This Dark Age

A manual for life in the modern world.

By Daniel Schwindt

Consciousness rather than chemical distinction

Here another point that seems minor but is in fact vital: as we ascend through the forms of life, we find that at the lower levels the various species or groups are structurally or chemically distinct from one another to a far greater degree than at the higher levels. To the scientist who deals only in these types of distinctions (chemical, biological, structural), it will appear that there is a profound difference between kinds of bacteria whereas animals near the top of the chain are hardly distinct at all. Hence the tendency to try to group human beings with those lower animals having the closest resemblance, and also the constant talk of how apes and humans differ only in the smallest genetic way. This kind of observation, however, takes for decisive what is actually most superficial. What is decisive is not difference of genetics but difference of conscious level. The moment we change our focus from biological or chemical distinction to distinctions of consciousness, then it becomes blatantly obvious that man cannot be grouped with ape, and that bacteria, however distinct its various groupings might be from one another chemically, are from the point of view of consciousness at precisely the same level. What this also means is that the discovery of a fragment of bone or even the discovery of an entire skeleton that is identical to the human one is not enough to establish when man, properly understood as ‘rational animal’ came into corporeal being, because bone cannot prove rationality, and that is what is necessary to ‘prove’ the point. We have already addressed the problem of mimics, and it is certainly no surprise that we might find specimens of creatures that, in skeletal structure, look very much like man, but are not.

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