The Myth of Exceptionalism (Part 2 of 4)
TSW: USSR Academy: "Attempts to spread to humanity the laws of the animal kingdom are attempts to lower the human being to the level of beasts."
BW: Out of its original context, I agree with the sentence. Particularly, that "humanistic ethics" ought *not* be derived from the social characteristics of ants (which seems to be E.O. Wilson's perspective). However, Wilson had a particularly amusing comment: “Karl Marx was right, socialism works, it is just that he had the wrong species.” http://www.froes.dds.nl/Wilson.htm
TSW: Heller: "The logical climax of evolution can be said to have occurred when, as is now imminent, a sentient species deliberately and directly assumes control of its own evolution."
BW: I think he's referring to biological evolution, which is already happening, to increasing degrees, with advances in genetic engineering, medicine, and pharmacology.
TSW: "To attain the state of amazing grace, the indeterminist asks us first to accept the Sartrean burden. Then, and only then, would he allow political power to become egalitarian."
BW: I don't think Sarte's "Bad Faith" was in the pursuit of egalitarianism. Almost the inverse. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bad_faith_(existentialism)
TSW: "... the Social Microcosm will assume control of its own evolution on the day the world has pure democracy, free will, and the ability to make perfect predictions. Because none of this is really possible."
BW: Humans will never control the entire universe, but they certainly determine the progress of political evolution (not necessarily toward pure democracy). They also have the option to substantially control their personal intellectual evolution, to the degree that they think.
TSW: "No one has yet discovered a single verifiable case of species suicide ..."
BW: I agree with your optimism that humanity won't destroy itself with nuclear weapons, but I don't think that's a certainty. You're correct that no other species has *chosen* its own extinction, but that's because no other species of animal can chose to die: they *always* act on the natural instincts that facilitate their survival. Nevertheless, instincts are not very reliable, since 99.9% of all living species are now extinct. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Extinction
BW: But, it occasionally is. Not because of competition or persuasion, but because humans can decide that their lives are no longer worth living. That may be because of excruciating pain, untreatable disease, sacrificing one's life to save a valuable other, or simply making a fatal error of knowledge.
Next: The Myth of Exceptionalism Part 3 of 4