People were always interested in the aspects which could influence their consciousness and behavior. In his book Cosmos, Carl Sagan discusses a lot of problematic questions associated with the spheres of evolution, science, philosophy, and sociology, providing the large context for the people’s actions because of their considerable evolutionary heritage expressed in the global knowledge collected during thousands of years.
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According to Sagan, people have the significant, but dangerous evolutionary baggage which influences their actions and considerations, and this baggage can be discussed as the definite knowledge collected by the generations and as certain collected human features and qualities on which people’s reactions and activities depend.
If the notion of ‘evolutionary baggage’ can be explained with references to the concepts of the development of the world and progress of a man in it, in order to understand its ‘dangerous’ character, it is important to pay more attention to the details of the historical development of the society and evolution of the man as a human being.
Sagan states that all the answers to the problematic questions can be found with the help of exploring the Cosmos because this exploration can be discussed as “a voyage of self-discovery” (Sagan 318). Moreover, Sagan stresses that people are the children both of the sky and the Earth. Thus, during the humans’ term on this planet, “we have accumulated dangerous evolutionary baggage, hereditary propensities for aggression and ritual, submission to leaders and hostility to outsiders, which place our survival in some question” (Sagan 318).
In spite of the fact the author also refers to the positive heritage which is the developed compassion for others as the characteristic human feature, the dangerous effect of the ‘baggage’ requires its detailed discussion because the consequences of people’s using this ‘baggage’ can be irreversible.
Sagan pays attention to the example of the possible nuclear war as a result of the humans’ evolution and progress in technologies. The author states that as the “technology improved, the means of war also improved” (Sagan 326). Although people are inclined to develop the strategies and approaches to coping with the problems of slavery and racism, they are also ready to destroy the world with the help of the most powerful weapons.
The history provides the examples of dangerous nuclear attacks, but there are also examples of the higher levels of altruism (Sagan 330). According to Sagan, this controversy is in the human nature and the processes of evolution contribute to complicating the situation.
The author focuses on exploring the conflict of the people’s passions and their “better natures” in detail and states the physiological causes for the conflict which is between the deep “ancient reptilian part of the brain, the R-complex, in charge of murderous rages, and the more recently evolved mammalian and human parts of the brain, the limbic system and the cerebral cortex” (Sagan 326). That is why, people are able to resist their instincts which can be discussed as dangerous with the help of their inner balance.
People’s ‘dangerous evolutionary baggage’ is the challenge for them to state their humanity and save the world from destructing by their own means. In spite of the fact all the people’s actions have definite consequences and they are not always positive with references to the dangerous baggage, it is impossible to reject the fact that the persons’ achievements today are the results of the other people’s activities many years and generations ago.
Sagan, Carl. Cosmos. USA: Random House, 1980. Print.