Ten Thousand Questions
More than an
annoying part of a conversation, questions are legitimate ways to approach a
known or unknown situation. More than just a way to turn around a
conversation, questions are tools that allow you to surround a topic and define
it more completely. More than simply an admission of ignorance, questions can
form a phenomenological spiral that allows you to return to a subject from
different perspectives with different levels of understanding. Here are a few
questions that we can start asking about environments and cultures. Of course,
it is important to try to formulate answers, even if some of them are more
- Who are you? Who do you want to be?
Who do you expect to become?
>LI>What do you know? What have you
- Where are you? Where is your place?
Where are you going?
- What is the meaning of life? What
determines what is meaningful?
- >What is the environment? What is the
immediate environment? The local environment? The regional environment? The
global environment? The solar environment? The local galactic environment?
- What is the biological environment?
- Why do you need other species?
- What are the characteristics of groups
- How are they related? What do they
- What is evolution? What could evolve?
Do cultures evolve? Do humans? Does the system?
- What is natural selection?
- What is an ecosystem?
- What kinds of places have human
settlements? What kind do not?
- What is culture? Can termites or
wolves have culture?
- Is culture innate or learned?
- >Do people with different hairstyles
have different cultures?
- >Are some things in a culture universal
to all human cultures? Is incest?
- Is there an optimum size for a
culture? Can a culture be too large or too small?
- Do cultures evolve? Is the industrial
culture the highest form of culture?
- What is our human relation to reality,
slave, master, participant, partner?
- >How do humans adapt to the
environment? Are we underadapted? Are we overadaptable (Rene Dubos first asked
- Would the design of an ecological city
or arcology be compatible with a traditional culture?
- Can culture be planned? Can we create
a culture from pieces?
- Does the diversity of a culture mirror
the biological diversity?
- >Will an aggressive culture always overwhelm
a nonaggressive culture?
- Does the study of culture require a
- >What is knowledge? What is ignorance?
How many kinds of each are there?
- How do metaphors help us learn?
- What is science? What is traditional
knowledge? How are they different? Are there different kinds of science?
- What is logic? Are there different
kinds of logic?
- Does knowledge of ecology inspire us
to create a framework large enough to encompass cultures and the planet? Using
nonscientific hypotheses inspired by the science of ecology is it possible to
escape the presuppositions, probably from the use of physics as a model, which
have contributed to the predicament of industrial civilization?
- Can knowledge of ecological principles
subvert the dominant industrial way of life?
- Are traditional belief and knowledge
systems compatible with ecological knowledge?
- How can we manage with
unpredictability (after a question by Chris Maser)?
- What is systems theory? What is holism? Fuzzy set theory?
Catastrophe theory? Chaos theory?
- What is fractal geometry?
- What are thought experiments? Can you
think of one (Einstein used to use them)?
- >What is island biogeography? What is
conservation biology? What is deep ecology? What is Gaia theory? Is the planet
alive? Is it an adaptive system?
- What are megatrends? What are
- What is analysis? What is economic
analysis? What is ecological analysis? What is historical analysis?
- What is synthesis? How would that
- Are cultures determined by the
environment? How does geology influence a culture? The weather?
- Are styles of life determined by food
supplies? Are different styles more appropriate for different environments?
- Can the vital needs of the population
of a culture be satisfied indefinitely, without unnecessary destruction or
conversion of ecosystems?
- Why did humans migrate from Africa? What is a habit? Why is it important?
- What is a myth? What is cosmology? How
do they work?
- What is marriage? Is there an economic
purpose to marriage?
- How many kinds of marriage are
- Why are there so many kinds of
- Do animals have languages?
- Why are languages disappearing?
- Are new languages forming?
- Can we have one global language?
- How does language influence culture?
- Why do we need laws?
- Why do we need leaders? What kinds of
leaders are there? What do they do for people or classes or divisions?
- Are human beings domesticated animals?
- Is house shape related to weather or
- What other changes in society followed
- What changes accompanied
- What is economics?
How many kinds of economic systems are
there? How many are possible?
- Was (or is) the slave trade good
- What kinds of technology are
appropriate for local conditions and traditions?
- Why do so many people live in cities?
What were the first cities like?
- How can wealth be distributed fairly
within a culture or between cultures?
- Why does war stimulate an economy? Is
war a good policy? What is war?
- How will economic activity affect
community health and wealth (first suggested by
- >Does an economy always have to grow?
What are the consequences of growth?
- Can a nonaggressive culture make its
home ecosystem the basis of local culture rather than the source of profit or
support for a global economy?
- What is ethics? Are ethics based in cultures?
- >Is it ethical to take resources from
other cultures? From other species?
- How can we apply ethics to the
resource ecosystems in our current socio-cultural situation that emphasizes
- What is good, beautiful, and of value
in every culture?
Can the art of one culture be
understood by the members of a different culture?
- Does art have a fundamental role in
promoting peace (Frederich Schiller believed it is more effective than violence or law)?
- Is there a global system? Is there a global framework? What is an example of a global
Is ecological design independent of culture, or just
another attempt by industrial culture to dominate other traditions?
. . .
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