Please note that I post this as an individual citizen, disassociated from my role as coordinator emeritus for ARC, to encourage philosophical exchange.
As one of the founding pilots for what has become the institution of the Arataka Research Consortium, my personal objective has always been the betterment and furtherance of humanity. What this means, though, has often been uncertain, often been in conflict with individual nationalist leanings.
Whether it’s been conflict with CONCORD over what we believed to be the best course for the advancement of scientific knowledge, the shifting political objectives at the Kyonoke Inquest, the lawsuits in pursuit of the rule of law, or our various fleet operations or acquisition operations in support of Consortium objectives, the ultimate goal has always been the advancement of human knowledge and human welfare.
We are now, in this moment, in this place, faced with a truly novel circumstance, where a seeming enemy of humanity does unthinkable things to a star at a rate that beggars the imagination.
Ultimately, I wonder: how do we best advance Humanity? What does advancing Humanity mean? What, indeed, does it mean to be Human? We often cling to states, to nations, to cultures, but: what does it all mean when our circumstances are so mutable?
Triglavians were our brothers once, long ago. They bring their technologies to us and you assume the worst. Perhaps they seek to unite us all, once again, not with isk and endless individual ambitions, but as part of a greater whole.
Your questioned is flawed, in that it assume a definition of that the term “best”. Im sure if you were to ask an Amarrian that question, their response would be to for all of “humanity” to turn to their religion, for what better advancement could their be than worshiping the spirit they call God?
A Galentian would surely say that an advance that highlights individuality and individual freedom is best.
I could go on to include stereotypical Caldari and Minmatar answers, but I believe my point is clear.
My answer? There is no ‘best’, and the pursuit of such a goal is foolhardy at best and catastrophically dangerous at worst. Humanity, what ever definition you think that term has is chaotic, as much a natural force as tsunamis and super nova’s are, with billions of strings pulling at each in just as many different directions.
To find an answer that makes any real sense, ma’am, we first need to look closely at a critical part of the question you’ve already identified.
In a world ruled by words, a world of magical True Names where language bound things into reality, “Human” would be something clear, and important. The word would define it, and make it real. “What is Human?” would be an easily-answered question: you could point to categories and characteristics and hard lines and say with great certainty, “THIS is Human; THAT is not.” The world, adequately examined, would give you clear answers, because the world was shaped and defined by the word.
In a world merely described by words, though, “Human” means what we choose, or, especially, agree for it to mean. It’s less convenient and comforting to understand the world this way, but, it’s more true: the world doesn’t speak a language aside from cause and effect. It’s we poor scuttling lumps of matter that use words, to try to describe the world around us. Naturally those words-- forced as they are to cram complex reality into simple concepts-- fall far short of describing reality fully, but they’re still useful and important.
Ultimately, that which is “Human” is in some way implicitly “of us, like unto ourselves.” This is a mobile line. We tend to expand it when we feel safe, draw it tight when we feel threatened. Right now, we’re facing a terrible threat. So, should we say those threatening us are not human?
But what we tend to do and what we should do are perhaps not always the same. We de-humanize threats because it makes it easier to defend against them-- specifically, to harm them. But it’s not necessary to de-humanize someone in order to harm them.
To me, it’s a coward’s approach to say, “My enemy is not a person.” One should see one’s foe clearly, understand the kinship that exists there, and that it is only circumstance that makes you enemies.
And then, in full awareness of the act, kill them without hesitation if that is the appropriate thing to do.
Acknowledging kinship of this kind makes war somewhat more similar to murder. It can be a little hard on me: I get a little depressed sometimes when there’s been a lot of it. But I think killing corrodes the soul whether we acknowledge what we’re doing or not.
“People” are who we choose them to be. It’s at our peril that we draw the line close around our own feet. It’s tempting for sure to kill with comfort and ease and peace of mind, but unless we are content to see war destroy everything we love and everything we are, down to our souls, it will be necessary to stop at some point. And, of course, if we draw the circle narrowly or widely, we by that choice encourage others to make the same decision. Some of them may be wondering which side of the line we ourselves belong on.
I look forward to learning more about the Triglavians, perhaps even to meeting them. In the meantime, it’s my role and duty to kill them. That doesn’t change, if they’re human or not.
To me, of course they’re human. But still, we can’t just let them do whatever they want.
Its a very difficult question Makoto. Depends, to an extent, on whether we consider individuals or society as whole. For individuals it really is an isolated instance of how that individual considers their own existence, but also how that consideration has a bearing on others around them. That scales up and becomes ever more complex as we expand the circle of society, to the point where it becomes more management than philosophy, or perhaps a philosophical approach to management. I think there has to be a degree of compromise in any event. An old adage about the needs of the many outweighing the needs of the one, or the few.
Maybe there are lessons to be learnt from the precursor civilizations we study; their failures, both in terms of their survival, and in their failure to appreciate the flaws in their vision of what humanity means. Perhaps that is what it truly means to be human, to be flawed but to be able to accept those flaws and move on regardless, learning and at the same time not letting them cripple our ability to enjoy life. To embrace life, rather than cringe at the approaching spectre of death.
They share others… or, in the extremely rare cases of individuals who form absolutely no attachments, they go mad, become pathological, and need to get put down.
Else is right: humanity is found in our social bonds. To ‘better’ humanity? Give us the ability to form more than an average of a hundred-fifty meaningful personal connections. Our social networks are much larger than our actual social bonds are, let us make those numbers the same.
And then be prepared to realize that in so doing… what you end up with isn’t human anymore.
Humanity is as defined by our limits as by our capabilities. I can’t leap into the air on Matar and fly by the power of my mind. I can’t shoot laser beams out of the palms of my hands, or bend tritanium bars by slamming my forehead into them. If I could? I wouldn’t be human. I might be something that looks human… but I wouldn’t be human.
How do you ‘better’ humanity? Slowly. Incrementally. And often enough, painfully and with more bloodshed than dreamers and visionaries are wont to admit they’ll cause. Because that’s who humanity is. That’s what humanity is. And humanity will fight to remain human, rather than whatever ideal of ‘better’ anyone tries to push on them.
As pointed by other posts, it is a complicated question because of its premises. What is “better”, what is “humanity”?
Good and bad are illusions supported by limited perspective. We have some common ground in “pleasant” and “unpleasant”, due to biological hardwiring, but even that can be fine tuned by all the modifications we have available. We can feel no pain, we can feel whatever we want with the right implants, but would it be “better” to have a personal paradise with Subcranial Nanocontroller or Sansha Hivelinks?
For some, “better” is when the collective grows rather than the individual. For others the individual is the quintessential value. For some, their personal values are so importante that they must spread it around, even if by force. For others, values are passed around and picked by their percieved importance, where by sharing it it transforms and grows.
It comes to my mind how the Jove classified all our memetic samples, without attributing “value” to them.
There is no definitive answer for this question, only partial ones, for right now we are in the form of waves, even if we are all ocean.
I would like to share with you a story:
There was once a Caldari businessman who was sitting by the beach in a small Achuran village.
As he sat, he saw a fisherman rowing a small boat towards the shore having caught quite few big fish.
The businessman was impressed and asked the fisherman, “How long does it take you to catch so many fish?”
The fisherman replied, “Oh, just a short while.”
“Then why don’t you stay longer at sea and catch even more?” The businessman was astonished.
“This is enough to feed my whole family,” the fisherman said.
The businessman then asked, “So, what do you do for the rest of the day?”
The fisherman replied, “Well, I usually wake up early in the morning, go out to sea and catch a few fish, then go back and play with my kids. In the afternoon, I take a nap with my wife, and evening comes, I join my buddies in the village for a drink — we play guitar, sing and dance throughout the night.”
The businessman offered a suggestion to the fisherman.
“I am a PhD in business management. I could help you to become a more successful person. From now on, you should spend more time at sea and try to catch as many fish as possible. When you have saved enough money, you could buy a bigger boat and catch even more fish. Soon you will be able to afford to buy more boats, set up your own company, your own production plant for canned food and distribution network. By then, you will have moved out of this village and to Jita, where you can set up HQ to manage your other branches.”
The fisherman continues, “And after that?”
The businessman laughs heartily, “After that, you can live like a king in your own house, and when the time is right, you can go public and float your shares in the Stock Exchange, and you will be rich.”
The fisherman asks, “And after that?”
The businessman says, “After that, you can finally retire, you can move to a house by the fishing village, wake up early in the morning, catch a few fish, then return home to play with kids, have a nice afternoon nap with your wife, and when evening comes, you can join your buddies for a drink, play the guitar, sing and dance throughout the night!”
The fisherman was puzzled, “Isn’t that what I am doing now?”
“What does it mean to be human?” is a Question that has been Asked by many Philosophers on Many occasions. I do not Know if a Definitive Answer has been Discovered.
I Think the Answer defies a Great amount of Analysis, as it contains things that Cannot be Analysed in a purely Logical or Mechanical way.
Why do Some people like Flowers, while Others do Not ? Why do some people Prefer Cats to Dogs ? Why do some people make Decisions that seem Irrational ? Why does the sight of Your child feel different to the sight of an otherwise Identical child ?
I do not Think the Answers have a Biochemical or Logical or other Deterministic basis.
I Think the Answer of what it Means to Be Human involves a Combination of Feeling Emotions, Experiences, and forming Connections to other Human beings, that cannot be easily Described, it simply is.
Then. What does it Mean to “Advance Humanity” ?
I Think then, that to Advance Humanity means to Construct a Society in which the individual Human has greater Opportunity to Feel, Experience, and Connect with other humans, that is, a Society in which the individual Human has more leisure time, and does not have to Devote the majority of their productive effort into merely Existing, but is free to Live.