“Exploration is in our nature. We began as wanderers, and we are wanderers still.” – Carl Sagan
You might think that Humans are a noun, but in reality we’re actually a verb – we’re an action; an occurrence; a state of motion! As a noun, Humans would have to be redefined constantly throughout history. The question you should ask yourself is: Are we as we once were?
Are we still those hairless apes, who stood upright, wandering the African plains during sunlight? No. Once we discovered fire, how we defined our own species changed forever – we then became a species that could wander at both night and day, extending our reach during shorter periods of time.
“I live on Earth at present, and I don’t know what I am. I know that I am not a category. I am not a thing — a noun. I seem to be a verb, an evolutionary process — an integral function of the universe.”
– R. Buckminster Fuller
Which then raises the question: When did our species start taking control of our own evolution? Plenty of people today would say that we likely began taking control of our evolutionary development at the start of the 21st century, which included the successful mapping of the entire human genome. Though I would argue that our species began taking control of our own evolutionary development when we first discovered fire.
Our species were quite limited from a biological standpoint. Natural selection didn’t grant us the ability to see at night like other species throughout the animal kingdom. This not only limited our ability to see, but equally limited our ability to wander. But then something changed: we made a scientific discovery – fire! And not just the existence of fire, but subsequently how to create fire and use it for our own benefit. As I said before, we then were no longer limited to merely wander at sunlight, but equally at night, extending our footprint across the African plains.
Had we not discovered fire, what would become of our species? Either we’d somehow survive and acquire the biological sense of sight at night after a very long period of time waiting (centuries, if not longer!) or we would have died and gone extinct by those predators who could see in the dark. And so, when we discovered fire, we told ourselves that we’re not going to wait for either evolution or death to find us. Instead, we’re going to harness this scientific discovery and take control of our lives!
That was when we started taking control of our own evolutionary development. From there, we never stopped. With the invention of the wheel, we extended our means of travel once more. With the invention of telecommunication, we extended our means of communicating with the rest of the world. And now, in the 21st century, we’ve set our sights on transcending every other biological limitation we have left. We are constantly in motion – that is how we define Humanity.
So whenever someone tells you that the goals of the Transhumanist movement are really nothing more than a war against nature and our natural selves, you tell them this story. Human nature was never some static entity that allowed itself to be dictated by natural selection. Our nature consists of the innate drive to wander and transcend! The Transhumanist Age is merely our next journey.
Photo Credit: Global Change Awareness