Posted in essays, tagged Benny Thomas, civilization, essay, evolution, march of progress, parenting, slow lane, technology, Variable Speeds on January 3, 2013 |
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Evolution gave man a brain where nerve nets of jellyfish and brain of lizards served as the basis. These were set some 600 million years ago and our ape-ancestors who later peopled the earth did not have a brain that could be said as state of the art. It would take millennia in terms of evolutionary timescale a wink so to speak. So the civilization that we take pride in has been with a back up from many other species. Brain is still evolving and it shall indeed the case whether we colonize the moon or some super-earths some light years away. This being the case what prompted him to this grand vision of a civilized world? Tool making capacity determined man’s progress.
March of progress worked on two speeds. A solution based technology that took care of his specific needs and it allowed no delay. While his brain developed on the slow lane as with all events in evolutionary timescale he set about creating his world in his image. If our civilization has shown several cracks the blame for this must be in the variable speeds. It is more soulless mechanics of supply and demand, time and motion and many other exercises in futility that guide us. Consider how this has blighted our parenting skills? How shall not a man fail if his one leg were to shoot up faster than the other one? We seems blissfully unaware of our human side that needs time as a child requires time to mature. His brain develops quickly around three till he is six. But it would take some 20 years for all the brain circuits to be fixed. He is considered fully mature and responsible by the age of twenty. Technology has won us over to do its bidding and we aren’t even conscious what we have sacrificed to appease a monster. Our best part, our wealth in compassion and altruism is being chipped away steadily. All because we have failed to negotiate the two speeds that make up our existence. In missing the cue of variable speeds whatever we have touched has come with its downside. Man left arboreal living to build cities and also created slums and inner cities.
Consider man in relation to all other species. A shrew has heart beats so fast that a whale must consider it as impossible. Nature has allowed both to develop according to their biology and evolutionary demands. Nature of lions is affected by their physiology. So their predatory behavior has to account for it. With relatively small hearts and lungs they are not fast runners; a maximum speed of 60 kph, nor do they have the stamina to keep this pace for more than a 100 – 200m. As such, lions rely on stalking their prey and seldom charge until they are within 30m, unless the prey is facing away and cannot see the charge. Why did lions become the only sociable cat? Is it because they would have higher success rate if they hunted in groups?
Only man seems to have missed this curious fact. His inability to develop all round by his technology may be compensated by pooling life experience of all and old and present. If one were to look closely there is a running thread that makes us connected with our environment and all life forms. Instead we have degraded the earth all for profit. The very idea of things motivating man is derived from technology. As John Ruskin so eloquently puts it,’There is no wealth but life.’ Our reliance on technology is a case of progress being derailed. Technology is power; accumulation of material wealth by technology has created fragmentation of the world into different blocks. Wars had never been the solution but still man relies on it . Why? Both technology and war acts as one. It is a Geiger counter to detect and ferret out more wealth. This must explain the present human predicament.
Peter Pan never grew up. Perhaps he could serve as a timely warning, a metaphor: He shall grow old only in terms of exigencies of Nature. Never-never land is a place where nothing grows but according to the slow speed of evolution and he shall ever be vital and clear-eyed since he is in step to a different drummer than we do.
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Posted in culture, tagged animism, Benny Thomas, bipedalism, Catholic theology, conscious mind, doctrines, evolution, God der Fuehrer, liturgy, mixed bag, multiculturalism, religion,, state, transubstantiation, unconscious mind on July 17, 2012 |
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In my previous post Unequal Partnerships I mentioned how multiculturalism failed us. How can it not fail us since our very mind is shot through the Unconscious and Conscious Mind?
Think of human civilization as a structure. At the base we have the brain which is evolving still. When our ape ancestor parted from ape cousins it was not perfect,- and in evolutionary timescale 2.5 million years is not adequate. We became more adept that is all. Our short attention span and optimism etc; are still worrying points.
We have a window to look at how we were at the dawn of time. The fossil skull of ‘Taung child’ reveals a soft skull with larger cranial space for brain development. 2.5 million year old specimen also hints at a possibility that man would have set out on the strength of his bipedalism. At the same time ape specimens of the same period and man share a common characteristic: both could climb trees. Man’s dexterity for tools decided his decision to separate and go his own way. Rational decision it was since weighing two abilities his tool making capacity outweighed the advantage of climbing trees. Thus he opted for the plains than an arboreal existence.
He would at every turn allow his innovative skills to determine the next course. If foraging at all weathers was inconvenient he would settle down to farm. But Agriculture limited the marine food rich in nutrient he could exploit. Only drawback was that consequences of his many innovation woud have spread far while the innovation addressed only the specific need. All these while his brain was still evolving. His toolmaking was only one symptom of intelligence.
Human civilization as I said at the outset was based on his evolving mind and collective experience. Whether he learned to restructure his society or build up a belief-system it had to be on the collective experience of mankind.
If man would coin an idea ‘Deutscheland uber alles’ or God of Vengeance both were carved out of a mind imperfect. Hitler drew the German nation to come behind his banner with the promise of avenging the national shame. These rallies were orchestrated with music and pageantry, same as with the same religious fervor that the flagellants would walk on their knees, punishing their bodies with flail. These are all manifestations from the same source: the same dark regions of his subconscious translating from the collective experience of mankind. Only his rational mind would make doctrines, observances and recitations etc., Such rank tomfoolery would go on multiplying endlessly.
The State cannot escape it anymore than religion. Multiculturalism is our knock-kneed mind in sunday clothes.
Animism came before religion. Our human ancestors considered all objects are endowed with spirit. Trees, rivers, birds etc., Do we not follow the animism even now? When I am party to a contract how do I legalize it? My signature stands for me. Pure animism in modern clothes. When mass is elevated according to Catholic theology the bread is transformed into the body of Christ. Religion is rooted in Animism.
With such a mind that can trip us at every turn multiculturalism will continue to show surprises. So the watchword is Expect the Unexpected.
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Posted in philosophy, tagged anthropology, Benny Thomas, biology, cultures, emotions, evolution, fear, infanticide, religion,, violence on April 13, 2012 |
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First let me give opinions of an anthropologist and a biologist. ‘Our emotions make us unique
While human aggression is a naturally evolved phenomenon we have in common with other animals, the difference between human and animal violence comes down to the complexity of the emotion driving it, said Elizabeth Cashdan professor of Anthropology of Univ. of Utah in 2009.
Aggression in few animals goes beyond protecting one’s territory, mates, offspring and food — there is some evidence that domestic dogs and chimpanzees do hold grudges, said Carrier, a Biologist also from Univ. of Utah — but human violence has evolved to stem from less typical sources.
“Humans are unique in the complexity of their social relationships and their highly developed social intelligence. Revenge and spite are quintessential social emotions and so are not likely to be found in many, if any, other species,” she said.
“For example revenge killings, and the cultural institutions that support and restrain it,
shape human aggression in new ways,” said Cashdan. The intelligent reasoning that lets most of us override any innate desire to be violent also makes some people, such as parents that kill their children, as well as institutions justify violence illogically, experts say.
With our complex brain we splice frustration, fear for the future all the emotions violent and beautiful into shapes never thought possible. A chimpanzee can never commit hara-kiri a ceremony to wipe of dishonor. Whereas a man can flagellate for God or to show his intense sorrow for a dead saint.
Worry over the future
An understanding of the evolutionary roots of human aggression could help institutions make better policy decisions, according to experts.
“Evolution didn’t just shape us to be violent, or peaceful, it shaped us to respond flexibly, adaptively, to different circumstances, and to risk violence when it made adaptive sense to do so. We need to understand what those circumstances are if we want to change things,” said Cashdan.
Though conflicts like the ones that occurred in Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s may seem a distant memory, the tipping point between peace and that sort of violence is a finer line than we think, said Carrier.
“My personal opinion is that Western society, as a whole, is in mass denial about the magnitude of the problem that violence represents for the future”.
In a caste riddled Hindu society breaking rules of gotra the village elders may punish man and woman with death. If we consider such acts can only occur in a primitive society think of Grimmer of Texas, America.
Rachelle Grimmer, 38, pulled a gun on the welfare office supervisor, Roberto Reyes, and her two children out of her frustration at being denied food stamps. The office’s other employees were able to safely evacuate the building, according to the San Antonio Express.
A SWAT team surrounded the building, and officers communicated with Grimmer throughout the ordeal.
But at midnight — shortly after Grimmer hung up on police — three shots were fired, causing the police to storm the building.
(abc Good Morning America-7 Dec.2011)Frustration in progressive society is over future and in a primitive society is over the past. While we speak of superstition and ridiculous beliefs of the other cultures how we feel about future rely on the brain that is less than efficient. Our emotions we may shape into new forms but cannot escape the forces that bear upon the brain.
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THEODOSIUS DOBZHANSKY (1900 – 1975)
This Russian scientist came to the U.S. as a student and chose to remain there when the spurious environmental doctrines of Lysanko became the communist dogma under the Stalin’s regime. He began his research on the fruit fly ‘Drosophila’ but soon became interested in the evolution of human populations. This led him to a study of race and later to the attempt ‘to understand mankind as a product of evolution and as an evolving whole’. In 1959 he was invited to deliver the Silliman lectures at the Columbia University, which formed the basis of ‘Mankind Evolving’. He stressed that the most important point of Darwin’s evolutionary theory had been missed – man not only has evolved but is still evolving. He argued that man, by changing the world, changed also himself both culturally and physically. He saw in this the hope that changes resulting from knowledge could also be directed by knowledge. ‘Evolution need no longer be a destiny imposed from without. It may concievably be controlled by man’. He is best known for works such as Genetic diversity and Human Equality and Heredity and the Nature of Man. His ‘Mankind Evolving’ has been dubbed the most judicious scientific treatis ever written on the nature of man.
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OUT OF AFRICA ©
A homo erectus as soon as he could walk on his two feet, called all those belonged to his group and said: “ Don’t think me rude, fellows. I find walking on all fours is unworthy of me. I intend to walk as far as I could go.”
“Must you leave Three Forks for some barren rocks?”one asked with some heavy gestures that made him shut his eyes. They were an impossible lot. He gesticulated in some fluid motions that showed how clever and articulate he was. It had its desired effect. They certainly watched it as if they were witnessing a conjuror’s trick.
Before they could gather their wits about, he added:
“ I don’t think I shall find another as accomplished as I am.” To prove it he wiggled his ears and clicked his tongue which made the apes bite the dust, literally.
Thus our hero set out from jungle onto the plains. The savannah stretched before him as far as his eyes could see. He walked on for days. All the while he was perfecting his gait and wiping carefully all that clung to him from his past. Seasons sped by. He could not believe that he once swung from trees or growled in anger and scratched his peers in submission. Looking back he winced at this bit of recollection: “ They thought only of fleas, but I was being circumspect.” His thinking also got a bit fancy. He walked like a hero and spoke like one. His speech though it was still clicking his teeth in some complex pattern clinched his self confidence. He smiled at the thought of flooring other apes with his newly acquired vocabulary.
As our homo erectus entered the hill country, he saw a group of apes. Since it was an alien country he shammed friendliness and acted like an idiot. He wanted to talk and walk like the way they did. He did not want to invite trouble. But for all his pains to be one like them he was hooted at.
The apes at the Barren Rocks saw our homo erectus and laughed at his clumsy ways to communicate. “ He is a bit slow, never mind,” the chief said. Turning to the stranger he said encouragingly, “ now try again” Homo erectus with difficulty managed to ask for directions and he was shown a trail. He took it. He was happy to have got out unharmed.”I did fool them. Didn’t I,” mused our hero while those apes were going bananas, recalling how slow witted he was to get his meaning across. Our hero could not have cared less.
He continued with his walk. Unknown to him he was being followed. He walked steadily now till a ear- deafening waterfall checked his progress. The rocky outcrop, top of which was hidden in clouds, seemed insurmountable. “ Did I come all the way to be turned back by this?” It was a trying moment for him.
He was tired.” After resting a while I shall think of a way.” He slept hard and long. He thought it was a dream. But those apes seemed too real. He felt as if they were pointing to him and talking rather dismissively of him. One ape said,” He cannot keep this any longer!. He has to admit failure and come back to us.” The other merely said. “ Harrrumpf!”
The first one asked again,” Should we accept him again, if he agrees to return to our group?” The other did not answer. Curiously homo erectus peeked at them. It was no dream. He saw his chief from Three Forks as large as a bad dream. He remained still as he were fast asleep. Because of the background noise he had to listen very closely. The chief spoke or rather shouted, “ Take him back? Only after I lectured him on his folly”. After a pause he added, “ I have a nice line to crush him once for all!”
“ Do tell, chief!”
“ Pride goes before a fall.”
Homo erectus could by the waning moonlight see them grinning ear to ear. More was his resolve to get on with his journey and find new lands to conquer.
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Representational dispensation when transcribed in secular idiom works differently. Nature has a way of balancing the disproportionate demand by life forms collectively on her resources. Natural calamities and wars are all part of her game plan. Take the case of Santorini island. ‘The island is the site of one of the largest volcanic eruptions the planet has ever seen: the Minoan eruption (sometimes called the Thera eruption), which occurred some 3,600 years ago at the height of the Minoan civilization may have led indirectly to the collapse of the Minoan civilization on the island of Crete’.(ack:wikipedia) This could have led to the flowering of language, arts and crafts in the Greek Mainland. A cosmic impact may wipe off the dinosaurs but it is a push for species who are precariously trying to get a foothold in the evolutionary ladder. Thus Oneness of Things sees to spread the good and evil alike. In 2006 Israel engaged their troops to fight Hizbollah who were holed up in Lebanon. While many were shedding tears for the Lebanese civilians who are caught up in the war there was a little known matter of some 20000 Filipino girls who were stuck there. These girls from poor families were promised higher pay by their Lebanese /Arab masters and when they were brought in their papers and passports had been confiscated. But for the war these maids would have been continuing as slaves. The war at least liberated these maids from their wretched lot to find their way back home. War by itself is despicable manifestation of greed and ambition but if this conflict could bring about relief to those who are subject to unmitigated horror of slavery as described above let us not waste our tears for the ways of Oneness of Things.
In one of my earlier posts ( Love makes the World Go round- Dec8,’08) the analogy of pollutants being carried around by tides is apt in case of our lives. Human civilization is like man made effluent.
We benefit from several areas as marine birds, bivalves do and how we put our strengths to use also differ. Since Oneness of Things is impartial in letting the results, both good and bad in human civilization, to spread around no one can conclude that Oneness is unjust to allow what we consider as an evil to live on.
If one finds evil has crept in what he or she holds as dear it is the duty of that person to do whatever in his or her power to fight it. Sympathy from one who has allowed knowingly evil to prosper (by silence) is from the lips and does not go any deeper.
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