Over the millenias, it's been linked that man has evolved from primates to homosapiens. After revisiting a fundamental question about "what makes a human "human"?" in philosophy class, i stumbled upon something that i find very interesting.
The evolution of man has turned placed man "one step ahead" of other species on earth. But somehow i wonder to myself if this fact is really truth. Theories on evolution always state that each individual of a species has one main goal in life: to sustain the existence of the species - basically survival. This would place the actions of man in a very utilitarian perspective because everything you do is for the survival of the species. So, you getting married, having children, buying that car, buying that house, living a celebrity life is all to make sure your species can survive for the generations to come. Read the previous sentence again and tell me are you really convinced?
I don't think that buying that fancy watch can help you survive. I don't think that you need a sports car to survive. If you want to go that fast, why not just buy a jet plane? Do you really need those non-transfat foods stuffs or organic foods to survive? If you really go back to basics, survival needs for organisms on earth (let's take humans for example) are just food, water and atmosphere. Living quarters? We build them or find them. Everything else is something that is provided by the environment or ravaged from the environment (to put it more accurately).
I came to think that, if you just look at things from a biological perspective, everything just comes down to sex and propagation. Is life really that for the person in the 21st century? Maybe that description would be more accurate for the cavemen that lived a very long, long, long...you get the point...time ago. But how about now? Can we still look at survival from merely a biological perspective?
I think it's time to change. We can no longer look at survival like we used to. We must look at survival as something that humans require now and today. In the World War, survival was defending your turf. Countries had to utilize manpower to train armies to fight off the impending scourge of total annihilation. Probably that was the case for a few centuries before that as well when there was a "land rush" as nations tried to conquer lands for their own countries sake. Well, this was until the human race learned that we are capable of something called peace. So now, what is survival?
To me, survival has taken a very strange twist. It no longer depends solely on propagation, but now concerns on more social and economical aspects of life. Take for example the process of courting. Centuries ago, men courted woman through a very patriarchal process.
1. Boy likes girl.
2. Boy goes to girl's father.
3. Boy marries girl.
Okay, this is just a general process of what you might find in the medieval age. How about now?
1. Boy likes girl.
2. Boy tells girl.
3. Boy dates girl.
4. They both meet parents.
5. Boy marries girl.
Of course, the process is much more complicated. But then, don't you see a difference? There's so much more involved in the process of courting compared a few centuries ago. So let's see...if human beings had evolved from beings with less intelligence to beings with more intellect, can i conclude that there must be also an evolution in the perceptions of the many issues that concern survival?
Let's place survival as a totally "invisible utilitarian" force that propels the human race towards a future. Before people started categorizing and implying various philosophies and questions, the word utilitarian didn't even exist, but the concept of survival did. It's been around ever since life started on earth. Every species fights for its survival. Well, we can't accurately say that animals actually "fight" for their survival against human beings. Come on, humans are everywhere and we decide whether we let the animals survive or not. Who's the one who's building reservations and animal sanctuaries? We are. But let's not get carried away and think we are playing god. The point is that as humans have developed the sense of being the "top-of-the-food-chain" attitude, the concept of survival of the fittest has been twisted. We no longer really need to "survive" because we are not fighting against other species anymore. Instead, it looks like we are having to save other species from extinction, which is our own doing as well (... the irony).
So what is the new survival tactic? I believe it has turned into a dog eat dog world and that the concept of survival has evolved based on our changing perceptions towards the issues that concern us. In the past, the issues of concern were the raging wars and having to fight against animals for territory. But that's no longer the case. Today, we have the ability to crush any resistance that comes our way (almost all). Disease control and outbreaks have met a new evolutionary tool - medicine. We have bombs and guns which all other species lack. Probably the only force that we cannot defeat is the natural forces themselves (thus leading to our trying to control the temperament of the earth). But besides that, we have become so wrapped up in the everyday musings of education, carries, getting married and having fun that survival has probably evolved into our needs to have these items for sustenance.
Okay, i'm gonna try and turn something very beautiful into a derogative survival instinct. If there were only a man and a woman left on earth, they would most probably propagate to ensure there are future generations. Those future generations would propagate more to ensure a higher probability of more future generations..and so on and so on. But the case of today is that there are around nearly 7 billion human beings on earth. So, we have an abundance of selection and variety (excuse my use of terms). So, having the best qualities that a person should have would be instinctive to get a partner. Then, you can conclude that caring for your loved one is just a survival instinct. (I'm not saying you should care any less for a loved one)
You no longer have to be afraid of death because a natural death is the most probably cause of death which will be written on your death certificate. All governments have social welfare services which ensure you some form of insurance until you are "supposed" to die. Or else, the social network of caring human beings around you will support you and get you back on your feet. So what is survival to you? Your job, being you, being human being - being accepted.
In the Nazi concentration camps, there was a case of a catholic priest that decided that he would freely sacrifice himself and die along with the Jews. Before wednesday's lecture i wouldn't have an answer for you of why a person would sacrifice himself in the world of today. I admit, i never gave it much thought. But since wednesday, i've come to a plausible conclusion that the priest was attempting to ensure survival. You see, survival has taken a twist in that it's no longer a biological thing, but more of a psychological thing. We've learned that one person doesn't really "die" when he is signed death by a doctor. But rather, a person lives on through other people or through his faith that he or she will live. The priest, in my opinion, would see that he has a place in heaven and thus sacrificing himself would ensure his survival through his faith because he has eternal afterlife awaiting for him. So, his sacrifice was an attempt to survive within an afterlife promised by his faith.
All this discussion of survival turning into more of a psychological matter brings to rise questions of how the human future will be. Perhaps those thinkers who think that there is a higher state of existence in the form of pure energy were correct. The theory of the conservation of energy, if correct, states that energy cannot be created or destroyed. Maybe humans were created from energy and have so far evolved to such a physical state. Perhaps, there is a further evolution which involves a state of pure energy. Will we still have our consciousness? Or will we just transform into energy and be part of the universe.
Those are questions which are yet to be answered and perhaps only time can unravel.
But how about the past:
1. How did energy become infused inside chemicals and substances to make up a lifeforms?
2. What was the special factor that made evolution foster such dramatic changes compared to the evolution of other beings in the history of life on earth?
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