Are human actions natural actions?

When we look at a leaf and we see the way which the leaf, or nature, constructs itself, we can clearly see that there is order to the Universe. I must then ask, where in this orderly Universe is there a place for human thought and action? Is humanity, and its associated meaning a natural product of this order, or is it something different, worthy of the title ‘unnatural’? I believe the answer to this question is necessary to understand humanity and its place within the Universe.

I was in the park the other day, and I picked up a large stick. Why I picked up a stick, or what forces took me to that particular stick, or what history put me into a position to be in that particular park at that time, I do not know. I tossed this stick into the air, and the forces of air-pressure, of gravity, and the like, pulled the stick back toward the ground, and it fell upon a small sapling. The question which came immediately to my mind concerns this stick upon this fledgling tree. Is my action of choosing to pick up that stick and throwing it, and the resulting consequence (the sapling being bent beneath a stick) the same, or is it different than, when the wind pulls a rotten branch from a higher part of a tree, and drops the stick upon this same sapling? Is it only natural if the stick arrives upon the sapling if the process is absent of volition?

I ask this because it seems that the tree and I have a similar natural will. Both it and I move through time taking in nutrients, and we grow in size, and we output waste. Both of us have a kind of volition. I seek nutrients, and I will move about to aquire these. The tree requires water, and its roots adjust themselves accordingly. If something stands before my ultimate end (sustenance, procreation, longevity, and joy), I will adjust my course accordingly. Similarly, if something obstructs the tree, the tree will grow to account for this obstruction, so that it may have the suns rays fall upon its leaves, that it may drink the water from the ground, that it may grow and be a tree. Just as I will go to the park with friends in my ever-present journey to live a good life, to grow and be a human.

In this sense, amid a causally-determined Universe of cause and effect, it seems to me that my having laid a stick upon the sapling is as natural as a branch falling onto it.

Does this mean that whichever way humans are to act is the way which humans OUGHT to act? Perhaps so, though, it does mean that the growing pains of humanity (barbarism, genocide, racism, fervent nationalism) are natural lessons. They are pains along a path of learning toward an understanding of how individuals are to be treated, and how collectives and societies are to be constructed, and operated.

To a higher perfection there is a higher-calling. The tree simply wants to find the sun, find the water, and produce seed, and fruit. The human, however, wants this and more. The more of the human is the seeking of the truth. The truth of the self, and the truth of the world, and the truth of the good, and the right. Truth is thus a natural fact of the Universe which only sufficiently intelligent, and arguably sufficiently social, creatures may endeavor to find, as it pertains only to them. Only through their creation of history, through the journey through the future, in earnest contemplation of the present may we find the truths that exists as surely as the water and the sunlight which the tree seeks. The difference is that the truth exists not in the physical world, but in the realm of thought, in the world of ideas. This other world, as naturally as the existence of higher-intelligence is, is a natural extension of the physical world.

In summation, I must conclude that all actions are natural. Furthermore, that the human striving toward the truth is only ostensibly different than a fledgling sapling reaching toward the sun so that it may most perfectly be a tree. Indeed, all is life, and life seeks what it must. All is good, all is natural, all is a process.


– J

About Ossington

I often think but seldom share these thoughts. And if the product of my thinking is to affect anything but my own sense of satisfaction, then surely it must be shared. Here you may try to know what I believe to know.
This entry was posted in beautiful, causality, Cosmos, determinism, Humanity, natural, nature, philosophy, the good human, thoughts and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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