[extropy-chat] Serenity: "...make people better."

The Avantguardian avantguardian2020 at yahoo.com
Sun Oct 16 10:18:53 UTC 2005

> On 10/15/05 5:08 AM, "Russell Wallace"
> <russell.wallace at gmail.com> wrote:
> > 
> > And to those people who've been calling humans
> "monkeys"
> > and "primates", for God's sake stop doing it.

--- "J. Andrew Rogers" <andrew at ceruleansystems.com>
> There is a common way of lazy thinking that assumes
> humans are divorced from
> the rest of the animal kingdom, that would do not
> express or possess the
> primary attributes we attribute to animals that
> supposedly make them
> inferior to us, and that we are intrinsically
> special or valuable in some
> way. 

I would have to agree with J. Andrew on this one,
Russell. I think the biggest threat to mankind's
continued existense is that we continue to ACT much as
monkeys and primates do while simultaneously living in
blatant of denial of this fact. We must come to the
realization that for all our sophistry and
rationalizations of superiority, we are essentially
apes. If I were to stop calling humans primates, I
would have to start calling monkeys sub-humans and the
great apes demi-humans. Or perhaps call the great apes
trans-monkeys and humans post-monkeys. The truth is
that you can draw the line wherever you want so long
as you maintain the ordering of the points relative to
the line.

In order to demonstrate this one need not look much
farther than a typical office or night club. The whole
concept of politics is quintessentially primate in
nature and rooted firmly in the animal kingdom. We
still carry within us the primate obsession with power
and position to extent of using violence to obtain it.

We fight wars with neighboring troops for prized
territories and resources. That we fight over
petroleum whilst the chimps fight over mango trees is
but a technicality. We practice deception against our
fellows to gain military, political, and sexual
advantage over our fellows as do other primates as
lowly as vervet monkeys. We engage in elaborate
dominance and submission rituals such as calling
meetings and figuratively kissing ass whilst pygmy
chimps literally perform oral sex on their superiors.
The list of "monkey" activities we engage in goes on
and on.

You might think that a Presidential State of the Union
address is something more than a primate dominance
ritual but it isn't... at least not qualitatively.
When a low ranking monkey vocalizes, few of his
fellows heed him. When the alpha monkey calls out,
every head in the troop turns torward him and hang on
his every utterance. His vocabulary might be a lot
smaller than that of most presidents but not the
degree of "respect" he demands from his fellows.

We are separated from the apes simply by degree and
not essential character. It is as if we were merely
one more iteration of the monkey fractal, more complex
for sure but all the more monkey becuase of it. Chimps
use sticks to dig for termites and will throw stones
or fruit or even their own feces at predators and thus
have crude weapons and tools but our weapons and tools
are much more complex. This in turn brings us to the
very crux of the problem.  

In an age of nukes, biotech, and soon to be nanotech,
this illusion of "specialness" is no longer something
we can live with. If we want to claim distinction from
"monkeys" than we must earn it the hard way. Chimps
can wage war and kill each other for access to fresh
water and banana trees without repercussions that go
far beyond the individual chimps involved. But one
human alpha male with delusions of grandeur can wipe
all of us from the face of the planet with the push of
a button.

We cannot long continue to wield the power of gods
whilst maintaining the social sensibilities of monkeys
without dire consequences befalling us. If being
called a monkey offends you, take care to not act like
one. This is harder than it sounds. The next time you
are revving the engine of your fancy sports car at a
stop light to impress the ladies, reflect on the
gorilla pounding its chest. Next time you feel tempted
to berate a waiter for getting your order wrong,
contemplate a dominant chimp giving his subordinate a
sound thrashing so he does not forget his place. Next
time you compliment your boss on her attire, meditate
upon the bonobo orally gratifying her matron.  

The Avantguardian 
Stuart LaForge
alt email: stuart"AT"ucla.edu

"I don't want to achieve immortality through my work. I want to achieve it through not dying." - Woody Allen

"Our hope of immortality does not come from any religions, but nearly all religions come from that hope" - Robert G. Ingersoll

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