From: "Dr. Dale" <>
Subject: Re: Fragments of an Anarchist Anthropology [book review]
Date: Fri, 5 May 2006 01:59:46 -0400
To: <>

What should be done, ultimately, is based on a principle that goes
deep.  It's not evolutionary psychology, it's not its parent
science --primatology.  It's not the even more general science of
zoology.  Rather, it's a principle of biology:

"Every organism is optimally expressed in the environment that
originally shaped it."

This is the strongest foundation for the "noble savage" idea that
has been so lambasted in recent times.  Actually, the "noble
savage" is true.  It only needs to be expressed a bit more
precisely:   better to say the "optimal hunter-gatherer".

If every organism is optimally expressed within the environment
that originally shaped it; and if the environment that originally
shaped humankind ---i.e. the "human wild environment" of millennia
within a nomadic extended family; well then it follows that our
optimal psychology was expressed within that original environment
---i.e. the "optimal hunter-gatherer"/"noble savage".

As deWaal has said (whether or not he realized his conclusion was
based on this logical syllogism based on biological principle):

"To the extent that we can remodel our societies after the
original hunter-gatherer models, we will find ourselves much
better off" (or words to that effect ---I can't remember the exact
quote I sent you before from "Our Inner Ape")

We approach our optimal happiness to the extend we reconnect with
our ancient roots.  Until then, our societies are ships drifting
without a rudder.  Evolutionary psychology provides the "rudder"
to find our way back ---to tap into the past while we move toward
the future.

Did I ever send you my "advertisement" for the vast significance
of Evolutionary Psychology's birth?  I decided to attach it.  It
seems "way over the top", but actually the logic is quite
compelling --I think.  (Let me know of any statement not supported
by the statements preceding it ---I can always try to hone the
argument even more of the argument turns out to have a weak link.)



Did the Most Important Secular Event in All of Human History Occur
at the Dawn of the Current Millennium?

(And What Are Its Profound Spiritual Implications)


The most basic and universal of all questions asked by humankind
is the following:  "Who am I?" or, perhaps, rephrased more
descriptively, "As I look around and see the broad field of
experience, where do I fit within the scheme of things?"  It is
clear that, in order to gain understanding of self, one must look
at his relation to all things outside himself ---the context of
his existence.  This is more simply demonstrated by analogy with
the far simpler challenge of putting together a puzzle as a game
for one's own amusement.  

If one has a particular puzzle piece that happens to have a
confusing conglomeration of colors and shapes; some red, some
blue, etc.; it is very hard to see where it fits within the larger
scheme of the puzzle.  Likewise, it is hard for the puzzle that is
man to figure out where he fits in the larger scheme of things.
The solution in both cases is to, first, study and piece together
the overall context.  In the case of the puzzle piece, this means
one must complete the rest of the puzzle.  He then discovers, for
example, that the red contained in his puzzle piece relates to the
barn that happened to be part of the pastoral image of the larger
puzzle; and that the blue part of his piece goes with the brook
that was running alongside the barn.  Suddenly the puzzle piece
makes sense and the puzzle maker is cognizant of what it all means
and how the piece naturally fits within the larger scheme of the

In the case of humankind, at some subliminal level primal man
realized that, if he can learn to make sense of everything outside
himself, he just might be able to better understand where he fits
within the whole and, thus, answer the primal question: "Who am
I?".  Man began to study his world deeply and precisely.  He
learned how to create primitive tools, how to control fire, how
the wheel could drastically improve human efficiency, etc.  Over
time, the deep study and manipulation of the material world became
the province of science.  Natural Science has, since its
inception, been primarily concerned with the full understanding of
everything perceived by the human mind "on the outside".  And it
has done a wonderful job in giving us this deep understanding of
everything we see and experience.  As we might gaze around any
room in our own home, it should be of no surprise that almost
every object we see is a product of one of the breakthroughs of
modern science.  Indeed, natural science has even been able to get
us to the moon.

Signified by the discovery of the scientific method by the 17th
Century philosopher, Sir Francis Bacon, the birth of natural
science has been seen by many as the most important event in human
history.  However, it must be remembered that the entire human
journey that is modern science began with the primal question "Who
am I?", and that, despite all the fruits flowing from scientific
theory and research, this journey can only find its completion as
it reflects back and offers some deep insight on this primary
question.  The preceding way of evaluating scientific progress is
shared by one of the great "geniuses" who laid the foundation of
quantum mechanics (as the deepest of all scientific theories now
defining our reality).  As stated by physicist Erwin Schrodinger:

I consider science an integrating part of our endeavor to answer
the one great philosophical question which embraces all others...
who are we? And more than that: I consider this not only one of
the tasks, but the task of science, the only one that really
counts [italics in original] (Schrodinger 1951, 51)

More pointedly, since the focus of natural science has always been
on everything outside of us, it has been able to give us little
guidance in our quest to achieve some measure of personal
happiness.  In a sense, this fact can be recognized as the great
failure of natural science.

But this failure is soon to be rectified.  Few of us now living
would say we were present at the birth of a new natural science.
The originating theories founding physics, chemistry, biology,
zoology, etc. are all now a part of our distant past.  Despite
this fact, our conclusion turns out to be wrong.  It should be
profoundly significant to us all that we are now bearing witness
to the birth of a new natural science.  This would, seemingly, be
enough for us to fathom at one sitting.  But the truth is much
more staggering.  As will be explained shortly, we are now bearing
witness to the birth of the science which is both the pinnacle and
culmination of all natural science.


(Reflecting the End of Humankind Misconceived as Separate from

Although Evolutionary Psychology sounds as if it were just another
branch of the tree of psychology, this is not the case.  It
actually declares itself as "the trunk" -the new theoretical
foundation for all of psychology.  Ironically, when EP is finally
recognized as furnishing the basis of all valid psychology, it
will inevitably cease to exist.  "In the future, the study of
human psychology will be completely transformed by the Darwinian won't be called `Evolutionary Psychology'.  It will
just be called `psychology'." (Evans and Zarate 1999, 169).  In a
demonstration of the vast implications of the new science, it
single-handedly obliterates the category of the "Human Sciences"
as somehow standing separate and apart from the rest of natural
science.  For Evolutionary Psychology is the first "natural
science of psychology", thus uniting psychology to the rest of the
natural science chain.  For a century at least we have recognized
that human beings are animals and, more precisely, primates.
Evolutionary Psychology just follows this insight to its powerful
conclusion.  As such, Evolutionary Psychology is appropriately
placed within the natural science chain as a branch of

Although this recognition is perhaps somewhat unsettling at first,
the deeper implication is a very positive one.  Human beings can
no longer conceive of themselves as existing in some privileged
state above and beyond the rest of the natural environment.
Evolutionary Psychology demands that we fully accept that humans
are part of nature, and that, correspondingly, human science is a
part of natural science.  Furthermore, every human being must
recognize his deep attachment to the rest of the natural
environment and his deep responsibility for preserving the natural
home of all plants and animals ---profoundly, because he is one of
the animals!

But lest the placing of Evolutionary Psychology within the
category of primatology might seem a "demotion" in status to all
of humanity, it is highly elevating to recognize, as earlier
stated, that Evolutionary Psychology is deemed both the pinnacle
and culmination of all of natural science.  The general
recognition of the great importance of human psychology was noted
years ago by the great Bertrand Russell.  He concluded that, since
psychology is the science that embraces the whole of human
experience, it is clear that all subjects are therefore within its
scope.  Despite the importance of each scientific discipline, they
can be viewed, in essence, as furnishing the foundation for
psychology which, as the science of human thought and behavior,
must be recognized as the most relevant to human beings and,
correspondingly, the most likely to change our life experience for
the better.  Yet the conclusions of traditional normative
psychology have always been somewhat less than satisfying.  Unless
psychology could finally "graduate" to the status of a pure
natural science, its grand potential could never be realized.  But
now, upon the birth of Evolutionary Psychology, such has finally

With the birth of Evolutionary Psychology, our appreciation for
the science will continue to grow to heights beyond our wildest
imaginations.  Analogous to the present "world-changing" event
(but certainly less so in significance) was the historic
transition from "alchemy" to "chemistry.  Once a discipline
becomes a natural science, it will continue to develop in its
sophistication, but it will never be replaced.  Thus, although
chemistry replaced alchemy, nothing will ever replace chemistry.
Likewise, the birth of natural science psychology has now occurred
and no further transition will ever be necessary.  Evolutionary
Psychology is here to stay.

evolutionary psychology as the pinnacle of all Natural Science

To diagram how Evolutionary Psychology is at the pinnacle of
natural science, it is first required that conceptualize natural
science as forming a vast pyramid of knowledge.  At the base of
the pyramid is physics, the foundation of all of natural science.
Perhaps the only science equally profound in its implications to
that of Evolutionary Psychology, physics (and its base theory,
quantum mechanics) reveals the deepest understanding of the nature
and structure of our universe as being composed of matter and
energy.  As we move up to the level of chemistry, we recognize
that its breadth is smaller due to its primary focus on matter, as
opposed to energy.  While chemistry includes both inorganic and
organic matter, as we recognize that the study of the human
condition is a pattern of life, the next level must be the science
of biology, which is necessarily a smaller category than
chemistry.  We are, of course, not plants; thus, correspondingly,
as we move up the pyramid, the next level we arrive at must be
zoology.  We're not insects or birds; we are, clearly, primates,
and thus, that branch of zoology given the term primatology is the
next level in our climb.  Finally, as the study of that very
special primate mind that creates the entire human experience, we
discover Evolutionary Psychology in its rightful position at the
very pinnacle of the pyramid of all natural science.

The new science of the human condition is firmly announced in the
first published textbook carrying its name:  Evolutionary
Psychology:  The New Science of Mind by David Buss (1999).   It
has taken a very long time for natural science to begin to
decipher the human mind, long recognized by all scientists as,
"hands down", the most complex structure in the known universe.
It makes sense that the natural science of the human mind would be
the very last to fall into place. But now that it's here, the
world will never be the same. For when natural science finally
turns its powerful lens to examine the nature of the very mind
that created it, it has clearly reached both its culmination and
pinnacle and the mind that is its subject will have finally
received its deepest possible level of analysis. 


The analysis of the human mind provided by traditional psychology
has been less than profound.  This is due to the fact that, since
its inception, traditional psychology has used a standard of
measurement that is defective from the natural science
perspective.  The standard of normality fails two of the basic
requirements of any scientific discipline.  As the standard of
normality varies from culture to culture, it fails the test of
universality.  As normality is continually reflective of the
particular politics of the day, the standard also fails the test
of being above all political bias.  Feminist matriarch, Germaine
Greer recognized the political and unscientific nature of a
psychology based on social norms as a major barrier to feminist
change:  ".traditional psychological after all only
another way of describing and rationalizing the status quo."(Greer
1971, 61)  It cannot ever hope to analyze or remedy the possible
dysfunction of any culture as a whole.  This was a significant
problem recognized by the father of psychology, Sigmund Freud, in
this important and prophetic conclusion to his great work,
Civilisation and Its Discontents:

There is one question which I can hardly ignore ... would not the
diagnosis be justified that many systems of civilisation, or
epochs of it --possibly even the whole of humanity-- have become
neurotic under the pressure of civilising trends?  I would not say
that such an attempt to apply psychoanalysis to civilised society
would be fanciful or doomed to fruitlessness.  But it behooves us
to be very careful...The diagnosis of collective neurosis,
moreover, will be confronted by a special difficulty.  In the
neurosis of an individual we can use as a starting-point the
contrast presented to us between the patient and his environment,
which we assume to be "normal".  No such background as this would
be available for any society similarly affected; it would have to
be supplied in some other way... In spite of all these
difficulties, we may expect that one day someone will venture upon
this research into the pathology of civilised communities (Freud
1930, 141-2).

Referring to Freud's words, "one day" is now, the "background" is
the evolutionary concept of human nature, and that this standard
should be used both in relation to cultures and individuals (the
"normal" environment can, in fact, be "deviant" to human nature
and, thus, cannot be "presumed" emotionally healthy).

Evolutionary Psychology elevates "the natural" over "the normal"
as a universal, apolitical standard for both the psychological
health of individuals and of the cultures in which they might
happen to reside.  In short, it is not to be expected that man
"adjust" to the norms of culture; rather, it is insisted that he
try to find some means of living a natural life within the modern
zoo we have created for the human animal.  Thus, the goal is very
often to rebel and not to conform.  In fact, Evolutionary
Psychology can be fairly described as a psychology of rebellion!

Evolutionary Psychology's recognition of the need for rebellion
against the often destructive norms of modern society echoes the
"functionalism" of the man generally recognized as the father of
anthropology, Bronislaw Malinowski (1881-1942).   "Functionalism"
was an early attempt, following evolutionary logic, to link
culture with biology.  An analysis of Malinowski's "functionalism"
describes the place of culture in relation to man:

Man ... is not a mere cog in the machine of culture in which
different gears are firmly fitted into one another.  Man is the
operator of the machine for whom it has an instrumental value in
the satisfaction of his needs (Reddy 1983, 50)

In modern computer terminology, one might say that the goal of
Evolutionary Psychology is to make culture more "user-friendly" to
all of us.  Culture must "adjust" to man rather than, as
traditional normative psychology would urge, man "adjust" to his


Let's now imagine, for a moment, that the "machine" of modern
culture is represented by a large and complex ocean vessel.  This
metaphor should reveal to us a poignant and unsettling insight:
humanity is a species "adrift".  Such existential anxiety is
powerfully expressed by Paul Gauguin in his famous painting of
1897: D'ou venons-nous? Que sommes-nous? Ou allons-nous? "Where do
we come from? What are we? Where are we going?"  Humanity has left
behind its biological home and has ventured into realms of
experience unfathomable to its predictive capabilities.  But what
great celebration must accompany the new revelation that, with the
birth of Evolutionary Psychology, the human race has, at long
last, found its first reliable "rudder".  A rudder constructed of
the iron metal of natural science is sure to enable us to
confidently steer the human ship in its precarious journey through
the all-but-impenetrable mists of our future.

As a complete paradigm shift for the whole of psychology,
Evolutionary Psychology demands a complete reworking of most, if
not all, psychological premises.  Clinical Evolutionary Psychology
(Glantz & Pearce 1989) as the "applied science" form, promises
much individual relief from the emotional disturbances that have
continuously plagued mankind, in accordance with the timeless
adage, "The truth will set you free" (again, Evolutionary
Psychology is hard scientific truth).  In accordance with this new
perspective, any psychology or psychological theory that is
inconsistent with Evolutionary Psychology is, correspondingly,
inconsistent with the foundational "trunk" of the new natural
science "tree".  It will be deemed wrong!  We, at last, have some
feasible way of measuring the "rightness" of what is truly in
accord with the nature of the human animal.

Natural Science has consistently demonstrated to us a profoundly
deep understanding of the natural world ---the context of human
existence.  Now, through Evolutionary Psychology, natural science
is ready to place the last puzzle piece in its rightful place.  It
is, at last, ready to answer the quintessential question
signifying the human condition as it approaches the ultimate "end"
to its long journey and quest :  Who am I? 

To sum it all up:  The fact of this capability for the deepest
possible analysis of the nature of the human animal;  the fact
that Evolutionary Psychology, as the new "rudder" for the
evolutionary "voyage" of our species, can help us redesign human
society to be more optimally attuned to our deep nature; along
with the fact that, based on the natural science chain,
Evolutionary Psychology is both the pinnacle and culmination of
natural science, all cause me to predict without reservation that
inhabitants of some distant future time (if we can manage to avoid
extinguishing ourselves) will fondly look back at the tumultuous
period at the change of this current millennium and recognize that
the birth of Evolutionary Psychology is the most important SECULAR
event in all of human history!


We are all hunter-gatherer tribesmen at heart as part of the
original loving (non-dysfunctional) nomadic extended family.  The
estimated 2 million year experience as hunter-gatherers must be
acknowledged as our original, natural environment and has, thus
with some import, been scientifically termed the EEA, or the
"Environment of Evolutionary Adaptedness".   To get a clearer
conception of the vast historical period of the EEA, picture a
large amount of standard 8 X 10 sheets of paper placed lengthwise,
end-to-end, across the full length of a basketball court.  But for
the last sheet, the entire distance would represent the EEA.  The
last sheet would represent the period of the time after the
discovery of agriculture.  And all of the time that has transpired
since the industrial revolution would be represented by only the
last slim 1/10 inch.  As such, the EEA was the period that "locked
in" our basic physiology and psychology.  The human species has
changed little since the EEA, despite the radical shifts in the
cultural environment.  From this broader context, the changing
modern environment and all that we would term "progress" are
really of very little evolutionary consequence.  To drive this
point home, noted evolutionary psychologist, Dr. Robin Fox asserts
in his powerful and thought-provoking essay  "Consciousness Out of

The new sense of ourselves as a problematical and experimental
blip at the end of the trajectory of human history has to take
hold and everything has to be recast in that perspective before we
can even start to think sensibly and constructively about
ourselves, our behavior, our values, our societies.  All our
assumptions...will have to be re-examined and probably largely
discarded. (Fox 1989, 232)

What this means in the simplest, yet most profound, description is
the following:  each baby entering the world is a hunter-gatherer
in all respects.  As noted by the great zoologist and author of
the classic book, The Naked Ape, in his powerful sequel, The Human

In fact, if it were possible, with the aid of a time machine, to
take the newborn child of an Ice Age hunter into your home and
rear it as your own, it is doubtful if anyone would detect the
deception.  (Morris 1996, 13)

Given this powerful insight as to the nature of each baby entering
the world, it is clear that each baby expects those behaviors he
has been hard-wired by evolution to receive.  Every baby
necessarily expects those natural child-rearing patterns he would
have encountered in the original nomadic tribe for his optimal
development.  Unfortunately, each baby is born within the
unnatural zoo we've created for ourselves called "modern
civilization".  This conflict between our fundamental Nature and
the deviant Nurture provided within the modern living environment
is at the heart of all psychological dysfunction (with the
important exception of those conditions caused by birth defect).

Here is the unfortunate sequence.  First, the baby is warped by
"deviant" child-rearing methods employed, most usually, by
well-meaning parents.  (As noted above, "deviance", in the context
of Evolutionary Psychology, is measured in relation to what is
"natural" to our species; and not in relation to what happens to
be "normal" in this particular tiny slice of evolutionary time.)
A great amount of human psychological dysfunction is caused by
general deviation within our modern zoo from the natural model of
child development, but especially with deviation from the natural
model of sexual development (a model that turns out to be greatly
counter-intuitive to our normative thinking patterns).

Second, the child continues to be warped by the current
environment of "modern captivity" that is in extreme discord with
the natural human "wild" environment (i.e. "the original nomadic
family").  Within the modern zoo, each child then "develops" into
an adult suffering under the continuing encouragement to adjust
(as rationalized by traditional, pseudo-scientific, normative
psychology) rather than to demand change for an emotionally
healthier, "user-friendly" alternative that is more attuned to
"objective human nature" (defined by Evolutionary Psychology as
our "hard-wiring" shaped by over two million years of nomadic
family life).  The modern zoo becomes the unnatural ground for the
continuing growth of a great many obsessions, compulsions, and
other dysfunction so characteristic of life within it.  Some of
these are transitory, but others become much more deeply ingrained
as life within the zoo continues.  It is essential that we begin
to learn to "THINK OUTSIDE THE ZOO" in order to affirmatively work
to protect our own emotional health.


from all available research, it appears that the original nomadic
family members were the most spiritual people who ever walked the
face of the Earth.  Every activity they engaged in, and even every
movement necessary to become so engaged, was felt by the
hunter-gatherer as a spiritual moment reflecting his shamanic
belief system.  Contrasted with post-agricultural spirituality,
including post-agricultural shamanism, which involves ritual
celebrations of periodic events, such as the beginning of the
planting season and, later, the harvest; the nomadic tribesman
(who knew nothing of planting and the harvest) lived in, what
might be most appropriately described as, a constant "zen" state
---continuously living in the spiritual "now".  The observed
flight of a bird, the pursuit and killing of the hunt,
love-making, sharing and eating were all experienced as being in
constant contact with his spiritual ancestors who were standing
beside him.  In this form of original shamanism, spirituality can
almost be described as the expression of continuous love towards,
and oneness with the broader natural context of one's existence.

Now let us consider that Evolutionary Psychology defines the
scientific standard of  objective "human nature" as the 2 million
year period of this original nomadic family that effectively
hard-wired each and every one of us through the current day.
Thus, as the original nomadic family was so deeply spiritual, it
follows that spirituality is natural!  Never again can the claim
be made by any person who might subscribe to the atheist
perspective that atheism is more appropriate to human living.  No
longer is spirituality relegated to the position given to it by
the Soviet, Vladimir Lenin, as "the opiate of the masses".  It is
now finally recognized that spirituality is not a cultural
construction devised by people in power to subjugate the masses
(although most, if not all, patriarchal religious systems have,
historically, operated in just such a manner!).  It is now finally
recognized that, to the contrary, a human being who tries to live
disconnected with his spiritual "nature" is living at odds with 2
million years of human evolution and is living out-of-balance with
his optimal state of emotional health and happiness.

Evolutionary Psychology would also imply that the original
shamanic spirituality would be the optimal spirituality most in
accord with the fundamental needs of our species as revealed by
objective human nature.  Even in the non-technical,
non-theoretical sense, it would seem clear that, if spirituality
expresses our oneness with all that is, then the original nomadic
family member most closely represents our pristine attachment to
the natural environment.  He still follows the basic nomadic
family patterns of the other "great apes".  As such,  he still
has, in effect, "one foot" in the animal world of pure
preconscious (Zen?) engagement with the natural surroundings, and
"the other foot" moving ahead towards the dawning of distinctly
human consciousness.  To my mind it would seem that the shamanic
spiritual traditions, derived from this pristine state at the very
edge of human experience, represent our first and best
impressions, consciously expressed, of what must be our true
spiritual connection with the rest of the universe.  So, in my own
case, the decades-long journey I have undergone following the
"left-brained" path of science and logic has strangely led me to
the profoundly satisfying "right-brained" path of shamanic
spiritual principles.  Recently I have begun researching the
intriguing connections between quantum theory and shamanism.  That
there should be symmetry between the two disciplines should not be
surprising to us since, finally, both science and spirituality are
the quest for truth ---and my faith remains that THERE IS BUT ONE

Evolutionary Psychology Websites

Here are some interesting links for a deeper understanding of
Evolutionary Psychology:

For professionals only:


Buss, D. 1999. Evolutionary Psychology: The New Science of the
Mind. Boston: Allyn and Bacon.

Evans, D. and Zarate, O. 1999. Introducing Evolutionary
Psychology.  New York: Totem Books.

Fox, R. 1989.  The Search for Society.  London: Rutgers Univ.

Freud, S. 1930. Civilization and Its Discontents. New York: J.
Cape & H. Smith.

Glantz, K., and Pearce, J. 1989.  Exiles From Eden: Psychotherapy
 From the Evolutionary

Perspective.  New York: W. W. Norton & Co.

Greer, G. 1971.  The Female Eunuch.  New York: Bantam Books.

Morris, D. 1996. The Human Zoo. New York: Kodansha International.

Schrodinger, E. 1951. Science and Humanism. Cambridge: Cambridge
University Press.