Dubos, Rene. So Human An Animal. New York: Macmillan, 1968.
(x) The unifying theme of this book is that all experiences leave a stamp on both physical and mental characteristics. I have placed special emphasis on the very early influences, prenatal as well as postnatal, because the effects are so profound and lasting that they have large consequences for human life.
(xi) We behave often as if we were the last generation to inhabit the earth.
(xii) Each one of us can consciously create their personality.
(5) As long as there are rebels in our midst, there is reason to hope that our societies can be saved.
(16) One of the most significant and disturbing aspects of modern life is that man’s contacts with the rest of creation are almost always distorted by artificial means, even though his senses and fundamental perceptions have remained the same since the Stone Age. Modern man is anxious, even during peace and in the midst of economic affluence, because the technological world that constitues his immediate environment, by separating him from the natural world under which he evolved, fails to satisfy certain of his unchangeable needs. In many respects, modern man is like a wild animal spending its life in a zoo; like the animal, he is fed abundantly and protected from inclemencies but deprived of the natural stimuli essential for many functions of his body and his mind. Man is alienated not only from other men, not only from nature, but more importantly from the deepest layers of his fundamental self.
- P Shepard, Continuum Concept
(20) Whatever scientific technology may create, l’homme moyen sensuel [the average, non-intellectual man] will continue to live by his senses and to perceive the world through them. As a result, he will eventually reject excessive abstraction and mechanization in order to re-establish direct contact with the natural forces from which he derives the awareness of his own existence and to which he owes his very sense of being.
- Is this true? Anymore? How long and how often will a 7 year old choose video games over a walk in the hills? Is it a sign of cultural sickness if he always chooses the former?? Why does “direct contact” with technological devices feel better than contact with “natural forces.” More immediate? Drug-like? If an Ape is raised in captivity for 20 years, it will not feel comfortable in the wild.
(23) To be humanly successful, the new ages will have to overcome the present intoxication with the use of power for the conquest of the cosmos, and to rise above the simple minded and degrading concept of man as a machine. The first move toward a richer and more human philosophy of life should be to rediscover man’s partnership with nature.
- “partnership”…or identification, non dual
(23) Economic affluence commonly leads to absurdity…Emerson predicted in his journal that American prosperity “would go on to madness.”
(25) ..the euphoric urge for expansion..
(65) Genetic evolution is an unconscious process.
(69) Because the diet of chimps consists of largely of large fruit, in the wild they must move over wide areas to find enough food and therefore cannot live in stable social groupings. In contrast, gorillas eat almost any plant food at hand in the the rich and varied vegetation of their tropical environment; since they need not move far from their home base they can form permanent family groups. It has been suggested that the differences in food habits and social structure between these two primate species have influenced their genetic evolution.
- humans are evolving into anti-social, individualistic creatures. We are more comfortable alone than in groups, because ofthe faux-company of technological devices.
(73) The writers of Western stories have a sound biological basis when they recount that the Indians always attacked at dawn, because they knew that the spirits of the white men were then at a low ebb…the human organism readily escapes from the control of reason under the influence of the physiological changes associated with darkness.
- unconscious time (“time”), like stepping into a dark movie theatre, where images and story dominate, rather than “reason” and “logic" (ego).
(74) Modern man in his sheltered environment continues to be under the influence of cosmic forces even as he was when he lived naked in direct contact with nature…The sea urchin’s response to a shadow illustrates that even in the case of relatively primitive animals much of behavior is conditioned by ancient experiences of the species that have generated instinctive reaction patterns.
(75) The biological evolution of man was almost complete about 100,000 years ago.
(91) As the population pressure increases, more and more animals exhibit abnormal behavior of various kinds. These deviants are not sick organically, but they act as if they were unaware of the presence of their cage mates. Their behavior is asocial rather than antisocial.
- P Shepard
(99) Almost every response of the organism to any stimulus results in the acquisition of memories that alter its subsequent response to the same stimulus.
(101) “The heart does indeed have its own reasons which reason does not know.” (B Pascal, 1623-1662)
(102) The expression ‘cortical conceit’ has been coined to denote the belief that man often ignores the ancient evolutionary components of his nature and lets his behavior be completely ruled by directives that are culture-inspired and originate from the cerebral cortex. Many of the biological difficulties peculiar to mankind have their origin in this so-called cortical conceit.
(103) Since these forces operate independently of reason rather than against it, they should be called non-rational rather irrational.
(108) The language of physicists is highly metaphorical in its use of such phrases as “elementary particles” or “electron orbits”; physicists have never seem either particles or orbits. When they describe the hydrogen atom, they are not referring to an object which has any reality for non-physicists. Mathematical concepts such as wave functions cannot have any relevance to the real world of the man in the street; they correspond to another kind of reality experienced indirectly through suitable measurements meaningful only to a small number of specialists.
(113) The widespread acceptance of the nonreligious attitude in modern western societies has placed agnostic man in a difficult situation. Although he has carried to the extreme the desacralization process he cannot free himself entirely from the past. His ancient religious nature always persists in his deepest being, ready to be reactivated, because he is haunted by the very realities he tries to deny.
(125) There was a time when children participated in practically all manifestations of adult life almost from infancy, but the modern family structure provides little chance for such solidarity and instead tends to break up the continuity of tradition.
- continuum concept
(125) What we perceive and respond to constitutes the world we factually inhabit…mental equilibrium and intellectual abilities rapidly deteriorate when our senses are kept inactive.
(138) Every part of this country is sacred to my people. Every hillside, every valley, every plain and grove has been hallowed by some fond memory of some sad experience of my tribe. Even the rocks, which seem to lie dumb as they swelter in the sun along the silent seashore in solemn grandeur, thrill with memories of past events connected with the lives of my people.
The very dust under our feet responds more lovingly to our footsteps than to yours, because it is the ashes of our ancestors, and our bare feet are conscious of the sympathetic touch, for the soil is rich with the life of our kindred.
- Chief Seattle’s Unanswered Challenge, John M Rich
(139) Your religion was written on tablets of stone by the iron finger of an angry God…Our religion is the traditions of our ancestors – the dreams of our old men given to them in the solemn hours of night by the Great Spirit…and is written in the hearts of our people.
- Chief Seattle
(147) The chronic disorders characteristic of modern civilization affect man chiefly during late adulthood after he has fulfilled his reproductive functions and contributed his share to social and economic development. The problem of his happiness becomes important only when attention is shifted from the purely biological aspects of life to the far different problems of human values. In applying to man the concept of adaptation, we must therefore use criteria different from those used in general biology.
(149) For some two centuries, Western man has believed that he would find his salvation in technology. Unquestionably technological innovations have increased his economic wealth and improved his physical health – although they have not necessarily brought him the kinds of wealth and health that generate happiness. Technology provided my taxi driver with all the raw materials required for building a large body and a reasonably equipped mind but it also imposed on him ways of life almost incompatible with the maintenance of physical and mental sanity. In this regard, his plight was symbolic of life in highly technicized societies. The precise causes of the diseases of civilization are difficult to identify, but there is no doubt that many originate directly or indirectly from deleterious environmental influences to which human beings seem to become adjusted.
(156) Many effects of the environment become inscribed in the body and the mind without the affected person’s realizing that he is being changed irreversibly by influences that do not enter his consciousness.
(157) Ordinary adult life rarely provides the enriching experience of close comradeship and mutual dependence which was possible when youthful generosity and constant associations gave a chance for really meaningful social encounters.
- Stand by Me, Growing Up Absurd
(157) One of the worst consequences of modern life, according to the American urban planner Christoffer Alexander, is the “autonomy-withdrawal” syndrome. Most people, he claims, use their homes to escape from the stresses of the outside world and practice social withdrawal as a form of self-protection. Eventually withdrawal becomes a habit; people reach a point where they become unable or unwilling to let others penetrate their own private world.
(159) Man can learn to tolerate treeless avenues, starless skies, tasteless food, a monotonous succession of holidays which have become spiritless and meaningless because they are no longer holy days, a life without the fragrance of flowers, the song of birds, the joyous intoxication of spring, or the melancholy of autumn. Loss of the amenities of life may have no obvious detrimental affect on man’s physical well being or on his ability to perform effectively as part of the economic or technological machine…Little if anything is known, however, of the ultimate effect on man of such drastic elimination of the natural stimuli under which has has evolved as a biological being…The pathetic weekend exodus to the country or beaches, the fireplaces in overheated city apartments, testify to the persistence in man of biological and emotional hungers that developed during his evolutionary past, and that he cannot outgrow…Like Antaeus of the Greek legend, he loses his strength when both his feet are off the ground.
- Lame Deer: Seeker of Visions
(166) All evidence of psychiatry shows that membership in a group sustains a man, enables him to maintain his equilibrium under the ordinary shocks of life, and helps him to bring up children who will in turn be happy and resilient..
(168) Just as important for maintaining the quality of human life is an environment in which it is possible to satisfy the longings for quiet, privacy, independence, initiative, and open space. These are not frills or luxuries; they constitute real biological necessities. They will be in short supply long before there are critical shortages of energy and materials to keep the human machine going and industry expanding.
(174) “if man had originally inhabited a world as blankly uniform as a high rise housing development, as featureless as a parking lot, as destitute of life as an automated factory, it is doubtful that he would have had a sufficiently varied experience to retain images, mold language, or acquire ideas.” L Mumford, The Myth of the Machine
(179) Our institutions are not really designed to help in developing the good life, but rather to make human beings more productive and more efficient tools of industry and commerce.
(180) Common action cannot be mustered because it demands a common faith that does not exist. It is because we need a common faith that the search for significance is the most important task of our times.
(183) Whether based on religious, philosophical, or social convictions, the feeling of significance derives from man’s awareness, vague as it may be, that his whole being is related to the cosmos, to the past, to the future, and to the rest of mankind.
(187) Increasingly, we cut down forests and flood deserts to create more farmland. On the other hand, we destroy fertile agricultural fields to build factories, highways, and housing developments, without regard to natural and historical scenery. We first cleared the forests to make way for the farms, then we cleared the farms to accommodate the cities and their suburbs. Almost everywhere, the land is being used not as a home, not as an environment for the creation of human culture, but as a source of exploitation and speculation.
- exploitation and speculation is modern human culture
(188) It is perhaps symbolic that rats appear to be the only mammals that have increased in numbers during the past century as much as men.
(191) ..the gospel of growth: produce more so that you can consume more so that you can produce still more. One need not be a sociologist to know that such a philosophy is insane.
(196) Sensitive persons have always experienced a biological and emotional need for an harmonious accord with nature. “sometimes as I drift idly along Walden Pond,” Thoreau noted in his journal, “I cease to live and begin to be.”
(201) A sense of continuity with the past and with the rest of creation is a form of religious experience essential to sanity.
(203-204) The 18th century Europeans saw America as a kind of utopian garden in which they could vicariously place their dreams of abundance, leisure, freedom, and harmony of existence. In contrast, most 19th century immigrants regarded the forests, the plains, and the mountains as a hideous wilderness to be conquered by the exercise of power and harnessed for the creation of material wealth.
(219) Since all aspects of human life reflect environmental influences, it is a moral obligation for the scientific community to devote itself in earnest to the study of ecological systems, both those of nature and those created by man.
(220) The management of natural forces through technology has been so far the most characteristic urge as well as the most spectacular achievement of western civilization; science owed its popular prestige to its technological applications rather than to its conceptual content.
(221) “Western society today may be said to harbour science like a foreign god, powerful and mysterious. Our lives are changed by its handiwork, but the population of the west is as far from understanding the nature of this strange power as a remote peasant of the Middle Ages may have been from understanding the theology of Thomas Aquinas.” Stephen Toumlin
(222) In science as in other human activities, the speed of progress is less important than its direction.
(227) There is only one way to cope with and take advantage of man’s genetic diversity: it is to diversify man’s environment.