Common Humanity

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Jay Weinstein:

"The concept of a common humanity with a consciousness of itself is very old and widely discussed. In fact, for many centuries in Western and Eastern philosophy the idea was believed to be self evident to anyone who could reason properly. Ultimately, such beliefs were dismissed as too vague and/or ambiguous.

However, in several instances, such as in Immanuel Kant's writings on morality, philosophers attempted to make the quest for a common humanity more specific. In the early 19th century, Kant in particular proposed in his moral imperative a certain kind of thought and action that would be an effective means to achieve the goal of species consciousness. At about the same time, Auguste Comte, founder of the discipline of sociology, coined the term to refer to such thought and action that is used to this day: altruism. In this way, the links between a common humanity, species consciousness, reason, moral imperatives, and altruism were forged.

In Karl Marx's revolutionary program to create a common humanity, one finds the key principle of a group in-itself. This indicates that group-consciousness, including in this context species-consciousness, is the product of common life conditions plus a shared understanding by members of the group (species) that they have common interests - that the wellbeing of each depends on the wellbeing of all. Also necessary is a common "other" against which the group (species) can identify itself. In the case of the human species, in particular, this other is nature, with which humanity as a whole can and must cooperate in order to survive and prosper. Because, it appears, the achievement of species consciousness is neither automatic nor inevitable, the need for a program to guide the quest is once more apparent."


More information

* Article: Creative Altruism: The Prospects for a Common Humanity in the Age of Globalization. By Jay Weinstein. Journal of Futures Studies, August 2004, 9(1): 45 - 58