The conflating of difference within manifoldness

I think it is Paul Churchland, in his last chapter of Matter and Consciousness; in his discussion of extra-terrestrial life, who raises a point of this kind. If, and when we meet with an extra-terrestrial species; we will face the unfortunate situation of being seen as a homogeneity in humanity; where the differences that we have between us, as cultures, as sexes, as social groups, etc. are undermined.

I think this worry is a one that we should have of the past. When we characterise periods of history; we cannot class people as a single species of character. Not everyone was Newton or Descartes’ back in the modern period; people were peasants, merchants, slaves, children, women, pastors, murderers, and so on…

It is a mistake, and an inevitable flaw of our human understanding to conflate the diversity of the past as if it were one point.

Michael (and Destre)


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