While we’re here anyway, a friend lobbed this at me from a forthcoming edition of Harper’s,. It may as well go in here as somewhere else, as there’s no link, just a footnote:
I believe that realizing we are apes is a crucial part of enlightenment. Until we see the extent to which our behavior, institutions, culture, and ethics are the product of ape biology, we can have no true understanding of ourselves. I am fascinated by how political the lives of chimps are, and how much they are defined by tyranny and revolt. When a leader or a bully exerts relentless force over a group, the group lives in fear. There is submission but also constant deceit and subterfuge among those trying to find some small satisfaction behind the back of the alpha. – Colin McAdam, “Memoir,” Harper’s Magazine, Feb. 2014
Some people seem deadly serious in believing that ape biology, not a tendency to do things we know are wrong, is our problem.
And on the face of it, which of the two explanations is more logical? Apes have ape biology yet can’t do wrong because they don’t recognize the concept. Would we behave better if we had had, say squid biology? Or insect biology?
The friend tells me that a friend of his was converted to Christianity by experiencing actual apes, afer years of fancying himself one. It’s happened elsewhere too.
A conversion to Christianity? Doubtless, but not so fast.
I call it a conversion to reality first. One can only consider the claims of a coherent philosophy or religion if one is prepared to see oneself and one’s life as it is. At one time, people imagined themselves to be gods, saints, or heroes, and conversion meant getting over that. But times change, and it can’t be a good change that they imagine themselves an ape. – O’Leary for News