Where nature is wasting away while remaining silent and artistic.

charles perez
7 min readMay 16, 2021

In his famous discourse on the method, René Descartes explains the need to make the human species as master and owner of nature, in particular in the quest for better health. A phrase that echoes many of our current debates. If it is utopian to consider that progress would only bring wisdom to men, it is important to note that as does not mean being master and possessor of nature. The intellectual mastery mentioned therefore refers to a better understanding of its mode of operation in order to better understand our place and to anticipate the challenges of a humanity with growing technological power. The philosopher specifies [1] :

“To make ourselves the masters and owners of nature. This is not only to be desired for the invention of an infinity of artifices, which would make it possible to enjoy without any difficulty the fruits of the earth and all the conveniences which are there, but mainly for the preservation of health, which is undoubtedly the first good and the foundation of all the other goods of this life ; for even the mind depends so strongly on the temperament and the disposition of the organs of the body, that, if it is possible to find some means which will generally make men wiser and more skilful than they have been hitherto I think it is in medicine that we should look for it.”

Today, this nature is suffering. The report[2] living planet of the WWF (World Wide Fund for Nature) established in partnership with the Zoological Society of London informs us of the growing degradation of our ecosystems. The famous Living Planet Index (LPI) indicated in 2018 a drop of 60 % of some 16,000 populations representing 4,000 species in just over forty years. A sinister expression of the pressures we exert on the planet.

If a natural contract had already been considered for more than 30 years by the philosopher Michel Serres, it was finally heard only very late [3]. This contract proposed to complete the social contract to add a human contract with nature. A proposal which remains valid, in particular with the envisaged modifications of the constitution in order to underline the importance of this debate. Its urgency is felt both by the natural observation and by the emergence of technologies which offer a power of modification and massive destruction of man on nature, of which he himself is a part as beneficiary and victim. However, who cannot marvel at such a richness even partly disappeared. It is all the more cruel that this one disappearing, it seems to us even more beautiful. Like a memory that begins to fade, and that we try to revive in our memory whenever the opportunity arises. Imagine for a single moment in front of you all the species of this planet. They would be frozen at that precise moment. A representative of each species would stand there and give you the best possible. An elephant, a giraffe, a wolf, a bacterium, a whale, a parakeet, a clownfish, a snake, a caterpillar, a kangaroo, an otter, a koala, a cat, a crustacean, a panda… All gathered for show you a tiny sample of the variety of what life is like. With all their differences, their sizes, their complexity, their beauty, their colors, they delight us, touch us, frighten us, amaze us, nourish us, educate us.

Science has long debated the astonishing clarity and simplicity of Charles Darwin’s grand theory of evolution . How to achieve a form of life as complex as man on the basis of selection and mutation ? How can we imagine that all of humanity descends from a common ancestor ? A theory that will explain to the world the obvious paradox of life. Life forms look alike at the same time as they are different. The resemblance is borne by the common origin of the species, and is observed through the almost insane universality of DNA, present in all forms of life and at the same time carrying all the difference in its unity. A variety as an effect of time and of the modifications that have taken place in the course of history and of species, branches that have been created and have gradually led to a thinking and unique form of life that is homo sapiens . The tree is the symbol, if any, of life, origin, species and knowledge. A strong sentence will be pronounced by the geneticist Theodosius Dobzhansky :

Nothing makes sense in biology except in the light of the Theory of evolution.

The three observations that led to the most important theory in the history of biology are as follows. The characteristics of the species vary and appear to be inherited from generation to generation. A population can produce many more offspring than can survive. This allows for natural competition. And finally, the species seem particularly well adapted to their environment.

The theory maintains that individuals whose hereditary traits are better suited to the local environment are more likely to survive. They are more apt to reproduce than less well adapted individuals. One idea that has been inspired by the observation of different forms of beaks of finches of Galapagos islands particularly suitable s to eur environment. Over time and generations, there will be an increasing proportion of individuals who possess beneficial characteristics. Evolution occurs as the uneven reproductive success of individuals leads to adaptation. This is how nature can contain secrets, illegible at first glance, but which dictate its work. She will have learned from time, a time inaccessible on the scale of a man, rules and remarkable adaptations. Observing nature brings us an open look at a sensitive past, which has become, over the ages, an intelligent and fragile present.

Are all these forms of life the result of chance, spontaneity and adaptation to a function ? Living beings have such a remarkable practical aesthetic, hardly believable. Their existence is a blessed gift from heaven, chance or necessity, just like ours. Nature has spoiled us with millions of species of which we only observe and know only a tiny part.

Can we understand the complexity of what surrounds us ?

The physics that make things happen

And who do what they are

Myths that make up what beliefs are

And who do what they are

The words that make languages

And who do what they are

So many unanswered questions

So many unknown questions

The world has this wonderful

Until we grasp its complexity

He will keep something magical, pious

Something that seems in the hands of a creator

This incomprehensible something that makes sense

That something that makes us forget the how

Which allows us to travel in beauty

And to dream our reality

Every day of eternity

One of the few things I’m pretty sure we won’t soon grasp the complexity of this world, of this nature. We can therefore dream on our two ears. Neither science, nor religion, nor mythology offers a satisfactory and exhaustive explanation of this reality. And much more, of death, of the past and of our future.

Every day when I wake up I marvel

The impossible seems to always be possible

The inconceivable seems to be conceived

The unimaginable was imagined

The improbable has taken place

We are here

You are there

Ah !

Both feet anchored on the earth, placed by gravity, assembled by atoms and well-accommodated hydrogen bonds, maintained by strong interaction, informed by our DNA, intelligent as our matter can allow us and living as we can claim to be . Is there any gravity in coming to terms with this intelligent matter from which we hold life ? So much energy, in one place, in an instant, then that leaves and vanishes. This energy is a chance, it is our chance. It allows you to contemplate the nature that is offered to us in a ray of sunshine.

The technology has so near humans shrunk distances, opened s eyes to the greatness of the world and its wonders. Friedrich Nietzsche having devoted many works to art, will grant nature a first artistic sense:

Artistic forces spring from nature itself without the mediation of the artist and by which nature finds to satisfy primarily and directly. his artistic impulses. The artist has the duty to transcend this work in order to sublimate it.

The simetry of natural shapes makes it beautifull.
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[1] René Descartes, Discourse on Method, 1637.

[2] Grooten, M. and Almond, WWF. 2018. Living Planet Report, Let’s be ambitious. REA WWF, Gland, Switzerland, 2018.

[3] Michel Serres, The natural contract, Le Pommier, 1990.

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charles perez

Professeur associé à la paris school of business. Docteur en science de l’information. Auteur du manuel du métavers