‘FREEDOM’—Chapter 2 The Threat of Terminal Alienation from Science’s Denial
Chapter 2:11 Multilevel Selection theory for eusociality
This ‘gaping hole’ in the theory of Sociobiology/Evolutionary Psychology brings us to the present and the publication in 2012 of E.O. Wilson’s The Social Conquest of Earth. Yes, once again, it was Wilson who concocted a ‘solution’ to this problem of the offensiveness of Evolutionary Psychology’s denigration of our moral instincts as selfish. Now, to the dismay of his earlier supporters, he has dismissed ‘his’ previous Evolutionary Psychology theory as ‘incorrect’, ‘inoperable’ and as having ‘failed’ (The Social Conquest of Earth, pp.143, 180, 181 of 330), proffering in its place a new theory that not only contrives an explanation for our genuinely moral instincts, but takes the art of denial to the absolute extreme by contriving a non-human-condition-confronting explanation of the human condition itself!
Known as Multilevel Selection or ‘a New Theory of Eusociality’ (ibid. p.183) (eusociality simply meaning genuine sociality), this theory claims that humans have instincts derived from natural selection operating at the individual level (where members of a species selfishly compete for food, shelter, territory and a mate), and instincts derived from natural selection operating at the group level (where, it is claimed, groups of altruistic, cooperative members outcompete groups of selfish, non-cooperative members)—with the supposed selfish individual level instincts being the bad/sinful aspects of our nature, and the selfless, supposed group-selected instincts being the good/virtuous aspect of our nature. According to Wilson, ‘Individual selection is responsible for much of what we call sin, while group selection is responsible for the greater part of virtue. Together they have created the conflict between the poorer and the better angels of our nature’ (ibid. p.241). In summary, Wilson asserts that ‘The dilemma of good and evil was created by multilevel selection’ (ibid).
Before looking at the way in which the Multilevel Selection theory for eusociality misrepresents, in fact, avoids, the real, consciousness-derived, psychological aspect of the human condition, we need to look at the ‘group selection’ mechanism that Wilson says accounts for our moral sense—because while we certainly do have a genuine moral sense, under scrutiny Wilson’s theory of how we acquired it completely falls apart.
While it makes sense that, as Wilson states, ‘groups of altruists [will] beat groups of selfish individuals’ (ibid. p.243), the biological stumbling block is whether genes, which have to selfishly ensure they reproduce if they are to carry on, can develop self-sacrificing altruistic traits in the first place. (Indeed, the initial premise of group selection makes so much sense that even Darwin canvassed the idea, but with far less arrogance than Wilson, aware as he was of the inherent difficulties of the concept. With regard to Darwin’s tentative approach to group selection, one of the leading evolutionary theorists of the twentieth century, William Hamilton, said that ‘Darwin had gone [there] circumspectly or not at all’ (‘Innate Social Aptitudes of Man: An Approach from Evolutionary Genetics’, Biosocial Anthropology, ed. R. Fox, 1975, p.135 of 169). I describe Darwin’s flirtation with group selection in Freedom Expanded at <www.humancondition.com/freedom-expanded-multilevel-selection>.) To reiterate, while it is true that a group of altruists whose members are prepared to make sacrifices for each other will defeat a group whose members are concerned only for themselves, the question is whether a group of altruists can ever actually form in the first place? The genetic reality is that whenever an unconditionally selfless, altruistic trait appears those that are selfish will naturally take advantage of it: ‘Sure, you can help me reproduce my genes but I’m not about to help you reproduce yours!’ Any selflessness that might arise through group selection will be constantly exploited by individual selfishness from within the group; as the biologist Jerry Coyne pointed out, ‘group selection for altruism would be unlikely to override the tendency of each group to quickly lose its altruism through natural selection favoring cheaters [selfish individuals]’ (‘Can Darwinism improve Binghamton?’, The New York Times, 9 Sep. 2011). The only biological models that have been presented that appear to overcome this problem of genetic selfishness always prevailing are so complex and convoluted they seem highly implausible, in that they involve the disbanding of a population into new, separate colonies, formed by solitary fertilised females, some of whom only have selfish genes and some of whom have altruistic genes, with those altruistic colonies out-competing those with just selfish genes to build larger, more altruistic populations. Then, before the colonies with altruistic genes ‘quickly lose…[their] altruism through natural selection favoring cheaters’, the colonies peacefully merge back into one population, after which fertilised females separate out again to breed new, isolated groups (and so on). Essentially the model requires a process of constant merging and disbanding in order to ‘outrun’ the genetic imperative in nature to exploit altruism or selflessness. The situations where this between-group selection of unconditionally selfless traits is said to have taken place are in the occurrence of female-biased sex ratios in some small invertebrate species, and in the evolution of reduced virulence in some disease organisms (see David Sloan Wilson & Elliot Sober, Unto Others: The Evolution and Psychology of Unselfish Behavior, 1998, pp.35-50 of 394). However, for large mammals especially, who don’t have complex life cycles, the mechanism is so implausible it has to be considered impossible. In his article ‘The false allure of group selection’, cognitive psychologist Steven Pinker gave this description of the implausibility of group selection: ‘Except in the theoretically possible but empirically unlikely circumstance in which groups bud off new groups faster than their members have babies, any genetic tendency to risk life and limb that results in a net decrease in individual inclusive fitness will be relentlessly selected against. A new mutation with this effect would not come to predominate in the population, and even if it did, it would be driven out by any immigrant or mutant that favored itself at the expense of the group’ (Edge, 18 Jun. 2012).
Nevertheless, in defiance of the biological reality that, even where there is selection between groups, unconditionally selfless traits will be exploited and eliminated, Wilson proposes that extreme warring between groups of early humans where cooperation would have been an advantage was a strong enough force to overcome this problem of selfish exploitation and thus allow for the selection of altruism and the emergence of our genuinely moral instincts! So, according to Wilson, our ability to war successfully somehow produced our ability to love unconditionally!
Wilson’s theory not only defies biological reality, it also flies in the face of both our cultural memories and anthropological evidence. As has been emphasised, standing in stark contrast to Wilson’s proclamation of ‘universal and eternal’ warfare (The Social Conquest of Earth, p.65) are the cultural memories enshrined in our myths, religions and in the words of some of our greatest thinkers that attest to humans having a peaceful heritage (recall, for instance, Plato’s description of how our distant ancestors lived a ‘blessed’ ‘life’ where ‘neither was there any violence, or devouring of one another, or war or quarrel among them’), and in the evidence gleaned from studies in anthropology and primatology—such as the aforementioned recent fossil discoveries that are now confirming a cooperative past, and studies of bonobos, who are our species’ closest living relatives and extraordinarily peaceful.
But, in attempting to prove we have a warlike past, Wilson ignores the evidence provided by the fossil record that reveals at least 7 million years of cooperative existence and instead argues that ‘to test the prevalence of violent group conflict in deep human history [one can look at]…archaic cultures [such as]…the aboriginals of Little Andaman Island off the east coast of India, the Mbuti Pygmies of Central Africa, and the !Kung Bushmen of southern Africa. All today, or at least within historical memory, have exhibited aggressive territorial behavior’ (ibid. pp.69, 71). In addition, in his 1978 book On Human Nature Wilson wrote of the Bushmen that ‘their homicide rate per capita equalled that of Detroit and Houston’ (p.100 of 260). However, there is ample evidence for just how extraordinarily cooperative, social and relatively peaceful the Bushmen are. For example, Lorna Marshall, regarded as ‘the doyenne of American anthropology’ (Sandy Gall, The Bushmen of Southern Africa: Slaughter of the Innocent, 2001, ch.10) and one of the only Westerners to live with the Bushmen before they became contaminated through contact with more upset-adapted, alienated ‘races’, described ‘their predominantly peaceful, well-adjusted human relations’ (The !Kung of Nyae Nyae, 1976, p.286 of 433). Marshall’s daughter, Elizabeth Marshall Thomas, who accompanied her on her expeditions in the 1950s, wrote the classic 1959 book about the Bushmen, The Harmless People. In a 1989 addition to that book, Marshall Thomas wrote: ‘To my knowledge Wilson has never visited the Ju/wasi [Bushmen]. His book [On Human Nature] never mentions how important it was to them to keep their social balance, how carefully they treated this balance, and how successful they were. That he discusses them at all is perhaps due to the fact that in the 1970s they were selected by academics as a sort of living laboratory in which studies could be made on attributes of human nature, the most intriguing of which at the time seemed to be aggression’ (p.283 of 303). (More will be said in pars 862-868 about mechanistic science’s misrepresentation of Bushmen and other so-called ‘primitive’ societies as ‘violent’ and ‘aggressive’ in order to comply with the human-condition-avoiding excuse that we are competitive, aggressive and selfish because of our animal heritage.)
Wilson also cites recent archaeological evidence to support ‘the prevalence of violent group conflict in deep human history’, stating that ‘Early humans had the innate equipment—and likely the tendency also—to use projectiles in capturing prey and repelling enemies. The advantages gained were surely decisive. Spear points and arrowheads are among the earliest artifacts found in archaeological sites’ (The Social Conquest of Earth, p.29). But this ‘data’ proves equally unreliable, as the archaeologist Steven Mithen has noted: ‘No, the earliest artifacts are from around 2.5 million years ago, but spear points are not made until a mere 250,000 years ago and arrowheads might have first been manufactured no longer ago than 20,000 years’ (‘How Fit Is E.O. Wilson’s Evolution?’, The New York Review of Books, 21 Jun. 2012). And in response to Wilson’s claim that ‘Archaeologists have found burials of massacred people to be a commonplace’ and ‘archaeological sites are strewn with the evidence of mass conflict’, Mithen argues that ‘No, both are quite rare, especially in pre-state societies, and those that are known are difficult to interpret’ (ibid).
On primatology, in an attempt to dismiss the example bonobos present of a cooperative, peaceful heritage, Wilson suggests there is no difference between bonobos and the more aggressive, selfish chimpanzee, claiming, for instance, that like chimpanzees, bonobos ‘do not share the fruit they pick’ (The Social Conquest of Earth, p.42), despite the fact there is a wealth of data recording instances of bonobos sharing fruit—such as a report by Barbara Fruth and Gottfried Hohmann, included in 2002’s influential Behavioural Diversity in Chimpanzees and Bonobos, which states: ‘In bonobos (Pan paniscus), food sharing between mature individuals is common…[and] bonobos often divide large-size fruits’ (‘How bonobos handle hunts and harvests: why share food?’, Behavioural Diversity in Chimpanzees and Bonobos, eds C. Boesch et al., 2002, pp.231-232 of 285). Wilson also claims bonobos ‘hunt in coordinated packs in the same manner as chimpanzees’ ‘wolves and African wild dogs’ (The Social Conquest of Earth, p.32). While bonobos have been known to capture and eat small game, including small monkeys, to supplement their diet with protein, they are not known to routinely hunt down and eat large animals such as colobus monkeys, like chimpanzees do, with ‘hunting behavior [by bonobos] very rare’ (Tetsuya Sakamaki quoted by David Quammen, ‘The Left Bank Ape’, National Geographic, Mar. 2013). Wilson relies upon a 2008 report by Hohmann titled ‘Primate hunting by bonobos at LuiKotale, Salonga National Park’ to draw these erroneous comparisons with the more aggressive chimpanzees—but Hohmann’s report actually reveals extraordinary differences between bonobos and chimpanzees, recording that ‘at the Lilungu site, bonobos catch guenons and colobus monkeys but do not eat them, and at Wamba, bonobos and red colobus monkeys have been seen to engage in mutual grooming’ (M. Surbeck & G. Hohmann, Current Biology, 2008, Vol.18, No.19). A brief look at the papers Hohmann, in turn, cites, reveals that at Lilungu ‘the bonobos interacted with the captured primates as if they were dealing with individuals of their own species. They sought cooperation in their interaction with the captured young primates without success. There is no evidence that they ate the captives…this interactional behavior…satisf[ies] the ethological definition of play’ (J. Sabater Pi et al., ‘Behaviour of Bonobos (Pan paniscus) Following Their Capture of Monkeys in Zaire’, International Journal of Primatology, 1993, Vol.14, No.5); and that at Wamba, despite ‘red colobus [being] major hunting targets of common chimpanzees…there is little evidence of hunting by the pygmy chimpanzees [bonobos] of Wamba, despite the fact that they have been intensively studied for over ten years’ (Hiroshi Ihobe, ‘Interspecific Interactions Between Wild Pygmy Chimpanzees (Pan paniscus) and Red Colobus (Colobus badius)’, Primates, 1990, Vol.31, No.1). So it turns out that Hohmann’s 2008 paper, which Wilson relies so heavily upon to depict bonobos as chimpanzee-like, ruthless killers, contains reports of bonobo behaviour that would be unthinkable from a chimpanzee (let alone from wolves or wild dogs) but which Wilson has just ignored! ‘That’s one more problem out of the way’, he seems to be saying. It would appear that just as the rest of the insecure, human-condition-afflicted human race has had to practise the art of denial of the human condition, Wilson too has had to fudge the evidence to try to find support for his lies.
In summary, our moral instincts are not derived from warring with other groups of humans as Wilson and his theory of group selection would have us believe. No, as will be explained in chapter 5, humans have an unconditionally selfless, fully altruistic, all-loving, universally-benevolent-not-competitive-with-other-groups, moral conscience. Our instinctive orientation is to love all people, not love some and be at war with others. The ‘savage-instincts-in-us’ excuse for our selfish behaviour is entirely inconsistent with the fact that we have completely moral, NOT partially moral and partially savage, instincts.
Overall then, while the Multilevel Selection theory for eusociality adds unconditionally selfless instincts to selfish instincts in the mix of what allegedly forms our species’ instinctive make-up (thus countering Evolutionary Psychology’s offensive denial of the fact that we have unconditionally selfless instincts), the same old reverse-of-the-truth, escape-rather-than-confront-the-human-condition agenda—that we have villainous selfish instincts and a blameless conscious mind that has to ‘step-in’ to control them—continues. (It should be mentioned that there has been an attempt to counter the selfishness-emphasising-and-justifying biological theories that have been described in this chapter with cooperation-not-competition, selflessness-not-selfishness emphasising biological theories. A summary of these ‘left-wing’ theories, as put forward by scientists such as Stephen Jay Gould, David Sloan Wilson and Robert Sussman—which all avoid the human condition just as ardently as these ‘right-wing’ theories and are therefore just as, if not more, dishonest, false and unaccountable—is provided in chapter 6:9, ‘A brief history of left-wing dishonest mechanistic biology’. I should also mention here that the real reason for, and consequences of, genes having to selfishly ensure their own reproduction—which is the genetic reality that all the ‘right-wing’ and ‘left-wing’ biological theories have had to accommodate—will be explained when the integration of matter is described later in chapters 4:4 and 4:5.)
To look now at how Wilson’s Multilevel Selection theory for eusociality avoids the real, consciousness-derived-and-induced psychological aspect of our human condition.
If our instincts are wholly peaceful and cooperative (which they are), and we are not selfish because of selfish instincts (which we are not), what is the source of our selfishness—or what Wilson calls our propensity for evil? The honest, human-condition-confronting answer is that it is the result of a psychosis.
As shown previously, our human behaviour involves our unique fully conscious thinking mind. As I have emphasised, descriptions of our less-than-ideal condition, such as egocentric, arrogant, deluded, artificial, hateful, cynical, mean, immoral, alienated, etc, all imply a consciousness-derived, psychological dimension to our behaviour. We suffer from a consciousness-induced, psychological HUMAN CONDITION, not an instinct-controlled ANIMAL CONDITION. And so it is to this psychological dimension to our behaviour that we should look for the cause of our selfishness. And yet in Wilson’s psychological-problem-avoiding model our consciousness is merely a mediator between supposed selfish and selfless instincts—as he writes: ‘Multilevel selection (group and individual selection combined) also explains the conflicted nature of motivations. Every normal person feels the pull of conscience, of heroism against cowardice, of truth against deception, of commitment against withdrawal. It is our fate to be tormented…We, all of us, live out our lives in conflict and contention’ (The Social Conquest of Earth, p.290). Clever semblance of our conflicted condition, diabolically clever, but entirely untrue, the epitome of shonk/evasion/denial/‘phon[iness]’/‘fake[ness]’/separation-from-the-truth—alienation!
So, according to Wilson, rather than having an original completely unconditionally selfless, altruistic, moral instinctive self or soul, which we then corrupted when we became conscious and developed an upset psychosis, which is the true description of the origin of our condition, we simply have some instincts that want us to behave selflessly and some that don’t. While a ‘virtu[ous]’, ‘better angels’, ‘good’ part of ourselves exists in Wilson’s ‘we have some selfless instincts’ account, there is no guilt from our conscious mind’s corruption of our completely selfless moral soul. What this means is that Wilson’s account of the human condition is non-judgmental in the sense that there are no real values, no notion of the absolutes of good vs evil or right vs wrong in the true, moral sense. What a relief for guilt-stricken humans, but what an incredible fraud! What Wilson has done with his non-psychological, no-guilt-stricken-conscious-mind-involved account is not explain the human condition but nullify it, render the issue benign, virtually inconsequential—and in doing so he is effectively burying humanity ‘a long way underground’ in the deepest, darkest depths of Plato’s ‘cave’ of denial. Make no mistake, Wilson’s great ‘phony’, ‘fake’, superficial, not-genuinely-biological, ‘Darwin’s’-‘heir’-be-damned, deliberately-human-condition-trivialising account of the human condition is the most sophisticated expression of denial to have ever been invented—and thus the most dangerous. Certainly, providing humans with a ‘get out of jail free’ card, a way to supposedly explain the human condition without having to confront the issue of the extreme psychosis (psyche/soul repression) and neurosis (neuron/mental denial) of our real human condition, is immensely appealing to the now overly psychologically upset human race—but it is precisely that seductiveness that is so dangerous. (Already school children are talking about the human condition in an off-hand way, with a teacher reporting in 2013 that one of her students had remarked that ‘I love the term The Human Condition; I can use it in just about any essay for any subject’ (WTM records, 15 Feb. 2013).) This Ultimate Lie had the potential to seduce the exhausted human race to such a degree that it obliterated any chance of the real human condition ever being truthfully confronted and thus understood! While denial was necessary while we couldn’t explain ourselves, taking the art of denial to the extreme that Wilson has done with his dismissal of the fundamental issue before us as a species of our human condition as nothing more than two different instincts within us that are sometimes at odds, is a truly sinister—in fact, unconscionable—lie. It is the ultimate tragic expression of the human-condition-avoiding, superficialising, dumbing-down, dogma-not-knowledge-preferring, madness-becomes-universal, end play situation the human race is now in—the time Plato prophesised where there would be ‘more and more forgetting [dishonest denial to the point where]…there was a danger of universal ruin to the world’. Yes, it is nothing less than the final great push to have the world of lies with all its darkness take over the world—and condemn humanity to extinction. If the real psychosis-addressing-and-solving explanation of the human condition that is presented here in this book hadn’t emerged then this Ultimate Lie would have given humanity’s headlong march to ever greater levels of lying denial and its terrible alienating effects its terminal impetus.
I should add that despite Wilson’s hateful dismissal of religion as mere group propaganda—as nothing more than ‘an expression of tribalism’ (The Social Conquest of Earth, p.258) that is ‘dragging us down’ and that ‘for the sake of human progress, the best thing we could possibly do would be to diminish, to the point of eliminating, religious faith’ (‘Don’t let Earth’s tapestry unravel’, New Scientist, 24 Jan. 2015)—the fact is, religions resonate with us, and have done for millennia, because they contain profound truth. Contrast Wilson’s dangerously superficial account of our condition, where our consciousness is the blameless mediator or manager of villainous selfish instincts within us, with Moses’ Garden of Eden account of the origin or genesis of the human condition or Plato’s two-horsed chariot and ‘reversed cosmos’ accounts (see ch. 2:6), all of which say that our instinctive heritage is wholly selfless and that it was the emergence of consciousness that led to our selfishness. These are the accounts that acknowledge the problematic role of our conscious mind, which is where the real terror of the human condition lies—our deep insecurity about whether ‘we’, our conscious thinking self, is actually evil. And it is these accounts that have been reinforced by some of history’s most profound thinkers—like van der Post, Marais, Koestler and Berdyaev, whose words were included earlier (in pars 186-188).
It is worth including here a review by the journalist Christopher Booker of Wilson’s The Social Conquest of Earth. While I don’t agree at all with Booker’s assertion that Darwin’s theory of natural selection is a flawed and deficient theory that ‘can’t explain’ how all of life developed (the explanation of how it can and does is presented in subsequent chapters of this book), in every other respect what he has to say about Wilson’s book is extraordinarily honest—in particular that ‘what Wilson completely misses out is any recognition of what is by far the most glaring difference between humans and ants…we have broken free from the dictates of instinct…that peculiarity of human consciousness…has allowed us to step outside the instinctive frame…But it is this which also gives us our disintegrative propensity, individually and collectively, to behave egocentrically, presenting us with all those problems which distinguish us from all the other species which still live in unthinking obedience to the dictates of nature. All these follow from that split from our selfless ‘higher nature’, with which over the millennia our customs, laws, religion and artistic creativity have tried their best to re-integrate us’ (‘E.O. Wilson has a new explanation for consciousness, art & religion. Is it credible?’, The Spectator, 7 Sep. 2013).
Yes, in summary, Wilson continues to look everywhere for the cause of our condition, except to our consciousness; and instead of explaining our psychosis (‘all those problems which distinguish us from all the other species’, as Booker referred to it) he simply states that it does not exist. Like most resigned, human-condition-avoiding humans (and other mechanistic scientists) he is effectively saying, ‘What psychosis? What inner insecurity? What sense of guilt? What original ‘Golden Age’ of innocence? What ‘split from our selfless “higher nature”’? What ‘fallen’ condition? What ‘haunted existence dogged by the shadow of our human condition’? What deeply troubled state? What depression from the ‘mountains’ of the ‘mind[’s]’ ‘cliffs of fall, frightful, sheer’? What agonising issue of the human condition that we, as teenagers, had to learn to ‘let it be’? What cave-like state of alienated denial that I’m now living in? What ‘phony’, ‘fake’, ‘alienat[ed]…to the roots’ existence? What great elephant in the living room of our lives that we can’t acknowledge? What sickness of the soul; for that matter, what ‘soul’? What dreamed-of psychologically rehabilitated, transformed human race? What wonderful time when ‘we’ll all live as one’ that John Lennon ‘imagine[d]’ (Imagine, 1971)?’ To Wilson, the human condition is nothing more than a conflict between selfless and selfish instincts within us. He is basically saying, ‘To hell with your psychological garbage, I’m not going there!’ So, while he might have won almost every accolade in science, in the end Wilson has revealed himself to be just another victim of the human condition—coping with it by finding a way to deny it.
There is one last but very important aspect of Wilson’s account that needs to be addressed, which is that his notion of our condition being a result of selfish and selfless instincts within us would mean that unless we change our genes we are, as he asserts, ‘intrinsically imperfectible’ (The Social Conquest of Earth, p.241). BUT such a fate is completely inconsistent with one of the central beliefs about the real, psychological nature of our condition, which is that finding understanding of it will bring about the psychologically ameliorated transformation of the human race. If, as Wilson maintains, we don’t suffer from a psychosis, then we can’t be healed—but we do suffer from a psychosis, which can be healed. Carl Jung was forever asserting that ‘wholeness for humans depends on the ability to own their own shadow’ because he knew that finding the psychologically ameliorating understanding of the dark side of ourselves would make us ‘whole’. In religious terms, The Lord’s Prayer contains the hope of the time when ‘Your [the Godly, ideal, peaceful] kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven’ (Bible, Matt. 6:10 & Luke 11:2). In contemporary mythology, the same sentiment is conveyed in the words of our modern day, truthful thinking prophets: in John Lennon’s ‘imagin[ings]’; in Bob Dylan’s anticipation of ‘when the ship [understanding of the human condition] comes in…and the morning will be a-breaking…and the [dishonest] words that are used to get the ship confused will no longer be understood as the spoken [truth]’ (When The Ship Comes In, 1963); in Jim Morrison, of The Doors, singing of ‘Standing there on freedom’s shore, waiting for the sun…waiting…to tell me what went wrong’ (Waiting for the Sun, 1968), waiting for the liberating light of understanding of our upset lives to arrive because when ‘day destroys night’ we can ‘break on through to the other side’ (Break on Through, 1966) to our ‘freedom’ from the agony of the human condition; and, finally, in Bono’s (of the band U2) lyrics about the coming of a world ‘high on a [uncorrupted] desert plain’ where there will be no more egocentricity and ‘the streets [will] have no name’ and ‘there will be no toil or sorrow, then there will be no time of pain’ (Where The Streets Have No Name, 1987). This last prophetic vision is exactly the same as that expressed in the Bible where it states that ‘Another [denial-free, honest, all-clarifying] book [will be]…opened which is the book of life…[which will introduce] a new heaven and a new earth…[and] wipe every tear from…[our] eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away’ (Rev. 20:12, 21:1, 4). Buddhist scripture contains the exact same anticipation of a fabulous time when humans ‘will with a perfect voice preach the true Dharma [present the supreme wisdom, namely the psychologically rehabilitating, transforming, true understanding of the human condition], which is auspicious and removes all ill’, saying, ‘Human beings are then without any blemishes, moral offences are unknown among them, and they are full of zest and joy’ (Maitreyavyakarana; Buddhist Scriptures, tr. Edward Conze, 1959, pp.238-242).
Yes, the fulfilment of Holden Caulfield’s dream of a time when the need for Resignation, with all its horrible alienating, psychosis-and-neurosis-producing effects—that Francis Bacon so honestly depicted—will end is what the human race has tirelessly been working towards, and has now, in the nick of time, finally achieved. We are precisely the opposite of what Wilson argues, because we are, in fact, ‘intrinsically’ ‘perfectible’!