Human beings appear to be the only complexly
representational cognitive animal on the planet (at their scale).
This obviously depends upon how we define those three terms: complex,
representational, and cognitive.
Presuming for the moment that we are the first and only creature
of this class produced by our living planet, we must ask ourselves
to what end this incredible (and alien) gift arose on Earth
— not merely why in us.
The answer to why in us is probably deceptively simple:
we were (almost) psybiocognitively prepared to handle it —
essentially, we were closest to the treasure (or curse) in terms
of sustainable complexity at the point in terrestrial history where
that treasure was about to be included with(in) one of the children.
From an evolutionary perspective, it might appear as though we won
a sort of lottery, almost accidentally.
If we ask why a living world might evolve toward producing
a complexly representational animal like homo sapiens sapiens...
some fascinating new avenues of concern, interest, opportunity and
perspective arise instantly with our question...and we may begin
to shed light upon a related question: what’s the best possible
use of such an endowment for a planetary participant?
Modern biology will tend to presume that the existence of homo sapiens
(i.e. a complex symbolic cognitive) functionally, intentionally
or by virtue of its activity precludes the arisal or prosperity
of any other such species in simultaneous complex development. This sort of idea can certainly become a law, however, should we decide it is ‘the most likely truth’. In such a case, our actions and relations with other life forms can certainly render it true.
While this may be true at certain
phases of planetary biocognitive development, this is by no means
a law of nature, and it seems peculiar that we would be willing
to believe it. The truths of these domains are far
beyond our models, and may play out very differently on different
worlds. But on our world we can see that complex sentients do in
fact have a variety of choices — and these choices tend to
be governed by obligation to agreement, in general, rather than
What might happen on a world where the first complex symbolic
cognitive species was the opposite of xenophobic? Certainly there
have been such worlds, and our world was in fact such a world before
we gained symbolic cognition.
What would happen if the first
complex cognitive decided that the first most important
thing was the preservation of the edenic diversity they awoke
to sentience with(in)?
Given the opportunity and cultural understanding — might they
not then naturally lift a variety of other species to something
beyond the complexity they themselves had experienced in
their own awakening? This would not require machines at all. We
keep forgetting that machines were born of human sentience
which is in its realities and sources entirely unmechanical. Complex
sentience and machines could prove to be utterly irresolvable
— in other words, they could well be polar opposites that
require each other’s habitat-terrain for continuance.
A species that valued the essential diversity and complexity of
their nursery actively and poetically, would soon learn that in
the world outside our human concepts — we are existing as
elements in a sentient hypersystem not only of planetary dimensions
— but of cosmological dimensions as well.
What if — when the biocognitive diversity that our species
arose with(in) was damaged or erased at the planetary scale —
it simultaneously erased the living moment, hope, and internal diversity
of the elements from which our own health, sentience and potential
arise...not in a timeline — but instantaneously?
I am not the first to ask such questions, nor the last — but
I might have some rather unusual approaches to unraveling them.
There are lot more ‘kinds and scales’ of teachers than
what we think of when we use this word.
Contrary to popular belief,
nearly all the teachers aren’t much like our models.
They’re smaller, vaster, stranger and faster — than
anything we’ve made decent words about...