We might do well to understand something of the origins of our present predominant world-view so as to better understand the radical nature of the paradigm shift philosophical Daoism advocates.

First and foremost I think we need to realize that this self-destructive world-view is entirely natural, just as we recognize the ego-self as a product of human evolution, despite its inherent problems.

Let’s stay with this for a moment, for it is a statement of momentous importance. This isn’t about right and wrong. It’s about what has arisen; and that always comes with problems. Existence is an extremely messy business. It behooves us to come to grips with the lack of any discernible normative and purposive principle in the arising of things. Things apparently just happen.

Ego- and species-centrism are entirely natural inclinations; and they have significantly contributed to the survival and flourishing of our species. Evolution, however, implies that improvements are always necessarily in the offing. What was previously beneficial might not be so in the future. Multitudes of species have evolved into existential cul-de-sacs and have consequentially perished in their failure to change apace with environmental circumstances. Humanity has now reached such a place.

What seems unique about humanity is that it has evolved the ability to take control of its own temporal circumstances. Humanity can evolve because and as humanity wills it. Our next evolutionary step—hopefully a revolution in consciousness—may very well be a chosen one.

The onus of responsibility rests entirely on us. No manifest destiny, no “true purpose”, no species-exceptionalism written in the heavens will guarantee our survival. For Nature, we are of no greater value than the species, worlds and universes already extinct. It’s up to us; if we are up to the challenge.

Realizing that we are not special could become one of the most special things about us. It might very well be a first among things.

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