Living the Natural contract as Gratitude

The fact that humans are parasitical in the non-human world is but natural that humans have to adopt an attitude of gratitude. The parasitic relations do not involve mutuality. They are unidirectional and involve only taking and no giving. The realization that humans have their life and being in a parasitic relationship with the non-human world strikes a definite blow to the human and non-human dichotomy as well as challenges us not to frame humans as masters and possessors of nature. As in the prefix parra , the parasitic relation has put humans on the side and we can no longer think of them as the pinnacle of nature. This means we can no longer think of humans as part of nature but have to think of them as part of nature. Hence, for humans, a life lived to actualize a natural contract, therefore, becomes a life of gratitude. In the context of posthumanism giving the non-human place on the table of human fellowship, and living the natural contract is a way of being grateful. This gratitude cannot be a legal obligation nor it is based on the market calculus. It is not compensation for our parasitism. Hence, it is not legal. Here we do note that Serres did plead that legal rights be given to non-human agents. It is also not a payment for taking and benefiting without giving through our parasitic relationship. Hence, does not belong to the order of the market. It belongs to the order of being in the world and hence is ontological in the Heideggerian sense. This means we have the challenge to belong to the great story of the universe as well as taking the evolution of human culture seriously.

Living the natural contract, we have to reject the social contract of both Hobbes and Rousseau. Living a natural contract is a practice of symbiosis. It involves living ethical ethics of symbiotic reciprocity. This would paradoxically require us to master our own drive to have mastery over nature and become symbionts with nature. Renouncing the parasitic dominion over nature is a way of mastering our mastery. By overcoming this drive for mastery, humanity becomes a symbiont. This may require us to adopt Nietzsche’s ethics of affirmation which is known as amor fati. Becoming a symbiont does not mean that we have to animalize humans. It is an openness to the story of the grand unfolding drama of the universe. It is an affirmative belonging to the universe (nature). It is a challenge to live a bare human life without assigning it a signification that hierarchizes it over and above everything in nature. It is, therefore, an affirmation of nature on its own terms. It is in this way that we are enabled to live gratitude outside the exchange economy of the market.

One way to live the natural contract is through what has been called random acts of kindness (RAK) and Pay it forward (PIF). Kindness has the power to disrupt the unidirectional hostile parasitic chain. It has a thrust of gratitude in the sense of what is called pay it forward. These contemporary movements invite us to live gratefully. Although they appear to bear a thrust of obligation yet they are being invitations to be hosts to anyone without specification opens them to become hosts and hospitable rather than hostile and parasitic. Disrupting the seemingly irreversible chain of parasites is a way of living our gratitude as fidelity to the natural contract. Serres does indicate that all beings in the unidirectional chain of parasites also play hosts. It is a matter of the lens of focus that we bring to bear on them. Hence, living the natural contract is reinforcing what is already in nature. Nature is not merely hostile but is also comfortably hospitable. Perhaps we need this attitude of being hosts and hospitable to counter the materialist and consumerist culture that is destroying our ecology as well societal wellbeing and peace.

We do find that nature is symbiotic. There are several partnerships of microbes with animals and plants that exhibit mutuality. The practice of symbiosis is a powerful way of countering the parasitic logic that has taken hold over humans all over the globe. Therefore, symbiosis with nature becomes a mutual good for humans and nature. This is why living in harmony or symbiosis with nature is the best way of being grateful for everything that we receive from nature. It challenges us to make our life a loud thank you. It is shared goodness. It is paying forward the goodness that we have received. This payment forward can save our planet earth/ nature from destruction and elimination of human life as a consequence of climate change. The gratitude as fidelity to the natural contract is symbiotic. It is a partnership that will benefit both nature and humans. Time is already running out and we have to quickly join nature to save both human nature and nature. Symbiotic living requires us to see human nature as nature. it is a way of being grateful to God, the creator. This new anthropological consciousness involves a challenge to give up our reigning anthropocentrism and subject centrism of Descartes. We need to embrace human nature and nature as part of each other. This requires us to rise to the death of man declared by Michel Foucault. Foucault teaches us that man was a recent invention. The man was a child of modernity. In a postmodern world, this man is dead. We have already seen the rise of the posthuman. This posthuman anthropology does dispose us to the natural contract. Embracing symbiotic practice, we can certainly live our gratitude as fidelity to natural contact. It will produce new ways of being in the world and new ways of belonging to each other.

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Hypocrisy is the tribute that vice pays to virtue.

- Fr Victor Ferrao