More than a few biologists and other commentators have remarked that nearly all life forms resemble a tube – food goes in one end and excrement comes out the other. A whole pile of processing goes on during this journey from entrance to exit, but even the most highly developed life forms resemble a grub in this respect. In fact, sentient life could be seen as varying levels of grub sophistication, greedily consuming other grubs and pushing the stinking excrement out the other end. Welcome to grub world.
Each grub strives with all its might to continue with its existence and each variety has developed various weapons and defenses to assure this – claws, beaks, ripping incisors, powerful jaws, venom. The human grub has developed its intelligence so it can outsmart and exploit other grubs, and has refined the consuming of other grubs into fine art – haute cuisine. Even so, the same stinking mess comes out the other end.
Grubs are territorial, and conflicts will take place within a species of grub and between different species of grub. Again the human grub has refined this conflict – race, religion, country, skin color, ideology are all good reasons for human grubs to kill each other.
If this was the whole story it would truly be a very sorry state of affairs. It would seem for all species of grub apart from humans that it is the whole story – eat and be eaten, dominate or be dominated, kill or be killed. Human grubs, however, have a reflective consciousness that can broadly serve two purposes. It can be wholly dedicated to making survival more certain, and hence become a powerful tool within grub world, or it can contemplate things that are of no interest in grub world – philosophy, art, music.
That the human grub can lift itself out of the concerns inherent in grub world is quite miraculous. Unfortunately, most human grubs dedicate their intelligence to greater success in grub world, and cannot see beyond. However, some see the use of our reflective consciousness and reason as a way of getting varying levels of relief from grub world. The study of philosophy has no payback in grub world, and for most human grubs it would seem a complete waste of time (it doesn’t deliver more money, greater fame, or more power). For some however, pursuits such as art and philosophy are their own reward and lift the awareness out of the grub eat grub existence that dominates sentient life.
Non-grub activities seem to be a privilege available to human grubs, although most show no interest in them. This is an extraordinary thing – a mode of activity that does not involve pushing something down the gullet and excreting the waste from the anus. Whatever next?