Thursday, February 14, 2013
On Steve Fuller - Defining Humanity
What is ‘Homo Sapiens’. What was he in the days of the Greeks? What is he today? According to Steve Fuller, Homo Sapiens is an artificial creation. What makes him different from the Apes? (The ability to reason, says Descartes, is what distinguishes man from the apes) Fuller suggests man has been 'artificially' created by education where he has been ‘changed’ to portray certain traits and behaviours. (Is that not what all training is about – changing behaviour? I am reminded of 'Virus of the Mind' yet again). What makes a human ‘more human’? In the days of the Greeks and the Romans homo sapiens had his place as either an elite or a serf. Along came Christianity that told us we were ‘human’. Then we changed, we became concerned (or guilty perhaps?) about the distribution of wealth, of education. In the 18th century Africa was ‘colonised’ to bring Christianity (and education) to those humans that had neither. This was a response to the guilt. So what of the future? We have reached a stage where humanity ‘believes’ (has been educated to believe) that humankind is destroying the planet, that he has no place here. That he will make himself extinct. Humans are more concerned about animals than their own. And some people prefer to live in their other selves in cyberspace. Where is this taking homo sapiens? A Question posed by the Faculty: “He (Fuller) suggests that we are questioning the very existence of the ‘human’ because we have failed in the humanist project (for example, we are far from achieving racial, gender or class equality): do you believe this?” No I don’t believe this although my change in belief is recent. Last November I attended a conference in Johannesburg titled “Live and Unplugged”. One of the speakers, a South African woman, made a presentation titled ‘The SHEconomy’. She presented her ideas on the current and future of women in business. It was a staggering presentation of the rise of women in business suggesting that soon women will be the dominating influence. Her thesis was postulated largely on the emancipation of women due to the freedom they gained after the introduction of ‘The Pill’ – women no longer have to have children and when they do, today, they very often prefer to have them outside marriage. Then followed the Social Media revolution and women, being more socially adaptable then men, are, she suggests now better able to make better business decisions than men. She presented a lot of evidence to support her thesis. Women are even making rapid strides in politics and business in Africa where women have been far more stringently suppressed in recent times than in, say, Europe. In Asian countries we have also seen a definite attempt at improving the place of women within the Asian (and Muslim) versions of humanity. Turning to racial equality, I have lived through a revolution in the equalization of racial equality in Zimbabwe. Although there are still elements of inequality to be overcome largely because the black elite in Africa are seemingly more intent on suppressing the (black) masses than the previous colonisers. So ‘class equality’ in Africa has still a very long way to go. But that it will come is inevitable. The only question about it is when. As a last point in this blog, earlier this week I read about the ability of dogs to ‘reason’ following a research project in the United Kingdom. So being human is not confined to their ability to reason. Descartes got it wrong!