The Mighty Viking

Conquering those things we must, one story at a time

The (continued) Evolution of Man


For all but a mere blip in human history, our species has been defined by what we can do with our hands. Mankind is known by our works.

Manual labor. It has brought us to this state of affairs. We work, and build, and tear down, and build anew and afresh. Sometimes better, sometimes worse, but always different. We dig the earth, sow our seeds, harvest our sustenance, and prepare and eat it with our hands.

We have elevated our condition by the sweat of our brow, employing our hands to create ways to not have to use them anymore.

But now we hate our manual work. The very thing that brought us out from the state of all animals is the very thing we hate. We seek a better name for ourselves, and unabashedly, and have taken our conceit as our name.

Homo Sapiens:
Specifically, the name we call ourselves means “Wise”. After millennia of observation, we decided that would be our new name. We liked being wise, because manual things make us tired, and wisdom eases our burden. We think of ourselves as quite satisfied with this self-characterization. It soothes our anxiety to think ourselves as especially wise amongst the beasts of the earth.

But we are anything but satisfied. Calling ourselves wise hasn’t seemed to help much. Maybe we should have done it differently.

Homo Excogitatoris:
We cogitate. We think, and especially like to think that this is the essence of our being, because it directs our hands, without the necessary judgmental quality of wisdom. If we look across history, it might describe us better than being wise. But no. We want to think of our thinking as wise thinking, not mere cleverness, and to result in less manual labor. Indeed, most thinking is directed towards how to lessen our physical load.

Homo Anim:
We could have chosen a word like this from the Latin catalogue of descriptors. The word invokes the Spiritual. Our capacity for having a spirit metaphysically attached to our bodies is a notion we can’t shake. We can direct our minds to spiritual meanings when we want to. But every time we approach the cosmos spiritually, we become frightened by that which neither our hands nor minds can control. To define ourselves by something greater than us with no consideration for our primary tools – our hands – seems risky and incomplete. To align our will to something that is outside of our control defies our logos. We resist beliefs that take the reins out of our hands. Because push comes to shove, our hands are what got us here.

Homo Concordis:
Some of us, in observing our history, learned that with the right sort of thinking, we could lessen our manual work load by enlisting the help of others, and creating agreements for behaviour and effort that hold the alliances together. But the doing is fraught with the pitfalls of greed and dishonesty. We say we want an equitable accord, but what we strive for to attain is infested with everything but equality. To truly give ourselves to the collective means our fate is taken out of our own hands. And that has been, to most of us, an unacceptable condition. Concordance, with its implication of honest cooperation, is but a poor substitute for Spirit. It is a spirit we can still manipulate in our imagination, and dominate in our social life.

If we subscribe to the evolutionary progression of humans, the first distinction of Homo observed that we could do stuff, “Habilus”. Later when we could do it standing up, giving us more freedom to use our hands, we named ourselves “Erectus”. Only later did we learn to do it with some discernment beyond the immediacy of survival.

And now, we have come to loathe that which made us into what we are. We hate the sweat of our brow. We hate being just one in a sea of competing creatures, equal in both capability and vulnerability. We are afraid of the possibility that our existence depends and is meant to serve a greater cause than our own. Our hands hurt from overuse, and from that pain we suffer. Thus we cling fast to our independence, and thus create more suffering and pain.

In considering the coming ages, it would seem silly to posit that Sapiens are the pinnacle of development, that this unsettled state of being should define us forever after. Indeed, perhaps we have already evolved. Perhaps we have already branched out into these various species, and have yet to recognize it from such close and personal subjectivity.

But perhaps, as we strive with every fibre of our collective being to exchange our vulnerable bodies, twisted minds, wounded spirits, and physical suffering for intelligent machines drawn from the dust of the earth that we can design for our own use, and to manipulate for our immediate needs, we can be known for our most prominent trait. Homo Mechanimus. But then… we wouldn’t be human any longer, would we? It seems we just can’t figure out how to be happy with what we are.

Perhaps our next appellation in the parade of species will be accurately be called Homo Turbatus – Disgruntled Humans.

It seems likely that, in our self-induced turmoil, we will wind up replacing ourselves with something non-human. We loathe ourselves that much. We seem hell-bent on that goal, to replace ourselves with machines.

Then again, perhaps our nomenclature is driven by our aspirations. Perhaps Erectus stood up and walked because that was their goal, not their inherent quality. Perhaps Sapiens merely wish to be wise, and that informs both our purpose and our name. Perhaps we will grow into and through our current form, finally make use of this trademark wisdom we take such pride in, and find ourselves moving on to our next purpose. Perhaps the final state of Homo Sapiens, with guidance from those Creative Powers we are too afraid to give control to now, will become known throughout the universe as Homo Contentus.

Humans, Satisfied.

That would indeed be a new Creation.


You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

Leave a Reply