How We Bypassed The Malthusian Trap (& Why We’re Not Out Of The Doghouse Quite Yet)
A Metaphysical & Ethical Cross-Examination Of Islam and Stoicism
Since the late 18th century, humanity has enjoyed the most prolonged period of economic growth in history. This is in no small part due to the Industrial Revolution, which put mechanization and technology at the forefront of economics. Since then, there have always been those who believe that this upward trajectory is unsustainable and will inevitably collapse upon itself.
In his 1798 work, An Essay on the Principle of Population, the English economist Thomas Malthus theorized that the population growth of his time, driven by the economic developments of the Industrial Revolution, was unsustainable and would soon collapse upon itself. Due to the “passion between the sexes,” Malthus reasoned that population growth would be exponential, something that history has proven to be correct. He also reasoned that agricultural output would not be able to meet the demand of a rapidly growing population. From this, he inferred that famine and wars over scarce resources must soon follow. This would, in turn, cause a reduction in the size of the population, which would allow agricultural output to meet the population’s demand and thus facilitate population growth once more. This would once again lead to famine and war, which would once again lead to a drop in population, which would once again lead to better economic conditions, which would once again lead to a rising population, which would once again lead to famine and war, and so on ad infinitum. This is what we call a Malthusian Trap.
Deconstructing Karl Popper’s Paradox of Intolerance
Islam is an Abrahamic faith based on the oneness of God and the prophethood of Muhammad (PBUH). As with most religions, Islam encompasses metaphysical, ethical and judicial tenets. The Quran is its religious scripture, which Muslims believe to be the direct word of God. Stoicism, on the other hand, is an ancient Greek school of philosophy founded by Zeno of Citium. The primary focus of the school was ethics and virtue, which they believed was derived from knowledge and reason.
What unites the two is the belief that ultimately the goodness and happiness of a person’s life is not dependent on their external surroundings, or as the Stoic philosopher and emperor Marcus Aurelius once wrote, “Misfortune, borne nobly, is good fortune.” In both Islam and Stoicism, this outlook is the result of metaphysical beliefs impacting a person’s view of the world and the way that they interact with it. However, taken at face value, the metaphysical principles of Islam and Stoicism are remarkably different. This begs the question, how can two distinctly different metaphysical viewpoints result in the same practical viewpoint?
I Think, Therefore, I Am: Rene Descartes’ Cogito Argument Explained
Racism. Sexism. Xenophobia. These problems have plagued humanity since time immemorial and there’s no sign that they’re going away anytime soon. Despite these problems, I choose to believe that the majority of people are decent human beings who inherently desire to live in a tolerant society.
An integral aspect of a tolerant society is people’s ability to have and promote differing viewpoints i.e. freedom of speech. However to declare such freedoms as unlimited is to give unsavory voices a place at the table.
How do we prove something beyond reasonable doubt? We use empirical evidence, corroborate eyewitness accounts and analyze the information that we are given. Most of the tools that we utilize in order to prove that something is beyond reasonable doubt ultimately necessitate the use of our senses, i.e. sight, smell, taste, touch and hearing. This then produces the question, are our senses to be trusted? What can we be certain of without the senses? These questions form the basis of Rene Descartes’ Cogito Argument, which ultimately results in the famous saying, “I think, therefore, I am.”