Bill uses his indeterministic assumption of absolutism to claim that animals other than humans are not sapient.
The Myth of Exceptionalism (Part 1 of 4)
TSW: "Exceptionalism is the notion that humanity, although perhaps once subject to evolution, is no longer completely subject."
BW: This is a strange sentence, because the first provision is equivalent to the second, although they're characterized as contradictory.
BW: If we take the assertion as referring to *biological* evolution, then I doubt that any scientist asserts that humans aren't or can't evolve. If it is referring to *intellectual* evolution, I think everyone agrees that new information is constantly modifying accepted ideas. If it is referring to *technologic* evolution, there's no doubt that almost.
BW: There's a case to be made that humans are less subject to biological evolution, simply because we are capable of adapting our environments to our needs, rather than being mere "victims" of natural selection. As discussed earlier, scientific and intellectual advances no longer require prolific reproduction in order to maintain the species. Undoubtedly, our children will live longer, be healthier, and produce more viable offspring. So, to that degree, we have "overcome" the demands of biological evolution.
In the context of living things, animals are an exception to the proliferation of plants. Humans are an exception to the proliferation of animals. None of those things are contrary to evolution in the most generic sense: all things change. In the biological sense, humans are not merely animals; animals are not merely plants; and plants are not merely chemical compounds. Exceptionalism just means rare or above the average of a set.
TSW: "Just because we, the Social Microcosm, have consciousness, and thereby appear to be a favored species ..."
BW: You persistently identify consciousness as a unique identifying characteristic of humans, which it isn't. Every vertebrate is conscious: aware of its own actions within an environment. There are 62,305 known vertebrate species, all of them conscious. The distinguishing characteristic of humans is *sapience*, which is why we are called the Homo Sapien species. http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/sapient
TSW: "The overall picture began with determinism, the belief that all effects have causes, and it must end with determinism. The defeat of exceptionalism is one of the last steps in this program."
TSW: Engels: "Man, at last the master of his own form of social organization, becomes at the same time the lord over nature, his own master - free."
BW: One of the few Engels ideas with which you disagree ... and I agree. At least, in the sense that humans are capable of modifying their environment, so are mostly "free" of natural threats to their survival. We don't need to hide in caves from the ravages of weather: we build homes. We don't need to eat the plants we find or the animals we catch: we breed our own varieties and even modify their DNA at our pleasure. So, far from being "detestable", sapience gives us power over our environment. Of course, that isn't to say the "without" (environment) is irrelevant to the "within" (mind), nor the inverse: there will always be forces (matter in motion) well beyond our "absolute command", though probably not beyond our comprehension.
Next: The Myth of Exceptionalism (Part 2 of 4)