Posts Tagged ‘Human’

HUMANISM: When TOP PREDATORS NEED LOVE

August 12, 2017

 

Yes, human beings, those top predators, need love. They do. But love is not all they need: there is no contradiction whatsoever, between being a predator and being loving. Lots of predators are loving. It’s actually the exact opposite: love generate the Dark Side. Humans can’t exist without love. But humans, even on their very best behavior, are not all about love, this is what traditional humanism thoroughly missed (although Caesar, Machiavel, Hobbes, Sade wrote a bit about the subject; Christianism acknowledges the Dark Side, just to excoriate it).

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WE, HUMANS, DON’T JUST PREDATE, WE ARE PREDATORS. Why and What.

We, humans, are actually the top predators. We are greater predators than any other predators which ever existed. This is a simple fact, which changes all of the past’s wishful thinking. Predation defines us. Predation, received and inflicted, made us human, in the last five million years. This changes everything. 

We are also the most intelligent animals. Predation and intelligence are related.

We evolved by, for, from, predation. Predation provided hominids with high nutritional content, lots of concentrated energy. Eating meat THEN enabled to grow big brains. Such is the philosophical order of things, and it rules neurology. This is not a fancy elucubration: we have the fossils to prove it.

For millions of years, hominids learned to stand up, and evolved the genetics to roam around on two legs. At the time, hominids grabbed meat here and there, a task which probably involved quite a bit of scary scavenging. That tended to modify jaws and teeth, while hominids became ever more carnivorous. Finally the brains grew, and grew and grew, fueled by ever more meat, the most energy rich power source around.

The chronology of hominid fossils reveals the causal relationships. And it may well be a universal law valid in exoplanets: carnivores may well be, all over the galaxy, the brainiest. Most brainiest animals on Earth are carnivorous (with the exception of elephants and parrots; in particular all great apes are dedicated carnivores, even gorillas and Orangutans.) It takes a brainiac to catch fishes, as Humpback Whales and many species of dolphins, all the way to Killer Whales, testify… 

Some want to forget our creator, millions of years of predatory evolution. Call that basic denial of one’s own reality!    

Homo Ergaster, the most primitive type of Homo Erectus known (2017). From Georgia, 1.8 million years ago. Five Homo Ergaster corpses were found in underground dens of saber tooth felids, were they were dragged to be consumed. Humans are the realistic animals, realism having been learned one grisly lesson at a time! Humans could only think at the time, that the predation problem had to be mitigated. We have the opposite problem!

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By destroying predators, we have been trying to dispose of the concept of predator, in a sort of final solution to our own nature, hell-bent to destroy and devastate the concept of humanity. A final solution exterminating what we are. How can that be? Why to self-destroy? Because denying our nature, to the point of not living according to it, profits the Elite, the Oligarchy, those among us who predate and think, and feel, accordingly.

How is this at all possible? Precisely from the spirit of predation. Human predation controls itself. It has evolved to do so, the survival of the species depended upon it. It’s its own meta feedback. Thus humanity instinctively devours humanity (and, historically, literally so!)

Hence when North Korea Kim, Japan Hirohito, Germany Adolf Hitler, engaged in confrontations they could only lose, they obey, modern weapons in hand, the oldest instinct: destroying humanity, lest there is too much of it, literally, or figuratively! This is why “reason” in a smaller context, can’t have any grip on them: their call is much greater than that! Asking them to not destroy, is asking them, not to do what motivates them, deep inside.

Human beings have been at the very top of the predation order, for millions of years. As early as Homo Habilis. That’s how humans survived in plains, steppe, desert and savannah, far from the trees. There was no refuge, except for the respect, not to say the terror, and certainly the worry, that human beings inflicted upon other beasts.

Masai children, ten-year old, can walk among the ferocious beasts, because the ferocious beasts fear human beings. I experienced and practiced the same, a little bit, at the same age, in Africa. Seeing an enormous lion communicate respect, as one respects back, is awe-inspiring. Then one knows intelligence rules, not just humans, but the beasts, the universe.

By rejecting the concept of predator and predation, thus, ourselves, recent “civilization” has been trying to reject our souls and our reality. Fanatical Pacifists will say:”Very well! High time! We have progressed! Alleluia” As if rejecting reality massively was progressive.

No, indeed. Fanatical Pacifists have not understood the most important thing: with their obsessive pacifism, they made themselves into ectoplasms lower than even sheep.

Pacifists, those admirable souls? Lower than sheep? Yes, indeed. Because, indeed, sheep themselves have a dignity, a courage, moral standards, and stand for themselves. Because indeed sheep, as a result, are not that pacific. In general, herbivores can be rather aggressive: horns and the like are not there by accident (I have had wild sheep, Ibex, pushing stones on me and others, from up high, deliberately, many times; But for a helmet, once, my spouse would have been killed, by an Ibex sent stone; also once a gigantic sheep, approaching me with a stupid, benign, absent-minded look on its face, then proceeded to push the unsuspecting me off the mountain with its sheer mass…Ever since I have known sheep can be Machiavellian).

Large predators should be reintroduced  everywhere outside of cities, and a few parks. Even in Europe. Large predators, by the way, are not the potentially most lethal: herbivores can be more of a problem. Elephants are the most dangerous beasts in Africa, followed by buffaloes (I was charged once by a cow). The key with elephants is to go up wind, and stay as far away as possible from the irascible, vengeful pachyderms with their enormously resentful large brains. All Maasai children know this.

Let’s reintroduce the entire megafauna, de-extincting species as needed (using latest genetics). Yes, megafauna will be frightening. That’s not a defect, but an advantage. Yes, it will mean we have to learn to instill respect, and make ourselves, respectful for the laws of nature, and the laws of the jungle.

By reintroducing megafauna, we will not just recover ecological balance for the planet, but mental balance, for ourselves.  

Be all we can be, and evolution meant us to be.

In particular, stop looking up at few other individuals, our leaders, as if they were gods, as if it were natural that they be our masters, with enormous powers when we have very little. No, they are not our leaders, we humans, the top predators are not meant to be led. Let’s learn that about ourselves.

Having leaders with their fingers on thermonuclear fire, fed and promoted by bankers, is not natural. Having leaders, except in a baboon troop sized organization, is not natural. It’s not a natural form of human organization. It’s not a natural form of ecology. We have organized an unnatural order of things, and conditioned ourselves to expect, and respect it. Thus the biosphere is going down the drain. Unimaginable wars are getting prepared: watch a few dictators’ antics (Venezuela’s Maduro, and the thoroughly hell-bent North Korean Kim, who affects to believe there are enough rabid pacifists around to make his thermonuclear blackmail, real cool and effective, an awe-inspiring key to a great future!)

Time to rebel. Time to rebel against an order which has imposed on us, chains and masters, because this order of  thoughts and… orders is rushing to catastrophe. Time to recover, to rebuild, a planetary environment which makes sense, and thus gives us sense, far from Absurdism. This the only planetary engineering worth having.

We are made to experience the megafauna, to be ourselves, in full. We can’t fully mentally function without that spur of evil intelligence, potentially observing and evaluating us. In particular, the laws of the jungle teach us the ever-present importance of truth, and realism.  Yet, remember: predation, received and inflicted, made us human, in the last five million years. When looking at human society, think:’This is what top predators organized.’ And how come we let it be? Are we what we are supposed to be?

How could we fix the world, the world we are destroying, if we are not fully ourselves? And how could we be ourselves if nature’s awe can’t educate and inspire us? Let’s reintroduce an environment which inspires us and teaches us respects for the laws of nature. Being able to experience living with megafauna is central to that.

Patrice Ayme’

 

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Non-Linear Us

October 22, 2015

Nature is not nature, ever since there are humans, and they think. Earth has been terraformed, made into a garden, a human garden, in the last few million years. By ours truly.

Neanderthals started to used coal (lignite), 80,000 years ago.They also domesticated (that is, modified) European wolves, and invested in real estate, by exterminating Cave Bears.

Thus, following “nature” is a non-linear activity, as, by following nature, we also follow the new nature we deconstructed and rebuilt, that is, we follow ourselves.

Linearity Is The Penultimate Mathematical Simplification

Linearity Is The Penultimate Mathematical Simplification

The simplest thing is to view all causes as constant. The next simplification is to view them as linear. After that quadratic, cubic, and all powers etc… The exponential, an infinite sum of powers with fast decreasing coefficients, grows as fast, at any point, as its own value. So it’s all over nature.

“Following nature” thus does not just mean hugging trees. It also means dealing with trees the old fashion way: cutting and burning them, to favor plants and animals human beings were involved with (fires in Indonesia are contributing at least one gigaton of carbon to the atmosphere in 2015, making them an appreciable source of CO2). “Following nature” also means using genetic engineering on plants and beasts alike.

Nature has been artificial from even before the rise of civilization. Prehistoric men in Europe already conducted advanced and successful surgeries, from trepanations, to amputations, complete with anesthetics and antibiotics (parts of that knowledge got completely forgotten during the European Middle Ages… to this day!) “Facts” nowadays are all what influences humans, because they, in turn, change nature. Including hopes, systems of mood (“austerity!”, “Islam!”).

The fundamental calculus assigned to (say) Stoics, is the fundamental calculus of humanity. To mostly quote Massimo P’s “New Stoicism, Part IV”:

“physics” (i.e., natural science and metaphysics), “logic” (i.e., logic, epistemology and psychology), and “ethics” (i.e., ethics)… the first two are instrumental to the third one: one cannot decide how to live (the proper domain of ethics) if one doesn’t know how to reason well (logic) and doesn’t also know whatever we can know about the reality of nature (physics). This implies that whenever our understanding of physics changes we need to update our beliefs accordingly, and then examine (via the use of logic) whether and to what extent that also affects our ethics.”

Human evolution discovered, so to speak, this virtuous spiral of understanding and behaving. The species modified itself accordingly, it became that spiral. it is now more energetic than ever.

One cannot read morality straight out of scientific facts, because facts are about the world, and the world is about what we constructed. Thus the calculus of human hope, desire and risk evaluation has to be factored in… And it keeps on changing, the more it reflects on the agitated waters of its darkest soul.

Fundamentally, then, the human species is immensely adaptative (see future Martians): to act, human agents consider human minds, and what their activities wrought (nature). We can call ourselves new names, but our new game is the same as our old game: changing the rules as we see fit, the more we learn, and the more we change nature.

There is no general theory of non-linear mathematics. How could there be? It would be as having a theory of us. Yet we are all about the changes we decide. And how do we decide? This is not an obvious question, it has hounded fundamental physics, ever since the EPR paper of 1935. It is so non-obvious that it is the last loophole to check in the Non-Local aspect of the universe. See the New York Times, October 21, 2015: “Sorry, Einstein. Quantum Study Suggests ‘Spooky Action’ Is Real.”

To quote from there: “the National Science Foundation has financed a group of physicists led by Dr. Kaiser and Alan H. Guth, also at M.I.T., to attempt an experiment that will have a better chance of ensuring the complete independence of the measurement detectors by gathering light from distant objects on different sides of the galaxy next year, and then going a step further by capturing the light from objects known as quasars near the edge of the universe in 2017 and 2018.”

Translation: our presumed influence on the universe is so vast, subtle and pernicious, that quasars apparently receding much faster than the speed of light, are called to the rescue of physicists who want to make sure they reach beyond man, to an unspoiled universe.

We are everywhere we look, at least in our terrestrial neighborhood. Everywhere we reach, human influence has already changed everything. It’s not just about the melting icecaps.

Patrice Ayme’

Homo Naledi, Or What Does “Human” Mean?

September 20, 2015

What is it, to be human? Philosophers, prophets, priests, legislators, dictators and the sheep have been pondering the notion, since there are civilizations, and they wonder. Science, that is, facts, can increasingly contribute to the conversation. And it is taking surprising twists and turns, all the way into the bowels of the Earth.

Paleoanthropologist Lee Berger pleaded on social networks to find “tiny and small, specialised cavers and spelunkers with excellent archaeological, palaeontological and excavation skills”. Was the excavation of a mysterious hominin in the Rising Star Cave in South Africa more circus than science?  “Underground astronauts” had to squeeze through a long, narrow chute less than 25 centimeters wide, to drop 30 meters into a fossil-filled cavern.

At This Point, Homo Naledi Is A Striking Mystery In Many Ways

At This Point, Homo Naledi Is A Striking Mystery In Many Ways

1550 fossils representing more than 15 individuals of a strange new kind of hominin, named Homo Naledi were found in a nearly impossible to reach cavity. The fossils are still undated: there is no stratigraphy in a cave 100 meters in, past two siphons. However, they confirm spectacularly what we already knew:

  1. There were, many profoundly different ways to be human. (We already knew this from the existence of Homo Florensis, who is very far from Homo Sapiens in physiology, but not achievements: he came with lots of sophisticated tiny weapons.)
  2. The Eurafricasian supercontinent enjoyed many areas covered with extremely diverse species of hominins. Homo Sapiens Sapiens is the fruit of a huge amount of group selection among vastly different possibilities on how to be human.

Although the fossils are still undated, making it hard to know where they sit in the human family tree, and, in particular, if they are ancestors to us, they already reveal a profoundly different way to be a member of our genus Homo. More than 60 researchers agree on the picture of “a relatively tall, skinny hominid with long legs, humanlike feet, with a core and shoulder that is primitive,” Berger says.

Paleoanthropologist T. Kivell of the University of Kent (UK) found that bones in the wrist were shaped like those in modern humans, suggesting that the palm at the base of the thumb was quite stiff,  allowing forces to spread over a larger area of the hand than in more primitive hominins—a trait associated to tool use. However, H. Naledi had a weird long thumb and long, curving fingers, associated to climbing trees.

Hand Homo Naledi: Climbing Is What Humans Do

Hand Homo Naledi: Climbing Is What Humans Do

The foot is so modern, it may have been capable of not just walking, but running.

And what were those Naledis doing, so deep inside the cave? Datation is crucial. 300,000 years, or three millions? Were the Homo Naledi there for burial, caught there by a catastrophe, or carried there by other humans more recently? We don’t know. Only one owl and a few rodents accompanied the 1500 human fossils.

All we know is the big picture: that humans were all over, all over Eurafricasia, and all over all possibilities of what humanity could be.

Patrice Ayme’

Humans: Naturally Born Scientists

June 5, 2015

Philosophers, through the ages, have tried to distinguish man from beast. The soul was suggested as a possible distinction (that was an old Middle Age theory, later adopted by Descartes). Tool usage was proposed (Bergson). And then language was offered as characteristic of humans. But animals were found to have theories of mind, tools, and language. How is man going to feel proud and different?

What about science? Does the inbred ability to produce it characterize us? I think so.

What Is Science? It Is Not To Be Confused With Scientific Theories:

Science is the body of certain facts. Science is the body of facts which have been proven experimentally to be true.

Curiously, many people do not get this simple statement. Is it because primary school is not taught adequately?

We Have Been Scientists, All Along, Ever More

We Have Been Scientists, All Along, Ever More

Science is the body of certain facts. Science is the body of facts which have been proven experimentally to be true. How hard is it to understand this?

Newtonian Mechanics for example is science because, within its domain of application, all its predictions are, and have been proven to be, indeed, what is observed.

Same thing for classical thermodynamics: facts are predicted, and observed to be true, time and time again. Same thing for continental drift: it predicts that continents are moving, and they are observed to move, indeed. At the exact rate predicted.

Biological evolution, too, is science. It says species have evolved. This is indeed what is observed. Thus, evolution is science. It’s not just a theory. Biological science says even more: that species are still evolving, as observed.

And so on:

Science is the body of facts which have been proven time and time again, to be indeed, occurring.

Then there are so-called “scientific” theories.

Scientific Theories Are Not Science, But, First, Theories:

Theory means: a point of view. Theories are not just facts anymore, but a way to organize them according to a perspective. That calls onto pieces of logic which are not proven. A “scientific” theory can be made of a mumbo-jumbo of facts, and completely unproven, even outrageous hypotheses.

Evolution is science. But scientific theories of how this evolution exactly happens are debatable, and debated. They are not sure. They are just theories. (Is evolution just from “natural selection”, haphazardly, or is there more, such that intelligent steering by Quantum epigenetics, as I believe?)

Most Quantum mechanics is science: it’s a set of rules, a logos, which has been checked, time and time again. However, as soon as one steps a bit away from it, it becomes uncertain (for example the Many Interacting World, MIW, a theory is handy, but it assumes that particles are points; that latter point is not a proven, certain fact).

String Theory, Supersymmetry, Multiverse, for example, are theories which include some “scientific” or “mathematical” facts. But they cannot even be checked, let alone capable of making predictions which are observed.

So those “scientific theories” are not “science”. They make a body of knowledge of some sort, like a game. But they are not allowing to make predictions observed in nature.

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Subtleties:

There are so-called “demarcation problems“, always. It happens within science: Newtonian Mechanics makes superbly exact predictions about where space probes go as engineers use planets as slings to launch them further. However, if one wants to find out about GPS drift, one has to use the more general version of gravitation of Einstein (the latter reduces exactly to Newtonian Mechanics inside the solar system; so the theory changes from Newton, for rockets, to General Relativity (GR), for GPS).

A more subtle demarcation is found, within the body of any given science. For example, part of Einstein theory of gravitation is science, as it predicts exactly what is exactly observed (say with the Geo Positioning System). However, the same set of ideas when applied to, say, Black Holes, comes short: it runs out of enough ideas to make exact predictions, runs out of experiments to be checked, and observed facts.

Thus the theory of gravitation, GR, is science (the closest one stays to Newton), and also a hoped-for scientific theory (but not as disconnected from reality as String Theory, Susy, Multiverse, etc.). However, GR, as a general scientific theory, has disappointed: the unified theory which Einstein tried to develop did not work. (Instead it morphed into something else the general fiber space theory with Ehresman connections, known as Gauge Theory, also know as Quantum Field Theory, etc.)

Thus:

Science is what we know for sure:

How do we know that a logic is true, for sure? By conducting experiments.

By that token, archery was a science (launched just right, an arrow goes where it’s supposed to). Archery later blossomed into gunnery, ballistics, Newtonian Mechanics. Nowadays we would not consider archery as a science, but it’s among the simplest cases of dynamics.

For millions of years, our ancestors have used plants to help with their health. (Ethology has shown many animals do this, not just upper primates.) At this point, around 60% of our medical drugs come from plants.

The European iceman was found carrying general purpose antibiotics. Not by accident. He died more than 5,000 years ago.

And so on. Science is what is sure. We have been sure for a long, a very long time. If we were not so sure, we could not do much.

An artisan making a work perfectly is a scientist, in the particular domain in which this artisan excels. A prehistoric man striking a stone, just so that the force would split a crystal perfectly along pre-determined planes, was a scientist. A rock scientist. He, or she, was engaging in an application of a science we now know as crystallography. (And also in the theory of the mechanical forces, vector calculus.)

Humanity has blossomed, because humanity has learned how to establish, for sure, certain truths which required artificially devised experiments, and the proclivity to push the last frontier of truth, ever more, by being ever more subtle.

We evolved to become an intentionally scientific, that is, prone to experiment, species.

SCIENCE IS US.

And philosophy and its philosophical method, in all that? It’s the category of all the wild guesses, absolutely indispensable to suggest the next experiments, to feed tomorrow’s truths.

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Science Is Starting To Address Ethics, And Theory Of Mind:

Long the rage smoldered between the so called “humanities” and science. How obsolete. Clearly science is making inroads in the humanities, and clearly the humanities can ask pointed questions to physics, biology, even engineering. Let’s consider the first point, how science is informing humanities.

There is a science called ethology. It comes from “ethos” which means character. Ethology is the logic of character. Ethos also gave the notion of ethics.

Ethology originally was the study of character of animals, from their objective behavior. A number of methods pertaining to the field were developed, Nobel Prizes in biology and medicine were awarded to ethologists.

Then, in the following decades, it dawned on ethologists that the methods of ethology could be extended to the study of the human character.

This is why I am surprised when I hear that one needs a metaphysics to have an ethics. Instead, ethics is something that is determined by the bottom up (instead of top down).

First, through trial, error, and natural selection, human ethology evolved in the last 500 million years. Nature played scientist to evolve us.

Second, human beings observe, and make theories, even social and ethical theories, and then they apply what is basically the scientific method to them.

The scientific method consists in establishing with reasonable certainty facts. As it becomes ever more subtle, it can address ever more sophisticated domains, which used to be exclusively philosophical.

An example? The Theory of Mind. That is a subject long exclusively philosophical. However, scientific research published in recent years showed that children exposed to a second language have, in the average, a better theory of mind. Here is a fresh example, published in 2015:

http://www.economist.com/news/science-and-technology/21652258-children-exposed-several-languages-are-better-seeing-through-others-eyes-do

Here is an abstract of the research:

HUMAN beings are not born with the knowledge that others possess minds with different contents. Children develop such a “theory of mind” gradually, and even adults have it only imperfectly. But a study by Samantha Fan and Zoe Liberman at the University of Chicago, published in Psychological Science, finds that bilingual children, and also those simply exposed to another language on a regular basis, have an edge at the business of getting inside others’ minds… Some objects were blocked from the experimenter’s sight, a fact the children could clearly see. With a large, a medium and a small car visible to the child, but the small car hidden from the adult, the adult would ask “I see a small car” and ask the child to move it. Both bilingual and those in the exposure group moved the medium-sized car (the smallest the experimenter could see) about 75% of the time, against 50% for the monolinguals. The successful children were less likely even to glance at the car the experimenter could not see.

Why is this happening? Multilingual children observe that different languages provide with different perspectives, thus different theories (theory means literally, to “see” (horan) a “view” (thea)). So multilingual children are more apt to consider which view others see, when considering others.

Multilingual children have a theory of theories of behavior, and we can prove it scientifically. Epistemics” is now a science. And it informs morality.

We are the scientific species. No science, no man. Now, more than ever. And at last smart enough to understand what it means. It means: “Plus Oultre!”, as emperor Charles Quint put it, five centuries ago. Wherever we arrived, in place, time, or understanding, we have to go beyond. It’s not just what ecology requires, it’s what we are.

Patrice Ayme’