Tuesday, December 6, 2005

My View : Real nature of Man


The origin of the world and of the human race is sequentially detailed in the first chapter of the Book of Genesis of the Holy Bible. Among other things, before God created man, he made the light, air, earth and water. Ecologically, this refers to the fire, atmosphere, lithosphere, and hydrosphere, respectively. At some point, there is an interlock of four elements which is the biosphere or the earth and all its ecosystems.

Several philosophers and great teachers gave defined the real nature of man. Whatever their definition is, it seemingly is anchored on the presence of at least one of the four elements.

According to Thales, “Man, as everything else in the universe, was made up of water or moist, since water can be solid, liquid or gas.” This is how man was first known to be.

Anaximander said that “All living creatures arouse from water and that man evolved from fish.” He first identified the body systems and determined its presence or absence in animals. The table below shows his findings:

Fish Amphibian Reptile Bird Mammal Human Being

Central Nervous System * * * * * *
Respiratory System * * * * *
Circulatory System * * * *
Visceral System * * *
Reproductive System * *
Limb System *

From that table, Anaximander concluded that man evolved from fish (in water) because it is the creature with only one of the body systems he identified and that all the other living creatures aroused from that.

Later, Anaximenes said the origin and nature of man is air. He reasoned that “Air is the underlying principle of the universe. As air changes its physical state, being the result of condensation, it becomes wind, cloud, water, earth and stone and rarefication as it can become fire.”

Then, there came the definition of Phythagoras. He believed in the transmigration of the soul. According to him, the mind or soul is a three-fold (1) nous – as intuition (2) thymous/blood – soul which is found in other creatures; and (3) phren or pure reason – the immortal part of man. He looked at it holistically and went beyond the four elements.

Soon after, Heraclitus stated that “man is part of the universal fire and man as everything else including the gods are subject to the law of the universe and can do nothing to change it.” His statement is leading towards believing that all is planned and man do not have the power to change it.

In the present times, Empedocles considered “man and all other things in the universe as composed of four elements: air, earth, fire and water and that man differs from all else because he has the power of thought.” Man has the power to reason and has wisdom. The interlock of all four elements and the power of thought are believed in the current times as the real nature of man.


Analyzing the current situation of the four elements, one may say that it is reaching a point of destruction. While there is acceleration in the growth of our economy, there is evidence that environmental quality is fast deteriorating, as dramatized by the increased occurrence of environmental disasters. Specifically, the gains of economic growth are being diminished and/or even negated by deforestation; mine tailings; pervasive and health-impairing pollution; coral reef destruction; massive pesticide poisonings; degradation and erosion of agricultural lands; siltation of rivers and farmlands; and salt water intrusion into aquifers; destructive eco-tourism; introduction of new technologies that adversely impact the environment; marsh and mangrove conversion; bio-prospecting / bio-piracy; land conversion to golf courses with attendant impacts on water supplies and surrounding ecosystems; massive reclamation projects which disrupt coastal ecosystems; open pit mining; pollutive cement plants and environmentally destructive coal-fired power plants as well as "dirty" energy sources; continued reliance on non-renewable energy sources; destructive fishing methods; and indiscriminate oil exploration and exploitation of seas. The costs of remediating water and air alone has been estimated at a minimum of 34 billion and 16 billion pesos, respectively. The regenerative capacities of already fragmented areas of various biogeographic zones are similarly threatened.

My educational philosophy for USeP, therefore, is reengineering the present educational policies and curricula to address the needs of the times. The educational policy shall include among others and environmental policy. The environmental policy shall be based on the following principles:

Promote environmental awareness and responsibility among all members of the University community;

Promote the principles and practices of environmental responsibility by sharing knowledge and experience with our stakeholders;

Identify, monitor and report on its community, legal and ethical environmental obligations;

Strive for environmental best practice and, as befits an international educational and research institution, lead the way in defining best practice;

Continue the USEP’s high level of research and teaching in environmental areas with particular reference to ecologically sustainable development;

Recognize our environmental obligations, both locally and globally, to present and future generations;

Develop a balanced approach that is environmentally sound, operationally viable and designed to meet the needs of the organization while allowing the University to fulfill its environmental obligations.

The general policy statement shall be:

“As a state university of higher education, University of Southeastern Philippines is committed to being a model of environmental health and safety in our teaching, in our research, in our partnerships with the community, and in the management of our own organization. The University challenges and empowers each employee and student to promote environmental leadership through our environmental principle, “Plant TREES, Save the Environment”:

T: Training and Education
R: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
E: Environmental Compliance
E: Evaluation and Improvement
S: Stewardship

The University will consider the concepts of environmental responsibility and sustainability in education processes and programs. This will include efforts to:

· Strengthen interdisciplinary programs about the environment;
· Provide universal access and encourage attendance at programs that enhance environmental awareness for all members of the university staff, students and others;
· Evaluate and access all current papers and programs to determine the need for environmental content in existing papers and programs and the requirement for new papers and programs;
· Promote environmental education of society in general.