Egological Footprint

An answer to the question “Why, in times when total prevention of all natality has become a real material possibility, do human beings still bring other human beings into existence?”: “In order to be able to say that they have left a ‘footprint’ which will endure on this planet after their own demise!” Thus, we need to take into account, besides Man’s much-discussed “ecological footprint”, also his “egological footprint”. The ontology underlying this is, admittedly, a doubtful one since parents cannot, in fact, pass on their consciousness, their ego, to their progeny. Each one of us is, in his or her essence, that consciousness which is brought to realization by his or her brain. There can be no such thing, then, as self-procreation in the sense of a passing on to our progeny of our actual self. Contrary to what is insinuated by a well-loved superstition, nobody actually “lives on in their children”. What is passed on is merely the hereditary genetic material (nobody speaks of an “hereditary consciousness”), the so-called “genotype”, the inevitable inherent ills of which people prefer not to recall. For all that, though, it is indeed “a second edition of their own selves” (Dohm, Die Mütter, S. 169) that parents tend to want to experience through their children.

We recognize more and more an obligation to keep our “ecological footprint” as small as possible, so as not to impair more than is necessary the conditions of existence of the billions of human beings who share the earth with us. At the same time, however, little or no thought is given, in the relatively wealthy industrialized nations, to the fact that that “egological footprint” which we are encouraged, from every direction, to leave in as large a form as possible threatens to render obsolete all our ecologically-conscious action and forgoing of consumption. Because with each new citizen of this planet which we mortals set walking in our footsteps so as not to quickly vanish, without trace and unremembered, from the earth we also cause an incalculably long sequence of consuming generations to leave deep ecological footsteps in our stead.

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