Bulletin: Humans Still Evolving, Leftists Left Behind
I still remember my first psychotic patient during my pre-doctoral internship at Camarillo State Mental Hospital in California. Many schizophrenics love to pun. Well, that's probably not the right way to put it. In reality, they can't help punning, because they see all kinds of weird connections between things that you or I might miss. Plus they confuse symbols with what they refer to, so for many of them the world is just one giant, frightening, paranoid pun.
Anyway, he took one look at my name and blurted out "Godwin! Is that like a combination of God and Darwin?!"
Well, as a matter of fact... Even then, in the mid 1980's, I was working on ideas that would somehow unify the seemingly irreconcilable realms of science and spirit. For example, in my doctoral dissertation (completed in 1988) I tried to demonstrate how advances in modern psychoanalytic metapsychology mirrored the new scientific worldview that was emerging as a result of quantum physics and chaos theory (metapsychology simply involves one’s most general philosophical assumptions about the mind). To me, the underlying models and assumptions were so eerily similar that the connections were obvious. It was just a matter of pointing them out.
In this regard, creativity has much in common with schizophrenia. It's just that the schizophrenic exercises this creativity in a completely undisciplined way, and sees connections where none exist. Anyway, that's what my dissertation advisor gently advised me.
Just kidding there. Actually, I published my first two scholarly articles out of that dissertation, which, in many ways, remains as valid (or invalid) as anything I've ever written since then, even though I supposedly knew so much less back then. That is a story in itself, something I almost posted on yesterday--that is, how, with an intense and pure focus, we are seemingly able to tap into dimensions of knowledge that apparently exist outside of us, like platonic fields of pure logos. I truly believe that. The identical thing happened with regard to my spiritual practice. Eventually I reached a sort of very dramatic tipping point, where, instead of just putting data in, stuff began pouring out in what I still regard as a completely mysterious way. I never would have predicted it.
The portentous title of my dissertation was Psychoanalysis, Postmodern Physics, and the Emerging Paradigm of Evolution: Toward a Rapprochement of Mind and Nature. So you see, even then I was looking for unity--the unity of mind and nature.
There's also a pun in there, for "rapprochement" is a term of art in psychoanalysis, having to do with the infant's initial separation from the mother between the ages of 16 and 24 months, as he tries to negotiate the gap between himself and mother--between separation anxiety on one side and fear of, and desire for, merger on the other. Many things can go wrong developmentally during this subphase, as the infant is torn between becoming a separate person vs. reuniting with the primordial mother.
What I was hinting at in the title of my dissertation--and which I don’t think anyone else "got"--was that human beings collectively and historically struggled with this same fundamental developmental conflict, of individuation from the group vs. being swallowed up by the collective. If you only look, you see this dynamic throughout history, leading right up to the present day. It also happens to be one of the red threads that is implicit in almost everything I write, specifically, that human individualism is not the norm, but a very late historical development that only emerged on a mass scale in the West some 300 or 400 years ago. Human beings are fundamentally "groupish," and individual identity must be wrested and won from this more primordial matrix.
Clearly, this is one of the problems we are dealing with in the Muslim Middle East: can these cultures evolve to the point that they value the individual, and can therefore cope with democracy, liberty, and free enterprise, or must they always remain mired in a pseudo-religious primitive group mind?
I was later given an award for my dissertation and had to give a trembling little speech. I still have a copy of the speech tucked away in my dissertation. It just goes to show you that most of us really have just one Big Idea that we continue to rediscover over and over, because my book was simply a continuation and elaboration of many of the same themes. The speech goes a little like this:
“This dissertation is really a reflection of my own personal obsession, which happens to involve the mind, that is, the subjective internal world, and its relationship to the objective, physical universe.
“In our time, we are in the midst of a dramatic shift in the manner in which reality is to be understood.... And I’m not talking about the shift from Reagan to Bush. (That weak laugh line actually drew applause. I was still a leftist nut back then, as, apparently, was everyone else in the hall. A safe assumption when in the presence of a mob of psychologists.)
“In the three hundred years since the onset of the scientific revolution, science gradually came to regard everything in the universe--including ourselves--as mere machines.
“In this way of looking at things, the mind is completely superfluous, roughly analogous to the smoke emanating from a steam train.
“But there is within science a growing movement which is beginning to mount considerable evidence for the notion that, rather than thinking of material reality as fundamental, it is the evolutionary process which is the foundation of reality.
“What is so interesting is that these patterns of process seem to be woven into the very fabric of the universe, fractally recurring and cutting across all of the various levels we study--including human mental development.
“In other words, we are gradually seeing the picture emerging on every level of scientific inquiry--from physics to chemistry to biology to cosmology--that the mind is not some sort of accidental intruder in the world, but rather, the nonmaterial organizing principle supporting the whole enchilada.
“This general endeavor is called the Evolutionary Paradigm, or synthesis, and my study was simply an attempt to fully integrate psychoanalysis within this new framework.
“The appearance of life itself forces us to reconsider all of the reductionistic schemes and artificial boundaries we have invented to divide various domains such as mind and matter, animate and inanimate, physics and psychology.
“The great physicist Werner Heisenberg wrote that ‘The same organizing forces that have created nature in all its forms, are responsible for the structure of our soul, and likewise for our capacity to think.’
‘I believe that the evolutionary synthesis is nothing less than a grand new myth for our age, through which we may understand our place in the universe, our relationship to the totality.
“With our new understanding, we can truly say that the development of the cosmos culminates in an unbroken fashion in the thought of man.
“Anything short of this view, I think, ignores the irrefutable testimony of Life and Mind, and is unworthy of our true stature.”
We've gotten a little off track here, so this will probably have to be a two-parter. I haven't even gotten to my main point, which is the "new evidence" that human beings did not somehow stop evolving 100 or 200,000 years ago, but that evolution has been going on continuously: "Humans have continued to evolve throughout prehistory and perhaps to the present day, according to a new analysis of the genome reported last week.... So human nature may have evolved as well. If so, scientists and historians say, a fresh look at history may be in order. Evolutionary changes in the genome could help explain cultural traits that last over many generations as societies adapted to different local pressures."
They’re half-right. They still don’t know about the evolution of child-rearing and its effect on the type of adults produced in a given culture. Give them another 50 years or so.
Now get this: "Trying to explain cultural traits is, of course, a sensitive issue. The descriptions of national character common in the works of 19th-century historians were based on little more than prejudice. Together with unfounded notions of racial superiority they lent support to disastrous policies."
Of course trying to explain cultural traits is a sensitive issue, because it completely flies in the face of everything leftists hold sacred. Do you remember the fate of Charles Murray, a thoroughly good and decent man who had the audacity to hint at this in his infamous book, The Bell Curve? This is how you can tell liberals are phony. They mindlessly attack proponents of intelligent design, because it goes against their modern superstition of a godless universe. But if natural selection threatens one of their sacred superstitions--that all cultures are equal--then they viciously attack and smear the messenger.
To the Left, Charles Murray’s evidence was regarded as no different than that of the 19th century historians--a priori dismissed as "little more than prejudice" lending "support to disastrous policies." It will be interesting to see how the secular left will cope with this new evidence of continuous evolution and try to make it fit into their junk metaphysics.
A FINAL THOUGHT--
Interestingly, the article implies that anti-Semites such as Hitler are half right about the Jews, in that they are different. The big difference is that, as a group, they are not less evolved but more evolved. In the end, I do not believe, as these researchers suggest, that the differences will prove to be genetic. Rather, I believe that the differences have to do with the scandalously humane way that Jews began treating their children--especially female children--hundreds and even thousands of years ago. This sharply set them apart from most other human groups, and naturally produced superior humans (on the average) and a superior culture, despite the most adverse external circumstances. However, I seriously doubt that this is encoded in the genes. For example, if Jews were to suddenly begin treating their children as barbarously as Muslims do throughout the Arab world, within a few generations they would be as backward, regressed, and primitve as they are. Evolution giveth, and evolution can taketh away.