online: 8 june 2002

3 june 2002 what is unnatural?

14:53 On holiday this week. Enjoying having no plan - just waiting for thoughts or experiences. Suspended or supported in space two floors above ground level - an unnaturalness to which most people are so adapted that it seems unremarkable. But to inhabit a box in space, suspended above the ground, despite gravity, is as unnatural, or artificial, as is anything.

So what is it that is or was natural to people?

This great question (perhaps obselete after Spinoza's theory of the identity of God and Nature, thought and matter) still seems to trouble us - especially when it comes to deciding the morality of molecular engineering, the rightness or wrongness of 'interfering' with the accidents and determinisms of nature. Is there anything important at stake here - or is it just a result of confused thought or an imaginary sacredness of things human or alive or divine?

The question recurs and recurs in my thoughts and in those of many but still no one (but Spinoza?) has resolved it.

Let us suppose that we die - does that clarify the question, of unnaturalness? When our bodies become 'dead' matter they continue to be natural. But what of the continued presence of our forms as memories, photographs, sound recordings, DNA, and as written thoughts such as this?Are these our 'remnants' artificial or are they 'natural' also?...

...I feel that I am perhaps beginning to write nonsense so I decide to pause and reconsider...

16:15 The more I think about this the less do I fear unnaturalness and the more do I see our fears of it as superstition. As I think about that I see a lightening flash and hear some thunder. Large spots of rain but not many - I like storms and perhaps all extremities... More lightening... and a delay of about three seconds until I hear the sound of it... I calculate it was less than two kilometres away...

I remember a time when quite a few people used to fear and hide themselves from thunder but I know of no one who fears it now.

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© 2002 john chris jones

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