ponedjeljak, 14. siječnja 2013.

Philosopher on Mars

Since last night i am intrigued by Mars One Mission. "Mars One is a not-for-profit organisation that will take humanity to Mars in 2023, to establish the foundation of a permanent settlement from which we will prosper, learn and grow", says their website. I started exploring what is it all about, and as i found out that there will be internet connection up there, i actually thought of applying to be among first astronauts to set foot on Mars, but later i figured that i probably couldn't give up smoking nor would i pass the medical exams.

Anyway, this mission got me thinking about lots of things. First of all, what would philosopher do on Mars? Seems to me that exactly philosophers are needed for this mission, as you can see astronauts qualification on this link. This could easily be the first reality show where the winners wouldn't be just beautiful, good looking possible pop stars, singers, actors or the like, but where you would vote for someone who has a deeper sense of meaning, mental and emotional maturity and who has really needed skills for survival in such harsh conditions. As i understood it, Mars One astronauts will be chosen based on the audience votes, so i am really interested to see in which way people will choose the next history textbooks heroes.

Heroes? Yeah, probably, since non of them is going to return to Earth...ever! Mars One Mission is a one way ticket to Red Planet. Out of it comes something philosophically interesting. Stated on this link, Mars One asks the question: Is this ethical? Is it ethical to send people on Mars, never to return? They do state some kind of arguments in order to justify their mission, but all of it seems to me like going to army - we will provide you with all the necessary equipment, training, we will pay you good money and provide your family, but it's up to you whether you live or die. Now, going to war surely is moral - if we take morals as human customs, and whether we like it or not, whether it is good or bad, war is a custom thing for humans - but going to war certainly isn't ethical. Going to Mars can also be interpreted as moral, since traveling is something we do everyday, it is human custom to explore new environments. So, is it ethical - depends on presumptions what is good and what can be bad about it, and which of it prevails. If one presumption is - We, as organisation, will provide you with everything you need in order to live a good life on Mars. - and the other presumption could be - You could die due to technology failure. - then we need to wigh on it. But, since Mars One already decided that it is ethical, everything is up to people who will apply for this mission.

The question here isn't whether it's going to happen or not, the question is when is it going to happen - or even better, when it happens, then what? Try to imagine that you are the first person to set foot on Mars. The whole world is watching you. Everyone is excited. And what are you going to say to them? You can't simply copy Neil, that's not cool. You also can't say that it's rather windy, or that the view is awesome. This is the next big world history textbook event, every living person will know your name and your first sentence as you take your first steps on Mars. In that moment nobody will think of their nation, politics or religion, everyone will experience it as human kind achievement. The question is, how strong will your message to human kind be, since you have the possibility to address the whole world and even influence them in a way.

Furthermore, this mission also rises the question of conditio humana, or the human condition change. Will the human condition really change after we populate the Mars? What will happen with our views of the world, once we are present on two different planets? How can we define the world then? Will our views on religion and philosophy change? Or will we simply go on as if nothing happened? And what if we really see a philosopher crew member up on Mars? Hannah Arendt wrote something about this, she said that most radical change in conditio humana would be human emigration to other planet, where human labour, production, action and thinking wouldn't make any sense. She was also wondering what becomes of humans when they create artificial conditions of living, such as Mars One will make in near future. And indeed, i  also can't wait to find out soon.

"Everyone's life comes to an end eventually", the magnificent truth stated on Mars One webpage regarding the question What if one of the Mars inhabitants passes away? Mars astronauts should be ready for this and well aware that Mars is their final destination. But what happens if Mars One itself comes to an end? Eventually, people will stop watching their live coverage of Mars settlement, because some next big thing will arrive on our screens, and the idea of spending sunday family afternoon watching people on Mars eating or sleeping will become less and less interesting. The Mars Big Brother fades away and the question remains - are we going to witness the most expensive failure in our history or the beginning of the most impressive civilisation so far?

Zoran Kojcic

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