topic: civilisation

false dawns

To anyone worried about climate change the announcement by Lockheed Martin that it is developing a fusion reactor that will be ready for market within ten years could be seen as a cause for hope. Though I’ve yearned for this development for years, now I’m not so sure. Our technologies are causing ecological degradation and climate change. But what is technology except an amplifier of the effects that our minds have on the world? It […]

the once in a 100 million year experiment

As we consume fossil fuels, we humans are carrying out a once in a 100 million year experiment. The coal, oil and gas we have burned so profligately in the past 200 years or so are a legacy of ancient sun energy laid down in the Earth’s crust by organisms at least 100 million years ago (300 million in the case of coal). We began exploiting these reserves where they were easy to reach; at […]

a new covenant with nature

God gives the spark of life to Adam

It is no surprise that human rights as a formal system, as legislation, should have arisen from the two cataclysms of ‘civil war’ that the Europeans brought upon themselves, and into which they drew so much of the rest of the world. As a way of trying to avoid descent into the horrors of the Rape of Nanking, of the Eastern Front, and of the Holocaust, it is essential, that at the heart of our […]

competition versus brotherhood

A mania for competition so possesses our societies that it is hard to imagine any other way of being, and yet I think it is critical that we free ourselves from its grip. In the West, the Christian churches, from long habit, had an explanation for everything. Alas, with the rise of science, these churches chose to cling to Old Testament ‘certainties’, with the result that, when the cosmology of ‘Creation’ was overturned, the New […]

the experimental past

The study of the history of non-Western societies – especially those that have ‘failed’ – may be one of the most valuable resources that we have to help guide us through the coming ‘time of difficulty’ that we seem to be heading for. Watching a good BBC documentary about Tiwanaku, I was struck by how pertinent to our present climate change woes was the story of these people, not only surviving, but flourishing in an […]

the human virtuality

The greatest danger facing the human race seems to me to be how our collective ‘idea’ of what the world is is progressively moving away from what the world actually is. Without wanting to open up the whole can of worms that is the ‘mind-body problem‘, I think it is not too contentious to state: that the impression we have within each of us of the ‘world’ is only an approximation of that world. After […]

a bite of the cherry

policeman in front of a picture of Mao...

It seems that those of us who live in the West may need to get used to the fact that our economies are not going to return to constant growth. The belief that things are going to always continue to get better – at least in the sense of a constantly growing GDP – has always been a fantasy: constant growth of the kind we’ve experienced, that consists of consuming the Earth’s resources, presupposes that […]

being Persian

I wrote this on 19_11_11, but the internet went down at my hotel and, with the interminability of adding photos to this blog on a slow internet connection, I decided to finish this up at home. I nearly cried when I walked into the main hall of the Imam Mosque in Esfahan – overwhelmed by the beauty of that vast space. Perhaps the effect would have been almost as powerful had it merely been a […]

the divided brain…

The Master and the Emissary...

The Master and His Emissary: The Divided Brain and the Making of the Western World is not a self-help book, nor is it one of those books of cod-philosophy that promise amazing (though ultimately ill-founded) insights into the modern condition. It is instead a carefully argued thesis meticulously supported by references to research, as well as by appeals to personal experience. Its core premise is that we possess a single consciousness, but two wills: one […]

the vultures had forgotten how to fly

I was drawn to this piece by the welcome news that the terrible disease rinderpest has been eradicated. However, as I read it I became irritated when I came to this innocuous enough paragraph: As the virus spread, it left vast numbers of dead livestock in its wake, and communities without meat and milk. The loss of the animals, which were used to plough the land, crippled farming and led to widepsread starvation. My irritation […]