On The Human Thought
This essay focuses on the use of human invention and culture as part of the human animal function and how humanity is naturally aimed at space travel.
A human being, at its most biological level, is an animal. It needs food, drink, shelter, and reproduction. Unlike most animals, however, human beings have a highly advanced capacity for the use and creation of tools. Indeed, after a certain point, the evolution of the human race can be tracked more by its technology than by its biology. In addition, following the evolution of Humanity by Technology raises fewer ethical questions than following its Biology. When looking at the progress of technology, one regards the phrase ‘necessity is the mother of invention.’ What does this mean?
What is necessary?
If we look at humans as organisms, we find, as mentioned, that food, water, shelter, and reproduction are necessary. Thus, all inventions should aid in one, if not all, of these categories.
As humans invented tools, they also invented societies and rules and religions and governments and culture. Throughout history, culture and invention have driven each other’s focus. The invention of the telescope, the astrolabe, star charts, have all bred controversy and confusion as man began to comprehend the universe beyond Earth. This led to a changing understanding of not only the philosophies and religions of the world, but also of the means to navigate the globe and reach new lands. An improved understanding of the heavens led mankind to better navigate in unfamiliar territory, to expand societies and cultures which were growing beyond their borders.
Societies have always had an expansionary tendency. In the system which has dominated most of human societies, the most celebrated civilizations were those whose reign encompassed the most land, who demanded tribute from the most cultures. With this as a marker of success, humanity has found itself at a strange new equilibrium: most of the world has been discovered.
To be more accurate, the surface of the land has been generally taken over. That endless horizon after which pioneers have chased has vanished – horizontal expansion has ceased. However, vertical expansion is still possible. People can live in higher and higher buildings in more and more clustered groups, making cities and societies. The problem with such areas is that it reduces a human instinct: survival.
The culture of the city is different from that of the country. In cities, populations have exploded, crowding occurs, and the drive to reproduce is reduced. This leads to views that encourage longer lifespans, more varied ways of life, from cultural awareness to sexual enlightenment, but also reduces the drive to create new life. In more industrial societies, the nuclear family has become a model – fewer people in families with fewer generations raising children and fewer chidlren being produced. The number of single parents is higher in cities. The use of contraception is encouraged as a means of reducing disease ( a problem more rampant in urban centers).
With this in mind, in the advent of a global village, the entire world has become a city. The ideas of first world nations now tend toward those of the city – more nuclear families, fewer children, less drive to reproduce.
In many circles, the act of sexual intercourse has become a stimulant rather than a tool. The idea of the large family is not the first-world citizen’s idea of success.
Economists have noted that the most severe problem facing mankind today is the threat of overpopulation. Food is not necessarily the problem: transport and resources is, however. With more people, the expansive tendency becomes a warring tendency as more and more bodies vie for space on an increasingly ‘smaller’ planet. That horizontal urge that humans have for ‘space’ is conflicted by the dangers of a global urbana.
Some theorists believe that humanity is reaching its peak population. This is a problem: never in its history has humanity had a ‘peak population.’ If a place becomes too populated, people move outward, they travel, they settle elsewhere. With all the societies and cultures in existence today, that same solution of moving has many more complications. Immigrants the world over face oppression and alienation. As societies become more and more tied to their citizens, the hope that lies in immigration is reduced.
Humanity should not have a natural peak. Throughout its history, mankind has always found new horizons and new places to live. All we need do now is switch from a horizontal expansion to a vertical one. As technology evolves, the habitats which humanity can safely occupy expand. Human life can exist in deserts, under oceans, in the stars, even.
The rapid development of communication and data technology allows for ideas to be transfered faster, and so technology and culture continue to ‘evolve’ more rapidly. However, the current culture is concerned more with lamenting overpopulation and complaining about use of resources than it is with continued expansion.
If humankind becomes a starfaring species, then many problems will be alleviated (although not eliminated). Earth is a finite place, but the universe is ever expanding. If humans need more room, if a population is becoming too great for this one world, why not populate more?
Travel across the stars has been the subject of fiction for years, and has even, to some extent, been acheived. Satellites that orbit the planet show that space is a frontier which mankind is ready to explore, and the Hubble and other explorative satellites encourage expansion into the rest of the solar system, the galaxy, and the universe.
There is no reason that mankind should reach a ‘peak population.’ If our only solution to ‘overpopulation’ is to stop reproducing, then why not simply expand? We can go further, we can gain land, fame, and that ever-fascinating horizon line by becoming frontiersmen once again. The human need to reproduce is reinforced by space travel, and as such, it is natural that the human race should expand into space.