[Paleopsych] grappling w/EP

Alice Andrews aandrews at hvc.rr.com
Fri Oct 29 17:06:50 UTC 2004

Yes...thank you, David...That's kind of how I've been understanding it, too.
Agonic and hedonic archetypal modes (Chance, 1970)...etc. But 2 questions
about that still remain for me.
1. From an essay of mine in Entelechy:

Here are several 'truths' about human nature that many people feel and see,
but have been told (by some) are not true, from Pinker's TBS. It comes from
a long list of 'discoveries' about human nature that he believes makes
unlikely "the Utopian Vision that human nature might radically change in
some imagined society of the remote future." (I'm a tad more optimistic than
"The universality of dominance and violence across human societies...and the
existence of genetic and neurological mechanisms that underlie it....The
partial heritability of intelligence, conscientiousness, and antisocial
tendencies, implying that some degree of inequality will arise even in
perfectly fair economic systems, and that we therefore face an inherent
trade-off between equality and freedom....The biases of the human moral
sense, including a preference for kin and friends, a susceptibility to a
taboo mentality, and a tendency to confuse morality with conformity, rank,
cleanliness, and beauty.") (p.294)


In some sense, what would it matter to say our human nature was both
hierarchical and nonhierarchical? That's why I want to be more
specific...When we speak of human nature it is usually about something that
is polarized...And often it is something on the dark side. "Man's nature is
to be dominant and violent." But that's why I'm kind of feeling like I want
to be rescued from the language of 'human nature' because it's too
simplistic and it's starting to confuse issues for me. That's why I'd like
to start thinking again in terms of our multilayers...The agonic system is
300 m years old, the hedonic a lot newer, just as you mention.

2. In regards to that, though...My very romantic side wants to argue that
before the reptilian agonic dominant aggressive mode, there was the
'spiritual' all-oneness mode...

So it would have gone something like...

Pre-reptiles (beginning of reptiles) --nonhierarchical (in genome)

Reptiles and hominids--hierarchical

EEA cousins-- nonheirarchical, AND hierarchical

mod homo sap sap--hierarchical and nonhierarchical

Anyway, I'm still grappling...but thanks for entertaining my thoughts...


----- Original Message ----- 
From: "David Smith" <dsmith06 at maine.rr.com>
To: "The new improved paleopsych list" <paleopsych at paleopsych.org>
Sent: Thursday, October 28, 2004 10:43 PM
Subject: Re: [Paleopsych] grappling w/EP

> Alice
> As I understand it (drawing on the work of Christopher Boehm) our common
> ancestor with the chimpanzee was, in all likelihood, heavily into
> hierarchies.  Our stone age ancesestors, like nomadic hunter-gatherers
> today, opposed dominance by deploying a counter-dominance strategy (the
> whole group opposes any individual who tries to throw his weight around).
> With the advent of a more settled life-style, and especially agriculture,
> reverted to ancient, despotic, chimpanzee-like ways.  So, I guess that
> would imply what we have the potential for dominance-hierarchies and
> counterdominant anti-hierarchies.
> David
> ----- Original Message ----- 
> From: "Alice Andrews" <aandrews at hvc.rr.com>
> To: "The new improved paleopsych list" <paleopsych at paleopsych.org>
> Sent: Thursday, October 28, 2004 10:05 PM
> Subject: [Paleopsych] grappling w/EP
> > Hi Paleo people,
> >
> > I have an EPish question which I can't seem to wrap my Floresian-sized
> brain
> > around...And hoping someone out there has some thoughts...
> > In terms of evolved psychological mechanisms/innate releasing mechanisms
> > (IRMs) and manifest behavior or traits...etc...I would like to be able
> > argue for a universal human nature, even in the face of huge individual
> > differences...
> >
> > However, say I wanted to argue that, along with our hierarchical nature,
> we
> > also have the capacity to be nonhierarchical. Now, right there it almost
> > sounds nonsensical to say it is our human nature to be hierarchical but
> that
> > we have the capacity  not to be that way.
> > But I do understand Cosmides, I think, and I'm willing to view it as an
> > epigenetic structure that can be turned up/on, or not, that there's
> > human variabilty, IRMs, etc...
> >
> > However, it seems to me, that we'd be better off talking about
> > multi-phylogenetic modes [along lines of (tri) MacLean or (quad) Jim
> Henry]
> > or even a bi-human nature...rather than uni. Homo sap's hierarchical
> > (Appolinian) is probably a lot newer than homo sap's
> > spiritual/connected-to-everything-feeling/nonhierarchical mode
> > (Dionysian)--which must represent, phylogentically, something older, not
> > more primitive-- even though we think of the hierarchical mode as being
> more
> > primitive and the connected/spiritual as being more 'evolved'...
> >
> > (Or binary human nature: in terms of left brain/right brain;
> agonic/hedonic;
> > reason/emotion, ad infinitum.)
> >
> > But getting to question:
> > I realize EP and behavior genetics are at odds sometimes...but...I've
> > known about the possibility of a belief-in-god module. From my novel,
> Trine
> > Erotic (2002):
> >
> >
> > She suspected these romantic, fate thoughts they both had were
> > for a reason. That there had to be some kind of belief-in-fate module, a
> > mental organ in the brain, just as there is a belief-in-God module. Some
> > people's are "set" very high. Others don't even have them. Perhaps this
> fate
> > module was even close to the God module, some kind of Belief area, maybe
> > near the amygdala or hypothalamus.
> >
> >
> >
> >
> >
> > And now it looks like that they've found the genes controlling spiritual
> > 'feeling'...And my suspicion that some people have and some don't,
> > to be true. Now, that doesn't mean that someone who doesn't have all the
> > genes that might make someone feel spiritual naturally, can't get to
> > place. But it would probably take concerted effort...lots and lots of
> > meditation and will, and indoctrination, and mushrooms, etc. And then
> still,
> > it may not be the same thing as the natural 'Dionysian' man...not even
> > close.
> >
> >
> >
> > So... how would the universal human nature argument proceed? We all have
> > psych evolved mechs/structure to feel connected/ spiritual, (Dionysian)
> > etc...??????
> >
> >
> >
> > But...again...What about people who don't feel this way and don't have
> these
> > genes? Do they have this potential/structure? What does that look like?
> >
> >
> >
> > If nonspirituals (Appolinian types) don't have genes that seem to carry
> such
> > a disposition and their brains don't appear to reflect it either...How
> > we say it is there for everyone? Especially when, despite powerful
> > like models (parents), school, peers, society, some people have no
> spiritual
> > feeling or religiosity, etc etc. And the reverse is also true.
> >
> >
> >
> > Is it that the 'spiritual' program isn't universal, because even the
> > environment doesn't seem to be able to kick it in...? Or that it is a
> > of universal human nature, because if it's not there innately, it IS
> > possible for people to feel such feelings given the right set of
> > circumstances?
> >
> >
> >
> > Is it semantic and political? If we say there's no universal human
> > but then make nativist claims here and there, do we get closer to
> right-wing
> > ideology and behavior genetics?
> >
> >
> >
> >
> >
> > Uni-human Nature versus Bi-human nature
> >
> >
> >
> > I'm thinking we have two choices--but we can choose both if we want:
> >
> > 1.We can say here is human nature warts and all and it's taken millions
> > years of mother nature's 'fine-tuning' to get it where it is and it's
> > likely to change in any dramatic way anytime soon, so let's, with our
> > knowledge and understanding of who we are and where we came from, try to
> > change (as some EPists suggest), our environment, to make it more
> compatible
> > with our hunter-gatherer minds. (eg, focus on creating more cohesive
> > communities and less fractured alienated ones, much like EEA tribes. )
> This
> > is the practical, pragmatic, active approach. The idea would be to try
> > create a world that by and large helps to activate certain
> modules/programs.
> > However, this could sound, to some, like on the path to right-wing
> ideology
> > or whacky Luddite utopia..But it doesn't have to be either.
> >
> > We needn't not be realistic nor give up freedoms and individual rights
> > choice. Freedom and individual rights trump the notion that there may be
> an
> > inherent, archetypal, mother-father system, say. If we maintain as the
> > ultimate goal, though, the pursuit and experience of happiness, then
> > ways will not only be tolerated, but embraced and supported. What the
> > project in this case would do would be to try to support people's innate
> > archetypal goals and programs.
> >
> >
> >
> > 2. And/or we can take the more existential, romantic, transcendental,
> > dualistic route and say, one of human nature's features is that it is
> > binary. Reason and passion, Id and Superego, reptilian brain and
> neocortex,
> > feeling and thought, left-brain and right brain, head and heart,
> > and Appolinian, agonic and hedonic, hierarchical versus affiliative,
> > instinct and rationality, animalness and godliness, nature and culture,
> > individualistic/separate-feeling vs communitarian/connected- feeling.I
> could
> > go on. We are every bit of one as we are the other. And we can choose to
> act
> > on instinct or not. When we are hit, we can choose, through thinking
> first,
> > whether we wish to do what feels good (limbically and reptiliany) and
> >  "right"--which is, generally, to hit back. Our prefrontal lobes give us
> the
> > gift of not hitting back, running away, or freezing. We can reason, we
> > ask why, we can negotiate, we can forgive. The proliferation is the West
> of
> > the Eastern traditions, philosophies, spiritualities (by way of prayer,
> > meditation, yoga, belief, etc.) in the past 3 decades attests to our
> > yearning for this way of being...
> >
> >
> >
> > Sorry if this isn't more clear...I welcome your thoughts...
> >
> >
> >
> > Cheers,
> >
> > Alice
> >
> >
> >
> >
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