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‘FREEDOM’—Chapter 5 The Origin of Humans’ Moral Instinctive Self or Soul
Chapter 5:2 How could humans have acquired their altruistic moral instincts?
As evidenced in pars 180-182, throughout our mythologies and in the work of our most profound thinkers there is a recognition that our distant ancestors lived in a pre-conscious, pre-human-condition-afflicted, innocent, unconditionally selfless, genuinely altruistic, fully cooperative, universally loving, peaceful state; as the author Richard Heinberg’s research into this collective memory of a ‘Garden of Eden’-like, ‘Golden Age’ in our species’ past found, ‘Every religion begins with the recognition that human consciousness has been separated from the divine Source, that a former sense of oneness…has been lost…everywhere in religion and myth there is an acknowledgment that we have departed from an original…innocence’ (Memories & Visions of Paradise, 1990, pp.81-82 of 282). So yes, when Nikolai Berdyaev acknowledged that ‘The memory of a lost paradise, of a Golden Age, is very deep in man’ (The Destiny of Man, 1931; tr. N. Duddington, 1960, p.36 of 310), he was expressing what we all intuitively know is the truth about our species’ past innocent existence—as was the philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau when he, almost two centuries earlier, wrote that ‘nothing is more gentle than man in his primitive state’ (The Social Contract and Discourses, 1755; tr. G. Cole, 1913, Book IV, p.198 of 269).
The origin of the words associated with our moral nature reveals this underlying awareness of the extraordinarily loving, ideal-behaviour-expecting, ‘good-and-evil’-differentiating, sound nature of our instinctive self or ‘psyche’ or ‘soul’, the ‘voice’ or expression of which is our ‘conscience’. For instance, our ‘conscience’ is defined as our ‘moral sense of right and wrong’, and our ‘soul’ as the ‘moral and emotional part of man’, and as the ‘animating or essential part’ of us (Concise Oxford Dictionary, 5th edn, 1964), while, as mentioned in pars 258 and 260, the Penguin Dictionary of Psychology’s entry for ‘psyche’ reads: ‘The oldest and most general use of this term is by the early Greeks, who envisioned the psyche as the soul or the very essence of life.’ Indeed, as the ‘early Greek’ philosopher Plato wrote about our innate, ideal-or-Godly-behaviour-expecting moral nature, we humans have ‘knowledge, both before and at the moment of birth…of all absolute standards…[of] beauty, goodness, uprightness, holiness…our souls exist before our birth…[our] soul resembles the divine’ (Phaedo, c.360 BC; tr. H. Tredennick, 1954, 65-80).
When the philosopher John Fiske wrote about the existence of our moral nature, he was similarly effusive: ‘We approve of certain actions and disapprove of certain actions quite instinctively. We shrink from stealing or lying as we shrink from burning our fingers’ (Outlines of Cosmic Philosophy, 1874, Vol. IV, Part II, p.126). And, while our moral instinctive self or soul will ‘shrink from stealing or lying’, it is not merely concerned with avoiding the ill-treatment of others—it is also deeply concerned with ensuring their well-being. For instance, when the professional footballer Joe Delaney admitted that ‘I can’t swim good, but I’ve got to save those kids’, just moments before plunging into a Louisiana pond and drowning in an attempt to rescue three boys (‘Sometimes The Good Die Young’, Sports Illustrated, 7 Nov. 1983), he was considering the welfare of others above that of his own. The truth is that everywhere we look we see examples of humans behaving unconditionally selflessly, such as those who show charity to others less fortunate, or sacrifice their lives for ethical principles. Indeed, now that we can explain the human condition it becomes clear that since the human condition fully emerged some 2 million years ago, every generation of humans has had to suffer becoming self-corrupted in an unconditionally selfless effort to aid the accumulation of knowledge that would one day liberate humanity from the human condition; to borrow the words from the musical Man of La Mancha that were included in par. 68, every generation has altruistically ‘march[ed] into hell for a heavenly cause’.
Our species’ unconditionally selfless moral nature is undoubtedly a wonderful phenomenon. However, as mentioned in chapter 3:7, Alexander Pope saw our ‘awe’-inspiring, ‘best and highest distinction’-deserving, ‘divine’-like, ‘absolute standards…[of] beauty, goodness, uprightness, holiness’-expecting, ‘animating’, ‘very essence of life’, ‘moral and emotional’, ‘essential part’ of us in a very different light, pointing out that ‘our nature [is]…A sharp accuser, but a helpless friend!’ And he was right in the sense that, as was made clear in that chapter, our ideal-behaviour-expecting, moral conscience has been ‘a sharp accuser, but a helpless friend’; it has criticised us aplenty when what we needed was redeeming understanding of our ‘good-and-evil’-afflicted, corrupted or ‘fallen’ present human condition—which we now at last have.
Paradoxically, until we could explain our present soul-devastated, innocence-destroyed, angry, egocentric and alienated condition we couldn’t afford to face the truth that our ‘awe’-inspiring moral soul is our instinctive memory of an unconditionally selfless, all-loving past. And so we undermined its very existence; yes, just as human-condition-avoiding, mechanistic scientists argued that ‘unconditional love’ was ‘not appropriate for scientific study’, the psychologist Ronald Conway noted that ‘Soul is customarily suspected in empirical psychology and analytical philosophy as a disreputable entity’ (Letter to the Editor, The Australian, 10 May 2000). But with the fully accountable, human psychosis-addressing-and-solving, truthful explanation of the human condition now found, we can finally acknowledge what our soul is, and, most significantly, heal our species’ psychosis or ‘soul-illness’; yes, since psyche means ‘soul’ and osis, according to , means ‘abnormal state or condition’, we can at last ameliorate or heal our species’ psychosis—its alienated, psychologically ‘ill’, ‘abnormal state or condition’.
But recognition and resolution of the issue aside, the very great question that remained to be answered was how could we humans have possibly acquired such a ‘distinct’ from other ‘animals’, ‘awe’-inspiring but ‘sharp accus[ing]’ instinctive orientation in the first place? What is the biological origin of our species’ extraordinary moral nature?