The assertion that "one should not control or manipulate" is also sometimes expressed as fear or awe of the act of manipulation. There is the claim that if, as seems to have been demonstrated many times in the past, human beings have a tendency to act based on short-term or incomplete calculations of the results of their actions, cannot determine what is truly in their own best interests, and ultimately come to the wrong decision regarding what should be done, then they (we) should leave well enough alone.
But this position is developed in relation to the extent to which it is possible to control events and to predict their outcome in practice. If by some method accurate predictions could be made and effective manipulation carried out, the problem would disappear. Of course this is an optimistic way of looking at things, and it may indeed be wiser to take the view that such predictions are impossible. But even if we take this approach, we are left with trying to cope with our limitations; the problem is a practical one involving the limits of human ability◆4. As a result the question becomes to what extent we are able to successfully predict and manipulate in practice, and in principle the problem would be solved if humans were cleverer and more able. Also, it is clear that most issues that arise in relation to nature involve problems of survival and living comfortably. But while these considerations are important, this perspective is not the only fundamental approach that can be taken in arguing for the protection of "nature."
What must be protected is not nature as a set of "laws;" we are not compelled to protect nature because to fail to do so would violate the "laws" of nature. Our doubts and concerns about changing nature using technology do not arise because to do so would violate its laws. For one thing, it is in fact impossible for us to violate these laws. Whatever we do, our actions conform to the mechanical laws of nature. Everything that occurs falls within these laws. Human beings acquiring a greater ability to control the natural world than other species is itself a part of the history of nature, as is our control and subjugation of the natural world around us. for another thing, we cannot say that because of such and such a natural phenomenon human beings must behave in a certain way. In practice these kinds of arguments lead nowhere. To cite an example from quite a long time ago, proponents of the Imanishi Kinji school of evolution cited various natural phenomena in their opposition to various claims of Darwinian evolution. Which view provides a more accurate awareness of nature is not what is given greatest importance here. Proponents of these theories first pick the view they like best and then use "nature" and "natural science" to support their chosen beliefs. There are also those who claim that since "nature" has particular features it is correct or incorrect for us to do certain things. It is no doubt true that in some respects humans must follow certain rules laid down by nature in order to survive. But apart from such cases, these arguments - I will touch on some of them in detail, including "social Darwinism" and "eugenics," in Chapter 6 - use a dependence on nature to bolster assertions that are already held by their proponents; they are nothing more than the results of a religious-like faith in "nature (natural science)"◆5.
Unrelated to what is discussed above, there are some things that I think should not be done or interfered with. This is not because human beings may make mistakes or wrong decisions (which implies that there must be some kind of "right" way of doing things) but rather because of a sense that certain things should not be controlled. More specifically, I have the sense that when we make such decisions, the values we have, which at any rate are the values we live by regardless of how well-founded they are, seem unlikely to amount to much on closer examination. This means we should restrict the range of our own control over others and refrain from imposing our own values on them. I do not think that this way of thinking is possible given a worldview of simple ignorance or conservative opposition to the appearance of the new. It does not stem from doubts about our inability to make accurate long-term or all-encompassing predictions, but rather from a more fundamental skepticism about human values, a kind of pessimism mixed with hope regarding what might exist and awareness of what does in fact exist beyond the range of my own views and beliefs.
In other words, we act on our desires for control and subjugation in practice, but when we are asked whether this sort of world is a good world, I think we have the feeling that in some sense it is not. Our desires are in some sense being rejected. In our relationships with others our desire to possess them encounters opposition and is frustrated, while nonetheless continuing to exist as a desire within us. But this frustration need not necessarily be accepted as our failure. On the contrary, I think that it is because of our inability to exert control that we are able to take pleasure in the world and other people. I qualify this assertion with "I think," but here there are some things that can only be thought of in this way. For example, we do not want to cause a species to become extinct. This disinclination does not come from a "law" of nature. Nature does not provide us with such rules or norms. And if a minimum standard of environmental management is maintained and appropriate limits are set, it seems likely that the extinction of one, two, or even perhaps a great many species should not pose a threat to our survival. We live, and can only live, by modifying and interfering with nature, and yet we nonetheless have feelings of fear and sadness towards the extinction of other species. If this is the case, we can only think in this way. There is no need to struggle to link our feelings to a "threat to humanity" or our own "ruin." Of course, there are in fact genuine problems related to threats to our survival and our potential destruction, and these problems must be taken seriously. But it is also the case that this is not all there is to the issue, and we need not always speak in such serious terms as "ruin" and "flourishing"
Let me confirm here a few things that should go without saying. The above is an anthropocentric view, and may also be considered a form of ethics. The world is the world that appears to us, this is the only world there is, and we address this world as described above. There is no other way to deal with the world. It is therefore impossible and meaningless to criticize this view as being incomplete or an impure approach to the protection of nature because it is "anthropocentric." The world that appears to me as a world that exists apart from me appears as a world that I neither can nor should control◆6.［４］「自然」