We are part of the natural world and dependent on it, yet at the same time we dominate nature and shape it. Perhaps communism will reconcile the break, suggests the MARX MEMORIAL LIBRARY
ARE humans “natural?” The answer is, as so often, “yes” and “no.”
Notwithstanding the 38 per cent of adults in the US who still believe that humans were created 4,000 years ago — and Eve merely a spare rib — most people accept that humans have evolved over time from pre-human primates who in turn evolved from more primitive vertebrates who came, probably, from something allied to sea squirts and so on back to when and wherever life first began.
Since earliest times humans have been aware of their biological nature – that we are conceived, live and die as do all other species.
And since Darwin, at least, we have been aware also that we are — or were once — part of the natural world, in relation both to our evolutionary origins and to the conditions of our survival today.
Yet we are in many ways different from other species. Some other species may use tools, grow food, construct shelters or clothe themselves for camouflage, defence or to attract mates.
Some primates in particular appear to have the ability for conceptual thought, to think — to foresee in advance the likely consequences of their actions rather than to have those actions determined entirely by instinctive responses to environmental stimuli.
And ethologists and philosophers argue about whether beliefs, intentions and values are unique to humankind.