If humanity were simply the total number of all the someones here on earth, then arithmetic would be the primary arbiter of our ethics. I would be human by simply having been born, by my membership in the species, homo-sapiens. The problem with this ethics of arithmetic we have witnessed historically. We witness it again and again around the world decade after decade, just as we will again here at home where freedom wanes more increasingly year by year. People everywhere have experienced the historical outcomes when ethics are numerical, when we seek to make them quantifiable. The quantifications of the Bolsheviks and the Nazis, of dictators like Pol Pot, of the bureaucracies of super states like the United States, or other bourgeois capitalist democracies have weighed heavily on the experience of the human. Inhumanity is a sport bigger than soccer.
If we wanted to expand our notion of humanity in the above fashion, one that leads us to the ironic outcome of constricting our humanity, then we would have to include all the humans who have ever lived on earth. This subsequent tally of humanity would include every ‘human’ in our evolutionary past; everything relevant to the estimation of the homo-sapiens nature would be valid in an estimation of our human nature. Pithecanthropus Erectus would be as human as you or I, and you may not yet have reason to dispute this.
Of course, what that means is that we have spent the greater part of the last one hundred and fifty years avoiding a definition of our humanity in such a way that has led us to over simplify just what the ethical or moral nature of the human is or could be–perish the thought of someone saying should. We have spent a great deal of energy perpetuating one kind of grotesque romanticism set diametrically in counterpoint to each Enlightenment humanism; and there is more than one of everything.
All humans, we must remember, would include Nazis, sadist, sociopath and pedophile, as a limited set of examples showing who or what is human; murderers too. Having humanity then would be a simple thing to possess; one would qualify by living any way he chose and in our current culture’s love affair with solipsism, I might not have reason to object. I would have only biology as my chief, if not my exclusive reference for huamnity. Ethics would not exclude appetite; thus, the ethics of male sexual appetite and how for centuries it has devoured female sexuality, or how it has directly motivated how women and their sexuality are defined by male sexuality, would have persistence, endurance. Male sexual appetite and the male’s appetite for territory or property as an extention of pituatary sense of territoriality can be justified in this kind of ethics in spite of how strongly contemporary feminists lean toward legislating morality.
Try to take food away from a hungry dog; try to take away the control men have had over the definitions of women. But then contemporary feminists have been equally repressive of themselves, all of them bearing their collective weight on the simple separate woman, everyone of them complete with her slings and arrows, every overarching definition of who woman is, when she is, where, why and how she is; validating one set of determinisms after another: who she is, what she is, what she should be, must be, would be if not for . . . every woman becomes her own Saint Sebastian.
Now I don’t debate the trinity, but then that’s my shortcoming; I do accept the dogma. I know it’s a shortcoming even if I have several very good reasons why I don’t debate it. But, once more, it is a dogma, and I do understand the place of dogma; the need for dogma, even. I’m mostly in favor, though, of calling dogma what it is, by its rightful name, dogma. A load of dogshit by any other name will still smell bad; a rose is a rose is a rose. Dogma is not changed by calling it freedom. Moreover, not to debate the secular and political boundaries of our being is absurd, more so than the pre-condition of the universe, itself absurdum qua absurdum. I’ve been barking into the void for a long time, listening for the echo.
But then, being human would also be simplified to include anything and all things directly relevant with the species homo-sapiens; our prime condition? the first and last of our being? How could something as common as our species, something as broadly derivative as our kingdom, mammalia, be the determining factor in our humanity. It cannot; it must mediate how we talk about ourselves as humans; but we must define humanity as something more than simply those factors that determine our status as one of many animals on the planet. our commonality, our fragility as a species must be discussed.
Any and all discussions on ecology, on working toward saving another species from extinction, or the ecosystems of this world must include a deeper understanding of our biology, but we cannot allow our rightful and just attention to Nature to subtract from our responsibilities to Civilization.