Being Human is Special and Different

Warren Kinston 5. March 2012 11:00

Long, long ago in a universe far, far away, I was inserting electrodes into the brains of live cats to look at single neurons in the thalamus responding to visual stimuli.  I wondered about 'seeing' in the way this cat was doing, and 'seeing' in the sense of appreciating a situation or issue.  The cat was anesthetized and paralyzed, so not doing too much of the latter.

Being human

Fast forward decades and this difference, so typical of being human, was eventually published on the website as the two realities we live in: psychosocial reality and empirical reality.  One is about the sun rising in the east and setting in the west, and has nothing to do with what we want or choose.  And then there is another «Reality» which is constructed out of our choices. 

How exactly do these utterly different human realities relate and interpenetrate?  In a strange way.  Why?  Because the vast majority of leading scientists and thinkers do not write or talk as if they notice the difference.  Don't laugh!  In the days when I depended on grant-funding, I simply could not convince leaders in the academic establishment what was involved in being human.  I argued that such wildly different realities each deserved the same dedication to dispassionate inquiry, but surely each required their own distinct inquiry approaches.  To them there was—and is—and will be—only one single reality in being human.  Follow the twitterati: biology is going to solve the issues of awareness and self; everybody seems quite convinced of that.  CEO's will learn how to handle people and projects via the findings of neuroscience.  People repeat and re-tweet such assertions without batting an eyelid.

Just a short train trip from where I am composing this blog, IBM is putting tens of millions of dollars into the Blue Brain Project which is modeling a cat's brain.  Meanwhile I have to model the human mind on a shoestring!  Still, I mustn't complain—the daily frustrations are good for my character.  It's what being human is all about.

So THEE is dedicated to being human and is about the structures and laws of psychosocial reality.  Like it or not, agree or not, these must and do exist, and (surprise, surprise) they turn out to be entirely different from those of empirical reality.  How could it be otherwise?  One reality is just there and given, the other reality is more or less our responsibility.  One day people will wake up—and wonder how they couldn't have noticed there was a difference.  Meanwhile aficionados of this blog and website will be light years ahead.

So exactly where is this psychosocial reality?  I mean where does it happen … and "in our heads" is not the right answer.

There is a psychosocial universe.  It is very present and very close.  It is us, or rather it is the medium which is essential for there to be such a thing as a "me" or a "you".  Such a universe must have dimensions that constitute it.  We should make them explicit because it might be useful for us to understand. 

In discovering THEE, we have an advantage over physicists, because we are dealing with a reality that we can, in principle, confidently know something about.  We really must grasp the nettle about fundamental issues of our existence.  I will do my bit, but I look to you for help because everyone knows about it: it's just that current thought-leaders are blurring your focus.  Youngsters are starting to listen to them: just watch this Human Project TED video—which simply ignores what is involved in being human.

So remember and remind your friends: we are not primarily physical-biological things which are subjected to psychological tests and social statistics.  We are unique, diverse and creative human beings who must master the construction of our own psychosocial reality.  No amount of physics will reduce the dehumanization in organizations, the stupidity in governments, the lust for more wars, the maltreatment of oneself and family members, or unnecessary aggravation generally.

You are a human being.  Ask yourself what you see in the mirror each morning: I do hope it is not fragments of a supernova.  

Vive la difference! 



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Warren Kinston is the creator of the THEE-Online website as an open forum for the further discovery and development of THEE. He writes this blog as an escape valve for the excitement and frustrations of the work. More info here.

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