As a species humans have come to dominate the planet, that is with the exception of microscopic organisms, and insects, and sea life and probably a bunch of other species I am ignoring. But the world as we humans know it, the visible world of big animals and land mass, is undoubtedly dominated by humans.
The success of a species is established by population numbers – reproducing and not dying (see previous posts). When most animal populations have decreased or gone extinct since the arrivals on the planet of humans, humans have seen a sustained increase in population numbers, just about everywhere you look.
The success of the human population is not however down to its physical prowess. No, mental prowess is how humans have gained a competitive advantage and specifically their ability to communicate and cooperate in large numbers, devise ways of survival way beyond the traditional animal mantra, survival of the fittest. In their ability to communicate, and particularly communicate ideas, humans have been able to mass produce food (the agricultural revolution) mass produce equipment and machinery (the industrial revolution) and mass provide services (the technological revolution).
Humans reliance on their mental prowess has led to some great successes, none more so that the ease at which humans can survive, but it has come at a cost. The more you rely on agriculture, machinery, technology, community to survive, the more redundant our physical health becomes. To the point where it is now possible to survive without having to leave your house or have any of the acknowledged markers of health. Income can be generated domestically through remote working thanks to technology, food can be delivered to your door thanks to agriculture machinery and technology. It is possible to be morbidly obese, smoking cigarettes and suffering depression and still be able to survive longer than our ancestors from previous generations. And for reproduction – you can meet someone remotely and have them delivered to your door, even if you are in the conditions as described just now, thank you technology.
The last post defined fitness something along the lines of the ability to do physical work to ensure gene survival, however, paradoxically, gene survival no longer relies upon physical work. Physical fitness is essentially redundant in the pursuit of gene survival in the modern world. So what is the point of fitness? and what is the point of this blog, which endeavors to develop ways of improving physical fitness?
The human population have somehow, quite incredibly, developed ways to essentially outsource their survival to technology. The inherent dangers in the world can be protected against through mass cooperation. The necessities to survival can be provided at the click of a button and all disease has the potential to be cured. This makes for an interesting future where a human can potentially live forever, without having to do anything.
But what about happiness?
Not doing anything , not having to do anything, can, I imagine, lead to deep misery. Or does it?
It is a somewhat dystopian view of the world that everything is provided for us, we become purposeless. There is a simple way to address this problem, provide redundant humans with drugs and entertainment. If you’ve ever seen a marijuana smoker watch comedy shows all days without leaving the sofa, you’ll see what it is to provide nothing to the world, but remain happy. But what is happening in such a scenario is completely eliminating what it is to be human.
So what about purpose?
To be human, is to perform the functions and fulfill the purpose of a human. I have presented this dystopian view of the world, but in many ways, it’s not that dystopian at all. We have the ability to feel happiness, love, passion, enlightenment, inspiration, all the human emotions which have a positive association, through manufactured entertainment, mainufactured sustainance, manufactured drugs and freedom from many of the negative emotions we suffer: Fear – there are anti anxiety drugs and we can get drunk. Anger – smoke weed, take MDMA. Depression – take an anti depressant, or any of the drugs just mentioned.
The one feeling that cannot be replicated in such an environment is that of purpose. Such an environment breads a feeling of redundancy and ultimately uselessness by the mer fact that, that is the reality, we are serving no purpose, no one or nothing needs us, we don’t need no one.
If you believe Viktor Frankl, mans pursuit and ultimate source of satisfaction, fulfillment etc. is that he should achieve meaning in his life…. Here is quote from his book ‘man’s search for meaning’
“man’s main concern is not to gain pleasure or to avoid pain but rather to see a meaning in his life”
Perhaps what Viktor meant by meaning, was a deeper understanding of purpose, and the pursuit thereof, which doesn’t in any way relate to the physical fitness of a man, but I suppose the point I am making that is if we outsource our survival to technology, we outsource our purpose. If we chose not to outsource our survival to technology, and rely on our health, in doing so we do not outsource our purpose, and we avoid becoming redundant.
I am going to say that again in it’s own paragraph, because I like it:
“if we outsource our survival to technology, we outsource our purpose. If we chose not to outsource our survival to technology, we rely on our health, in doing so we do not outsource our purpose and we avoid becoming redundant.”
To me, that provides a fundamental value to looking after our health and not only to look after our health, to achieve optimal health. To be healthy is to be human, and to be human is to have purpose.
I am all for embracing technology, to improve and evolve is to survive. Technology is the tool to facilitate communication, start a worldwide conversation and agree the best ways to live, not to mention technologies ability to eliminate the negative aspects of life as discussed above. But if we want to survive as a species, we must acknowledge what it is to be a species. A fundamental part of being a human is to be able to survive without technology, without drugs, without machinery, without manufactured entertainment, and to be able to embrace our mind, our body, human engagement, and the way to do that is to optimize health.
Be healthy, be more human.