We should never kid ourselves that we’re more than specks in the universe.
Amy Gutmann: So the forces that have shaped where we are today as humans go way beyond us and our intelligence. Anyone who sees the forces today at work in the world – whether they be global warming, or the tsunami, or Hurricane Katrina – has to recognize that we are but specks in the universe. That said, anyone who looks at global warming or tsunami or Hurricane Katrina has to realize that those weren’t purely natural disasters. Take Hurricane Katrina. We could have prevented that. We human beings, as small as we are in the universe . . . in our universe . . . in our part of the universe, we could’ve made a difference. Take global warming. I hope we will make a difference. That’s why as President of the University of Pennsylvania, I’ve committed ourselves to having a plan in a couple of years’ time to become carbon neutral, and that we’re . . . 30% of our energy is wind power. So the forces are enormous in the universe. And scientists as well as humanists are hard at work understanding them. And we should never kid ourselves that we’re more than specks in the universe. But we should never let down ourselves in not doing what we can do to make a difference.