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This essay explores how the human biological self is socially constructed, and rejects various truisms that define our character. Rather than being stand-alone entities, the human biological self forms what biologists call “superorganisms” and what I call “poly-super-organisms.” Thus, along with prokaryotes (bacteria), viruses, and other entities, we are combined in an inseparable menagerie of species that is spread across multiple bodies. Biologists claim that only males and females are organisms. As described here, however, human sperm and eggs are equally entitled to that rank. Much about human reproduction is also socially constructed. For example, contrary to scientific wisdom, humans have always reproduced both sexually and asexually. Moreover, human life (the creation of a new organism) does not begin between conception and birth, and neither event creates new life. In addition, some cancer cells are organisms; they are contagious entities formed by asexual human reproduction. Finally, while science universally describes humans as being living entities, accumulating evidence makes clear that the life concept is failing. In fact, much that originates from human bodies does not fall under current biological or cultural classifications.
How we construct the human biological self has consequences for understanding our health, how we reproduce, and what we are. These social constructions greatly influence our views on abortion, stem-cell research, human cloning, and our post-human future. A more accurate construction of the human biological self will help us better navigate these contentious issues.