The mechanistic archetype
  • The following is an excerpt from Anthi Theiopoulou’s working paper that describes the “mechanistic archetype”:

    We are living in a world where our artificial systems (organizations, institutions, economies) are not aligned with our natural systems (earth, humanity…). As a matter of fact we can easily observe that the artificial systems that we-humans created are structured in exactly the opposite way than the natural systems that are hosting us.

    Artificial systems are taking resources as their input and create waste and one useful (for a certain period of time) product that eventually becomes waste as well. On the other hand, natural systems create no waste at all; they are structured as a cradle-to-cradle system where one sub-systems’ “waste” becomes the input for another sub-system. This is obvious in the plant and animal kingdom’s food chain as well as in the Law of Physics suggesting that energy is never wasted or “consumed”, energy only changes from one form to another. There is a clear inconsistency among human-made (i.e. artificial) and natural systems.

    There is no need for criticism about the un-natural systems that humanity has created since we can find complete justification for the individual and collective decisions that led to the current phenomenon within its historical contexts. However, we need to figure out a way to change those systems, evolve or replace them with something new, as they have already damaged our (i.e. humanity’s as a whole, as one organization) wellbeing and are seriously threatening our being now as well through climate change etc.

    Nature always prevails as it became clear with the tsunamis and earthquakes of the last years. That means that sooner or later, the un-natural systems will collapse one way or another. The point is, will we-humans- see this inconsistency early enough to change them and act to evolve them in nature-aligned systems or are we so attached to them that we will continue “business as usual” waiting for the depletion to reach the natural limits and consequently destroy the parasite, that will be humanity at that point in time.

    The question here would be, why nature’s dynamics would destroy humanity instead of the the artificial systems? Well, for nature these artificial systems do not exist; they are just a virtual reality created by humans’ interrelations with each other. Our artificial systems are nothing more than ways humanity has invented to interrelate within itself (among its members) as well as with its environment (nature, biosphere etc). Consequently the potential parasite for nature would be humanity, not the way of humanity’s interrelations (e.g. firms, governments, institutions etc).

    And yet, none of the above concepts is new; all of the above already exist in the scientific (and not only) literature. Consequently the question becomes: if we know about it, why are we not doing anything (or enough) to change it? Based on my research so far, I believe that the reason is similar to the one we can identify in drug-addicts. In the same way that a drug-addict knows that drugs will kill him/her and yet is so attached physically and emotionally (i.e. addicted) to the drug that can not even imagine a life without it and consequently take the appropriate steps to quit, so is humanity “addicted” to its artificial systemic structures. And in the same way that drugs create depression to the addict reinforcing this way the addiction, our artificial systems create what I have named as “the mechanistic archetype” behavior that equally reinforces our addiction to the specific un-natural, artificial systems.

    Depression and the mechanistic archetype are on their own turn, justifiable as behaviors if we explore them through cognitive neuroscience, anatomy and behavioral sciences. They are not healthy but they are reversible. And, just like in depression the first and most important step to breakthrough and overcome it is to be aware of the existing pathological situation, so is the case for the mechanistic archetype; all starts with the conscious awareness of the pathological situation.


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