The words good and bad tend to scare scientists into scurrying off in search of philosophers. There seems to be no place for values in a world of facts. Some scientists are however evolving a set of values based on natural laws rather than cultural rules - that is, the propositions we have derived to describe our planet and our selves rather than the propositions we have derived to prescribe our conduct on this planet. Here is a summary of those values, as expounded by such diverse thinkers as Teilhard de Chardin, Buckminster Fuller and Kenneth Boulder.|
Whereas the industrial society had to deal with an energy crisis, the information society has to deal with an entropy crisis. Entropy - the spontaneous tendency of systems towards disorder - is increasing. Biological systems, within their limited space and for a limited time, defy the law of entropy. During their growth, they become more rather than less structured. Our species, the most complex biological system, is the greatest anti-entropic force in the universe. Each of us is a defiant little package of anti-entropy fighting our brave battle against the forces of chaos.
Consciousness emerges as a function of complexity and provides the ultimate weapon against entropy. It enables us to assimilate and accommodate to information to create a microcosm of the universe within ourselves. The fuller and more accurate this subjective map of the objective world, the better we fight the good fight. It is ultimately futile, of course, we can win battles but must lose the war. Eventually, we die and get recycled as the air our survivors breathe and the water they drink. However, it is not futile for the species. Each of us spawns other defiant little packages of anti-entropy in our books and movies and children and students, which continue the war.
We have intrinsic worth, then, because we are important elements in the complex system of the universe. We are a part of nature rather than apart from it. Our criterion of success is not wealth but health. We are healthy insofar as we realize our function in the universe - to move up the hierarchy of needs, to satisfy our biological, sociological, and psychological needs, to know and understand our selves and our planet, to build a full and accurate subjective map of the objective world.
If the person has intrinsic worth, then the person has intimate relationships. Since each person is unique because of their intrinsic worth, no person can be interchanged with any other within any social system, including that small society of two, involved in an interpersonal relationship, and that little society of a few in a family. All relationships are potentially intimate, since we recognize all other people as members of the same species on the same planet in essentially the same predicament. A stranger is just a friend you haven't met yet.
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