Rather than economics, philosophy, psychology, neuroscience, I feel that better metaphors for understanding humans (but remaining intelligible to most English-speakers) would come from ecology and the natural world around us.
This is roughly how I explain bodyminds to clients, and it seems to help them…
Think of each human as its own micro-ecosystem, with internal homeostasis, and many external influences.
- We’re hugely flexible, but where we’re starting from, and our local/global environment, makes a huge difference to what we become.
- Homeostasis induces resistance to change.
- We’re each different, that difference is beautiful and part of a greater whole.
- The more external stresses impose on our homeostatic capacity, the less resilient we are. (hence mental health now requiring self-work for many people, rather than natural self-regulation).
- Monoculture is awful.
Our consciousness can direct some of what happens within our ecosystem. Might be useful to think of it as a human-in-the-ecosystem. In good conditions, you can help it thrive. But if its 40C and you need to eat, you’re not going to renovate that scrubland over there, are you? If you never visit part of it because there-be-monsters (trauma), it’ll become disconnected from the rest. And if you raze it to the ground to make it more productive, well…
If you prefer reading to simply thinking about these ideas, look particularly to Buddhism, Romanticism, Taoism. Read Mary Oliver, Wendell Berry, and Gary Snyder. Or study any one of a huge number of “indigenous” cultures. Funnily enough a lot of the non-Western world ‘gets’ what I’m saying here, or, sadly, ‘got’ it at some point before it was, ahem, sort of, lost.
— That’s particularly the case because we’re ecosystems and influence those around us fairly quickly. If a productive-but-sterile farm is next to my abundant forest, and the farmer just stops and rests for a while, gonna be beautiful trees growing and cocoa to eat soon. (QT)
Of course if I park my forest next to that farm that’s spraying glyphosate, down-river of an oil refinery, with axe-wielding neighbours, in the middle of a heatwave with no rain… probably my abundant forest won’t last long, will it?