TED Conversations

Brendan Maloney

TEDCRED 10+

This conversation is closed.

The Crown of Creation/Crown of Evolution just doesn’t seem to fit our heads. Are we human or are we apes?

Carl Linnaeus, Father of Taxonomy, freely admitted that his creation of the genus Homo, with us as its only member, was a fraud in this 1747 letter to his colleague Johann Georg Gmelin:

“I seek from you and from the whole world a generic difference between man and simian that [follows] from the principles of Natural History. I absolutely know of none. If only someone might tell me a single one! If I would have called man a simian or vice versa, I would have brought together all the theologians against me. Perhaps I ought to have by virtue of the law of the discipline.”

Forty years of study have convinced me that our brains are maladaptive. They are too big for us to handle and too susceptible to destructive epigenetic/environmental influences that can radically alter the physiology of our brain and our behavior as a result. The great Spaghetti Western philosopher Clint Eastwood once said, “A man’s gotta know his limitations.” I suggest that we learn our limits pronto, because the Doomsday Clock is ticking faster and faster because of our self-flattering folly that makes us imagine we are actually masters of our planet.

The tried and true Systems Theory posits that the only thing that defines anything is that thing’s interactions with other things. Our egos alone ripped us away from our ape family so we stand alone, morally naked and shivering amid the wreckage our egos and greed have wrought upon our Beautiful Blue Planet. I believe that if we admit to and fully embrace our “apeness,” resuming our place in the animal kingdom, rather than hovering above it philosophically, we may stand a chance of survival.


Homo sapiens or Pan sui fallenda – Self deceiving ape. Which are we, my dear TEDsters?

Share:

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.

  • thumb
    Feb 8 2014: from where I stand...I do not sense the finite end,nor did I adopt an ego that competes.Nor did you,I suspect.So within our culture resides options for us to self destruct...and yes,many will attempt to join this option.....but millions resist...Today,everywhere are individuals not submitting to a top down philosophy.....I do not disagree with seeing myself as from apes...but I also enjoy seeing myself as a one celled being...or made from interstellar dust.....Im already converted,but goodluck to convincing those who suffer from entitlement to step down.
    • thumb
      Feb 8 2014: Thanks for your astute input and good wishes Carolyn!

      As you well know, we are all part of the microcosm/macroscosm warmly embraced by the holistic Systems Theory that posits that we, and all other things, are only defined by our interactions with other things. Thus we should remain humble in contemplation of our individual insignificance in this vast web. But knowing that we are intimately interconnected with all of life, we can take heart and gain courage from knowing that we are also as great as the Universe itself.

      We should have no fear whatever of death or the void. No ending can ever erase the fact of our existence or its impact on life, even if it is only for a "brief, shining moment" in time/space. Every book has one thing in common: The End. Has that ever subtracted anything from the value of a book? Never, ever fear the Reaper, my dear TEDsters!

      I don't think people consciously choose to self-destruct very often. Most just don't know what life is and can be. It is up to folks like you and I and so many others to teach them, don't you think, dear?

      Very, very best in all your life endeavors! Once again, here is the link to Jill Taylor's incomparable "My Powerful Stroke of Insight" talk on TED:

      http://www.ted.com/talks/jill_bolte_taylor_s_powerful_stroke_of_insight.html

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.