the question of alleged human "superiority"

Discussion in 'General Science & Technology' started by parmalee, Jul 19, 2009.

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  1. parmalee peripatetic artisan Valued Senior Member

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    In proposing "survival" (or the ability to survive) as the criterion for superiority, you (Norsefire) are presupposing a certain fundamental ontology which does not necessarily hold for all of the world's people -- and certainly not for non-humans.

    To illustrate this, I shall resort to an Aboriginal myth told amongst certain peoples of the Alice Springs region in Australia:
    (from A Place for Strangers, Tony Swain)

    The two parts of this myth convey markedly different scenarios: in the first, land is spread via human manifestations and allied with other peoples and lands and this is enduring, but as one is essentially bound to one's land, a depletion of resources may bring about an untimely death (of the "race," so to speak); in the second, places remain isolated and unfederated, interdependence vanishes (or never emerges) and there is always the risk of being consumed by one's enemies. The issue here is NOT to be or not to be, but how to be: "To be of land related but perhaps not to be as an individual life, or not to be of land related but to be of a sovereign land and as an embodied person." (T. Swain)

    We have opted for the latter; but the Aboriginal people amongst whom the myth circulates, as well as many other peoples and most (all?) non-humans, have opted for the former. The former is an ontology of Place and while survival is an aspect, the denizens are quite literally of the land and "think(ing) ahead, plan(ning) ahead, and understand(ing) the concept of "future"" are not foremost on their agenda. I am by no means suggeting that they do not do these things, just that these things are not their top priorities. Does that make them inferior? (Hint: NO!)

    Eh, I'm tired -- if none of that^^^ makes any sense, I'll fix it tomorrow.
     
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  3. Enmos Staff Member

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    No.
    All those characteristics you just named are the reason we are our own greatest enemy. In the long run they might just work against us.
    See how long 'dumb' animals managed to survive while relatively intelligent animals have disappeared left and right.
    There is no indication whatsoever that the characteristics you just named make us better equipped regarding survival than the Horseshoe crab.

    Or so you like to think.
     
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  5. parmalee peripatetic artisan Valued Senior Member

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    I agree. Of course, in doing so we may come across sounding like neo-Luddites!

    I still maintain that these attributes are irrelevant (at least to the question in the OP), or highly subjective. Temporality is often cited as the property which distinguishes humans from non-humans: human understanding is directed towards/by futurity, and humans are the only animals capable of dying, or experiencing death as death. Again, this is a distinction, not a mark of superiority; moreover, I do not believe that this necessarily holds true for all humans (see post #61). The metaphysics of space and time is a human construct, not an intrinsic biological attribute or imperative.

    Rainer Maria Rilke, like Nietzsche, merely inverts metaphysics -- he fails to think beyond metaphysics; nevertheless, he still conveys this hypothesized distinction rather eloquently in the "Eighth Duino Elegy":
    Translated by Robert Hunter.

    Sadly, I doubt anyone is going to read the lovely poem and consider it's implications [/sob].
     
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  7. Doreen Valued Senior Member

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    We have lot to prove to show we are superior to cockroaches. Our existence only seems to have made them more viable. And so far we are just upstarts, a flicker in the long existence of these little tanks.
     
  8. Enmos Staff Member

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    I'm not sure I completely agree with the poem, but it's still a nice one

    Please Register or Log in to view the hidden image!

     
  9. Enmos Staff Member

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    Indeed. And it's not just cockroaches. Most creatures alive today are older than we are.
     
  10. Doreen Valued Senior Member

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    I just wanna know if I can look down on poodles. I mean we can't consider those things canines, can we?
     
  11. parmalee peripatetic artisan Valued Senior Member

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    No. The domesticated dog possesses the superhuman capacity to successfully inhabit both the human and the nonhuman worlds simultaneously. They can freely exhibit their "animality" of their own and amongst dog-folk (and other critters), while comporting themselves to the accepted habits, mores, and customs of humans. You should look up to poodles!

    When your dog takes (leaves?) a poop in the park, he/she is mocking you. He's saying: "Not only is it acceptable for me to poop in the park, unlike you, but you also have to pick it up!" Who has the upper hand?
     
    Last edited: Jul 21, 2009
  12. Enmos Staff Member

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    Domesticated pets are pretty much in the same category as we are. They no longer have a place in nature and just take from it.
     
  13. parmalee peripatetic artisan Valued Senior Member

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    That isn't wholly accurate. While many dogs, cats, horses, cows, etc. would die without the supposed fruits of human culture, a good number can and do successfully revert back to the "wild." Consider pariah dogs and feral cats. Granted, in most instances, they are scavenging off of the overabundance of human waste; however, there are many instances in which such animals completely remove themselves from the human world and thrive.

    Lice, for example, would not do terribly well without humans or other primates.
     
  14. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    Head lice could make do (and perhaps do, I'm no entomologist) on other species with similar hair and skin. Body lice can only live on humans. In fact the time of speciation (as determined by the extent of genetic drift) has helped us date the invention of the technology of clothing: 70KYA.
     
  15. Enmos Staff Member

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    Until they 'revert back to the wild' (where they will most likely upset the balance because they just don't belong there) they are in our category.
     
  16. parmalee peripatetic artisan Valued Senior Member

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    Thank you. I ought to have specified.
     
  17. parmalee peripatetic artisan Valued Senior Member

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    On the topic of dogs, now that I can post links I offer you a photo of the real Parmalee:

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    Parmalee was quite a learned and astute fellow: notice all them books 'n stuff behind him? Sadly, he passed away six months ago.
     
  18. Enmos Staff Member

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    I'm sorry for your loss, Parma.
     
  19. madanthonywayne Morning in America Staff Member

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    If aliens came here they would surely judge us as the dominant life form on the planet. The very fact that they managed to get here proves that they value technology and are quite technologically proficient themselves.

    Unless the alien was Keanu Reeves. Then they'd destroy the earth to save it from us.
     
  20. madanthonywayne Morning in America Staff Member

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    My dog has never pooped anywhere but our back yard, and she very rarely even pees anywhere but home, either. We can go on a 5 mile walk and she'll hold it till we get home.
     
  21. Norsefire Salam Shalom Salom Registered Senior Member

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    Yes, there is; the fact that we are able to survive through droughts, heat waves, storms, volcanic eruptions, and many other natural disasters. Why? We are able to plan and respond. Being able to plan and respond, and being able to foresee future danger, is a very important element in survival. Combine this with our dexterity, and you get the best species suited to survival.

    Although you are quite right, the biggest danger we face is ourselves; however we're still best at survival, and thus superior.


    Or so I know. We have the most influence over Earth's ecology; except....maybe plants have a tad bit more influence. However if we wanted to, we could literally destroy the entire surface and potentially, in the future, the entire planet
     
  22. Enmos Staff Member

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    :facepalm:
     
  23. takethewarhome midnatt klarhet Registered Senior Member

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    I see alot of people going back and forth on these minute details and differences of animals and people....

    I thought it was understood in this that the question was: are humans [in general] the superior lifeform of Earth?
     
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