Purpose in the Anthropocene: Dynamical role and physical basis
© 2016 Elsevier Ltd The dynamics of the modern Earth-system is not explicable without reference to systems that have a purpose, i.e., that exhibit goal-seeking behavior. This paper develops the physical basis of agency or purposiveness in the technosphere—the human-technological system that defines the Anthropocene—as part of an analysis of the organizational requirements of energy-dissipating systems. The regulative, or framing, approach used here avoids reliance on reductive modeling and aims instead at establishing general properties of purposive systems. Establishment of purposiveness (the condition of having a purpose) as a physical system property, rather than a metaphysical concept or a purely biological phenomenon, enables a new look at the role of humans and human purpose in the Anthropocene. This approach can help avoid the misleading anthropocentric assumption that humans are independent authors of the Anthropocene they inhabit, rather than contingent actors whose purposes are not entirely their own.
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