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A Modern Ethic for a Finite World

A Modern Ethic for a Finite World

Photo Source Kevin Dooley | CC BY 2.0

At some point, presumably before leaving the relative comfort of Africa and overrunning the more hostile climes and lesser higher primates of Eurasia, ancient man created powerful taboos some of which survive to the present day. The institution of marriage, for example, which may have evolved alongside totemism – whose prevalence (well into the later part of the modern European adventure) amongst indigenous societies of all continents hints at their antiquity. My traditional African marriage not so long ago included a ritual in which my uncle challenged his counterpart representing the bride to reveal her totem clan name; totem clan names were duly exchanged and the ceremony continued. The significance is lost nowadays on our “chakam” generation as Nigerian duo P-Square put it. I wonder what would have happened a century or so ago if we belonged to the same clan totem: would we have been forbidden from marrying, deemed exogamous?

Mankind is capable of creating powerful taboos that shy groups of us away from things we’d otherwise do (like make the planet unfit for decent human habitation as we know it). Witness the fact that the recent (relatively) religions of the books needed not bother too much with incest and cannibalism. Mankind had already grown out of those unwholesome ills seemingly without the need for prophetic intervention.

Homo sapiens has conquered the physical world and the living world so successfully that we no longer fit in many ecological cycles and would not survive for long if we were cut off from the many links of globalisation. Many of us fear imminent anthropogenic climate disaster or anthropostupid nuclear holocaust. What if mankind were not so successful?

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Olduvai IV: Courage
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Olduvai II: Exodus
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Olduvai
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Olduvai II: Exodus
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Olduvai III: Cataclysm
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