Tuesday 22 May 2007

An Answer to Someone's Pessimism

I had a conversation recently with someone where a key point about visions of the future centred on Man (or Woman) him(/her)self.

They have a very negative view of human existence, whereas I believe the path that took us upward from Homo Habilis is a path that continues on its course.
This person is actually a very caring person with a lot of love in them, but holds the view that the future will be dark.
And I'm sure it will be in places. History has been.

The real issue is the state of Man in the West today.
I believe that we should aspire to learn to govern ourselves, that one day we will advance beyond the crude repression that those of us who can see, understand is still present, even in this country, though the iron fist be hid in a velvet glove.

To this person, our slavish apathy is part of our human nature.
I say it is social conditioning.

So we're back to nature versus nurture. And I realised it does matter.
Because if she is right, and the 'nature' side of the fence is right, it doesn't look good for us.
But I don't think she is.

Firstly, let me just point out that you can only use human nature as an excuse so far. It is obvious that our nature is malleable and inexhaustive in it's capacity to develop.
Obviously, ten thousand years ago we were patrolling the savannahs spearing bison, much as we had done the previous eight hundred thousand years. So if we have a 'nature', that's what we are geared up to.

Now consider this. Our species, a primate species, descended from tree dwellers, had succeeded in making itself Lords of the Earth.
Over the Carnivores.
Animals that had evolved over tens of millions of years to be Lords of The Earth.

Look at nature 'red in tooth and claw.'
And realise that to master that, we must have evolved to be nastier, more brutal, more dangerous, more cunning than any other creature on the savannah.

Rest assured, Homo Erectus was a cannibalitic murdering rapist by nature.
So if you talk human nature, that is EXACTLY what you mean.

And yes, it's nasty.

But over time something evolved in us that had never evolved in another species. Modern behaviourists call it extelligence.

Many species are INtelligent. Dolphins, some insects, many primates and carnivores.
But only we share our thoughts and pass on knowledge in a way that does not come through our genes.
It comes from that wholly Homo Sapiens creation.
Linguistic communication.

And look at the world that has created.

In terms of evolution, Homo Sapiens is a whole new ball game. We are in a world where instinct has been superseded as a necessary part of an animals nature.

In our species we have evolved something that evolution itself has declared to be superior, by her own laws, by elevating us to where we are.

And it is what we do here that has done that.

It leads us to rise above our individualistic animal past and be something better.

Which means that the apathy of our people is now a matter of choice.
We now have the power to cut the apron strings of our origins and be the unique beings we thought we were before we discovered where we came from and forget that that was where were we were, not where we are, or where we shall go.

Blogging is not in our human nature.
It is in our new souls.

So my answer.

Our 'nature' is only the frame around which humanity was constructed.
Our minds are what makes the finished article.
And that's worth something.

Check out the blogger in question. Nuts, obviously, but a heart of gold. She is called (accurately) Ubermouth and is on the blogroll.


Anonymous said...

Your Hegelianism is quite infectious.

Anonymous said...

I presume you refer to the dialectic here?

Anonymous said...

Oh where to start!
Great post by the way, I love how you write!
But sadly, you are wrong!
First off- pretty arrogant of man to think he is "Lord of the Earth" by whose definition? A cockroach could survive a nuclear war- not us!
We are the only being that communicates? I think not!
Not only do nearly all animals speak and communicate through their own language which we are just not conversant in ( however domesticated animals can understand ours on a basic level) but even a cancer cell communicates, evolves and can eradicate man. This does not work in reverse!
Man has evolved, I would say, probably more through necessity and accident than through any conscious efforts on his part to go forward.
Man WILL be dominated by a 1984 BIG BROTHER entity ( and all ready is far more than he realizes)not because he lacks choice but because he :
1. Lacks a oneness with his brother necessary to conquer it.
2.Has an apathetic desire to be regulated and follow a path set out for him.
3.The foresight to "see" what is not only going on around him now, but where it is REALLY leading to in the future.
If man was so motivated he would be using more than the 1/8th of his brain than he currently uses.
He would question everything( esp in relation to the government) and he would stop thinking on a selfish and insular level.
Man is highly adaptable to his surroundings, which is probably the only thing we have over " less thinking" creatures.
This is precisely WHY the future will go, and is all ready heading, where I say.
By the time , the Epsilons realize this it will be too late to do anything about it as we will have lost what little control we still have over our petty lives.
And as for self regulating- we can't do that or we would go back to the basic nature of humans which we have evolved from, living without a set of ethics which( while forced onto us) sets us apart from the "wild animals".
An old Indian quote goes: Man will destroy himself because he is the only animal that shits in his own water supply.
If your faith in human nature was justified we would not be living on this diseased planet we have now.
THAT'S human nature- and that is not going to change.

Anonymous said...

Yes, I get the sense that you think 'we' are heading somewhere. It's quite a nice change from post-modern doomsayers.

Anonymous said...

Miss Uber, your points 1, 2 and 3 are EXACTLY the points that are needed to make th jump from man to superman. The fect that deep down, we have known this since Jesus, is some cause for hope.
I think that we are approaching the point in our evolution, where we can move to acheive this as a species.
Because his is the first time in history that an evolutionary step will actually depend on carrying the WHOLE species at once.
Were it to be only part, it would be impossible to acheive.
So Incomprehensible ? As we see it now, maybe.
Impossible? I don't think we should come this far and give up.

Anonymous said...

David, I believe we are.
It's just we seem to have a nasty habit of self loathing.
But that self loathing in a sense has purpose. We resent that which are to inspire us to better that.
Not accept it.

Anonymous said...

Very interesting. Do you think we are really "superior" though, when we go around killing and not for food? I agree human nature is nasty and bound to be. Let's hope we can rise above it - we should be able to.

Anonymous said...

Your mean poll would only let me vote once - so good on you for promoting dictatorship.
I wanted to have my fair say which has to be more than anyone else gets and it repressed my voice. YOU are part of this system.

Anonymous said...

Many species are INtelligent. Dolphins, some insects, many primates and carnivores.
But only we share our thoughts and pass on knowledge in a way that does not come through our genes.
It comes from that wholly Homo Sapiens creation.
Linguistic communication.
How would anyone ever know this. To our thinking we are the only ones who know this but we have no way of proving this. Look at the whales or salmon for that matter. I have a friend who tells his dog not to look at him while he eats but he has figured out he can watch him through the glass on his entertainment center.

Anonymous said...

I respond to recent comments with the general observation that as far as I am aware the only species communicationg via the internet would seem to be us.

Ms Uber. Just try going on many different PCs.
Or set up other blog identities.

As Ulster Unionists used to say 'vote early, voe often.'

Anonymous said...

That sounds like you are basing our whole evidence of evolutionary supremacy on the WWW....and dogs are the only creatures that can hear tones we are unable to at distances we never would be able to, even if they were in a pitch we could hear.

Anonymous said...

You miss the point.
We are able to grow the combined store of human knowledge over time.
That is unique to our species.

Anonymous said...

And tarantulas not needing to eat for 2 yrs is to theirs and dogs hearing to theirs.
Have you ever thoguht about that term " There is nothing new under the sun" could meet that we evolve in cycles and start all over again with different species at different times being the supreme until they destroy themselves and then there is an uprsing of another.........who has to start from scratch and re invent everything we now consider new technology over and over ad infinitum?

Anonymous said...

The comparison with other species is inapt.

No other species comprehends the hows and whys of their existence.
Tarantulas do not understand atomic structure and dogs do not comprehend wave-particle duality.

No other species alters its entire environment to the degree that it dictates which other species thrive and which surive in laboratories.

Anonymous said...

when I dropped my wallet outside Aldi the other week an old lady chased me and gave it me back about ten minutes later. It is little things that mean so much..

mind the bitch had taken the credit cards...

Anonymous said...

Uber has it right in her comment, about the animals communicating bit. They communicate by a mixture of body positioning, vocalisations and pheremones. Actually most of our communication is done the same way.
90% of flirting is done by body language.
And animals are able to actually teach each other skills. Not just learn by observations, but actually TEACH.
They are able to be taught language too. They are physically incapable of linguistic speech as we define it. But those with mobile hands are able to learn sign language.
You claim that animals don't have extelligence. They do. They are able to logically figure out things, and see how they affect their surroundings and others in those surroundings. At least, some of the larger and higher order animals are able to.

And about the 'nature red in tooth and claw', where you say we are more cunning and brutal than any other creature. Its true. We are. We have to be because we have evolved so poorly to compete with nature. We haven't become lords of anything. We have created our own environment and we have to work damn hard to control it. If we slack for even a short period of time, we will lose our hard won lifestyles.

Human nature is this - war, murder, rape, aggression, dominance, genocide and fear. What we put our kind through is amazing. Its all part of our struggle to accept that we aren't actually anywhere near as strong and amazing as we'd like to think. As far as the animal kingdom is concerned, we are a weak creature, with very few evolutionary advantages. We are essentially prey animals, with poor eyesight, hearing and smell. We can't run particularly fast and we're designed to spend most of our time on the ground. We are too weak to defend ourselves. Much weaker than any of our predecessors. We have no natural weapons. No teeth, claws, barbs, tusks and no armour-like skin. We have one advantage, which we have exploited ruthlessly.


And look at what we have done to the world. I feel that defines human nature.

Anonymous said...

You make good points, phishez.
But look at your few lines.

That is kind of what I was saying, only I put a postive spin on that, wheras you seem undecided.

Don't be. It's cause for hope.

Anonymous said...

I feel that humans need to take the whole phrase 'human nature' into account. Because they are conflicting. To be human is (apparently) to be nice and sweet and loving. To see things for more than they are and to investigate why. We need to understand the nature part of ourselves. Which is mostly what the last comment was about.

But by choosing to focus more on the 'human' part and ignoring that we are essentially animals, with the same basic needs and inspirations, we have fucked the planet. How many millions of square miles of fragile jungle have been decimated? How many thousands of species of animals have we obliterated through ignorance? Look at global warming. Look at pest animals destroying nature. We have lost control of what we have created.

Humans will eventually wipe ourselves out. I believe that to be fact. And when we do, the planet will reset itself. Life will go on, new animals will evolve to fit any lasting damage we have done, and another species will dominate the planet. Just like what happened after the dinosaurs became extinct, and the ice ages.