31 December 2009

Brave new world

As Kevin Kelly noted in February (Collapistarians), there has been no shortage of gloom this year. But this blog concludes 2009 with an unfashionable observation from Charles Darwin:
Man may be excused for feeling some pride at having risen, though not through his own exertions, to the very summit of the organic scale; and the fact of his having thus risen, instead of having been aboriginally placed there, may given him hope for a still higher destiny in future. [1]
Owen Flanagan echoes this after a fashion here:
The twenty-first century will give us naturalists our best chance so far at explaining what it means to be a human animal and how we might go forward guided by wisdom as we explore some of the promising futures among the multifarious psychopoetic spaces open to us. It is a gift, a matter of great cosmic contingency, that we are self-understanding animals, enchanted beings, who can understand and guide our lives to places and ways of being that are more truthful, beautiful, and good. [2]


[1] The Descent of Man (1872), quoted in Science, 2 Oct 2009

[2] from One enchanted being: neuroexistentialism and meaning (2009) by Owen Flanagan

Related post: Bounded in a nutshell

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