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Who Are We? - The True Story of Humanity
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Who Are We? - The True Story of Humanity Paperback - 2012

by Nikolai Eberhardt


From the publisher

As incredible as it may seem, here for the first time in history is a scientific answer to the millennia-old elusive existential question: Who Are We? This answer does not come from one of the fashionable specialties like Sociobiology, Cognitive Science or Neuroscience. It comes from a physicist and generalist thinker, and is proof-positive that in our age of overspecialization real progress more likely will emerge from broad-band scientific syntheses like this. The result may be called a "Unified Theory of Humanity." The breakthrough also was made possible by a radical, but in hindsight obvious, point of departure: Within the standard physicalist-mechanistic world-view of natural science, we cannot be anything but complicated bio-machines - self-reproducing intelligent bio-robots with a "theater" of consciousness presenting what our neuro-processor has come up with. In this framework an a priori necessity for robot control systems has become a key insight: As the evolving eye needed to satisfy the laws of optical refraction, so the brain needed to to have two different organs. One must contain the evolved and genetically determined "prime directives" (instincts) for survival and reproduction. The other organ must be able to individually learn to model the current external world, so that successful manipulation of it becomes possible. The two organs in us are the "old brain" that we share with all earlier mammals, which is roughly the brainstem, and the gigantic learning neocortex that has enabled us to rule the world, but so far not to rule ourselves. In this context dangerously raging robots of some science fiction stories come to mind. This, actually, is quite appropriate. Take a look at our cruel and bloody history. We human biobots have been regularly falling into uncontrollable rages called wars. Not to speak of overpopulation and environmental destruction. Library shelves are becoming weighted down with doomsday prophecies. Here are some conclusions: We are condemned to live by stories, and possibly die by them; for this, the existence of kamikaze pilots and suicide bombers is excellent proof. Thus we should not be called homo sapiens - where is the wisdom here? - but homo fabulosus, the homo full of stories-to-live-by. On the scale of natural history, the material-technological world we have created is a supra natural no-man's-land of existence where many unexpected things can happen, including wholesale self annihilation. The biblical metaphor of expulsion from Paradise excellently grasps the situation. Paradise was the old animal existence in harmony with nature. Life in no-man's-land is stressful because our prime directives are not made for it. The Psychiatrist Anthony Stevens speaks of a "Schiziod Wound" in us - the old and new brains have stopped working together in harmony. We have become "instinct confused." Functional religions have always tried to heal that wound by discouraging "worldly" adventures in no-man's-land and turning inward. But in our current state of being lost in no-man's-land, functional religion has become rare. Psychology, especially of the Jungian kind, finally is put on a neurological foundation. In Part Two I apply the Unified Theory to explain such story-telling (ideological) misadventures as: Nazism-Fascism, Bolshevism, Laissez-Faire Capitalism, American Utopism and Gender Feminism. A short, but consequential, Part Three is devoted to thoughts about designing a future socio-political system that would encourage humans to achieve a state of mind that would lead to a life that can happily flourish within its biological limits and be sustainable. In the end there may be hope. In principle nothing can prevent our intelligent neocortex from learning our true predicament and taking corrective action. The clear and generally accepted understanding of who we are will have to rule the next era of humanity - or there will be no next epoch.

Details

  • Title Who Are We? - The True Story of Humanity
  • Author Nikolai Eberhardt
  • Binding Paperback
  • Pages 364
  • Volumes 1
  • Language ENG
  • Publisher Createspace, Bethlehem, PA
  • Date 2012
  • ISBN 9781475252507 / 1475252501
  • Weight 1.07 lbs (0.49 kg)
  • Dimensions 9.02 x 5.98 x 0.75 in (22.91 x 15.19 x 1.91 cm)

About the author

Author Bio Nikolai Eberhardt, born in Estonia, is of mixed German, Swedish and Russian descent. His childhood and teenage experiences during WW2 in Poland and Germany imbued him with a deep need for understanding the bloody follies of which humans are capable. After some study of Philosophy in Graz/Austria, he continued with Physics at Munich University, earning his Diploma (equivalent of Master), and later his Doctorate in Natural Science (Dr. rer. nat). He started his career at a Siemens Research and Development Lab. In the aftermath of the "Sputnik Scare" he followed the US Government's call for German scientists and became a Professor at Lehigh University. Here, besides work in applied physics in an Electrical Engineering Department, he became involved in teaching general studies courses ranging from Ethology to Psychology. He was influenced and encouraged by Donald T. Campbell, former President of the American Psychological Association and friend of Konrad Lorenz. With him he co-taught a graduate course on artificial and natural intelligence. After retirement he served as Adjunct Professor in Lehigh's Science, Technology and Society Program. He has previously authored two other books that were stages in the evolution of the final synthesis presented here.
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Who Are We? - The True Story of Humanity
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Who Are We? - The True Story of Humanity

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