Freedom Expanded: Book 1—The New Biology
Part 8:7B Why, how and when did consciousness emerge in humans?
While the explanation of why, how and when consciousness emerged in humans was very briefly presented in Parts 3:11 and 8:4C, a much more detailed explanation of this very important series of questions now needs to be given.
We can begin the explanation by asking ‘Why haven’t other animals become fully conscious?’ As mentioned in Part 8:5D since consciousness occurs at a certain point in the development of a mind’s efficiency in associating information, and since conscious intelligence, the ability to reason how cause and effect are related, to understand change, to be insightful, would obviously be a great asset for any animal to acquire, one would assume fully developed consciousness would have been actively selected for as soon as animals were able to develop a reasonably elaborate central nervous system, and thus would have appeared in many species. Despite this being an obvious assumption, the conventional explanation for the emergence of consciousness in humans is that it occurred because of the need to manage complex social situations—for example, in The Social Conquest of Earth, E.O. Wilson says that ‘to feel empathy for others, to measure the emotions of friends and enemy alike, to judge the intentions of all of them, and to plan a strategy for personal social interactions…the human brain became…highly intelligent’ (2012, p.17 of 330). This is the so-called ‘Social Intelligence Hypothesis’ (sometimes referred to as the ‘Machiavellian Intelligence Hypothesis’), of which a more sophisticated version is known as the Ecological Dominance-Social Competition Model (EDSC), both of which were introduced in Part 8:5D. Social problem solving is an obvious benefit from being conscious, but all activities that animals have to manage would benefit enormously from being able to understand cause and effect, so it is completely illogical to argue that it wasn’t until the need to manage extremely complex social situations that consciousness developed. Any sensible analysis of the question of the emergence of consciousness must be based on the question of what has prevented its development in other animals? It is such a powerful asset for an animal to have that something must have stopped it being selected for in other species. The lack of social situations doesn’t explain why the fully conscious mind hasn’t appeared in non-human species. There was ample need for a conscious mind prior to the appearance of complex social situations. The reason this obvious and sensible analysis hasn’t taken place is because the explanation for how and why consciousness emerged in humans depends on—as we are about to see—being able to acknowledge many previously unbearable human-condition-confronting truths, such as Integrative Meaning and the significance of selflessness in that integrative process, and how humans developed selfless moral instincts through nurturing. Unable to acknowledge these truths and thus think truthfully about consciousness, arguing that we were the only species to develop consciousness because of our supposed unique need to manage extremely complex social situations provided a convenient, albeit dishonest, way of eliminating the question of the origin of consciousness. The evasive, denial-based human mind simply avoided thinking about the problem deeply enough to see how illogical what was being put forward was.
Interestingly, since writing this paragraph I have learnt that both the Social/Machiavellian Intelligence Hypothesis (S/MIH) and the EDSC Model, are being challenged by human-condition avoiding, mechanistic scientists. The S/MIH is being challenged on the basis that there are highly social species such as meerkats and hyenas that haven’t developed intelligence beyond that of less social species. Studies are finding ‘that no association exists between sociality and encephalization [brain size in proportion to body size] across Carnivora [which include meerkats and hyenas] and that support for sociality as a causal agent of encephalization increase disappears for this clade [group]’ (John Finarelli & John Flynn, ‘Brain-size evolution and sociality in Carnivora’, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2009, Vol.106, No.23, pp.9345-9349). And the EDSC Model, which holds that a species must first somehow overcome or dominate its environment before the S/MIH can apply, is being challenged by mechanistic, human-condition-avoiding scientists on the basis that brain sized increased in our ancestors before they became ecologically dominant, as this study points out: ‘a great deal of encephalization [brain size relative to body size] occurred before humans were dominant…The EQ [encephalization quotient] of the first instance of Homo, Homo habilis, had already doubled relative to our nearest relatives today, chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes). These hominins were still largely foragers, scavengers (not yet organized hunters), and prey for more powerful predators’ (R.D. Horan, J.F. Shogren & E.H. Bulte, A Paleoeconomic Theory of Encephalization, Selected paper presented at the annual meetings of the American Economic Association, San Francisco, Jan. 2009). So I don’t know where dishonest thinking will go now for an explanation for consciousness!
It is true that other animal species have been able to develop all manner of extraordinary mental abilities, many superior to our own, yet never full consciousness. (I will go through the evidence for other animals not having developed full consciousness shortly.) For instance, in the United States the nutcracker bird buries around 30,000 nuts throughout the summer months, each in a different location, but come winter and the cover of snow it can recall the location of 90 percent of them. The goby fish can memorise the topography of the tidal flats at high tide so that when the tide retreats it knows the exact location of the next pool to flip to when the one it is in evaporates. And then there is the male common canary, which has a specific part of its brain that expands dramatically every spring in order to learn new mating songs, only to shrink again once the mating season ends. So again the question is, if other animals have been able to develop such extraordinary mental abilities, what’s stopping them from developing full consciousness?
The explanation begins by re-stating what was pointed out in Part 8:2, ‘The brief history of the development of matter in Earth’, which was that one of the limitations of the gene-based learning system is that it normally can’t select for unconditionally selfless, altruistic, self-sacrificing behaviour because altruistic traits tend to self-eliminate—they tend not to carry on and so normally can’t become established in a species. The effect is that the gene-based learning system actively resists altruistic behaviour.
For instance, whenever a female kangaroo comes into season, the males pursue her relentlessly. Despite both parties almost falling with fatigue, the chase continues. It is easy to see how this behaviour developed. If a male relaxed his efforts he would lose his opportunity to reproduce. Self-interest is fostered by natural selection with the result that genetic selfishness has become an extremely strong force in animals. It is clear then that there would be no chance of a variety of kangaroo that considered others above itself developing. Unless, of course, they could develop love-indoctrination, but while a kangaroo can look after a joey in its pouch, the pouch is more an external womb, allowing little behavioural interaction between mother and infant. It is the selfless treatment—the active demonstration of love—that trains the infants in selflessness or love. Also, because grass is not very nutritious marsupials have to spend most of their time grazing, which leaves relatively little time for social interaction between mother and infant and thus limited training in love.
Genetic refinement normally acts against any inclination towards selfless behaviour because selflessness disadvantages the individual that practices it and advantages the recipients of the selfless treatment—such is the meaning of selflessness. Selflessness normally can’t be reinforced by genetic refinement; indeed, it is emphatically resisted by it.
It follows then that in terms of the development of consciousness, the gene-based learning or refinement system was, in effect, totally opposed to any altruistic, selfless thinking. In fact, genetic refinement developed blocks in the minds of animals to prevent the emergence of such thinking. And it is this block against truthful, selflessness-recognising-thinking in the minds of almost all animals that prevents them from becoming conscious of the true relationship or meaning of experience.
To explain more fully how these blocks against selflessness-recognising-thinking developed, an example of how genes resist self-destructive behaviour will be helpful. In what are termed ‘visual cliff’ experiments, newborn kittens are placed on a table and while they will venture towards the edge of the table, they won’t allow themselves to go beyond the edge and fall—a sheet of glass is actually placed over the table to prevent them from accidentally slipping off the edge, but the point is the glass is unnecessary because the kittens instinctively know not to travel beyond the table’s edge. Presumably, this instinctive orientation against doing so evolved because any cat that did venture too close to a precipice invariably fell to its death, leaving only those that happened to have an instinctive block against such self-destructive practices. Natural selection or genetic refinement develops blocks in the mind against behaviour that doesn’t tend to lead to the reproduction of the genes of the individuals who practice that behaviour.
Just as surely as cats were eventually selected for their instinctive block against self-destruction, most animals have been selected with an instinctive block against selfless thinking because such thinking also tends not to lead to the reproduction of the genes of the individuals who think that way. The effect of this block was to prevent the developing intellect from thinking truthfully and thus effectively.
As pointed out when Integrative Meaning was explained in Part 8:1, selflessness or love is the theme of existence, the essence of integration, the meaning of life. While the upset, alienated human race has learnt to live in denial of this truth of the selfless, loving, integrative meaning of existence, it is in fact an extremely obvious truth and one that is deduced very quickly if you are able to think honestly about the world. As mentioned, we are surrounded by integration. Every object we look at is a hierarchy of ordered matter, witness to the development of order of matter. It follows then that if you aren’t able to recognise and thus appreciate the significance of selfless, Integrative Meaning you are not in a position to begin to think straight and thus effectively; you can’t begin to make sense of experience. All your thinking is coming off a false base and is therefore effectively derailed from the outset from making sense of experience. As Arthur Schopenhauer said, ‘The discovery of truth is prevented most effectively…by prejudice, which…stands in the path of truth and is then like a contrary wind driving a ship away from land’. You can’t think effectively with lies in your head, especially with such important lies as denial of selflessness-dependent Integrative Meaning. Your mind is, in effect, stalled at a very superficial level of intelligence with little ability to understand the relationship of events occurring around you.
To elaborate, any animal able to associate information to the degree necessary to realise the importance of behaving selflessly towards others would have been at a distinct disadvantage in terms of its chances of successfully reproducing its genes. It follows then that those animals that don’t recognise the importance of selflessness are genetically advantaged, which means that eventually a mental block would have been ‘naturally selected’ to prevent the emergence of the ability to make sense of experience, to prevent the emergence of consciousness. At this point in development, genetic refinement favoured individuals that were not able to recognise the significance of selflessness, thus ensuring animals remained incognisant, unconscious of the true meaning of life.
Having denied the truth of Integrative Meaning and the importance of selflessness, it is not easy for the alienated human race to appreciate that conscious thought depends on the ability to acknowledge the significance of selflessness/love/Integrative Meaning. However, our own mental block or alienation is, in fact, the perfect illustration of and parallel for this block in the minds of animals. Unable to think truthfully about the selfless, loving integrative theme of existence, all our thinking has also been coming off a false base and, as a result, we too have been unable to think effectively. Alienation has rendered us almost stupid, incapable of deep, penetrating, meaningful thought.
When it comes to thinking truthfully and thus soundly, humans are now almost as mentally incognisant as animals—a state of affairs that is played on in the popular animated cartoon Wallace & Gromit (pictured above). In the series, Wallace is a lonely, sad—alienated—human figure whose dog Gromit is very much on an intellectual par with him in his world. Both wear the same blank, stupefied expression as together they muddle their way through life’s adventures.
Elaboration on this point of how alienation has stopped humans today from thinking effectively
One of the themes of this book is how our human-condition-produced alienation has deliberately kept the human mind ignorant, unable to recognise many obvious and very important scientific truths. The ability to think and find knowledge is not dependent on how clever a person is, how high their IQ is, as all our learning institutions stress. As mentioned, the average IQ of humans today is quite adequate for finding knowledge. The critical factor is how free of denial/alienation a person is, not how high their IQ is. Consider how many insights into our human situation have already been presented in this book by not having to avoid human-condition-confronting truths. There have been breakthrough insights in almost every paragraph—and it should be emphasised that now that no one has to avoid the issue of the human condition all humans will be able to think honestly and thus effectively. The truth is the all-important liberating explanations in this presentation, in particular the explanation of the integrative meaning of existence, of how the nurturing, love-indoctrination, mate-selection-for-cooperativeness process gave us our integratively orientated moral soul and, as is about to be explained, liberated consciousness, and of how the battle between this emerged conscious intellect and our already established instinctive moral soul produced the upset state of our human condition, are not clever discoveries but sound, denial-free revelations in the sense that these ideas consider subjects and truths all humans are aware of, but have been living in deep fear and denial of.
Although some of the following quotes have been included before, they need to be included again here because they emphasise just how seriously alienation has prevented the human mind from thinking effectively.
Firstly, in his remarkably insightful book Thinking about Children, the psychoanalyst D.W. Winnicott described how when in denial of a subject that subject ‘cannot be remembered because of its being associated with painful feeling or some other intolerable emotion. Energy has to be all the time employed in maintaining the repression, and…there is relatively little energy left for a direct participation in life’ (1996, p.9 of 343). This inability to properly ‘participate in life’ infers an inability to think freely about life. As described in Part 4, mechanistic science has fully conformed with humanity’s very necessary strategy of denial so that while it prided itself in being rigorously objective it has, in fact, been rigorously biased in its approach, determinedly avoiding any truths that brought the human condition into focus.
Plato recognised the destructive effect our denial-compliant intellect has had on our capacity to think effectively, stating: ‘when the soul [our integratively orientated original instinctual self] uses the instrumentality of the body [uses the body’s intellect with its preoccupation with denial] for any inquiry…it is drawn away by the body into the realm of the variable, and loses its way and becomes confused and dizzy, as though it were fuddled [drunk]…But when it investigates by itself [free of human-condition-avoiding, intellectual denial], it passes into the realm of the pure and everlasting and immortal and changeless, and being of a kindred nature, when it is once independent and free from interference, consorts with it always and strays no longer, but remains, in that realm of the absolute [Integrative Meaning], constant and invariable’ (Phaedo, tr. H. Tredennick). He also spoke of the need to ‘put sight into blind eyes’ and identified what was required to end our historic ‘confused’, ‘dizzy’, ‘fuddled’ state of denial: ‘this capacity [of a mind…to see clearly] is innate in each man’s mind [we are born with an instinctive orientation to Integrative Meaning], and that the faculty by which he learns is like an eye which cannot be turned from darkness [the upset state of living in denial] to light [the truth] unless the whole body is turned; in the same way the mind as a whole must be turned away from the world of change until it can bear to look straight at reality, and at the brightest of all realities which is what we call the Good [Integrative Meaning or God]’ (The Republic, tr. H.D.P. Lee, 1955, p.283 of 405). Humans had to stop living in denial of Integrative Meaning, ‘the Good’, if they were to begin to think effectively. Explaining the human condition and ending the need to live in denial—having our mind ‘turned from darkness to light’—is the objective of this whole presentation and of the WORLD TRANSFORMATION MOVEMENT.
While our capacity to see is, as Plato said, ‘innate’, denial and its alienating effects came about through our encounter with the upset, human-condition-afflicted, corrupt world. Since this encounter began at birth and continued throughout our lives, so the extent of our insecurity about our corrupted state and associated block-out or alienation also increased throughout our lives, until eventually we were walking around free of criticism but totally in the dark in terms of our access to truth and meaning—which, as described in Part 3:11H, was the ‘closing-of-the-human-mind’-end-state that the ever-increasing stripping of criticism and its guilt pseudo idealistic, left-wing process led to. It follows then that we are least alienated from truthful, effective thinking when we are young—as the following quotes so vividly illustrate. Recall Sigmund Freud’s observation: ‘What a distressing contrast there is between the radiant intelligence of the child and the feeble mentality of the average adult’ (The Freud Reader, ed. P. Gay, 1995, p.715). Christ also recognised the mental integrity of the young when he said, ‘you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children’ (Matt 11:25). Albert Einstein famously said, ‘every child is born a genius’, while Richard Buckminster Fuller acknowledged that ‘There is no such thing as genius, some children are just less damaged than others’ (NASA Speech, 1966), and that ‘All children are born geniuses. 9999 out of every 10,000 are swiftly, inadvertently de-geniused by grown-ups’ (Education for Human Development: Understanding Montessori, by Mario M. Montessori Jr., Paula Polk Lillard & Buckminster Fuller, 1987, Foreword). R.D. Laing also said that ‘Each child is a new beginning, a potential prophet [denial-free, truthful, effective thinker]’ (The Politics of Experience and The Bird of Paradise, 1967, p.26 of 156) and pointed out that ‘Children are not yet fools, but [by our treatment of them] we shall turn them into imbeciles like ourselves, with high I.Q.’s if possible’ (ibid. p.49). Many exceptionally creative people have made statements to the effect that genius is the ability to think like a child. For example, as one of the most accomplished artists of all time, Pablo Picasso, famously said about his struggle to paint well, ‘It’s taken me a lifetime to learn to paint like a child.’
In Part 3:8 it was explained how, historically, when children reached the age of approximately 15 they went through a process of resigning themselves to a strategy of living in denial of the depressing issue of the human condition. It further explains that once they adopted this denial they lost the ability to think truthfully and thus effectively; they became alienated from the truth. Only pre-resigned children, or the very rare adult who was sufficiently nurtured and sheltered from upset in their upbringing to not have had to become resigned to a life of denial, can think effectively.
The extent of the alienation in adult humans today was made very clear in this quote from the writings of R.D. Laing: ‘We are born into a world where alienation awaits us. We are potentially men, but are in an alienated state [p.12 of 156] …the ordinary person is a shrivelled, desiccated fragment of what a person can be. As adults, we have forgotten most of our childhood, not only its contents but its flavour; as men of the world, we hardly know of the existence of the inner world [p.22] …The condition of alienation, of being asleep, of being unconscious, of being out of one’s mind, is the condition of the normal man [p.24] …between us and It [the Godly, ideal state and the issue it raises of our inconsistency with it] there is a veil which is more like fifty feet of solid concrete. Deus absconditus. Or we have absconded [p.118] …The outer divorced from any illumination from the inner is in a state of darkness. We are in an age of darkness. The state of outer darkness is a state of sin—i.e. alienation or estrangement from the inner light [p.116]’ (The Politics of Experience and The Bird of Paradise, 1967). In another of his books Laing spelt out the consequences of alienation: ‘We are dead, but think we are alive. We are asleep, but think we are awake. We are dreaming, but take our dreams to be reality. We are the halt, lame, blind, deaf, the sick. But we are doubly unconscious. We are so ill that we no longer feel ill, as in many terminal illnesses. We are mad, but have no insight’ (Self and Others, 1961, p.38 of 192). The term ‘asleep’ was also used by the English poet Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792–1822) to describe humans’ current state: ‘Our boat is asleep on Serchio’s stream / Its sails are folded like thoughts in a dream’ (Shelley: The man and the poet, Desmond King-Hele, 1960, p.335 of 390). (The Serchio is a river in Italy); as did William Wordsworth in his poem, Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood. In describing our species’ loss of innocence—he wrote ‘of something that is gone…the visionary gleam…the glory and the dream’—Wordsworth summarised that ‘Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting.’
For a written description of the confronting horror of the human condition we had Nikolai Berdyaev’s reference to ‘a deadly pain in the very distinction of good and evil, of the valuable and the worthless’, Søren Kierkegaard writing of ‘the sickness unto death, this tormenting contradiction, this sickness in the self; eternally to die, to die and yet not to die’, and, in Part 8:13 the psychologist Arthur Janov is also included, saying, ‘there is unspeakable tragedy in the world…each of us being in a mad scramble away from our personal horror’ (The Primal Scream, 1970, p.389 of 446). For an artist’s depiction of the alienated state of the human condition that is as honest as anyone has ever managed to write about it we can go to the paintings of Francis Bacon that were included in Part 7:5, in particular his Study for Self Portrait (reproduced again in next image), which features one of his characteristic twisted, smudged, distorted—alienated—human faces, which in this case happens to be his own, a nuance that significantly adds to the honesty of the painting. The figure’s arms appear tied behind his back while his entire body—knot in the belly, eyes asleep and all—is confined to a box. The painting represents the human predicament under the duress of the human condition and is reminiscent of Plato’s analogy in which humans are confined in chains to a cave-like prison of deathly alienation.
Our alienated intellectual self is committed to avoiding and blocking out the truthful, beautiful, natural world to which our intuitive, instinctual self has clear access. Thus to think truthfully and thus effectively, to access all the truth and beauty the world has to offer, to create and behave naturally without inhibition or distortion, requires freedom from the intellectual state of living in deep denial and alienation. Necessary as it has been, alienation has massively thwarted humans’ real potential. Arthur Schopenhauer recognised this when he wrote: ‘The unpremeditated, unintentional, indeed in part unconscious and instinctive element which has always been remarked in the works of genius owes its origin to precisely the fact that primal artistic knowledge is entirely separated from and independent of will, is will-less’ (Essays and Aphorisms, tr. R.J. Hollingdale, 1970, p.158 of 237). Genius requires freedom from the alienated intellect, as indicated in the aforementioned quotes about the creative powers of a child’s mind.
Laing described how humans are so alienated and our capacity to think so limited that only ‘an intensive discipline of un-learning’ can reconnect us with the true world: ‘Our capacity to think, except in the service of what we are dangerously deluded in supposing is our self-interest, and in conformity with common sense, is pitifully limited: our capacity even to see, hear, touch, taste and smell is so shrouded in veils of mystification that an intensive discipline of un-learning is necessary of anyone before one can begin to experience the world afresh, with innocence, truth and love’ (The Politics of Experience and The Bird of Paradise, 1967, p.23 of 156). As is emphasised throughout this book, this ‘un-learning’, this dismantling of alienation, depended on finding the greater dignifying understanding of the human condition.
In the Bible, the prophet Isaiah described the extent of humans’ alienation when he said, ‘“You will be ever hearing, but never understanding; you will be ever seeing, but never perceiving.” This people’s heart has become calloused [alienated]; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes’ (Isa. 6:9, 10, footnote). The Russian philosopher George Gurdjieff described the alienated state truthfully when he wrote: ‘It happens fairly often that essence dies in a man while his personality and his body are still alive. A considerable percentage of the people we meet in the streets of a great town are people who are empty inside, that is, they are actually already dead’ (In Search of the Miraculous, P.D. Ouspensky, 1950, ch.8, p.164).
That humans have been prepared to pay the price of such deadening alienation, as these quotes reveal, offers clear insight into just how painful the dilemma of the human condition has been. Deep, meaningful thinking has been so painful for humans we have learnt to avoid all but superficial thoughts, as the aforementioned Australian comedian Rod Quantock pointed out when he said, ‘Thinking can get you into terrible downwards spirals of doubt’ (‘Sayings of the Week’, Sydney Morning Herald, 5 July 1986). Nobel Laureate Albert Camus wasn’t exaggerating either when he wrote that ‘Beginning to think is beginning to be undermined’ (The Myth of Sisyphus, 1942); nor was Bertrand Russell when he said, ‘Many people would sooner die than think’ (quoted in Antony Flew’s Thinking About Thinking, 1975). Aldous Huxley also summarised the situation of our refusal to make sense of the world when he wrote, ‘We don’t know because we don’t want to know’ (Ends and Means, 1937, p.270). T.S. Eliot was also acknowledging this truth when he wrote that ‘human kind cannot bear very much reality’ (Burnt Norton, 1936). In short, mindlessness saved us from depressing mindfulness.
While adults will readily intellectually focus on a safely sectioned-off area of inquiry or activity—such as solving a maths equation, or mastering a computer problem, or debating whether God has been destroyed by the big bang theory of the origins of the universe, or ordering our wardrobe, or polishing our car, or making a cake, or even sending man to the Moon—we won’t go beyond those safety limits and risk encountering anything to do with the issue of ‘self’, the depressing subject of the human condition. We will even read a book such as this one that is full of world-saving insights into the all-important issue of the human condition only to then write a review dismissing it on the basis of such extraneous complaints as ‘bad grammar’, ‘unnecessary underlining emphasis in quotes’, ‘the “canary’s brain” doesn’t “expand” during the mating season, only one small area of it does’ (this ‘fault’ has now been rectified), ‘it is a hodge-podge of incoherent, impenetrably dense repetition and hyperbol’, ‘there is nothing new in it’, ‘this book must be some sort of religious propaganda [because it dares to demystify such concepts as God and prophets]’, ‘who is funding all this bad, pseudo science?’ etc, etc (from WTM records)—basically be, as Christ said, ‘blind guides…[who] strain out a gnat [small insect] but swallow a camel’ (Matt. 23:24). The result of all this evasion is an immense disparity between our superficial intellectual outer world and the miles-deep inner world that we won’t go near. As ‘Albert the alligator’ in the old Pogo comic strip said, ‘The inner me? Naw, got no time fer him…he goes his way, Ah go mine’ (mentioned in Charlton Heston’s autobiography, In The Arena, 1995).
Yes, the real frontier is not outer space but inner space. This extraordinary, indeed mad, situation was well summarised by General Omar N. Bradley when he said, ‘The world has achieved brilliance…without conscience. Ours is a world of nuclear giants and ethical infants’ (Armistice Day Address, 10 Nov. 1948, Collected Writings of General Omar N. Bradley, Vol.1). As described in some detail in Part 3:11H, we will apply all our vigour to protesting an environmental cause or the rights of an indigenous race or the demand for peace, or any one of a number of other politically correct causes, but we will not look at the nightmare of angst in ourselves, the real devastation and issue of our own condition and beyond that, the human condition that needs to be addressed if we are to bring about a caring, equitable and peaceful world—because the fact is no matter how much we try to restrain and conceal our upset eventually our world will become an expression of ourselves and thus as devastated as we are. To fix the world we have to first fix ourselves. The truth is that the main function of politically correct causes has been to allow upset humans to feel that they are doing good when they are actually avoiding what is required to make a difference—namely confronting the issue of the human condition. Human life has been preoccupied with maintaining the many delusions and false ways of making us feel good about ourselves and with all manner of escapisms from reality rather than with meaningful thinking and progressive actions as we claim it is. In short, the human condition is the all-important issue that had to be looked at to free ourselves from our condition, yet it is the one issue we refused to look at. As the psychoanalyst Carl Jung recognised, ‘Man everywhere is dangerously unaware of himself. We really know nothing about the nature of man, and unless we hurry to get to know ourselves we are in dangerous trouble’ (Jung and The Story of Our Time, Laurens van der Post, 1976, p.239 of 275). The human condition is the elephant in our living rooms that we pretend not to see, the all-important issue that we assiduously practice denying. As R.D. Laing said, ‘Our alienation goes to the roots…We are mad, but have no insight [into the fact of our madness].’
Schopenhauer’s point about ‘The discovery of truth is prevented most effectively…by prejudice, which…stands in the path of truth and is then like a contrary wind driving a ship away from land’ is so true. The greatest ‘prejudice’ of all in our upset human situation has been our prejudice against any truths that brought the issue of our corrupted human condition into focus and the most important of all those confronting truths is the truth of Integrative Meaning and its theme of selflessness. Humans’ current immensely alienated, superficial, virtually mentally dead state is a result of having blocked from our minds so many important truths, in particular the real significance of selflessness or love in our world.
So, the point is, when it comes to thinking truthfully and thus soundly, humans are now almost as mentally incognisant as animals.
It should be emphasised that all these descriptions of just how alienated the human race has become and how lacking in ability to think truthfully and thus effectively—how consciously dead the human race has become—are extremely confronting, but it has to be remembered that we can all access THE TRANSFORMED WAY OF LIVING that completely solves the problem of ‘exposure day’ or ‘judgement day’.
Return to the description of how consciousness emerged
The point is that the human mind has been alienated from the truth twice in its history: once when we were like other animals, instinctively blocked from recognising the truth of selflessness, and then again in our species’ current adolescent state, during which we have become insecure about our divisive nature with no choice but to live in Plato’s dark cave of denial of the significance of the selfless, loving integrative meaning of existence.
While humans have gradually retreated from consciousness into virtual unconsciousness because of our insecurity about our non-ideal, soul-corrupted, ‘fallen’, human-condition-afflicted state, we were, to our knowledge, the first animals to become fully conscious. So, the next question is, how were our ape ancestors (and other primates today, such as bonobos, chimpanzees, gorillas, orangutans and even baboons) able to overcome this block that exists in the minds of almost all other animals and become capable of making sense of experience, become conscious?
Understanding how the nurturing love-indoctrination process was able to develop selfless, moral instincts in our ape ancestors (and in some other primates today) allows us to answer this crucial question. The reason we were able to become fully conscious is that, quite by accident, the nurturing of selfless instincts breached the block against thinking truthfully by superimposing a new, truthful, selflessness-recognising mind over the older, effectively dishonest, selfless-thinking-blocked one. Since our ape ancestors could develop an awareness of cooperative, selfless, loving meaning, they were able to develop truthful, sound, effective thinking and so acquired consciousness, the essential characteristic of mental infancy.
To use a comparative example, chimpanzees are currently in mental infancy—they have the conscious mental powers of, approximately, a two-year-old human—and demonstrate rudimentary consciousness, making sufficient sense of experience to recognise that they are at the centre of the changing array of events they experience. They are beginning to relate information or reason effectively. Experiments have shown that they have an awareness of the concept of ‘I’ or self and, as mentioned in the previous Part, are capable of reasoning how events are related sufficiently well to know that they can reach a banana tied to the roof of their cage by stacking and climbing upon boxes.
In the case of bonobos, as mentioned in Part 8:4, evidence suggests that they are now the most intelligent or conscious animals next to humans. This level of intelligence or consciousness is evident in this quote: ‘Everything seems to indicate that [Prince] Chim [a bonobo] was extremely intelligent. His surprising alertness and interest in things about him bore fruit in action, for he was constantly imitating the acts of his human companions and testing all objects. He rapidly profited by his experiences…Never have I seen man or beast take greater satisfaction in showing off than did little Chim. The contrast in intellectual qualities between him and his female companion [a chimpanzee] may briefly, if not entirely adequately, be described by the term “opposites” [p.248 of 278] …Prince Chim seems to have been an intellectual genius. His remarkable alertness and quickness to learn were associated with a cheerful and happy disposition which made him the favorite of all [p.255] …Chim also was even-tempered and good-natured, always ready for a romp; he seldom resented by word or deed unintentional rough handling or mishap. Never was he known to exhibit jealousy…[By contrast] Panzee [the chimpanzee] could not be trusted in critical situations. Her resentment and anger were readily aroused and she was quick to give them expression with hands and teeth [p.246]’ (Almost Human, Robert M. Yerkes, 1925).
So how did the process of nurturing overcome the instinctive block? It makes sense that at the outset the brain was relatively small with a limited amount of cortex, the matter in which information is associated. These brains had instinctive blocks preventing the mind from making deep meaningful/truthful/selflessness-recognising perceptions. At this stage, however, these small, inhibited brains were being trained in selflessness, so although there was not a great deal of unfilled cortex available, what was available was being inscribed with a truthful, effective network of information-associating pathways. The mind was being taught the truth and given the opportunity to think clearly, in spite of the existing instinctive blocks or ‘lies’. While at first this truthful ‘wiring’ would not have been very significant due to the small size of the brain, it had the potential for much greater development. Further, as was explained in Part 8:4B, with this selfless training of the brain occurring over many generations, the selfless ‘wiring’ in the brain would have gradually become instinctive or innate. Genes would inevitably follow and reinforce any development process—in this they were not selective. The difficulty lay in getting the development of unconditional selflessness to occur, for once it was regularly occurring it would naturally become instinctive over time, which it did—our instinctive moral soul, the ‘voice’ of which is our ‘conscience’, was formed. We are born with a brain that has instinctive orientations that incline us to behave unconditionally selflessly, and to expect to be treated in the same way. A graphic example of this moral instinct in us that guides us to behave in an unconditionally selfless way was given in a 1983 Sports Illustrated magazine article that described how, just before plunging into a Louisiana pond and drowning in an attempt to rescue two boys, Joe Delaney, a professional footballer, said, ‘I can’t swim good, but I’ve got to save those kids’ (‘Sometimes The Good Die Young’, 7 Nov. 1983). This is but one example, but no doubt we have all heard, seen, or read of similar situations.
Thus, the mind was trained or programmed or ‘brain-washed’ or ‘indoctrinated’ with the ability to think in spite of the blocks working against such training; it had, at last, been stimulated by the truth. Of course, it must be remembered that in this early stage of development the emphasis was on training in love, not on the liberation of the conscious ability to think, which was incidental to Negative Entropy’s push for our forebears to become an integrated group of multicellular animals. While the development of conscious thought greatly assisted the love-indoctrination process by allowing for the conscious selection of less aggressive mates, its development would have only been gradual. As evidenced by the picture of the skulls of our ancestors, the association cortex didn’t develop strongly until thinking took on a critical role in humanity’s adolescence when we had to find understanding in order to defend ourselves against ignorance. As explained in Part 3:11B, adolescence is the time when the search for identity takes place and in the case of the human race, this identity crisis was centred on the need to understand itself, particularly understand why it was divisively rather than cooperatively behaved. It is not surprising then to learn that the large association cortex is a characteristic of Adolescentman Homo who emerged around two million years ago.
Incidentally, there would also not have been a strong call for language until the adolescent state emerged some two million years ago when the battle of the human condition developed and, with it, alienation. The australopithecines, or Childman, lived from five million years ago to two million years ago and were instinctively coordinated and instinctively empathetic with little need for language. It was only when we became variously alienated in self and thus variously alienated from each other that a strong need to try to justify and explain ourselves to one another arose. Anthropological evidence supports this assertion that language emerged with the onset of Homo two million years ago. According to Richard Leakey and Roger Lewin, the study of brain cases in fossil skulls for the imprint of Broca’s area (the word-organising centre of the brain) suggests ‘Homo had a greater need than the australopithecines for a rudimentary language’ (Origins, 1977, p.205 of 264).
As part of this explanation for language, is it not likely that infants stopped being silent when mothers stopped being able to properly respond to them because of their now two million years in development alienated condition? For instance, even the infants of relatively innocent, less alienated races of humans today, such as the Matabele of South Africa and the Australian Aborigine, rarely cry. Also, is it not likely that motherese language developed as a way for alienated humans to try to pacify their distressed innocent infants?
Historically (meaning, for the purposes of this book, ‘during the time when humans had to find ways of denying confronting truths’), the long primate infancy was said to have developed so infants could be taught survival skills; that is, have time enough to have passed onto them learnt traditions or culture imperative to their survival. Evidence, however, indicates that learning wasn’t strongly required nor promoted until adolescence—after the extended infancy. The long infancy was solely for the development of integration. Moreover, the ‘need to learn survival skills’ argument implies that survival was an issue, but for the training in love to develop there had to be ideal nursery conditions, which in itself translates to an environment free of survival pressures. For instance, selfless training and consciousness are more developed in bonobos than in the chimpanzees as a result of the extra comfort and security of the bonobos’ natural environment.
The following quote about the comparative comfort of the bonobos’ environment appeared in Part 8:4B but is included once more here with a slightly different emphasis: ‘we may say that the pygmy chimpanzees historically have existed in a stable environment rich in sources of food. Pygmy chimpanzees appear conservative in their food habits and unlike common chimpanzees have developed a more cohesive social structure and elaborate inventory of sociosexual behavior. In contrast, common chimpanzees have gone further in developing their resource-exploiting techniques and strategy, and have the ability to survive in more varied environments. These differences suggest that the environments occupied by the two species since their separation by the Zaire [Congo] River has differed for some time. The vegetation to the south of the Zaire River, where Pan paniscus [bonobo] is found, has been less influenced by changes in climate and geography than the range of the common chimpanzee to the north. Prior to the Bantu (Mongo) agriculturists’ invasion into the central Zaire basin, the pygmy chimpanzees may have led a carefree life in a comparatively stable environment’ (The Pygmy Chimpanzee, ed. Randall L. Susman, ch.10 by Takayoshi Kano & Mbangi Mulavwa, 1984). This observation would seem to indicate that chimpanzees, having to live in more variable and less food-rich environments, have the greater need for intelligence. Only nurturing, however, can liberate that intelligence, and, as has been described, bonobos are the more conscious or intelligent of the two species.
Regarding the work of Allott, Drummond, Fiske (see Part 8:5B), and Betty McCollister (whose work will be mentioned in Part 8:13), all four believed our increased intelligence and the emergence of our large brain accompanied the extended infancy and increase in nurturing. However, it can now be understood that both came after, and not during, the longer infancy, nurturing phase of our development.
An understanding of how consciousness and the large brain emerged depends firstly on being able to recognise the truth of Integrative Meaning and its theme of unconditional selflessness—and from there why animals would have developed blocks in their minds preventing selfless, truthful, effective thinking and thus consciousness—and from there how the nurtured training of selflessness in humans would have liberated truthful thinking and thus consciousness—and from there how the emergence of consciousness would have led to its battle with our instinctive self—and from there how the alienation of our human condition that resulted from the battle would have demanded a more developed, intelligent, bigger brain in order to both understand and defend ourselves. Incidentally, what has been described here is clear evidence of how, if you are living in denial of truth, you have no chance of making sense of our world and place in it—as is evidenced by the mountain high pile of books that have been written about consciousness without ever managing to penetrate the subject.
In summary, the processes of nurturing love-indoctrination and the conscious selection by females of non-aggressive, cooperative males as mates not only gave us our moral, instinctive orientation to behaving cooperatively—our soul—it also liberated consciousness in our forebears. As already pointed out, since nurturing is largely a female role and females controlled the selection of cooperative mates, it is true to say that the female gender created humanity.
As explained in Part 8:4, throughout humanity’s infancy and childhood, a period of time that lasted from 12 to 2 million years ago, nurturing played the most important role in the group. It was a matriarchal society in which males had to support this focus on nurturing and protect the group from external threats. As also explained earlier, humanity’s matriarchal structure came to an end when the threat of ignorance from our instinctive self emerged during its adolescence and males, in their role as group protectors, went out to tackle the threat. At this point, the patriarchal society came into being.
Incidentally, another consequence of love-indoctrination was that it freed our hands to hold tools and carry out innumerable tasks. In Part 8:4 it was explained that the more love-indoctrination developed and the longer infants were kept in infancy and the more dependent they became, the more we had to stay upright in order to hold and care for them. This freedom of our hands from walking proved extremely useful later when the intellect needed to assert itself, because it could direct the hands to manipulate objects. A fully conscious mind in a whale or a dog would be frustrated by its inability to implement its understandings.
As was also explained in Part 8:4, it appears that the love-indoctrination process was also a contributing factor in humans having a relatively long life, which has been instrumental in the accumulation of knowledge. If we only lived to 30, which is considered a long life for many animals, instead of the 70 plus years we do, we would likely not have had sufficient time to properly assimilate and manage in our minds all the difficult nuances of the human condition.
It can be seen that love-indoctrination was an extremely fortuitous development.
Incidentally, people wonder how we can know that other species aren’t fully conscious like we humans are—for instance, I have often even read and heard claims that other animals, such as dolphins and elephants, are just as intelligent as humans. The fact is, as all good animal trainers—such as horse and dog ‘whisperers’(who seem to have such an uncanny ability to control those animals that it is as though they are ‘whispering’ instructions to them)—know, the secret to managing and training non-human animal species, of both sexes, is to recognise that their great preoccupation is in achieving dominance, moving up the ‘pecking order’ whenever possible. Once you think about their behaviour from that basis you are then in a position to effectively interpret and thus manipulate their behaviour. Humans’ fundamental preoccupation, however, is with being loved (treated with unconditionally selflessness) and giving love, a preoccupation we mistakenly project onto other animals, especially our pets, resulting in all the problems we have in effectively managing other animals. As explained in Part 8:4D, because animals are still victims of the ‘animal condition’, controlling them requires dominance. Other large animal species are still essentially driven by a preoccupation with competitive dominance whereas humans are essentially driven by a very deep appreciation of cooperative love (despite the recent overlay of our upset angry, egocentric and alienated state), and the only way to have overcome the competitive, each-for-his-own limitation of genetics that still controls the lives of other animal species and become orientated to unconditional selflessness or love, as we humans clearly have, and through that orientation become fully conscious, is to have been able to develop the nurturing, love-indoctrination process. If other animal species had achieved full consciousness they would not still be stranded in a world preoccupied by selfish, competitive dominance hierarchy but would be preoccupied by giving love and being loved as we humans fundamentally are.
In terms of presenting the denial-free account of the biological origins of the human condition, the integrative meaning of existence has now been explained—as has the emergence of the variety of life on Earth; how we humans became instinctively orientated to behaving in an unconditionally selfless, fully integrative way; and how that orientation to selfless cooperation liberated our brains to become fully conscious. To complete the story of the development of the upset state of our human condition, it now needs to be explained how the emergence of our fully conscious state in the presence of our particular instinctive orientation to cooperative ideality greatly compounded the upset we experienced from defying that instinctive orientation.