On Human Evolution

A Pre-emptive Invasion of Friday Philosphy

Emphasis on philosophy.

Some folks propose that humans, having mastered their physical environment, are done evolving. I would counter that the human hand has not yet developed the capability to replace both the remote control and mouse and the human ass has not yet evolve to its full Barca-lounger capability….but that would run counter to my point, so I wont.

My point is that the next frontier of human evolution is not physical but mental. An evolution of the brain, not the body. And that that mental evolution and the new perceptions it engenders will change Human Beings in ways we cannot possibly envision. Since our brains are not evolved enough yet to comprehend them, lol.

There are three recognizable current levels of the human brain. The reptilian, evolved for pure survival mechanisms. The animal which evolved to relate to others and allows socialization and ‘pack behavior,’ acting in a group to enhance survival. And the current pre-frontal cortex that is responsibe for advanced thought that has allowed what passes for ‘advanced’ thought like abstract thought, and scientific thought, that has allowed us to evolve to our current level.

I am too lazy right now to search for the science, but these three brains are ‘stacked on top’ of each other in evolutionary order.

What will the next ‘stack’ be? If there is one.

As it stands right now, to allow my inner misanthrope to come out and play, humans are too stupid to survive. We have yet to evolve past the overwhelming influence of the animal brain that compels us to compete with other packs and kill them. War.

We have yet to evolve a true capacity to have ‘long term’ abstract thought that would allow us to deal with things like Climate Crisis, an existential threat to our evolution as a species. We are stuck addressing only the short term crises in front of our faces, the immediate threats that challenge us. We have yet to make the leap to recognize that the Common Good insures the Individual Good and that cooperation as an entire species instead of in small groups is the next imperative survival strategy.

Punch line:

Well….at least Republicans haven’t.



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  1. Photobucket

    Or will we evolve?

  2. We have yet to evolve a true capacity to have ‘long term’ abstract thought that would allow us to deal with things like Climate Crisis, an existential threat to are evolution as a species. We are stuck addressing only the short term crises in front of our faces, the immediate threats in front of our faces. We have yet to make the leap to recognize that the Common Good insures the Individual Good and that cooperation as an entire species instead of in small groups is the next imperative survival strategy.

    I think this is a bit of a cop-out, no offense.  We certainly have the long-term, abstract thinking abilities to deal with climate change; reams have been written describing scores of methods to do so.  We address, perhaps, only the short-term crises, but that is not evidence that we are stuck in that path.  And finally, we have much evidence that suggests that the common good (I’ll keep on begging you not to capitalize these ideas) does not ensure the individual good.  For example, we have endless evidence that free trade increases national GDP.  We also have endless evidence that rising tides do not lift all boats, and that increases in GDP are not evenly distributed and that these “common goods” are not universally shared.

    I think the evolutionary argument is convenient because, well, if it is evolutionary there isn’t anything exactly that we can be doing about it.  I think that the argument is that we currently lack the proper innovation.  I don’t mean merely technology, but a full understanding of the problems and new pathways to the answers.  We know a lot about why collective action problems are so difficult, but not enough.  We know a lot about how hidden externality costs allow negative behaviors to be cost-beneficial for individuals at the expense of the group.

    We’re too stupid to survive only if we see difficult problems and decide that the answers aren’t within our reach.  We get it wrong because we refuse to answer the questions.  And that isn’t an evolutionary problem; it is a laziness problem.

  3. Evolution is the wrong place to put blame. Evolution on the scale of tribes and such make the fact of war more likely not less. The basic evolutionary selection method is being able to successfully pass on genes. So if you can get more of your off-spring to the level where they can successfully reproduce, you have an evolutionary win.

    At that point evolution is done with you.

    Now, we have developed intelligence as a evolutionary advantage, but it is a pretty rare strategy. It is not really that helpful as there are a lot of offsets that reduce its effectiveness. Our mind and ability to have empathy mean that we are not the pure survival machines that, say, shark are.

    We act out of other interests than just survival, but all evolutionary forces care about is survival, so it is net wash, with just enough on the positive side for us fast breeding apes to dominate the planet.

    But what drives us is our children, so being at peace with our neighbors has a problem. Intellectually we might be able to rationalize that peace means more resources for all, but the instinctual part of our emergent consciousness can’t understand that and is unwilling to take a chance, which leads us to conflicts.

    Basically it is inherently unnatural to live in the elevated mental and philosophical space that we aspire to. However that is never an excuse not to try.  

  4. There is an entire gamut of things like this on the net.

    The evolution of man happens in 2012, we get an extra chromosome and become something like the X-Men.

    Others speak of dimensional evolution that enables us control over the dimension of time.  That would be really cool.

    In many of these though there is a common theme of purity.  Not theological but spiritual.

  5. have y’all seen this yet? only about 5 comments so far.

    DOJ: U.S. Drops Title of “Enemy Combatant” on Gitmo Detainees


    • Edger on March 14, 2009 at 1:26 am

    as a broad sweeping generalized category of being are too stupid to survive, or even if most of them are, or even… if it has anything at all to do with stupidity.

    I would argue, or suggest rather, that the next “stack” or frontier of human evolution is not a physical or even a mental one, in terms of those kinds of “capacities”, but instead is one that many people have already “achieved”, if that word even applies.

    A “moral” (in the most expansive meaning of that word) or an “experiential” evolution instead… (and I’ll requote something I’ve quote often)

    It is said that humanity has evolved one-sidedly, growing in technical power without any comparable growth in moral integrity, or, as some would prefer to say, without comparable progress in education and rational thinking. Yet the problem is more basic. The root of the matter is the way in which we feel and conceive ourselves as human beings, our sensation of being alive, of individual existence and identity. We suffer from a hallucination, from a false and distorted sensation of our own existence as living organisms- Most of us have the sensation that “I myself” is a separate center of feeling and action, living inside and bounded by the physical body–a center which “confronts an “external” world of people and things, making contact through the senses with a universe both alien and strange. Everyday figures of speech reflect this illusion. “I came into this world.” “You must face reality.” “The conquest of nature.”

    This feeling of being lonely and very temporary visitors in the universe is in flat contradiction to everything known about man (and all other living organisms) in the sciences. We do not “come into” this world; we come out of it, as leaves from a tree. As the ocean “waves,” the universe “peoples.” Every individual is an expression of the whole realm of nature, a unique action of the total universe. This fact is rarely, if ever, experienced by most individuals. Even those who know it to be true in theory do not sense or feel it, but continue to be aware of themselves as isolated “egos” inside bags of skin.

    The first result of this illusion is that our attitude to the world “outside” us is largely hostile. We are forever “conquering” nature, space, mountains, deserts, bacteria, and insects instead of learning to cooperate with them in a harmonious order. In America the great symbols of this conquest are the bulldozer and the rocket–the instrument that batters the hills into flat tracts for little boxes made of ticky-tacky and the great phallic projectile that blasts the sky. (Nonetheless, we have fine architects who know how to fit houses into hills without ruining the landscape, and astronomers who know that the earth is already way out in space, and that our first need for exploring other worlds is sensitive electronic instruments which, like our eyes, will bring the most distant objects into our own brains.)

    The hostile attitude of conquering nature ignores the basic interdependence of all things and events–that the world beyond the skin is actually an extension of our own bodies–and will end in destroying the very environment from which we emerge and upon which our whole life depends.

    –Alan Watts

    If we can learn to experience the world, life, as it really is instead of experiencing the hallucination, then we can evolve? Or have evolved? As many others have?

    Be pretty strange to attack things and people if we realized – no, if we knew and FELT – that they were us and that we were only attacking ourselves, wouldn’t it?

    • rb137 on March 14, 2009 at 4:09 pm

    We really are at a crossroads evolutionarily — the social traits humans selected for in the past are diametriacally opposed to the ones we need now. One example stated too simply: When the human population was lower, clans that could work together as an organized mob to fight off a threat prevailed. Today, mob mentality causes war.

    Hostility in some of its evolutionary guises is more likely to destroy us than save us now.  

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