Noble ‘Man’

What is the human species’ goal? Is the meaning of life to sustainably survive, to conquer and expand, or to experience and learn? Or maybe that is the three part cyclical evolution of the human species on Planet Earth? Is it time for the human animal to expand and conquer new planets or is the power of the internet going to provide the tipping point that enables us to learn how to evolve a more sustainable lifestyle?

Rousseau proposed that the systems of civilisation erode the morality/humanity of Man. Where previously the rich had a duty of care through philanthropy to assist the poor now the Welfare State unsustainably provides. We have centralised and dehumanised both sides of the ‘Wellth’ scale. On one side you have humans working the mechanisms of rich corporations that play the tax avoidance system and on the other you have humans not working but playing the welfare system. By centralising systems you increase efficiencies but decrease humanity the most awe inspiring asset of the human animal. Maybe the Infinity Loop will help balance this Social Equation? A decentralised model for corporations as frameworks rather than legal entities may also be an important evolution.

How much of our human qualities are due to memes rather than genes? Does society just evolve towards numerous tipping points? If we were told the UK population was drastically declining to extinction, would we rise to the challenge and start breeding rapidly? Is the opposite not the case as the world population exceeds 7 billion and keeps on growing? Does our ability to quantify and transfer data assure our survival assuming we are adept at reacting to the results? Is the internet enabling a global realisation that we are reaching a new environmental tipping point which requires a drive towards sustainability? Will this sustainability be achieved by conquering new territories such as solar and nanotechnology? The evolution of our species is the story of systems. What systems would you like to see evolve? 


 Millenium Run: The Internet or the Universe?



Carbon Community

Science shows that our growing carbon output is causing climate change which will have significant environmental consequences for our species. If we look at this challenge from the context of the Social Equation we could say Nature is going to provide the Fear component as sea levels rise, ice caps melt and natural disasters occur with greater frequency. To compensate this growing Fear society will want some Hope. With the power of religion eroded people will want a scientific explanation and this is where the carbon community vision has value. Hope is provided by the idea that if we reduce our carbon footprint we can help reduce global warming. Rather than relying on faith and prayer for Hope we are now providing humans with a positive activity they can partake in so their Hope isn’t passive. The Greed component is fullfilled by commodifying carbon which has the potential benefit of focusing attention away from GDP and profit towards carbon reduction and carbon credit systems. Finally the Love component is provided by a focus on the benefits of community and family who each need to support making our environment better.


The Social Equation (Carbon Community):   Civilisation = (Carbon reduction + Carbon communities) / (Nature + Carbon commodification)


History has shown that the structure of civilisation is fragile with many examples perishing through time. History has also shown the importance that civilisations evolve perhaps to accomodate the expansion of population or maybe just to provide a relative sense of purpose to society. Either way we often forget that beyond our own lifespan the structure of society was quite different to what we live in today and so it will be looking into the future. The Social Equation provides a simple model to show how a carbon community can rebalance human emotion and structure civilisation in the absense of a strong religious framework.


The carbon community, like religion itself, is not a perfect model for at some point the world will be zero carbon and what will drive society then? There are also questions over the commodification of a gas which leaves one less element to privatise before we touch oxygen or life itself. It would be great to think everybody will all wake up one day, reject the concept of Greed and live a completely sustainable existence. Unfortunately revolution is rare and the survival skills are not available to make this a sustainable proposition. Therefore we have to evolve the existing model twisting the component of Greed for money to Greed for carbon. By manipulating the Greed component of the Social Equation it is important that the opportunity isn’t lost on illogical money making ideas such as some carbon capture schemes but instead acts as a tipping point in sustainable thinking and living.


A carbon economy may sound strange but then so is the idea of money, a formatted document which won’t itself keep you warm or feed you! Assuming society does avert a global warming disaster and the carbon market saves civilisation then future generations will need to formulate a new model to balance the Social Equation. Maybe ideas such as the Infinty Loop and Carbon Community will negate the need for external regulation and further commodification. The ‘Market’, by which I mean you, me and future generations, will form a communal moral conscience without the need for religious or legal frameworks to guide them. Ideas of how to structure society have always come from the top and been enforced by law without the general population necessarily understanding their significance. Has science and education changed this model to the extent that any significant change will now need a full explaination for general acceptance? What do you think?



A Helping Hand?

The Social Equation

The term civilisation refers to complex human cultures that are generally urbanised. This post will propose that stable civilisations require human emotion to be balanced and that various frameworks exist to ensure this equilibrium. In the next post we will look at how scientific thinking has altered the balance of emotions within society and in the third post of this series we will discuss what alternatives exist for the future.


Having looked at various systems around the world we began to notice that many laws, religions and beliefs exist to balance human emotion and provide meaning to life. For instance a religious framework, such as Christianity provides balance through Love of ‘God’, Hope for a better life in Heaven and redemption from sin, Fear of Hell and damnation and Hate for other religions that drove the Crusades in the 11, 12 and 13th centuries. For thousands of years this model has existed to provide a violent balance to our civilisation. Over time other frameworks and ideologies have approached the structure of civilisation from different viewpoints but all have the same goal of creating social balance.


The Social Equation is a simple mechanism to help think about the balance of emotion in society and will hopefully lead to some debate from our readers as to how this can evolve?


The Social Equation:        Civilisation  =  (Hope + Love) / (Fear + Hate)


The Social equation takes four primal emotions which in a dense urban environment must be kept in balance with no extreme examples causing significant harm to other humans. The choice of emotions is up for debate as they are not based on the list produced by Parrot in 2001 (love, joy, surprise, anger, sadness, fear) but on common English parlance where we talk of hopes and fears as well as love and hate as general opposites. Humans are biologically programmed to enjoy Love because it is this emotion that binds families together that provide the support system for the next generation. Hope is the optimistic component of human emotion, a driving belief that things will improve and therefore life is worth living. Hope can also blind society to its problems which is why emotions of Fear exist to provide a balance and inspire action. Hate is the emotion which has led to many wars and acts as a social leveller and driver but which in the next post we will argue has been replaced in the equation due to the inhumanity of its results.


Each emotion used in the Social Equation has positive qualities in moderation and its mere existence acts as a foil to its opposite providing the ability to compare the benefits of being in one emotional state against another. Put simply you cannot know what Love is without Hate as an opposing emotion for comparison. We will question this idea in the next post but for the moment let’s look at each emotion in turn and how its extreme can be dangerous to social balance. Hope is the believe in a positive outcome. Taken to extremes false hope occurs where the person bases their belief around fantasy or an extremely unlikely outcome which then leads to ineffective stagnation. For example Britain could have hoped Hitler wouldn’t have tried to attack but blind hope would have indeed led to an invasion. In contrast the opposing emotion of Fear can also be paralysing in the extreme where it resigns the human to their anticipated fate. Love as they say can be blind or blinding, leading the obsessed to carry out acts that are not rational to their own well being. Up until 1970 French law still recognised a crime of passion as a valid defence where love had led to murder. In contrast we have the emotion of Hate which in extremes leads to murder or war. Those with a greater historical knowledge will probably be able to suggest other relevant events?


Extremes of emotion cause instability and society puts in place frameworks such as law and religion to help find an equilibrium. One could also argue that Love and Hope are emotions that lead to contentment and inactivity while emotions such as Fear and Hate generally provoke a response that drives us to action. It is the push and pull of these emotions that keeps society in balance whilst also evolving slowly in response to the environment.


In the next post we will look at how science has changed the power of our balancing frameworks and how the cult of the individual has modified the Social Equation. As always please feel free to comment and add further examples.



 The balance of emotional power