We talk a lot here about The Animal, which means: don’t forget about it. Yea, we’re humans, but to command nature, we must first obey it (thanks, Francis Bacon). So, we’re devoted to the obeying nature part of the equation. We have to eat — a lot — so that’s pretty much the focus.
But we also celebrate the human spirit. The way of the Luddite holds no sway, here, though a web surfer could indeed get that cursory impression.
The other day I was downtown and saw a poster for a free public talk at Stanford to be given by Daniel C. Dennett. The subject of the talk was “Free Will Via the Evolution of Why.” That’s what I call a ponderable, as philosophically speaking, I’m a materialist (everything is ultimately matter / energy) and I tend to recoil from various mysticisms (soul, Eastern unity or oneness; take your picks). I think we either have genuine free will, or our belief in it it tantamount to free will. Moreover, values seem to transcend determinism. I just think we’re highly complex; end of story, but let’s go ahead and figure out how complex, if we can. So when I read that, the first thing I realized is I couldn’t think of a single instance where I observed a non-human animal to be inquisitive in the sense of “why,” but only for other “mundane” reasons like: is there food, humping, or security, there? But not the eternal question: why? So, perhaps Dr. Dennett is onto something. I’ll save that to ponder.
In the meantime, again emphasizing the human aspect of the animal, please do enjoy this short video on Failure as the Key to Success, courtesy of Honda. My buddy and business partner, Chris, sent me that.