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NatureInterface > No.01 > P108 [Japanese]

Reader's Essay: Learning to Harmonize Freedom with Nature -- ikue Omine

Learning to Harmonize Freedom with Nature

Ikue Ohmine

Some time ago a TV commercial, sponsored by a certain major appliance manufacturer, featured a catchphrase that was something like "Human Interface.". The commercial showed a super-large refrigerator that could hold an entire week's food, and a noiseless washing machine designed for use even in the middle of the night, for the convenience of couples who work different schedules. I recently found that this commercial had disappeared from TV. But why was it pulled?

In hearing the term Nature Interface this time, I wish to try to think of how different it is from "human interface," because the term "interface" is unfamiliar to me in daily conversation, and that's why I'm vague about these two concepts.

In both of these concepts, "interface" is used as a noun. But here I'll try to think of it as a verb. Then I'll make "human" the subject and "nature" the object, which will make such a formula as "human interface(s) with nature". That would refer to a man-centered world, as the subject is followed by "nature". Now I understand why the TV commercial disappeared. It wasn't well received because it went against today's notion that "nature" should be given the first priority, as it is in another catchphrase, "Earth-friendly".

Well, let me proceed to the main issue. When "nature" is made the subject, what is it wanting to interface with? Since the Western Renaissance of the 17th century, "human beings" and "nature" have been divided into separate spheres, which means "human beings" have treated "nature" as an object in the world of natural science, keeping in step with Cartesian and other philosophies current in those days.

But looking further back, to the time of ancient Greek philosophy 23 centuries ago, there was the concept of an integrated world, with both "human beings" and "nature" under the mystic symbol of God. They had been keeping in step with each other for 900 years. Some might say that this was natural because there was no development of natural science in those days, while others can insist that those people held nature in awe and respect.

The world of the Nature Interface, integrating "nature" and "human beings", seems to be demanded by the homing instinct to return to the ancient world, regardless of Western modern natural science and its opposition to an integration of humans in nature for the past 300 years or longer. Then what is against the Nature Interface today is the concept of the Artifact, which has never been treated as another object in any scientific or philosophical thought. An "artifact" sometimes seems to be a convenience that is far superior to "human beings" and "nature", or else it seems to be a threat.

Well, once again we have to recognize something about the new world of the Nature Interface: Nature, including "human beings", lies in the inevitable stream of time from birth to death, while the "artifact" has been voluntarily and spontaneously produced by human willpower of freedom. Then the "human being" in the Nature Interface should take full responsibility for the world in the confrontation between "nature" and "artifact". One responsibility is that we "human beings", as a kind of "nature", should cope well with other kinds of "nature". The other is that we "human beings" should keep an eye on what is going on in the world of "artifact" whenever we use "nature" for our convenience.

Speaking of spontaneous, voluntary freedom, we might think of it as a selfish behavior, insofar as it may go against or disobey another person's will in an evil sense. That is one aspect of willpower of freedom. Another aspect is of its norm, its standard when we actually act or behave on it, which means that we should voluntarily and spontaneously impose good judgment and action on ourselves prior to another's order or indication. That's how free will comes and goes on a vector, like a scale between a good pole and an evil one.

In the world of scientific technology as one aspect of the Nature Interface, "nature" and "artifact" as mentioned above will go together peacefully and interface with each other only when we "human beings" never fail to act and behave on the basis of willpower of freedom as a norm. The time is now to consider what would be the first priority for us, to survive friendly to the earth and on the earth.

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