What is “the more-than-human world”?

‘A philosopher is a sort of intellectual yokel’.  Alan Watts

The notion of a compassion arising from the knowledge that we arise out of nothing and return to nothing need not leave us cold. Rather when we see ourselves as part of the ephemeral dance of the universe, the foam on a wave, we can feel the deep longing to feel how this connects us, how we seek to be listened to, seen, and loved. We can feel the upswell of the huge sense of compassion as we realise how this feeling threads through the fabric of existence, the interconnectedness of things apparent in all its intricacy when we look, and listen. 

The “more-than-human world” may have signified the animals, plants, fungi, and lichens when it first came into use, but it reaches far beyond that into the soil, the rock, the heat at the core of the planet and the cold vastness of space, to the quantum and quark. 

We can see the extraordinary chance of energy flows dissipating in just such a way that consciousness came into being, and being awed into silence at the vastness of what this consciousness fails to comprehend, or even consider. Humility, as Eliot says, is endless. 

If a philosopher is an intellectual yokel, it’s because she’s lying in the meadow, a grass between her teeth, looking up and dreaming, realising that language shapes what she sees, and playing with words. 

We emerge into consciousness blinking at its brilliance, but we need to begin to look beyond ourselves and into a world keening for our attention. Our self-awareness and our awareness of the world go hand in hand. We need to reach out and touch what is going on and with one eye on grief and regret, and yet without being overwhelmed, pull ourselves up to the task of reciprocity, of returning the favour of existence with more than gratitude, with a determination to alleviate suffering, human and more-than-human. 

What we dealt in ignorance we can gently accept with awareness. Education is lighting ourselves a way that circumnavigates our urge to grab all we can, and open our hands, ready to work for good.

Sun on sea foam

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