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Between an Animal and a Machine

Stanisław Lem’s Technological Utopia


Paweł Majewski

The subject of this book is the philosophy of Stanisław Lem. The first part contains an analysis and interpretation of one of his early works, The Dialogues. The author tries to show how Lem used the terminology of cybernetics to create a project of sociology and anthropology. The second part examines Lem’s essay Summa technologiae, which is considered as the project of human autoevolution. The term «autoevolution» is a neologism for the concept of humans taking control over their own biological evolution and form in order to improve the conditions of their being. In this interpretation, Summa is an example of a liberal utopia, based on the assumption that all human problems can be resolved by science. Various social theories, which can be linked to the project of autoevolution, are presented in the final part.

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17 Themes of Lampoon of Evolution

17Themes of Lampoon of Evolution

In Part Three of this book I will discuss the last chapter of ST, and then some of the currents in contemporary philosophy and sociology, which in one way or another seem to be akin to Lem’s project of autoevolution. These are mostly convergences rather than any kind of genetic affinities, and will partly be constructed through my interpretations. The aim is to show that Lem’s work, especially ST, has great albeit so far unacknowledged significance for the contemporary problems of our civilization.

The last chapter of ST is titled “Lampoon of Evolution.” It includes a description of the project of autoevolution of human species, the very description to which the rest of ST is but a set of introductory studies, as I have suggested earlier. The word “lampoon” ought to be taken with a grain of salt, just as other rhetorical devices Lem uses in the titles of his chapters and sections of ST. It is a testimony to Lem’s personal and internally diverse attitude to bioevolution. He both admires the phenomenon, which he often hypostatizes, and is critical and hostile to it. The admiration comes from the fact that bioevolution has produced such amazing beings as a biological cell and rational humans.180 The criticism and hostility stem from the fact that for Lem the rationalist the process is unbearable in how blindly random it is. This randomness has had a huge impact on the emergence of our species, on its physical and physiological shape and, more implicitly, on our minds, our culture and our history.

Autoevolution is to be, among other things, our response to this randomness. The fate, incarnated in stochastic mutation and selection processes, led to a situation where we, as the only form of life to our knowledge, have the ability to transform our mode of existence. It can be seen as the highest form of autarky.

The difference between “the artificial” and “the natural” thus begins to blur because “the artificial” is capable of exceeding “the natural” within any range of parameters that are of importance to the Designer … Man [as a bodily creature – PM] remains the last relic of Nature, the last “authentic product of Nature” inside the world he himself is creating. This state of events cannot last for an indefinite period of time. The invasion of technology created by man into his body is inevitable. (299–300) ←147 | 148→

Lem is again giving voice to his credo, as heavy as it is with implicit anthropological assumptions: we do not choose autoevolution; it is an inevitable result of a choice made centuries earlier. As it happened many times before in history, chance becomes necessity.

How will the process develop? In “Reconstructing the Species” section there are three alternative scenarios offered. In the first one autoevolution happens “only” through biotechnology – in its stage we already know today.

In this case, biotechnology’s tasks will consist in eliminating diseases or preventing them and also in replacing waning functions or defective organs with their biological substitutes (such as transplants, tissue grafts) or with technical ones (prostheses). (300)

According to Lem “this is the most traditional and shortsighted approach” (300), and it is based on an assumption that “the human organism is given and thus fixed in its overall design” (300). This entails accepting the basic postulate – in the context of the public debate on biotechnology – presented by contemporary social and political humanism, that is, the inviolability of the biological structure of our species. But even this “traditional and shortsighted approach” already represents an excessive intervention into the human condition for many scholars and commentators today. The contrast is a clear testimony of how foreign all forms of humanism are to Lem, whether right-wing/conservative or left-wing/liberal. This issue will be discussed separately later.

The second option is “a plan for creating ‘the next model’ of Homo sapiens” (301), in which “while doing everything as described earlier [i.e. in the first option] it is possible to combine those actions with a superior one, which will involve replacing Nature’s evolutionary gradients with man’s purposefully regulatory activity” (300). This variant is then all about replacing evolution with construction, and chance with a plan. Describing those scenarios, Lem was constantly aware how controversial every sentence is from the point of view of standard humanist and anthropological values. In the early 21st century this tension between the humanist framework and projects of autoevolution did not decrease, but it actually became stronger – as we shall see when analyzing contemporary discussion on the subject. It is because now the potential for actually realizing these ideas is much bigger than when Lem wrote ST. This means that “the threat to humanity” – as the defenders of status quo put it – became more imminent. So it is necessary to look very carefully at how Lem referred to potential criticism directed at his ideas.

To the question about the purpose of the autoevolutionary activities described in option two, Lem offers the following answer:←148 | 149→

It may focus on eliminating all those harmful consequences caused by the absence of natural selection, which destroys the inadequately adapted, from the artificial environment of that civilization. Alternatively, it may replace a modest program with a comprehensive one: that of biological autoevolution. The aim of the latter is to form an ever greater number of perfect human types (through scientifically changing hereditary parameters, e.g., mutability, susceptibility to cancers, body shape, inner- and cross-tissue correlations, and, last but not least, parameters that regulate life span or even the size and complexity of the brain). In other words, this would be a plan for creating ‘the next model’ of Homo sapiens extended in time over hundreds or perhaps even thousands of years. It would take place through slow and gradual changes rather than a sudden leap – which would smooth out intergenerational differences. (300–301)

The first two sentences of the passage describe an alternative. The first segment seems to be a declaration from a supporter of aggressively eugenic practices – this is what the mention of “eliminating all those harmful consequences caused by the absence of natural selection” might suggest. I believe, however, that this is simply an effect produced by the clumsy structure of the sentence. Its actual meaning would be: “a moderate” version of autoevolution should eliminate those factors from human biology that cause diseases and feebleness of the body – so it would not so much replace natural selection in its eliminating function, but rather finally free the human species from qualities that this selection would be eliminating in the past. This way we would get rid of dilemmas of keeping alive people who are fully paralyzed or incurable and suffering, or the elderly, or children with serious developmental defects. In natural conditions, or even as late as in the first half of the last century, all these people would have no chance of survival. However, the progress in medicine and other sciences led to a situation in which the possibility (and medical obligation) to keep them alive begins to clash with other ethical principles, resulting in the discussion about euthanasia (I will be discussing that later). “The second scenario” Lem presents has a strictly utilitarian goal: engineering human bodies, independently from their biological heritage in order to improve them, so that no flaw in our bodies interferes with us benefiting from the fruits of scientific growth.

This second scenario is “the maximum program” (the first one is “the modest option”). It goes beyond even the most liberal contemporary criteria regulating biotechnology, but for Lem this is not the last word. Soon after he writes:

Third, perhaps the whole problem should be treated in a far more radical way. We can consider as inadequate both Nature’s design solution to the problem of ‘What is an Intelligent Being to be like?’ and the solution that could be reached by autoevolutionary means learned from Nature. Instead of improving or ‘patching up’ the model that exists within a certain set of parameters, it is possible to set some new arbitrary values for them. Instead of a relatively modest biological life span, we could demand quasi-immortality. ←149 | 150→Instead of strengthening the design provided by Nature within the constraints set by its building material, we could demand the highest strength that the existing technology can offer. In other words, we could replace reconstruction with a total rejection of the existing solution and then design a completely new one. (301)

This passage carries a barely concealed postulate to reject humanity. People who would be so radically transformed, so completely designed anew on their own, would no longer be people. They would become a form of intelligent life completely foreign to us. I suggest that for now we put aside the most immediate reactions to such an idea: shock, laughter or indifference. Let us focus on this “foreignness.” Here and further on Lem sees it mostly as a physical difference. Posthumans would be tougher, stronger, more immune to things. Yet, it is also possible – and, I think, necessary – to ask about the intellectual difference. It is true that we cannot say anything about it with certainty – even if we assume this is all more than just an irresponsible vision of an intellectual suffering from ennui. However, on behalf of the possible future posthuman, we can consider those trends in our human world and the way we think about the world, which seem to lead toward the posthuman condition. This part of my book will be devoted to those trends exactly.

Very aware of how unobvious his vision is, Lem devotes subsequent pages to a critique of it. He begins with the arguments in support of his position, mostly repeating what he has said earlier (301–303). And then, he gives the floor to an opponent of autoevolution. It is worth quoting his opinion in its entirety, as it proves that, despite the appearances, Lem was actually very sensitive to humanism – even though he rejected it.

In reply, we say that the supporter of the revolution in human redesign does not probably realize what the consequences of his postulates may be. We are not just talking about some narrowly conceived attachment to man’s present body. The whole of culture and art, including some of its most abstract theories, is saturated with corporeality the way it was formed and shaped by Nature. Corporeality has informed the canons of every historical aesthetic, of every existing language, and, through that, of the totality of human thought. Our spirit is corporeal too: it is not that this word derives from respiration. Contrary to what it may seem, there are no values that could have emerged without the presence of the corporeal factor. Love itself is entirely corporeal–in its least physiological sense. It would be an act of extreme madness if man really was to undergo a transformation owing to the technologies that he himself has created and if he would consider a robot with a perfect crystalline brain his successor. It would actually amount to a collective suicide of the human race, even though such a suicide would be covered up by the apparent continuation of humanity in thinking machines – which are part of the technology created by man. In this way, man would ultimately allow the technology he himself has brought about to push him out of his place of existence, of his ecological ←150 | 151→niche. Having removed a less adapted species from the stage of history, technology would thus become a new synthetic species. (303)

No opponent of biotechnology and autoevolution could put it better. This passage also shows Lem’s attitude to body, albeit from different angle than in the analyses I presented earlier. Here it is clear that Lem’s hatred of the body stems not only from aesthetical criteria, but also from his view of the omnipotence of body and corporeality over human existence as a whole. Therefore his reference to humanism is quite peculiar, as no version of humanism in the European culture has ever emphasized the corporeal character of our existence quite so much, even though, as I shall show later, there are numerous covert similarities between the autoevolutionary project and some versions of humanism. Lem is not a naturalist here though, as for him “Body” is not identical with genotype or phenotype, or with any other physiological factor, which contemporary naturalist reductionists see as the factor, that determines our lives in full. “Body” is just a figure here, as “Designer” or “Nature” were in the earlier chapter. It expresses Lem’s rejection of this particular element of our being that is painfully limiting, as it does not allow us to reach the heights of existence, which we have discovered through our minds. It could be said that at this point in his thinking – paradoxically – Lem is something of a “technological spiritualist,” awaiting not the enslavement of the soul in a machine, but a liberation of it from the body by machine.

The terms “robot” and “thinking machines” that Lem uses are not exactly accurate here – they are meant to emphasize that the opponent is an amateur. As I have already shown, the thing is not to transform people into copies of C3PO from Star Wars, nor to move human minds into computer networks the way extropians suggested. If we are to analyze Lem “seriously,” it is necessary to remember that a robot is one thing, an android is another, and a cyborg yet another type of entity – and none of these has much to do with computers. These terminological differences will be clarified in Chapter 23.

The response from the supporter of the project of reconstructing the species (303–305) is based on negating the importance of the past, so if we were to locate the discussion on a scale between conservatism and liberalism, this position would be on the liberal side. So what, he says, that our biological body determines our being, experience and understanding of the world? So what, given that the body itself, born from a million of accidental mutations and selections, has multiple flaws and disadvantages? Evolution shaped them for the sole purpose of survival, while we have long been pursuing other goals. “I do not believe in any solutions that would be final” (305) – which means: it is merely ←151 | 152→accepted custom and our limited imagination that lead us to believe that our current material form is the only one possible. And anyway, this form – Lem repeats his favorite theme – is a source of constant suffering for us, because, for instance, the proximity of sexuality and the excretory system disgust and shame us, giving rise to numerous dilemmas of our culture. Its defender would say that this is why it is valuable. But is it worth it to pay such a high price for this value? – Lem asks.

Today we believe that it is possible to create a symphony … via a conscious mental effort. At the same time, the thought of “composing” a successor for ourselves … seems like a terrible heresy. Yet the desire to fly … also used to be seen as heresies in the past … If we are to behave like intellectual cowards, we can, of course, remain silent on the topic of any probable future developments. But in that case, we should at least make it clear that we are behaving like cowards. Man cannot change the world without changing himself. We can take the first steps on a given path while pretending we do not know where it leads. Yet this is not the best strategy. (305)

“Yes,” the defender would say, “but is this exploration from flying to autoevolution always legitimate, or are there limits to it?” In other words, is there a point beyond which a thought of change does become a heresy? Heart transplant was supposed to be it, and then artificial insemination – but after the fact we have accepted them. Now we are facing the possibility of cloning and label it a “heresy.” What about radical autoevolution? Lem does not see the objection because he is an ardent supporter of progress, a true child of Europe, with its mysterious desire to constantly exceed its limits. It has to be said very clearly here, that writing about “culture” and “civilization,” and their transformations inspired by the posthuman utopia, I am only writing about the culture and civilization of the West; I would not get into a discussion about how it could affect the whole world through globalization, which, by the way, has become problematic, to say the least, in light of the events of the first 15 years of the 21st century. The utopian character of Lem’s utopia is based on the fact that it is really a u-topia, as we do not know where it will be fulfilled (if it is to be fulfilled): on the entire planet, or in one of its parts. In short, Lem’s whole thinking about technology is deeply rooted in the type of thinking that is characteristic of the Western culture, as its fundamental premise is that people will always aim to fulfill their whole potential, following the credo “if something can be done, let us do it.” The cultures of the East, of Mesoamerica or Africa, did not know this type of thinking. But for Lem the richness of cultures and their philosophical and anthropological foundations have no significance. It is important because he treats the Western thought – especially in the realm of technological progress – as the only possible way of approaching these issues. For him a culture whose members would consciously refuse to fulfill their entire technological potential would likely be flawed. Those ←152 | 153→supercivilizations that have been mentioned here before, which are concealing their presence in the universe, have not and would not withhold progress, they simply hid its results, or would hide them.

His position can then be categorized as “Eurocentric liberalism” – if we were to measure Lem against the contemporary spectrum of worldviews. However, looking at it from a different angle, at no point does Lem want to pass for a hardheaded anti-humanist; he knows this would make him an adherent of the “ideology of scientist technocracy,” as Kołakowski labeled him. So, before he responds to the charge of lack of specifics laid by his imaginary opponent with a detailed presentation of biotechnological parameters of autoevolution, he again expresses some general opinions about his own bold project:

[The autoevolutionist] before he moves on to discuss the position adopted by his rationalist opponent,181 he reveals that the first standpoint is actually not that alien to him. It is because, deep down, he feels the same strong objection to any plans for species reconstruction that the person who has condemned it in absolute terms does. But the autoevolutionist sees such future transformation as inevitable, which is why he is looking for all kinds of reasons that would support it, so that the necessary action overlaps with the outcome of the decision made. He is not an a priori opportunist; he does not think that what is necessary must at the same time be good. At the same time, he hopes that it at least may turn out to be good. (307)

One is almost tempted to add: freedom is the recognition of necessity. There is a degree of fatalism in Lem’s thinking that finds expression in this sort of declarations. But perhaps it should rather be called intellectual heroism, as it is also true that it takes great courage to look into the future of our species. So far it seems that there is indeed no escaping technology, no stopping its progress. We need to be thinking about what is next; otherwise we will just be carried by it. We shall soon see, though, that for Lem there is apparently no difference between thinking and doing.

To bring out the opposition between bioevolution and autoevolution even more, Lem writes at the beginning of the next chapter (“Constructing Life”):

To design a dynamo machine, one does not need to know the history of its invention process. A young engineer can do very well without it. The historical circumstances that ←153 | 154→shaped the first generations are, or at least can be completely irrelevant to him … This kind of separation from developmental history is unknown in biology. (307)

It is unknown in biology – and therefore the process of bioevolution is inevitably burdened with the past, largely affecting our physicality. Our mind is also historical, albeit for somewhat different reasons. “Separation from history” will be an advantage of autoevolution – which is nothing less than an engineered construction. This is another reason why humanism, burdened with history,182 is so irrelevant to projects of autoevolution.

It needs to be added here that historicity of bioevolution and historicity of humanism are two very different phenomena, which can be put next to each other here only because, as I have shown, Lem seems to have a tendency to identify reality with discourse about it, and he does so permanently for the reality of bioevolution. Bioevolutionary processes are historical insofar as each subsequent form of life retains certain qualities of its predecessors. Historicity of humanism is based on a system of values established within the Western culture and accepted throughout most of its existence. One of its major characteristics is the desire to remember the past (which is a characteristic the West happens to share with most human cultures). Both types of historicity lose their meaning in the face of autoevolution. It will explain why a bit later.

On the following pages of ST, Lem discusses those aspects of biological evolution, which can be perfected in autoevolution. The long section “Constructing Life” (307–319) includes a description of the basics of the “species technology,” which again subtly weaves together the discourses of biology and engineering, while the author uses cybernetic notions for instance to explain processes of cellular metabolism. A detailed analysis of this section of ST is not necessary for the purposes of this book. Lem uses rhetorical devices here that I have already discussed in the context of the entire ST, producing the same effect: a strong suggestion that it is possible to identify biotechnological engineering with the process of bioevolution, or at least an easy shift from bioevolution to bioconstruction is possible. The following paragraph merits particular attention:

Seen in this way, human evolution deserves both a positive and a negative evaluation. Negative, since … it deprived its final and highest products, that is, us, [emphasis – PM] ←154 | 155→of the opportunity to continue in a steady manner the work of progress on the biological level. Biotechnological as well as moral aspects stop us from simply continuing with the evolutionary methods: biotechnological because we are too determined as a particular design solution by Nature’s causal forces, and moral because we reject the method of blind trials and that of blind selection. (314)

The passage I have quoted in bold above should probably be treated as a lapsus calami, as it is a mark of a teleological approach to bioevolution, which was something science started being accused of in the mid-20th century at the latest, and which Lem usually carefully avoids.183 It is quite possible though that this “crack in the text” actually reveals Lem’s belief in human superiority over other forms of life. This would fit his utopian anthropological assumptions and would be yet another proof of his implicit humanism that he is striving to eradicate from his discourse on technology. The rest of the passage on the other hand is about the qualitative change that the shift from bioevolution to bioconstruction necessitates. Lem does not describe the character of the change precisely; it is related, however, to all of the premises of the autoevolution project.

Later in the text, especially in the section “Constructing Consciousness” (322–327) Lem again returns to problems he has already discussed, above all the issue of consciousness and the theory of information in the context of bioconstruction. After a number of detailed remarks on these subjects he produces another powerful general declaration. It is as follows:

One of the Nobel laureates, who received the prize precisely for his studies on heredity, and thus may be said to be directly interested in similar [i.e. biotechnological] achievements, declared that he would not want to live to see them actualized owing to the terrifying responsibility man would then have to take on.

Although creators of science deserve the greatest respect, it seems to me that the preceding point of view is not worthy of a scientist. One cannot simultaneously make discoveries and avoid taking responsibility for their consequences … The scientist tries in vain to narrow down his research so that it takes the form of information gathering, which is protected with a thick wall against problems to be covered by its application. Evolution … acts ruthlessly. In gradually getting to know its engineering activities, man cannot pretend that he is gathering solely theoretical knowledge. (335)

“The Nobel laureate” is James Watson, and his words are a leading theme in discussions on bioethics today. Lem’s commentary on one hand justifies autoevolution (but in what sense?), but on the other it contradicts the separation between science and social practice that has been articulated many times throughout ST. It is another point when Lem’s persona as a scholar is in conflict ←155 | 156→with his persona as a utopian humanist. And as to the sense of justification of autoevolution – I have put it into question in the parentheses above as Lem does not distinguish – here or elsewhere – between predictions about autoevolution from the practice of it. That is, he does not see that in the context of the social role of thinking there is a difference between thinking about a possibility of a certain development leading to autoevolution and thinking about autoevolution as if it were certain to happen. Confusing those two modes is another feature of Lem’s discourse, which locates it in the utopian realm.

The last paragraph from the section “Reconstructing Man” is a testimony of to what extent Lem’s thinking remains determined by implicit assumptions that are fundamentally “Western”:

What is therefore possible? Almost everything, with just one exception. Having considered in advance, people could decide one day, many thousands of years from now, “Enough! Let things be the way they are now; let them remain like this forever. Let us not change, seek, or discover anything new, since things cannot be better than they are now, and even if they could, we do not want it.”

Even though I have outlined many unlikely things in this book, this one seems to me the most unlikely of them all. (348)

It is clear: we do not stop discovering and creating, because this is just what we are, and it is so obvious that we do not even ask why we are like that. Contemplative attitudes are fundamentally alien to Lem.184 This conviction of his, which he does not seem to be aware of, but treats it as a given of reality, is the same one as the conviction that is the foundation of the entire posthumanist utopia, which I will be analyzing on the following pages.

In the eighth chapter of ST, Lem mentions cyborgs in passing as well. A short section “Cyborgization” (348–350) begins with a statement that:

Separate consideration needs to be given to the only project of human reconstruction proposed by scientists with which we are familiar today – a project that is still purely hypothetical. Yet this is not a project for universal reconstruction. It is supposed to serve some particular goals, that is, an adaptation to the Universe as an “ecological niche.” It goes under the name of “cyborg” (which is an abbreviation of the term “cybernetic organization”). (348–349)

Lem certainly has in mind the first scientific text about cyborgs, which is now the classic article on the subject by two Americans, Manfred E. Clynes and Nathan S. Kline, “Cyborgs and Space,” which was published in Astronautics journal in ←156 | 157→1960. (I will discuss it in more detail in Chapter 23.) Approaching the idea of cyborgs as a purely technological concept is characteristic of the early discourse on the subject. For Lem, it is only one of the possible routes autoevolution could take (but the only one explicitly articulated at the time). In today’s discussions it plays a much more eminent role, as we shall see soon.

This is really where ST ends.185 The final two sections of “A Lampoon…” (“The Autoevolutionary Machine” and “Extrasensory Phenomena”, 351–358) contain only side notes to the main theme. The first one is devoted to a peculiar kind of eugenics. Lem floats an idea of a machine that would match couples to marry each other in such a way that they produce offspring with the best possible phenotype. Those critics, who mentioned the idea, approached it with skepticism, to say the least.186 For Lem, however, it seems not to have had any ethically dubious qualities, as the last sentence of the passage states:

“Cutting up people’s brains and bodies” [i.e. “strong” autoevolution] evokes disgust, whereas “machinic marriage counseling” seems to be quite an innocent intervention – yet these are just two paths of different lengths that can both lead to analogous results. (354)

In the conclusion of ST, the author emphasizes how important it is to focus the autoevolutionary activity on the molecular level of life and he again invokes comparisons between “natural language” and “language of the genetic code”:

From twenty letters of amino acids Nature constructed a “pure” language, which expresses – via a slight rearrangement of nucleotide syllables – plagues, viruses, bacteria, T-rexes, termites, hummingbirds, forests, and nations, as long as it has bought time at its disposal. This language, so perfectly atheoretical, anticipates not only the conditions at the bottom of the oceans … but also the quantum character of light, thermodynamics, electrochemistry, echolocation, hydrostatics – and many other things we still know nothing about. It does so only “practically,” because, though it causes everything, it does not understand anything – yet its lack of intelligence is much more productive than our wisdom.187 … It truly makes sense to learn such a language – because it constructs philosophers, while ours constructs only philosophies. (360–361)

This declaration would explain why Lem paid so little attention to cyborgs whose possible construction happens on the level of entire bodies and organs, not molecules. Lem was a real enthusiast of biotechnology, and if one wanted to ←157 | 158→follow his path, a history of genetic engineering and discussions about it should be written. I will do something different though. I have been trying to show here that ST as a whole is a project of autoevolution. According to Lem autoevolution can happen in different ways. I am most interested in the one, which entails far-reaching spiritual consequences. Even the most advanced uses of biotechnology do not, I believe, lead to a qualitative change in the human condition. People do not cease to be people. Cyborgization does cause such a leap. I will present the arguments in favor of these strong theses later in the text. At this point I just want to preliminarily explain my choice. Moreover, I have suggested many times that ST is a utopia, but the ideas regarding cyborgs today are no less utopian (as opposed to bioethical discussions), and that is another link here. I want to focus now on the utopianism of ST and Lem’s thinking about technology as a whole.

180In ST as in other texts Lem sings praises of the genius with which organelles are designed and how they can adapt. In Lampoon, in the section titled “In the Eyes of the Designer” (335–346) there is a whole catalogue of Evolution’s flaws as seen by Lem.

181Calling the defender of humanity “a rationalist” is quite a perfidious device, which allows Lem to, on the one hand, emphasize the specificity of the charges against autoevolution, but, on the other hand, to suggest that his opponent is somehow too earthly. Lem seems to be using the colloquial understanding of the word, which he would have probably used with a different meaning when referring to himself.

182I am not invoking the title of Hayden White’s famous essay (The Burden of History) by accident. Narrativist historians pay great attention to the very process of accumulation of narratives making up “history.” This accumulation leads to increasing difficulties in grasping the possible meanings organizing history and human culture on all levels. Yet humanism cannot reject “the burden of history,” without rendering itself meaningless.

183See Chapter 6 about narrative in evolutionary biology.

184Yet, see later the discussion of “The Twenty-First Voyage” in my chapter “Introduction to Autoevolution.”

185I am not including here the “Afterword. Twenty years later,” which was added to the fourth Polish edition of ST. I do not think it adds anything new to the whole work.

186Cf., for example, Szpakowska…, 75–76.

187Cf. the conclusion of Chapter 13. ←158 | 159→