037 What is Humanity?

The discovery of Homo Naledi, a new species human ancestor, who shows signs of burying their dead and using fire challenges the very foundation of what separates man from animal. With this discovery, and everything we know about animals, what does “being human” even mean?

In This Episode

We have a new ancestor, Homo Naledi, who is our most primitive ancestor. An intriguing mix of human and primate traits, the recent discovery in the Rising Star Cave in Johannesburg, South Africa of 1,500 fossils has broken our entire concept of what it means to be human. Though primitive, the Homo Nadeli bury their dead in safe, sacred spaces – which is why so many were found in the cave – and also presumably knew how to use fire to navigate the caves dark tunnels. This, along with many things that we know about animals, from experiments or observation, show that we share a lot more “human” traits with animals and our primitive ancestors than we have been led to believe. Peter Singer discusses these arbitrary and mistaken presumptions at length in his groundbreaking novel, Animal Liberation, which was published originally in the 1970s. A lot of the arguments for why humans are above animals fall short when looked at closely. Intellectual capacity, empathy, compassion, friendship, plans for the future, potential, consciousness are all traits that were thought to belong only to humans, but have been proven to be situational or false. This is a fascinating discussion, one we hope to hear from our listeners on!

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One comment

    • So rad to hear you ladies standing up for the rats! 🙂 loved this episode and thanks for linking the article

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