9. A philosophical view of climate change (3)

This is an extract from a discussion on the subject of climate change with a member of the audience at a talk Hlatky gave at the ABF Huset, an Adult Education Centre, in Stockholm, Sweden, on 10 February 1993. Hlatky argues, as in Post 8, that technology should always be at the service of, be relative to, biology. He also returns to the theme of identity as the underlying problem, as we discussed in our first Post on climate change (Post 7).

Stefan Hlatky: … You […] have to […] think about whether it makes sense to continue with a one-sided industrialism that isn’t adapted to biology ­– for it isn’t – waiting, in vain, for biology to gradually adapt to it, meanwhile just pushing ahead completely regardless.

Audience Member: It’s surely the use of fossil fuels – coal and oil – that are the most dangerous for us?

SH: Isn’t it that we don’t question how much energy we need, what we need energy for? Isn’t that the difficulty?

AM: Yes, you know that the world would go under in just a few weeks if you took out as much energy all over the world as we do in the Western world.

SH: Yes, and yet the market economy is spreading to the whole world now, so that the whole world is getting this craving to acquire just as many refrigerators and all sorts of things. And then refrigerators aren’t actually as important for Sweden as for warm countries. Sweden would cope better without refrigerators than they would.

AM: Who is responsible for this type of planning? Surely there should be a supranational body responsible for it which can control the development.

SH: You certainly could have one, but that’s what I am maintaining: that if we could get this other basic view out[1], the problem would solve itself. Because then people would realize that it’s Nature that organizes. So when someone comes and wants to organize something without reference to Nature, we should say to that person: ‘Leave off! First, you should recover your consciousness of Nature, and then you can talk!’

AM: What exactly should we be allowed to do? What if we set up a list of things we shouldn’t do – in order to rescue Nature. What action can we still take?

SH: As soon as you can talk with people, the problem of forbidding people doesn’t arise.

AM: Yes, but I have driven here by car, for example. I’ve driven fifty or sixty kilometres today, around a lot of places.

SH: Yes, since Sweden is set up for cars, you can’t drop the car just like that. People are right when they say ‘Without the car, Sweden will grind to a halt’. But for that reason we should be able to realize that now we shouldn’t build more unless it’s entirely with the idea of benefitting biology – and not toppling it. For there’s certainly also a biological benefit to be had from having a car.

AM: Why can’t humans provide for themselves – ‘dig where you stand’?

SH: Because of status… because everything humans experience is identity. And an identity that’s completely without perspective. For our [real] identity is Nature-determined, and then it is balanced. But a person can’t balance their [created] identity. They can’t stop at ‘Yes, I could become world champion, but I’m content with tenth place’. Or stop competing altogether – that would be even worse. Because, when it comes to identity, it’s a fight about everything, a fight that can’t be prevented. On the other hand, if you were to give people back their natural identity, then the fighting would stop. And people would end up laughing at the hunt for identity that they’d been engaged in before.

AM: But what is human identity then?

SH: A being with consciousness of the whole who can’t help loving the whole creation. And that you can rely on. But the condition for that is that the person changes the I-identity, which is the consequence of time-consciousness, to this space-based consciousness of the whole[2] …and, starting from that, they think about a creation that is valid for everyone in the same way.

AM: But you are brought up by this society to think…

SH: Yes, but imagine if a general discussion about that were to start and were to lead to an insight, so that as they bring children up people were to stop ruining every child-mind by indoctrinating it with this idea of ‘I’ [UR, pp.43-44] in this way. Then the whole problem would be done away with from the bottom.

AM: Is this the competition person?

SH: Yes, it’s the competition person, who absolutely must have an identity, because it [their real identity] has been taken away by the I-idea in childhood… through the illusion that you get your identity with the I-idea. It’s a tremendous force in this upbringing: that you get your identity through the I-idea.

AM: But if one could get people to do this, then people would become completely passive instead, perhaps, and just day-dream or something like that.

SH: That’s what people believe. Can one become passive through thinking this? It bears reflection… because it’s Nature that is active, and we have to relate to Nature. And one doesn’t have to create an identity for oneself, but one has consciousness as identity.
It’s undeniable that this hunt for identity makes people incredibly active. Just consider one sport, tennis: where everyone who’s identified with tennis is fighting and fighting and fighting. Or consider running in the forest or on the streets – because those are also identities. [Now addressing the group:] This is what Gunnar [the audience member] thinks, that it will be dull if one takes away from people this constant struggle for identity…. because it is a struggle for identity, a mutual struggle for identity. But think about it: would people then really become dull?


1. Hlatky is referring to his own view, which he had been presenting earlier in the talk.
2. Again Hlatky is referring to ideas elaborated earlier in the talk. They can be followed up in Understanding Reality [UR, p.40] (see not only the paragraph in black in this link, but also to the end of the section it is in, as well as the section headed ‘Time’ that follows it).

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