Aristubble and the Irrational Biped
While most people have heard of Aristotle (384BC-322BC), fewer are aware of the work of his nephew, Aristubble the Ridiculous Cynic (376BC-320BC). Yet it is the latter who, through his far-sighted ideas, better explains the current state of the world.
Aristubble’s Academy, sadly, left no heir to his thinking. His students tended to cut class because attendance was not taken. Aristubble himself wrote nothing. His only surviving works were from a notebook by a female student (disguised as a boy) who had a secret crush on him and drew hearts in the margins of her notes.
What is the distinguishing feature of human beings? What separates us from other living creatures? Or from Nature itself?
For Aristotle’s teacher, Plato, humans are the featherless biped, a somewhat useful description for anyone who’s never seen a kangaroo. Aristotle, taking a different approach, concluded that humans are the rational animal.
Aristubble, who did more listening and less lecturing than his more famous relative, defined humans as the irrational bipeds. He thought it was truly special that a species had developed a unique and spectacular capability and mostly chose not to use it. What other creature had accomplished anything like that?
True, there were birds who did not fly, but that wasn’t a choice — just an unfortunate oversight by Nature that robbed certain birds of a capacity enjoyed by their relatives. It’s like your cousin who can’t swim. These things happen.
But, with every creature except humans, Aristubble notes, each of them utilizes ALL of their capabilities and rejects NONE of them. What gives humans the, well, audacity to reject this greatest of capabilities, this unprecedented gift from the Gods? The capacity to reason?
Here, I’ll let Aristubble himself speak:
Some of the most rational of men have been known to neglect — and here I use myself as the example — certain select capabilities, like, for example, shaving. These people may limit their use of certain capabilities out of absentmindedness or perhaps to simply spend more of their limited time focusing on other capabilities. In my case, I chose brilliant thinking over removal of facial hair. ❤️
However, reason is not like shaving. Reason is a broad-based skill, a capacity that increases the ability of humans to survive. Nobody ever died from having a beard. ❤️ I like to think that I am exercising my capacity to grow a beard. Although, admittedly, I do virtually nothing to tame it.
Of course, humans are flexible creatures capable of change — should they choose to do so. Which raises the question:
What will the future bring? Will humans finally embrace their capacity for rationality?
Aristubble thought not.
In the far future, I think humans will still fail to embrace reason. They may, however, develop a 3rd leg. And stop shaving. ❤️ Shaving is an absolute waste of time.