Sunday, February 5, 2012

Transformative for Civilization

by Richard Crews
I am struck by the phrase, "comprehensively transformative and liberating for human civilization." This is the first sensible challenge I have seen in some time to the assumption that humanity is worth saving.

H. sapiens has been a remarkable experiment on the part of DNA, working out some of that molecule's incredible evolutionary potential. Perhaps we properly go beyond chauvinistic hubris to admire, celebrate, and want to protect our human DNA because of (1) the technological ingenuity and (2) the aesthetics we have developed.

Perhaps it is proper for us to do so--perhaps not. Humans have been a savagely ruthless and cruel breed. We have torn up and despoiled Mother Earth who nurtured us; we have tortured and enslaved our own and other species; and we have developed a "civilization" based on greed and the contagion of magical thinking.

Perhaps we can design a future for humanity (and for our fellow DNA Earth-mates) that is transformative and liberating. THAT--as The Bard had Hamlet say--IS THE QUESTION: Can we overcome our instinctual savagery?

Perhaps we can build on the tiny whispers of what Abraham Lincoln called "the better angels of our nature" and develop a truly transformative and liberating Civilization (one where I can at last--and proudly--use the word with no quotation marks and with a capital C).

Or perhaps we should accept that we humans are intrinsically flawed, and can best serve as a stepping stone to higher silicon life forms. Perhaps we should give our Homo siliconensis offspring an encouraging slap on the butt and send them off into space to accomplish new technological miracles (and found new aesthetic glories) beyond our dreams.