Monday, March 13, 2006

Bulletin: Humans Still Evolving, Leftists Left Behind

(This post is about 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. It just takes me a while to build up to that.)

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.


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.


LiquidLifeHacker said...

Great post today Bob! Good Stuff! Thanks for sharing your speech!

I have no doubt that the Lefties will figure a way to make the new discoveries blend into their facade. Doesn't the father of confusion always has tricks up his sleeve and can't calculated madness evolve?

D. Vision said...

Oh well, I guess I'll have to give you a 98/100 on this one. The "mindless leftists" might actually be right about intelligent design after all. What other branch of science has tried to muscle its way into being taught in secondary schools without having survived the crucible of empirical study? Oh right....

Lisa said...

In college, I majored in Biology and minored in Religious Studies. In all my classes, I could see this beautiful pattern whether it be scientific or religious. There gets to a certain point in dissecting the material world that science just cannot explain. Why does it have to be an either or choice? Why can't science(be it evolution or some other theory) and intelligent design both lead to the same understanding of our universe? I do not see them as fundamentally incompatible. Am I on the wrong track here? Religion seemed to be a way to identify and explain physical and societal occurrences before science "evolved" in the human mind. God or some higher power seems to be the thread or rhythm that connects everything when it cannot be broken down to anything smaller. Let's say the essence. Ever wonder why music is so universal?(yeah, duh, i know dumb question, already covered but so important!) Why can't evolution and intelligent design just be friends and compliment each other?

Gagdad Bob said...

They can't be friends because leftists don't know how to play. It's one of the reasons liberals are so much less happy than conservatives. To them, materialism really is a sacred superstition, even though it makes no sense and contributes to their personal unhappiness.

Lisa said...

How depressing!

LiquidLifeHacker said...

"They can't be friends because leftists don't know how to play"

I may have to have a little plaque made with those true words of wisdom!

*I bet Petey said that first eh?*

Benedict S. said...

Intelligent design is implicit in the logos. But design is immanent in the universe, not transcendent. A design imposed upon the universe implies "twoness," a designer and a design. Oneness is too apparent in the design for any form of otherness to be seriously considered.

The only interesting question that arises from a study of the design is its puposiveness or lack thereof. Those of the left and the right who are truly concerned seek to understand the nature of the design, and both struggle with puposes of their own.

So much of what you say makes sense I am inclined to attribute your fixation on a "left-right" dichotomy as an effect of enduring youth. Perhaps in time you will mature from the mire of political fogs to see in all people the same sort of perplexity you face in your struggle to make out the face of God.

I commented to my blog that your view of the vertical has built into it a mite too much of the horizontal. Trying to find in the details of primitive religions meanings that jibe with the truth adds unnecessary complexity to your struggle. All those people were seeking God, most of them in the manner of the Sufi who pulled off his trousers and went through the pockets searching for his pants. This is it. God is all there is, and in my view it is actually that simple. Once we get that idea embedded, the vertical takes on a genuine horizontal look. The more we know then of things, the more we know of God. Know the word, know God.

But then, I bet you knew all that.

Benedict S. said...

The last sentence should have read, "Know the world, know God."

Finding Fair Hope said...

The left and right of it are likely to get in the way of a real search for God, particularly when both sides regard the other as mindless and lacking a sense of humor -- or any sense at all for that matter. This thing is bigger than that and we all know it. But one side saying that the other cannot be studied and understood without contempt while the other side says the same thing about Side Two is, well, counterproductive. Wouldn't it be nice if we came up with the real answer, right here, and then could just reveal it to both "left" and "right" and everybody would get it and then -- I don't know, what would we do with ourselves?

Benedict S. said...

Miss Fair Hope, take my word, it was not flesh and blood that taught you that . . . just good living, perhaps.

Will said...

Hello there, Bob -

>>In reality, they can't help punning, because they see all kinds of weird connections between things that you or I might miss<<

Heh, given the old alchemical template of the "law of likenesses", it wouldn't surprise that some psychosis is the result of a "consciousness expansion" combined with a normal ego. Those two don't mix well, to put it mildly. Particularly these days when "Spirit is being poured out on all." That's a recipe for a lot of insanity, individual and collective. An insanity that manifests philosophically, too, going right back to that motherlode of modern Leftist whackytude, the French Revolution.

Anyway, to soberly play with my own perspective of the "law of likenesses", here's a couple of name anagrams: Iran's Ahmadinijad - I'M A DNA JIHAD/I, A DAMN JIHAD. Or how about, say, Robert Godwin? - RE: GOD-BORN WIT.

Sorry. But re the genome thing - actually I think that there could be genetic factors at play in cultural/racial differences but not as an absolute fundamental basis. If there are such genetic differences (and who knows, maybe someday someone will find a so-called "explaining/excusing" genetic difference in homosexuals), the origin of such is still Mind. There's that quote from Jesus in the Gnostic Gospel According to Thomas - "If the flesh came into being because of Spirit, it is amazing . . " Same thing, sort of - Mind is the origin.


Will said...

Mr Benedict s., sir - with respect, certainly one can take, correctly, the overview that "we are all One". However, to ignore the obvious (and spiritually necessary)increasing polariy in today's world gives rise to all kinds of distorted perspectives of "we are all One" - such as the asinine, utterly corrupting, cult of "multiculturalism", which is itself a spin-off of the great corruption of "we are all One" of communism.

The "above" is certainly real but we had best not ignore the "below". And for what it's worth, Jesus did say he didn't come to earth to bring peace as people tend to think of "peace" - He came with a sword. That is, sides are to be chosen, and in the context of this earthly life we must live, all are not One. Bob is right-on to underscore this in his writing.


LiquidLifeHacker said...

Will---"increasing polariy in today's world gives rise to all kinds of distorted perspectives of "we are all One"

This is sooooo true! I am just always amazed at how duped so many people are when they start to fall for that "Allah is the same God that you Christians worship" which is not true because if people would buckle up and realise that "yes" there is no dispute that ONE GOD created us all...but that we don't all worship the same God because people have chosen to create their own gods over time and some have distorted and perverted the truth! When one looks deeper they can see this clearer because the Jesus of the koran is NOT the same Jesus of the bible! To continue to claim that they are the same is to claim that God was confused! Which God cannot be!

Anonymous said...

Islam does seem to be a false religion. Any religion that forces submission of ideas and creativity onto humans is not a true religion and only a source of violence and misfortune. The purpose of religion is to better mankind. Funny to me, how so many people got duped into thinking it was the path to peace! Islam must reform or die!

And yes, you bet your sweet as@, I am commenting anonymously, those crazies scare me...I really have to applaud Dr. Sultan for taking a public stance and putting her own life at risk. She is the modern day hero!

Will said...

Exactly, Liquid. Seems to me that some great wave of the future - let's say it's the genuine Parousia - drifts back in time and touches minds and souls not at all ready to receive it for what it is or rather what it will be. Hence,"moral relativism", a grotesque distortion of the "we are all One" ethos. Same with the ideal of the holy androgyne - the distortion of this transcendent ideal comes in the form of bi-sexuality, hermaphroditism, etc.


Benedict S. said...

Will. You should not interpret the Oneness of God and the universe with a "oneness" of minds. For anyone to think that all minds hold equally valid ideas would be to adopt unreason as a method.

Let me recommend Spinoza to you, a man who decided to look at the world and its people as they are and not as we might wish they were. He was no more pleased with what he saw than you are. He did, however, understand that nothing happens without a cause and that we cannot understand effects without an understanding of their causes. Consequently, when those of us who try to see the state of nature as well as he did see people behaving stupidly, we try to understand the causess and not just the effects.

I am, for example, quite sure that the war criminal in the White House had what he thought were good reasons, and while he confined his beligerant acts to the Afghanistan theater I, and some like me, found no fault in his actions. That's where the perps were, and the repressive government there showed no sign of giving them up. But then came Iraq . . .

Well, I'm sure that those of a political bent can find a justification for that adventure. I can't, but then, maybe that's just me.

As an aside, I am not a multiculturist, not even a tolerant liberal. I want everyone to see things my way, same as most honest folks will admit.

Have a nice evening. I'm off to an impeachment rally.

LiquidLifeHacker said...

When Saudi Arabia was formed...boundaries made by the Brits, see, that gave control of Mecca and Medina over to the Wahabbi and so it's ideology grew into a 'special' empire with Islam's most sacred places and was further financed by it's oil. What is most unfortunate, is that their ideology is controlling most of the islamic schools and mosque within the USA today! One of their agenda's is to eventually have sharia law inside the west. In just 4 to 5 generations away (maybe less)...there will be enough islamic dominating votes within Europe in some spots to actually get sharia passed if they want it. So despite how anyone feels about "multiculturalism" they better wake up to the reality of their western countries living under sharia law and just what all that details. The having 'four wives' is one of those nifty tactics to populate and spread islam. The overall fit to not "question" or "criticize" Islam is a tactic gets in the way of the domination agenda and they know it can't stand up to scrutiny! IMHO, the koran is like a little black hat of magic...where the slight of the hand can pull out whatever is needed to decieve since there is a contradiction for everything. If one thing doesn't work...hang on *ABRA CADABRA* let's use the doctrine of abrogation and that should work!
*When all else fails to keep the audience mesmerized just say "Allah knows best"

Petey said...

In the rarefied precincts in which we move and have our being, we have rejected Spinoza as fundamentally unsound. Although appealing to certain narrow, hyper-rational minds looking for a pseudo-religious philosophy or a pseudo-philosophical religion, he is in the final analysis a nature-deifying pantheist. Moreover, the quaint assumptions of his archaic logic have not withstood the scrutiny of logical developments in the 20th century. Hello Godel!

But he was apparently a nice, if intellectually limited man--among the great philosophers, second or third tier all the way. He tried. He failed. One must never try to immamentize the eschaton. It just invites all manner of trouble. There is more celestial wisdom in a page of Maimonides.

Lopez said...

Hey Benedict s - if you had bothered to read Will's comment with any care, you'd have seen that his whole point was that he did NOT liken the Oneness of all/God with people's minds. That was his whole point. To him, you recommended Spinoza. To you, I recommend Lenscrafters.

Have a nice eve. I'm off to a let's-throw-darts-at-a-Barbra-Streisand-poster rally.

Lisa said...

What is up with that little political tantrum benedict is having? I was thinking he was sounding kind of preachy in this comment thread by deeming certain thoughts and questions "relevant" and now I understand why he was creeping me out in a subtle way. If he is really and seriously questioning the threat of Islamofascism and our reaction as a country, then I have overestimated his grasp of reality and morality...better luck next time, dude!

Lopez said...

By the way, Benedict - you're off to an impeachment rally? What's with this Left/Right fixation of yours? Ah, I must ascribe it to your enduring youth.

Petey said...

Lopez--was that intentional? Spinoza WAS a lenscrafter. In fact, as a philosopher, he was a damn good lenscrafter.

Lopez said...

>>Lopez--was that intentional? Spinoza WAS a lenscrafter. In fact, as a philosopher, he was a damn good lenscrafter<< lolol . .

. . um . . . er . . . yeah! It was intentional! Yeah, that's the ticket!

ah, OK . . I'm just spinning the ozone here. Wasn't intentional. Unless . . . unless . . . unless for a moment there I was synchronicity's fair-haired boy, and mistress synchronicity wanted to make a validating point about mr benedict's eyesight.

90 said...

I think that you are looking at the issues concerning Islam through the belief grid that you have been indoctrinated with through your education. Muslims have Islamic teachings and doctrine, their world view, forced upon them from their infancy on. It's all they know. There have been muslims who have figured out that there is something seriously wrong with Islam, but the problem is that these people usually end up dead and their voices silenced. With western naivety concerning what the truth is concerning Islam... how it works.. what it's agenda is... getting your hopes up that Islamic societies will ever "evolve" is a pipe dream. It's geared towards silencing dissent through "killing the competition" and silencing the voice of dissent as blasphemy. The fact of the matter is this.. dictations from the Dictator Allah, aren't going to be allowed to "change", it would mean Mohammed was not a Prophet and muslims will not allow this.

Benedict S. said...

Bob (can I call you Bob?) you make some fairly straightforward statements about Spinoza, some of which are known to any schoolboy, but one of which -- your reference to Kurt Godel -- deserves a reply. But first, to dispose of the well-known . . .

Spinoza has clearly been identified as a rationalist, a lenscrafter, and a pantheist. None of those terms are particularly pejorative, unless one has a dogmatic objection to reason, seeing, and God. As I say, those facts are well known and are now rarely discussed. But the relationship of Spinoza's philosophy to Godel's theorem is hot news. Well, maybe not as hot as some of the stuff being bandied about by politicians, but hot enough that just last year I delivered a talk on the very subject of Spinoza's anticipation of Godel's earth shaking proof. I won't go into the whole thing here, just the highpoints, of which there are three.

One, the scope of Godel's theorem: it applies to systems that are capable of number theory analysis.

Two, Godel's finding that any such system will contain at least one theorem that cannot be proven in the system; and

Three, that the same system may also contradict itself.

First, attempts have been made to formalize Spinoza's complete system, as expressed in the Ethics. No one has been able to do it, so some question must remain whether the system is in fact "subject to number theory analysis." Nevertheless, the system sounds like it ought to be. After all, Spinoza's severest critics say his is the most hard-headed and complete example we have of rationalist thought (Alasdair MacIntyre), so by all rights it should fall within the scope of Godel's theorem.

Second, assuming that it does, then there should be some theorem (or proposition) in the system which cannot be proven in the system. I pointed out such a theorem, though I had to fudge a bit, since what I pointed out was not so much a theorem as an axiom. But axiom one of Part IV of the Ethics reads like a theorem. "There is in nature no individual thing that is not surpassed in strength and power by some other thing." Only a moment's thought by the dullest among us should reveal that any system grounded on such a belief has all the properties of incompleteness, thereby falling to the first swipe of Godel's blade. But because Spinoza has built incompleteness into his system, I claimed that at least Spinoza seems to have anticipated that someone sometime would formalize the point he had made in those few words, and Godel did.

Third, as to the system's self contradiction, one has to go no further than the first page of the book to see the evidence. Axiom 3 of Part I presents the law of causes, suggesting that all things -- and he meant all -- have causes. But the first definition in the book speaks of God as a being which is the cause of itself. (He doesn't exactly say God in that first definition, but to make a short story shorter, that's what he meant.) So Spinoza says that all things have causes and yet claims that God actually doesn't, a conclusion that remains unchallenged by any of Spinoza's other claims. But then if there really is a God -- and who's to doubt it -- then his Being must be explainable by a different sort of logic than that used to explain the finite modes of existence. That is, God is infinite and unchanging, all other things are finite and changing.

[You really shouldn't have gotten me started on this!!!]

Finally, I have read and worked with and against some of the world's leading philosophers, and while some of them do not hold to Spinoza quite so firmly as I do (I'm really one of his boys), I have never heard or read anyone anywhere who spoke of him as "third rate." Only you. Well, perhaps you know something I do not, so if you would be so kind as to give me the reference where you found that characterization I would be pleased.

Incidentally, if you're in D.C. tomorrow evening, drop by the Goethe Building on the corner of 7th and I NW. I'll be addressing the Spinoza Society. 6:30 PM informal wear OK.

Petey said...

I assume your comment was addressed to me. I said "third tier," not "third rate." Spinoza is hardly "third rate." We know him and like him. Having said that, in the economy of thought, there are gods, kings, men, children and beasts. Spinoza is simply far below such luminaries as Plato, Schopenhauer, Shankara, Plotinus, the good Hegel, Eckhart, Whitehead and Aurobindo, not to mention many people you've never heard of, such as Ignacio Matte Blanco or W. R. Bion, plus many religious philosophers such as Frithjof Schuon. But the bottom line is that he is fundamentally unsound. I can only reiterate that no philosopher properly so-called can doubt the existence of free will and that pantheism is a non-starter. I should also emphasize that, while reality One, it is a complex and hierarchical one with degrees of being that can only be accessed through grace and vertical growth, not rational intellection. That is the point of this blog, so we don't normally spend time quibbling with purely terrestrial philosophy. You are more than welcome to it. No one here is going to try to talk you out of it.

Jenny said...

Benedict S. said...
The last sentence should have read, "Know the world, know God."

Actually Benedict, you had it right the first time. (Freudian slip, maybe?) In the beginning was the Word and the Word was God. And the Bible also says to not get too caught up in the things of the world.

Also, if you can't see a difference between rightleaning and left leaning people, you need to take a longer harder look.