“I don’t believe in God, but that doesn’t mean I am not spiritual”. This is something that I hear more and more, and something that I do “believe” in. As our modern societies progress and an anthropocentric view of life is at the core of many of these societies, I can’t help but want to be more “spiritual”.
Not that I dislike people, “not that there’s anything wrong with that” to quote Jerry Seinfeld, but I think we tend to lean towards a Hobbsian take on the human being. Maybe it’s the romantic within me that wishes we were more of a Rousseau than Hobbes, but I intend to make a link here to say that incorporating spaces for the spiritual, what I think would be more in line with Rousseau, and capitalism, would help our greedy nature that society tries to curb through the rule of law and incentives.
To brush up on Rousseau and Hobbes here is a link (I provide this one as I am a fairly new parent).
Like the discussion within the book Animal Instincts, suggesting the oversimplification of rational economics compared to human nature, many view the debate between Hobbes and Rousseau as more of a continuum than one of extremes, we are neither inherently “good” or “bad”.
So how then do we change a behavior so that we want the “good” to be reducing our carbon footprint on the Earth? A-P’s book The Carbon Efficient City, tends to lean towards a Hobbsian approach; society here in the United States will curb our nature through both federal and local legislation, and the private sector will be driven mostly by profit and therefore curb much of societies behavior. The Rousseau in me is discouraged by this, it seems to be more of a forced economic influence than an enlightened understanding of our place within the world, but the Hobbes in me understands this as rational and practical, a good stepping stone to move forward.
What I am inspired by in A-P’s book is her optimism. Within this continuum of legislation working with private businesses, we as a society will choose to work with nature. What I suggest further however, is a development towards including a spiritual understanding to the economic frameworks she has thus far laid out.
There seems to be a trend merging religion and science. Rather than taking the extremes of some religious beliefs, I think many are turning towards a continuum of religion and science and this gives me hope.
What I am getting at is that I don’t think it is a good idea to simply leave the oversight of our actions to the law and private businesses who, besides the few, will resort to greed even with incentives to be less greedy. Whether or not society makes us good or bad, we are learning (I hope), that it isn’t just about us. A shift from an anthropocentric view to an ecocentric view wouldn’t hurt our current endeavor to save ourselves.