But what is natural?

I have had several discussions about technology, and my defining it as any application of Sentient (not necessarily human) intentions to modify the environment in a preferred manner. I along with some other scholars see it as an unnatural act by definition. But this begs the question why our “intentions” make a difference. Are they really special or just an extension of the natural world? And If they are natural, then all our intentions and technology which emerge from those intentions, could be seen as an extension of nature.

This issue has created some debate. The crux of my argument boils down to the definition and intrinsic meaning of “natural”. Things seem to get blurry at this point, and to be honest I don’t think anyone has the answer to this. I suppose everyone can decide for himself how to apply the meaning.

But I did come across a philosopher “Peter Hancock” who seems to have thought this through, somewhat like me. The following link is interesting;


And within this text I found the following;

Technology and Natural Laws
In the sense I have conveyed we now have to inquire whether
technology and nature are different or whether they are in fact
essentially the same. For good or bad, we have come to a situation
where strong positive empiricism reigns and technology is the material
manifestation of that creed. But is this natural? As I am sure the reader
has suspected all along, it all depends upon what is considered
‘natural?’ That is, are we going to use the term in an inclusive or
exclusive sense. The inclusive, coarse-grained view is that physical
entities obey physical laws. Hence, everything is ‘natural’ by this
definition of nature. But this view is biased by a re-ificiation of
physical laws. To the strict ecologist, to whom these laws and their
application is sacrosanct, technology in general and human-machine
systems in particular are only extensions of nature. True, they explore
exotic regions that cannot be compassed by any living organism alone,
but they are bound by the same strictures and constraints and are subject
to the ‘pervasive’ laws. But, in conception, they are founded in human
imagination which is not bound by any such laws. As Koestler (1972)
notes, ‘the contents of conscious experience have no spatio-temporal
dimensions; in this respect they resemble the non-things of quantum
physics which also defy definition in terms of space, time, and
substance.’ This unbounding is what makes developments such as
virtual reality so intriguing (Hancock, 1992).

If I understand the above, it seems to put importance or meaning on the fact that technology distinguishes itself as an expression of imagination, beyond any limits of physical laws.

You could say that many (if not all) humans do put importance upon man’s imagination and desires. If not, why not just go back and live in the jungle? Mind you, I don’t think this is the brainwashing of any one culture/religion of humans. We are all guilty of this thinking and we have been since man got a brain big enough to leave the jungle. As proof, wouldn’t you agree we all seem to like singing around the fire? That is not the work of Judeo/Christian culture. It is the work of Sentient beings.

Of course, now I need to explain what is imagination and intention. Perhaps it is an emergent property of nature. One that allows the cosmos to understand itself.

I don’t know. I guess I will never know.

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