Part 1: Medical Care in the U.S.
A. Medical Care & Treatment Models
I’ll be examining Western medicine and seeing how its present position could lead us into channels where familiar waters grow very choppy, and even skilled boatmen may not make it through unscathed.
I will first discuss the medical model, and the treatment model, and show how these reinforce each other. Then, we consider the philosophical implications of the high tech transformation of the human body and mind, on the issue of human identity.
The current treatment model promotes the view that people are composed of mechanical parts and systems which can be repaired or replaced, sometimes by biological replacements and sometimes by non-organic mechanical ones.
In the U.S the medical model is a for-profit system, and one that is not single-payer based. In other words, it is privately run and is designed to generate profits to the owners or shareholders. Except for Medicare, Medicaid and veterans’ care benefits, generally speaking, the government does not provide health care as a single payer. In Western Europe, Japan and S. Korea, the main features of the medical plans are publicly run and are not for profit, though supplemental care is for-profit.
By way of comparison, local fire and police departments in the U.S. are not for-profit, i.e. they are not designed to make money. (The corrections system, on the other hand, has been increasingly privatized and is for-profit. Water rights have also been privatized in some communities in the U.S. and throughout the world, though water is generally regarded as a public utility).
By its very nature as a for-private-profit medical model, the current model treats people as commodities. In the U.S. there is no intrinsic right to free, government-provided health care. Americans expect the government to aid them in the event of a “natural disaster” or to provide fire protection or protection from crime. However, unlike in other industrialized Western countries and Japan and South Korea, free health care is not provided by the American government as a right of citizenship (let alone provided free to visitors, as in the case of at least some Western countries, and perhaps in Japan and S. Korea as well).
B. The Issue of Privatization
Let’s examine philosophically what happens if we combine this medical model, which is oriented to privatized, single-payer patient care with its treatment model, which views the body as a mechanism with repairable or replaceable parts taken from other bodies or grown in the laboratory or sometimes made of non-organic materials. We immediately see that these medical and treatment models are not oriented toward preventative care, which focus on the health of the whole mind and body of the person. I’ll return to the last point near the very end of this multi-part discussion.
Let’s focus now on what is, from the perspective of patient health care, a particularly pernicious aspect of the present American medical model, the issue of pre-existing conditions.
It is widely acknowledged by people on the whole political spectrum that the present system is increasingly breaking down. Many people cannot afford coverage, while many who pay for coverage are being denied it for various reasons, including the fact that they actually have the medical conditions for which they need treatment. So, we have:
Huge managerial costs associated with denying people treatment for varying reasons, including the fact that they suffer from “pre-existing conditions,” which precede enrollment in the particular private health care system. In contrast, Medicare/Medicaid, which is part of the Social Security system, provides treatment as the single-payer (which reimburses actual medical care providers). It does not spend money to exclude people from treatment, but it is designed to pay for actual treatment . (The right wing disdainfully refers to this as Socialized Medicine (italic).)
Expensive treatment, particularly during terminal illness during the late stage of the patient’s life, accounts for a large percentage of total medical costs for treatment in the U.S. Often the quality of a person’s life is sacrificed for the sake of the quantity of extra time lived, which appears to be regarded as a good, in and of itself, by the medical establishment. Living wills and health care proxies could be used by patients and their representatives to exclude so-called heroic high-tech medical interventions such as the use of ventilators and tube feeding, which are often painful, require pain killers, and often extend the sufferingof patients during terminal conditions.
Expensive drugs are used, with the government not allowed to buy large amounts of various drugs to supply to hospitals, etc., at lower costs (with the general exception of the Veterans Administration). This is undoubtedly a boon to the drug companies, literally at the expense of medical consumers.
2 and 3 are based on the repair or replace model, delivered not on the basis of need but on the basis of one’s individual health care policy or whether it is a Medicare reimbursable expense.
In general, too much emphasis is placed on the quantitative aspects of patient care and the extending of life for its own sake and the sake of continued profits that are generated by patient care, rather than qualitative aspects of treatment, i.e. how the quality of people’s lives is affected in terms of how comfortable they are in their daily life activities, etc., based on people’s individual wishes.
Fundamentally, in a for-profit medical care system, patients are literally regarded as the raw material that is processed, (i.e. treated) into final health care commodities, whose care and treatment continues to generate profit (not unlike prisoners in for-profit prisons.
Part 2: Western Medicine and Its Possible Future (which is right around the corner).
A. The Medical High Tech Revolution
Let’s go the next step and look in on the next stage to which the medical care delivery system is headed. It is shifting from treating human beings as commodities to treating human beings as commodities–beings, who may no longer be what we define as human.
As a species we are moving rapidly toward the ultimate expression of the repair and replace model of medicine. We are in a polygamous marriage with computer technology, robotics, genetic engineering and nanotech, particularly when applied to the human body. As part of genetic engineering, new organs may be grown from stem cells as replacement parts for the host being and possible other beings as well. Already ova are housed in wombs not of their biological mothers, but of women who are biological carriers. Down the road the ova may be allowed to mature into fetuses and babies in vitro in external environments for ultimate control and manipulation.
Consciousness itself and its biochemical components may, like software, become transferable to new physical vehicles <3>. Conscious beings may be able to view multiple vistas simultaneously, as viewing a room or a wide area filled with images from video screens. It may become the norm for human beings to be composites of mechanical and biological organs, or to have their consciousnesses housed in something other than what we call physical bodies. These types of experiments are undoubtedly going on at the present time. We may cease to be human beings and become beings that are no longer human, in the conventional sense of what we mean by mind and body. In the future we may not be treated as patients by physicians and health care practitioners, but instead receive maintenance, not unlike our cars now. Our life (no ital) expectancy might be that of our service contracts. Ultimately, if being repaired like computers replaces being healed by health care practitioners, and if being updated with software enhancements replaces the eating of food, then we will be living in the Matrix of the the Matrix film trilogy. This raises the issue of the role of sensation and perception in experience, which I will be discussing shortly. I’m pushing the envelope of credibility here a bit, but this hypothetical is not too far out in the future.
B. The Body and Consciousness
The concept of body as vehicle is an interesting one, and I mentioned this earlier. In Buddhism the body is sometimes described as a vehicle, in the sense that it is a conveyance. Spiritual doctrines are often conceived as vehicles, in the sense that the teachings themselves are like vehicles or conveyances (from the Latin vehiculum, to convey) that lead one from a state of ignorance to the state of wisdom. Hence, the main schools of Buddhism, the Mahayana and Theravada, contain the Sanskrit root, yana meaning vehicle. In Buddhism, the body is not a vehicle for a disembodied “soul” in the religious sense of a disembodied essence — Buddhism, rather, affirms the doctrine of anattman, or no-self, that there is no abiding self, or any substance that does not change.
There is another sense of the word vehicle. Most spiritual traditions conceive the body as a temporary housing for consciousness. (This is apart from the question of the concept of soul as a disembodied essence in a particular spiritual tradition). This teaching dovetails with the view of body as vehicle in the high tech sense.
C. Sensation, Reason and Knowledge in Western Philosophy- Some Thoughts
The connection between mind and body, or the relationship among the faculties of sensation, reason, imagination and feeling, has historically been the subject of much analysis and speculation by philosophers, starting with the Classical Greek philosophers.. Much human mental activity is based on sensory experience. What is the connection between the body and brain? What is the connection between the brain and consciousness? These questions are not quite as simple as they might appear.
Rene Descartes, the famous French mathematician and philosopher of the 17th century, was a rationalist who focused on the importance of the faculty of reason in human knowledge. In his famous analogy he writes that the mind inhabits the body, like a pilot in a ship.
Other philosophers emphasize the role of sensation in knowledge, as do the English empiricist philosophers writing in the late 17th and 18th centuries. (The root of the word is empiricus, from the Greek meaning experience, in the sense of one who relies on practical experience.) David Hume, the last of this particular group of philosophers, regards the mind as nothing more than, in his famous phrase, a bundle of sensations.
The famous German philosopher, Immanuel Kant, writing at the end of the 18th century in Germany into the early 19th century, tries to combine elements of rationalism and empiricism in his analysis of the components of the knowing process. He writes that reason as a faculty exists (unlike Hume’s assessment) but in order for knowledge to occur, it must act on sensation. He writes: (emphasis is his), Understanding and sensibility, with us, can determine objects only when these are employed in conjunction. <1>.
Earlier in his famous Critique of Pure Reason, Kant writes: Without sensibility no object would be given to us; without understanding no object would be thought. Thoughts without content are empty, intuitions (by which Kant means sensations) without concepts are blind. <2> I like to rephrase this in modern terms as, Sensation without the mind is blind; the mind without sensation is dumb.
D. Consciousness and the Brain – the Cybernetic vs Neural Network Models
There is a cybernetic model of the brain as computer. If your computer is getting old and you know that it may crash, you transfer its documents to another computer (and from one vehicle to another, as it were). Similarly it is held that, in theory, the physical equivalent of consciousness (the “data” of the brain) could be transferred to another medium, thus providing a kind of removable storage for consciousness, which would ensure personal immortality as long as this process continues.
Eventually, the genome of the brain (which has an estimated six trillion cells – from wikianswers.com ) may be constructed, much as the human genome project mapped the chromosomes and genes of the human being. However, recent study of the brain and consciousness shows that learning is not localized to particular portions of the brain, for people can have high functioning even with sizeable portions of their brains removed or injured. The brain seems not to function as an adding or calculating machine, but as a learning machine, which continually redirects impulses through different neuron networks in different portions of the brain. In the neural network impulses are continuously rewritten with new data. This model of the brain would need much more study before one could attempt to transfer electrical neurological activity from a human brain onto a different medium.<3> So, at least for a while, we won’t need to directly address the question of whether consciousness would experience the world differently when housed in a non-organic vehicle other than the physical human brain.
E. Consciousness without a Human Body – Some Further Thoughts
People have used aspects of technology for probably thousands of years, trying to repair or improve on the body in some way. Eye glasses were developed a few hundred years ago, and now infra- red technology allows human beings to have night vision. Artificial limbs and organs from human donors are already part of present-day treatment, particularly in the context of the mechanistic model of the body which views it as composed of replaceable parts. Apart from consciousness itself and the brain, which, as we’ve noted above, presents special technical problems, what are the implications of the human physical organism being increasingly replaced by organic transplants from other people or by mechanical replacements and enhancements? Is one’s connection to the physical world drastically altered?
We might miss our bodies more than we think. Scenes could be captured by cameras that would display images on video screens. If we didn’t have eyes or ears, then visual and auditory images would have to be conveyed to a device that could interpret such data. Without a receptive device such as ears, for instance, one could not perceive or hear an MP3 file even though it is a sound file, or perceive or see an object without a device for visual perception such as an eye. And what other things that people enjoy through their senses would be lost, particularly eating and sex? Physical pleasure is sensory based, though the mind contributes to it. For instance, for many people the thought of sex can produce sexual arousal in the body. Could mechanical bodies and minds experience sensory pleasure?
Perhaps there is a kind of magnetic attraction between sensation and reason. Kant writes, as we described earlier, that human beings use both in perception. The life of the senses might either have great appeal or cause great revulsion to beings whose existence is the life of the mind. There were episodes on Star Trek that probably reflected both of those attitudes. Remember, too, the difficulties that Mr. Spock had with understanding human emotion? The attitudes in which such beings engage in these activities become important. Such beings play chess-like games but then, presumably for the “excitement,” start to wager on the results. Could there be excitement without sensation or bodies? What about the famous wager between God and Lucifer in the Old Testament, testing Job’s patience?
Perhaps our conception of what it means to be human will evolve, as technology evokes. Our definition seems to be subject to a time lag, one step behind humankind’s physical evolution as a species, and its evolution via technology. But now we are in hi- tech land. Perhaps non-organic consciousness could don a kind of temporary mantel, a virtual reality- type apparatus, in order to experience sensation. Then once again we find ourselves in the Matrix of the Matrix film trilogy.
As we expand the range of our experience through computer technology, robotics, genetic engineering and nanotech, en toto, does this risk making us into hybid beings, at once human and non-human? Or, perhaps, as we extend the range of our sensibility through these new enhanced avenues for sensation, we are evolving toward our full humanity as self-aware beings, who experience more of the possibilites of existence. Then, we would be evolving toward ever higher level of self-awarenesss or self-consciousness, in Hegel’s sense of the term, based on experience not just thought.
As we evolve as a species, and as a species which develops technology, the question arises whether hybrid human/cybernetic/animal beings, could write poetry or fiction, or create other works of art? We earlier described the connection between sensation and reason in human perception. Could such hybrid experience emotions?
As Martin Heidegger describes, we try to experience the being of the other, whether it be a person or animal or object in the world. Through language, we stand in what calls the Clearing or the Open with the being or essence of the other, and art is our attempt to describe this connection. He considers poetry as the most fundamental and expressive medium for this communication with the other, since language is the most pliable substance of art. <4>
NOTES to Part 2:
<1>ed Immanuel Kant, Critique of Pure Reason, unabridged, Norman Kemp Smith,ed. and trans. 1965, sec. B314, p.274
<2> Ibid., secs B 76, A52, p. 93)
<3> Dr. Michio Kaku, noted author and Professor of Physics at City College of New
York, described the differences between the cybernetic vs. neural network model of the brain on Coasttocoastam.com, 4-22-09
<4> . See Martin Heidegger, Poetry, Language, Thought, tr. Albert Hofstadter, Harper and Row, 1971.For more on Heidegger’s view on poetry and art, see this author’s essay, The Role of the Artist in Modern Society with Particular Reference to Martin Heidegger’s Conceptions of Art and Technology,on http://www.poeticmatrix.com/letteRon-line7/L7EditorsPage.html
Part 3: The Knowledge Process for Humans and Non-Sentient Beings
A. Sense Knowledge and Moral Judgments
We’ve previously considered sensation and reason in the theories of knowledge of Hume and Kant. These thinkers also present moral philosophies that are based on these theories of knowledge. Sensation generates the perception of the world as an affect, as feeling. David Hume, the famous British empiricist philosopher of the 18th century, considers sensation as the basis of knowledge. In a similar way he regards fellow feeling or sympathy as a basic feature of human beings and as part of our basis for morality.
Following in the tradition of Aristotle, John Stuart Mill in the 19th century saw the purpose of morality as being to produce happiness.
The pursuit of pleasure assumes more intellectualized forms for human beings, in contrast to animals, as befits humankind’s nature as a rational being. Nonetheless, happiness includes sensory pleasures and those offered by the imagination. Mill famously quipped that it’s better to be like Socrates dissatisfied than a pig satisfied.
B. Reason, Robotics, and Moral Judgments
As the physical nature of the human being changes, perhaps sensation would figure less, or not at all, into the idea of happiness, or happiness itself. Physical pleasure, or the sensory side of happiness might be replaced by an ethos that is more religion-oriented, or it might be replaced by a system based on abstract rights and duties, or “the ought.” Some moral systems don’t necessarily involve sensation at all – treating your neighbor as you’d have them treat you, is part of the Judeo-Christian Golden Rule and the moral teaching of Immanuel Kant.
Kant sought to make the Golden Rule universally and categorically true (i.e. true in each and every situation) and to make it the basis of morality, rather than the production of happiness. The concepts of “don’t do to other beings what you’d not have them do to you,” and “will the universal” (as when one says, it is always wrong to steal) form the basis of Kant’s moral philosophy.
Because it is not based on sensation, the categorical imperative might be useable by machines/robotics. An interesting illustration of this can be found in the work of the famous scientist and science and sci-fi writer, Isaac Asimov, namely, his famous Laws of Robotics, which actually are written as categorical imperatives:
- A robot may not injure a human being, or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
- A robot must obey the orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
- A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law. <1>
The following paragraph was quoted from Roger Clark’s essay on Asimov’s laws:
Asimov detected as early as 1950 a need to extend the first law, which protected individual humans, so that it would protect humanity as a whole. Thus, his calculating machines "have the good of humanity at heart through the overwhelming force of the First Law of Robotics" (emphasis added). In 1985 he developed this idea further by postulating a "zeroth" law that placed humanity’s interests above those of any individual, while retaining a high value on individual human life.
Zeroth law: A robot may not injure humanity, or, through inaction, allow humanity to come to harm.<2>
C. Human and Machine Interaction
As the human body changes, would the nature of sensory- based experience change, namely, the feelings and thoughts that human beings have of love of nature and their feelings of connectedness to nature?
Would mechanical beings be more or less likely than human beings to regard the world of nature – organic and inorganic – just as raw material for utilization or exploitation? In a sense that question is the basis of Asimov’s laws of robotics, described above. A being need not be composed of metal and plastic parts in order to exploit the world of nature. It was a plain old human being who, as the singer Joni Mitchell described, made the park into a parking lot.
On the other hand, as humans become more machine-like, might not machines become more human-like, or animal-like, (combining human, animal, plant, insect qualities, as in the movie, The Fly), or combine these qualities with those of mechanical sensitivity (the being in the movie, Predator)? On another part of that scale, might not machines try to pass themselves off as human, as in the famous Turing test, formulated by the famous mathematician and WW II cryptologist, Alan Turing? Perhaps machines or robots could be developed that could easily pass the Turing test.
In the Turning test, a human interrogator questions a human being and a machine and must determine which is the human and which is the machine. Each is in a separate room. Each tries to convince the interrogator that it is the human. The machine passes the test if the interrogator mistakes it for a human, based on its responses and the way it behaves over the phone. <3>
NOTES to Part 3:
<1> Asimov’s 3 Laws of Robotics are ascribed to his short short story called "Runaround," which was published by Street and Smith Publications, Inc. in 1942. This reference appears in http://www.androidworld.com/prod22.htm
<2>See Roger Clark’s essay, http://www.rogerclarke.com/SOS/Asimov.html#Zeroth , as cited in http://www.androidworld.com/prod22.htm
<3> Alan Turing, Computing Machinery and Intelligence, 1950), cited in http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/turing-test/
Part 4: At the Fringes- When Humans and Machines Meet
A. The Sphere of the Between for Human and Machine-Beings
It’s not hard to imagine situations in which one’s parents, in whatever sense this term develops, choose the particular model of their child – physical characteristics of different races of humans, species of animal, or characteristics drawn from an assemblage of animal, plant, bird and insect features (with may be monthly specials here) combined with mechanical enhancements and other features. In a very short time, we’d have an assembly of mythological beings which might become prototypes for the new composite being, formerly known as the human being (by then an archaic term perhaps).
The starting point for production of this composite human-animal-mechanical hybrid being might be in vitro. This would supply the biological portion of the composite being. Then — just as a person now might surround herself with various human, various animal and bird companions — these characteristics could be included in this new being’s own composite nature..
Sex has been a very popular human diversion throughout history, and sex adapts well to the age of technology with video and sound recording. So if we have human sexual companions, why not robotic ones? What about robots who, for some reason, want to experience human emotions such as love, but the feelings are not regarded as authentic because they are not sensory based? (We have outlined here a good part of the theme of A.I. (the futuristic film directed by Steven Spielberg, 2001)
At the fringe of human and machine interaction, we‘d have such questions as how would one derive the pleasures of eating and sex when one doesn’t have a sensory body? Alternatively, could a non-organic mechanical being practice meditation, or create works of art, including such language oriented art as poetry? Would s/he have streams of thoughts, would free association exist, could s/he quiet their minds, and, if s/he has thoughts, is s/he not already one-pointed in her/his thinking? There presumably wouldn’t be bio-energetic fields around such beings, but there certainly would be electrical fields, as with humans. Since these beings would not be distracted by jump-around monkey- mind thoughts in the way that human beings are, maybe they would already be Enlightened in the Eastern sense of the word, and one with the larger community of inorganic and organic beings?
Technology develops in the context of society, and in turn, is promoted by one social class or another, often for its own class interests. Technology in the West is promoted for the purpose of profit—helping people is often secondary, except in the case of workers in various fields who specifically want to help people, such as charities and philanthropic enterprises.
Historically, the search for private profit has been the main motor of the development of science and technology. Extraordinarily promising technology often fails to be implemented for lack of financial support. One thinks of Nicholas Tesla, Edison’s famous rival, in the early years of the 20th century, who died in poverty, and of innovative fuel saving automotive technology in the late70’s and early 80’s, which wasn’t promoted by the big auto companies at that time.
If the search for short term profit at all levels of society continues to direct the science of the day, with the great power it wields, the future of the human species, and this very planet, becomes more problematical. This may be the tragic flaw of the species, regardless of how much wealth or scarcity exists in the society as a whole. Human beings are face- to- face with both their possible evolution and extinction as a species.
B. A Holistic Approach To Medicine, Technology & Possible Human Evolution
I’d rather let the preceding account of humankind’s possible evolution remain in the province of fiction and science fiction writers rather than the domain of sociologists and psychologists. Therefore, let us try the opposite approach.
Let’s imagine an economic system that is not totally for profit and does not treat human beings as commodities in order to keep “production” costs as low as possible and profits as high as possible. In our alternative approach, we would treat people as people, with intrinsic value as human beings. In terms of medicine this treatment would also focus on treating the whole human being via preventative medicine rather than treating parts through the repair- and- replace mechanical and mechanistic treatment model. Instead of the repair and replacement of mechanical parts – arms , legs, hearts, kidneys, etc, — the focus would be on keeping the whole human organism and natural world healthy, by producing healthy organic food without preservatives and genetically modified products. Ultimately, this is the view that preventative medicine, healthy food and lifestyle in a sustainable environment, are the best medicine for human beings and the planet as a whole.
Interesting indeed that the same natural and wholistic approach for healing human beings works quite well when applied to other beings on the planet and to the planet as a whole. Mountain top mining, as in West Virginia and other states, attacks the physical earth which is both organic and inorganic, and the contamination of the streams is enormous. Modern agribusiness, with its compartmentalization of agriculture, has several dire effects– (a) cows, chickens and other animals are raised off the soil, resulting in generation of manure that has no use. Removing the manure provides profits to the waste removal industry. But the manure winds up contaminating waterways throughout the world with so-called dead zones, in which aquatic life cannot live; (b) the loss of manure as natural fertilizer requires artificial nitrogen- based fertilizers be added to the soil, which both depletes the soil and contributes to global warming.
Another approach to futurism. Do people need to actually make themselves into composite beings that exist in physical form, like a combination of body of horse, head of human? This can be done with the imagination alone. These particular beings are actually centaurs in classical Greek mythology. They were revered as healers, but they liked to drink, get drunk, get rowdy and sometimes got killed. In the Greek myths, Hercules, the hero, gets drunk with some of the centaurs and winds up in a brawl with several others, killing Chiron, the leader and the great healer and benefactor of humankind.
That myth opens an interesting lesson here, for us, at this time in human history. Could one become intoxicated on knowledge and try to make what appears to be impossible, possible? Could humans temper knowledge with wisdom? Humans have always made mistakes, usually resulting from lack of knowledge or desire for short term profit. Now, new technological things can be done, but they get harder to undo.
In the world now, there is an increasing polarity between the rich and the poor, with the middle classes being increasingly ground down by the difficulties of securing right livelihood. Despite the inequities, wealth created through the use of technology percolates downward. We have things that only kings and nobility might have had—like hot and cold running water, sanitation, central heating, music of any kind on demand, and things that even the wealthy of earlier eras could not have– the ability to fly through the air, to pluck images, words and songs from the air with a device, to converse with other people throughout the world in a few minutes or instantaneously, to experience space flight and the moon voyage. As Neil Armstrong declared in 1969, as the first human to touch down on the moon, this was a small step for man, and a giant leap for mankind (ital).
All of these have become real human achievements and are more than just creations of the imagination. But because of poverty throughout the world, many people still don’t have basic goods and services, and the planet itself is very off balance due to humanity’s lack of foresight as a species. In short, it’s a good time for people to pause and ponder on the future of science and of the planet.
C. Greed At The Top, and the Future of Humanity: Some Final Thoughts.
As of this writing, in April 2009, there has been a groundswell of environmental concern because of global warming. But this awareness is taking place in the context of the tsunami of the world financial crisis, originally set in motion by the U.S. It was caused by unregulated leveraging of assets based on mortgage loans, which defaulted to an incredible extent, causing huge amounts of debt to accrue to the major banks and brokerage houses, which limited their ability to lend money to businesses. This, in turn, caused unemployment and more mortgage defaults.
There have been many banking crises over hundreds of years. Many banks, in many countries, such as Iceland, have been driven to the very brink of bankruptcy, being saved only by the bailouts by central banks and governments of numerous Western countries. Competition amongst the banks for short term profit and positioning basically fueled the leveraging and the bad loans on which it was based. At the heart of it is greed for money and the power which money buys. These are the bankers to the very people who basically run the Western societies. They are willing to leverage the future for short- term profits.
What will happen if this crew (ie. whoever is currently running the planet) continues to rule and directs the future of science, as we’ve described, in the area of humankind’s possible evolution as a species? Does it make us feel very comfortable about the future? If we think that we have evolved socially as a species because peace, not war, is now regarded as the basic norm, let us remember that the Nazis were defeated only about 65 years ago. If they had won, they most certainly would have set up some type of new imperial Roman type of empire, based on hi-tech and slavery. Slavery, let us remember, was part of the ancient world and extended through the 19th century and right into the present time, too.
If we want to regard peace as the basic norm among nations, let us remember that it must be guarded and defended from those who would subvert it, including the ruling classes of societies. So the evolution of Society from slavery to freedom and democracy is still in process. How science and the model of Western medicine affects this process still remains to be seen.
In a globalized world, policy decisions affecting the environment and those affecting human beings have enormous import. Humans would be well advised to consider carefully our physical transformation into whatever our imagination and desire — including desire for profit — conspire on for us. Let’s keep in mind the importance of balancing reason, the imagination and desires within ourselves, as described by Plato and Aristotle at the dawn of Western civilization. And let us rebalance this planet. Gaia will always be our home planet, but we are, as a species, its most reluctant caretaker.
NOTE ON THE AUTHOR: Paul Dolinsky holds a Ph.D in Philosophy, which he taught for several years in the classroom and still tutors, online. He also works as a free lance writer, and editor. He edits www.thegoldenlantern.com, a poetry submission site. He’s written collections of poems on Western philosophy, on Buddhist thought, and most recently, Study Guide Based on Red Mountain, a novel by Charles Entrekin His websites include www.historyofphilosophy.org, www.buddhistpoems.com, & www.technopoems.com