Sunday, June 21, 2009

The Nobel Edict

Just a quick link to the webpage page of the St. James Palace Nobel Laureate Symposium whose memorandum on climate change is worth reading. Here is a description of the symposium.
The St. James’s Palace Nobel Laureate Symposium was held in May 2009 at St. James's Palace and The Royal Society in the United Kingdom. The Symposium provided a unique opportunity for Nobel Laureates from across the disciplines to gather with world experts in climate change and a small number of policy makers and global business leaders. Together they contributed their ideas and authority to some of the world’s most pressing challenges. The focus of the Symposium was the climate crisis and its implications, particularly in the context of the economic and development challenges facing the world.
I post this because I recently had the misfortune of picking up the late Micheal Crichton's State of Fear in the airport and finding out it was a ridiculous climate skeptic screed in novel form. I read thinking "this guy has millions of readers who will believe this". It made me very, very depressed. Maybe a long list of Nobel Prize winners can help convince people. It can't hurt.


  1. On Darwinism and consumerism (continuation of the last thread)

    What I don't like about Darwinism is that there seems to be this insistence to conceive biological life in terms of Newtonian physics: given enough "bumps and vectors," matter will coalesce into genes which are adept survival machines. Our consumerism is then framed as the logical expression of our genes which have lived most of their lives hoarding; we attribute such power to the push of physics and
    we've given up our sense of the power of imagination's pull. I would argue that when it comes to making our "collective character," imagination trumps genes.

    I see imagination as one of our greatest powers; yet at the same time, it exists as one of our greatest personal threats. To be fully imaginative entails being fully aware; to be fully aware entails recognizing fully, my contingent state- surely a cause for dread. It's easier to give up the power of imagination, and occupy ourselves instead with dreams of aquiring something new: "heaven is in the wanting", as they say; heaven in this case, being any state void of dread....

    So, we've made a culture that cooperates together in making a sense of life that is based on being only partly alive, yet convinces us by its consumerist/technical-progress story, that we have been the most alive people to inhabit this planet and history.

    Climate change poses a threat to our collective consumerist existence. We're apt to ignore the threat of climate change because more than threatening our consumer life style, it threatens the story by which we live. And that story, even though it normalizes Prozac and makes gods out of ceo's- as if any human could be god- at least protects us from both the threat of being fully alive and the recognition that we settle for such a stunted form of human being.

    I don't think we'll be able to give up consumerism until we're ready to be fully alive.

  2. Mike what do you think of the idea of "memes" which in some sense are the imaginative analoge of genes. I understand you are trying to argue against a Darwinian determinism and I would agree that one must be very careful not to turn evolution in a Newtonian machine since it just doesn't work that way. In consciousness it seems you see creativity as an innate force. Something which makes mind and the culture it creates as different and new in the world.

  3. @Adam- The thing I like most about the idea of memes, is that it makes for a very tactile insight into the determining power of ideas: we have to be thoughtful in what we make, because what we make in turn makes us.

    Whether we could consider creativity a fundamental force or not, I think we have to recapture its fundamental sense of generative power. The Evolutionary Impulse is quintessentially creative. This sense of creativity denotes something so different from our current usage of indicating one's prowess at something decorative. To say someone, whether a person or a business, is creative should mean that they generate more life.

    You know, I'm just wondering- If we can't consider creativity as a fundamental force, can we come up with a notion that is analogous to Dawkin's invention of the concept of meme?

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