousness, duty, morality, virtue, ethics, encompassing notions such as ahimsa (non-violence) and satya (truth)) and Moksha (liberation, i.e. liberation from Sara, the cycle of reincarnation).

In all schools of Hinduism, the meaning of life is tied up in the concepts of karma (causal

action), samsara (the cycle of birth and rebirth), and moksha (liberation). Existence is conceived

as the progression of the ātman (similar to the western concept of a soul) across numerous

lifetimes, and its ultimate progression towards liberation from karma. Particular goals for life are generally subsumed under broader yogas (practices) or dharma (correct living) which are intended to create more favorable reincarnations, though they are generally positive acts in this life as well. Traditional schools of Hinduism often worship Devas which are manifestations of Ishvara (a personal or chosen God); these Devas are taken as ideal forms to be identified with, as a form of spiritual improvement.

Advaita and Dvaita Hinduism

81

Later schools reinterpreted the vedas to focus on Brahman, "The One Without a Second", as a central God-like figure.

In monist Advaita Vedanta, atman is ultimately indistinguishable from brahman, and the goal of life is to know or realize that one's atman (soul) is identical to Brahman. To the Upanishads, whoever becomes fully aware of the ātman, as one's core of self, realises identity with Brahman, and, thereby, achieves Moksha (liberation, freedom).

Dualist Dvaita Vedanta and other bhakti schools have a dualist interpretation. Brahman is seen as a supreme being with a personality and manifest qualities. The ātman depends upon brahman for its existence; the meaning of life is achieving Moksha through love of God and upon his grace.

Vaishnavism

Another branch of Hinduism is Vaishnavism, where Vishnu is the principal deity. Not all schools of Vaishnavism teach a meaning to life, but Gaudiya Vaishnavism, for example, teaches Achintya Bheda Abheda meaning worship of a separate and single true God KRISHNA while all the living entities are eternal parts and parcels of Supreme Personality of God Head KRISHNA. The constitutional position of a living entity is to serve the Lord with love and devotion. Uninterrupted, unmotivated voluntary service to KRISHNA and His devotees is the purpose of life in liberated as well as conditioned state of life. We were in spiritual world serving KRISHNA blissfully in full knowledge as we are the eternal spirit souls. Because of our aversion to KRISHNA and due ot the desire to enjoy separate from KRISHNA we are in this material world undergoing the repeated cyle of birth, disease, old age and death in the acquired bodies of 8.4 million species of life, transmigrating from one body ot another according to our karma and desire. The purpose of human life especially is to think beyond the animalistic way of eating, sleeping, mating and defending and engage the higher intellingence to revive the lost relationship with KRISHNA, our eternal Father, from whom everything came, who is the sustainer and annihilator. The revealed scriptures like Bhagavad-Gita and Srimad Bhagavatam teach the Sambandha (Who am I? Who is God? What is my relationship with God) and Abhideya (the process of re-establishing that lost connection with the Lord through the 9 processes of Bhakti - Devotional Service) and Prayojana - the result - attaining the love of Godhead. The simplest process is to chant the maha mantra - "Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare - Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare" in the association of Lord's devotees. While the purpose of life is to revive the lost relationship with the all loving Lord, the purpose of material creation is to utilize the resources to go back home back to Godhead, the eternal spiritual world Goloka Vrindavana - the kingdom of Godhead.

82

Jainism

Jainism The Jainist Vow of Ahimsa. The dharmacakra (wheel) is the resolve to halt the cycle

The Jainist Vow of Ahimsa. The dharmacakra (wheel) is the resolve to halt the cycle of reincarnation via truth and non-violence.

Jainism is a religion originating in ancient India, its ethical system promotes self-discipline above all else. Through following the ascetic teachings of Jina, a human achieves enlightenment (perfect knowledge). Jainism divides the universe into living and non-living beings. Only when the non-living become attached to the living does suffering result. Therefore, happiness is the result of self-conquest and freedom from external objects. The meaning of life may then be said to be to use the physical body to achieve self-realization and bliss.

Jains believe that every human is responsible for his or her actions and all living beings have an eternal soul, jiva. Jains believe all souls are equal because they all possess the potential of being liberated and attaining Moksha. The Jain view of karma is that every action, every word, every thought produces, besides its visible, an invisible, transcendental effect on the soul.

Jainism includes strict adherence to ahimsa (or ahinsā), a form of nonviolence that goes far beyond vegetarianism. Jains refuse food obtained with unnecessary cruelty. Many practice a lifestyle similar to veganism due to the violence of modern dairy farms, and others exclude root vegetables from their diets in order to preserve the lives of the plants from which they eat.

Buddhism

Early Buddhism

Buddhism is a nondual doctrine, in which subject, object, and action are all seen as illusory. Buddhists believe that life is inherent with suffering or frustration. Which does not mean that there is no pleasure in life, but this pleasure does not cause everlasting happiness. The suffering is caused by attachment to objects material or non-material which in turn causes one to be born again and again in the cycle of existence. The Buddhist sūtras and tantras do not speak about "the

83

meaning of life" or "the purpose of life", but about the potential of human life to end suffering through detaching oneself from cravings and conceptual attachments. Suffering can be overcome through human activity, simply by removing the cause of suffering. Attaining and perfecting dispassion is a process of many levels that ultimately results in the state of Nirvana. Nirvana means freedom from both suffering and rebirth.

Nirvana means freedom from both suffering and rebirth. The eight-spoked Dharmacakra Theravada Buddhism is generally

The eight-spoked Dharmacakra

Theravada Buddhism is generally considered to be close to the early Buddhist practice. It promotes the concept of Vibhajjavada (Pali), literally "Teaching of Analysis", which says that insight must come from the aspirant's experience, critical investigation, and reasoning instead of by blind faith. However, the Theravadin tradition also emphasizes heeding the advice of the wise, considering such advice and evaluation of one's own experiences to be the two tests by which practices should be judged. The Theravadin goal is liberation (or freedom) from suffering, according to the Four Noble Truths. This is attained in the achievement of Nirvana, or Unbinding which also ends the repeated cycle of birth, old age, sickness and death.

Mahayana Buddhism

Mahayana Buddhist schools de-emphasize the traditional view (still practiced in Theravada) of the release from individual Suffering (Dukkha) and attainment of Awakening (Nirvana). In Mahayana, the Buddha is seen as an eternal, immutable, inconceivable, omnipresent being. The fundamental principles of Mahayana doctrine are based around the possibility of universal liberation from suffering for all beings, and the existence of the transcendent Buddha-nature, which is the eternal Buddha essence present, but hidden and unrecognised, in all living beings.

Philosophical schools of Mahayana Buddhism, such as Chan/Zen and the vajrayana Tibetan and Shingon schools, explicitly teach that boddhisattvas should refrain from full liberation, allowing themselves to be reincarnated into the world until all beings achieve enlightenment. Devotional schools such as Pure Land buddhism seek the aid of celestial buddhas - individuals who have spent lifetimes accumulating positive karma, and use that accumulation to aid all.

84

Sikhism

Sikhism The Khanda, an important symbol of Sikhism. The monotheistic Sikh religion was founded by Guru

The Khanda, an important symbol of Sikhism.

The monotheistic Sikh religion was founded by Guru Nanak Dev, the term "sikh" means student, which denotes that followers will lead their lives forever learning. This system of religious philosophy and expression has been traditionally known as the Gurmat (literally the counsel of the gurus) or the Sikh Dharma. The followers of Sikhism are ordained to follow the teachings of the ten Sikh gurus, or enlightened leaders, as well as the holy scripture entitled the Gurū Granth hib, which includes selected works of many philosophers from diverse socio-economic and religious backgrounds.

The Sikh Gurus tell us that salvation can be obtained by following various spiritual paths, so Sikhs do not have a monopoly on salvation: "The Lord dwells in every heart, and every heart has its own way to reach Him." Sikhs believe that all people are equally important before God. Sikhs balance their moral and spiritual values with the quest for knowledge, and they aim to promote a life of peace and equality but also of positive action.

A key distinctive feature of Sikhism is a non-anthropomorphic concept of God, to the extent that one can interpret God as the Universe itself (pantheism). Sikhism thus sees life as an opportunity to understand this God as well as to discover the divinity which lies in each individual. While a full understanding of God is beyond human beings, Nanak described God as not wholly unknowable, and stressed that God must be seen from "the inward eye", or the "heart", of a human being: devotees must meditate to progress towards enlightenment. Nanak emphasized the revelation through meditation, as its rigorous application permits the existence of communication between God and human beings.

85

Far Eastern religions

Shinto

Far Eastern religions Shinto Shinto torii, a traditional Japanese gate Shinto is the native religion of

Shinto torii, a traditional Japanese gate

Shinto is the native religion of Japan. Shinto means "the path of the kami", but more specifically, it can be taken to mean "the divine crossroad where the kami chooses his way". The 'divine' crossroad signifies that all the universe is divine spirit. This foundation of free will, choosing one's way, means that life is a creative process.

Shinto wants life to live, not to die. Shinto sees death as pollution and regards life as the realm where the divine spirit seeks to purify itself by rightful self-development. Shinto wants individual human life to be prolonged forever on earth as a victory of the divine spirit in preserving its objective personality in its highest forms. The presence of evil in the world, as conceived by Shinto, does not stultify the divine nature by imposing on divinity responsibility for being able to relieve human suffering while refusing to do so. The sufferings of life are the sufferings of the divine spirit in search of progress in the objective world.

86

Taoism

Taoism Taijitu symbolizes the unity of opposites between yin and yang. The Taoists' cosmogony emphasizes the

Taijitu symbolizes the unity of opposites between yin and yang.

The Taoists' cosmogony emphasizes the need for all sentient beings and all man to return to the primordial or to rejoin with the Oneness of the Universe by way of self cultivation and self realization. All adherents should understand and be in tune with the ultimate truth.

They believe all things were originally from Taiji and Tao, and the meaning in life for the adherents is to realise the temporal nature of the existence. "Only introspection can then help us

to find our innermost reasons for living

the

simple answer is here within ourselves."

Confucianism

Confucianism recognizes human nature in accordance with the need for discipline and education. Because mankind is driven by both positive and negative influences, Confucianists see a goal in achieving the good nature through strong relationships and reasoning as well as minimizing the negative energy. This emphasis on normal living is seen in the Confucianist scholar Tu Wei- Ming's quote, "we can realize the ultimate meaning of life in ordinary human existence."

New religions

There are many new religious movements in East Asia, and some with millions of followers:

Chondogyo, Tenrikyo, Cao Đài, and Seicho-No-Ie. New religions typically have unique explanations for the meaning of life. For example, in Tenrikyo, one is expected to live a Joyous Life by participating in practices that create happiness for oneself and others.

In popular culture

The mystery of life and its meaning is an often recurring subject in popular culture, featured in entertainment media and various forms of art.

87

Charles Allan Gilbert's All is Vanity, an example of vanitas, depicts a young woman gazing

Charles Allan Gilbert's All is Vanity, an example of vanitas, depicts a young woman gazing at her reflection in a mirror, but all is positioned in such a way as to make the image of a skull appear.

In Douglas Adams' popular comedy book series The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, the Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything has the numeric solution of 42, which was derived over seven and a half million years by a giant supercomputer called Deep Thought. After much confusion from the descendants of his creators, Deep Thought explains that the problem is that they do not know the Ultimate Question, and they would have to build an even more powerful computer to determine what that is. This computer is revealed to be Earth, which, after 10 million years of calculating, is destroyed to make way for a galactic bypass five minutes before it finishes calculations. In Life, the Universe and Everything, it is confirmed that 42 is indeed the Ultimate Answer, and that it is impossible for both the Ultimate Answer and the Ultimate Question to be known about in the same universe, as they will cancel each other out and take the universe with them, to be replaced by something even more bizarre, (one character, Prak, suggests that this may have already happened). Subsequently, in the hopes that his subconscious holds the question, Arthur Dent guesses at a question, coming up with "What do you get when you multiply six by nine?", probably an incorrect guess, as the arrival of the Golgafrinchans on prehistoric Earth would have disrupted the computation process. However, Dent, Fenchurch, and a dying Marvin did see God's final message to his creation: "We apologise for the inconvenience".

88

Hamlet with Yorick's skull In Monty Python's The Meaning of Life , there are several

Hamlet with Yorick's skull

In Monty Python's The Meaning of Life, there are several allusions to the meaning of life. In "Part VI B: The Meaning of Life" a cleaning lady explains "Life's a game, you sometimes win or lose" and later a waiter describes his personal philosophy "The world is a beautiful place. You must go into it, and love everyone, not hate people. You must try and make everyone happy, and bring peace and contentment everywhere you go." At the end of the film, we can see Michael Palin being handed an envelope, he opens it, and provides the viewers with 'the meaning of life':

"Well, it's nothing very special. Uh, try to be nice to people, avoid eating fat, read a good book every now and then, get some walking in, and try to live together in peace and harmony with people of all creeds and nations."

In The Simpsons episode "Homer the Heretic", a representation of God agrees to tell Homer what the meaning of life is, but the show's credits begin to roll just as he starts to say what it is. Earlier in the episode, Homer founds his own religion, in which he tries to worship God in his own way, later pointing out to Moe that it has no hell and no kneeling. However, Homer quickly abandons his self-indulgent personal religion after his house almost burns down, taking the fire as a sign of divine retribution, and exclaiming "O Spiteful One, show me who to smite, and he shall be smoten." Ned assures Homer that the fire was not God's vengeance and Lovejoy explains that God was "working in the hearts of your friends and neighbors when they came to your aid."

At the end of The Matrix Revolutions, Smith concludes that "the purpose of life is to end" and is determined to move that purpose along. The Matrix series also presents the idea of "living in a simulated reality" and the associated question whether such an existence should be considered meaningless, in a way that may be compared to Plato's allegory of the cave and how certain belief systems view reality, like Buddhism or Gnosticism.

Morality

89

Morality (from the Latin moralitas "manner, character, proper behavior") is a system of conduct and ethics that is virtuous. It can also be used in regard to sexual matters and chastity. Morality has three principal meanings:

In its "descriptive" sense, morality refers to personal or cultural values, codes of conduct or

social mores that distinguish between right and wrong in the human society. Describing morality

in this way is not making a claim about what is objectively right or wrong, but only referring to

what is considered right or wrong by people. For the most part right and wrong acts are classified

as such because they are thought to cause benefit or harm, but it is possible that many moral

beliefs are based on prejudice, ignorance or even hatred. This sense of term is also addressed by descriptive ethics.

In its "normative" sense, morality refers directly to what is right and wrong, regardless of what

people think. It could be defined as the conduct of the ideal "moral" person in a certain situation.

This usage of the term is characterized by "definitive" statements such as "That act is immoral" rather than descriptive ones such as "Many believe that act is immoral." It is often challenged by a moral skepticism, in which the unchanging existence of a rigid, universal, objective moral "truth" is rejected. The normative usage of the term "morality" is also addressed by normative ethics.

Morality may also be defined as synonymous with ethics, the field that encompasses the above two meanings and others within a systematic philosophical study of the moral domain. Ethics seeks to address questions such as how a moral outcome can be achieved in a specific situation (applied ethics), how moral values should be determined (normative ethics), what morals people actually abide by (descriptive ethics), what the fundamental nature of ethics or morality is, including whether it has any objective justification (meta-ethics), and how moral capacity or moral agency develops and what its nature is (moral psychology).

A key issue is the meaning of the terms "moral" or "immoral". Moral realism would hold that

there are true moral statements which report objective moral facts, whereas moral anti-realism would hold that morality is derived from any one of the norms prevalent in society (cultural relativism); the edicts of a god (divine command theory); is merely an expression of the speakers' sentiments (emotivism); an implied imperative (universal prescriptivism); or falsely presupposes that there are objective moral facts (error theory). Some thinkers hold that there is no correct definition of right behavior, that morality can only be judged with respect to particular situations, within the standards of particular belief systems and socio-historical contexts. This position, known as moral relativism, often cites empirical evidence from anthropology as evidence to support its claims. The opposite view, that there are universal, eternal moral truths are known as moral absolutism. Moral absolutists might concede that forces of social conformity significantly shape moral decisions, but deny that cultural norms and customs define morally right behavior.

Anthropological perspectives

Tribal and territorial moralities

Celia Green has made a distinction between tribal and territorial morality. She characterizes the latter as predominantly negative and proscriptive: it defines a person’s territory, including his or her property and dependents, which is not to be damaged or interfered with. Apart from these proscriptions, territorial morality is permissive, allowing the individual whatever behaviour does not interfere with the territory of another. By contrast, tribal morality is prescriptive, imposing the norms of the collective on the individual. These norms will be arbitrary, culturally dependent and ‘flexible’, whereas territorial morality aims at rules which are universal and absolute, such as

90

Kant’s ‘categorical imperative’. Green relates the development of territorial morality to the rise of the concept of private property, and the ascendancy of contract over status.

In-group and out-group

some observers hold that individuals apply distinct sets of moral rules to people depending on their membership of an "ingroup" (the individual and those they believe to be of the same culture or race) or an "outgroup" (people not entitled to be treated according to the same rules). Some biologists, anthropologists and evolutionary psychologists believe this ingroup-outgroup discrimination has evolved because it enhances group survival. Gary R. Johnson and V.S. Falger have argued that nationalism and patriotism are forms of this ingroup/outgroup boundary. Jonathan Haidt has noted that experimental observation indicates an ingroup criterion provides one moral foundation substantially used by conservatives, but far less so by liberals.

Comparing cultures

Peterson and Seligman approach the anthropological view looking across cultures and across millennia. They conclude that certain virtues have prevailed in all cultures they examined. The major virtues they identified include wisdom / knowledge; courage; humanity; justice; temperance; and transcendence. Each of these includes several divisions. For instance humanity includes love, kindness, and social intelligence.

Fons Trompenaars, author of Did the Pedestrian Die?, tested members of different cultures with various moral dilemmas. One of these was whether the driver of a car would have his friend, a passenger riding in the car, lie in order to protect the driver from the consequences of driving too fast and hitting a pedestrian. Trompenaars found that different cultures had quite different expectations (from none to almost certain).

Evolutionary perspectives

The development of modern morality is a process closely tied to the Sociocultural evolution of humanity, however its roots are probably to be found in our very nature. Some evolutionary biologists, particularly sociobiologists, believe that morality is a product of evolutionary forces acting at an individual level and also at the group level through group selection (though to what degree this actually occurs is a controversial topic in evolutionary theory). Some sociobiologists contend that the set of behaviors that constitute morality evolved largely because they provided possible survival and/or reproductive benefits (i.e. increased evolutionary success). Humans consequently evolved "pro-social" emotions, such as feelings of empathy or guilt, in response to these moral behaviors.

In this respect, morality is not absolute, but relative and constitutes any set of behaviors that encourage human cooperation based on their ideology. Biologists contend that all social animals, from ants to elephants, have modified their behaviors, by restraining selfishness in order to make group living worthwhile. Human morality, though sophisticated and complex relative to other animals, is essentially a natural phenomenon that evolved to restrict excessive individualism and foster human cooperation.

On this view, moral codes are ultimately founded on emotional instincts and intuitions that were selected for in the past because they aided survival and reproduction (inclusive fitness). Examples: the maternal bond is selected for because it improves the survival of offspring; the Westermarck effect, where close proximity during early years reduces mutual sexual attraction,

91

underpins taboos against incest because it decreases the likelihood of genetically risky behaviour such as inbreeding.

The phenomenon of 'reciprocity' in nature is seen by evolutionary biologists as one way to begin to understand human morality. Its function is typically to ensure a reliable supply of essential resources, especially for animals living in a habitat where food quantity or quality fluctuates unpredictably. For example, some vampire bats fail to feed on prey on any given night while others consume a surplus. Bats that have successfully fed then regurgitate part of their blood meal to save a conspecific from starvation. Since these animals live in close-knit groups over many years, an individual can count on other group members to return the favor on nights when it goes hungry (Wilkinson, 1984)

Marc Bekoff and Jessica Pierce (2009) have argued that morality is a suite of behavioral capacities likely shared by all mammals living in complex social groups (e.g., wolves, coyotes, elephants, dolphins, rats, chimpanzees). They define morality as "a suite of interrelated other- regarding behaviors that cultivate and regulate complex interactions within social groups." This suite of behaviors includes empathy, reciprocity, altruism, cooperation, and a sense of fairness. In related work, it has been convincingly demonstrated that chimpanzees show empathy for each other in a wide variety of contexts. They also possess the ability to engage in deception, and a level of social 'politics' prototypical of our own tendencies for gossip and reputation management.

Christopher Boehm (1982) has hypothesized that the incremental development of moral complexity throughout hominid evolution was due to the increasing need to avoid disputes and injuries in moving to open savanna and developing stone weapons. Other theories are that increasing complexity was simply a correlate of increasing group size and brain size, and in particular the development of theory of mind abilities. Richard Dawkins in The God Delusion suggested that our morality is a result of our biological evolutionary history and that the Moral Zeitgeist helps describe how morality evolves from biological and cultural origins and evolves with time within a culture.

Neuroscientific and psychiatric perspectives

Mirror-neurons

Research on mirror neurons, since their discovery in 1996, suggests that they may have a role to play not only in action understanding, but also in emotion sharing empathy. Cognitive neuro- scientist Jean Decety thinks that the ability to recognize and vicariously experience what another individual is undergoing was a key step forward in the evolution of social behavior, and ultimately, morality. The inability to feel empathy is one of the defining characteristics of psychopathy, and this would appear to lend support to Decety's view.

Neuroimaging

The explicit making of moral right and wrong judgments benchood links to activation in the ventromedial prefrontal cortex while as the intuitive reactions to situations containing implicit moral issues activates the temporoparietal junction area.

Psychological perspectives

In modern moral psychology, morality is considered to change through personal development. A number of psychologists have produced theories on the development of morals, usually going

92

through stages of different morals. Lawrence Kohlberg, Jean Piaget, and Elliot Turiel have cognitive-developmental approaches to moral development; to these theorists morality forms in a series of constructive stages or domains. Social psychologists such as Martin Hoffman and Jonathan Haidt emphasize social and emotional development based on biology, such as empathy. Moral identity theorists, such as William Damon and Mordechai Nisan, see moral commitment as arising from the development of a self-identity that is defined by moral purposes: this moral self-identity leads to a sense of responsibility to pursue such purposes. Of historical interest in psychology are the theories of psychoanalysts such as Sigmund Freud, who believe that moral development is the product of aspects of the super-ego as guilt-shame avoidance.

Morality and politics

If morality is the answer to the question 'how ought we to live' at the individual level, politics can be seen as addressing the same question at the social level. It is therefore unsurprising that evidence has been found of a relationship between attitudes in morality and politics. Jonathan Haidt and Jesse Graham have studied the differences between liberals and conservatives, in this regard. Haidt found that Americans who identified as liberals tended to value care and fairness higher than loyalty, respect and purity. Self-identified conservative Americans valued care and fairness less and the remaining three values more. Both groups gave care the highest over-all weighting, but conservatives valued fairness the lowest, whereas liberals valued purity the lowest. Haidt also hypothesizes that the origin of this division in the United States can be traced to geohistorical factors, with conservatism strongest in closely knit, ethnically homogenous communities, in contrast to port-cities, where the cultural mix is greater, thus requiring more liberalism.

Group morality develops from shared concepts and beliefs and is often codified to regulate behavior within a culture or community. Various defined actions come to be called moral or immoral. Individuals who choose moral action are popularly held to possess "moral fiber", whereas those who indulge in immoral behavior may be labeled as socially degenerate. The continued existence of a group may depend on widespread conformity to codes of morality; an inability to adjust moral codes in response to new challenges is sometimes credited with the demise of a community (a positive example would be the function of Cistercian reform in reviving monasticism; a negative example would be the role of the Dowager Empress in the subjugation of China to European interests). Within nationalist movements, there has been some tendency to feel that a nation will not survive or prosper without acknowledging one common morality, regardless of in what it consists. Political Morality is also relevant to the behaviour internationally of national governments, and to the support they receive from their host population. Noam Chomsky states that

if we adopt the principle of universality : if an action is right (or wrong) for others, it is right (or wrong) for us. Those who do not rise to the minimal moral level of applying to themselves the standards they apply to others -- more stringent ones, in fact -- plainly cannot be taken seriously when they speak of appropriateness of response; or of right and wrong, good and evil.

In fact, one of the, maybe the most, elementary of moral principles is that of universality, that is, If something's right for me, it's right for you; if it's wrong for you, it's wrong for me. Any moral code that is even worth looking at has that at its core somehow.

93

Moral codes

Codified morality is generally distinguished from custom, another way for a community to define appropriate activity, by the former's derivation from natural or universal principles. In certain religious communities, the Divine is said to provide these principles through revelation, sometimes in great detail. Such codes may be called laws, as in the Law of Moses, or community morality may be defined through commentary on the texts of revelation, as in Islamic law. Such codes are distinguished from legal or judicial right, including civil rights, which are based on the accumulated traditions, decrees and legislation of a political authority, though these latter often invoke the authority of the moral law.

Morality can also be seen as the collection of beliefs as to what constitutes a good life. Since throughout most of human history, religions have provided both visions and regulations for an ideal life, morality is often confused with religious precepts. In secular communities, lifestyle choices, which represent an individual's conception of the good life, are often discussed in terms of "morality." Individuals sometimes feel that making an appropriate lifestyle choice invokes a true morality, and that accepted codes of conduct within their chosen community are fundamentally moral, even when such codes deviate from more general social principles.

Moral codes are often complex definitions of moral and immoral that are based upon well- defined value systems. Although some people might think that a moral code is simple, rarely is there anything simple about one's values, ethics, etc. or, for that matter, the judgment of those of others. The difficulty lies in the fact that morals are often part of a religion and more often than not about culture codes. Sometimes, moral codes give way to legal codes, which couple penalties or corrective actions with particular practices. Note that while many legal codes are merely built on a foundation of religious and/or cultural moral codes, oftentimes they are one and the same.

Examples of moral codes include the Golden Rule; the Five Precepts and the Noble Eightfold Path of Buddhism (see Śīla); the ancient Egyptian code of Ma'at ;the ten commandments of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam; the yamas and niyama of the Hindu scriptures; the ten Indian commandments; and the principle of the Dessek.

Another related concept is the moral core which is assumed to be innate in each individual, to those who accept that differences between individuals are more important than posited Creators or their rules. This, in some religious systems and beliefs (e.g. Taoism, Moralism and Gnosticism), is assumed to be the basis of all aesthetics and thus moral choice. Moral codes as such are therefore seen as coercive—part of human politics.

Moral psychology

Religiosity and morality

In the scientific literature, the degree of religiosity is generally found to be associated with higher ethical attitudes. Although a recent study by Gregory S. Paul published in the Journal of Religion and Society argues for a positive correlation between the degree of public religiosity in a society and certain measures of dysfunction , an analysis published later in the same journal contends that a number of methodological problems undermine any findings or conclusions to be taken from the research. In another response, Gary Jensen builds on and refines Paul's study. His conclusion, after carrying out elaborate multivariate statistical studies, is that a complex relationship exists between religiosity and homicide with some dimensions of religiosity encouraging homicide and other dimensions discouraging it." Meanwhile, other studies seem to show positive links in the relationship between religiosity and moral behavior—for example,

94

surveys suggesting a positive connection between faith and altruism. Modern research in criminology also acknowledges an inverse relationship between religion and crime, with many studies establishing this beneficial connection (though some claim it is a modest one). Indeed, a meta-analysis of 60 studies on religion and crime concluded, “religious behaviors and beliefs exert a moderate deterrent effect on individuals’ criminal behavior”.

Religion as a source of moral authority

Many religions provide moral guidelines for their followers. They believe that the divine has instructed them with a way to live, and that following these "rules" will lead to oneness with the divine.

Religion

A religion is a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, especially

when considered as the creation of a supernatural agency or agencies, usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs.

Aspects of religion include narrative, symbolism, beliefs, and practices that are supposed to give

meaning to the practitioner's experiences of life. Whether the meaning centers on a deity or deities, or an ultimate truth, religion is commonly identified by the practitioner's prayer, ritual, meditation, music and art, among other things, and is often interwoven with society and politics.

It may focus on specific supernatural, metaphysical, and moral claims about reality (the cosmos

and human nature) which may yield a set of religious laws and ethics and a particular lifestyle. Religion also encompasses ancestral or cultural traditions, writings, history, and mythology, as well as personal faith and religious experience.

The term "religion" refers both to the personal practices related to communal faith and to group rituals and communication stemming from shared conviction. "Religion" is sometimes used interchangeably with "faith" or "belief system," but it is more socially defined than personal convictions, and it entails specific behaviors, respectively.

The development of religion has taken many forms in various cultures, with continental differences.

Religion is often described as a communal system for the coherence of belief focusing on a system of thought, unseen being, person, or object, that is considered to be supernatural, sacred, divine, or of the highest truth. Moral codes, practices, values, institutions, tradition, rituals, and scriptures are often traditionally associated with the core belief, and these may have some overlap with concepts in secular philosophy. Religion is also often described as a "way of life" or a life stance.

Etymology

Religion is derived from the Latin religiō, the ultimate origins of which are obscure. One possibility is derivation from a reduplicated *le-ligare, an interpretation traced to Cicero connecting lego "read", i.e. re (again) + lego in the sense of "choose", "go over again" or "consider carefully". Modern scholars such as Tom Harpur and Joseph Campbell favor the

95

derivation from ligare "bind, connect", probably from a prefixed re-ligare, i.e. re (again) + ligare or "to reconnect," which was made prominent by St. Augustine, following the interpretation of Lactantius. However, the French scholar Daniel Dubuisson notes that relying on this etymology "tends to minimize or cancel out the role of history"; he notes that Augustine gave a lengthy definition of religio that sets it quite apart from the modern word "religion".

History

The word "religion" as it is used today does not have an obvious pre-colonial translation into non-European languages. Daniel Dubuisson writes that "what the West and the history of

religions in its wake have objectified under the name 'religion' is

which could be appropriate only to itself and its own history." The words used in other languages for similar concepts, such as dharma, bhakti, Tao, or Islam, have vastly different histories. The history of other cultures' interaction with the religious category is therefore their interaction with an idea that first developed in Europe under the influence of Christianity.

something quite unique,

Religion and the body politic

A good understanding of the meaning of Christianity before the word "religion" came into common usage can be found in St. Augustine's writing. For Augustine, Christianity was a disciplina, a "rule" just like that of the Roman Empire. Christianity was therefore a power structure opposing and superseding human institutions, a literal Kingdom of Heaven. Rather than calling one to self-discipline through symbols, it was itself the discipline taught by one's family, school, church, and city authorities. At this point, too, the root of the English word "religion", the Latin religio, was in use only to mean "reverence for God or the gods, careful pondering of divine things, piety" (which Cicero further derived to mean "diligence"). Max Müller characterized many other cultures around the world, including Egypt, Persia, and India, as having a similar power structure at this point in history. What is called ancient religion today, they would have only called "law".

At this point, Western Europe and the rest of the world diverged. As Christianity became commonplace, the charismatic authority identified by Augustine, a quality we might today call "religiousness", had a commanding influence at the local level. This system persisted in the Byzantine Empire following the East-West Schism, but Western Europe regulated unpredictable expressions of charisma through the Roman Catholic Church. As the Church lost its dominance during the Protestant Reformation and Christianity became closely tied to political structures, religion was recast as the basis of national sovereignty, and religious identity gradually became a less universal sense of spirituality and more divisive, locally defined, and tied to nationality. It was at this point that "religion" was dissociated with universal beliefs and moved closer to dogma in both meaning and practice. However there was not yet the idea of dogma as personal choice, only of established churches.

Religious freedom

In the Age of Enlightenment, the idea of Christianity as the purest expression of spirituality was supplanted by the concept of "religion" as a worldwide practice. This caused such ideas as religious freedom, a reexamination of classical philosophy as an alternative to Christian thought, and more radically Deism among intellectuals such as Voltaire. Much like Christianity, the idea of "religious freedom" was exported around the world as a civilizing technique, even to regions such as India that had never treated spirituality as a matter of political identity. In Japan, where Buddhism was still seen as a philosophy of natural law, the concept of "religion" and "religious freedom" as separate from other power structures was unnecessary until Christian missionaries

96

demanded free access to conversion, and when Japanese Christians refused to engage in patriotic events.

With the Enlightenment, religion lost its attachment to nationality, but rather than being a universal social attitude, it was now a personal feeling or emotion. Friedrich Schleiermacher in the late 18th century defined religion as das schlechthinnige Abhängigkeitsgefühl, commonly translated as "a feeling of absolute dependence". His contemporary Hegel disagreed thoroughly, defining religion as "the Divine Spirit becoming conscious of Himself through the finite spirit." William James is an especially notable 19th century subscriber to the theory of religion as feeling.

century subscriber to the theory of religion as feeling. Confucianism, Taoism, and Buddhism are one ,

Confucianism, Taoism, and Buddhism are one, a painting in the litang style portraying three men laughing by a river stream, 12th century, Song Dynasty

Modern currents in religion

Religious studies

With the recognition of religion as a category separate from culture and society came the rise of religious studies. The initial purpose of religious studies was to demonstrate the superiority of the "living" or "universal" European world view to the "dead" or "ethnic" religions scattered throughout the rest of the world, but this was eventually supplanted by a liberal-ecumenical interest in searching for Western-style universal truths in every cultural tradition. Clifford Geertz's definition of religion as a "cultural system" was dominant for most of the 20th century and continues to be widely accepted today.

Sociologists and anthropologists tend to see religion as an abstract set of ideas, values, or experiences developed as part of a cultural matrix. For example, in Lindbeck's Nature of Doctrine, religion does not refer to belief in "God" or a transcendent Absolute. Instead, Lindbeck defines religion as, "a kind of cultural and/or linguistic framework or medium that shapes the entirety of life and thought… it is similar to an idiom that makes possible the description of

97

realities, the formulation of beliefs, and the experiencing of inner attitudes, feelings, and sentiments.” According to this definition, religion refers to one's primary worldview and how this dictates one's thoughts and actions. Thus religion is considered by some sources to extend to causes, principles, or activities believed in with zeal or conscientious devotion concerning points or matters of ethics or conscience, and not necessarily including belief in the supernatural.

Although evolutionists had previously sought to understand and explain religion in terms of a cultural attribute which might conceivably confer biological advantages to its adherents, Richard Dawkins called for a re-analysis of religion in terms of the evolution of self-replicating ideas apart from any resulting biological advantages they might bestow. He argued that the role of key replicator in cultural evolution belongs not to genes, but to memes replicating thought from person to person by means of imitation. These replicators respond to selective pressures that may or may not affect biological reproduction or survival. Susan Blackmore regards religions as particularly tenacious memes. Chris Hedges, however, regards meme theory as a misleading imposition of genetics onto psychology.

Interfaith cooperation

Because religion continues to be recognized in Western thought as a universal impulse, many religious practitioners have aimed to band together in interfaith dialogue and cooperation. The first major dialogue was the Parliament of the World's Religions at the 1893 Chicago World's Fair, which remains notable even today both in affirming "universal values" and recognition of the diversity of practices among different cultures. The 20th century has been especially fruitful in use of interfaith dialogue as a means of solving ethnic, political, or even religious conflict, with Christian-Jewish reconciliation representing a complete reverse in the attitudes of many Christian communities towards Jews.

Secularism and criticism of religion

As religion became a more personal matter, discussions of society found a new focus on political and scientific meaning, and religious attitudes were increasingly seen as irrelevant for the needs of the European world. On the political side, Ludwig Feuerbach recast Christian beliefs in light of humanism, paving the way for Karl Marx's famous characterization of religion as "the opiate of the masses". Meanwhile, in the scientific community, T.H. Huxley in 1869 coined the term "agnostic," a term subsequently adopted by such figures as Robert Ingersoll. Later, Bertrand Russell told the world Why I Am Not a Christian.

Atheists have developed a critique of religious systems as well as personal faith. Modern-day critics focus on religion's lack of utility in human society, faulting religion as being irrational. Some assert that dogmatic religions are in effect morally deficient, elevating to moral status ancient, arbitrary, and ill-informed rules—taboos on eating pork, for example, as well as dress codes and sexual practices—possibly designed for reasons of hygiene or even mere politics in a bygone era.

Religious belief

Religious belief usually relates to the existence, nature and worship of a deity or deities and divine involvement in the universe and human life. Alternately, it may also relate to values and practices transmitted by a spiritual leader. Unlike other belief systems, which may be passed on orally, religious belief tends to be codified in literate societies (religion in non-literate societies is still largely passed on orally). In some religions, like the Abrahamic religions, it is held that most of the core beliefs have been divinely revealed.

98

Religious belief can also involve causes, principles or activities believed in with zeal or conscientious devotion concerning points or matters of ethics or conscience, not necessarily limited to organized religions.

Specific religious movements

In the 19th and 20th centuries, the academic practice of comparative religion divided religious belief into philosophically-defined categories called "world religions." However, some recent scholarship has argued that not all types of religion are necessarily separated by mutually exclusive philosophies, and furthermore that the utility of ascribing a practice to a certain philosophy, or even calling a given practice religious, rather than cultural, political, or social in nature, is limited. The list of religious movements given here is an attempt to summarize the most important regional and philosophical influences, but it is by no means a complete description of every religious community.

· Abrahamic religions are practiced throughout the world. They share in common the Jewish patriarch Abraham and the Torah as an initial sacred text, although the degree to which the Torah is incorporated into religious beliefs varies between traditions.

o

Judaism accepts only the prophets of the Torah, but also relies on the authority of rabbis. It is practiced by the Jewish people, an ethnic group currently centered in Israel but also scattered throughout the Jewish diaspora. Today, Jews are outnumbered by Christians and Muslims.

o

Christianity is centered on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth as presented in the Gospels and the writings of the apostle Paul (1st century CE). The Christian faith is essentially faith in Jesus as the Christ, the Son of God, and as Savior and Lord. As the religion of Western Europe during the time of colonization, Christianity has been propagated throughout the world. Christianity is practiced not as a single orthodoxy but as a mixture of Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy, Oriental Orthodoxy, and many forms of Protestantism. In the United States, for example, African-Americans and Korean-Americans usually attend separate churches from Americans of European descent. Many European countries as well as Argentina have established a specific church as the state religion, but this is not the case in the United States nor in many other majority Christian areas.

o

Islam refers to the religion taught by the Islamic prophet Muhammad, a major political and religious figure of the 7th century CE. Islam is the dominant religion of northern Africa, the Middle East, and South Asia. As with Christianity, there is no single orthodoxy in Islam but a multitude of traditions which are generally categorized as Sunni and Shia, although there are other minor groups as well. Wahhabi Islam is the established religion of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. There are also several Islamic republics, including Iran, which is run by a Shia Supreme Leader.

o

The Bahá'í Faith was founded in the 19th century in Iran and since then has spread worldwide. It teaches unity of all religious philosophies and accepts all of the prophets of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam as well as additional prophets including its founder Bahá'u'lláh.

o

Smaller Abrahamic groups that are not heterodox versions of the four major groupings include Mandaeism, Samaritanism, the Druze, and the Rastafari movement.

· Indian religions are practiced or were founded in the Indian subcontinent. Concepts most of them share in common include karma, caste, reincarnation, mantras, yantras, and darśana. Islam in India has also been influenced by Indian religious practices.

99

o

Hinduism is a synechdoche describing the similar Indian religious philosophies of Vaishnavism, Shaivism, and related groups, and is the predominant religion of the Indian subcontinent Hinduism is not a monolithic religion in the Romannic sense but a religious category containing dozens of separate philosophies amalgamated as Sanātana Dharma.

o

Buddhism was founded by Siddhattha Gotama in the 6th century BCE. Buddhists generally agree that Gotama aimed to help sentient beings end their suffering by understanding the true nature of phenomena, thereby escaping the cycle of suffering and rebirth (sara), that is, achieving Nirvana. The main schools of Buddhism are Theravada, Mahayana, and Vajrayana.

o

Sikhism is a monotheistic religion founded on the teachings of Guru Nanak and ten successive Sikh Gurus in 15th century Punjab. Sikhs are found mostly in India.

o

Jainism, taught primarily by Parsva (9th century BCE) and Mahavira (6th century BCE), is an ancient Indian religion that prescribes a path of non-violence for all forms of living beings in this world. Jains are found mostly in India.

o

There are dozens of new Indian religions and Hindu reform movements, such as Ayyavazhi and Swaminarayan Faith.

· Yazdânism is a non-Abrahamic monotheistic category including the traditional beliefs of the Yazidi, Alevi, and Ahl-e Haqq.

· Religious movements centered in the United States are often derived from Christian tradition. They include the Latter Day Saint movement, Christian evangelicalism, and Unitarian Universalism among hundreds of smaller groups.

· Folk religion is a term applied loosely and vaguely to disorganized local practices. It is also called paganism, shamanism, animism, ancestor worship, and totemism, although not all of these elements are necessarily present in local belief systems. The category of "folk religion" can generally include anything that is not part of an organization. The modern neopagan movement draws on folk religion for inspiration.

o

African traditional religion is a category including any type of religion practiced in Africa before the arrival of Islam and Christianity, such as Yoruba religion or San religion. There are many varieties of religions developed by Africans in the Americas derived from African beliefs, including Santería, Candomblé, Umbanda, Vodou, and Oyotunji.

o

Folk religions of the Americas include Aztec religion, Inca religion, Maya religion, and modern Catholic beliefs such as the Virgin of Guadalupe. Native American religion is practiced across the continent of North America.

o

Australian Aboriginal culture contains a mythology and sacred practices characteristic of folk religion.

o

Chinese folk religion, practiced by Chinese people around the world, is a primarily social practice including popular elements of Confucianism and Taoism, with some remnants of Mahayana Buddhism. Most Chinese do not identify as religious due to the strong Maoist influence on the country in recent history, but adherence to religious ceremonies remains common. New religious movements include Falun Gong and I-Kuan Tao.

o

Traditional Korean religion was a syncretic mixture of Mahayana Buddhism and Korean shamanism. Unlike Japanese Shinto, Korean shamanism was never codified and Buddhism was never made a social necessity. In some areas these traditions remain prevalent, but Korean-influenced Christianity is far more influential in society and politics.

o

Traditional Japanese religion is a mixture of Mahayana Buddhism and ancient indigenous practices which were codified as Shinto in the 19th century. Japanese

100

people retain nominal attachment to both Buddhism and Shinto through social ceremonies, but irreligion is common.

· A variety of new religious movements still practiced today have been founded in many other countries besides the United States and Japan, including Cao Đài in Vietnam.

o Shinshūkyō is a general category for a wide variety of religious movements founded in Japan since the 19th century. These movements share almost nothing in common except the place of their founding. The largest religious movements centered in Japan include Soka Gakkai, Tenrikyo, and Seicho-No-Ie among hundreds of smaller groups.

Sociological classifications of religious movements suggest that within any given religious group, a community can resemble various types of structures, including "churches", "denominations", "sects", "cults", and "institutions".

Religion and superstition

While superstitions and magical thinking refer to nonscientific causal reasoning, applied to specific things or actions, a religion is a more complex system about general or ultimate things, involving morality, history and community. Because religions may include and exploit certain superstitions or make use of magical thinking, while mixing them with broader considerations, the division between superstition and religious faith is subjective and hard to specify. Religious believers have often seen other religions as superstition. Likewise, some atheists, agnostics, deists, and skeptics regard religious belief as superstition. Religious practices are most likely to be labeled "superstitious" by outsiders when they include belief in extraordinary events (miracles), an afterlife, supernatural interventions, apparitions or the efficacy of prayer, charms, incantations, the meaningfulness of omens, and prognostications.

Greek and Roman pagans, who modeled their relations with the gods on political and social terms, scorned the man who constantly trembled with fear at the thought of the gods as a slave feared a cruel and capricious master. Such fear of the gods (deisidaimonia) was what the Romans meant by superstitio (Veyne 1987, p 211). Early Christianity was outlawed as a superstitio Iudaica, a "Jewish superstition", by Domitian in the 80s AD, and by AD 425, Theodosius II outlawed pagan traditions as superstitious.

The Roman Catholic Church considers superstition to be sinful in the sense that it denotes a lack of trust in the divine providence of God and, as such, is a violation of the first of the Ten Commandments. The Catechism of the Catholic Church states that superstition "in some sense represents a perverse excess of religion" (para. #2110).

Superstition is a deviation of religious feeling and of the practices this feeling imposes. It can even affect the worship we offer the true God, e.g., when one attributes an importance in some way magical to certain practices otherwise lawful or necessary. To attribute the efficacy of prayers or of sacramental signs to their mere external performance, apart from the interior dispositions that they demand is to fall into superstition. Cf. Matthew 23:16-22 (para. #2111)

Related forms of thought

Religion and philosophy

Being both forms of belief system, religion and philosophy meet in several areas - notably in the study of metaphysics and cosmology. In particular, a distinct set of religious beliefs will often entail a specific metaphysics and cosmology. That is, a religion will generally have answers to

101

metaphysical and cosmological questions about the nature of being, of the universe, humanity, and the divine.

Cosmology

Humans have many different methods which attempt to answer fundamental questions about the nature of the universe and our place in it (cosmology). Religion is only one of the methods for trying to answer one or more of these questions. Other methods include philosophy, metaphysics, astrology, esotericism, mysticism, and forms of shamanism, such as the sacred consumption of ayahuasca among Peruvian Amazonia's Urarina. The Urarina have an elaborate animistic cosmological system, which informs their mythology, religious orientation and daily existence. In many cases, the distinction between these means are not clear. For example, Buddhism and Taoism have been regarded as schools of philosophies as well as religions.

Given the generalized discontents with modernity, consumerism, over-consumption, violence and anomie, many people in the so-called industrial or post-industrial West rely on a number of distinctive religious worldviews. This in turn has given rise to increased religious pluralism, as well as to what are commonly known in the academic literature as new religious movements, which are gaining ground across the globe.

Religion and science

Religious knowledge, according to religious practitioners, may be gained from religious leaders, sacred texts (scriptures), and/or personal revelation. Some religions view such knowledge as unlimited in scope and suitable to answer any question; others see religious knowledge as playing a more restricted role, often as a complement to knowledge gained through physical observation. Some religious people maintain that religious knowledge obtained in this way is absolute and infallible (religious cosmology).

The scientific method gains knowledge by testing hypotheses to develop theories through elucidation of facts or evaluation by experiments and thus only answers cosmological questions about the physical universe. It develops theories of the world which best fit physically observed evidence. All scientific knowledge is subject to later refinement in the face of additional evidence. Scientific theories that have an overwhelming preponderance of favorable evidence are often treated as facts (such as the theories of gravity or evolution).

102

Early science such as geometry and astronomy was connected to the divine for most medieval

Early science such as geometry and astronomy was connected to the divine for most medieval scholars. The compass in this 13th century manuscript is a symbol of God's act of creation.

Many scientists have held strong religious beliefs (see List of Christian thinkers in science) and have worked to harmonize science and religion. Isaac Newton, for example, believed that gravity caused the planets to revolve about the Sun, and credited God with the design. In the concluding General Scholium to the Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica, he wrote: "This most beautiful System of the Sun, Planets and Comets, could only proceed from the counsel and dominion of an intelligent and powerful being." Nevertheless, conflict has repeatedly arisen between religious organizations and individuals who propagated scientific theories that were deemed unacceptable by the organizations. The Roman Catholic Church, for example, has in the past reserved to itself the right to decide which scientific theories were acceptable and which were unacceptable. In the 17th century, Galileo was tried and forced to recant the heliocentric theory based on the church's stance that the Greek Hellenistic system of astronomy was the correct one. Today, religious belief among scientists is less prevalent than in the general public, with the Pew Research Center finding in 2009 that 33% of American scientists and 83% of the general public believe in God, 18% of scientists and 12% of the public believe in a higher power, and 41% of scientists and 4% of the public believe in neither. Only 7% of the members of the National Academy of Sciences believe in a god.

Epistemology

Many theories exist as to why religions sometimes seem to conflict with scientific knowledge. In the case of Christianity, a relevant factor may be that it was among Christians that science in the modern sense was developed. Unlike other religious groups, as early as the 17th century the Christian churches had to deal directly with this new way to investigate nature and seek truth.

The perceived conflict between science and Christianity may also be partially explained by a literal interpretation of the Bible adhered to by many Christians, both currently and historically. The Catholic Church has always held with Augustine of Hippo who explicitly opposed a literal interpretation of the Bible whenever the Bible conflicted with Science. The literal way to read

103

the sacred texts became especially prevalent after the rise of the Protestant reformation, with its emphasis on the Bible as the only authoritative source concerning the ultimate reality. This view is often shunned by both religious leaders (who regard literally believing it as petty and look for greater meaning instead) and scientists who regard it as an impossibility.

Some Christians have disagreed or are still disagreeing with scientists in areas such as the validity of Keplerian astronomy, the theory of evolution, the method of creation of the universe and the Earth, and the origins of life. On the other hand, scholars such as Stanley Jaki have suggested that Christianity and its particular worldview was a crucial factor for the emergence of modern science. In fact, most of today's historians are moving away from the view of the relationship between Christianity and science as one of "conflict" — a perspective commonly called the conflict thesis. Gary Ferngren in his historical volume about Science & Religion states:

While some historians had always regarded the [conflict] thesis as oversimplifying and distorting a complex relationship, in the late twentieth century it underwent a more systematic reevaluation. The result is the growing recognition among historians of science that the relationship of religion and science has been much more positive than is sometimes thought. Although popular images of controversy continue to exemplify the supposed hostility of Christianity to new scientific theories, studies have shown that Christianity has often nurtured and encouraged scientific endeavour, while at other times the two have co-existed without either tension or attempts at harmonization. If Galileo and the Scopes trial come to mind as examples of conflict, they were the exceptions rather than the rule.

Eastern religions

were the exceptions rather than the rule. Eastern religions The Hindu population of South Asia comprises

The Hindu population of South Asia comprises about 2,000 castes. According to some Hindu literature, there are 330 million (including local and regional) Hindu deities.

In the Bahá'í Faith, the harmony of science and religion is a central tenet. The principle states that that truth is one, and therefore true science and true religion must be in harmony, thus rejecting the view that science and religion are in conflict. `Abdu'l-Bahá, the son of the founder of the religion, asserted that science and religion cannot be opposed because they are aspects of

104

the same truth; he also affirmed that reasoning powers are required to understand the truths of religion and that religious teachings which are at variance with science should not be accepted; he explained that religion has to be reasonable since God endowed humankind with reason so that they can discover truth. Shoghi Effendi, the Guardian of the Bahá'í Faith, described science and religion as "the two most potent forces in human life."

Proponents of Hinduism claim that Hinduism is not afraid of scientific explorations, nor of the technological progress of mankind. According to them, there is a comprehensive scope and opportunity for Hinduism to mold itself according to the demands and aspirations of the modern world; it has the ability to align itself with both science and spiritualism. This religion uses some modern examples to explain its ancient theories and reinforce its own beliefs. For example, some Hindu thinkers have used the terminology of quantum physics to explain some basic concepts of Hinduism such as Maya or the illusory and impermanent nature of our existence.

or the illusory and impermanent nature of our existence. Sōtō monk in Arashiyama, Kyoto The philosophical

Sōtō monk in Arashiyama, Kyoto

The philosophical approach known as pragmatism, as propounded by the American philosopher and psychologist William James, has been used to reconcile scientific with religious knowledge. Pragmatism, simplistically, holds that the truth of a set of beliefs can be indicated by its usefulness in helping people cope with a particular context of life. Thus, the fact that scientific beliefs are useful in predicting observations in the physical world can indicate a certain truth for scientific theories; the fact that religious beliefs can be useful in helping people cope with difficult emotions or moral decisions can indicate a certain truth for those beliefs. (For a similar postmodern view, see grand narrative).

105

Mysticism and esotericism

Mysticism and esotericism Man meditating Mysticism focuses on methods other than logic, but (in the case

Man meditating

Mysticism focuses on methods other than logic, but (in the case of esoteric mysticism) not necessarily excluding it, for gaining enlightenment. Rather, meditative and contemplative practices such as Vipassanā and yoga, physical disciplines such as stringent fasting and whirling (in the case of the Sufi dervishes), or the use of psychoactive drugs such as LSD, lead to altered states of consciousness that logic can never hope to grasp. However, regarding the latter topic, mysticism prevalent in the 'great' religions (monotheisms, henotheisms, which are perhaps relatively recent, and which the word 'mysticism' is more recent than,) includes systems of discipline that forbid drugs that can damage the body, including the nervous system.

Mysticism (to initiate) is the pursuit of communion with, or conscious awareness of ultimate reality, the divine, spiritual truth, or Deity through direct, personal experience (intuition or insight) rather than rational thought. Mystics speak of the existence of realities behind external perception or intellectual apprehension that are central to being and directly accessible through personal experience. They say that such experience is a genuine and important source of knowledge.

Esotericism is often spiritual (thus religious) but can be non-religious/-spiritual, and it uses intellectual understanding and reasoning, intuition and inspiration (higher noetic and spiritual reasoning,) but not necessarily faith (except often as a virtue,) and it is philosophical in its emphasis on techniques of psycho-spiritual transformation (esoteric cosmology). Esotericism refers to "hidden" knowledge available only to the advanced, privileged, or initiated, as opposed to exoteric knowledge, which is public. All religions are probably somewhat exoteric, but most ones of ancient civilizations such as Yoga of India, and the mystery religions of ancient Egypt, Israel (Kabbalah,) and Greece are examples of ones that are also esoteric.

106

Spirituality

Spirituality A sadhu performing namaste in Madurai, India Members of an organized religion may not see

A sadhu performing namaste in Madurai, India

Members of an organized religion may not see any significant difference between religion and spirituality. Or they may see a distinction between the mundane, earthly aspects of their religion and its spiritual dimension.

Some individuals draw a strong distinction between religion and spirituality. They may see spirituality as a belief in ideas of religious significance (such as God, the Soul, or Heaven), but not feel bound to the bureaucratic structure and creeds of a particular organized religion. They choose the term spirituality rather than religion to describe their form of belief, perhaps reflecting a disillusionment with organized religion (see Major religious groups), and a movement towards a more "modern" — more tolerant, and more intuitive — form of religion. These individuals may reject organized religion because of historical acts by religious organizations, such as Christian Crusades and Islamic Jihad, the marginalisation and persecution of various minorities or the Spanish Inquisition. The basic precept of the ancient spiritual tradition of India, the Vedas, is the inner reality of existence, which is essentially a spiritual approach to being.

107

Myth

Myth Urarina shaman, 1988 The word myth has several meanings. 1. A traditional story of ostensibly

Urarina shaman, 1988

The word myth has several meanings.

1. A traditional story of ostensibly historical events that serves to unfold part of the world view of a people or explain a practice, belief, or natural phenomenon;

2. A person or thing having only an imaginary or unverifiable existence; or

3. A metaphor for the spiritual potentiality in the human being.

Ancient polytheistic religions, such as those of Greece, Rome, and Scandinavia, are usually categorized under the heading of mythology. Religions of pre-industrial peoples, or cultures in development, are similarly called "myths" in the anthropology of religion. The term "myth" can be used pejoratively by both religious and non-religious people. By defining another person's religious stories and beliefs as mythology, one implies that they are less real or true than one's own religious stories and beliefs. Joseph Campbell remarked, "Mythology is often thought of as other people's religions, and religion can be defined as mis-interpreted mythology."

In sociology, however, the term myth has a non-pejorative meaning. There, myth is defined as a story that is important for the group whether or not it is objectively or provably true. Examples include the death and resurrection of Jesus, which, to Christians, explains the means by which they are freed from sin and is also ostensibly a historical event. But from a mythological outlook, whether or not the event actually occurred is unimportant. Instead, the symbolism of the death of an old "life" and the start of a new "life" is what is most significant. Religious believers may or may not accept such symbolic interpretations.

Value (personal and cultural)

108

A personal and/or cultural value is an absolute or relative ethical value, the assumption of which can be the basis for ethical action. A value system is a set of consistent values and measures. A principle value is a foundation upon which other values and measures of integrity are based. Those values which are not physiologically determined and normally considered objective, such as a desire to avoid physical pain, seek pleasure, etc., are considered subjective, vary across individuals and cultures and are in many ways aligned with belief and belief systems. Types of values include ethical/moral values, doctrinal/ideological (religious, political) values, social values, and aesthetic values. It is debated whether some values which aren't clearly physiologically determined are intrinsic such as altruism and whether some such as acquisitiveness should be valued as vices or virtues.

Human values

Human values are a set of emotional rules people follow to help make the right decisions in life. When values are used in a professional setting, they are called ethics (Changing Minds, n.d.). Values are used in every day decision making at work and at home. Good values instill a sense of integrity, honesty, and diligence in people. Without good values, people would become corrupt, dishonest, and undependable as people and employees. Companies want to hire employees with a sense of moral value so that they can help improve the company as a whole. Promoting values in every-day life and in the workplace can help promote career success (Heathfield, Susan, n.d.).

Values are an integral part of every culture. Along with beliefs and worldview assumptions, they generate behavior. Being part of a culture that shares a common core set of values creates expectations and predictability without which a culture would disintegrate and its members

would lose their personal identity and sense of worth. Values tell people what is good, beneficial,

important, useful, beautiful, desirable, appropriate

do what they do. Values help people solve common human problems for survival. Over time, they become the roots of traditions that groups of people find important in their day to day lives. Values can be positive or negative; some are destructive. To understand people of other cultures, we must come to understand the values, beliefs and assumptions that motivate their behavior of there values over.

etc.

They answer the question of why people

109

Cultural values

Cultural values The Inglehart-Welzel Cultural Map of the World, created by sociopolitical scientists Ronald Inglehart and

The Inglehart-Welzel Cultural Map of the World, created by sociopolitical scientists Ronald Inglehart and Christian Welzel based on the World Values Survey.

Groups, societies, or cultures have values that are largely shared by their members. The values identify those objects, conditions or characteristics that members of the society consider important; that is, valuable. In the United States, for example, values might include material comfort, wealth, competition, individualism or religiosity . The values of a society can often be identified by noting which people receive honor or respect. In the US, for example, professional athletes at the top levels in some sports are honored (in the form of monetary payment) more than college professors. Surveys show that voters in the United States would be reluctant to elect an atheist as a president, suggesting that belief in God is a value. There is a difference between values clarification and cognitive moral education. Values clarification is, "helping people clarify what their lives are for and what is worth working for. Students are encouraged to define their own values and understand others' values." Cognitive moral education is based on the belief that students should learn to value things like democracy and justice as their moral reasoning develops."

Values are related to the norms of a culture, but they are more general and abstract than norms. Norms are rules for behavior in specific situations, while values identify what should be judged as good or evil. Flying the national flag on a holiday is a norm, but it reflects the value of patriotism. Wearing dark clothing and appearing solemn are normative behaviors at a funeral. They reflect the values of respect and support of friends and family. Different cultures reflect different values. "Over the last three decades, traditional-age college students have shown an increased interest in personal well-being and a decreased interest in the welfare of others." Values seemed to have changed, affecting the beliefs, and attitudes of college students.

Members take part in a culture even if each member's personal values do not entirely agree with some of the normative values sanctioned in the culture. This reflects an individual's ability to synthesize and extract aspects valuable to them from the multiple subcultures they belong to.

110

If a group member expresses a value that is in serious conflict with the group's norms, the group's authority may carry out various ways of encouraging conformity or stigmatizing the non- conforming behavior of its members. For example, imprisonment can result from conflict with social norms that have been established as law of chicken.

Ideology

An ideology is a set of aims and ideas that directs one's goals, expectations, and actions. An ideology can be thought of as a comprehensive vision, as a way of looking at things (compare worldview), as in common sense (see Ideology in everyday society below) and several philosophical tendencies (see Political ideologies), or a set of ideas proposed by the dominant class of a society to all members of this society (a 'received consciousness' or product of socialization). The main purpose behind an ideology is to offer change in society, and adherence to a set of ideals where conformity already exists, through a normative thought process. Ideologies are systems of abstract thought (as opposed to mere ideation) applied to public matters and thus make this concept central to politics. Implicitly every political tendency entails an ideology whether or not it is propounded as an explicit system of thought.

(For the Marxist definition of ideology, see Ideology as an instrument of social reproduction below.)

History

The term "ideology" was born in the highly controversial, philosophical and political debates and fights of the French Revolution and acquired several other meanings from the early days of the First French Empire to the present. The word ideology was coined by Destutt de Tracy in 1796 assembling the parts idea (near to the Lockean sense) and -logy. He used it to refer to one aspect of his "science of ideas". (To the study itself, not the subject of the study.) He separated three aspects, namely: ideology, general grammar and logic, considering respectively the subject, the means and the reason of this science. He argues that among these aspects ideology is the most generic term, because the science of ideas also contains the study of their expression and deduction.

According to Karl Mannheim's historical reconstruction of the meaning-shifts of ideology, the modern meaning of the word ideology was born when Napoleon Bonaparte (as a politician) used it in an abusive way against "the ideologues" (a group which included Cabanis, Condorcet, Constant, Daunou, Say, Madame De Staël and Tracy), to express the pettiness of his (liberal republican) political opponents.

Perhaps the most accessible source for the near-original meaning of ideology is Hippolyte Taine's work on the Ancien Regime (first volume of "Origins of Contemporary France"). He describes ideology as rather like teaching philosophy by the Socratic method, but without extending the vocabulary beyond what the general reader already possessed, and without the examples from observation that practical science would require. Taine identifies it not just with Destutt De Tracy, but also with his milieu, and includes Condillac as one of its precursors. (Tracy read the works of Locke and Condillac while he was imprisoned during the Reign of Terror.)

The word "ideology" was coined long before the Russians coined "intelligentsia", or before the adjective "intellectual" referred to a sort of person (see substantive), i.e. an intellectual. Thus these words were not around when the hard-headed, driven Napoleon Bonaparte took the word

111

"ideologues" to ridicule his intellectual opponents. Gradually, however, the term "ideology" has dropped some of its pejorative sting, and has become a neutral term in the analysis of differing political opinions. Ideological references are important to many people throughout the world. Karl Marx used the term in his own context often throughout his works.

Analysis

Meta-ideology is the study of the structure, form, and manifestation of ideologies. Meta- ideology posits that ideology is a coherent system of ideas, relying upon a few basic assumptions about reality that may or may not have any factual basis, but are subjective choices that serve as the seed around which further thought grows. According to this perspective, ideologies are neither right nor wrong, but only a relativistic intellectual strategy for categorizing the world. The pluses and minuses of ideology range from the vigor and fervor of true believers to ideological infallibility. Excessive need for certitude lurks at fundamentalist levels in politics and religions.

The works of George Walford and Harold Walsby, done under the heading of systematic ideology, are attempts to explore the relationships between ideology and social systems.

David W. Minar describes six different ways in which the word "ideology" has been used:

1. As a collection of certain ideas with certain kinds of content, usually normative;

2. As the form or internal logical structure that ideas have within a set;

3. By the role in which ideas play in human-social interaction;

4. By the role that ideas play in the structure of an organization;

5. As meaning, whose purpose is persuasion; and

6. As the locus of social interaction, possibly.

For Willard A. Mullins, an ideology is composed of four basic characteristics:

1. it must have power over cognition

2. it must be capable of guiding one's evaluations;

3. it must provide guidance towards action;

4. and, as stated above, must be logically coherent.

Mullins emphasizes that an ideology should be contrasted with the related (but different) issues of utopia and historical myth.

The German philosopher Christian Duncker called for a "critical reflection of the ideology concept" (2006). In his work, he strove to bring the concept of ideology into the foreground, as well as the closely connected concerns of epistemology and history. In this work, the term ideology is defined in terms of a system of presentations that explicitly or implicitly claim to absolute truth.

Though the word "ideology" is most often found in political discourse, there are many different kinds of ideology: political, social, epistemological, ethical, and so on.

112

Ideology as an instrument of social reproduction

Ideology as an instrument of social reproduction Karl Marx posits that a society’s dominant ideology is

Karl Marx posits that a society’s dominant ideology is integral to its superstructure.

In the Marxist economic base and superstructure model of society, base denotes the relations of production, and superstructure denotes the dominant ideology (religious, legal, political systems). The economic base of production determines the political superstructure of a society. Ruling class-interests determine the superstructure and the nature of the justifying ideology — actions feasible because the ruling class control the means of production. Hence the great importance of the ideology justifying a society; it politically confuses the alienated groups of society via false consciousness, such as in the case of commodity fetishism — the belief that value is inherent to a commodity, rather than external, added to it via labor.

The ruling class affect their social reproduction by the dominant ideology’s representing — to every social-economic class — that the economic interests of the ruling class are the economic interests of the entire society. Some explanations, György Lukács proposes ideology as a projection of the class consciousness of the ruling class. Antonio Gramsci uses cultural hegemony to explain why the working-class have a false ideological conception of what are their best interests.

Chronologically, the dominant ideologies in Capitalism are:

1. classical liberalism

2. modern liberalism

3. social democracy

4. neo-liberalism

corresponding to these three capitalist stages of development:

1. extensive stage

2. intensive stage

113

3.

contemporary capitalism (late capitalism)

The Marxist formulation of “ideology as an instrument of social reproduction” is conceptually important to the sociology of knowledge, viz. Karl Mannheim, Daniel Bell, and Jürgen Habermas

et al

conception of ideology to a 'general' and 'total' ideological conception acknowledging that all ideology (including Marxism) resulted from social life, an idea developed by the sociologist Pierre Bourdieu.

Moreover, Mannheim has developed, and progressed, from the 'total' but 'special' Marxist

Louis Althusser's Ideological State Apparatuses

Louis Althusser proposed a materialistic conception of ideology, which made use of a special type of discourse: the lacunar discourse. A number of propositions, which are never untrue, suggest a number of other propositions, which are, in this way, the essence of the lacunar discourse is what is not told (but is suggested).

For example, the statement 'All are equal before the law', which is a theoretical groundwork of current legal systems, suggests that all people may be of equal worth or have equal 'opportunities'. This is not true, for the concept of private property over the means of production results in some people being able to own more (much more) than others, and their property brings power and influence (the rich can afford better lawyers, among other things, and this puts in question the principle of equality before the law).

Althusser also invented the concept of the Ideological State Apparatus to explain his theory of ideology. His first thesis was "ideology has no history": while ideologyies have histories, interleaved with the general class struggle of society, the general form of ideology is external to history. His second thesis, "Ideas are material", explains his materialistic attitude, which he illustrated with the "scandalous advice" of Pascal toward unbelievers: "kneel and pray, and then you will believe", thus highlighting that beliefs and ideas are a product of social practices, and not the reverse. However, this mustn't be misunderstood as simple behaviorism, as there may be, as Pierre Macherey put it, a "subjectivity without subject"; in other words, a form of non- personal liberty, as in Deleuze's conception of becoming-other

Feminism as critique of ideology

Naturalizing socially constructed patterns of behavior has always been an important mechanism in the production and reproduction of ideologies. Feminist theorists have paid close attention to these mechanisms. Adrienne Rich e.g. has shown how to understand motherhood as a social institution. However, 'feminism' is not a homogeneous whole, and some corners of feminist thought criticize the critique of social constructionism, by advocating that it disregards too much of human nature and natural tendencies. The debate, they say, is about the normative/naturalistic fallacy—the idea that just something 'being' natural does not necessarily mean it 'ought' to be the case.

Political ideologies

Many political parties base their political action and program on an ideology. In social studies, a Political Ideology is a certain ethical set of ideals, principles, doctrines, myths or symbols of a social movement, institution, class, or large group that explains how society should work, and offers some political and cultural blueprint for a certain social order. A political ideology largely concerns itself with how to allocate power and to what ends it should be used. Some parties

114

follow a certain ideology very closely, while others may take broad inspiration from a group of related ideologies without specifically embracing any one of them.

Political ideologies have two dimensions:

1. Goals: How society should work (or be arranged).

2. Methods: The most appropriate ways to achieve the ideal arrangement.

An ideology is a collection of ideas. Typically, each ideology contains certain ideas on what it considers to be the best form of government (e.g. democracy, theocracy, etc), and the best economic system (e.g. capitalism, socialism, etc). Sometimes the same word is used to identify both an ideology and one of its main ideas. For instance, "socialism" may refer to an economic system, or it may refer to an ideology which supports that economic system.

Ideologies also identify themselves by their position on the political spectrum (such as the left, the center or the right), though this is very often controversial. Finally, ideologies can be distinguished from political strategies (e.g. populism) and from single issues that a party may be built around (e.g. opposition to European integration or the legalization of marijuana). Philosopher Michael Oakeshott provides a good definition of ideology as "the formalized abridgment of the supposed sub-stratum of the rational truth contained in the tradition."

Studies of the concept of ideology itself (rather than specific ideologies) have been carried out under the name of systematic ideology.

Political ideologies are concerned with many different aspects of a society, some of which are:

the economy, education, health care, labor law, criminal law, the justice system, the provision of social security and social welfare, trade, the environment, minors, immigration, race, use of the military, patriotism and established religion.

There are many proposed methods for the classification of political ideologies. See the political spectrum article for a more in-depth discussion of these different methods (each of whom generates a specific political spectrum).

Epistemological ideologies

Even when the challenging of existing beliefs is encouraged, as in science, the dominant paradigm or mindset can prevent certain challenges, theories or experiments from being advanced.

There are critics who view science as an ideology in itself, or being an effective ideology, called scientism. Some scientists respond that, while the scientific method is itself an ideology, as it is a collection of ideas, there is nothing particularly wrong or bad about it.

Other critics point out that while science itself is not a misleading ideology, there are some fields of study within science that are misleading. Two examples discussed here are in the fields of ecology and economics.

A special case of science adopted as ideology is that of ecology, which studies the relationships among living things on Earth. Perceptual psychologist J. J. Gibson believed that human perception of ecological relationships was the basis of self-awareness and cognition itself. Linguist George Lakoff has proposed a cognitive science of mathematics wherein even the most

115

fundamental ideas of arithmetic would be seen as consequences or products of human perception—which is itself necessarily evolved within an ecology.

Deep ecology and the modern ecology movement (and, to a lesser degree, Green parties) appear to have adopted ecological sciences as a positive ideology.

Some accuse ecological economics of likewise turning scientific theory into political economy, although theses in that science can often be tested. The modern practice of green economics fuses both approaches and seems to be part science, part ideology.

This is far from the only theory of economics to be raised to ideology status—some notable economically-based ideologies include mercantilism, mixed economy, social Darwinism, communism, laissez-faire economics, and free trade. There are also current theories of safe trade and fair trade which can be seen as ideologies.

Psychological research

Psychological research increasingly suggests that ideologies reflect motivational processes, as opposed to the view that political convictions always reflect independent and unbiased thinking. Research in 2008 proposed that ideologies may function as prepackaged units of interpretation that spread because of basic human motives to understand the world, avoid existential threat, and maintain valued interpersonal relationships. The authors conclude that such motives may lead disproportionately to the adoption of system-justifying worldviews. Psychologists have generally found that personality traits, individual difference variables, needs, and ideological beliefs seem to have a common thread. For instance, a meta-analysis by Jost, Glaser, Kruglanski, and Sulloway in 2003 analyzed 88 studies from 12 countries, with over 22,000 subjects, and found that death anxiety, intolerance of ambiguity, lack of openness to experience, uncertainty avoidance, need for cognitive closure, need for personal structure, and threat of loss of position or self-esteem all contribute to the degree of one's overall political conservatism. The researchers suggest that these results show that political conservatives stress resistance to change and are motivated by needs that are aimed at reducing threat and uncertainty. According to Robert Altemeyer and other researchers, individuals that are politically conservative tend to rank high on Right-Wing Authoritarianism, as measured by Altemeyer's RWA scale. Psychologist Felicia Pratto and her colleagues have found evidence to support the idea that a high Social Dominance Orientation (SDO) is strongly correlated with conservative political views.

Ideology and semiotic theory

According to the semiotician Bob Hodge, ideology "identifies a unitary object that incorporates complex sets of meanings with the social agents and processes that produced them. No other term captures this object as well as ‘ideology’. Foucault’s ‘episteme’ is too narrow and abstract, not social enough. His ‘discourse’, popular because it covers some of ‘ideology’s’ terrain with less baggage, is too confined to verbal systems. ‘Worldview’ is too metaphysical, ‘propaganda’ too loaded. Despite or because of its contradictions, ‘ideology’ still plays a key role in semiotics oriented to social, political life". Authors such as Michael Freeden have also recently incorporated a semantic analysis to the study of ideologies.

In everyday society

In public discussions, certain ideas arise more commonly than others. Often people with diverse backgrounds and interests may find themselves thinking alike in ways startling to those from other backgrounds. Social scientists might explain this phenomenon as evidence of ideologies.

116

Dominant ideologies appear as "neutral", holding to assumptions that are largely unchallenged. Meanwhile, all other ideologies that differ from the dominant ideology are seen as radical, no matter what the content of their actual vision may be. The philosopher Michel Foucault wrote about the concept of apparent ideological neutrality. Ideology is not the same thing as philosophy. Philosophy is an analytic method for assessing ideologies and belief systems. Some attribute to ideology positive characteristics like vigor and fervor, or negative features like excessive certitude and fundamentalist rigor.

Organizations that strive for power will try to influence the ideology of a society to become closer to what they want it to be. Political organizations (governments included) and other groups (e.g. lobbyists) try to influence people by broadcasting their opinions.

When most people in a society think alike about certain matters, or even forget that there are alternatives to the status quo, we arrive at the concept of hegemony, about which the philosopher Antonio Gramsci wrote. Such a state of affairs has been dramatized many times in literature:

Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell; Brave New World by Aldous Huxley; and A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle. Noam Chomsky and Edward S. Herman have argued that social ideological homogeneity can be achieved by restricting the conceptual metaphors transmitted by mass communication.

Aesthetics

Aesthetics (also spelled æsthetics or esthetics) is a branch of philosophy dealing with the nature of beauty, art, and taste, and with the creation and appreciation of beauty. It is more scientifically defined as the study of sensory or sensori-emotional values, sometimes called judgments of sentiment and taste. More broadly, scholars in the field define aesthetics as "critical reflection on art, culture and nature." Aesthetics is a subdiscipline of axiology, a branch of philosophy, and is closely associated with the philosophy of art. Aesthetics studies new ways of seeing and of perceiving the world.

Etymology

The term Aesthetics was coined by Alexander Baumgarten, in 1735, it derives from the German ästhetisch or the French esthétique, both derived from the Greek αισθητικός (aisthetikos) "esthetic-sensitive-sentient", from αίσθηση-αισθάνομαι (aisthese-aisthanomai) "to perceive-feel- sense"

Aesthetic judgment

Judgments of aesthetic value rely on our ability to discriminate at a sensory level. Aesthetics examines our affective domain response to an object or phenomenon. Immanuel Kant, writing in 1790, observes of a man "If he says that canary wine is agreeable he is quite content if someone else corrects his terms and reminds him to say instead: It is agreeable to me," because "Everyone has his own (sense of) taste". The case of "beauty" is different from mere "agreeableness" because, "If he proclaims something to be beautiful, then he requires the same liking from others; he then judges not just for himself but for everyone, and speaks of beauty as if it were a property of things."

117

Aesthetic judgments usually go beyond sensory discrimination. For David Hume, delicacy of taste is not merely "the ability to detect all the ingredients in a composition", but also our sensitivity "to pains as well as pleasures, which escape the rest of mankind." (Essays Moral Political and Literary. Indianapolis, Literary Classics 5, 1987.) Thus, the sensory discrimination is linked to capacity for pleasure. For Kant "enjoyment" is the result when pleasure arises from sensation, but judging something to be "beautiful" has a third requirement: sensation must give rise to pleasure by engaging our capacities of reflective contemplation. Judgments of beauty are sensory, emotional and intellectual all at once.

Viewer interpretations of beauty possess two concepts of value: aesthetics and taste. Aesthetics is the philosophical notion of beauty. Taste is a result of education and awareness of elite cultural values; therefore taste can be learned. Taste varies according to class, cultural background, and education. According to Kant, beauty is objective and universal; thus certain things are beautiful to everyone. The contemporary view of beauty is not based on innate qualities, but rather on cultural specifics and individual interpretations.

Factors involved in aesthetic judgment

Judgments of aesthetic value seem often to involve many other kinds of issues as well. Responses such as disgust show that sensory detection is linked in instinctual ways to facial expressions, and even behaviors like the gag reflex. Yet disgust can often be a learned or cultural issue too; as Darwin pointed out, seeing a stripe of soup in a man's beard is disgusting even though neither soup nor beards are themselves disgusting. Aesthetic judgments may be linked to emotions or, like emotions, partially embodied in our physical reactions. Seeing a sublime view of a landscape may give us a reaction of awe, which might manifest physically as an increased heart rate or widened eyes. These unconscious reactions may even be partly constitutive of what makes our judgment a judgment that the landscape is sublime.

Likewise, aesthetic judgments may be culturally conditioned to some extent. Victorians in Britain often saw African sculpture as ugly, but just a few decades later, Edwardian audiences saw the same sculptures as being beautiful. The Abuse of Beauty, Evaluations of beauty may well be linked to desirability, perhaps even to sexual desirability. Thus, judgments of aesthetic value can become linked to judgments of economic, political, or moral value. We might judge a Lamborghini to be beautiful partly because it is desirable as a status symbol, or we might judge it to be repulsive partly because it signifies for us over-consumption and offends our political or moral values.

"Part and Parcel in Animal and Human Societies". in Studies in animal and human behavior, vol. 2. pp. 115–195. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard UP, 1971 (originally pub. 1950.) Aesthetic judgments can often be very fine-grained and internally contradictory. Likewise aesthetic judgments seem often to be at least partly intellectual and interpretative. It is what a thing means or symbolizes for us that is often what we are judging. Modern aestheticians have asserted that will and desire were almost dormant in aesthetic experience, yet preference and choice have seemed important aesthetics to some 20th century thinkers. The point is already made by Hume, but see Mary Mothersill, "Beauty and the Critic’s Judgment", in The Blackwell Guide to Aesthetics, 2004. Thus aesthetic judgments might be seen to be based on the senses, emotions, intellectual opinions, will, desires, culture, preferences, values, subconscious behavior, conscious decision, training, instinct, sociological institutions, or some complex combination of these, depending on exactly which theory one employs.

Anthropology, especially the savanna hypothesis proposed by Gordon Orians and others, predicts that some of the positive aesthetics that people have are based on innate knowledge of

118

productive human habitats. It had been shown that people prefer and feel happier looking at trees with spreading forms much more than looking at trees with other forms, or non-tree objects; also Bright green colors, linked with healthy plants with good nutrient qualities, were more calming than other tree colors, including less bright greens and oranges.

Are different art forms beautiful, disgusting, or boring in the same way?

The third major topic in the study of aesthetic judgments is how they are unified across art forms. We can call a person, a house, a symphony, a fragrance, and a mathematical proof beautiful. What characteristics do they share which give them that status? What possible feature could a proof and a fragrance both share in virtue of which they both count as beautiful? What makes a painting beautiful is quite different from what makes music beautiful, which suggests that each art form has its own language for the judgement of aesthetics.

At the same time, there is seemingly quite a lack of words to express oneself accurately when making an aesthetic judgement. An aesthetic judgement cannot be an empirical judgement. Therefore, due to impossibility for precision, there is confusion about what interpretations can be culturally negotiated. Due to imprecision in the standard English language, two completely different feelings experienced by two different people can be represented by an identical verbal expression. Wittgenstein stated this in his lectures on aesthetics and language games.

A collective identification of beauty, with willing participants in a given social spectrum, may be

a socially negotiated phenomenon, discussed in a culture or context. Is there some underlying unity to aesthetic judgment and is there some way to articulate the similarities of a beautiful house, beautiful proof, and beautiful sunset? Defining it requires a description of the entire phenomenon, as Wittgenstein argued in his lectures on aesthetics. Likewise there has been long debate on how perception of beauty in the natural world, especially perception of the human form as beautiful, is supposed to relate to perceiving beauty in art or artefacts. This goes back at least to Kant, with some echoes even in St. Bonaventure.

Aesthetics and the philosophy of art

Aesthetics is used by some as a synonym for the philosophy of art since Hegel, while others

insist on a distinction between these closely related fields. In practice aesthetic judgement refers

to the sensory contemplation or appreciation of an object (not necessarily an art object), while

artistic judgement refers to the recognition, appreciation or criticism of art or an art work.

The philosophical aesthetics has not only to speak about art and to produce judgments about the art works, but has also to give a definition of what art is. Art is an autonomous entity for the philosophy, because art deals with the senses (i. e. the etymology of aesthetics) and art is as such free of any moral or political purpose. Hence, there are two different conceptions of art in the aesthetics : art as knowledge or art as action, but aesthetics is neither epistemology nor ethics.

What is "art?"

How best to define the term “art” is a subject of constant contention; many books and journal articles have been published arguing over even the basics of what we mean by the term “art”. Theodor Adorno claimed in 1969 “It is self-evident that nothing concerning art is self-evident.”

Artists, philosophers, anthropologists, psychologists and programmers all use the notion of art in their respective fields, and give it operational definitions that vary considerably. Furthermore, it

is clear that even the basic meaning of the term "art" has changed several times over the

centuries, and has continued to evolve during the 20th century as well.

119

The main recent sense of the word “art” is roughly as an abbreviation for creative art or “fine art.” Here we mean that skill is being used to express the artist’s creativity, or to engage the audience’s aesthetic sensibilities, or to draw the audience towards consideration of the “finer” things. Often, if the skill is being used in a functional object, people will consider it a craft instead of art, a suggestion which is highly disputed by many Contemporary Craft thinkers. Likewise, if the skill is being used in a commercial or industrial way it may be considered design instead of art, or contrariwise these may be defended as art forms, perhaps called applied art. Some thinkers, for instance, have argued that the difference between fine art and applied art has more to do with the actual function of the object than any clear definitional difference. Art usually implies no function other than to convey or communicate an idea.

Even as late as 1912 it was normal in the West to assume that all art aims at beauty, and thus that anything that wasn't trying to be beautiful couldn't count as art. The cubists, dadaists, Stravinsky, and many later art movements struggled against this conception that beauty was central to the definition of art, with such success that, according to Danto, "Beauty had disappeared not only from the advanced art of the 1960’s but from the advanced philosophy of art of that decade as well." Perhaps some notion like "expression" (in Croce’s theories) or "counter-environment" (in McLuhan’s theory) can replace the previous role of beauty. Brian Massumi brought back "beauty" into consideration together with "expression". Another concept, as important to the philosophy of art as "beauty," is that of the "sublime," elaborated upon in the twentieth century by the postmodern philosopher Jean-François Lyotard.

Perhaps (as in Kennick's theory) no definition of art is possible anymore. Perhaps art should be thought of as a cluster of related concepts in a Wittgensteinian fashion (as in Weitz or Beuys). Another approach is to say that “art” is basically a sociological category, that whatever art schools and museums and artists define as art is considered art regardless of formal definitions. This "institutional definition of art" (see also Institutional Critique) has been championed by George Dickie. Most people did not consider the depiction of a Brillo Box or a store-bought urinal to be art until Andy Warhol and Marcel Duchamp (respectively) placed them in the context of art (i.e., the art gallery), which then provided the association of these objects with the associations that define art.

Proceduralists often suggest that it is the process by which a work of art is created or viewed that makes it art, not any inherent feature of an object, or how well received it is by the institutions of the art world after its introduction to society at large. Whereas if exactly the same set of words was written by a journalist, intending them as shorthand notes to help him write a longer article later, these would not be a poem. Leo Tolstoy, on the other hand, claims that what makes something art or not is how it is experienced by its audience, not by the intention of its creator. Functionalists like Monroe Beardsley argue that whether or not a piece counts as art depends on what function it plays in a particular context; the same Greek vase may play a non-artistic function in one context (carrying wine), and an artistic function in another context (helping us to appreciate the beauty of the human figure). '

What should we judge when we judge art?

Art can be difficult at the metaphysical and ontological levels as well as at the value theory level. When we see a performance of Hamlet, how many works of art are we experiencing, and which should we judge? Perhaps there is only one relevant work of art, the whole performance, which many different people have contributed to, and which will exist briefly and then disappear. Perhaps the manuscript by Shakespeare is a distinct work of art from the play by the troupe, which is also distinct from the performance of the play by this troupe on this night, and all three can be judged, but are to be judged by different standards.

120

Perhaps every person involved should be judged separately on his or her own merits, and each costume or line is its own work of art (with perhaps the director having the job of unifying them all). Similar problems arise for music, film and even painting. Is one to judge the painting itself, the work of the painter, or perhaps the painting in its context of presentation by the museum workers?

These problems have been made even more difficult by the rise of conceptual art since the 1960s. Warhol’s famous Brillo Boxes are nearly indistinguishable from actual Brillo boxes at the time. It would be a mistake to praise Warhol for the design of his boxes (which were designed by Steve Harvey), yet the conceptual move of exhibiting these boxes as art in a museum together with other kinds of paintings is Warhol's. Are we judging Warhol’s concept? His execution of

the concept in the medium? The curator’s insight in letting Warhol display the boxes? The overall result? Our experience or interpretation of the result? Ontologically, how are we to think

of the work of art? Is it a physical object? Several objects? A class of objects? A mental object?

A fictional object? An abstract object? An event? Or simply an Act?

What should art be like?

Many goals have been argued for art, and aestheticians often argue that some goal or another is superior in some way. Clement Greenberg, for instance, argued in 1960 that each artistic medium should seek that which makes it unique among the possible mediums and then purify itself of anything other than expression of its own uniqueness as a form. The Dadaist Tristan Tzara on the other hand saw the function of art in 1918 as the destruction of a mad social order. “We must sweep and clean. Affirm the cleanliness of the individual after the state of madness, aggressive complete madness of a world abandoned to the hands of bandits.” Formal goals, creative goals, self-expression, political goals, spiritual goals, philosophical goals, and even more perceptual or aesthetic goals have all been popular pictures of what art should be like.

The value of art

Tolstoy defined art, and not incidentally characterized its value, this way: "Art is a human activity consisting in this, that one man consciously, by means of certain external signs, hands on

to others feelings he has lived through, and that other people are infected by these feelings and

also experience them."

The value of art, then, is one with the value of empathy.

Other possible views are these: Art can act as a means to some special kind of knowledge. Art may give insight into the human condition. Art relates to science and religion. Art serves as a tool of education, or indoctrination, or enculturation. Art makes us more moral. It uplifts us spiritually. Art is politics by other means. Art has the value of allowing catharsis. In any case, the value of art may determine the suitability of an art form. Do they differ significantly in their values, or (if not) in their ability to achieve the unitary value of art?

But to approach the question of the value of art systematically, one ought to ask: for whom? For the artist? For the audience? For society at large, and/or for individuals beyond the audience? Is the "value" of art different in each of these different contexts?

Working on the intended value of art tends to help define the relations between art and other acts. Art clearly does have spiritual goals in many contexts, but what exactly is the difference between religious art and religion per se? The truth is complex - Art is both useless in a functional sense and the most important human activity.