‘FREEDOM’—Chapter 6 End Play for The Human Race
Chapter 6:3 The nurturing origins of our moral soul is an obvious truth
Like the truths of the origin of our corrupted human-condition-afflicted state and of Integrative Meaning, the importance of nurturing in both the maturation of our own lives and in the maturation of our species—that nurturing created our moral instincts—is an obvious truth. While we have had to live in denial of it, we all intuitively know that a mother’s love is crucial to the creation of a well-adjusted human and that we are all born with an instinctive expectation of receiving unconditionally selfless love from our mother. And it’s also obvious that such powerful instincts to nurture with love and be nurtured with love can’t have come from nowhere. To be so strong in us they must have played a significant role in our species’ development. So yes, if we weren’t living in denial of the importance of nurturing in human life, it wouldn’t be hard to work out that our unconditionally selfless moral instincts were borne out of the mother-infant relationship.
While, as pointed out in par. 189, Charles Darwin was not a denial-free thinker who could confront the issue of the human condition, he was nevertheless a remarkably honest, truthful and thus effective thinker who could see that our ‘social instinct seems’ to be ‘developed’ from ‘parental’ ‘affections’, writing in chapter 4 of his 1871 book, The Descent of Man, that ‘The feeling of pleasure from society is probably an extension of the parental or filial [family] affections, since the social instinct seems to be developed by the young remaining for a long time with their parents; and this extension may be attributed in part to habit, but chiefly to natural selection.’ Further on in chapter 4, Darwin affirmed his belief that ‘the foundation of morality’, our ‘moral sense’, which he said ‘affords the best and highest distinction between man and the lower animals’, is these ‘social instincts’ that ‘I have so lately [in the just referred to quote] endeavoured to shew’ the origins of; adding that these ‘social instincts’ were ‘aid[ed]’ by ‘intellectual powers [that appreciate the importance of moral behaviour] and the effects of habit’—earlier he had said that ‘love, sympathy and self-command become strengthened by habit’. So, while Darwin didn’t go on and develop the idea into a full account of the origins and consequences of humans’ moral nature, he did canvas the idea that the ‘natural selection’ of an ‘exten[ded]’, ‘long’ infancy allowed ‘parental’ ‘affections’ (which he also refers to as ‘maternal instincts’) to ‘develop’ our ‘moral sense’—he recognised the nurturing, love-indoctrinating origins of humans’ instinctive moral soul.
(I should mention that while Darwin clearly recognised that humans have a nurtured-with-love, cooperative, selfless, loving ‘moral’ ‘instinct[ive]’ heritage—even saying in chapter 4 of The Descent of Man that ‘the social instincts, which must have been acquired by man in a very rude state, and probably even by his early ape-like progenitors, still give the impulse to many of his best actions’—elsewhere in his writing he contradicts himself by saying we have a divisive ‘evil’ ‘devil[ish]’ ape ancestry, writing, for instance, that ‘Our descent then, is the origin of our evil passions!!—The Devil under form of Baboon is our grandfather [ape ancestor]!’ (1838; The Complete Work of Charles Darwin Online, ed. John van Wyhe, 2002, Notebook M, line ref. 123). So how are we to explain these contradictory positions? I begin the answer by pointing out that in The Descent of Man Darwin issued a disclaimer at the beginning of the two chapters in which he dealt with our moral nature: at the beginning of chapter 4, before discussing the ‘great question’ of the origin of the ‘naked law in the soul’ [Darwin was here quoting Immanuel Kant] of our ‘moral sense or conscience’, Darwin said ‘my sole excuse for touching on it, is the impossibility of here passing it over’; and at the very beginning of chapter 5, which is titled ‘On the development of the intellectual and moral faculties during primeval and civilised times’, Darwin conceded that ‘The subjects to be discussed in this chapter are of the highest interest, but are treated by me in an imperfect and fragmentary manner.’ As I explained in par. 189, Darwin didn’t feel secure enough in self to address the human condition, which is what is required if you are to truthfully and thus effectively look into human behaviour, so despite making an attempt in The Descent of Man to look into the origins of human behaviour, it was only a tentative step in that all-important exploration. Yes, by his own admission it was ‘an imperfect and fragmentary’ attempt. Even in one of his letters, Darwin admitted that ‘I have never systematically thought much on religion in relation to science [as explained in par. 925, to understand religion from a scientific basis requires recognising that religions are at base a way of coping with the insecurity caused by the human condition], or on morals in relation to society [the question of how selfless, cooperative, moral behaviour came about]; and without steadily keeping my mind on such subjects for a long period, I am really incapable of writing anything worth sending to the Index [a religious publication he had been asked to contribute to]’ (Letter to F.E. Abbot, 16 Nov. 1871; The Complete Work of Charles Darwin Online, ed. John van Wyhe, 2002). Clearly Darwin oscillated from not being ‘prepared personally to deal’ with the ‘wider’ ‘issues’ ‘of man’s mental evolution’, as Harrison said in her quote included in par. 189, to attempting to tackle those issues but only ‘in an imperfect and fragmentary manner’ because he wasn’t going to [wasn’t able to?] ‘steadily keep…my mind on such subjects for a long period’. Darwin oscillated from attempting to do some human-condition-confronting, honest, effective thinking, such as recognising that ‘natural selection’ of a ‘long’ infancy allowed ‘parental’ ‘affections’ to ‘develop’ our ‘moral sense’, to complying with human-condition-avoiding, dishonest, mechanistic thinking by agreeing that our ‘evil passions’ come from our ‘Baboon’/ape ‘grandfather’/ancestors. This swinging between human-condition-confronting and human-condition-avoiding thinking was very evident when, in the Origin of Species, Darwin initially truthfully left it undecided as to whether individuals who manage to reproduce are better or ‘fitter’ than those who don’t, but later caved into Spencer and Wallace’s suggestion to incorporate the patently dishonest human-condition-avoiding concept of ‘survival of the fittest’ (see par. 195). Yet another example of this dishonest thinking occurred when, as mentioned in par. 203, Darwin flirted with the biologically unsound idea of group selection to explain our moral instincts. Yes, Darwin was sufficiently sound and thus capable of brave, truthful effective thinking to come up with the idea of natural selection to explain the origin of species, but not sound enough to confront the human condition and explain the origin of human behaviour. I have written a more in-depth analysis of Darwin’s thinking at .)
Although the renowned anthropologist Richard Leakey wasn’t thinking honestly when he wrote that the ‘bond between mother and infant’ occurs so that her infant can have a period of ‘prolonged learning’ about its ‘environment’ (the dishonesty of this thinking will be explained shortly in par. 505), he was thinking truthfully when he then emphatically asserted that ‘the basis of all primate social groups is the bond between mother and infant. That bond constitutes the social unit out of which all higher orders of society are constructed’ (Richard Leakey & Roger Lewin, Origins, 1977, p.61 of 264). In his acclaimed television series and accompanying book that was dedicated to explaining ‘the ascent of man’, the great science historian Jacob Bronowski also recognised that the ‘real vision of the human being’—of an unconditionally selfless, loving, sound, integratively behaved individual, which Christ so exemplified—is a direct product of the nurturing that takes place between a mother and her child, saying that ‘But, far more deeply, it [a sound mind] depends on the long preparation of human childhood…The real vision of the human being is the child wonder, the Virgin and Child, the Holy Family’ (The Ascent of Man, 1973, pp.424-425 of 448). It’s true, the ‘family’, especially the ‘Virgin [uncorrupted, soul-intact, innocent, psychologically sound and secure mother] and Child’, is ‘Holy’; ‘that bond’ does lie at the heart of what makes us, and made us as a species, truly human—namely loving and cooperative.
Yes, the crucial role played by the nurturing, loving ‘bond between mother and infant’ in ‘the ascent of man’ is a truth we are all intuitively aware of. That awareness is apparent when, for example, Africa is described as ‘the cradle of mankind’—Africa is where humanity was nurtured into existence. Similarly, when the anthropologist Loren Eisely wrote that ‘Man is born of love and exists by reason of a love more continuous than in any other form of life’ (An Evolutionist Looks at Modern Man, c.1959), he was recognising the truth that humanity was ‘born of love’.
In fact, the nurturing explanation for our extraordinary unconditionally selfless, all-loving, social, moral instinctive self or soul is so obvious that only three years after Darwin tentatively ascribed the origin of our ‘social instinct’ to ‘parental’ ‘affections’, it was put forward as a developed theory by the aforementioned philosopher John Fiske in his 1874 book, Outlines of Cosmic Philosophy: based on the Doctrine of Evolution. Indeed, if we were to prioritise the information we humans need to truly understand our world and our place in it, the first item would be to explain the origins of the variety of life, which is what Darwin did with his idea of natural selection. And the second would have to be to explain the origins of the particular variety of life that is the cooperative organism we call humanity, which is what Fiske did with his nurturing explanation for our species’ original instinctive unconditionally selfless, loving, moral, social sense. However, while both these fundamentally important insights were made available to us way back in the mid-1800s, the only one we have been taught at school and university was Darwin’s idea of natural selection. It wasn’t until 2004 when I chanced upon a comment about Fiske that I learnt of his remarkable contribution—which was many years after I had worked out that nurturing was the obvious explanation for our moral instincts. (As I have already pointed out, I first presented the nurturing, love-indoctrination explanation that is described in chapter 5 to the scientific community in 1983 in a submission to Nature journal. I have submitted it elsewhere many times since, but to no avail, with each submission either rejected or ignored—something I will talk further about in ch. 6:12.) The trail I followed in 2004 that led me to Fiske began with a reference in a 1992 paper by the linguist Robin Allott to ‘human love evolv[ing]’ from the ‘mother/infant bond’ (‘Evolutionary Aspects of Love and Empathy’, Journal of Social and Evolutionary Systems, Vol.15, No.4). Following the source provided for this concept directed me to the work of the scientist and evangelist Henry Drummond—via the historian Dorothy Ross, who had written that ‘To Darwin’s principle of natural selection by means of the struggle for survival, he [Drummond] added another principle that he considered far more important—“the Struggle for the Life of Others,” or “altruistic Love,” which developed in the course of evolution from the necessities of maternity’ (G. Stanley Hall: The Psychologist as Prophet, 1972, p.262 of 482). Going then to the 1894 writings of Drummond, I found that in responding to the question as to why humans have such long infancies, Drummond had written that ‘The question has been answered for us by Mr. John Fiske, and the world here owes to him one of the most beautiful contributions ever made to the Evolution of Man. We know what this delay means ethically—it was necessary for moral training that the human child should have the longest possible time by its Mother’s side’ (The Ascent of Man, 1894, ch. ‘The Evolution of a Mother’). Progressing then to Fiske, in 1874 he had written that ‘Throughout the animal kingdom the period of infancy is correlated with feelings of parental affection…The prolongation [of infancy] must…have been gradual, and the same increase of intelligence to which it was due must also have prolonged the correlative parental feelings, by associating them more and more with anticipations and memories. The concluding phases of this long change may be witnessed in the course of civilization. Our parental affections now endure through life…I believe we have now reached a…satisfactory explanation of…Sociality’ (Outlines of Cosmic Philosophy: based on the Doctrine of Evolution, Vol.IV, Part II, ch. ‘Genesis of Man, Morally’). The ‘prolongation’ of ‘infancy’ was not, however, ‘due’ to the ‘increase of intelligence’, rather, as will be explained in chapter 7:3, the prolonged infancy and its nurturing of selflessness liberated the fully conscious, intelligent mind, which only developed strongly after the love-indoctrination process was well established; this is evidenced by the emergence of the large brain that appears in the fossil record of our ancestors after the stage when we resembled the existing non-human great apes. Nevertheless, nurturing, ‘parental affection’ was put forward by Fiske as a developed theory to explain ‘human lov[ing]’, ‘altruistic’, ‘ethical’, ‘moral’, ‘social’ instincts way back in 1874. I might mention that Charles Darwin sent this wonderful tribute to John Fiske in a letter to him in 1874: ‘I never in my life read so lucid an expositor (and therefore thinker) as you are’ (Life and Letters of Charles Darwin, Vol. 2).
Since Drummond has provided us with an absolutely wonderful description of Fiske’s nurturing explanation for our moral nature, the following is a condensation of that account: ‘The…pinnacle of the temple of Nature…is…The Mammalia, THE MOTHERS…[It is] That care for others, from which the Mammalia take their name…All elementary animals are orphans…they waken to isolation, to apathy, to the attentions only of those who seek their doom. But as we draw nearer the apex of the animal kingdom, the spectacle of a protective Maternity looms into view…[the] love of offspring…That early world, therefore, for millions and millions of years was a bleak and loveless world. It was a world without children and a world without Mothers. It is good to realize how heartless Nature was till these arrived…the ethical effect…of this early arrangement was nil…There was no time to love, no opportunity to love, and no object to love…Now, before Maternal Love can be evolved out of this first care…Nature must…cause fewer young to be produced at a birth…make them helpless, so that for a time they must dwell with her…And…she…dwell with them…In this [Mammal] child…infancy reaches its last perfection…On the physiological side, the name of this impelling power is lactation; on the ethical side, it is Love…Millions of millions of Mothers had lived in the world before this, but the higher affections were unborn. Tenderness, gentleness, unselfishness, love, care, self-sacrifice—these as yet were not, or were only in the bud…To create Motherhood and all that enshrines…required a human child…The only thing that remains now is…that they [human mother and child] shall both be kept in that school as long as it is possible to…give affection time to grow…No animal except Man was permitted to have his education [in love] thus prolonged…We know what this delay means ethically—it was necessary for moral training that the human child should have the longest possible time by its Mother’s side…A sheep knows its lamb only while it is a lamb. The affection in these cases, fierce enough while it lasts, is soon forgotten, and the traces it left in the brain are obliterated before they have furrowed into habit [Note here recognition that the training in love wears off with age, which, as was explained in ch. 5:9, is why there was the selection for neotenous youth in the love-indoctrination process]…To her [the human mother] alone was given a curriculum prolonged enough to let her graduate in the school of the affections…unselfishness has scored; its child has proved itself fitter to survive than the child of Selfishness…A few score more of centuries, a few more millions of Mothers, and the germs of Patience, Carefulness, Tenderness, Sympathy, and Self-Sacrifice will have rooted themselves in Humanity…However short the earliest infancies, however feeble the sparks they fanned, however long heredity took to gather fuel enough for a steady flame, it is certain that once this fire began to warm the cold hearth of Nature and give humanity a heart, the most stupendous task of the past was accomplished…[And here Drummond quotes Fiske] “From of old we have heard the monition, ‘Except ye be as babes ye cannot enter the kingdom of Heaven’; the latest science now shows us—though in a very different sense of the words—that unless we had been as babes, the ethical phenomena which give all its significance to the phrase ‘Kingdom of Heaven’ would have been non-existent for us. Without the circumstances of Infancy…we should never have comprehended the meaning of such phrases as ‘self-sacrifice’ or ‘devotion’” ’ (The Ascent of Man, 1894, ch. ‘The Evolution of a Mother’).
The outstanding question, it follows, is, why did Fiske’s fundamentally important explanation for the origins of our moral instincts that created ‘humanity’—‘one of the most beautiful contributions ever made to the Evolution of Man’—virtually vanish from scientific discourse? Why weren’t we taught the nurturing explanation for our altruistic moral nature at school, or when we studied biology at university. Why did I have to work the idea out myself? Why was this ‘altruistic’ ‘principle’ that was ‘considered far more important’ than the ‘principle of natural selection’, and which Fiske explained was able to be developed in our forebears by ‘the necessities of maternity’, allowed to so disappear from biological discourse that in the 140 years that have elapsed since Fiske presented his explanation a veritable mountain of books have been published presenting all manner of unaccountable, dishonest theories for the origins of our species’ extraordinary moral nature? Why, when we had the truth, has there been such a colossal amount of tragically misguided effort that, as we will see, has now resulted in the dangerously dishonest, misleading Social Ecological/Self-Domestication explanations for our moral soul? And why, in turn, has my nurturing, love-indoctrination explanation for our moral soul—and, indeed, all my work—not just been rejected and ignored, but (as I will document in ch. 6:12) so ruthlessly attacked that I was made a pariah, and those helping disseminate these insights ostracised?