Out of time
Book on how we are living in a period of revolution in beliefs about being human
‘What does it mean to be human?’ is a question that we do not often ask ourselves, even though it is increasingly on our minds. It it this question that I have explored in my new book, ‘Out of Time’. In it, I set out how today’s views of being human were set in the 16th Century by people such as Rene Descartes and have remained undisturbed for centuries. These assumptions about ourselves, from what we want and how we behave, to our social relations and our ways of thinking, are instrumental in everything we do, shaping how we live and work, what we pay attention to and what we ignore, what we think is possible and what we dismiss.
At one point it had all seemed so straightforward: humans were the only living creatures with inner minds, we occupied a rightful place at the top of the ‘chain of being’. Our power and authority looked unassailable.
But now the evidence points to a period of re-evaluation, perhaps even revolution, due to three big changes that are fundamentally reconfiguring what we believe about being human - technology disruption, COVID and climate change.
There are widespread beliefs that sentient technology is possible, challenging our notions of uniqueness we once held. COVID has shown us our vulnerability, a microscopic pathogen effortlessly rendered humans as much less powerful creatures than we once considered. And climate change has created a sense of existential danger which means we can all feel, in a visceral way, the possibility that humans may one day not reside on this planet.
This book is not an easy read with an ending that suggests we will all be OK. It does not attempt to provide the reader with a straightforward narrative of alternative ways we can think of ourselves. It is a book that requires a degree of commitment from the reader to think, join the dots across that pages and the chapters and to draw their own conclusions. This book is not for those that want an easy read or a ‘how to’ manual.
But it is a book for thinkers who are interested in what being human means - whoever and wherever you are.
Out of Time is available Open Access as well as via Amazon.