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In short, what about the ethics of our behaviour in our new hybrid humanity? We now come to the second meaning of humanity which is used to describe a certain moral value that we can see operating across humankind as kindness and compassion for one another. We can therefore understand this second meaning as the kindness of humans.

This principle of humanity is the fundamental value at play in every Red Cross and Red Crescent worker wherever they are in the world today. Humanity in this sense is human behaviour that cares for other humans because of a profound and universally held conviction that life is better than death, and that to live well means being treated humanely in relationships of mutual respect. This commitment is a driving principle in the rules of behaviour in the Geneva Conventions, whose 70th anniversary falls this year, and in the Disaster Laws recommended by the Movement to ensure better disaster prevention, preparedness and response around the world.

The Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement is at once symbol, advocate and embodiment of this ethic of humanity and so is constantly working emotionally, judicially and practically to increase humanity as a dominant form of human behaviour in extreme situations. This is not easy, of course, because the human species is ethically ambivalent and not simply driven by an ethic of humanity.

MAN'S SEARCH FOR MEANING BY VIKTOR FRANKL

We are also deeply competitive, cruel and violent as a species and often believe that some things we have constructed are much more important than particular human lives. The reason that the call for humanity is so loud is because our record of inhumanity is so long, and the power of inhumanity is often greater than the power of humanity. In our era of climate crisis, environmental degradation and multiple species extinction, the moral principle of humanity is looking increasingly self-referential and incomplete as a primary ethic for the human species.

Quite simply, it is not enough for humans only to be kind to humans. The principle of humanity as currently expressed is a classic example of speciesism in ethics. It cares only about one species — our own. We may claim that the principle of humanity is a niche ethic for calamitous human situations which rightly trumps wider ethical considerations in extremis, but this is neither true nor realistic.

It is not true because the principle of humanity already takes account of the natural environment in the laws of war and the norms of disaster response and so recognizes the importance of non-human life in its own right and as means to human life. Nor is it realistic at a time when our biggest existential challenge as a species arises from our relationship with the non-human world around us. The principle of humanity must, therefore, keep pace with the ethical evolution of humanity the species and needs to expand its purpose and behaviour towards non-human life.

This currently includes all animal and vegetative life. But, in future, it is increasingly also likely to include non-human machines like robots and AI which may develop their own levels of consciousness, feelings and rights as they increasingly merge with humanity — the species and its ethics — in hybrid forms. Here time is pressing. We may have little time to work out what it means to apply humane behaviour within non-human machines and towards non-human machines. This means agreeing how non-human machines and new models of human-machine interactions can behave with humanity, especially as new weapons systems.

It will also mean thinking about how we should show humanity to increasingly machine-like humans and human-like machines. At the moment, our humanitarian action can be profoundly inhumane to non-human life, neither protecting nor respecting it.

What is Logotherapy? A Definition

With all this uncertainty about what exactly it may mean to be human in future and the persistent record of our inhumanity to each other and towards non-human life, what sense does it make to try to aspire to a single global identity as billions of human beings? Over the last years, a third sense of humanity has increasingly referred to a single global identity across all human societies. This is not a simple biological identity but the idea that as a conflicted species we can and must build a single global political identity in which every human has a stake.

This global identity is a meta identity which transcends smaller identities shaped by culture, nation, class, political opinion and religion. This political sense of being a single global group is experiencing push-back today as a broad-based politics of ethnic and economic nationalism expresses scepticism about globalism of all kinds.

But our Movement continues to argue that it is important to imagine and build a global sense of humanity because our common human problems are intense and interdependent, and can only be solved internationally not just nationally. There are five truly existential problems that we all share as members of the human species, and always have done. This is what we try to do at the International Conference. Under the shadow of a future darkened by climate crises, political instability, inequality, and super-human machines, how to best proceed?

For some, the answer is more technology and scientific advancement; for others, better policies and political arrangements.


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Or some combination of these. Lent argues that how we view the world arises out of language, specifically core metaphors that shape our values and culture, which in turn mold history in a reciprocal feedback loop. Cultural templates are often long lasting, but can also shift dramatically, sometimes in a generation or two. To avoid these dire fates, we can train our brains to adopt alternative metaphors that allow us to live less destructively.

So which metaphors are causing the trouble? For one, Lent faults a tendency to conceive a dualistic universe of binary categories, like mind and matter, reason and emotion, self and other. This framework, as the postmoderns observed, drives us to favor one category over the other and to build societies based on hierarchy and separation.

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The Patterning Instinct: A Cultural History of Humanity’s Search for Meaning | MAHB

The pattern is not universal: Lent presents evidence that early hunter-gatherers emphasized connectivity rather than separation, a mindset that engendered a more egalitarian social structure. Unfortunately, they also lived by a metaphor of nature as an endlessly giving parent, resulting in problems like overhunting, which illustrates that even seemingly harmless metaphors can eventually lead to catastrophe.

Lent speculates that dualistic frameworks articulated by western thinkers like Plato and Descartes fit into a broader pattern that sprouted from the legacy of prehistoric Proto-Indo-Europeans PIE for short , thought to have been Eastern European steppe-dwellers and possibly the first to domesticate the horse. As nomadic horse breeders and traders, the PIEs, Lent argues, were more attuned to concepts like independence and mobility than agriculturalists who focused on metaphors of stability and relatedness.

Religion and the Search for Answers

Some scholars, such as anthropologist and archaeologist Marija Gimbutas, have theorized that the PIEs promulgated their culture so successfully because they were especially aggressive warriors, using chariots to overrun sedentary communities weakened by events like climate crises. Some speculate that they carried with them a particularly stark form of patriarchy, though this is debated and has led to what others argue are simplistic notions of a male-centered military culture wiping out peaceful matriarchal communities. On this contested ground, Lent stakes his support for the theory that PIE speakers developed core metaphors of domination, conceiving of nature, and other groups of humans, as foes to be conquered.

Where Indo-Europeans conceived of oppositions like good and evil, evident in Zoroastrian and Judeo-Christian traditions, the Chinese came up with the notion of yin and yang, highlighting the interconnectedness of apparently opposing forces. This framework can be seen in various ways in Chinese languages, which, for example, identify the seat of consciousness as the heart-mind, binding reason and emotion together. Put another way, to be right is to be responsible. He cites Neo-Confucian philosophers of the Song dynasty — CE , who synthesized Confucian, Taoist and Buddhist ideas, as exemplars of this pattern.

Lent traces his splitting thesis all the way to the thrumming fortresses of Silicon Valley. Are you extending our cognitive abilities by creating devices that mimic and mesh with our thinking? Are you engineering our bodies to the optimum with gene editing?

What is the Meaning of Life?

Then you are in the grip of an ancient idea: that pure rationality stands sovereign over the biological world. To carve out this space for ourselves, Lent says we must recast the deep metaphors structuring our attitudes to nature and other humans.


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Neo-Confucianism is the candidate that Lent favours to lead this metaphorical revolution. But does China, which recorded its highest ever figures for coal-fired electricity this April, provide the best exemplar? He should entertain a little more hope.