We live, simultaneously, in two different worlds. Ultimately, we live in the World of Nature, a world that we did not create and the world upon which all life depends. Most immediately, we inhabit a "human world" that we create ourselves. Because our human world is the result of our own choices and actions, we can say, quite properly, that we live, most immediately, in a “political world.” In this blog, I hope to explore the interaction of these two worlds that we call home.
Humans are both earthly and worldly. To be humanly conditioned includes the fact that we are born and live on this earth. "The Earth," Arendt writes in her Prologue, "is the very quintessence of the human condition." At the same time, we humans are different from animals insofar as we transcend our earthly existence. She writes, "The human artifice of the world separates human existence from all mere animal environment."
Humans thus are at once created and creating.
I would say, we live in "two worlds."
Where does "science" come into this equation? Berkowitz, commenting on what Arendt has said in her book, notes that:
The human condition is threatened by the historical advent of modern science, which promises to overcome the split between man's biological mortality and his worldly immortality. The danger posed by science is pictured in the event of the launch of Sputnik, which made palpable that the long-deferred dream of mastering the earth was finally within reach of the human species. It was now possible that humans could leave the earth and build new worlds. We now can build a purely artificial world in a spaceship or on an artificial planet, one in which every object—the water, the earth, and even our bodies—would be artificially constructed and humanly made. Sputnik shows that we have finally acquired the technological means to free ourselves from our earthly home and our biological limits. We are finally free to make our world and ourselves in our image rather than to exist in God's image.
“It would appear that intelligence is more powerful than physics.... Once matter evolves into smart matter (matter fully saturated with intelligent processes), it can manipulate other matter and energy to do its bidding (through fully suitably powerful engineering).... Such a civilization will then overcome gravity and other cosmological forces, and engineer a universe it wants.”
"The question is only whether we wish to use our new scientific and technical knowledge in this direction, and this question cannot be decided by scientific means; it is a political question of the first order and therefore can hardly be left to the decision of professional scientists or professional politicians."
Berkowitz reports that Arendt had a name for the projects of human liberation so joyously heralded by Kurzweil and others. Arendt called it, "earth and world alienation." According to Berkowitz, Arendt "does not take a position in the argument." She just urges us all to "think what we are doing."
Sputnik did, as Arendt says, provide us with the idea that we could, as humans, live in a world completely of our own creation, "a purely artificial world in a spaceship or on an artificial planet, one in which every object—the water, the earth, and even our bodies—would be artificially constructed and humanly made."
But is this true? An "idea" is not a fact. It is my hypothesis that human beings are indeed both "created and creating," and any claim that our "creating" selves can somehow trump the fact that we are also "created," and thus subject to the laws that govern the World of Nature, is to deny the reality of our real situation - our "human condition."
If we continue to pursue the idea that we can ignore the laws that govern the Natural World (with Earth itself teaching us more, every day, that we can't), then our dreams of life on Mars, or somewhere else, will end in catastrophe for our human world and human civilization.
Arendt is definitely right in stating that we face "a political question of the first order," but we will get the wrong answer if we act as if all that matters is what we do in the world we build ourselves.
In the end, though we are both "Earthly" and "Worldly," as Arendt says, we ultimately live on the Earth, and that is our only home. We cannot create another Natural World, but must live under the laws that govern the one we have. It is upon the Earth, which we did not create, and into which were so mysteriously born, that we must ultimately depend. To assert otherwise, to suggest that we might be able to live in one world only - a world we create entirely ourselves - is to demonstrate that we are truly lost.
(2) - https://www.space.com/54-earth-history-composition-and-atmosphere.html