We describe the functioning of a superorganism (homo monstrosus magnus) in order to expose a scheme, both conceptual and playful, that allows us to think about and explain the social world and the evolutionary world.. The following text represents a pedagogical exercise that allows us to create a scheme of thought in order to find new learning and teaching mechanisms. We introduce a new suggested taxonomy for human superorganisms. We propose a “new” species that could explain humans’ predisposition for connection, the collective unconscious, mechanisms for collective action, and frame what might be the superorganism physiology and psychology.
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For approximately 2,000 years, most of the educated men who studied nature and the origin of our life, conjectured about the existence of monstrous races that inhabited inhospitable regions of the Earth. When Carl Von Linne (Linnaeus) elaborated his monumental classification of natural beings in the 18th century, within his famous classification of the genus Homo, he included a previously unknown species: Homo Monstrosus. Homo Monstrosus was understood to be a species related to Homo sapiens, that is, to human beings, but physically different. Some scholars claimed that it was the great unknown creature that inhabited the region of Patagonia, in the unexplored South of the American continent, where the cold climate manifested itself with full rigor. Although it had features very similar to Homo Sapiens, it was a creature that was taxonomically defined as Homo Americanus, an aboriginal race that acted in a wild and delirious manner; moreover, it could adapt to the most infamous climates of nature. Although, with the passage of time, the natural categories derived from Homo were reduced until homo sapiens was established as the only one of its kind, some scholars have elaborated hypotheses about the behavior of homo monstrosus. Each of these hypotheses has been recorded in the form of myths over the years. However, they describe the existence of a species secluded in caves and screaming uncontrollably until the flesh of their throats is torn and exposed. Sometimes, it is even said that they lived for periods of time sleeping until they died. Others, more realistic still, maintain that they were a warrior race, a race that battled each other to the point that they brought about their own extinction. But it was only until the 19th century, with the help of developments in Darwin’s theory of evolution, that the possibility of their existence was ruled out.
Beyond its scientifically improbable character, the idea of the existence of a species with such characteristics calls attention to its metaphorical power. What if that race is not precisely a species among others in nature, but rather a model of explanation of the world, a model, we shall say, that was used and discarded by some thinkers due to scientific development? Only a push in the right direction allows us to glimpse the literary and discursive force of homo monstrosus. Who is he? We don’t know, where does it come from, what does it refer to, under what conditions does it occur? These are questions, instead, that we want to pose to the existence of homo monstrosus. Far from being a really existing creature, it is enough for us to know that it is a delusional model that allows us to think the world. But thinking about this scheme requires a re-evaluation in terms of knowledge. It is not a monster simply excluded from scientific knowledge. On the contrary, it is a way of explaining unknown but organically functional societies. This is why, starting from the idea that homo monstrosus operates as a rhetorical figure that allows us to explain the cooperativism of certain socially constituted organisms, we want to explain, at the same time, the unknown psychology of its structural motivations. The hypothetical existence of homo monstrosus, in that sense, responds to the need to create a unified theory of social evolution, which combines developments in the logic of inclusive fitness with measures of response to selection at multiple levels of organic behavior.
There is no doubt that humans have made an impressive cognitive transition from primate colonies to what might be called a hyper-existence. Therefore, we wanted to integrate the discovery of homo monstrosus into a form of psychosocial knowledge, only it is no longer about an isolated creature in the most inhospitable region of the world, but about behavioral systems in our contemporary era: homo monstrosus magnus.
How could we determine the existence of homo monstrosus magnus if necessary? The following taxonomic classification allows us to create a mental scheme to understand its provenance characteristics, its functionality and its forms of organization:
Leviathan, Superorganism, Homo omnis, Homni, Asu’s Amalgamation Technique, Commonwealth, State, Organisation
- Monstrosus magnus kathe sk´epsi (Thinking) Archetype: Learning Freedom
- Monstrosus magnus synaisthima (Feeling) Archetype: Belonging
- Monstrosus magnus kr´ınontas (Judging) Archetype: Stability Control
- Monstrosus magnus vl´epo (Perceiving) Archetype: Risk Achievement
Africa; Australia; Caribbean; Europe & Northern Asia; Middle America; North America; Oceania; South America; Southern Asia.
(i) They are mechanisms of absorption of individual cells on a communal level. Integration can occur through regular or symbolic communication of the species: activities, control or forced assimilation. Examples are the specific lexicon, festivals, rituals, vacations, hobbies, food and architecture.
(ii) They are cohesive mechanisms that integrate individual actions of the cells that compose it. Processes of shared intentionality and social identity, deference to legitimate authority. It can also be understood as a superorganism that can be defined as ”a collection of agents acting in concert to produce collectively governed phenomena”, such that the results benefit the community, as it works, for example, the habitat of ants and bee hives that cooperatively gather food and avoid predators.
(iii) They have low levels of variation among the units of the superorganism. That is, there is a generational phenotypic similarity that is transmitted through culture.
(iv) They possess a common fate. Perceived basic sameness. In that sense, the superorganisms, or rather, the global human society functions as a collective agent that dissipates global energy with a lifetime associated with each of the production activities within the culture.
(v) They are mechanisms that help resolve conflicts of interest in favor of the collective, which translates into self-control and individual commitment. These ties are transmitted affectively, but also legally: a combination of emotions, norms and social institutions. Some social designs are defined by an adhocratic Culture, that is, by the absence of an organizational figure (a boss, for example), others by a clan Culture, others by a consumer Culture, by a hierarchical Culture, by a Culture driven by individual motivation and purpose, others by an innovative Culture and others, most importantly, are defined by a Culture of creativity.
(vi) Superorganisms tend to exhibit homeostasis, i.e., processes of self-regulation and conservation of their reproductive properties. These behaviors can be measured by means of scales and power laws, so that it is possible to calculate the persistent imbalance of their behavior and, at the same time, their emergent or spontaneous behaviors. Growth patterns and homeostasis depend, in turn, on the consumption and production of minerals, vitamins and nutrients.
(vii) On the other hand, in a governmental perspective, we consider that superorganisms depend on control networks at the institutional and cybernetic levels. Basic forms of government include Democracy (government of the many), Demarchy (a state elected randomly or by lot), Direct Democracy (representatives elected by vote), Liberal (a government elected on the basis of capitalism and free exchange), Representative (a state elected on behalf of the people), Social (a government oriented to public benefits), Socialist (a government created on the basis of equal rights and duties), Oligarchy (a government of the few), Anocracy (a system of control that is not very coherent, a mixture of both democratic and authoritarian traits), Aristocracy (a government of the few who stand out for their virtue, their temperament and their intellectual eloquence), Gerontocracy (a form of power that is in the hands of the most prosperous people in the community), Kleptocracy (a form of government based on corruption and the theft of public resources), Kritarchy (the ancient government of the people of Israel), Noocracy (a system of government that focuses its activity on the development of the human mind), Partitocracy (a phenomenon of government in which political decisions are subject to the decisions of the political party), Plutocracy (a form of government in which power is in the hands of the wealthiest people in a society), Statocracy (a form of government that moves away from ecclesiastical powers and whose foundations depend on philosophical and mystical theories that are adapted to the demand of the most disadvantaged people: the plebs), Technocracy (a form of government that depends on people who are specialists in the development of knowledge and production), Autocracy (dictatorial government of one), Despotism (absolute government, not limited by laws), Dictatorship (a regime of government that depends on a single political figure and which, in turn, ignores its subjection to the law), Anarchism (government of none) and Theocracy (form of government based on religion and the law of God, i.e., on the Scriptures).
”Can anyone doubt today that all the millions of individuals and all the innumeritable types and characters constitute one entity, one unity? Although we are free to think and act, we are united, like the stars in the firmament, with inseparable bonds. These bonds cannot be seen, but we can feel them”. NIKOLA TESLA.
Thomas Hobbes, in the mid-seventeenth century, was the first to think of the figure of the State as an artificial man. For Hobbes, the State functioned as a kind of superorganism. Today, however, this concept has reemerged on the theoretical plane. Gaia Vince, a former researcher and keen writer of articles for the journal Nature Climate Change, has coined the word Homni to refer to this superorganism that is composed of the entire human population. Vince claims that Homo sapiens is evolving into Homo omnis, or Homni, a collective being reminiscent of Thomas Hobbes’ Leviathan.
The cover image of the book Leviathan (by Thomas Hobbes) shows a king representing the commonwealth. His body is composed of hundreds of subjects, which, in turn, constitute the cells of his body. Hobbes originally conceived of the Leviathan as a mythical creature, whose existence was motivated by the need to establish rules of coexistence in order to avoid perpetual war among the inhabitants of a society. From the conflict that existed among human beings for resources and survival, Hobbes describes the selfish behavior of the human species in terms of the ”state of nature”. The state of nature refers to the condition in which an individual does whatever is necessary (including killing) in order to satisfy his own needs. However, in this drive for survival, his desire may come into conflict with the desire of another person, thus producing a war in which the weaker dies. There being no rules to regulate the behavior of any of them, the conflict spreads and a useless war of all against all (Bellum omnium contra omnes) is created. However, Hobbes suggests, to avoid this terrible scenario, people establish a social contract that allows them to live together in community. Thus, civil society is built. Civil society is born under the need for the existence of a figure that guarantees the protection of the least favored individual in that war. To this end, it is necessary to establish a series of rules and duties that the individual must comply with in favor of the healthy coexistence of the community. The figure of the Leviathan, therefore, responds to the need to create a State that guarantees both the rights and duties of individuals in a political community.
Of course, the Leviathan is a state and theoretical figure that was created to respond to the needs of a certain era, namely the seventeenth century. The idea of the superorganism, however, is an idea that arose in contemporary times and responds to other types of needs. Although the two figures share a general pretension (i.e., they seek to integrate all social behaviors into a total archetype), the concept of superorganism emphasizes not so much the constitution of a State that seeks to control the state of nature of mankind, but rather the reduction or control of the enormous ecological footprint of humanity and the impacts on a planetary scale that our civilization has created. Vince’s Homni (or, in other words, homo monstrosus magnus) is a global figure born in the Anthropocene era. According to some scientists, the Anthropocene is defined by the profound and abrupt intervention of humans in terrestrial ecosystems. It is a geological era of the Earth produced by the large and detrimental effects of industrialization, as well as by the disproportionate demographic expansion of human beings and the global (and increasingly invasive) development of communications and the Internet. Today, Homnis are voraciously devouring planetary resources. Their insatiable appetite annually consumes 18 terawatts of energy, 9 trillion cubic meters of water and 40% of the world’s land surface. It is also rapidly poisoning the biospheric, geospheric, hydrospheric and atmospheric planetary commons. It is, in short, a superorganism very different from the Leviathan.
In an effort to understand this phenomenon, paleontologist Tim Flannery considers that humanity can be represented as a superorganism, to the extent that the process of evolution (from the Heliocene to the Anthropocene) has transformed us into a cooperative and interdependent species that frantically consumes all of nature’s resources. According to Flannery, the cult of individuality is one of the major causes of environmental disasters. However, the paradox is that, at the same time, the development of sophisticated technologies allows us to be accompanied anywhere in the world. If we think about the processes of transformation at the communicational level, we can observe that there is a paradoxical incidence in psychological terms, since such relationships occur in isolation…
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