Our Deepest Nature
to pursue pleasure and avoid pain
to grow, expand, and reproduce
to seek more abundant life
and to cheat death
the highest glory
Is Built Into Our Muscle, Blood, and Bone
not only on the molecular and cellular levels
but by implication, inference, and insight
on the sub-atomic and astrophysical levels as well
Five million years ago post-ape pre-man comes out of the forest and begins to stand erect so that he may watch for danger, in the process he frees his hands from walking to carry food, use tools, and communicate. He gathers food from the ground, hunts insects and small game, and scavenges. He learns to fashion higher quality tools from appropriate rock for which he searches miles, takes home and crafts and uses repeatedly over time. At four foot tall and seventy pounds, with a fist sized brain, he had no great size or strength, no horns, claws, or fangs - yet he was able to compete favorably with the big cats, the dominant predators.
After about three million years man evolves a bigger brain and body - though physically he is about as big as us - his brain is only aboout half the size of ours. He begins to experiment with speech, culture, and social organization. The growth of man's brain accelerates, his language becomes more articulate, he controls fire and cooks food and his stone tools and weapons are of ever higher quality. He strives to understand and explain life and explore his world.
About a million years ago the growth rate of the human brain exploded until it reached its present size a hundred thousand years ago. Human behavior became less instinctivce and more adaptable to changing conditions and more adept at exploiting resources - undoubtedly due to the greater number of brain cells.
More brain cells allows better memory capacity and more complex mental circuits necessary for learning, storing, and communicating knowledge. The individual who demonstrated better ingenuity, improvisaton, imagination, and invention - the individual who could best think - was selected by nature to live longer and reproduce more.
With environmental pressures and increasing brain size, mental activity exploded, becoming more powerful and influential in the world and at the same time more subtle and refined in its machinations. Through thought - the storing of ever greater numbers of images, for greater lengths of time and recalling the images with greater speed, accuracy, and relevance, and the establishment of corresponding sounds - language - symbols not only for people, things, and events but also for desires, emotions, measurments, predictions, and plans concerning the future, detections of pattern and comparisons of quality and all mannner of ideas - the mind of man begins to replace dna as the determinate of human evolution.
Knowledge became the primary premium resource available to humans. Culture took over evolution from nature. We began to evolve, at an explosive pace, better and better survival skills from learning and sharing knoledge within the familly and tribe from generation to generation rather than through reproductive variations or genetic recombinations or mutations that take at least hundreds of thousnds of years. Cultural selection is what is at work in the world now. The mechanics and techniques of cultural selection (which are basically the same as natural selection only faster and more powerful) maybe nearing the end of their contribution to the progression of evolution. Pure perception may cut to the core of what makes for the best in life rather than the trial and error process of thought.
culture is information
-social and technological-
shared and used
information is a mental process
an electtrochemical process of brain cells
a memory is a specific neural firing pattern
the whole of thought is memory
and variations thereof
In its primal essence thought is memory, an electrochemical process of brain cells, images and ideas stored in the brain, neural firing patterns. Memory can be attributed to matter and energy following the laws of physics and the memory stored in a strand of dna is cosmic in proportion. Memory is the primal tool of replication. The dna re-members itself and how it came to be and that memory is the course its life follows. In this sense dna is simply a form of memory.
Nature selected first, memories that avoided death longer and that reproduced more often with greater accuracy. The competition became more stiff and survival machines were built by dna. It is here, from the cellular level on up, that the avoidance of death becomes more drammatic. It has been observed in the simplest forms of life and becomes more blatantly obvious the more sophisticated the nervous system - "nature red in tooth and claw" - the primal memory for avoiding death, the animal instinct for survival translated as human emotion - FEAR.
This primal fear is built into all life as a simple mechanism for sensing and responding to life threats. It is the "animal instinct" built into our brain. This is the hardware - and of course the software - knowledge, tradition, culture, belief - is designed to fit the hardware. The codes that the brains programs are written in is language - gesture, sound, speech, syntax. Thinking and language evolved together. Language sharpened and clarified thought. The more precisely defined our description of the world, the greater the pontential for our manipulation and exploitation of the environment. Our desires, instincts, and emotions remain essentially the same as our pre-civilized ancestors. What sets us apart is the product of thought.
the machine of perception
the biological computer
the human brain
Our senses are the means by which we interact with the world.
Without the input provided by our senses,
we have no basis for the response necessary to meet our needs.
The human brain uses stored sensse perceptions
as the fundamental response tool of survival.
Prior to an ability to order the thinking process
through specific symbols,
whether visual, auditory, mental, or otherwise -
an initial focal point for the bundle of sense perceptions
both stored and immediate-
the basis on which to store and retrieve memory,
the pivot on which to anchor belief,
the fulcrum upon which to weigh choice,
the foundation upon which to base distinctions -
coalesced into an intensely potent
psychic, physical, social phenomena of the human brain -
me, myself, and I
This "I" is the first discreet, concrete movement of thought - all thought is simply an extension of this initial movement.
The First Division
Ok. Let's be clear what we're talkin' 'bout.
Its like pre-man was not quite conscious. His behavior was motivated entirely by glandular secretions and instinct. The increased number of brain cells in the seat of the senses - the mind of man - following its biological imperative, began to reach out and pay an intense attention to the whole of life. The energy generated by the full blown human sensory apparatus - our entire nervous system - coalescing and concentrating in the brain cells - sends those neurons firing out of control, beyond their boundaries of basic survival patterns.
This is the birth of the sense of self and with the sense of self arose the world as an object of perception, manipulation, and organization. this is the birth of our human semi-consciousness.
in the beginning was the word
specifying and ordering thought
identifying and symbolizing
people, things, and events
by way of division
The translation of perception into symbol is division.
The initial division necessary
for and symbolic representation
of any aspect of the world
is between the self and the world
Me here and the world there.
Its like "this" and like "that"
This is the structure and function of the machine of dvision.
- "I" -
dividing "me" from the environment
sets the stage
for the division of the world
allowing "me" to act in the world
from a dimension beyond
the glandular, instictive animal reaction
the Human Brain and its Thought Processes
Born of the Fear of Death