Biocentrism is gaining popularity in recent years. It’s the belief that life itself and the universe are interconnected, and that life creates the world, not the other way round.
This idea holds that biology and life are fundamental to the understanding of the nature of the univers. It’s important to examine these concepts from both a scientific as well as a philosophical perspective. They can be questioned on many grounds.
What is biocentrism?
The core idea behind biocentrism is that moral responsibility extends beyond humans to include the entire natural world. Richard Sylvan was the first to coin the term in the 1970s. But its philosophical roots go back even further. They include Aldo Leopold’s land ethic, Albert Schweitzer’s reverence for living things, and Eastern philosophies which uphold respect for every life form.
The biocentrism principle of life creating reality states that the physical universe exists only because an entity conscious observes it. The philosophy is heavily influenced by the quantum mechanic idea of the “observer’s effect,” in which the act of observing affects the phenomenon observed. This idea, when applied to the macrocosmic universe, leads to the biocentric claim that the universe only exists because conscious life is observing it.
Robert Lanza is a scientist and stem-cell researcher who expanded on Sylvan’s concept. He offered a deeper interpretation of biocentrism within the context of the universe. Lanza’s ‘Biocentrism Theory’ suggests that consciousness and life are essential to understanding our reality, and that they created the universe rather than the opposite.
The core principles of biocentrism revolve around the intrinsic value of every living thing, regardless of its species, complexity or utility for humans. Every living thing, from the smallest bacteria to the biggest mammal has intrinsic value.
Biocentrism also suggests that humans aren’t superior to other forms of life, but rather are just a part of an intricate web of living things. It is opposed to anthropocentric views that place humans as the center of morality, and advocates a more equalitarian view where all life forms are viewed equally.
Biocentrism promotes interconnectedness as well, asserting that all organisms are interconnected within a complex web of relationships and play a crucial role in maintaining balance and health on the planet. It forces us to think about the implications of our actions on the wider ecological community. This fosters a greater respect for nature and its inhabitants.
Does biocentrism promote environmentalism?
Biocentrism is a philosophy of environmental ethics that asserts that not only humans, but all living beings have intrinsic moral values. In its refined form, biocentrism champions the inherent value and rights of all living organisms, advocating the prioritization for individual organisms. This is a fundamentally individualistic outlook.
Conversely, holistically-oriented environmental ethics, such as “land ethics,” often identified as ecocentrism, argue that species and ecosystems as a whole carry greater significance. In these holistic ethics, species and ecosystems are given priority in moral considerations.
Although these two schools — biocentrism versus ecocentrism — are based on divergent theories, it is possible and necessary to achieve a convergence of environmental ethics over time. The ultimate goal of ethical framework should be to promote harmony between humans and nature. Both philosophies agree that the moral compass of humanity must be expanded to encompass all living things and the natural environment. A universal environmental ethic can be achieved through integrating these shared notions.
Biocentric thinking asserts that every life form has its own “good” and suggests an expansion of moral recognition beyond humans. It includes a variety of thinking, including Schweitzer’s ethic for reverence of life, Peter Singers animal liberation ethical, and Paul Taylors ethics of bioegalitarianism.
This philosophy is based on three main tenets: First, all living organisms have an intrinsic drive to resist entropy in order to maintain their own organization as well as their survival and wholeness. Self-preservation, which is an intrinsic goal of all living forms, is also a “good”. They should therefore be given equal moral rights and receive moral consideration, protection, and recognition.
Biocentrism has loopholes
Biocentrism asserts that time and space are mental constructs. Biocentrists claim that our perceptions are not real, but rather tools for animal understanding. This claim is in conflict with scientifically observed phenomena, and theories that describe them.
Numerous experiments and observations such as gravitational lenses and time dilation have confirmed Einstein’s relativity theory, which has given us our modern understanding about space and time. Moreover, space and the passage of time continues to exist in the absence observers as shown by cosmic events which occurred before life appeared.
Biocentrism also fails to support its claim that consciousness and life are fundamental forces in the universe. Life and consciousness are remarkable phenomena. However, claiming that they are fundamental forces like gravity or electromagnetism does not have any evidence. Consciousness is a subjective experience, unlike forces like gravity that can be quantified, and whose effects are universally observed. It is not something that’s quantifiable or measurable in the same manner as physical forces.
Biocentrism may be appealing to some, but it is based on misunderstood scientific principles and unsupported statements. The current empirical evidence and theoretic understanding points towards a universe which exists independently of consciousness and life, and not one that was created by either. Biocentrism is not completely debunked because it hasn’t made testable predictions, which are a crucial component of scientific theories. There is enough evidence to show that it’s implausible.
The argument for biocentrism is based on a fundamental misunderstanding of the observer’s effect. The quantum observer effect does not require a conscious observer. It refers instead to any interaction between the quantum particles and their surroundings, including unconscious measuring devices.
The universe we know today existed for billions and millions of years prior to the appearance of conscious life. Theoretical Physics and Cosmology, backed by empirical data such as cosmic background radiation show that the existence of the universe is independent from observation.
Biocentrism often ignores the second law thermodynamics which states that entropy or disorder in an isolated system always increases over time. This fundamental principle is based on the arrows of time and has been confirmed repeatedly. If life and consciousness are fundamental to the universe, and have created reality, then one would expect that they have an effect on this principle. This is not true.
Biocentrism also seems to ignore Occam’s Razor. This principle, in its most basic form, states that often the simplest explanation is the best. This adds an unnecessary layer of complexity and lack of evidence to our understanding the universe. It does not explain the universe by using well-established physical law, but instead postulates a reality that is created by consciousness.
It is important to note that questioning the biocentrism does not negate life or consciousness. We are just beginning to grasp the complexity of life, and consciousness is one of science’s biggest mysteries. The current state of scientific knowledge suggests that consciousness and life are not intrinsic to the universe but rather emergent.