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Unprecedented Evolution: Continuities and Discontinuities between Human and Animal Life and the Future of Humanity

The authors of these essays examine core dimensions of the human condition in light of biophilosophy and process metaphysics, which they apply to such core anthropological issues as the survival of both the human species and the biosphere as a whole. With a general focus on the unique capacity for symbolization as marking an important and influential factor in human evolution, the authors address key issues in biophilosophy, such as the specific ways we differ from other species, our capacity to symbolize and create a helpful or dangerous distance from life, and our playfulness and proclivity for mythmaking. Questions addressed include the following:

How did symbolic thought shape the evolution of the human species?
How did symbolic systems shape human experience of and reasoning about space, time, matter, life, and natural processes?
How do our unique forms of power relations distinguish humans from other species?
How do our spiritual and metaphysical belief systems influence human rationality and morality?
How can we balance our spiritual needs with our rational abilities, and how could this influence our future evolution?
How should we respond to the trends towards transhumanism and bio-technocracy?

Our intellect is troubled by a consciousness of its own evolution, by the ecological and ethical challenges of a severely degraded environment, and it wields great symbolic and mythic fictions with the power to influence the bio-social evolution of future humans. Despite all our unique qualities, we cannot set ourselves apart from the natural heritage we share with every living being on planet Earth. Somewhere between transhumanism and cosmohumanism, we must find an ethical guide, an organismic and cosmic consciousness, and a speculative framework to manage our knowledge and our spontaneous actions towards the future.

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