Mankind and the Planet

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Mankind and the Planet, past, present and future Philosophical Speculations

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3. Man and Mankind as the possible purpose and meaning of the World

What appears empirically to be a waste of combinations and possibilities in relation to one significant possibility is at the same time, cosmologically, the condition and fundament of that one possibility that is taken to be the end and aim of the wasted and failed possibilities. The waste is not mere or absolute, but only relative waste, contrasted with the successfully achieved possibility and seen in isolation from its conditions. In cosmological and absolute terms, the seemingly wasted possibilities together constitute the material, the causal condition, the fundament, soil, background and humus of the successful possibility.

The most conspicuous realisation arising from the waste principle is the proportion, or rather the disproportion of mass between earth as the immediate stage of life and the rest of the world, supposedly non-living matter. The discrepancy between the mass of the earth, including the life there, and the mass of the remainder of the material universe is so immense that it suggests, with almost irresistible persuasiveness an irrelevance of earth and its life in the universe. However, if we stand on the principle that a whole can, and indeed must be judged with reference to the possibility that contrasts it in a maximal way to the rest, the quantitative standard of relevance breaks down.

That outstanding possibility is essential to the character of a whole. The concept of waste is, of course, derived from the concepts of purpose and aim. As was pointed out, the waste aspect is limited, non-absolute. The fulfilment of purpose through waste expenditure means that there is coincidence of purposiveness and aimlessness.

An 'arrangement' here means the complex of possibilities that include the one possibility which, if a simple, common sense purposiveness were to dominate the whole, would be regarded as the willed aim of the whole. Although simple and common sense purposiveness does not dominate the behaviour of the whole, the result is the same as if it did, that is if the nature of the possibilities is such that, in a free play of chance, the one significant possibility was bound to emerge at some time, however remote. In this sense of 'arrangement', the world is an arrangement for life to emerge and in the end and essentially, for the emergence of Mankind.