CAMLAW: Complementary and Alternative Medicine Law Blog

Chimps should make love not weapons

We humans are not the only ones to beat our ploughshares into swords.

It turns out that chimps, too, sharpen sticks to make weapons for hunting. Is it any surprise?

The new observations are "stunning," said Craig Stanford, a primatologist and professor of anthropology at the University of Southern California. "Really fashioning a weapon to get food -- I'd say that's a first for any nonhuman animal."

I'm surprised that researchers are surprised. It's only the depth of our species-centric perspective that puts human beings at the top of the hierarchy. Maybe this is a bias we Westerners have inherited from Genesis, when "man" was given "dominion" of the animals. Actually, "dominion" is a translation, when maybe the original meant something more like a limited liability partnership.

In any event, as brain chips and other technologies begin to augment or enhance both human and animal minds, the "planet of the apes" is not too unlikely a scenario. What is to stop someone from upgrading chimp intelligence so that the weapons they can make become far more sophisticated? Of course this is all science fiction right now, and probably farfetched to many, but as the Spike or Singularity draws ever-nearer, these research surprises will upset the apple cart of human dominion quite a bit.

Spiritual teachings tells us that 'we are not in charge.' I'm not saying the apes are in charge, but maybe there is some evolutionary force beyond both. Perhaps there is no accident that we all share some 99% of the genetic pool, but by many non-accidental coincidences, we homo sapiens have usurped the evolutionary food chain and now find ourselves ordering genetic designer foods by cybercommand.

'Chimpanzees are believed to offer a window on early human behavior'--well, maybe it's not so early after all.

As Gandalf was informed, the hour is later than you think.

But remember, chimps teach us a lot about grooming, care, social habits, and relationships as well. There's a lot from nature we can learn about love, as well about its darkner potential.
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Law Offices of Michael H. Cohen offers general corporate legal services, litigation consultation, and expertise in health law with a unique focus on alternative, complementary, and integrative medical therapies.

Michael H. Cohen is Principal in Law Offices of Michael H. Cohen and also President of the Institute for Integrative and Energy Medicine (also known as the Institute for Health, Ethics, Law, Policy & Society), a forum for exploration of legal, regulatory, ethical, and health policy issues involved in the judicious integration of complementary and alternative medical therapies (such as acupuncture and traditional oriental medicine, chiropractic, massage therapy, herbal medicine) and conventional clinical care. The most recent published book by Michael H. Cohen on health care law, regulation, ethics and policy pertaining to complementary, alternative and integrative medicine and related fields is Healing at the Borderland of Medicine and Religion. This is the fourth book in a series, following Complementary and Alternative Medicine: Legal Boundaries and Regulatory Perspectives (1998), Beyond Complementary Medicine: Legal and Ethical Perspectives on Health Care and Human Evolution (2000), and Future Medicine: Ethical Dilemmas, Regulatory Challenges, and Therapeutic Pathways to Health Care and Healing in Human Transformation (2003).

Health care and corporate lawyer Michael H. Cohen has also been admitted to the Bar of England and Wales as a Solicitor (non-practicing), adding to Bar membership in four U.S. states.
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