See also below the handout from Professor Christoph Antweiler: Human Nature in the Anthropocene Era
Human nature and the future of the international system, 6,7 December 2013, Casino Luxembourg
Notes: The following notes and comments constitute my attempt in learning about the topic, in relation to my research interest; the human being and how values shape collective decision making processes. The experience of assisting at this type of convention, of meeting where scholars from various backgrounds come together, with Armand Clesse acting as moderator, has been new for me.
Session 1: A never-ending debate: human nature – infinitely malleable or totally unalterable? (genes vs environment) I missed this session.
Session 2: the predicament of omnivores – instinct and habits versus reason and ethics
Participants barely touched upon this subject. Bernard Feltz, Professor of Science Philosophy, intervened a few times and made reference among others to Hegel, Kant, Merleau-Ponty (French phenomenological philosopher, strongly influenced by Edmund Husserl and Martin Heidegger. The constitution of meaning in human experience was his main interest and he wrote on perception, art and politics. Wikipedia) and Simone de Beauvoir.
Going to WW1 required a leap of faith. We need a social contract to regulate human nature. We are agents that can recreate our biographies, and so can cultures. Killing someone is also a social act. We have selfish motivations and motivations to cooperate. Language is a gift, and we are people that exchange gifts.
Finding a way that we use culture: 1. The capacity of culture. 2. local traditions not to be explained by environment traditions. 3. the way of life of a collective, including institutions.
Nature & Culture do not have to be opposed. Ethnic markers are arbitrary and may not come out of the environment.
Free will & moral maturity. Violence is invasion of the mind and the body. Violence can be positive.
Slobodan Markovic, AP, Faculty of Political Science, University of Belgrade, made often reference to Freud, seeing him as an ethical pessimist, ego as a clown, culture as illness and war as practically inevitable. Reading: Stefan Zweig and Yesterday’s world.
Latour argues that nature, the cosmos and human nature are not separable or opposed.
Session 3: The evolution of aggression: has there been a decline of violence?
Aggression as a deadly fight. Yes, no. Evolutionary sociology, Azar Gat, Professor, Political Science Department, University of Tel Aviv.
Stephen Pinker. Michael Barnett. What is violence? The element of power, being overpowered, connected to violence. Structural violence. Transhumanism.
The book: Emotional amoral egoism, by Nayef Al-Rodhan, Lit. and Transaction Publisher. A neurophilosophical theory of human nature and its universal security implications.
Violence includes perpetrators, victims and bystanders, always the biggest number.
Session 4: The role of education, political institutions, religion : containing, channelling, sublimating, diverting or extirpating violence?
What is an historical fact? We are and become what we are taught to become. The transhuman revolution. I am concerned. What does that mean? Lets’ regulate innovation. Would a perfect human being still being human? Our changed understanding of wealth. Achieving esteem and honour is today far easier than before. The concept of Thumos: Thumos (also commonly spelled "thymos") (Greek: θυμός) is a Greek word expressing the concept of "spiritedness" (as in "spirited stallion" or "spirited debate"). The word indicates a physical association with breath or blood. The word is also used to express the human desire for recognition (wiki).
The concept of human life-history as a reproductive cycle, a systemic concept. Human continuity among primates. Kim Hill, anthropologist is pessimistic and talks about creating shared collective norms through symbols. The ability to create images of oneself and the world.
Jon Gottschall argues that humans constantly tell stories. Armand Clesse is haunted by the question as to whether the potential for self-destruction will remain the same. Annette Freyberg Inan argued that we need to share normative frameworks on an egalitarian foot. Why being a pessimist? Because war has not exhausted its evolutionary possibilities. The debate between Hegel and Kant. War makes death interesting. We don’t use the word ‘glorious’ anymore when we talk about war. Games allow people to enact wars. Computer games rewire minds. The world remains a dangerous place, while there has been a sharp decline of wars.
Religion is many things to many people, a moral compass, works very well; the idea of finite existence is troublesome, it is a political vehicle to get to power; extremists use religion as a vehicle to further violence. Religion as a systemic factor of order.
Imagine someone that knew only science facts, like the Oxford Dictionary of birds. There has been a revival of meta-history. Robert Bella, religion in human evolution.
Jonathan Gottshall offers a unified theory of storytelling. To abuse with words not swords. Since we can’t get rid of conflict, so let’s ritualize it. Back to violence and aggression with the Greeks and Homer.
Joseph Carroll argues that all identity is culturally constructed and that imaginative culture is independent of human nature. See his presentation here, as he speaks at the 2007 Autonomy Singularity Creativity conference, hosted by the National Humanities Center. https://vimeo.com/4062312.
Religion & social order. Bahá’í texts mention social malady. Social Darwinism was bad biology.
Religion, truth and pluralism. If religion claims to own truth, then no negotiation is possible. Are Bahá’í texts open to pluralism?
Faith and reason are not opposed, but there is an interplay between them. Pure reason does not exist. Give us a definition of reason and faith. Science is an ethical practice. Reason is a tool.
Session 5: Opportunities and limits of cooperation
A topic that has hardly been discussed. The evolution of God (book). Religion makes peace possible. Priests as geopolitical lubricants. Voluntary and involuntary association are very different ideas.
Session 6: Devising an international system: with or against human nature? What is desirable, what is feasible?
Cooperation is neutral, can be good towards certain ends. How neuroscience shows how we connect to each other, when 3 substances are released: Dopamine and 2 others. Bauer: Prinzip Menschlichkeit, mentioned by Theo Leydenbach. How we live is not indifferent to what we transmit to our descendants, our offspring. Epigenetic.
Altruism is not the same as cooperation. Cooperation is a plus plus interaction. Philip Birget, PhD Candidate in Evolutionary Biology, University of Edinburgh.
System is a value loaded term. Evolution & Cooperation.
Christopher Coker: Boredom may lead to transgressive behaviour. Behaviour in online games.
Cooperation rests on people’s beliefs that it is helping them. Fairness and equality give rise to … The origins of moral order. Look up: Jonathan Haidt (pronounced “height”) is a social psychologist. He is the Thomas Cooley Professor of Ethical Leadership at New York University’s Stern School of Business. His academic specialization is morality and the moral emotions. Haidt is the author of two books: The Happiness Hypothesis: Finding Modern Truth in Ancient Wisdom (2006) and The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion (2012), which became a New York Times bestseller. He was named one of the “top global thinkers” by Foreign Policy Magazine, and one of the “top world thinkers” by Prospect magazine. His three TED talks have been viewed more than 3 million times..
There is violent and peaceful cooperation. Utopian thinking is important.
Ambrosi suggests, inspired from Coudenhove-Kalergi, the next revolution of brotherhood, after liberty and egalitarianism.
Values are negotiated and can change. We have a lot of potential to negotiate what we want to do with each other.
Freyberg has edited a book on human nature and an international system. How much natural science should inform social science. Is our nature changing for the better.
three gaps: do what extent can we have a nature?
The ancient Greeks, as well as Persian philosophers, were in the habit of delivering their discourses in the following manner: — First, playing a few musical melodies, and when their audience attained a certain receptivity thereby they would leave their instruments at once and begin their discourse (The Compilation of Compilations vol II, p. 77).