Who are we?

George Santayana is known for the famous saying, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it”, and above the Norlin Library at the University of Colorado is inscribed, “Who Knows only his own Generation remains always a child.” You see these scholars may have been making these quotes in a different context, but for the purpose of our last class, you can clearly understand the applicability of these quotes.

How did the world come into existence?

What was the past like?

What kind of social activities existed?

What did the people eat, where did they sleep?

What does it means to be “human”?

These were some of the questions that were asked, and I have to say, it reminded me of my Geology 101 class. In a sense I’m really happy to explore the past, it is fascinating, even to a child, hence the reason for shows such as “dinosaur train”, on the other hand, there is a battle to find absolute truth, and to prove once and for all that science, not religion or religion, not science is right.

Taking you back to my first undergraduate degree (Geology), the Prof. walked into the first class and announced that he was atheist and that religion will have a hard time in his class, so according to the theory of transformative learning put forward by Mezirow, I have to say my experience for the next 3 years caused me to think very deeply about our existence as humans and why we are here. So, if I’m a bit bias, please understand my perspective.

What many paleontologists did for us was put prehistoric life into prospective by recreating bones/stones into what they believe the conditions to be at that time; do they get it wrong? Absolutely, we cannot expect them to be 100% sure about the events of the past, though the reports they provide might assume the contrary.

What Tomasello brings to the table, as a developmental psychologist, is the comprehensive study in the area of human cognition and his continuous work in this area of study. This has proven to be a great tool in our last class, as we explored the various time periods and human cognitive capacities.

In “Concepts: Where cognitive science went wrong. Oxford cognitive science series.” Fodor, J., suggests that the heart of a cognitive science is its theory of concepts, and that cognitive scientists have gone badly wrong in many areas because their assumptions about concepts have been seriously mistaken. Fodor argues for an atomistic theory of concepts, and maintains that future work on human cognition should build upon new foundations.

In relation to adult education, what fascinated me most is our ability to, to a certain extent; account for what life must have been in the past, based on the information presented to us. I believe exploring what it means to be human and our origin cannot be done in one class, because of the overwhelming amount of information and research done in this area, I also believe that in order for us to grasp a good sense of which we are a systematical approach must be taken. 

What I took away from our group discussion came in the form of a question we explored, taken into consideration the cogitative abilities of the various time periods we’ve explored, what were some of the things we inherited from then (primates of the various time periods) and what cause them to go extinct. It seemed to me that human kinds tend to adapt themselves to the environment by forming a community/culture.

Looking back at what made and makes species become extinct, we can see the importance of culture to the survival of humans, even though we can become extinct by way of ”natural selection”, many would argue that we can survive without culture, but I believe it is important for meaningful collaboration and the exchange of valid knowledge to develop.

What do you think?

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One Response to Who are we?

  1. Brian says:

    Very interesting take on all of this. I like the idea that you argue that culture is a very important part of human development as I believe it as and the reading I have read for this class also suport that idea. Culture spearates us from other speicies. My most recent blog touched on your concern over religion and did the paleontologists get it wrong? I will leave that up to what happens to us when we die because before then we can not know for sure. I also like that you offered food for thought on all of this as well as continue to leave questons out there for us all to answer or at least continue to research. In the end all humans have to be open minded, accept others and treat each other the way we would like to be treated. We should not get cought up in differences in cultures but share in the differences and learn. I for one do not want to be converted from where I am now and at the same time I will not try to convert anyone in believing my beliefs. Tomasello demonstrates that humans do learn early on to want to help others and share, somehting other speicies can not do. Another reading you may want ot follow up with is http://isites.harvard.edu/fs/docs/icb.topic152604.files/Week_4/Geertz_Religon_as_a_Cultural_System_.pdf
    I enjoyed your blog

    Brian C

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