• Xtrix
    4.1k
    I'd like to revisit this thread.

    In review of the forum poll a couple years ago, the results for "most important problem facing humanity" were deemed:

    #1 - Overpopulation
    #2 - Climate Change
    #3 - Political corruption

    This was late 2019/early 2020, so prior to the pandemic. I imagine "epidemics" would be higher on the list now.

    Regardless, I keep coming back to this question. I myself voted for climate change -- but now I wonder if that wasn't rather superficial. I think there's no doubt environmental destruction needs to be addressed, but what if this overlooks why it's happening in the first place?

    What I mean is this: if climate change is a result of, for example, political corruption, or overpopulation, or inequality -- then shouldn't those problems be addressed first?
    Reveal
    (Then there's the issue of whether we all even agree that these issues (1) exist or (2) are problems to begin with. I made both assumptions when putting forth this poll, and over the years I've come to realize that many are either in complete denial or don't consider many things on this list a "problem," and so clearly don't think they need to be addressed/rectified in any way. But this is a digression.)


    So rather than have another poll, I'd like to pose the question again but keeping in mind what I've said above -- that is, if these problems are mere symptoms, than what is the root disease? I have my own ideas, but I think it's worth opening a discussion about it here. Interested in thoughts.
  • Albero
    164
    In my opinion, the root disease for climate change and political corruption is capitalism and all of the contradictions associated with it. Overpopulation is a reactionary myth more than anything that tries to blame resource depletion on average people starting families; but I think it's really just large corporations who are backed by the state who engage in propaganda campaigns convincing Western countries their way of life is sustainable forever when its not
  • Streetlight
    9.1k
    the root disease for climate change and political corruption is capitalism and all of the contradictions associated with it. Overpopulation is a reactionary myth more than anything that tries to blame resource depletion on average people starting families; but I think it's really just large corporations who are backed by the state who engage in propaganda campaigns convincing Western countries their way of life is sustainable forever when its notAlbero

    :up:

    It's so depressing seeing nominally liberal or left leaning people buy into rebranded eugenics.
  • tim wood
    8.4k
    Isms are a convenient fiction. Except they become inconvenient and obscurantist. As to whether to address symptoms first or the disease itself, the answer is both! Simply because symptoms can themselves be a problem and severe enough become the problem.

    I think what's coming willy-nilly are massive structure/infrastructure changes, probably taking up most of one hundred years. Think 1850 to 1950, or 1900 to 2000. No doubt fifty years would be better, but there is a colossal amount of work to be done. E.g., I'm five miles from my nearest grocery store; that cannot stand in a new and efficient world. I have no idea how it will all be done or what it will finally look like - I won't be here - or there. And a lot of people will have to bend to it, or break.
  • tim wood
    8.4k
    Right, "The first thing we do, let's kill all the corporations," pace, bard.
  • god must be atheist
    4.7k
    The biggest problems facing humanity:
    1. The Sun will explode into a humongous fiery red ball, and engulf the earth in about 400000.00 years or so.
    2. Entropy, the third law of Thermodynamics.
    3. The proliferation of stupidity.
  • _db
    3.6k
    Capitalism has already been mentioned, and this should be obvious (identifying the problem is a lot easier than solving it). In addition to this, or maybe beyond this, there is the expansion of technique into every domain of human life. Technique is, after all, what engendered capitalism in the first place (though it is an imperfect technique for the demands of efficiency, since the pursuit of profit is not always compatible with the pursuit of efficiency). When humans become totally dependent on (helpless without) technology and techniques, there will be no real freedom, and therefore no real happiness, and ultimately no need for humans at all.
  • Cheshire
    1k
    Probably mobility. The inability to leave the places suffering the effects of everything mentioned.
  • Xtrix
    4.1k
    In my opinion, the root disease for climate change and political corruption is capitalism and all of the contradictions associated with it.Albero

    Thanks for the response -- I happen to agree with you. If we want add another layer, I say it's a religious problem. Capitalism has become so ingrained in the thinking and decision making of those in power, and in our culture generally to some degree, that it's far more similar to Christianity than anything else.

    As to whether to address symptoms first or the disease itself, the answer is both! Simply because symptoms can themselves be a problem and severe enough become the problem.tim wood

    True. I certainly think that's the case with climate change, at this point. We're just out of time -- we cannot reform deeper systemic issues in time to get where we need to be. I hope I'm wrong, but waiting around for that while doing nothing about this crisis is completely irrational.

    Capitalism has already been mentioned, and this should be obvious (identifying the problem is a lot easier than solving it)._db

    I don't know if that's obvious or not. Is it? You're the second person to point it out so far -- so that alone is hopeful -- but I'm not sure that immediately springs to mind when discussing nuclear weapons or climate change or the use of technology, etc. Maybe political corruption. But you're right that it's easier to identify the problem than solve it. But my point is that we can't get very far if we don't identify the root of the problem, if for no other reason than to prioritize attacking it.

    In addition to this, or maybe beyond this, there is the expansion of technique into every domain of human life. Technique is, after all, what engendered capitalism in the first place (though it is an imperfect technique for the demands of efficiency, since the pursuit of profit is not always compatible with the pursuit of efficiency). When humans become totally dependent on (helpless without) technology and techniques, there will be no real freedom, and therefore no real happiness, and ultimately no need for humans at all._db

    I'm not sure what you mean by "technique" here. Technology? If so I think that's an important point historically. After all, would there be the capitalism today without the industrial revolution? So perhaps that's the real issue here. But I see technology as dependent on how it's used, and that depends on human beings in power, who make decisions based on beliefs and values.

    I think another way to look at it is simply this: greed.
  • Philosophim
    1.2k
    I would say its our inability to escape from primitive status. Did you know fruit flies will flip each other over to assert dominance? It takes the brain power of a fruit fly. We unfortunately have many people who have the brain power of a fruit fly when it comes to status.

    Don't get me wrong. Status can be a very important thing if its used as as tool to see who should be in charge for the good of everyone around them. But that's many times not the case. People don't want to give up power, or perceived status in society, even if it would make the world a better place. As long as we care more about status than the people around us, we will keep making the same primitive mistakes that lead to many of the world's preventable ills.
  • Xtrix
    4.1k
    People don't want to give up power, or perceived status in society, even if it would make the world a better place. As long as we care more about status than the people around us, we will keep making the same primitive mistakes that lead to many of the world's preventable ills.Philosophim

    An important point. I think it can it's related to greed. I suppose greed is a "will to power," just manifested in this case in the desire for more and more wealth and money. Still, it's a tale as old as history.
  • Manuel
    2.8k


    Concentration of power, probably.

    You should probably include the threat of nuclear war to that list.
  • _db
    3.6k
    But my point is that we can't get very far if we don't identify the root of the problem, if for no other reason than to prioritize attacking it.Xtrix

    But it's already been identified, more times than can be counted. At this point it's just shuffling papers around, a temporary catharsis.

    I'm not sure what you mean by "technique" here. Technology?Xtrix

    Technique is the totality of methods rationally arrived at and having absolute efficiency [...] in every field of human activity. — Ellul

    By technique, [Ellul] means far more than machine technology. Technique refers to any complex of standardized means for attaining a predetermined result. — Merton

    But I see technology as dependent on how it's used, and that depends on human beings in power, who make decisions based on beliefs and values.

    I think another way to look at it is simply this: greed.
    Xtrix

    I am skeptical that sociological problems can be fully explained by the behavioral habits of the elite. I would argue that even the elite feel the coercive pull of technique. It is technique that is the puppet master.
  • 180 Proof
    9.8k
    Civilization (i.e. prevalence and integration of dominance hierarchies) itself is the metastatic condition. "Capitalism" is just the latest (terminal?) stage in which political corruption (re: mass miseducation, mass disinformation, systemic malfeasance); overpopulation (re: endemic poverty) × overconsumption (re: mass debt peonage, accelerating waste production) × overdevelopment (re: destruction of natural ecologies, accelerating desertification); anthropogenic climate change, etc; pandemics ... are just extreme symptoms (i.e. flashing red lights!) However, it's human stupidity that is the root existential problem (i.e. our species defect): in sum, a profound mismatch of our Stone Age brains with Bronze Age religiosity in a self-inflicted (fragilista's) Information Age of proliferating double/triple/quadruple binds. :eyes:
  • Xtrix
    4.1k
    But my point is that we can't get very far if we don't identify the root of the problem, if for no other reason than to prioritize attacking it.
    — Xtrix

    But it's already been identified, more times than can be counted. At this point it's just shuffling papers around, a temporary catharsis.
    _db

    You're right. So maybe a better thread is to discuss solutions, goals, programs, etc. I'll create one for that alone -- although it may exclude some people who don't yet see it this way, or any way at all perhaps. But that may be a more interesting line to take.

    I'm not sure what you mean by "technique" here. Technology?
    — Xtrix

    Technique is the totality of methods rationally arrived at and having absolute efficiency [...] in every field of human activity.
    _db

    What rational methods? Give an example. Are games and music also "technique"? Why not use the word in the Greek sense of techne instead?

    I am skeptical that sociological problems can be fully explained by the behavioral habits of the elite. I would argue that even the elite feel the coercive pull of technique. It is technique that is the puppet master._db

    Again, I may agree with you but I'm failing to see how "methods rationally arrived at" (technique, according to your citation) exert a coercive pull? Do you mean cell phones, computers, the Internet? Cars, planes, roads, electricity, the telegram, and television? All of these entities I would consider technology, and thus agree they have an enormous pull on everywhere, including the concentrations of wealth and power in the world.

    Still, it is the elite's ideology that prevails. Why? Because the decisions they make, the influence they exert, and the control they wield (which is what I mean by "powerful") is ultimately grounded and justified in a particular picture of the world -- that means of life, of human beings, and of life's purpose. That is as much true of Pope Innocent (in terms of Christianity) in medieval times as it is for Jamie Dimon and Larry Page (in terms of capitalism) today, and for that matter the rest of the bourgeoisie (to use Marx's terminology).

    So I see it as more guided but beliefs, perceptions, perspective, attitudes, values -- than I do in terms of technology's pull. But I know some interesting people, present and past, who make a compelling case for the latter. It's an interesting conversation to have one way or another.
  • Agent Smith
    7.6k
    The most important urgent problem facing the earth and all life on it :point: Humanity.

    Why?

    Has to be human nature!

    Which aspects of it?

    Others have already mentioned them.

    The paradox: We're mother nature's creation. Mother nature is her own worst enemy. But before we jump to conclusions, a word to the wise: Everything happens for a reason! There are no accidents! God moves in mysterious ways! What if that we perceive to be problems are actually solutions? I have a feeling that the disequilibrium humans have caused will elicit an equal and opposite (Newton) reaction from another quarter, as of yet unidentified, and balance will eventually be restored.
  • Agent Smith
    7.6k
    Overpopulation: Malignancy
    Climate change: Pyrexia/hyperthermia
    Corruption: Redistribution of blood flow (shock)

    Oh my gosh! Humanity/earth is crashing! Acute shock with malignant pyrexia! Code red! Code Red!

    What if the cure for cancer can be found in effective population control measures? Does earth need a dose of Tylenol? Can we cure corruption by taking tips from emergency physicians who treat shock on almost a daily basis?
  • Tzeentch
    1.9k
    It was, is and always will be authoritarianism - the quintessential ingredient for the worst of mankind's collective behaviors: repression, tyranny, war.

    Close second is probably what I call humanity's "Very Hungry Caterpillar-syndrome," which I would typify as a collective lack of understanding of the nature of one's desires, that puts humanity in a perpetual state of wanting more.
  • baker
    4.9k
    Not enough trees, not enough forests.
  • Bret Bernhoft
    115
    From where I'm sitting, the most important "problem" facing humanity is a lack of inner awareness.
  • Agent Smith
    7.6k
    lack of inner awareness.Bret Bernhoft

    Expand & Elaborate ... please.

    Animals lack so-called inner awareness and they're in near-perfect harmony with the environment and even if they do upset the ecology, the effects are on the whole local and definitely not global. I recommend we lobotomize humans - a bit extreme but my hunch is it'll do the trick. This is a mind begging that it be switched off - a plea for mercy killing. O mind, what hast thou wrought?
  • javi2541997
    2.2k
    From where I'm sitting, the most important "problem" facing humanity is a lack of inner awareness.Bret Bernhoft

    Completely agree :100: :up:
  • 180 Proof
    9.8k
    I'm aware of when I gotta piss or shit, when I gotta eat or drink, when I hurt or feel sympathy for another's hurt, and whenever I daydream or I'm bored. It seems to me that any more "inner awareness" than this and I'd be too distracted to dance, drive, get laid, etc.
  • Tom Storm
    5k
    I'm not really sure what inner awareness is meant to refer to and how it matters. Perhaps it's something along the lines of insight or Jungian individuation. Not sure how that is meant to work across society. Some of the most obtuse and self-interested folk I've met have been big on New Age slogans about higher consciousness. Perhaps motherhood statements breed motherfuckers.
  • Seeker
    136
    most important problem facing humanityXtrix

    It is a multi faceted problem with the size of the human brain at the base of it all, it is that from which all our self-inflicted misery stems. Worse yet the misery and the destruction we inflict on all of the other species, flora and fauna alike. And to make matters even more worse humanity itself is divided into a plethora of self-opinionated individuals. Therefor humanity is not only its own worst enemy but an antagonist to all other life as well, the proof is in the pudding.
  • ThinkOfOne
    124
    So rather than have another poll, I'd like to pose the question again but keeping in mind what I've said above -- that is, if these problems are mere symptoms, than what is the root disease?Xtrix

    Failure of individuals to mature beyond allowing their biological incentive systems (aka emotions, reward/punishment systems) to control beliefs, thoughts and actions. For all intents and purposes, a large percentage of the population have the mental maturity of a typical13-year-old or less. With others the mental maturity of a typical late teen or less. With others the mental maturity of a typical 25-year-old or less.

    Following are but a few symptoms:
    irrational views
    self-centered views
    believing that things are true because they believe them
    believing that things are true because they know others that believe as they do
    use of alcohol and other mood altering substances including caffeine
    unhealthy eating
    gambling
    hoarding
    adventure seeking
    greed
    racism
    homophobia
    misogyny

    The list goes on and on...
  • Xtrix
    4.1k
    From where I'm sitting, the most important "problem" facing humanity is a lack of inner awareness.Bret Bernhoft

    Maybe. If those in power were a little more aware, perhaps then they wouldn’t make such short-sighted, greedy, anti-social decisions. In that case I can see it. But we can’t all be meditators, I guess.

    Anyway — even with awareness, ideology still lurks. One can be an aware Christian or Buddhist or capitalist. Doesn’t necessarily change that belief system and corresponding actions. Culture and education can help, but that’s a long term solution.
  • Yohan
    671
    I will vote: aging.

    By far the greatest number of deaths has been because of aging, not to mention the suffering of losing one's mind, sense and abilities...and knowing everyone we love will also go through that.

    I might be half joking.
  • Agent Smith
    7.6k
    what is the root disease?Xtrix

    Good question! I think all our problems can be traced back to not listenimg to Aristotle. :snicker:
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