Everything You Know About Homo sapiens is Wrong: The Revolutionary Implications of Cognitive Ethology

author: Steven Best, Department of Philosophy, University of Texas at El Paso
produced by: University of Maribor
published: Nov. 22, 2011,   recorded: September 2011,   views: 6057

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As humans continue to explore their evolutionary past and gain a more accurate knowledge of the intelligence of great apes and other animals, as they probe the depths of the cosmos in search of life more advanced than themselves, as they develop increasingly sophisticated computers and forms of artificial intelligence and artificial life (self-reproducing “digital DNA”), as they create transgenic beings and cross species boundaries to exchange their genes with animals, as they clone forms and create others virtually from scratch, and as they merge ever more intimately with technology and computers to construct bionic bodies and become cyborgs, the question inexorably arises: Who/what is Homo sapiens?

The massive, tangled knot of ideologies involved in the social construction of our species identity need to be critically unraveled, so that we can develop new identities that are far more sane, humane, ethical, ecological, and sustainable, and that accurately depict the true place of Homo sapiens in the ecosystems of the earth and in the cosmos as a whole. The profound degree of social transformation needed to avert the social and ecological crises threatening the planet and its inhabitants is not possible without radical change in the dominant worldviews, cultures, and values anchored in anthropocentrism and speciesism. Most fundamentally, humans need new concepts of themselves as a socio-natural species and member of a much larger community than global humanity. This community includes all other animals and sentient beings, and the earth as a whole; we belong not to “the human race” but to the biocommunity, to Gaia.

We will try to answer the following questions:

  • What have been the predominant views of human nature?
  • What is wrong with them and what consequences do they have for society, animals, and ecology?
  • What new modes of thought are provoking radical new conceptions of Homo sapiens, and how do they accomplish this?

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