EVOLUTION AND HUMAN DEVELOPMENT
Hugh M. Lewis
Evolution is the great mystery story of our planet earth.
It is our earth's origin mythology. How, why and where did life first begin,
and why did the age of the great dinosaurs or of the great mammals suddenly
come to an abrupt end. And we can push our speculations even much further back
in geological earth time and cosmological time to hypothesize an original act
of creation in terms of a universal Big Bang.
All traditional civilizations, major and minor, have had
origin myths which explain the past and provide validation for the present and
a sense of purpose in the future. Tenses of past, present and future are not
clearly separable in the mythological mentality. Scientific ideology elevated
to the status of a secular religion, has framed its own kind of origin
mythology in terms of stories about human evolution and the rise of modern
civilization, which confer upon our modern processes a kind of natural
legitimacy and inevitability of natural process. It is in this sense that
human evolution is to be understood in terms of the biological evolution of
humankind and the stories which have been written describe the important
events about this evolution. In this way the vales of the present can be
implicitly valorized in our collective representations of our remote pasts.
It is not without some significance that the closer we come
to our own epoch on our convergent time lines the more the problems and
paradoxes of historical counter evidence intrudes upon our common
sensibilities and sensitivities about our past and the less firm is our
mythological grasp of the ordering of events.
Our notions of temporal process, change and the dynamics of
evolution have been closely coupled in our collective imaginations with
ideologies of spiritual emanation, of progress toward utopia--or paradise in a
perfect period and a perfect place and of rational fulfillment or
'enlightenment' which is supposed to collectively free ideological linkages to
our mythological thinking about our remote pasts have a culture historical
precedence in the Christian doctrine of the Great Chain of Being which
envisioned the natural order of things as frozen since the age of creation
into a hierarchy in which man, penultimate only to God himself, stood proudly
The power of our ideologies of progress as these have
become evinced in our beliefs about science, technology, modernization and
development of our civilization was in large part the result of attempting to
reconcile our undeniable evidence and view of evolution with our own embedded
beliefs about our own innate, natural superiority on the Great Chain of Being.
Popular notions of natural selection, fitness and 'survival of the fittest'
survive in scientism today to explain the human rise from barbarity and
primitiveness to civilization and sophistication, of culture and civilization
from simplicity to complexity and of the rise of modern mankind from
inferiority and weakness at the hands of 'natural forces' to a superhuman
position of superiority and mastery over the elements of nature through our
science and technology.
In first proposing the biological theory of evolution,
Charles Darwin created a modern revolution of earth shaking proportions, not
only in the world of science but in the whole world. Not only has it lifted
the plane of scientific generality to a new order of thinking about change and
natural process on both local and grand scales, but it has challenged our
world and our view of our world for the first time with the vision of our own
nature, with our own relative fitness or lack of, and with the problem of our
own collective survival on earth. It has challenged our own basic
preconceptions about our own innate superiority on earth--our own
'anthropocentrism'--and its further development is leading to the challenge of
our collective ideologies of our own inevitable progress and becoming 'better'
Indeed, science has done much to excavate our deep sense of
the past, to exorcise our creation mythologies and to explicate the relations
and rules which have lead to the understanding of how we came to be on earth.
In the structure of the human and the natural long run, science is slowly
working to unearth and excoriate the layers of our own understandings about
ourselves and our world to uncover the ontological seed of our mind, of our
culture history and of our biological beginning.
In the understanding of evolution, several different
problems must be separated out as distinct, though interrelated, to one
another. The first is the question of natural evolution itself, and of the
logos of change and entropy which underlie this evolution. The second is the
question of the biological evolution of humankind as a distinct and special
species on earth, and of the general problem of defining precisely and
generally what constitutes human nature as it survives in us until today. The
third problem is that of the rise and development of human culture history and
the process of human civilization. The fourth is the understanding of the
problem of human development in the sense of the 'humanization' of humankind,
and of the evolution of mind of which human development is a function.
The first two sets of problems, natural evolution and human
biological evolution, are strictly speaking biological and scientific
problems, while the second two problems, the rise of human civilization and
the human development of mind are the proper domain of the study of culture
history. But in the interrelation between these problem sets it is not always
possible to sharply or clearly distinguish where and when one set of problems
leaves off and the other begins.
In general, the problems of human evolution can be
distinguished from the problems of the culture historical development of human
civilization in the sense that mythology, scientific or otherwise, can be
distinguished from history. Similarly the problem of the evolution of the
human body (and brain) in a way that symbols can be distinguished from sensate
signals, or that super organic patterning can be sorted out from organic
functioning, or that the historical development of languages can be separated
from the physiological production and innate capacity for speech.
But it is in seeing the interconnections and interrelation
between the natural science of evolution and the study of human culture
history, in the movement of understanding from biological beingness to
phenomenological sentience, that we can speak of a critical important
convergence of knowledge between sciences and humanities--of an evolutionary
science of culture historical development.
Though human culture historical process can be said to be
developmental, it remains essentially non-evolutionary in a natural biological
sense. The rise of modern human civilization has for the most part remained
disconnected from the genetic evolution of humankind, though the former has
always been conditioned by the latter, has always occurred within its frame,
and though the latter has become irreversibly altered by the former. We must
understand human culture historical development as what a single species has
done pheno-typically and environmentally on earth to enhance its survivorship
against natural forces. This process is not related to the larger framework of
speciation and evolutionary branching which is ecologically inter-species and
trans-specific. Furthermore, human development on earth has achieved its own
historical momentum and movement such that it continues in its own way and at
its own pace for the most part independent of any natural evolutionary
The developmental processes of human culture history are in
a historical sense irreversible, linear and unwinding toward a final sense of
completion. The natural processes of evolution are in a sense cyclical,
curvilinear and continuously diverging in multiple directions--it does not
necessarily unwinding toward a final sense of completion unless our
understanding of its patterning is yet partial and incomplete. It merely
continues on its day to day adaptations to altering rhythms of the earth's
environment, exploring and perhaps, in the long run, exhausting all its
possibilities. Human development has been a case of multiple variations upon a
common theme, many possible profiles within a single culture historical
horizon of mind--biological evolution has been limited variations upon
multiple themes of development, a few profiles of possibility within many
event horizons. On the other hand biological evolution has always been an
infinitude of possible patterning within a single environmental horizon of the
planet earth which is itself an phenomena of natural evolution, while human
culture historical evolution has essentially remained the thematic reiteration
of a few general human profiles within multiple horizons of period and place.
What is being emphasized is the sense of complementariness
between natural evolutionary process and human developmental processes. It is
tempting to describe this complementariness as a function of the dialectic
between nature and culture, evolution and development and in another sense,
between natural sciences and the humanities. In understanding this
complementariness based upon similarities and differences, it is important for
a hypothetical 'natural science of the evolution of human culture historical
development' to focus upon the points and periods in the remote past of
humankind in which there was a close interconnection between human evolution
and development and a simultaneous convergence and divergence of forces and
relations which resulted in the emergence of human mind and the beginning of
culture history and in the subsequent unfolding of its complementary but
It has become fashionable for sophisticated modern human
scientists to translate recent and distant human history in terms of gene
culture co-evolution with the explicit idea that one or the other tracks or
leads the other in fairly close, systemic and ecological ways. Such an
approach is held to promise a grand synthesis between ecological and
evolutionary approaches, between universal and particular scales of
understanding and between nature and culture. While the common sense of its
application to relatively recent historical or pre-historical developments of
human culture and civilization remain extremely problematic as so much
bio-cultural determinism which extracts the problem of historical diffusion
and the relative independence of different traits within given culture
historical complexes, it remains nevertheless an intriguing point of entry in
the hypothetical speculation of the remote and gradual emergence of human
culture and civilization during the biological evolution of Homo, and of a
long formative period of 'proto development' in which there perhaps were
closer connections in gene culture co-evolution.
From a scientific standpoint, there must be some point in
the natural evolution of humankind in which the innate capacity for
symbolization and culture eventually emerged, and which proto development
conferred upon its possessors an adaptive edge and evolutionary advantage.
This must have happened over some indeterminable period or frame of time which
from an historical standpoint was quite extended but from a larger, global
evolutionary framework was quite sudden and rapid.
The relations and processes of change at that particular
point and period must have been to some optimal degree cybernetic and systemic
and perhaps organic in a substantive sense. First and second order feedback
relationship between human organism and natural environment and between human
experience and organism must have occurred which lead to a step wise
evolutionary growth and development of human consciousness and culture.
This period of acceleration on the runway was a necessary
first step in the 'taking off' or 'first flight' of human civilization, which,
once gaining its own momentum, overcame the evolutionary laws of gravity which
kept all species in their environmental places, and led to eventually to the
processes of civilization and development to supersede and overcome, albeit
destructively, the natural processes of evolution.
In our recent development of global civilization, humankind
has become like an 'unnatural' alien predator species which, when introduced
and allowed to run wild in a new habitat, upsets and destroys the natural
balances which evolved and eliminates all competitor and host species until it
eventually eliminates itself or becomes the solitary island survivor.
In understanding the interconnections between human
evolution and development it is important as well to recognize the extent and
ways in which our evolutionary knowledge, our environmental memories, our
collective understandings and our ecological information is contained within,
carried and expressed by our on-going fund of human experience and modes of
experience. Our basic beingness contains the protoplasm of our own natures,
the secrets of our own origins and biological beginnings, and the adaptive
wisdom of our own kind. The way we experience our modern world have been
pre-conditioned and are rooted in the traces and fund of 'primitive
understandings' rooted in our past. This primeval and coeval experience of
humankind both individually and collectively and literarily and metaphorically
expressed, represents the evolutionary fund of our human development. To call
it instinctual or 'fixed action patterns' or 'deep structures' is to misplace
its concreteness in the anthropomorphizing of the ethological understandings
of other species. It is to zoomorphize humankind in a reductionistic sense.
Better perhaps to refer to it as 'intuition' at the base of our most common
sense, 'feeling' underlying both our universal sympathies and sentient
empathies, and our rational sublimity and imagination and our paradoxical
sense of individual uniqueness, self importance and pan humanness. It is to be
found in our existential self awareness of our own eventual demise as
reflected in the death of beings around us as well as in the innate needs and
biological rhythms of our own bodies.
It is a danger that collective illusions of our modern
scientism and developmental ideologies are teaching us to quickly unlearn and
collectively forget the lessons of our own basic beingness, to become aware in
both an organic and an apperceptive sense of the naturalness and wisdom of our
own experience and to rapidly replace the long evolved and developing modes of
human experience with a new, artificial kind of experience of non-being. This
substitution has been a very recent phenomena of human history--though its own
roots may go back several millennium--its blossoming today in terms of the
overwhelming power and persuasiveness of mass oriented, materialistic
electronic media is inducing an unprecedented phenomena of experiential
numbing and pan-human forgetting that is frightening in its proportions and
devastating in its consequences for basic human environmental adaptation and
continued natural evolution.
In a very real and basic sense our future adaptability and
survival depends upon our getting back in tune experientially with the nature
of our environments and with our own human natures. It is vital that we
relearn how to experience wholly again ourselves in our world without the
vicariousness and alienation which has become embedded in our modern
collective existence. This re-attunement is not a matter of secondary
elaboration of planning to be spontaneous and unplanned, of intending to
experience fully and undividedly. It is a matter of unlearning the kinds of
'unlearning'--the embedded constraints which we've acquired through our
adaptation to civilized environments.
In this, perhaps the mythological portrayal of primitive
man as a weapon wielding, violent and war mongering animal that regularly
slaughters his neighbors. This seems to have been more of a self fulfilling
prophecy of the projection of our own acquired violence than anything that has
necessarily been demonstrated by the Paleolithic or archaeological record. It
is in the exaggeration of our own aggressive impulses and overemphasis of our
capacities for violence in the world that we find most of our own alienation
from our own natures and from the natural world around us. It is in the many
ways which violence has become embedded in both our modern civilized way of
life and on our own ways of experiencing the world that we find our greatest
alienation and loss of our own attunement with the natural world.
Our symbolic experience is our greatest sense making,
ordering way of relating to the world. It is vital that we learn to see and
understand the ways of our natural experience, and the ways that this natural
experience can become corrupted and perverted. We need to know, both
normatively and experientially, the way that adaptation becomes encoded into
our experiences of our environments, individually and collectively, and the
ways that our experience is based upon incorporated by and embedded within
evolutionary survival skills which are rooted in very origins of our human
identity in the world.
How does mind become embodied by and expressed within
experience. How does our experience learn the environment. How does a
endothermic lizard know to move from a cool shady spot to a warm sunny rock in
the cool morning, or a snake distinguish between a threatening aggressor and a
harmless by-passer. How did mind evolve in ecological adaptation and
experience of natural environments.
The greatest problem encountered in the conceptualization
of evolution is trying to see the entire process as something other than a big
branching tree with a single trunk from which all subsequent lines eventually
diverged. The tree fits our taxonomic understandings of the dynamics of time
because it is the shadow of our own nomothetic consciousness which tends to
classify things, such as the Scalae Naturae, into a hierarchy from the
particular to the most general. The danger with this kind of conceptualization
about evolution is that it tends to misconstrue the directionality and
patterning of the entire process of evolution as essentially a single
interconnected stream of life, rather than as multiple streams of different
kinds of living beings each with its own set of origins in an obscure
beginning and all intertwined and interwoven in the web of life with other
living things. The tree model of evolution obscures our seeing that evolution
has always been more of a wild forest of living things rather than a single
tree of life.
It is also difficult to see that in the structural long run
of evolution speciation, branching and divergence has been a rather
continuous, rather than a discontinuous process. It is only in hindsight and
in rather fragile and thin Paleontological records, that we tend to look at
single lines of stable, unchanging species. At any one point in the entire
process any species was probably characterized by divergence and
differentiation--in a state of fission and splitting within which a relatively
'complete' line from beginning to end could be found. It is only in the
hindsight of the survivorship of certain lines over others that the record
must appear more homogeneous and static than it really was. It is also because
the record is composed almost entirely of sporadic 'cross sections' taken at
particular instances of time--like frozen images of snapshots--that the full
degree of variation and interrelation remains relatively hidden and
It is in this regard that it also seems difficult to
reconcile the notion that evolution has essentially been blind to the
environments of its evolution--that the mutational mechanism has been largely
a 'dead brain' that responds dumbly but statistically to selective forces. It
is difficult to believe that blind chance alone can account for the tremendous
diversity, complexity and symmetry that is replete in the biosphere at all
levels. And yet the principle of its blindness and dumbness remains a basic
tenant of the law of natural selection. Lysenkoian arguments of the phenotypic
influence and genetic transmission of acquired characteristics have all but
fallen into complete abandon and disfavor.
But it is to be wondered whether evolving species do not
typically and regularly 'explore' their environments and in an evolutionary
sense are able to see and experience environments as alternative possibilities
which guide their adaptive responses in a genetic way. Can the evolution of
all the diversity of life be accounted for merely upon the chance but
statistically regular occurrence of a certain rate of mutation--that in any
given population at any given period enough 'adaptive' mutations are available
to afford the survival of the species. It seems that life in general must
possess some mysterious, yet poorly understood by science, means for
experiencing and exploring its different environments, for responding to
fluctuations in these environments in adaptive, organic ways and for somehow
reprogramming these adaptations into its genetic matrix. But if it cannot be
by the Lysenkoist acquisition of traits, then what are the other possible
mechanism which would explain such a phenomena.
Fitness and selection is not an individual function, though
these process work at this level of the adaptation or elimination of the
individual, but is a group or species wide phenomena. At any given time the
total fitness and selective forces are represented by the whole grouping and
within such grouping there is always a range of variation of
'genotypic/phenotypic' profiles that are expressed. The range of variation
represents the net or average adaptation of the entire group. At any given
time a certain maximum number of individuals of the group can always be
removed from the process of reproduction without affecting the net fitness of
the whole group--such systematic exclusion of maladapted profiles and
inclusion of only the most adaptable ones can drive a species up a slope to an
adaptive peak--the process of natural selection is at work, but it depends not
only upon geno-typical mutation to drive the process of continuous variation,
but upon the range of adaptive variation of phenotypic/genotypic profiles.
Given such a scenario a minimal number of the species must survive and
reproduce in at least replacement to prevent the entire species from dying
out. If the number of reproducing members falls much below this minimal
threshold, the entire adaptive-reproductive capacity of the species is
threatened. Within this minimal group of survivors, there is a species wide
totipotency of phenotypic/genotypic variability expressible through their
offspring. The surviving offspring will always reproduce 100% of the total
variability of the entire population. Furthermore, over the long term, a
enduring species will reproduce almost an endless, infinite amount of
'phenotypic/genotypic' variability within a given genotypic matrix of a
This process alone is not enough to account for the actual
environmental variation and of relative selective pressures and limiting
factors and the rates of speciation itself fluctuated quite regularly and
interdependently with one another, such that at certain times for a given
population forces of selection may be strong but population pressure or
environmental circumscription may be quite lax, while at other times the rate
of speciation may occur quite rapidly while the selective forces driving such
differentiation may have been quite weak.
It is also quite evident in the fossil record that though
natural selection and speciation may have been for the most part continuous,
there is an overlay of another pattern in which speciation episodes occur more
sporadically and discontinuously between long periods of relative stasis and
specie stability. This saltational, model of punctuated equilibrium reveals a
long period of robust adaptation of a specie which is generally adapted to its
environment, during which pressures of natural selection were present but were
slow and weak, and with only slight modification of the genetic matrix of the
species. There then occurs a sudden speciation in which the genetic matrix
seems to rapidly reorganize itself to produce in a relative brief span of time
a new species with a different 'phenotypic/genotypic' horizon. It may be that
during these brief episodic periods of reorganization of the genetic matrix,
some other kinds of mechanisms may have been involved other than the normal
process of natural selection.
One such schedule that has been proposed is that given a
certain set of functional genetic interrelationships of the genome which
control and account for the total possible patterning of the range of
'phenotypic/genotypic' profiles, that these genetic matrices regularly 'cycle'
through the possible patternings at a fairly rapid speciation events, nor does
it account enough for the way that species may 'experience' evolution through
an exploration of their environments. Not enough account has been taken of the
selective effects of the phenotypic patterns of adaptive behavior which
individual's adopt or acquire during the course of their lifetimes and it is
also difficult to see how mutation alone can account for the genetic
transmission of instinctual 'fixed action patterns' which are perfectly
adaptive for certain kinds of environments.
One possibility is that for species with bigger and more
complex brains, that phenotypic/genotypic patterns of brain function may be
acquired and subsequently transmitted to a certain proportion of offspring--a
predisposition to respond reflexively to certain given stimuli in certain kind
of contexts. These patterns may not be so much genetically coded as is the
ontogeny of their subsequent development becomes a likely pattern of a certain
Elimination or negative selection does not necessarily have
to drive the process of speciation. It is not that a minimal group must
survive, but it must reproduce--a minimal threshold of reproductive activity
must be maintained by any given grouping to ensure the corporate survival of
that group's genetic matrix and totipotency. It seems that in most instances
actual elimination of individuals from groups was not driving the process, so
much as relative removal of certain proportions of phenotypic/genotypic
profiles from reproductive activity--through inconvenience, agonistic
competition or patterns of social structure that privileged access to a select
few and prevented it to most of the others.
It seems as well that the relative ranges of
phenotypic/genotypic variation, of adaptive variability and determinable rate
and that certain minimal genetic fluctuations or mistakes or mutations might
eventually cause a catastrophic self organization of the genetic matrix which
results in rapidly changes in ontogenetic development and in the final
expression of phenotypic/genotypic profiles. This process of genotypic self
organization is held to account for the process of ontogenetic development of
the organism and the functional differentiation of its cell structure during
its development. Such self organizing patterns can fall into relative fixed
and stable matrices, that given a general adaptation in a range of
environments, entails a rather long duration of little genetic differentiation
and minimal selection. Sudden changes in the environment, over specialization
or just the 'winding out' of the horizon of the genetic matrix would then
precipitate a relative sudden alteration of the structure of the
organism--rapid speciation would then occur.
It is also apparent that for many species of animals
individuals are born into a 'group culture' of some rudimentary sort which
provides the ritual patternings for reproduction and organismic functioning
and survival. Individuals inherit not only genotypic traits from their parents
but also inherit phenotypic behavioral patterns and 'values' of experience
from their groups. It is not known how much of such group culture is
instinctual and fixed and how much of it may be in some way linguistic,
learned and transmitted through imitation or sanctioning.
Culture in this rudimentary sense is itself an adaptive
mechanism of natural selection which is not confined to the human species. It
is through the transmission and enculturation of such corporate group culture
that individuals with different phenotypic/genotypic profiles survive and
become selected for reproduction.
And corporate group culture does not have to necessarily be
taught or become learned by organisms which are members of it. In a sense they
are born into it and from the beginning are programmed in their very
experience and perception of their environment by it. It is the only way
provided for their sensibilities for interacting with other members of their
group and for group responses to their environment. It is in a sense
indirectly constrained and ingrained by the very experiential structure of
their group life.
In this we can distinguish between the mechanical
solidarity of more primitive kinds of societies and the more developed,
intra-specific organic solidarity of more highly organized societies, which
exhibit exclusive functional specialization by members of the group.
While it is fitting to apply the notion of corporate group
culture to many animal species which exhibit environmental awareness and
motility if not individual mobility, it is much more difficult to apply the
same criteria to plant life which remain rooted to the spots in which they
germinate and which do not respond actively or sensitively to their
environments. In the plant kingdom, the regular processes of mutation and
natural selection and the preconception of a statistical, blind evolution
based on chance survival, is more fitting. But if this were the entire picture
of evolution, then all animals, humans included, would necessarily be plant
like as well.
In this sense we may refer to a passive, plant like
evolution which is blindly 'acted upon' by selective forces, and to a more
active, animal like evolution which is experientially 'reacting to' selective
pressures. In this sense we may refer to qualitatively different kinds and
orders of evolutionary process--that the forces of evolution are not
everywhere balanced and homogeneously the same.
It is even possible to speculate about species specific
horizons of adaptive fitness and of perhaps even species specific forms of
Other mechanism of evolution are perhaps operant in
different kind of phenomena. The notion of a species over specializing in
certain eco-niches or along the lines of certain phenotypic/genotypic profiles
until the point they become functionally maladaptation or the environment
suddenly alters the adaptation in their eco-niche, leading to their rapid
extermination. In this case, evolution follows a pathway to a dead-end in
evolutionary development. We can see that evolution is always following
multiple pathways, and seeks out the lines of least resistance for
elaboration. It is also possible that some certain traits, like size, bone
structure or shape or their relative proportions are relatively more plastic
and alterable in terms of their phenotypic/genotypic profiles than are other
kinds of traits. The canines of the saber-tooth tiger and the huge racks of
the Irish elk are clear examples of specialized over-development of certain
traits which become clearly an evolutionary dead-end.
It is also possible that the possible patterns or kinds of
pathways that evolutionary development can take, or the kinds of associated
trait complexes are relatively few in number such that different kinds of
species might follow a parallel evolutionary path along the same lines of
development. In this evolutionary development must concede to certain kinds of
mechanical or physical constraints. Whether a bat, a bird or a pterodactyl,
flight requires a similar kind of wing structures. Giant dinosaurs cannot lift
proportionately the same weight as ants, but they must have had to consume a
great deal to maintain their own bio-mass and so were a strain upon their
environments in a way that all the ants in the world could never be.
It is also possible that adaptive fitness in given
environments becomes encoded organically into the sensate structure of an
organisms experience or capacity for sensing its environment. In this way,
snakes with poor eye sight, have developed heat seeking membranes and though
deaf, are finely tuned to the vibrations of the earth. Many similar examples
exist in nature. Even how a species comes to experience its environment in any
given modality may be preconditioned by evolutionary developments.
There is also a kind of optimal balance or ceiling in the
horizon of adaptation of any species, given its total genetic matrix there can
be only so much that can be done, so many possible designs and an limit to its
capacity and possibilities for developmental patterning. To add here is
necessarily to take away from something else--to pursue one line of
evolutionary development entails diminishing degrees of freedom to pursue
other possible lines of development.
It is possible that while some kinds of evolutionary
changes are generalizing in nature, others are specializing--general trait
complexes may confer an overall robustness, but lack any special advantages.
Specialization in one or a few fields of adaptation, though at cost to other
possible pathways of development, confers at least short term or myopic
advantage. There might also be a tendency for certain kinds of traits or trait
complexes, once begun, to evolve to extremes which are no longer adaptive and
In a sense, species may be defined spatially and
synchronically in relation to other species, temporal dimension, a species is
open ended in its development and unbounded. In a temporal sense, boundaries
between where one species leaves off and its offspring species takes over are
never clear nor precise. It could be that the phenotypic/genotypic profiles of
a species become gradually submerged beneath or amalgamated with those of a
replacement set of profiles until the former species is no longer recognizable
Seen in a deep temporal dimension, speciation resembles
more of a gradual substitution or replacement of one species by a closely
related but separate species, or sub-species, such that in time or across vast
distances of separation, there is relative discontinuity between species. Such
patterns are too slow, gradual and general to be recognizable on an everyday
or local level except in terms of relative absence or scarcity of some
species, or of a gradual day to day dying off of individuals in relative
In the deep sense there are a few sharp and solid
boundaries where one species ends and another begins--rather multiple
populations are in continuous flux and transition, with individuals pursuing
many different directions of development.
It is worthwhile to take one more step back and to try to
see the bigger picture of evolution. Are there possible structures of the long
run' in evolutionary development of which we are scarcely aware? Where is
evolution of the long term headed, if it can be said to be headed anywhere?
In this regard it is necessary to understand the evolution
of the natural earth and the interconnections of the environments of the earth
and the evolution of life on earth. Ice ages, warm cycles, volcanism, periods
of atmospheric change, all of these have resulted in dramatic transitions of
many life forms and life begins on earth.
In this regard, it is worth wondering where evolution
essential stops for some kinds of species, and where it is focal for other
kinds. Do certain levels of biotic climax made possible or probable the
development of one direction of evolution--say the rise of giant animals, and
a shift to another kind of bio-mass spell the demise of another. In this sense
might not evolution and its directionality and selective mechanisms be attuned
to larger contexts and global processes, to whole webs of life rather than to
particular speciation events. Might not evolution like ecology upon which it
is based, be in actually a global phenomena which is mostly interdependent
such that many kinds of species evolve together or in interrelation and if
removed from these webs and contexts, fail to evolve at all.
This brings to notion of the simultaneously of all life on
earth and of the on-going total synchronicity of the evolution of life on
earth. All of life has always been evolving as a whole web together, and that
individual lines of species development are but single threads of its total
Perhaps the evolution of life on earth has its own clock
that is slowly winding out. Perhaps the movement from the age of fish to the
age of amphibians to the age of reptiles to the age of mammal to the age of
man, in which each age is represented by the greatest amount of living tissue,
surrounded by different contexts of plant life and bacterial and insect
species which follow their own evolutionary pathways, has a sense of order and
direction or design, such that as each age exhausts the horizons of its
predominant patterns of possibility, it shifts to a new successive sequence in
which a new age predominates/
There is a sense that whatever is at the bottom of the food
chain within the horizon of an age, are the first to die out--being squeezed
from both above and below. When it starts to give way from beneath, the links
in the chain all break in their turn until it reaches to top of the apex,
where the meat eating king bereft of any large package prey, begin feeding on
one another and their own carrion.
In this sense we might refer to the rise and climax and
decline of ages of evolutionary civilization--as one form of evolution becomes
replaced by another predominant form.
It is a horrible dream of a 1950's science fiction thriller
when giant insects grow out of the irradiated rubble of the earth to inhabit
and colonize the earth, and men are but little rodent like monkeys that hide
in the shadows from the light of the day.
Looking back onto a younger, fresher world, it is to be
wondered whether there has not been all along a general evolutionary trend
from dumb insensate life forms to intelligent sentient life forms. Surely the
warm blooded, big brained mammals had something over their cold blooded small
brained predecessors and surely humankind must stand at the apex of
evolutionary development to look back and down the long evolutionary slope.
But perhaps general sentience has been only a rare but not unusual exception
to the rule--a relatively infrequent oddity of natural development. Maybe our
oversized brains are but extremely overspecialized dead-ends of evolution. If
sentience as representing the evolutionary working out of its possibilities is
a general and in a sense eventual outcome of evolutionary development, then
perhaps evolution has been evolving towards a reflexive state of
'self-control'--from dumb blindness of plants to self reflexive adaptations of
human beings. And this is not an 'intention structure' of evolutionary
directionality but just programmed into its patterning as an eventual outcome
of possibility. Evolution began then as a tiny hole through which light
diffracted and then became a window upon a bigger world, and eventually
metamorphosed into a door through which evolution could step into another
We are left to reconsider the role of experience in
evolution and how experience embodies and becomes embodied in evolution. Is it
possible that fragments of mind become genetically transmitted through the
generations such that archetypes, memories or sentience of our distant
ancestors, or even of different beings, survive in our collective unconscious
as a general fund of living human experience--an might many of us share in the
same or similar sets of remote experiences, such that we may suddenly have the
same thought or feelings, though far removed from one another, or we may dream
of distant states of being, or we may have instant reflexive recognition of
something or someone even though we had never seen or experienced it before.
How shall we account for idiot savants or child prodigies who harbor a
treasure of knowledge without the previous lived experience. Where shall we
draw the line between natural and 'supernatural' evolution and where shall
science leave off and magic take over.
It is possible that at any given time and place the
environment provides only so many given slots or possible niches which is then
the role of natural evolution to fill in in the best way it can. These slots
are a consequence of the larger ecological context of adaptation. Evolution
itself creates the possibilities of these slots which it then fills in by
further evolution. In this way as well evolution can be seen to be a self
organizing system which achieves its own directionality and momentum.
There is a sense though the evolutionary process may be
cyclical and repeatable, it is nevertheless an irreversible historical
process. The end products of a long sequence of developments are not the same
as the in-puts, but like the difference between the rough uncarved stone and
the whittled down statue, the former represents the long term consequence of a
direction of evolutionary development while the latter represents the
potential, yet unrealized seed of such development.
Understanding evolution then presents us with the same
kinds of paradox of change which culture history presents us. We can establish
few if any truly non-arbitrary base lines from which to measure change in a
discontinuous way. We cannot say for certain at what point a given line of
development actually emerged, began or diverged from another line of
development. We can only recognize change from the relative point of
recognizable stability, and vice versa. Similarly we cannot know for certain
which lines of the evolutionary past were actual dead- ends or which were but
precursors to later, and still continuing development. We still cannot tell if
Neanderthals was a direct forbearer of modern man or but a short off shoot
from the lines of hominid development. And if there were either, how many
other types may yet be hidden in the ground or forever lost in our past.
It may be that evolution has long had an effect of
accordion equilibrium in which phases of species expansion, or of overall
evolutionary expansion, followed phases of contraction, and that during the
respective phase, certain predominant selective forces were at work. It is
likely that expansion leads to a limitation--a maximum carrying capacity of
the environment beyond which predictable 'super critical' events set in to
disturb and damage and eventual induce a reversed contraction phase. The
contraction phase may proceed as a 'negative feedback loop' until some minimal
threshold is reached--at which point the expansion phase kicks in again. The
kinds of evolutionary developments accompanying either phase may be quite
different and there may be more rapid 'speciation' at one extreme or at an
optimal level in the entire process.
It follows from this that in the structure of the long run,
evolution might exhibit an overall optimal equilibrium of development of which
expansion/contractions are but oscillations about an optimum level. This
optimum level could be very 'robust' and stable state of the ecological self
organization which remains steady inspite of the expansion or contraction of
individual groups or species within its continuum.
Adaptive plateaus may be reached within this optimal range
of evolution by different species which are able to maintain a static state of
slowed evolution for long periods with only an optimal investment in the
maintenance of the 'system'.
If expansion/contraction and accordion equilibrium are
evident, then it must be asked what the 'cohesive' forces are which serve to
hold the whole ecological--evolutionary system together over the long term,
that normally resists extremes of either contraction or expansion.
What comes up, in terms of investment of stored energy,
must eventually come back down in response to the laws of entropy. This
principle guarantees that all species to maintain themselves at whatever level
of 'energy investment' must store or carry 'potential energy' which must
eventually be re-released back into the environment. It is also guarantees
that all species must eventually become extinct, and that the process of dying
off is always much more rapid and sudden than is the slow and gradual process
of evolutionary development.
In this sense, the whole process of evolution and
ecological system can be seen to be a grand energy system in which potential
energies are channeled, carried, stored and continuously re-released back into
the system. At any given point in time this energy system has an overall limit
or capacity--how it uses or becomes expressed in evolution varies. Species
represent competition for energy and evolutionary explorations for new sources
of energy to augment the entire system.
Looked at in terms of a global energy eco-system which
maintains a dynamic equilibrium through time, the evolution of life can put
its energy resources to more efficient use through the fullerian
'anti-entropic' principle of information--the development of the experience of
evolution towards more sentient forms, capable of processing and managing
greater information, enables a more efficient use of available energy in
Evolution can be construed as a total system of life and
living which has as its principle aim the maintenance of an optimum level of
ecological functioning through time. As a grand system the individual
components can be seen to fit and fill important evolutionary roles in certain
'slots' in the eco-system. As a grand system it is self organizing at the edge
of chaos. In this sense indirectly different species depend upon the existence
and functioning of one another in a mutual symbiosis in order to maintain the
functioning of the whole system. The loss of vital components in this system
can spell extensive damage and dysfunction for many other interrelated
components of the system.
In this role, competition occurs only in relation to
filling the 'same' slots--this is not the basis of evolution so much as local
adaptation. The total system depends upon the proper function at optimal
levels of each of its organically specialized 'slots'. When one species, or
individuals of a group, 'over adapt' or begin by their own success to
interfere with the functioning of the total system, selective forces will tend
to work against them to either bring them back into homeostatic equilibrium,
to readjust the system to fit them into new niches, or to effectively
eliminate them from the evolutionary process.
In this way, 'group fitness of a whole species that
outstrips its evolutionary boundaries not only interferes with the survival of
other species and the functioning of the whole system, but also becomes
maladaptive for the individuals of the group as well. The adaptiveness of the
group as a corporate phenomena tends to override survival interests of the
individual members of the group, which eventually become selected out of the
The 'ecologistic fallacy' implicates in this picture of
global evolution of life as being 'determined' by a hidden hand which directs
the entire process and which maintains a balance by silent selection. In
actuality the entire system is robust only in a self organizing ?????????????
(THIS SENTENCE ENDS ON PAGE 474! WHAT IS NEXT????
Speciation can be seen as the epigenetic expression of the
selective forces of evolution--as the epi-phenomenal patterning of the
principles of its unfolding. In this sense a species can be regarded as a kind
of cybernetic system of reproduction which is intrinsically interconnected
with a wider ecology of environment.
Genetics is the total fund of information of life informing
its diversity and its toti-potentiality for evolutionary patterning and
possibility. A species is a very limited portion of this total genetic fund of
life--a partial and limited set of potential possibilities of its patterns.
Evolution and life predetermines, species are 'organistically' specialized
expressions of evolution, they are also part of the functioning of the larger
body of life and evolution and thus are reflective and representative of its
developmental possibilities. Species 'evolve' into other species as a result
of this expression of the potentiality of life.
In this regard we can see that there are multiple levels of
selection operating in within a broad evolutionary context--sub-species,
species and super species selection. All of these must impact upon the
individual organism as a basic carrier of genetic information but all impact
in fundamentally different ways.
Sub-species selection are the intriguing patternings which
affect the reproductive expression of the individual or which effective
eliminate the individuals reproductive contribution to the whole group.
Species selection are those forces which impact more or less uniformly upon
the entire group in the same way--and frequently arise from inter-species
competition for resources--these forces frequently and effectively, if
somewhat randomly, determine every individual's chances for reproductive
success. Super species selection are wide ranging forces which may impact upon
many different species, though dissimilarly. These are wider events of
environmental fluctuation and circumscription. These forces work unevenly but
overwhelmingly to influence the reproductive success of numerous different but
ecologically interrelated and interdependent species.
It must be seen that selection is systemic at all of these
analytical levels and that the ecological webs of interdependency which
influence and impact upon the individual and the group are in an evolutionary
sense 'self organizing' and to know some random extent 'self determining'.
Speciation and inter-species networks create ecological environments and
possibilities for evolutionary developments which reverberates at all three
levels upon many other species.
(THE FOLLOWING SENTENCE BEGINS ON PAGE 477 BUT THERE IS NO
BEGINNING TO THE SENTENCE). Sense of relational functionality of its
individual components--it moves forward in the patterning of its relationships
as a 'exploration' of its own environment which is continuous. All of its
individual elements are in a state of semi-random flux, and the entire system
maintains homeostatic equilibrium only in a gross statistical sense of the
stability of the whole in relation to its many parts. As the system grows in
size and organizational complexity it becomes more integrated such that minor
fluctuations of a few of its components can result in major reverberations
among many other elements. It approaches a state of super criticality. The
efficiency of the system depends upon its ability to quickly readjust itself
to the semi-random fluctuations of its components such that the entire system
remains structurally stable over time.
It is an energy capturing and processing system because it
maintains optimal order in the face of entropy and chaos. It must continue
ways to efficiently capture and utilize energy from the environment in order
to maintain its own 'sense of equilibrium'. Individual components which become
overly consumptive of its net energy resources disturb its equilibrium and
force the system to reestablish equilibrium at a new level of energy.
Selection may favor the short term success of increasing
energy consumption of its individual components, it will tend to work against
the long term survival of its over consuming species, as a species too costly
to maintain. There is an important human lesson to be learned from this
relational role of natural evolution.
It is likely that nature for the most part, maintains
fairly wide margins of adaptiveness between its different species--there is
enough flexibility of the relations of the system and enough degrees of
latitude to afford quite a bit of 'damaging' changes to its components before
systemic adaptation can be achieved. This accounts perhaps for the overall
robustness and stability of the entire system. The breadth of these wide
margins are built into the entire system, from bottom to top, from the
cellular and molecular level to the widest system of organismic functioning.
The system usually maintains fairly high thresholds and pretty wide tolerance
limits before its thermostatic mechanisms are 'kicked on'. Though many local
variations and disturbances to create 'critical mass' that would disturb the
entire system. Species may come and go as they see fit, but life as a whole
continues on its own way.
On the other hand, it is also possible that the system is
much more sensitive to minor perturbations and fluctuations of its elements
than we would give it credit for, and it has perhaps evolved in a complicated
sense to a greater responsive level of environmental sensitivity. To maintain
hypersensitivity enhances the stability and survival of the entire system as
well, in a much more efficient and cost effective manner than if its tolerance
limits were exhausted. Mechanisms of selection and 'counter selection' must
kick in fairly immediately in response to local alterations of its patterns of
interaction. In this way, there is survival value in evolution 'experiencing'
Combining wide tolerance limits with hypersensitive levels
of 'stimulus response' renders the whole evolutionary system of life quite
stable and dependable. This maintains a steady, optimal rate of change and
assures the maximum adaptive value of such changes. This also maximizes the
'adaptive resourcefulness' of the entire system to assure that it can explore
all of its possible 'options' in an efficient and timely way. In this way we
can easily account for the total fund of genetic diversity of life on earth
and for the degree of its symmetry and delicacy of development--given the
evolutionary, biological time frames that are involved.
Species are 'allowed' certain directions or adaptive
freedoms by the evolutionary system or are restricted by evolutionary
pressures from such development. The evolution of a single species never
occurs in isolation or alone but is always contexted in a broader environment
of ecological relations. Evolution is always constrained by and contingent
upon these broader ecological relationships. The pathways of evolutionary
development of any given species at any point in time and place are always
limited and generally directed by life.
Looking at the evolution of life on earth as a single well
integrated 'system' of transformational patterning of which individual species
are but components, leads to speculation about the basic understanding of what
biological 'life' is and what distinguishes it from inanimate objects. Living
organisms cannot exist long apart from the biosphere in which it forms and
participates. Living organisms are characterized by their system maintaining
functions and by their procreation of these functions in their offspring.
These systems maintain a sense of organismic order and integrity against the
natural tendencies for chaos and entropy. In order to do so they are 'energy
capturing' systems and 'informational systems' which utilizes energy in an
efficient manner. In terms of the genetic transmission of the germ plasma of
life--the essential 'information' of ontological and evolutionary development
is transmitted from generation to generation and preserved. In the process of
transmission this information becomes altered and transformed in ways which
either enhance or endanger the survival of the species. But it has not just
been a matter of system maintenance, but there has been an 'anti-entropic'
phenomena of growth, increase in diversity and complexity of life forms which
cannot be adequately accounted for merely on the basis of relatively blind
genetic mutation. The evolution of life has involved its expansion, its
exploration of the earth's environment and its increasingly efficient
mechanisms of utilization of energy.
Life as an evolutionary systems has had a 'sense of
purpose' that has been more than merely blind chance--this 'sense of purpose'
is perhaps best described as 'sense' itself, as life evolved in an effort to
make sense of itself and its environment. It is this 'senseness' about life
which makes its evolution fundamentally different from the growing of crystals
from a super saturated solution in a jar. Neither is it enough to describe
this kind of 'senseness' as something super organic and merely 'synergistic'
though these are definite qualities of its expression. This 'senseness' has
involved a continuous 'reading' or 'monitoring' of its environments and an
active recreation of itself and modification of its environments in order to
improve or build upon its own 'senseness'.
In this we can speak of the evolutionary development of the
'senseness' or environmental self awareness of natural mind as being the basis
of living qualities that human beings share in common with all other life
forms. Mind was a natural outcome of the culmination of evolutionary
experience--of long ages of evolutionary knowledge and wisdom that has become
embodied within and expressed by our own sense of experience.
We can refer this alternative conception of the evolution
of life on earth as a single 'oikological' system to be related ecological
notion of Gaia--of the earth as a single living entity. Life, in its many
forms has embodied an evolutionary wisdom and intelligence which allows it to
respond as a single well integrated system to things which threaten to harm it
or prevent it from achieving is sense of purpose.
It makes sense to refer to a certain kind of plasticity of
mind as well as morphological plasticity which is characteristic of life and
of evolutionary experience--which enables it to become shaped into an infinite
diversity of forms and yet still retain its overall integrity of being and
sense of purpose. It is this mental and morphological plasticity which has
enabled life to continue growing and adapting and evolving on earth inspite of
the many changes it has experienced.
Many stories about human evolution have been told, some
with more grains of truth in them than others and yet all presented partial
and biased pictures of the whole story which exaggerate certain aspects and
While all of these are more or less 'just so' stories, none
nor all combined are complete or even very accurate in an historical sense.
What is sought here is not a more inclusive or 'balanced' story nor is it
another attempt to rationalize what actually did happen. There is no way of
discovering through our own educated sensibilities what was going on in an age
so distant and different from our own--as it is we have few common reference
points of understanding or experience to give us much intellectual empathy
with the lives of our first forebearers.
What is sought here is a different kind of story, one that
hasn't been told before not because of its purported historical accuracy or in
its great vision of rationality but merely for the sake of the difference and
interest it takes, and the uncommon sense it makes.
Several metaphysical and interpretive dilemmas arise in the
consideration of human evolution. The first is what has been called the two
camps of the 'lumpers' and the 'splitters'. The second kind of dilemma entail
the search for 'anthropogenesis'--the first causes or primal factors which
inaugurated evolution. The third is the 'gradual take off on a long runway'
versus the sudden launch--the gradual evolutionary emergence of human culture
or the instantaneous 'bio-cultural' miracle. A fourth dilemma is what might be
referred to as the unsolved case of the missing link (or links) and the
appearance of definite boundaries or horizons in the fossil record. Fifth and
there is a dilemma of having to infer a possible presence from a definite
absence--in the absence of solid evidence, we must fill in our understanding
with 'just so' stories which no matter how rational or scientific 'sense
sounding' they remain never the less mythological and common sense making. A
closely related dilemma to this one is the problem of inferring a probable
absence from a definite presence--even the solid evidence we have reveal very
little and creates so many gaps and questions in our understanding as it fills
in. we cannot really know what certain kinds of 'tools' were really used for,
or why they were manufactured in the first place--we can conjecture, guess
estimate, date and correlate--but we cannot without much doubt fill in the
missing pieces of the mosaic jigsaw puzzle when only a few scattered pieces
remain and especially when the time frame are a great deal greater than our
own--so much so that we are barely capable of comprehending their
significance. Related to this is the problem of the immediate presence of many
overlapping time frames and spots with very little direct evidence revealing
exactly how this frames were interrelated, what the sequences of change may
have been or what was the actual historical branching process that did occur.
Finally there is the dilemma of what I call 'data boundness' and 'fixed frame'
mentality and view of the world which has certain common sense seeming
implications for how we view our first ancestors as either very like ourselves
or opposite from ourselves.
It is this last kind of dilemma which seems especially
problematic because of the kind of implicit, stereotypical image it presents
of ancient proto-cultures and because of both its fear to stray to far from a
rigid interpretation of the facts at hand, or else an obsession to take
conjectural flights of fantasy which sound sensible but actually make little
sense in relation to the available data. The kind of tacit preconception of
early Homo that this dilemma promotes is that of separate, self isolating
culture gardens and of early Homo bound by fears, superstitious, ignorance,
traditions and the weight of customs. From this standpoint we refer to
separate categories of cultural and physical man and promote a sense of
boundary consciousness which is more a residue of our own bounded
consciousness than anything necessarily real in the past. Homo domesticus was
always home bound, hearth bound, cave dwelling. She/he may have had annual
per-regrinations or certain regions of hunting--but she/he was always
instinctively defensive and territorial and fiercely possessive and jealous of
what little she/he had.
Related to this is a 'data boundness' or 'data blindness'
which disallows the researcher from thinking between the things at hand, or
from straying very far in interpretation from the detail that the data
actually represents. This predisposes the researcher to see the past in purely
objective and materialistic terms--culture is not symbolic process, but
culture is the set of artifacts at hand. Science deals strictly with data sets
and the techniques devised for their analysis.
The common consequence of this data boundness and fixed
frame mentality is that when and if the knower does stray afield into the
unknown, they usually do a rather poor job of it--not being used to thinking
in more abstract terms about relations existing between the things.
Breaking with bounded data sets and freeing the mind from
fixed frames a more open attitude can be cultivated which does not seek the
black and white but look to the gray areas in between, and which can see
multiple possibilities for the patterning of our proto-people unconstrained by
our own implicit limitations which we unconsciously superimpose upon the data.
The first preconception to be dispelled is that our
earliest precursors were necessarily sedentary or even semi-sedentary or at
the worst trans-human. An extension of this is that there has been time
immemorial nice and tidy little 'culture areas' which are characterized by a
consistent trait complex and monolithic language and world view. It is for
myself a much more interesting picture to see humankind as always being more
mobile and migratory than not--that our proto people probably got around a lot
more and ventured further afield and 'mixed things' up to a much greater
extent than we usually give them credit for. In fact, Homo migratis is a much
more likely and fitting image--mobility has long been the rule of human
existence and sedentarism the recent exception.
Seen from the standpoint of a great deal of movement the
net consequence may have been a very different sense of 'culture' and of
identity than what are presupposed in our conjectures--cultures, of there were
such things, were rarely fixed by given geographical areas or boundaries, and
never situated within a single set of environmental constraints--culture was
what individuals and their group carried around with them--their sacred
possessions, charm pouches, tool kits, carrying bags as well as secrets,
stories and memories. Cultures were then not so much configurational wholes as
they were composite conglomerations. Identity was situationally and
individually relative, and likely changed with the changing scenery and
Culture then may have been more reflective of the natural
environment than of any civilized settlement--culture was exterior and
extensive and existed in human relation with the environment. The locus of
culture was extensive rather than intensive--'wild' rather than 'domestic'.
Proto people regularly traveled in culture and traded
culture with one another, and their sense of tradition did not fix their
frames of reference/inference in relation to their wider world. Cultures were
composed on the spot, and then decomposed when inconvenient--groupings were
not so much corporate as convenient and individuals regularly shifted
loyalties and identities between groupings. Culture was an extemporaneous
construction which served the ad hoc purposes of the present needs of the
The boundaries between languages, and the core 'structure'
of what constituted any language were merely continuums of variation, of
different dialects and codes--the boundaries between languages were always
porous and semi-permeable--more like Creole or pidgin languages in which
borrowing and code mixing as the norm. Few language 'standards' existed, if
any. The oral, concrete, semantic structure of language was the situation of
the immediate concern for communication and transaction--only geographical and
historical difference separated different peoples and prevented their
The net effect of this general situation was that early
culture was more of a self operating, 'species wide' phenomena of natural
civilization which provides a pan proto human sense of solidarity and cohesion
in the struggle for survival. People were not crowded in little communities,
victoriously competing with one another for petty resources--this phase of
human civilization came much later. Rather people, few and far in between,
realized that much more was to be gained in cooperative interaction than in
competitive struggle for dominance.
Of course there probably always was a we-they sense that
the people on the other side of the mountain are the ones who eat grandmothers
but this was always probably always tempered by a near automatic intraspecific
recognition and respect which meant a 'live and let live' ethos--and if people
got too crowded, there was always another mountainside to settle upon. People
kept a healthy distance and spacing which tended to neutralize competition and
conflict. The struggle for survival was not one of human against human, but
one of humankind against the elements and the environments and there must have
been a deeply ingrained, near instinctive understanding of this orientation.
The living of proto people was not a golden age of a
peaceable kingdom--life for most was probably brutal, nasty and short. But
proto people made the most of what little they had to work with, must have
realized that their next door neighbors made better allies than enemies.
It seems more striking that proto woman/ma was much more of
a coward and shrewd scavenger than a fierce and fearless hunter. The age of
heroes had not dawned upon the human horizon. Indirection in stalking,
tricking and trapping prey was much more saner and safer and simpler than
direct face to face confrontations. They would more likely turn and flee in
fear than stand and fight with courage. Of course, it was a matter of survival
and not honor.
The stereotypical archetype of the proto person is best
described as a kind of natural 'socio-path'. Proto people did not have a
finely developed sense of justice or an over burdensome conscientious to
interfere with their daily activities. Besides the biological bond with mother
and child, human bonds of friendship or fictive kin was at best fickle and
weak--a matter of convenience but more genuine than spurious. Conscience was
more an honor among thieves than among friends. There was probably not even a
finely developed sense of familial amoralism--individual amoralism is a more
fitting appellation. Because such a selfish and immature way of being is so
basic and deeply rooted in humankind, there are so many criminals today in
prison behind desks and in positions of authority. We have not evolved all
that far after all.
But there is a difference between the proto human natural
socio-path and the modern 'deviant' socio-path--the first is a product of
survival against natural, impersonal forces of selection, while the latter
mode is the by-produce of wholly unnatural, impersonal forces of social
selection. While the former is genuine in its naturalness, the latter is
ingenuine in its prevention. The former didn't know to lie or deceive, because
then there was no such thing as lying and deceit, but only tactful ways of
pursuing self interest.
The proto person didn't have much of a deep emotional
life--extremes of feeling were to be acquired with the sophisticated
sensitivities of being civilized. Suffering, separation, pain and hurt were
probably not uncommon, and not unnatural occurrences in a normal lifetime--and
desensitization, inerrment and quick acceptance were probably more normal
learned traits. Proto people were not without feelings, but feelings served a
very different evolutionary purpose than they seem to serve now. Feelings did
not so much interfere with the normal process of living, so much as they were
a natural part of the process of living. It is possible that emotional
expressions so basic to humankind originally served as a paralinguistic and
socio linguistic function of empathetic, if not truly sympathetic
communication and communion between people. This communication served in place
of much talking out and literary rationalization which has become such a part
of modern day therapy.. such expression probably also served a very simple and
straight forward pragmatic and stylistic function as they still sometimes do
It is likely that proto people had access to more
alternative states of consciousness than do civilized people who put a premium
upon scientific rationality. These states were typically sought after not as
'escapes' from harsher realities but for the sense of psychological
empowerment and the possibly supernatural meaning which is inherent to their
experience. Its sense of 'understanding' which it provided was rooted in the
very organic structure of its experience. It is likely that such fuller
consciousness and more natural exercise of the mind conferred a greater
adaptive advantage in heightening awareness of the environment and in
cultivating a spiritual 'intuneness' with natural processes and forces.
If most social bonds were fickle and transient, it is also
likely that the only enduring bonds were the 'biological' nature/nurture bonds
between the mother and child--and these were not universally strong but that
nature probably selected for closer mother child bonding. Women and their
children may have formed the first 'families' and social groupings and
matriarchal, women-women bonds may have also become quite enduring. By and
large males must have been quite undependable and perhaps formed their own
somewhat peripheral groups of consociates. Strong attachments to a mother
might keep a son close to the 'home' group for a long period, well into the
male's adulthood, which might have provided a measure of added support to the
adapativeness of the group.
But many men also probably had a 'nurturing' side of their
natures and so it was not uncommon to find 'home' groupings in which fathers
and brothers were also present, perhaps not so much as strong authority
figures than as equal partners and participants in group life. Also a single
'strong' patriarch may have come to dominate such groupings and provided
'leadership' to the group. But besides his exclusive sexual prerogative with
the females his contribution otherwise to the support of the group may
otherwise have been quite minimal--becoming a burden upon the group's
resources rather than a contributor to them. Under such circumstances, it is
not unimaginable that the women, or their sons or brothers, being as shrewd
and cunning as they were, quickly and quietly eliminated this kind of burden.
Another kind of adult male, though, probably did survive to provide more
persuasive and genuine direction for the group--this is the elder who by the
unusual length of his years and fund of experience and sharpness of mind was a
real asset to the long term interests of the grouping. Being beyond his
primary, his protein and sexual demands would have been minimal.
This kind of patterning is still present with us today in
many regions of the world--it has the name of 'culture of poverty' but
probably more accurately represents a 'poverty of culture'. It occurs
everywhere that basic interests in individual human survival due to chronic
scarcity of basic resources, overrides all other constraints of group
solidarity or social identification. The correlated patterns are still there
to be fond--sociopathy, absent fathers and irresponsible impulse control
disordered miles, habitual substance abuse, single mother families or
multi-cultural orientation because they have been doing it time immemorial. In
the beginning, it was quite natural adaptation to the exigencies of human
survival under conditions of scarcity and material poverty. Today it has
become extremely devalued as the 'ugly' side of humanity. The absolute poor
today have no other recourse--they can rarely go out and freely hunt game or
gather wild fruits. If they cannot find a factory or farm labor job which
earns only a threadbare, below subsistence level income, then they must resort
to alternative styles and social patterning which acquires the basic
resources. It is not surprising that they should have a sociopathic
orientation and a poorly developed sense of social conscience.
The critical difference between the period of proto culture
and the modern era of mass poverty of culture is that in the former case such
an adaptive patterning of a rudimentary culture was 'natural' and
'adaptive'--while it remains still adaptive today, it is considered to be
quite unnatural and 'deviant' from the superficial normative standards of
'civilized' humanity. From the standpoint of a global civilization, it is
considered quite artificial and naturally unnecessary.
There is a very dangerous element of the modern 'science'
of sociobiology which sees the high incidence of 'cads' and prostitutes among
the chronically poor as being based upon a higher incidence of certain genetic
pre-dispositions. It is clear that such 'common sensical' thinking is rooted
in preconceptions which are fundamentally socially racist and the social
promotion and engineering based upon such thinking leads to fascist policies
of social exclusion and persecution--genetic selection--in the name of
But it must be recognized from this alternative point of
view that such a common and pervasive patterning among the worlds poor is not
necessarily so much a genetically programmed response, as it is a basic, very
deeply rooted cultural patterning common to humankind in adaptation to
situations of scarcity and chronic stress. It is an adaptive response that all
people, and cast into the black hole of absolute poverty would necessarily
'acquire' if they are to continue 'existing' and 'subsisting' however
When it comes to basic interests in human survival,
altruists are rare indeed. There are few values so sacred that dire poverty
and individual self interest in survival does not override and render
contingent and relative-whether it is infant death and mother love in Brazil
or Christian self sacrifice at the altar. Altruism came in with later with the
age of the heroes, much to the chagrin of the socio-biologists basic theory of
inclusive group fitness, and like the values of love, charity, devotion,
remain for the most part hypocritical glosses of the collective subconscious
where spurious relations of selfish competition, egoism, greed, power abound.
We will readily burn witches at the stake, and brain wash gullible young boys
into thinking it is best to die for their country and the worlds aristocracy
will continue to appropriate for themselves and their offspring most of the
worlds best qualities, humanities, opportunities and treasures and resources
for themselves and their offspring, but the sad fact remains that there have
indeed been far too few Gandhis or Martin Luther Kings in the world, and most
of those few have died anonymously in the world.
In a sense human beings are biologically and probably
genetically preprogrammed, for those kinds of character traits and social
patternings which reveal themselves in contexts of impoverished culture and
long term access. This 'instincts' regularly reveal themselves at football
games, boxing matches, pop rock concerts, situations of social panic, crime
scenes, and in bar rooms and on the fastest, busiest freeways. Human beings
have been too well adapted and respond all too predictably and naturally in
such contexts but this is not a function of deviance or of a particular gene
culture correlation. Indeed, it would be the biological rule rather than the
human exception. The fact of the matter remains that human civilization has
developed inspite of the common and pervasive characteristics and not because
of them. And if this psycho social patterning is so basic and natural, then it
cannot be so abnormal and the wealthy people who live the illusion of their
natural freedom from it, of their own basic 'super humanness' must think twice
about the ethical and scientific efficacy of their own common sense and their
own positions in life--for they do not have what they have except at someone
A culture historical theory which combines ecology with the
material evolution of humankind explains the predicament of humankind as being
caught between forces of 'micro-parasitism' from beneath and 'macro
parasitism' from above--this has left most of humankind in a chronically
precarious position which has led to its existential exploration and
'evolutionary experience' to 'escape' these conditions. This has resulted in a
positive feedback loop of cybernetic growth which has benefited and increased
not only the size of the host body, but the micro/macro parasites which have
always fed and depended upon this body.
There are other characteristics associated with this basic
proto cultural patterning which are still apparent in the poverty of culture
One such difference is that associated with 'field
dependency' and 'field independence' with the frequency of 'field frequency'
being much greater among poorer people.
Another common characteristic is the difference between
'primitive' or 'pre-logical' mentality and 'rational mentality' or concrete
and abstract thinking.
Basic also is a kind of basic or 'vulgar' orality of
culture versus a refined or derived 'literate' culture--with semi-oral and
literate cultures coming in between. The differences between oral and literate
modes of speech discourse are fundamental linguistic differences between
impoverished culture and civilized culture. Everyday patterns of oral
discourse provide the kind of social cement of the former way of life, while
literacy provides the kind of glue of the latter orientation.
To a great extent these differences are reflective of basic
'class' differences and are characteristic of 'class consciousness'. It is
important that network patterns of vulgar 'orality' survive in all social
groupings, as a basic human way of pragmatic communication, while in poor
cultures this is the primary mode of interaction, in civilized cultures this
becomes compartmentalized and hidden in 'back regions' of discourse which are
distinguished and covered over by literate discourse patterns which occupy
Other characteristics of proto people were worth mention.
Aboriginal, natural man was not a noble savage but a fear dominated coward and
sociopath primarily interested in self survival. But there was nothing ignoble
or abnormal about these adaptations though by modern standards they involve
strategies of risk minimization and minimal risk taking. Strategic success is
based upon cunning, trickery, deceit and indirection. Witchcraft and magic
become common means of achieving results, as well as accusations of sorcery
and witchcraft. Cognition and human evolutionary experience are rooted in the
acquisitions of patterns of avoidance, vicariousness, pre-occupations with
non-being, the symbolic and real fear of death, narrow self interest, small
group amoralism. In such contexts it was frequently better to let the child go
and soon have another than to lose the whole reproductive mechanism. In this
we can see that the need for truth, for love, for good, has been well rooted
in the existential realities of the life, or apathy and the evil of natural
We still love winners and hate losers.
For an extremely long period in proto human prehistory, it
can be said that there may have been a kind of 'gene culture co-evolution'.
Culture could be seen as a mechanism of 'super species', species and
sub-species selection. What was selected for was just the kind of patterning
that has so far been described. It is not so much that humankind is inherently
evil, but that inherent evil is well rooted in human nature, and that people
must unlearn this 'genetic pre-disposition' in order to learn how to become
genuinely 'humanized' and civilized. But from the very earliest, rudimentary
culture proved an extremely effective edge for human survival--crude tools,
rudimentary social organization, basic linguistic skills, the hearth, all
proved extremely effective in selecting for the adaptive success of humankind.
Though for most of the long span of proto human prehistory cultural adaptation
was severely constrained by the natural exigencies of the environment and as a
selective mechanism it created a new kind of human being, however humble and
weak of character, culture nevertheless soon 'lifted off the ground' and
basically detached itself as more or less independent of natural selection and
selective forces of evolution. Though it remained long close to the ground, it
soon took off on its own trajectory of developmental evolution as its own kind
of 'supernatural' and 'super organic' self organizing patterning. All
subsequent patterning of the growth and development of human culture history
and of civilization evolution and not because of it--as a self organizing
process it developed in its own direction in its own patterning and time
The further off the ground that this development went, the
more alternative process of social selectionism in the service of the
development of civilization supplanted the role of natural selection in the
biological evolution of humankind. But while human feet still touched the
ground for the longest time. These different kinds of processes and 'forces'
perhaps 'canceled each other out' or else cybernetically 'reinforced' one
another to boost certain basic traits of human development and to keep human
culture in the air and off the ground.
In this different kind of origin mythology which centrally
locates the basic source of natural 'self' we can see that the evolutionary
experience and development of the sense of self is not lost between the pages
of the unfolding story of humankind as so much social and culture historical
We can see while the evolutionary experience of the sense
of self remained organic, its social development as 'ego identity' in
reference to civilization became somewhat 'super organic'. Today the
tripartite conception of the psyche of the self as 'ego reality' caught
between the impulsive forces of the id and the compulsive forces of the
superego is a fitting description of the basic 'double identity' or 'duality'
of identity of a fundamentally dichotomized sense of self in the world.
There is another kind of patterning of a 'complex' of human
behavioral phenomena which must be understand in relation to a culture
historical understanding of the 'deep' development of humankind but naturally
This complex of patternings have to do with 'acquired
dependency' or 'learned helplessness' which is related to 'adaptive response
disorders' and 'delayed stress disorders' which are due to the experience of
extreme stress and trauma. In a sense, social 'evolution' and social
selectionism took over the role of natural selection as mechanism based upon
and dealing with this kind of organic human experience.
This kind of behavior is physiologically and
psychologically embedded in human responses and reflexes to environmental
stimuli. It may be related to the predominant functioning or switching between
sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems.
Such phenomena are also related to 'impulse control
disorders' and obsessive compulsive or repetition compulsive behaviors as well
as to certain kinds of 'hyper-suggestibility' and psycho somatic, hysterical
and organically experienced phenomena of 'spontaneous group reactions'.
Susceptibility to techniques of behavior modification,
brain washing, to hypnosis, to conversion and persuasion and the stringency of
'socialization' and 'enculturation' of the individual personality, as well as
phenomena of 'de-individuation', 'depersonalization' and 'de-realization' are
all related to this kind of complex of stress related responses.
To posit a central, focal point role for this kind of
complex of behavioral and experiential phenomena in both the evolution of
humankind and in the subsequent developments of human culture history requires
some amount of qualified explanation especially of the central role and
relationship of symbolic process in the mediation of this kind of phenomena,
both psycho socially and in terms of environmental and evolutionary
Nevertheless it can be claimed that natural and social
forces of selection 'converged' resonated for an extended period of proto
human prehistory to select for a certain kind of characteriological and
physiological/psychological orientation of human beingness, organically
embedded in the very process of human experience itself, which has had a
double and contradictory set of consequences for humankind. On one hand it
guaranteed the persistence and permanence of a kind of proto human adaptive
orientation which has been a predominant pattern of human prehistory and
history, and also it has offered another possibility, or potentiality, for
human development, for the incidence of human 'genius', 'creativity' and
'enlightened consciousness' which has contributed to the development of human
civilization inspite of, and because of, the predominance of the other
The development of humankind has always been challenged by
living a interdependent set of double standards. This internalized
contradiction of human beingness has had both god and bad consequences for the
development of humankind.
Like evolution, the development of human civilization has
been both self organizing and to some extent 'directive' and purposeful'.
Achieved progress of humankind was not an inevitable statistical probability
of chance, or random patterning, but was the long term consequence of the
development of human mind as an epi-phenomena of natural evolution.
We must understand how the human capacity for symbolization
evolved, and then how culture as systems of symbolization, then subsequently
developed. We must seek to understand what role and function symbolization
served in human adaptation to natural environments and how human adaptation
could be used to explain the origin of symbolization as a characteristically
A symbol is defined as something which stands for or
represents something else. Symbols are characterized by their duality of
meaning--of being simultaneously both what they are in a literal sense, and
also representing something else. Symbol systems thus have a reflexiveness of
their function. Symbols are composed of signs which actuate their physical
objective existence in reality, and also represent other things which are
primarily abstract and mental. In a sense a symbol is actually a mediating
relationship occurring between the thing and its inference or meaning.
Symbols, composed of signs and representing 'ideas' stand for both the signs
and the ideas simultaneously and reflexively. Symbols also have a third value,
which is often hidden, in that they also 'stand for themselves' as a fact of
Original symbolisms were oriented toward nature and derived
from natural signs. They were mostly concrete in function and non-abstract.
Symbols were mostly 'sign oriented' and had a 'mechanical' versus an
organistic function--they were non-specialized and 'context dependent'. A
symbol tended to stand for something immediate and specific, not general and
The limits to the number of symbolisms were the limits of
long term memory--several hundred to two or three thousand. Symbolisms
replaced one another as need attended to changing circumstances. Out with the
old and in with the new.
At some point, though, symbolisms began to form more
complex aggregations--they began to become multiplied and ordered in a more
hierarchical arrangement. There was a shift at this point, accompanied by
increasing population densities, long term settlement patterns and complex
social organization, at which symbolisms shifted their loci of primary
function away from the mediation of natural signs in the environment toward
group maintenance functions of reinforcing in-group identity and boundary
maintenance. Symbolisms shifted from an extensive orientation to a more
intensive orientation--mediating cultural environments rather than natural
This marked a critical turning point in human cultural
development. There occurred then fundamental 'change' of human mind and
consciousness from an environmental to a cultural focus. This marked a
critical shift in human identity from a self oriented identity to a social
sense of self. Competition between groups and group life began to take on a
'natural' symbolic function. Nature became 'wild'. There occurred a shift from
a 'natural' orientation towards a 'rational' orientation--symbolic focus went
from natural signs to rational ideas. Symbolic function differentiated and
became specialized and organistic. Some symbols took on cultural sign system
function serving to make cultural environments seem as if 'natural'. Other
'symbols of symbols' took on a cultural ideational function. There occurred a
naturalization of rationality and a rationalization of nature.
Natural symbol systems represented an organic, experiential
encoding of the environment--they allowed the natural sense of self to be
merged with the environment. Response to the environment was reflexive and
automatic. Perception of the environment was direct and unalienated.
Symbol systems allowed immediate 'pattern recognition' of
the environment such that there occurred an 'instantaneous' reading of the
environment. They enabled a great deal of information to be processed very
rapidly. Symbols serve a 'pattern framing' function.
Symbols worked in an analogical way to maintain 'similarity
relations' with diverse and changing contexts of experiential phenomena. They
allowed flexibility of natural mind and adaptability of experience. The
pattern framing function allowed an experiential continuity between
environment and organism.
Symbols provided a 'unity of experience' which provided the
individual with a sense of self identity in relation with the world.
symbols had a paradigmatic function of providing exemplary
models by which to experientially frame and understand new phenomena. They
were a way of 'learning' a new environment through experience and encounter.
It is likely this symbolic process was largely an 'unconscious' and therefore
somewhat 'automatic' and reflexive process.
It is possible that such a natural symbolic function, as an
experiential expression of 'natural mind' allowed an 'adaptive radiation' of
humankind, to explore and exploit a very diverse range of environments, way
beyond the 'phenotypic/genotypic' horizons of any species. It enabled groups
of humankind to successfully meet the challenges of moving and entering and
adapting to new environments.
The crystallic structure of symbol systems determines that
they are self organizing systems. It is possible that the structural limits of
these systems, like all human informational systems, are determined by the
structural limits of long term and short term memory. It is also determined
that symbol systems would grow to reach a supercritical state when they
overreached their own structural capacity. Adding more symbolisms could induce
some degree of disintegration of the entire system and a reintegration at a
lower level of complexity. Symbolic matrices reached a critical mass beyond
which chain reactions might interfere with the mediating functions of the
Symbols systems have their own history and evolutionary
structure of development. There occurs 'symbolic selection'--symbols which
functionally mediate with the environment are selected for, symbols which fail
to are selected against. As the environment changed, from natural to cultural,
so did the symbolisms.
In this we can see that mind evolved as an adaptive
mechanism in natural environments. We can refer to natural mind as this kind
of extensive orientation of experiential beingness, based on the organic and
mechanical functioning of sign symbolisms. Mind served as well then as a
'selective' mechanism allowing the human being to focus attention upon
'important' patterns of phenomena in the environment and to ignore 'noise'.
Mind was also a mechanism of selection--it was naturally selected for in the
evolution of human intelligence and then became itself a force of
selectionism. Mind became a mechanism of 'cultural transmission' as well,
through the learning and teaching of symbolisms and symbolic orientations
which 'carried' culture through time and across space.
We can speak of the evolution of mind from natural to
rational states, construed by rationally minded scientists as a movement from
irrationality to super rationality or 'perfect mind'.
Symbolisms somewhere, sometime grew in complexity until
they began to take on a 'super organic' and synergistic life of their own. At
this point they become fundamentally detached from their natural signs and
became themselves signs--symbols of symbols. At this point mind was born and
then proceeded to develop in its own way. Symbolisms could no longer be easily
destroyed and became traded, bartered, diffused over wide areas and whole
regions. Symbolism grew on top of other symbolisms--and symbolism became
embedded not only in human consciousness but in human social life as well.
Once made, symbolisms could not become easily destroyed, but became
'stockpiled' in cultural pools of 'symbolically embodied experience'.
In the understanding of original symbolisms, it becomes
necessary at some point in the story to mention the near universal symbolic
process of the insertion of patriarchal authority in the welding together of
the family, and by extension, of a society, through marriage; of the 'incest'
taboo which serves to symbolically reinforce the social patterning related to
reproductive access and the cementing of corporate social relations and
finally of the rise and influence of totemic symbolisms as foci of group
identity and ritual reinforcement. All of these come more or less together at
a point in time in the development of human culture history when the shift
from the extensive to an intensive symbolic orientation occurred and all are
perhaps symbolically interrelated in the social structuring of human corporate
groupings as cultural entities and as an expression of 'world view' of
rational mindness which comes to compete with and replace natural mind as the
primary symbolic ordering process of human experience.
In these cases it seems that the appropriate symbolisms
relating to the articulation of these 'cultural complexes' served a ritual and
mythological reinforcing function and a 'reality' creating or constructing
function, which was necessary to foster dominant bonds and social relations
and prohibitions which would otherwise be weak.
The insertion and augmentation of the patriarchal authority
of the father in both the family and the group and the subordination of the
reproductive and nurturing of the mother, was a necessary move in the
development of social 'superego' or collective conscientious as 'the law of
the father' which overrode individual self interest and the classic myth of
Oedipus Rex in which the son overthrows the authority and fear of the father
and in the process internalizes the authority of the father as totemic emblem.
This is reflective of a natural and basic conflict of self interest between
the needs of the individual and the demands of the group and of the
psychological process of internal identification with the group and of the
psychological process of internal identification with the group in the
resolution of this conflict. The Jews have a 'binding over the son' and the
Christians have the 'son becoming the father'.
Incest taboos are symbolically designed to reinforce
patterns of sexual access, complementary to marriage rules and regulations,
which serve to unit family units together and reinforce the more general
social bonds of a society. Violation of these taboos are considered extremely
polluting, not just for the individuals involved but for the whole status of
the group. Purification, even expurgation and ritual death are the only
resource a cultural grouping has for restoring normal order to group life and
relations. The incest taboo in this case represents the symbolic subordination
of the love of the body of the mother--the ritually reinforced symbolic
rejection of the bond of the mother by the son as a complementary means of
reinforcing the authority of the father over the son and the privileged access
of the father to the mother. In this case, sisters or certain cross cousins
are considered symbolically of the body of the mother. Menstrual taboos
represent as well the rejection of the bleeding body of the mother as
endangering the ritual purity and threatening to the normal social relations
of the group. Symbolically the menstrual blood represents the reproductive
wounds of the mother which threatens the fertility of the group, not just in
bearing offspring, but in hunting game, cultivating or harvesting foods,
fishing, as well as in supernatural propitiousness. The protein taboos of
nursing or post-partum mothers is another means of subordinating the body of
the mother in reinforcing the law of the father--the father feasts to
celebrate the new birth, the mother starves to feed her newborn child. A
mother giving birth, the placental afterbirth, the bleeding, and the emergence
of the bloody newborn from the womb is a 'dangerous' period for the groups
normal relations. Couvade is an attempt by magic for the male to usurp this
natural power of the male--a kind of 'birth envy'. The taboo on adultery and
the devalued status of prostitutes, primarily associated with women, is
related to the incest taboo in that it serves to restrict and regulate the
sexual prerogative of the female and make such choices the pater-recht of the
father, and the law of the group. Breaking this taboo similar to the incest
taboo can have dire consequences for the people involved.
Totemic symbolisms are manifest in practically every
society, and have been a mainstay of human culture history. The totem
represents the corporate solidarity and the strength, and successful survival
of the group. Totem reflects the 'territorial imperative' of a group which
defines its boundary-identity 'psycho-geographically' in relation to political
domination and privileged access to the resources of a particular region. The
annual killing and communion of the totem, like ritual cannibalism or
headhunting represents the imbibing into the body of the spirit of the
land--the symbolic subordination and incorporation of the power of the spirit
familiar. This too assures the adaptive success and productivity of the group.
In a similar way, ritual ceremonies involving mutilation
and initiation are also symbolic means for either reinforcing the law of the
father or else subordinating the natural power of the mother in the service of
superimposing corporate group identity upon the self identity of the
In these respects, we can see the power of symbolisms in
the mediation of human reality, and of the psycho-social integration of the
individual with the group. Symbols have the power of making unreal things seem
real, unnatural things seem natural, and nonsensical things to make sense.
Symbolisms when ritually enacted by people, create social realities where none
before existed, and reinforce social relations in ways which nature never
In terms of this power of symbolization in the creation of
human social structure we are better able to see how the complex of traits
associated with adaptive response disorders, 'learned helplessness', the power
of linguistic persuasion and the displacement of libidinal ties in
'conversion' experiences. These are the natural organic and psychological
human reaction to the symbolic superimposition of authority and social power
in their lives. The experience of stress by either ritual separation or else
by social ostracism is known to lower thresholds of cognitive resistance to
conversion experiences and behavioral modification. Induction of a little
stress at regular intervals goes along way in inducing and reinforcing social
conformity. The fear and threat of violence or punishment is a similar
'stress' producing ways of making people behave in socially sanctioned or
In a way, rape as a form of incest violation, is ore
polluting for the victim than for the victimizer, and the symbolic
consequences of such violent victimization can be severe and long lasting. In
such a way, traumatization, either actual or threatened, produces the same
kinds of consequences in the individual.
But internalization of authority, behavior modification,
reinforcing social conformity and threatened or actual traumatization has the
same long terms kinds of consequences upon the symbolic integrity and identity
of the individual cannot function outside of or independently of the
symbolisms and structures relations of the group, it leads as well to
conversion reactions, somatization disorders or organic displacement of
repressed or intense psychic pain and suffering, to delayed stress disorders
in which similar environmental stimuli may trigger unexpected 'flashbacks' or
the re-experiencing of traumatic or intensely stressful events, it leads to
adaptive response disorders--the acquired inability of the organism to respond
to the environment in adaptive ways, to impulse control disorders, to
borderline psychosis, dementia, psychic disintegration of personal identity,
to phases of depression and high levels of neurotic anxiety. In social
settings it leads to 'de-individuation' such that individual self controls of
personal behavior are completely externalized onto the environment of social
relations. Maintaining self control then becomes a problem, and a strategy of
maintaining control over one's social environment, whether through
manipulation, domination, subordination, etc.
People in this condition are ripe for the picking of a
system, any system, which promises them, if not salvation, at least temporary
(THIS SENTENCE ENDS ON PAGE 508. PAGES 509-521 ARE MISSING)
MISSING PAGES 509-521
Relief from their suffering and a symbolic way of ordering
their external environment such that they regain a sense of security they have
lost in an internal sense. Through projection and repression they can regain
their identity through fixed frames and symbolic dependency such that their
own neurotic psychoses becomes transferred onto a group orientation as a
delusional collective archosis. Such people have reduced resistance and low
thresholds to persuasion and conversion to 'impersonal' orientations which
become highly controllable and exploitable.
These people have incorporated the principle of non-being
into their lives, and render to the service of power in paradigmatic world
views. The basic naked insecurities of their natural condition remains, but it
has become disguised beneath the clothes of conformity.
The primitive, proto-typical, natural states of being does
not remain very far away in any of us--and it has always been just beneath the
covers of civilization. It is not difficult to look about in the world and to
find many survivals of or primeval beginnings--both in power and powerless.
Human mind evolved once or several times in the
inauguration of human symbolic functioning, and then conveniently stepped
above the ground of natural selection. The culture historical development of
human civilization, as the expression of the elaboration of symbolic
functioning of mind, became then largely a self organizing and self reflecting
developmental process separate from natural evolution. Symbolic functioning
proceeded at its own pace and civilization developed as a developing
environmental-symbolic context in which mind could find its expression.
Similar to the evolving environments of life which created possibilities and
pathways of speciation, the slow development of the contexts of civilization
made possible the fuller realization of culture historical process. Symbols as
paradigms, as models could be easily diffused as
'stimulus-generalization'--just the symbol as the remoted idea could be easily
carried throughout the world and easily reconstruct from its templates the
basic cultural elements. Civilization developed as a changing environment in
which the same basic natural human being found themselves. It was the same
flexibility of symbolic functioning which fostered these new environments
which allowed the individual within a new group context to adapt to these new
environments. In this sense, even tools, technology and material possession
are symbols of the new environment--directly expressive of the symbolic
functioning in the experiential mediation of environments.
Civilization grew up organically, through symbolic
functioning, as a new world environment around humankind and slowly
transformed the psychic functioning of humankind to fit these new
environment--humankind became more stabilized as symbols became more and more
rational and ideational in function and construction. Such development of
symbolic environments of civilization was quite gradual and probably occurred
only after many fits and starts. Several pre-conditions must have been met.
First, an complete adaptive radiation had to have occurred such that proto
people came to occupy most regions of the earth. Secondly, natural population
increases in local and regional contexts had to reach a minimum threshold of
density before the symbolic process could 'take off'. This natural increase
was probably quite long and slow in its development. But once 'critical mass'
of human population densities in an area were achieved, symbolic functioning
would 'explode' and human consciousness would 'implode' in a self-regenerating
cycle of civilization.
Once this happened, symbolization and symbolic function
then took its own 'super organic' life n terms of a functional momentum of
development, which then continued on its own in the environment relatively
independently and uncontrollably of individuals or of groupings ability to
resist. The environment, now predominantly social, began to transform itself
beyond the individuals capacity to control it and the individual has culture
historically since that moment been forced either to adapt to the new changes
or else suffer the consequences of marginalization. The processes of
transformation continue inexorably and uncontrollably in our world today--we
call it technological development, modernization, even progress and it cannot
be controlled. Individuals or groups may renounce the state of the world,
whole nations may go on a backward course in reversing historical process but
the world continues towards its own ultimate ends.
Evolution itself has now been stopped, frozen in its tracts
and supplanted by the modern process of civilized development.
As we have stepped outside of the whole evolutionary
ecology of life, we have stepped ideologically and symbolically outside of the
horizons of our own natural history. We have substituted our sense of culture
history for this natural sense of history and we are paying the price and the
cost in terms of our own alienation and the alienation of our environments.
It is not without reason that non-being and the problem,
indeed the imperative, of power and control have become the central
existential problematics of our own civilization and culture history. When our
environments are beyond either our own control and the control by nature, then
we are genuinely driving blindly into a black night of the future. Non-being
and power affect us personally in our everyday lives, and also affect us
collectively in all our group life, at every level of social interaction and
function. All our symbolisms recursively reiterate about these central
meta-themes and our modern mythologies cannot escape their hold upon our
It is necessary to separate the problem of the culture
historical development of human civilization from the related, but separate
problem of human development.
It was A. L. Kroeber who emphasized the correlation between
the rise and peaking of civilization with the increased frequency of 'genius'
as an expression of the cultural stylizations typifying a civilization, and
who noted as well the tendency for societies which are waning in civilization
to frustrate and stem the expression of such genius. Certainly the rise of
human civilization has at least created the possibility if not probability for
human development and has been associated with the increased incidence of its
many expressions, but it remains doubtful just how much civilization doesn’t
also frustrate or prevent such development in its promotion of spurious
Human development can be defined as the realization of
human symbolic functioning in an independent individual sense, and promote the
expression of human creativity or 'genius' through symbolization. Associated
with this is fostering a non-authoritarian social atmosphere in which human
rights are relatively achieved and their violation or usurpation prevented.
The culture historical development of human civilization
has certainly created the possibilities for the greater realization of human
development, but it has generally failed to achieve this kind of genuine
It will not be until such a grand achievement is realized
that humankind will gain more control over its environment in such a way that
preserves the naturalness of its being in the world.
Humankind as a species may throw up only a small handful of
genius in the world in any given generation but it is perhaps this small
handful which has made the only critical difference between developmental
disaster, evolutionary equilibrium and human well being in the world.
What seems clear is that we are in fact not all that
different in our natures and our being from our prototypical ancestors. Only
our environments and our sense of non-being are different. Individual human
beings, as 'ideas' of mind, and humankind, as the expression of mindness in
the world, have embedded in their organic experience the very structure and
basis of the ecological evolution of all our life. In the understanding of
this experience is rooted our natural science and native senseness about the
world and the promise of our enlightened emancipation from its merciless
We cannot change the way the world is headed, nor reverse
what has already happened. But we can change the ways that we ourselves go
about relating to our world, whether social or natural, in such a way that
makes greater evolutionary sense. We can start 'minding' and 'reminding'
ourselves of our own natural beingness in the world.
ECOLOGY AND EVOLUTION
There is a general implicit pre-supposition that because
ecology is largely a synchronic, systemic and space like science, that it must
therefore be subsumed beneath the more general problem of evolution as a
dynamic, diachronic, time like science. Ecological problems and frameworks are
fit like snapshot profiles into the unfolding film reel of evolution. Those
who imagine a great scientific synthesis of a space time like 'evolutionary
ecology' generally see the relationships between the two general perspectives
in such a way.
It makes sense, though, to reverse the formula and to fit
the problems of evolution into a more general orientation of 'global ecology'
in the sense that a total environmental ecology of earth 'evolved' into its
present state, and that part of the primary function of evolutionary
development has been to establish and maintain an on going dynamic equilibrium
of this universal ecology of life on earth. The selective purpose of evolution
has been to explore the range of possibilities for exploitation and adaptation
to the environments of the earth such that its ecological equilibrium can
acquire greater stability through diversity and complexity.
In this sense, the environments of the earth, having been
largely biotic, 'evolved' as the context for the evolutionary events of
individual processes of speciation. Life evolved its own habitations and
environments by which it could further augment its ecological equilibrium.
Environmental contexts evolved as a dynamic equilibrium around separate,
single species integrating all of these into a global web of life.
What has been 'dynamic' in a structural sense about
evolutionary development that has conferred a sense of selective purpose upon
the entire system of life is this sense of earthbound ecological equilibrium.
Life continuously explores its earthbound environments and
embodies its evolutionary experiences in the biotic and behavioral expressions
of its many life forms, as the patterning of its possibilities of development.
'Ecological evolution' has been a self organizing system
which periodically approaches 'critical states' of over development--of
critical biotic mass on earth which then rapidly despoils and depletes its own
geological substrate. Then life generally contracts again and alternative
directions for development are discovered. Clearing away of the old, dead
wood, makes room for the growth of new, fresh wood.
Like lilies upon a small pond, life does not know its own
limits until it experiences them,
Evolution of life has been the developmental embodiment of
the experiences of the earth's environments. Evolutionary experience becomes
organically rooted and its 'senseness' of 'ecological fitness' becomes
embedded in the very fabric and living environment of life itself.
To the extent that we are a part of this general
evolutionary experience, we have ingrained in our own nature's and our own
sense of being the very expression of ecological evolution itself. Recognizing
and cultivating this organic senseness of our natural experience in ourselves,
we can better learn to see it and relate to it in our earthbound environments.
HORIZONS OF MIND
Individual expression or examples of an idea represent the
profiles of its range of possibility--the idea itself represents the limits of
this range of possibility--an idea is the horizon of the possible patterning
of mind as an expression of its environmental experience. Because the range of
possible profiles is open ended--the change and variation of its examples are
infinite--ideas as horizons of mind are essentially open and infinite, though
limited. Thus, prime numbers, though limited, remain infinite and open ended
in possibility. Infinity is such that it may be infinitely sub-divided, and
each of its divisions still would be infinite as long as they are open ended.
Ideas themselves are profiles of the range of possibilities
of mind--they ate the exemplary expression of mindness as environmental
experience. Thus mind is open ended and infinite horizon of the horizon of
ideas. Ideas are 'general symbols' in that they ate non-particular and in
their basic abstractness as mental constructs are non-concrete. They typify or
represent a class of concrete things or the relations between things. As
general symbols, ideas also have sticky and fuzzy edges and thus many
different ideas cohere together and 'blend' in indistinctness upon their
horizons. Ideas are mental reflections of the phenomenological experiences
which they represent.
Ideas are mental templates and 'filters' by which we screen
selectively experience and arrange it into meaningful, interpretive order.
Ideas are flexibly arranged and are polythetically composed of a range of
profiles along different sets of traits or distinctive features. It is this
which allows ideas to be very adaptable to new environments. Like tools in the
hand, they can be carried far afield and allow us to continue to function in
an adaptive way.
Horizons of mind, like evolutionary horizons of development
are always relative to the relational contexts in which they are situated.
They always bound the point of view of the present moment of experience, and
determines the limits of our conscious and unconscious understandings, but as
we approach the edges of our horizons, they continuously recede and vanish
into the context of which they are a part. They are always surrounding us, but
are forever remote.
The horizons of mind evolved as a natural self organizing
system. Though its contexts is unlimited and open ended, its sense of
experience is always limited and determined in the present of mindness.
Mindness tends toward states of super criticality in which it is always
changing and undergoing crises of interpretation of new ideas in new sets of
environmental experiences, but mind has remained as a total system flexible
and 'robust' and fairly stable. Its evolutionary development, like natural
evolution, has been one of a selective exploration and elaboration of its
experiential environments. Mind has created its own mental/phenomenological
environments for the experience of its mindness. Mind has developed its own
possibilities of symbolic patterning through the elaboration of its
environmental contexts of experience. Mind has enlarged itself in the world,
and in the process, has enlarged our experience of the world.
The evolution of mind is primarily a culture historical
phenomena--the mindscape of multiple horizons of ideas is a function and
reflection of human civilization in the world. The fact and act of
civilization as a process of the evolution of mind is an expression of
Mind first evolved as a natural possibility--natural mind
was a sense of possibility which was rooted in environmental experience--as
the evolutionary horizon of humankind.
BEINGNESS AS ENVIRONMENTAL EXPERIENCE
Beingness is a natural ecological/evolutionary state or
condition of environmental experience in the world. Environmental experience
embodies beingness organically in the world--it merges the organism and its
own self awareness with the larger relational context of which it is
evolutionarily and ecologically a part. Awareness of this beingness is a
natural understanding which is embedded in the phenomenological immediacy of
real, unalienated experience. As a natural understanding it is 'enacted' or
'performed' by the perceptual enactment of cognition and recognition. It is
the act and the performance of clear and unadulterated perception in the
world. In its natural state it is inherently selective--it does not entail a
conscious decision of interpretation or deliberateness of the 'will' to
experience, nor is it based upon the implicit ground of 'common senseness' of
experience. It is the epi-phenomenal expression and end product of many
millennium of evolutionary development as such its structure is built in a
natural wisdom of deep experience.
It is very difficult for us today to 'get back in touch'
with our own innate beingness, because it has been substituted and sublimated
both consciously and unconsciously by our own symbolizations which have
changed and altered our environments of the world in quite arbitrary and
unnatural ways. The alienation of our own natural experience is rooted in the
difference of our very experience of the world. We cannot see the difference
because it has become virtually the only way we can see the world. The very
environments of an evolutionary/ecological nature in which this experience was
derived have been irreversible altered and rendered 'unnatural'. But the
traces and basis of our own natural beingness remains within us organically.
It was flash frozen in its evolutionary development when
the evolutionary environment itself became 'frozen' by human culture history.
In a very real sense, it is always just beneath the surface of our own sense
of ego, expecting to burst out and blossom. Because it is now fundamentally
alienated, what little of it we can recover in ourselves, through the
modification of our own experiences, is but a shadow, a remnant, an artifact
and a fossil of its original beingness.
But by holding it, feeling it, looking at it, touching it
and turning it over and over in our mind's eyes, we can get a sense of its
experience--its 'senseness' and we can learn to value and emphasize this
senseness in every aspect of our existences on earth. It must always seem
strange and primitive and perhaps frightening in its nakedness and rawness of
power--but by familiarizing ourselves with its remnants we can rekindle its
NATURAL SYSTEMS, SCIENTIFIC RULES AND ORGANIC EXPERIENCE
Part of the problem of dichotomization between a
Naturwissenschaften, a Geisteswissenschaften and a Kulturwissenschaften has
been the hypothesis of fundamentally different and inimical 'modes of
experientiality' which lead to different criteria of 'tolerance'.
It must be recognized that there is a fundamental
difference between natural phenomena and 'system of mind' which are purported
to reflect the structure and function of the patterning of such phenomena, and
of the difference between the organic experience of natural phenomena, which
is itself the primary and underived inductive ground of empirical science, and
the scientific rules which seek to explain and account for such organic
experience. The language and symbolic generalizations, the ideas and
symbolizations which compose our scientific theories are representative and
reflexive of natural phenomena, but they are not the natural phenomena itself.
Thus there is no reason to suppose that nature evolves or composes its
patterns, whether this is the motion of subatomic particles about a nucleus or
the acquisition and biological substrate of human language competence and
performance, according to a basic 'set of rules' which our sciences
comprehend. As such, we can say there is no necessary or demonstrable or
provable reason for presuming the a priori existence of a 'deep structure' of
mind or logos which accounts for and results in the pattern that we then
observe. It is enough that the organic experience of this patterning is
evolutionarily/ecologically rooted--is an epi-phenomenal expression of the
dynamic processes of nature. Our scientific rules and theoretical 'systems of
mind' are themselves a posteriori constructions which imperfect reflect and
seek to better explicate our understanding of these organic experiences,
indeed even our own experience, or 'senseness' of this natural experience. The
sets of rules and principles which we do elaborate of our own mindness, which
we confuse with the natural evolution of our organic experiences.
It is a grand paradox that the evolution of organic
experience and the evolution of the experience of mindness are both 'self
organizing' systems which do not follow basic structural rules or principles
but are based upon basic relational functions.
We can seek to explain our dual experience of reality
through our scientific systems, but we cannot seek to non-relatively describe
and define our experience in non-arbitrary ways.
The only principle of patterning which could be held to be
a priori to both natural experience and our experiential systems of mind is
the principle of change and entropy and we can never explain change or know
change in an ultimate, absolute way.
It seems that the basic distinctions between a
Naturwissenschaften, a Kulturwissenschaften and a Geisteswissenschaften are
more apparent than actual--a result of the paradox of mind which afflicts our
own experiential beingness in the world.
As Naturwissenschaften, our systems of mind require
relational rules of organic, experiential phenomena. As Geisteswissenschaften,
we seek to describe and define the unknown hidden behind organic experiential
phenomena in basic ways of our language. As Kulturwissenschaften, we seek to
see how our systems of mind and languages of reality are both reflexive of the
organic experiences of reality in relative ways.
We cannot escape the existential dilemmas of our own
senseness and beingness in the world. Natural phenomena evolved in the world
for reasons which we then give to it in the name of understanding.
Nature's beginning is our scientific ends, and our
scientific beginning has been nature's end.
Blanket Copyright, Hugh M. Lewis, © 2005. Use of
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is granted for purposes of research and non-profit instruction only.
Last Updated: 08/25/06