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#602#603#604#605 Episode #606 - Flight From Meaning 1
(The Superior Human, Debt in The Axial Age)



Sat 2 June 2012  Bernard Rollin, Gary Yourofsky, Richard Ryder, Steve Best, David Graeber (reading)
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Download Hour1 Download Hour2The first of a four part series, we consider the bigger question of meaning in life. In our first hour we look at a prejudice shared by many people of differing backgrounds and inclinations - the notion that human beings are somehow innately superior to all other life forms - with a radio adaption of the 2012 film The Superior Human. We conclude our second hour by resuming reading from David Graeber's Debt, The First 5000 Years where we left off in episode 597.
Are humans superior to other life forms? Is it OK that we kill and eat them for food? Or that we use them for medical research? Do they suffer pain? Do their lives have any value, or are they on earth for humans to do with as they will? We begin this week's show with a radio adaptation of the The Superior Human, which looks at 18 reasons why people think that humans are somehow special and superior to other life forms:
  1. A Large Population
  2. Having Long Lifespans
  3. Creating Art
  4. Building
  5. Living in Houses
  6. Having Opposable Thumbs
  7. Using Tools
  8. Using Reasoning
  9. Walking Upright
  10. Living in Societies
  11. The Ability to Kill (almost) All Other Life Forms
  12. Teaching and Learning
  13. Language
  14. Other Life Forms Rely On Instinct
  15. Culture
  16. Being At The Top Of The Food Chain
  17. Intelligence
  18. Consciousness and Autonomy

Reviewing topics such as Cartesian dualism, this film looks at the debate over whether animals feel pain and whether it is moral to consider their welfare or whether humans are somehow innately 'superior'. Speakers include Bernard Rollin on why he coined the word 'speciesism', Gary Yourofsky and Richard Ryder.

The film continues into our second hour, noting that Darwin thought it absurd to think of some animals as higher than others. It concludes with Steve Best looking at the close connection between speciesism and racism.

We then take something of a sideways step and look a unique feature of homo sapiens - their propensity to money psychosis. We resume reading Chapter 8 of David Graeber's Debt, The First 5000 Years where we left off in episode 597. Concluding this chapter we make a good start on Chapter 9, The Axial Age, noting that the strategy of military expansion was using in ancient Greece as a way to tackle debt crises, but that it solved nothing since when military expansion reached its limits, the essential problem (the abject poverty of the masses) remained unaddressed.
Thanks to Ultraventus for publishing such a beautiful film
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