Unnatural Intelligence, or, The Chimp that Studied Humanities
In many ways, this short story functions as a dystopian critique of capitalism and a warning for our society’s over-emphasis on empirical sciences for solving humanity’s problems, such as climate change and resource scarcity. The Chimp That Studied Humanities reveals the potential for discovering the hidden methods of exploitation our society has disguised around us in order to extract as much material wealth as possible. This story’s dystopian characteristic is that all organization and institutions operate according to absolute neoliberalism, – where money and profit are the primary considerations for all human and governmental decisions – where enough money can justify anything. The history of how capitalism inspired settler colonialism is an extremely graphic and traumatic narrative that is metaphorized through the chimps’ manipulation, torture, and exploitative labor. It is a history so profoundly depressing and disgusting that I sometimes wish I never learned of such accounts; but recognizing such bleak realities is necessary in order to identify and address the ongoing destructiveness of white supremacist heteropatriarchal institutions. This story shows that studying the humanities might not contribute to further material wealth, however it will unlock an understanding of the world and offer a brighter and creative vision for the future – brighter than mega-capitalists’ short-sighted solutions for addressing the climate crisis. In this narrative, there is no good or evil actor. There are only those with power and those without it. Our society’s over-emphasis on empirical studies have shifted attention away from creativity and self-reflection in favor of prioritizing productive physical and cognitive labor. Students are trained to apply formulas and answer the prompts using strict academic conventions. Phil488W gave me the freedom to push myself creatively to craft a meaningful piece of work. This project was an enjoyable exercise in imagination that contrasted my otherwise formulaic approach towards academia.