the only easy day was yesterday

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Facticity and the Evolution of Human Consciouness

this is my idea for an open philosophy essay contest at my school. i don't want to do something to wide, and this seems like a manageable topic for a few pages. i wana brain storm and see whats up.

im not a big fan of the concern of how we came to be, that is, how i am physically here; it really is of very little consequence to me how i came to be, and darwin answered that question a century and a half ago. i want to develop this into the concern with how i came to be, that is, how it is that i am in the nature that i am. this largely concerns my consciousness, or my self-reflective ability, which i believe to be closely connected, or the same as my being "conscious" in the human sense. this does concern physical anthropology, or the study of human evolution. i will need to do some more research on neandertals, as they are the last discrete figure, as fossil evidence posits, before modern homo sapiens develops.

im a little puzzled about how exactly im going to formulate an argument, so im not sure how im gonna work this, but it intrigues me. my point about facticity is that we seek to define neandertals in terms of their facticity, our third person perspective on their cognitions, which is not how someones being is determined. the question surrounding neandertals is whether they are human in cognition and consciousness. i take people to be human, and i do so through my perception of their factual properties, yet this is not what makes them human beings. they are by virtue of their own projects and relation to the world, not by my designation and normative recognization of them as human. thus if i view far less detailed evidence than i have of actual humans, to determine if something is human, what will be my result? i cannot define whether a neandertal is human or not by its anotomical remains and the resources and tools it utilized, i just have an extraordinarily vague idea of it's facticity, and the norms governing neandertal life, and still as little clue as i can have of any other thing of it's own  being.

another thing i may want to work in is what sartre called "existential psychoanalysis." a project is the unreflective activities we involve ourselves in during our lives which give our lives meaning. sartre posited that by reconstructing choices in an individuals behavioral patterns one can discover the 'fundamental project' or basic choice of oneself that gives an individual shape to one's life. this coudl be used to shape a vague concept of neandertal project. 

another idea that could arrise from existential psychoanalysis is maybe trying to define the fundamental project that arises out of being human, as opposed to being a hominid, or any other animal, but this may be more of an undertaking for a book.

so shout me out some structural suggestions or ideas that you see, and if you dont understand some terms either ask me, which would help me to learn to explain them better which ill need to be able to do, or spend a few solid days reading about them on the SEoP...


The W said...

i remember hearing something that scientists found that we didnt evolve from neanderthals. rather they were a paralel species that split off from our ancestors a long time ago. you should check that out...

Jasper Yate said...

heidelbergensis (i think, cant spell it) came in between, but neandertals are the last discretely different species, because so much is conjecture about evolution theyre a safe pick to analyze. plus the central question of the evolution of the human conscious is the first animal to be human, and we aren't sure if that's neandertals, or sapiens; heidelbergensis and the other subsets arent descript enough to make any definitive claims i think.

another thing that brought up though is that im going to have to make some reference, whether brushing it off or not, about the connection between the physical form and the mind. i dont want to include all that crap in there though...this is the problem of this argument is that i dont care about how i physically came to be, but rather how i came to be as i am being at this moment. this seems to necessitate that i am concerned with my physical being if i am speaking about something i physically evolved from. part of this does presuppose that the empirical sciences do disclose some aspect of truth to me, which means that evolution is a given, it is true in as far as i am concerned. ah! what i was missing is that i was assuming that by not mentioning whether there is a duality of mind/body or not that i would be asserting that the mind is purely physical because i am discussing the evolution of consciousness in terms of empirical sciences. see what im concerned with is precisely the opposite, that i am, however i am, and i want to answer the question of whether my last anscestor before h sapiens could be considered human.

this still lacks direction, i like it but...where am i going?