As a thought experiment, let’s reverse current philosophy that the Human Species has the only known sentient beings. Let’s not make humans part of the rule by removing our sentience (as in the philosophies that bring out our “animal heredity”), but rather by granting sentience to Everything Else.
If the one-celled creatures of which I am made were sentient (and still are) and bonded together in much the same way that humans form families and cities and states and countries, to form organs and circulatory systems and other sentient entities, then there is no need for anything new to emerge. Human culture would be evolution up close and personal. Culture wouldn’t Group out there all by itself as a human phenomenon. Just as one geographical area may become the energy producing area, or classical music center, or grain producing or wool producing area or city, so organs may have developed, specializing in digestion or respiration or hearing or sight.
We claim to be the only creature to have built structures as elaborate as our skyscrapers or our devices that allow us to conquer the skies and the sea. Consider that the one-celled creatures of which we are made, created us, creatures millions of times larger than they are (as a city is thousands or millions of times the size of an individual); creatures with eyes (Hubble telescopes?) that are able to bring back images and report these images to the rest of the colony; creatures with ears (satellites?) that are able to bring back sounds and report them to the rest of the colony, etc.
I feel very strongly that I have free will (at least now and then); do the members of the colonies that make up my inner cosmoses feel the same way?