Monday, May 08, 2017

Humanity - Creative and cooperative

 Augustín Fuente sin his new book, The Creative Spark: How Imagination Made Humans Exceptional explores the latest findings in evolution, biology, and archaeology to show that the great drivers of human progress have been creativity and cooperation, and that many of the things we believe about ourselves, from religion to race, are wrong. In a National Geographic interview he has this to say.

When asked “You say there are big misconceptions about human evolution. What are they?”
Fuentes answers “There’s a whole range. The first one is that we are bad to the bone, evil to the core. Or at least males are. And it’s this male aggression that has driven our evolution. But the fossil, biological, ethnographical, and historical evidence show that that’s just not the case. The really obnoxious people throughout history have not been the ones who, over the long term, have influenced us the most...

... What we see is that about 10,000-14,000 years ago we start to find examples of large scale or at least coordinated, lethal group violence, which we call war. But warfare today is not just about two groups of people fighting one another. It’s about political, economic, social, religious, and other ideologies coming into conflict and playing out in terms of violence, coercion or manipulation. That kind of warfare—large scale, intergroup violence around ideas, ideologies, money, and resources—shows up in the last 10,000 years more and more frequently because we have more stuff to fight over and more opportunities to do so. But though the world might seem more violent than ever, it’s actually not. If you were to take a slice of time at this moment, the vast majority of the 7.5 billion people on the planet are actually getting along swimmingly. They’re not engaged in horrible violence or coercion or oppression. 

... Humans vary all over the planet and that’s fascinating and important. But labels like black, white, Asian, Latino are social constructs that can be used to enforce inequality, violence, and oppression. When we do that we’re seeing the really negative side of our ability to create things in the world and make them a reality.Nationality is another perfect example. In the U.S. and Europe right now, we’re reverting to a new tribalism, this sense of, “I am THIS nation and you are THAT nation,” and flaring up again the exact kinds of conflicts and problems that led to massive wars in the last century.

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