Bioethics in India: Proceedings of the International Bioethics Workshop in Madras: Biomanagement of Biogeoresources, 16-19 Jan. 1997, University of Madras; Editors: Jayapaul Azariah, Hilda Azariah, & Darryl R.J. Macer, Copyright Eubios Ethics Institute 1997.
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9. The Fifth Kingdom

S. Natarajan, C. Arunachalam

VOC College, Tuiticorin 628 008.


Abstract We propose a hypothesis which will fulfill the objective of finding a meaning in life and human identity. This hypothesis should provide an answer to the search for right and good in life. The hypothesis states that a new form of life is evolving, which has been called "the 5th kingdom". This new form of life evolves by using people as building blocks for further evolution. And in the process, it modifies human behaviour. Language evolved as a tool for integrating humans into social units.

Introduction Evolution is a continuous and gradual process. It is possible to trace the origin and gradual evolution of any organ or behaviour. We run into difficulty when we study human language. Language does not exist anywhere in the animal kingdom. There is no human society, however primitive which does not have a fully developed language. There is no such thing as a primitive language or proto language. We cannot trace its gradual evolution, like we could for the eye or the heart. Chomsky compares language to an external organ. (Chomsky, 1968). The gap is infinitely wide. This is a paradox which current evolutionary theory cannot explain. How do we account for this? If we look at language, as a means of communication and as a tool for passing information, we are at a dead end. One way to get out of this situation is to assume that the primary function of language is "something else", while communication is only a secondary function. This paper is an attempt to find what that "something else" is. We have to go right back to the beginning of time and to the Big Bang, nearly 14 billion years ago. Before the Big Bang there was nothing. The universe, as we know, starts from the Big Bang. In the nanoseconds after the Big Bang. Energy was produced which condensed into fundamental particles, which became elementary particles, namely the proton, neutron and the electron. These three acted as building blocks to create about 110 elements. The 110 elements acted as building blocks to create innumerable compounds.

Order: Void

Electromagnetic Energy

1. Electron, Neutron, Proton 2. Atom - Elements 3. Molecules - Compounds 4. Cells - Unicellular life forms 5. Multicellular organisms 6. The 5th kingdom

The elementary particles in a cell continue to obey the laws of physics, the atoms continue to obey the laws of chemistry, and the macromolecules perform as expected by molecular biologists. Each new order subsumes all the previous orders; nothing is lost. Yet, something new is created, and the new phenomenon brings of behaviour that require a new level of understanding and explanation. Life on each new level is created by using some individuals of the next lower level as building blocks. At each level the system under consideration may constitute an individual organism. A cell may be part of a tissue but may also be a microorganism which is part of an ecosystem, and very often it is impossible to draw a clear-cut distinction between these descriptions. Every subsystem is a relatively autonomous organism which also is a component of a larger organism; it is a "holon", in Arthur Koestler's (1978) term, manifesting both the independent properties of wholes and the dependent properties of parts. Thus, the persuasiveness of order in the universe takes on a new meaning: order at one level is the consequence of self-organization at a larger level. At first it may not be obvious why these four particular evolutionary leaps completely overshadow other changes such as the progression from fish to land animals, or from reptiles to birds. But look more closely. The first leap, which took place more than 3.5 billion years ago, was from the diverse biochemical reactions of the early earth to bacterial cells. This is the fundamental transition: the passage from the non-living at its most complex to the living at its simplest. It produced the first organism. A bacterium is essentially just a slurry of biochemicals and aggregates of macromolecules in a membrane sack, but it is alive. The second transition, some 2.1 billion years ago, was the evolution of higher cells, called eukaryotes. These exist today both as single-celled creatures and as the constituent cells of all plants and animals. Eukaryotic cells, which arose from the symbiotic union of bacteria, are more complex than bacteria and as much ten thousand times larger. These larger cells reproduce in a more sophisticated way than bacteria, have many separate internal compartments and specialized structures, and house this genetic material within a distinct nucleus. The next transition, the move to multicellularity some 700 million years ago, opened extraordinary new possibilities by enabling cells to move beyond their individual capacities. In this third phase of life's evolution, cells could begin to specialize and collaborate, thus building and refining much larger forms - BODIES. How well they succeeded! A tree spreads its leaves to capture sunlight, a clam filters food from the ocean waters, a frog flicks its tongue to a fly. As diverse as these complex creatures are, though, their fundamental anatomies are still only refinements of that single these: multicellularity. The distinction between the starfish. lizard, and human comes from differing arrangements of cells, not from differences in the fundamental properties of cells. The 5th kingdom arises by using multicellular organisms as building blocks to evolve a new kind of life.

Patterns of coordination exist in knit animal societies of higher complexity. Extreme examples are the social insects - bees, wasps, ants, termites, and others - that form colonies whose members are so interdependent and in such close contact that the whole system resembles a large, multi-creatured organism, Thomas (1975). Bees and ants are unable to survive in isolation, but in great numbers they act like the cells of complex organism with a collective and capabilities for adaptation far superior to those of its individual members Thomas (1975). Honey bees (Apis mellifera) adopt a method for temperature regulation. A typical nest contains about 20,000 to 50,000 bees. The workers, operating in teams, distributed around the hive, fan their wings to divert air currents in the most advantageous directions. The optimum temperature required at the brood nest must not fluctuate more than one or two degrees from 35C and this has to be maintained irrespective of the outside temperature. Extreme heat is particularly distressing to the bees and in hot weather hundreds of workers are co-opted as temporary house bees, pushing air currents through the hive with furiously buzzing wings. Humidity is also controlled within the hive and in the brood area is maintained between 35 and 45%. Excess water vapour tends to be removed by normal ventilation but in hot dry conditions full air conditioning principles have to be employed. The workers bring water to the hive in their crops and droplets are smeared over the combs. As this evaporates it helps to chill the air and increase the general water vapour content. When the temperature is very cold outside, some other strategy is adopted. The bees form an insulating layer around the brood chamber, thus insulating it. If this does not produce sufficient heat the bees consume the stored pollen and honey thus producing heat. In extreme cold conditions it has been observed that up to seven layers of bees form to keep the cold out of the brood chamber. The life of a honey bee nest is around 5 years. Whereas an ordinary working bee lives for only a few weeks. We can see the origins of life at the 5th kingdom in this. A study of other social insects yields additional proof. We also see the beginning of the 5th kingdom in the social activities of various mammals. Due to lack of time and space, we are unable to state them. We suggest you to refer to the references cited.

Results With these facts in mind, we propose the following hypothesis 1. A form of life is evolving that is entirely different from the life forms we know today.2. This different form of life is evolving from already existing life forms.3. This evolution takes place by modifying the behaviour of existing life forms. Such modification of behaviour is brought about by the creation of new organs, by the modification of existing organs, and by psychological means.4. This phenomenon is termed "Parallel Evolution" and the new form of life is classified in an entirely new kingdom, the 5th kingdom.

Discussion With this hypothesis in mind, let us study human beings. All people, even the most primitive, live in groups. There is no evidence of any individual living alone, out of society, in the natural state. All people have fully developed language. Language behaviour is not something taught to the child. All children acquire language naturally. There is a definite pattern how language develops in a child. This is very similar to the development of a bodily organ. The development of language goes hand in hand with the development of reason. Language and reason are inter-dependent. Language and reason enabled the small social groups of primitive humans to evolve into highly complex societies. By living in groups and in societies the capabilities of man expanded exponentially. The quality of life improved. It must be borne in mind that living in society enhances and not reduces man's capacities. Language, no doubt, is a product of the people who spoke that language but it is not dependent on any one individual. Language transcends individuality. It acquires a life of its own. Tamil has existed for more than 2000 years, through hundreds of generations. An individual cell of the body dies in a few days but the body continues to exist for many years. The language / speaker relationship is similar to that of the cell to the body. A modern society is built up by the combined efforts of the past and present members of the society. For example, much of present scientific knowledge is the product of western society. The sum total of all scientific knowledge is so huge that it is impossible for any one individual to comprehend everything. Knowledge exists by itself. It is not dependent on any one individual. It has a life of its own. This huge volume of scientific knowledge gains power over individual scientists. The effort of individual scientist is devoted to studying a single aspect of science. The sum total of the work done by various scientists, result in the development of scientific knowledge, much beyond the capacity of any one individual scientist. This is very similar to the action of the total brain viz. a viz. the individual neuron. 10 billion neurons constitute a single human brain. But no individual neuron can comprehend how the whole brain functions. The brain functions at a higher level than that of the individual neuron. This can be compared to society and the individual. Society is formed by the individuals who form the society. But society has a life independent of the individual. No individual can do what a society can. Society exists at a level higher than the level of the individual. Like the individual neuron which is incapable of understanding the working of the whole brain, the individual is incapable of understanding the functioning of a society. Society has a life of its own and we, who constitute the society, cannot comprehend all the demands and motivations of the society. We should not make the mistake of equating society with an individual animal. A new kind of life has emerged which is on a higher level than that of individuals. We the member of a society, can only have a glimmer of how it functions. We cannot grasp its totality. We are a part of something great about which we can only have the dimmest of awareness. It might be correct to infer that all our actions are oriented to fulfill the need of this new and higher life form. We are a part of the whole and not the whole. If we accept this hypothesis, then we can hope to understand the motives and forces that go to shape our behaviour. A close study of this phenomena can guide us in our daily life. We give below a few examples from some of the greatest political philosophers and social anthropologists which give substance to the views expressed above. Emile Durkheim, asserted that there was a specifically social aspect of reality which could not be reduced to the behaviour of individual organisms, Social facts, he said, were to be studied as "things" with an existence independent of the consciousness of individual people who make up society, Emile Durkheim (1895). Herbert Spencer saw close parallels between human societies and biological organisms. He argued that in a society, as in an organism, there is a perpetual removal and replacement of parts joined with a continued integrity of the whole. In this comparison the individual members of the society correspond to the cells of the organism. This is more than a metaphor; Spencer believed that the laws of biology should be equally applicable to the aggregation of cells and aggregation of individuals (Spencer, 1860). Because humans are endowed with speech and conceptional thought, we are able to pass on experience, so that every society has an accumulated heritage of knowledge, values and rules of conduct which is further developed in every generation. Thus, society is no longer merely the individual - it goes further.(Malinowski 1948). The social can be explained only by the social. The explanation of the social behaviour is not to be sought either in human biological constitution or in individual psychology (RW Firth, 1957 Man and Culture). People are political animals. The smallest known political unit is the Bushman. Bands of 50 to a 100 persons moving together from one water hole to the next constitute a band. Law is social control through the systematic application of force by the politically organised society (Radcliffe - Brown 1952). For Durkheim, religion was a metaphor for society itself - or, it might be more accurate to say, for the indispensable conditions of life in society. He wrote as if society is itself a kind of personalized being. Horton remarks that in societies that have remained uncharged over long periods of time, the relationships among people are readily taken as a model of an ordered system - Western Scientists find their models among things; African cosmologists find theirs among people (Horton, 1964). Every citizen of the Modern World is the subject of a state. They are legally bound to obey its orders, and the counters of our life are set by the norms that it imposes. These norms are the law, and it is this power to enforce them upon all who live within its boundaries that the essence of the state is to be formed. (Laski 1931). The state is the crowning point of the modern social edifice, and it is in its supremacy over all other forms of social grouping that its special nature it to be found (Laski 1931). The state is thus a way of regulating human conduct. Any analysis of its character reveals it as a method imposing principles of behaviour by which man must regulate their lives. The state orders us not to steal; it punishes us for a violation of its order. It lays a system of imperatives, and uses coercion to secure obedience to them. From its own stand point, the validity of those imperatives is self-derived. They are legal, not because they are good, or just, or wise, but because they are its imperatives. They are the legal expression of the way in which people should act as laid down by the authority which is alone is competent to make final decision of this kind (Laski 1931) In every state there is a will which is legally pre-eminent over all other wills. It makes the final determination of the society. It is a sovereign will. It neither receives orders from any other will, nor can it alienate its authority (Laski 1931). The state is thus a society of individuals submitted, if necessary, by compulsion, to a certain way life. All conduct in the society must confirm to that way. The rules which settle its character are the laws of the state, and they have necessary primary over all other rules (Laski 1931). Goodness consists in conformity with a code we have had no hand in making. We are asked to take a body or precepts upon trust, as embodying the inescapable results of the world process, the results from which we escape at the peril of our salvation. (Laski 1931).

The state has not been made but has grown (Laski 1931). The state is a way of regulating human conduct. It is a legal order the norms of which bind the behaviour of people in one way, rather than other. Its actions are one which none of its citizens are legally entitled to escape. The modern nation is the human group of strongest social cohesion, of most undisputed central authority and most clearly defined membership. (Neibhur 1960). The relation of the individual to the community is a complex one. A person looks up at the community as the fulfillment of their life and sustainer of their existence. By its organization, our physical and moral needs are met. Morally the community is, in the words of Hegel, the individual's "Concrete Universality". The highest features of individual consciousness and awareness are rooted in social experience and find their ultimate meaning in relation to the community. The individual is the product of the whole socio-historical process (Niebhur 1960). People require community because we are by nature social. We cannot fulfill our life with in ourself but only in a responsible and mutual relationship with our fellows. To be a part of a super-organism might at first seem incompatible with human individuality and personal freedom. But consider the red blood cells in the human body. In no other place could these cells more successfully bind and release Oxygen than suspended in the blood stream, nourished by other organs, and defended by other cells. Beyond any doubt, red blood cells are in the ideal place to do what they do best and thereby fulfill the natural potential of their individual lives. Their service to the body is an expression of their very nature, not an imposed burden. And they are amply repaid, because a healthy body, by its very nature, provides for their well-being.

Conclusion We started with the objective of finding meaning in life and human identity. It was to be a search for right and good in life. According to the ideas expressed in our hypothesis, human behaviour is conditioned by the needs of the society he lives in. A person can fulfill their life only in a responsible and mutual relationship with their fellows. The highest feature of individual consciousness and awareness are noted in social experience and find their ultimate meaning in relation to the community.


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