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“The Difference of Being Human” by Francisco Ayala: Arguing

Ever since the application of the notion of political correctness to theoretical and empirical research, in various fields of science, began to undermine its intellectual soundness, we can no longer assume the results of such research as being objective by definition. Reading Francisco Ayala’s article “The Difference of Being Human” substantiates the validity of this thesis better than anything else. During this work, we will analyze the line of Ayala’s argumentation, while exposing its conceptual inconsistency, whenever is necessary, as we believe that despite the author’s skeptical attitude towards the possibility of combining biologically deterministic and socio-environmental outlooks on morality into a single theoretical compound, it is nevertheless quite possible.

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In “The Difference of Being Human, Ayala strives to establish an objectivity of his idea that morality, as a socio-cultural and psychological phenomenon, cannot be thought of as being biologically adaptive in its very essence, but rather as such that derives out of people’s ability to operate with highly abstract categories, even though Ayala recognizes such ability as biologically predetermined: “I argue here that ethical behavior has evolved as a distinctive trait of human behavior not because it was adaptive in itself, but rather as a pleiotropic consequence of their high intelligence characteristic of humans” (Ayala 117). In other words, the author suggests that our chances of survival, in the hunter-gatherer sense of this word, do not relate to the acuteness of our sense of morality. According to Ayala, people’s tendency to apply moral judgments to surrounding reality simply reflects the fact that they continue to remain at the leading edge of biological evolution. However, such their tendency cannot be thought of as a “thing in itself”, simply because it appears to be a by-product of humans’ high intellectual powers. It is hard to disagree with Ayala. At the same time, given the fact that such Ayala’s suggestion points out to the fact that he recognizes a positivist essence of the process of living organisms continuously increasing their existential complexity (evolution), it seems to be quite illogical, on the author’s part, to stress out the casual nature of evolution, in later parts of his article: “There is nothing objective in the evolutionary process itself that makes the success of bacteria, which have persisted as such for more than two billion years and in enormous numbers, less “progressive” than that of the vertebrates, even though the latter are more complex” (Ayala 117). By coming up with this statement, Ayala contradicts himself – on one hand, he recognizes beneficiary effects of humans being entitled with high intellectual powers, as the result of them being subjected to Darwinist laws over millions and millions of years, but on the other – he denies the fact that the process of evolution is an objective category. Ayala’s apparent inability to recognize the metaphysical productiveness of evolution can be explained by his unawareness of the basic laws of Thermodynamics. The continuing process of organisms becoming ever more complex is nothing but the way the universe opposes the forces of entropy. The Second Law of Thermodynamics states that the amount of chaos in the universe increases in geometric progression to the flow of time. In other words, when energy that is unevenly spread throughout the universe, attains a balance, this will correspond to the beginning of “energetic collapse” on a universal scale. Life is what prevents energy from attaining such a balance. In his article “The Meaning of Life”, Lin Chao makes a good point, when he refers to organic life as “anti-entropy”: “Life is negative entropy. Interpreted more broadly to include other characteristics of life, such as morphology, and not just entropy changes in chemical reactions, our definition implies that the characteristic feature of life is its ability to exist in improbable states” (Chao 245). Therefore, it is quite inappropriate to refer to the process of evolution as such that cannot be associated with metaphysical value, as Ayala does. However, it would be wrong to think of this Ayala’s logical fallacy as unintentional, because in part 5 of his article, the fact that the author remained politically engaged while working on it, becomes obvious. In this part of his work, Ayala evaluates the validity of the Social-Darwinist outlook on the deterministic essence of the relationship between morality and biology. Just like Ayala himself, Social-Darwinists, such as Herbert Spenser, and evolutionists, such as Julian Huxley, used to suggest that the very notion of ethics solemnly resides in one’s ability to operate with highly abstract categories. However, unlike Ayala, Social-Darwinists, and Socio-Biologists imply that is it quite possible to rationalize morality, for people to be able to benefit from their tendency to apply moral judgments to life challenges. And the only way to achieve this is to adjust ethical norms to correspond to the laws of nature. According to Social-Darwinists, the very notion of morality can be “primitive” and “well-developed”, because as we have mentioned earlier, moral attitudes among people simply reflect their ability to indulge in bastardized thinking. In its turn, this exposes the logical inconsistency of Ayala’s following statement: “Our biological nature determines the sounds that we can or cannot utter and also constrains human language in other ways. But a language’s syntax and vocabulary are not determined by our biological nature (otherwise, there could not be a multitude of tongues), but are products of human culture” (Ayala 134). Even today, the vocabulary of indigenous people in such countries as Equatorial Guinea, Uganda, or Papua New Guinea (especially of those that have never been in close contact with Western missionaries), account for 50-100 words, whereas Shakespeare’s vocabulary is believed to contain at least 300.000 different words and semantic idioms. The objective reality points out to the fact that it is namely people’s racial affiliation that defines the degree of their civilizational advancement and particularities of their ethical worldviews. Therefore, it is quite inappropriate to think of morality and ethics through the lenses of cultural relativism. There is an innate connection between the fact that White people were able to put a man on the Moon and the fact that, during the course of formal diners, they often utilize 19 different types of knifes, forks and spoons, just as there is an innate connection between many native tribes’ inability to evolve beyond the Stone Age and the fact that members of these tribes do not think of cannibalism as morally wrong practice.

While criticizing Social-Darwinist approach to ethics, Ayala strives to appear as being emotionally unengaged with theoretical premises of such approach. He points out to conceptual fallacy of Social-Darwinist view on morality as being “naturalistic”, which implies that Social-Darwinists are quite incapable of distinguishing between “is” and “ought”, during the course of substantiating their argumentation: “In order to proceed logically from that which “is” to what “ought to be”, it is necessary to include a premise that justifies the transition between the two expressions. But this transition is what is at the stake, and one would need a previous premise to justify the validity of the one making the transition, and so on in a regression ad infinitum” (Ayala 126). Apparently, it never occurs to the author, that pseudo-sophisticate sounding of such his argument, does not make it less “sophistically fallacious”. By using the same line of argumentation, Ayala would be able to prove that, after leaving a gun barrel, bullet never hits the target, because, before reaching the target, bullet needs to complete a half-way journey between the gun and the target, but then, the “half-way journey” can be divided on other “half-ways” in ad infinitum. In his article “A Bayesian Approach to the Argument From Ignorance”, Mike Oaksford provides us with the insight on the fact that the logical integrity of a particular argument does not necessarily correspond to its validity: There are arguments that are logically invalid but that are regarded as informally acceptable, and there are arguments that are logically valid but that are regarded as informally unacceptable” (Oaksford 75). Therefore, even though Ayala’s argument appears to be logically flawless, it nevertheless represents a classical sophist fallacy. Moreover, the fact that author refers to David Hume, while trying to provide intellectual soundness to his argumentation, only strengthens such our impression even further, as this philosopher signifies the “dead end” of European rationalist philosophy. The real reason why Ayala appears to be strongly opposed against Social-Darwinist outlook on the issue of morality is because it does not simply imply the relativist properties of one’s sense of ethics, but also grades this sense, according to its evolutionary value. In its turn, this serves as one among many theoretical premises, upon which the concept of racial inequality is based.

Given Ayala’s extensive academic credentials, he simply had no option to distance himself from theoretical legacy of racialism, even though that he did it at the expense of undermining the validity of his argumentation to even further extent: “If the preservation of human genes is the purpose that moral norms serve, Spenser’s Social Darwinism would seem right; racism or even genocide could be justified as morally correct if they were perceived as the means to preserve those genes thought to be good or desirable and to eliminate those thought to be bad or undesirable” (Ayala 129). Thus, while trying to pose as an emotionally unengaged researcher, during the course of applying his seemingly faultless reasoning to the subject of morality and ethics, Ayala appears to be deeply affected by the very morality he tries to deconstruct down to its composing elements. In his eyes, the concept of racial inequality is unscientific in a priori, because such concept is morally wrong.

Apparently, it never occurred to the author that, the moral repugnancy of a particular scientific concept, does not necessarily deprive such concept of its theoretical legitimacy.

Despite the fact that, throughout his work, Ayala never doubts the theoretical premises of Darwinist concept of evolution and the fact that one’s ethics simply reflect the degree of individual’s affiliation with mankind, he nevertheless tends to think of morality as non-relativist category. The norms of morality, says Ayala, may vary, within every culture, but they remain an essential attribute of mankind, as specie: “Moral norms are not determined by biological processes, but by cultural traditions and principles that are products of human history. That is the difference of being human” (Ayala 134). We will dare to disagree with Professor, in this respect. It is people’s possession of powerful intellect that differ them from animals. Moreover, one’s high intellect automatically implies his or her lesser adherence to the norms of conventional morality. This is the reason why true intellectuals are necessarily cynical and highly immoral people. Morality, just as religion, derives out of people’s existential idealism. In its turn, the degree of such their idealism is defined by particularities of their racial makeup. Therefore, there can be no doubt as to the fact that morality remains an essential attribute of human psyche; however, it is important to understand that norms of morality undergo a continuous transition, just as people themselves, because according to the theory of evolution, homo sapiens is nothing but an intermediate link between ape and the super-man. Within a context of evolutionary theory, religion and religious morality are being viewed as simply the elements of humans’ strive to attain a higher state of consciousness. However, under no circumstances can we suggest that religion and religious morality have innate subtleties. In his book “The Descent of Man”, Charles Darwin states: “There is no evidence that man was aboriginally endowed with the ennobling belief in the existence of an Omnipotent God. On the contrary there is ample evidence, derived not from hasty travelers, but from men who have long resided with savages, that numerous races have existed, and still exist, who have no idea of one or more gods and of what the concept of morality stands for” (Darwin Ch.1). We can say – apes do not need morality “yet”, whereas super-men do not need morality “already”. Therefore, we can refer to morality (specifically religious morality) as necessary, but counter-productive element of human evolution. It is namely people’s existential idealism that prompts them to continuously seek the divine. But it is also such their idealism, which created preconditions for the emergence of culture and science. At time goes by, people find themselves dependent on religion and on the notions of conventional morality (related to religion) to ever lesser extent, simply because, while being subjected to the laws of evolution, they gradually acquire a god-like existential qualities. Therefore, while agreeing with Ayala’s thesis that “The capacity for ethics is a necessary attribute of human nature”, we want to stress out that this is only going to be the case for so long, simply because more and more people now find themselves in position of utilizing their idealist attitudes about surrounding reality, with ethical considerations remaining the last items on their list of concern, during the course of the process. Therefore, we can only agree with Hebert Spencer, who suggested that, as time goes by, the norms of morality are going to be adjusted to the laws of nature, while eventually loosing their irrationally moralistic essence. The altruistic behavior, on the part of people and animals, can be explained well within biological methodology and there is no need to bring about the notion of “moral responsibility”, while striving to explain why people tend to care for each other, for as long as such their care does not undermine their personal chances of social advancement.

As we have mentioned earlier, Ayala’s article was being conceived as intellectual vehicle for promoting neo-Liberal agenda, as such that denies the concept of biological determinism as “evil”. This is the reason why Ayala never seem to get tired of criticizing the notion that people are being predetermined to act in one way or another from the time of their birth: “Biology is insufficient for determining which moral codes are, or should be, accepted” (Ayala 134). Is it really so? The Islamic celebration of Kurban Bairam involves cutting a throat of a goat, with spectators enjoying the sight of goat’s convulsions in the pool of blood. In Arab countries, such practice is absolutely appropriate, as Moslems think that there is nothing wrong with torturing animals. In Bible, we can also find many passages that promote the cruel treatment of animals (after all, Christianity is a Semitic religion, just as Islam). However, if in the centre of London, someone would begin cutting off sheep’s head, in order to make a sacrificial offering to Jehovah (as it described in Old Testament), he would be immediately arrested, despite the fact that Britain is a Christian country. This is because Christianity is spiritually alien to White people, whereas for Arabs, the bloodthirsty commandments of Allah make perfect sense. Therefore, Ayala’s referrals to morality as being solemnly a “cultural product” can be described as utterly unsubstantiated at best. It is our racial affiliation, which defines our ability to indulge in abstract philosophizing, thus defining the degree of our moral norms’ refinement.

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The very concept of ethics cannot be discussed outside of notions of “emotional sympathy”, “platonic love” and “aesthetic finesse” – even a naked eye will recognize these notions as highly abstract. This is the reason why, in order to be able to utilize them practically, one must be an intellectually developed individual. In its turn, this suggests that only people with high IQ are actually capable of subjecting their behaviour to their sense of morality. Therefore, people in such countries as Equatorial Guinea or Central African Republic cannot be moral by definition, since citizens’ average IQ rate in these countries equals 45, as shown in Tatu Vanhanen and Richard Lynn’s groundbreaking book “IQ and the Wealth of Nations”. And the reason why African Blacks can hardly be referred to as overly bright has nothing to do with “colonial legacy” – it is simply a reflection of their genetically predetermined lower ability to take full advantage of their brain cells. In 1994, Richard Herrstein and Charles Murray had published a book called “Bell Curve”. In it, they had proven that people’s rate of IQ directly corresponds to their racial background: “In fact IQ is substantially heritable… For purposes of this discussion, we will adopt a middling estimate of 70 percent heritability, which, by extension, means that IQ is only about 30 percent a matter of environment. The balance of the evidence suggests that 70 percent may err on the low side.” (Herrstein, Murray 105). In 1994, two million of Hutu tribesmen in Rwanda had been slaughtered by members of Tutsi tribe, within a matter of few weeks, simply because according to Tutsi people, Hutu tribesmen have unsightly facial features (very broad nostrils). This “holocaust” has only been briefly mentioned by Medias, simply because it provides people in Western countries with the insight on the true nature of “African high spirituality”. Therefore, we cannot seriously consider Ayala’s suggestions that particularities of ethical norms, as observed throughout the world, have nothing to do with biology but only with “social and cultural environment”, especially given that fact that many of Ayala’s statements contradict article’s main idea: “We make moral judgements as a consequence of our eminent intellectual abilities” (Ayala 132). As we have proven earlier, our intellectual abilities directly relate to our biological makeup; therefore: the moral judgements of people with higher IQ are necessarily more valuable then the moral judgements of those who are incapable of understanding what the concept of morality stands for in the first place. It is perfectly understandable that this idea is most likely to be referred to as “unacceptable”, given the fact that it undermines the ideological tenets of neo-Liberalism, spokesmen for which now enjoy almost a complete monopoly in Western countries’ academic curriculum; however, this will only continue to be the case for so long, because pseudo-scientific essence of Liberal social doctrines becomes ever more evident, as time goes by.

In order for our criticism of Ayala’s main thesis to be referred to as being quintessentially productive, we will need to introduce readers with racially-biological outlook on ethics, as such that is based on our understanding that it is scientifically inappropriate to idealize socio-environmental aspects of formation of one’s sense of morality, just as it is inappropriate to think of morality as being biologically predetermined in its entirety. In his work “Critique of Pure Reason”, Emanuel Kant provides us with “categorical imperative” on what represents a moral act: “Act in such a way that you treat humanity, whether in your own person or in the person of another, always at the same time as an end and never simply as a means” (Kant 120). In its turn, this “categorical imperative” is nothing but academically refined equivalent of the most basic moral principle, with which majority of people associate their existential mode: “live and let live”. Thus, there is nothing overly complex about how the norms of moral conduct originate in the first place – they derive out of people’s idealistic perception of objective reality. However, sometimes people’s desire to lead a “moral life”, assumes pathological qualities. This is when they reject the idea that they can remain moral, without the assistance of “holy fathers”, while being unable to understand that by remaining loyal to a particular religious doctrine, they cease to be moral, because moral can only be something that facilitates the laws of nature and not the other way around. World’s most influential Semitic religions (Christianity, Islam, Judaism), with which naïve people associate the notion of morality, are deeply immoral, because they consider individual’s socio-biological inclinations as sinful. This is the reason why only existentially inadequate individuals (criminally insane, lunatics, impotents, schizophrenics, mental retards) are capable of adjusting their behaviour to correspond to the religious dogmas with utter exactness (Bible remains the most-read book among the inmates of mental asylums). On the other hand, racially pure people, unaffected by genetically predetermined physical or mental illnesses do not need a religion – they have already been made into highly moral beings, by the very fact of their existence, because they stand at the top of evolutionary ladder. Therefore, whatever they do that brings them closer to a new evolutionary jump (from men to super-men) is moral by definition. Alternatively – everything they do that undermines their biological quality and the biological quality of future generations (smoking, drinking, getting hooked on drugs, practicing racial mixing and “alternative sex styles”) is immoral. As Friedrich Nietzsche had suggested in his prophetic book ”Thus Spake Zarathustra”: “All beings hitherto have created something beyond themselves: and ye want to be the ebb of that great tide, and would rather go back to the beast than surpass man? What is the ape to man? A laughing-stock, a thing of shame. And just the same shall man be to the Superman: a laughing-stock, a thing of shame” (Nietzsche 3). It is namely people’s willingness to indulge in scientific pursuits, while leading a healthy lifestyle, which makes them moral in the eyes of nature, because even though science might not have the answers to all questions yet, the answers it has are undisputable, whereas “moralistic” religions cannot provide people even with the single answer of any practical value. In order for us to live moral lives, we have to listen to what “professional moralists” tell us and act contrary to their advices. Every time, Christian (especially Catholic) moralists open their mouths to criticize “immoral ways of the world”, they should be pointed at the actual effects of their religious concept of morality, being utilized to increase the amount of pain and suffering in countries of Third World. In his book “The Death of the West”, Patrick J. Buchanan rightly suggests: “Great folly of Christian doctrine was probably never as glaringly revealed as by the insane policies the Christian churches implemented in the Third World. The churches oppose contraception, sterilization, and abortion among their members. This results in exploding population growth which is further abetted by the medical care and food provided by the same churches” (Buchanan 125). Whenever we like it or not – people are subjected to the laws of evolution as much as plants and animals. Therefore, just as trilobites, which can still be found at ocean’s depths, represent the “dead end “of aquatic evolution, people associated with primitive cultures; represent the “dead end” of human evolution. In its turn, this allows us to conclude that religious and political doctrines that promote the principle of egalitarianism are counter-productive, as they prevent the course of evolution from remaining on its natural track. It is not simply an accident that the pace of scientific progress started to slow down in sixties, when the doctrine of multiculturalism has gained an official status in Western countries (only informational technologies, associated with the rise of Internet, continue to progress) – the laws of nature cannot be tricked. People will not become equal, simply as the result of being declared equal. As George Orwell once said in his novel “Animal Farm”: “All animals are equal, but some of them are more equal then the others”. Nowadays, the notions of conventional morality (sanctity of human life, equality, tolerance, etc.) serve as agents of social entropy, because it is due to the fact that such notions are being forcibly jammed down people’s throats in Western countries, which result in these countries being gradually turned into Third World slums themselves. If White people are to continue lacking the courage to admit the objective properties of their evolutionary destiny to themselves, then the very course of socio-biological evolution might very well be reversed backwards. Thus, there can be no doubt that, despite Ayala’s strong opposition to this idea, the issue of morality cannot be discussed outside of biology. Our genes make us what we are, with environmental aspects of our upbringing only indirectly affecting our personalities. Therefore, is not only appropriate to assess the value of ethical concepts through the lenses of biology, but utterly necessary. Nowadays, the proponents of racial biology and eugenics are being ostracized by the hawks of political correctness in the same way Copernicus and Galilee used to be ostracized by Inquisition for suggesting that it is Earth that revolves around the Sun and not vice versa. Yet, as history teaches us, conventional morality is simply incapable of effectively opposing science. The uniqueness of present historical period consists in the fact that, once 21st century science prevails over the remnants of religious morality again, there would be no morality left, in traditional sense of this word, as historical dialectics suggest that it is only the matter of comparatively short time, before science adopts a social function of religion. All signs point out to the fact that we do will not have to wait for too long, before it happens.

Bibliography

Alaya, Francisco. 1995. The Difference of Being Human: Ethical Behaviour as an Evolutionary by-Product. Biology, Ethics, and the Origins of Life. Holmes Rolston. (3): Jones and Barlett.

Buchanan, Patrick. 2001. The Death of the West: How Dying Populations and Immigrant Invasions Imperil Our Country and Civilization. NY: Thomas Dunne Books.

Chao, Lin. 2000. The meaning of life. BioScience. (50)3: 245-50.

Darwin, Charles. 1871. The Descent of Man. Internet Infidels. Web.

Herrstein, Richard and Murray, Charles. 1994. Bell Curve. New York: Harcourt, Brace & World, Inc.

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Morris, Henry. 2008. Evolution and Modern Racism. Institute for Creation Research. Web.

Kant, Immanuel. 1999. Critique of Pure Reason. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Orwell, George. 2004. Animal Farm. London: Signet Classics.

Oaksford, Mike. 2004. A Bayesian Approach to the Argument from Ignorance. Canadian Journal of Experimental Psychology. (58)2: 75-85.

Nietzsche, Friedrich. 2001. Thus Spake Zarathustra. Philosophy. Web.

Vanhanen, Tatu and Lynn, Richard. 2002. IQ and the Wealth of Nations. London: Praeger Publishers.

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StudyCorgi. (2021, November 22). “The Difference of Being Human” by Francisco Ayala: Arguing. Retrieved from https://studycorgi.com/the-difference-of-being-human-by-francisco-ayala-arguing/

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StudyCorgi. "“The Difference of Being Human” by Francisco Ayala: Arguing." November 22, 2021. https://studycorgi.com/the-difference-of-being-human-by-francisco-ayala-arguing/.

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