Human Uniqueness: Standing Alone?
Davison, Andrew Paul
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Davison, A. P. (2015). Human Uniqueness: Standing Alone?. Expository Times, 127 (1), 11-16. https://doi.org/10.1177/0014524615599101
This is the author accepted manuscript. The final version is available from SAGE via http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0014524615599101
Discussion of human uniqueness requires careful attention to what ‘uniqueness’ means. The word is commonly deployed as meaning both distinctiveness and superiority, which implies contrasting relations of continuity and distinction between what is ‘unique’ and what it is contrasted with. Human uniqueness has come into sharp focus in recent years because of discussions of ‘exobiology’: life beyond Earth. Intelligence has frequently been put forward as definitive of human uniqueness, but the ‘convergent evolution’ of intelligence suggests that intelligence would also evolve elsewhere, leaving human beings unique neither as to distinctiveness nor to excellence. However, while evolution might be convergent over basic characteristics such as intelligence, to how the body is structured seems to be more contingent, and we must take the role of the body’s role in thought (‘embodied cognition’) seriously. Basic bodily differences between putative life-forms might, therefore, lead to strong distinctions between the forms that intelligence takes. Human beings might not be ‘unique as superior’, but they would be unique as distinct, bodily speaking, and that distinction might be strongly determinative of the way in which intelligence is worked out.
human uniqueness, exobiology, embodied cognition, extended cognition, convergent evolution, theological anthropology
External DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/0014524615599101
This record's URL: https://www.repository.cam.ac.uk/handle/1810/248545
Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 UK: England & Wales
Licence URL: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/uk/
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