ATENÇÃO: NÃO É PARA DISCUTIR E SIM PARA TRADUZIR. MENCIONE O PEDAÇO (OU OS PEDAÇOS) QUE VOCÊ TRADUZIU E PUBLIQUE A TRADUÇÃO NO CAMPO DE COMENTÁRIOS.
FP — I quote from your book: "The design principles of our future social institutions must be consistent with the principles of organization that nature has evolved to sustain the web of life." Why should it be so?
FC — I think that what is new in our era, in the 21st century, is that in everything we do we need to take the natural environment into account. We depend on it and we influence it; we have a very strong impact on it. That was not so important in previous centuries where the world population was small and natural resources were abundant. Although you could say it was not morally defensible, people could wreck the environment in one place and just move on to another place to find a pristine environment again. They would find clean air, clean water and natural resources. With our world population today that's no longer possible. Everything now is interconnected, both socially and ecologically.
So we always need to take the natural environment into account, and this is one of the big problems with the social sciences. They are traditionally interested only in social phenomena. They tend to treat social phenomena as if they happened in a vacuum, and do not see how we are embedded in ecosystems. I feel very strongly from my background in the natural sciences that the principles of ecology must be seen as laws of sustainability that are as stringent as any other natural laws. If we continue to use fossil fuels, that will be to our detriment and eventual disappearance from the Earth. That is as stringent as to say, when you stand on a cliff, you cannot walkout into thin air because there is something
called the law of gravity, and it will pull you down. We know that one does not walk into thin air off a cliff.
Similarly, we have to recognize that we cannot have processes of industrial production where we take natural resources, manufacture goods, create a lot of waste in the process, and then throw away the goods themselves. This is not how nature works. The understanding of ecology tells you that species who act like this do not survive. Species who disregard the basic principles of ecology will not survive in this interconnected world.
This is why we need to live sustainably. Living sustainably means taking these laws and principles into account and reflecting them not only in the design of our material goods but also in the design of our social institutions.
FP — You are stating the principles of life. How does that impact politics and social sciences: anthropology, sociology etc.? And how does the network metaphor or paradigm apply to the social sciences?
FC — The first part of your question seems to imply that I use the social sciences to make a political argument. I don't see that as a political argument. It's an argument of common sense. If we recognize certain laws of nature and recognize that disregarding these laws we will harm ourselves, then we had better take it into account. That's not political, that’s just common sense.
FP — Common sense may be a political argument, as we know too well.
FC — Sure. Maybe what you want to get at is, that I use an understanding of the natural world to construct a normative framework. To say "this is what we should do."
FP — Exactly.
FC — Yes, That is true.
FP — Let's go back to the other part of my previous question: how do you see the impact of the network metaphor on the social sciences? It's not a normative issue. It's a matter of understanding and of knowledge. What can it bring to the social sciences?
FC — The two parts here are related. The first part says that nobody today can disregard the natural environment without causing harm to humanity. We can apply this to the social sciences. Social scientists cannot put themselves and their discipline above nature or separate it from nature, from the material world. They need to get interested in the material world, try to understand the material world, because it is a context of all our actions that needs to be taken into account.
To be interested in the material world does not mean that social scientists need to become biochemists or physicists. That's not necessary. But they need to understand the laws of sustainability, which are the basic principles of ecology. They need to understand the basics of how ecosystems work. That does not require technical knowledge. It can be understood in very general ways.
I can tell you that it is very interesting to look at an ecosystem and ask, "how does it organize itself for long term survival?" Its patterns of organization were developed in evolution through trial and error and through natural selection. There is no design in an ecosystem. So, how do ecosystems organize themselves to maximize their sustainability? You can identify certain principles. One key principle is the network as the fundamental organizing principle of ecology. When you look into this in greater depth, you find that the network is not only an organizing principle of ecosystems, but of living systems in general. In the 1920s, when ecologists began to speak about food webs, other scientists used this network concept and transferred it to biology, looking at an organism as a network of cells, and at a cell as a network of molecules and so on. They discovered that the network is the basic pattern of organization of all life.