Evolution has not prepared us for this

coberst
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Evolution has not prepared us for this

Post by coberst »

Evolution has not prepared us for this

Humans are animals with self-consciousness. This self-consciousness may show it self to some small degree in other animals but this capacity for self-consciousness makes our species different in kind from other animals and this difference makes all the difference in the world.

Natural evolution produced the human species but there is more than a degree of difference between humans and other animals; there is a difference in kind between us and our animal cousins.

All other animals are creatures of naïve action determined strictly by emotions, i.e. instinct that is obeyed by non reflective programmed action. Humans however are aided or hindered, depending upon the situation, by self knowledge.

Otto Rank informs us that for man “knowledge about himself interferes with naïve action, restrains him and torments without affording him the satisfaction and liberation which the deed grants. He cannot accomplish through action any more because he thinks, because he knows too much. Now man longs for naïve unconsciousness as a source of happiness.”

Evolution by natural selection depends upon naïve preprogrammed action; without this form of unmitigated action natural selection can no longer be a significant factor in human development. Through “too much self-knowledge” we are restricted in our actions. However, through this capacity for abstract thinking, we have a creative side.

Knowing can be a substitute for living; itself a form of experiencing. Human will, resulting from self-knowledge, is the cause of an equal and negative deficit. The active hero resulting from self-knowledge can come to grief because s/he lacks the knowledge of the results of action. The passive individual cannot act because of self-knowledge restricting the will thus developing a feeling of guilt.

“The artist solves it for himself and others since he transposes the will affirmation creatively into knowledge, that is, expresses his will spiritually and changes the unavoidable guilt into ethical ideal formation, which spurs him on and qualifies him for ever higher performance in terms of self-development.”

Quotes from Truth and Reality by Otto Rank
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DrLeftover
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Evolution has not prepared us for this

Post by DrLeftover »

I could not disagree more, and I hope I'm not the only one here that can express disagreement in reasonable terms and define my emotional response in those terms and express same in words, whether or not evolution prepared me for it, approves of the use of it, or even cares.

Yes, we are self aware and somewhat intelligent as well. As are certain great apes, elephants, whales, and perhaps Congressmen although that is still debatable.

We have not only evolved to think, we have evolved to communicate those thoughts in meaningful ways, over time and distance, to others. Other animals communicate in various ways, but most of those are for immediate needs or dangers. To wit, "the predator is over there", "the food is over here", "Watch out, Doc is here fishing today, stay under the logs."

The difference is that while we also communicate those thoughts, we can also think in abstract terms, and communicate those as well.

I do not "long for naive unconsciousness", that entire idea is absurd, for to do so would be to return to the state of being an infant who is barely aware that they are alive. They are the passive individual. Things are done TO them, and to some degree, FOR Them. The infant has no choice in the matter, they can cry, but does not significantly change their circumstance.

Adults can change their circumstance by direct action and force of will. Artist or no. They have self knowledge and self awareness. They know what skills they possess or do not possess. The dockworker knows how to operate a forklift, for him to go attempt to fly a jet aircraft would be futile and possibly fatal. He can retrain to learn to fly, just as there is at least one race car driver that wants to be an FBI agent, such as thing is possible because they are conscious, have intellect, and can communicate such desires. And equally importantly while attending law enforcement classes or going to flight school, they can understand that which is being communicated to them and take action on it and then retain said instruction until it is required in the future.

Yes, you may argue, you can train a dog. But even a smart dog is at the level of a bright toddler. Lassie movies aside, you cannot teach a dog to drive a forklift no matter how hard you try.

We have changed our evolutionary forecast through the use of our intellect and the technology it has given rise to. It is no longer the strong and quick that survive and thrive. That may hurt our gene pool on the physical side of things, but it has given rise to those that are intellectually superior rising to the top of our society and enabling their offspring to do better than those who do not have such gifts, or those who may be gifted, but choose not to use them for whatever reason.

Yes, we may come to grief. It is part of the human condition and it is that intellect that recognizes the condition of 'grief'. One incapable of being grief stricken is probably a mental deficient, or some version of a sociopath. Anybody else will not only have recognize the state, they have probably experienced some aspect of it, and if they are sane, would not chose to voluntarily place themselves in that position again.

To summarize.... Otto Rank may have a point, but I think that he... like Freud, was trying to explain some weirdness he had observed in his own personality or situation and then generalized it out to the larger population.
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Royd Fissure
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Evolution has not prepared us for this

Post by Royd Fissure »

Evolution, as far as I know anyway, isn't about preparing us for anything, it's to do with adaptation and fitness. Knowledge - which is possible because of self-awareness which itself is a product of our superior brain - is a human artifact, our means of storing knowledge and communicating it marks us out from other animals. Although having said that, there is some evidence of generational transmission of knowledge (and even transmission of knowledge across distance) in Japanese Macaque monkeys.
coberst
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Evolution has not prepared us for this

Post by coberst »

DrLeftover

I agree with your statement “The difference is that while we also communicate those thoughts, we can also think in abstract terms, and communicate those as well.” Therein lay the difference in kind between the human animal and all other animals. We can think abstractly and the other animals cannot. This abstract thinking makes self-consciousness possible as well as language, as well as most of the entities in our life for which we live, die, and kill for.

You say that “I do not "long for naive unconsciousness"”. Otto Rank studies the will, born of self-consciousness, which makes you deny such things just as the unconscious desire to hide from reality that is so prevalent in the human species.

Richard Feynman the physicist and Otto Rank the psychoanalyst, both now deceased, provide to the lay person books that can help us accomplish what Socrates advised us to do when he said “the unexamined life is not worth living” and “know thyself”. Feynman was a theoretical physicist and professor of physics at MIT gave to his students the following description of what all science is about:

“We can imagine that this complicated array of moving things which constitutes “the world” is something like a great chess game being played by the gods, and we are observers of the game. We do not know what the rules of the game are; all we are allowed to do is to watch the playing. Of course, if we watch long enough, we may eventually catch on to a few of the rules. The rules of the game are what we mean by fundamental physics. Even if we know every rule, however…what we really can explain in terms of those rules is very limited, because almost all situations are so enormously complicated that we cannot follow the plays of the game using the rules, much less tell what is going to happen next. We must, therefore, limit ourselves to the more basic question of the rules of the game. If we know the rules, we consider that we “understand” the world.”
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DrLeftover
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Evolution has not prepared us for this

Post by DrLeftover »

I find the fact that we, as a species, can study something which in and of itself can barely be defined, and, as yet, cannot be measured, weighed, put in a mass spectrometer, or under a microscope.... the conscious mind, the native intelligence thereof, and even whether or not it contains a soul, proof that we are fundamentally different from animals.

Since the beginning of anything that resembles human civilization, PEOPLE have been aware of their own existence, and the transience thereof, and that they were different from animals. I don't think that awareness can be explained by any evolutionary theory. Is there a "survival of the fittest" advantage to a concept of eternity or an awareness of ones own place in the cosmos?

Equally, those same primitives, while scratching an existence out of the tundra, also had a belief in a hereafter and perhaps even a concept of a GOD or gods. Explain that with evolution.

I also find it comforting that we can debate such a thing intelligently without anybody hitting the "flame on" button.

Thank you for that.
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