I think that culture and conscience are interwoven processes, in which the connections are innumerable and, as those connections are observed, or interact, they continue to change in both predictable and unpredictable ways. So, this is my pitch for transdisciplinarity and holism. There are infinite distinctions we can use to create the impression that concepts and behaviors are defined and distinguishable, and therefore in some way real. To the extent that they are seen as real, we can investigate them through specialization and reductionist approaches.
So, we can ponder the distinctions between culture and conscience, nature or nurture, socialism and capitalism, liberal vs. conservative, consumerism vs. citizenship and friend vs. enemy. In the end, to me, it really is the connections that matter. In this case, since the connections between culture and conscience are profound and complete, my preference would be to investigate the connections between the combined culture-and-conscience and our physical reality. By physical reality, I mean our survival connection with the human and non-human environmental systems with which we live.
If I look at the subjectivity of both culture and conscience compared to the reality of whether we have air to breathe, water to drink and food to eat, my quest becomes to understand why we humans are destroying our planet, our habitat. That wouldn't be a sign of intelligence. In a round-about way, while our ecosystems are decidedly real and present us with stark limitations, it is possible to conclude that neither culture nor conscience are actually real at all. They are social constructs that simulate knowledge while appearing to each of us variously, almost randomly, as we seem inclined to see them.
In other words, our social and psychological reality, as humans, does not correlate with the physical reality of our homo sapiens bodies and our world. Historically, a few thousand years ago, we humans may have had realities of culture and conscience more compatible with our environmental realities. Perhaps we may be on the way to more compatible approaches once again. I am not convinced, however, that we can use language, culture and conscience to create a new balance. Progress may be unrelated to anything we think intellectually. Nonetheless, if we somehow stumble into homeostasis with our habitat, our human majority's culture and conscience will certainly be different than they are today.
Published on 8 October 2015