HOMO, DEBATING ANIMAL


What is the nature of the genus Homo? Good, or evil? A tool maker? A weapon designer? Such are the traditional questions. They have a simple, and powerful answer, underlying all questions: Homo is a debater. The traditional questions are irrelevances which assume that it is in our power to prefer to be good or evil, when push comes to shove… or that we are the only ones withtools or weapons. And as if humanity didn’t demonstrate both good and evil, and sometimes in the same individual, in ample fashion, and as if animal intelligence had not shown nearly all human propensities… but one! 

What is the nature of a lion good, or evil? Silly question, of course: a lion needs to kill other animals to live. His colleagues, red in fang and claw, may find him morally excellent, while the devoured prey has no name for such evil as being devoured alive. And yet lions share, and not just meals. Some species of saber tooth felids fed their handicapped fellows. Sweet killers.

Humans are the ultimate predators. Humans don’t just eat animals and people, but they also devour land, the sea, and now the atmosphere. Power characterize humans. For good and evil… And all this power arises, ultimately, from human debate (to beat thoroughly, etymologically).

So whether humans are good or evil is a silly question: the nature of humanity should be clear ethically speaking, it’s basically an extension of leonid ethics: kill as needed, whoever, whatever. And sometimes procreation, that is, love is the best weapon of evil. When the Rolling Stones, who are still touring, wrote one of their early songs, they mentionned that there were two billion people living on Earth. Now there are eight billion. With current technology, “renewable” and intermittent ot not, a population of eight billion is unsustainable. Some countries, such as Japan, are on track to half their population. Others have still fast growing population and their main governemental economic effort is to prepare for (nuclear) war.

Homo has been the land’s supreme predator for millions of years, and certainly the last 100,000 years (Homo Sapiens Neanderthalensis exterminated Cave Bears 50,000 years ago). A killer, neither good not bad, just doing what needed to be done, like those Allied troops disembarking in France in 1944 (my dad, one of them). The Allies landed to kill Nazis of whom millions had to be killed to perceive the correctness of democracy, and the error of their Nazi ways. But the point is that quite often the Allies killed as many civilians as Nazis…

Homo is good and, or, evil, depending upon the perspective. In particular, civilization did not make human beings good or bad: civilization amplifies everything, all powers, in particular, civilization amplifies goodness, just as it amplifies evil, and quite often, both at the same time.

A complicating factor, though, is that more is different: this is well known in, say, solid state physics: phenomena appear in a multitude which cannot happen with a few. Civilization is what makes everything more, thus different.

Plutocracy, the method of harnessing the power of evil, using compounded power to leverage evil, enables oligarchies to rule indefinitely (nobility in France was 2% of the population for more than a millennium). Plutocracy is a form of malignancy which can go metastatic, until all of society is corrupted by it. Plutocracy is the most problematic disease of civilization, because civilization amplifies the plutocratic effect. So we end up with cultural oligarchies leveraging evil in all aspects of mind. 

Philosophers have proposed specific definitions for human beings. Homo Faber, the homo which makes tools, was proposed by Bergson. But many animal species use tools, and more would, if they had hands the fingers of which have delicate motor control. Before that delicate motor control became an enormous advantage, one needed enormous imagination… and a lot of scientific practice. Intelligence was not enough: my dog understands subtle finger motions… but he is more than one hundred million years away from developing hands (short of dogs with hands from bioengineering, of course).

What is different in human beings relative to animals is human debating power, which is enormous. Humans can do more things than any other animals, and they first spend an even greater amount of time considering what it is exactly that they are going to do. And this is what debate does, what debate is.

Obviously chimpanzees also have violent arguments. Screaming chimps running around with enormous teeth and eyes jutting out of their skulls, should not be derided, they are exhibiting the most basic mental foundation of debate, the passion for the importance of mental dominance. Chimps’ debating hysteria make clear that, evolutionary speaking our common ancestor was already a primitive debater, and that this activity was most important and most violent, and it is why “debate” means to beat thoroughly. First you beat thoroughly, then you become the alpha male, and you decide what everybody will do. Such is the chimp level of debate, and far from being something to despise, the fury for and against mental domination forged the emotional machinery enabling to express passion for the spirit.

We advanced more than chimps in our debating power in the last ten million years, this is the main difference between us and them, and our fine motor control was entangled with that. In Homo, a long evolution brought the dominance not so much of the alpha male as the dominance of the alpha argument which rules. The alpha male is a biological organism, the alpha argument a subtle mental organization, basically a piece of mathematics written in neurology. We became natural born logicians and mathematicians…. And much of this logic and mathematics, born from observing the universe, came to model it ever better, in a constant dialogue between our minds and the rest of reality out there.

Smilodon populator by Mauricio Anton. 400 kilograms, South America. Exterminated by Homo Sapiens, 10,000 years ago. Why? We debate better! .

Ultimately, good and evil do not matter as much Ultimately, good and evil do not matter as much as the better debate. The first debater of the selves are the selves themselves. Human brains are multitudes, and with themselves and in the night, they debate. As they do, better, more meaningful, more significant, more threatening or more potentially rewarding pathways are traced in potential realities’ decision trees…

These considerations have very simple consequences:

SCHISMOGENESIS IS A GOOD THING:

Schismogenesis literally means “creation of division”. The term derives from the Greek σχίσμα skhisma “cleft” (borrowed into English as schism, “division into opposing factions”), and γένεσις genesis “generation, creation”. Famous UK-US anthropologist Gregory Bateson created the notion in the 1930s, to deplore certain forms of social behavior between groups. He and his followers to this day, have not understood that this is a methodology extremely ancient and well-known in France, the “esprit de contradiction“… But of course, Bateson was a French hater, who thought that Prussianized Germany should rule over Europe, and racist president Wilson was a “pathologically honest man“…. and the Versaiiles Treaty was a deception which caused Nazism by demoralizing Germany, So Bateson would not know the advantage of contradicting his superiors, or anybody who made his carreer.

The spirit of contradiction and the pleasure of engaging in it is central to debates. The spirit of contradiction makes mentalities and ideas fight in life and death struggles, neurohormones to the max. No better way to end up thinking out of all and any box…

***

ANTI-DEBATING OLIGARCHIC IDEOLOGY SUCH AS CHRISTIANISM AND MONEYVERSITIES ARE BAD:

The fascist horror known as Christianism, and its derivatives, have to be extirpated in all their negative aspects (both Christ and Muhammad, as preached, have some positive aspects). Not so much by going aspect after aspect (say like cancelling the Christian interdiction of all and any abortion), as has been done, but by pointing out that Christianism was first of all, a weapon against debate.

Christianism was a terror imposed by Roman emperors, mostly by the fiercest autocrats, Constantine I and Theodosius I. Constantine, son of an emperor, boiled his second wife, executed his son, killed his nephew and assassinated all the priests of Egypt, who had offended him by being eunuchs, among other exploits of a ferocious nature. (“Saint”) Constantine also invented Catholicism (“universalism” in Greek) and called himself the Thirteenth Apostle. Roman emperor Theodosius I, sixty years later, following emperor Gratian, decreed in 381 CE that heresy (making a choice in religious matters) was passible of any penalty the imperial government would decide, including expropriation, torture and death. Heretics were called “insane maniacs“… by the emperor Theodosius himself.

Making any mental choice on the arcane nature of the universe a potential death sentence killed debate. The empire fell to theological and intellectual fascism, to add to the pre-existing fascist rule. “We The People” couln’t do a thing as the oligarchies ruling civilization made pacts and treaties with fierce invading barbarians (the alliance between Theodosius I and the Goths being the most prominent example; the Goths enabled Theodosius to win over Arbogast and his Frankish army in 394 CE… But the same ones would sack Rome in 410 CE… But there were other alliances, such as with the Huns themselves, and Aetius, 60 years later, did his best to persuade the Goths and then the Franks… to not crush his friends the Huns he was all too familiar with…)
***

In 393 CE, the Western Empire rose against Theodosius, under secular and Pagan leadership, but, thanks to a freak storm, was defeated at the battle of Frigidus river, in September 394. In 395 CE, the German invasions started while the bishops took control of Rome (hiding behind Stilicho), and going full “woke”. Bishops outlawed the death penalty, including against murdering highway men, so suddenly roads became impassable, and murder a growth industry. And so on.
When the Frank took control of Catholicism, they reestablished tolerance and nobody was burned for heresy (until the year 1026 CE). However, as the feudal-plutocratic order rose again, it found conveneient to instrumantalize Catholicism again, and Catholic terror was reimposed, notably by exterminating all Cathars, from Anatolia to South France, five millions of them.
Christianism literally created Islamism: Islam was encouraged by the two most prominent Christians in Egypt and Arabia, who both knew Muhammad, and made him all sorts of gifts (including a slave woman who gave him his only son).
Christianism is intrinsically opposed to human freedom, and mental debate, hence the human species

Another example: Moneyed universities, by restricting access to the few, kill or restrict debate, as they create a superior, restricted, exclusive elite, a class… superior in all but for debating… and that’s not an optimal evolution…

The cancellation culture is the opposite of debate. It emanated from top universities, and this was not a recent phenomenon. When I got to self-declared superior US universities (Columbia, Princeton, Stanford, Berkeley), I could not understand what was going on? Where was debate? 

Several times, some prestigious intellectual figures of such universities attacked me in public with extreme violence out of the blue. This sort of flaming insult is now ubiquitous on the Internet, but I saw it started in universities… as I was close to the bottom of the hierarchy, I was rather baffled… Only now do I understand that these major figures, some of them supposedly friends, were telling me I did not belong, and wanted to make clear to all that dissent, even of the debatable kind, would not be tolerated…

In insight, I see it is the concept of debate itself which was targeted… 

It took me years to figure it out a bit, and now my impression has been ever more reflected upon, deepened, and structured: those self-declared top universities were not about debate in as much as class. The advice they gave served an elite, those paying for the fancy buildings and the endowed chairs… And this general feeling that pleasing the elite was what excellency meant is why the climate crisis has got even worse… and we are barely starting there. Ultimately moneyed interests, another name for the Deep State, did not want a debate: they depend upon the fossil fuel industry, which provides 84% of the world’s primary energy. And that in turn depends upon their tax free status, hidden within huge tax codes…

***

DEMOCRACY’S GREATEST STRENGTH: DEBATE

Democracy, especially of the direct sort, is a better debating society, thus more human, and superior in fostering ideas honed by debate.

We are human, more human… Why? Because we debate better!

And happy new year!

Patrice Ayme

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