On the Perfectibility of Man
By the perfection of Man, I do not refer to the end of a long – perhaps infinitely long – process but rather to the process itself. In “Philosophical Assumptions or Articles of Faith”, Chapter 4 of On the Preservation of Species (http://www.dematerialism.net/Chapter%204.html), I wrote that man is good but corruptible. Nowadays, many people believe in God, but they don’t believe in goodness. The minority who don’t believe in God are consistent at least in that they do not believe in the essential goodness of man either but rather that the corruption we find in human society is a direct reflection of the essential nature of man, which they claim is badly flawed because of the way in which he has evolved from the very first forms of life. The purpose of this essay is to oppose both of these viewpoints: the second, by giving evidence of enough Divinity to achieve the essential goodness and perfectibility of Man, the first and the second, by insisting that an intelligent deity who forged the laws that govern the Universe including the theory of evolution – not Darwin’s theory but the complete Theory of Evolution perfect in every detail – could not have produced a human being with an essentially flawed nature despite interpretations of Judeo-Christian mythology to the contrary.
At this point in the essay, the reader should become familiar with what was written in Chapter 4 of On the Preservation of Species (POS); however, I shall remove it from its former place here essentially because of its prolixity but also because of minor inconsistencies with what I shall write subsequently. The passage can be found at http://www.dematerialism.net/Chapter%204.html#_Toc81447137.
It is impossible to determine that no Divinity exists – or no Divinities exist. (Some people claim that institutionalized environmental destruction dates from the birth of monotheism. When there was a God in every budding tree and mountain stream, one was much less likely to despoil it.) In particular, in view of the necessity for the existence of small compact extra dimensions to account for the fundamental forces in the neighborhood of elementary particles, it is impossible to rule out the existence of large, compact or not, extra dimensions in which the Universe is embedded – just as the two-dimensional surface of a soccer ball is embedded in the three space-like dimensions in which we live. For that matter, one wonders why the Big Bang occurred at all, if it occurred, and what events may have preceded it in the larger embedding space. Even if there were no First Cause within the Universe, what caused the Universe and the Laws of Physics to come into being and to take the form they have taken? Why is there something instead of nothing? Nevertheless, it may not be possible to prove the existence of Divinity either. Thus, the Samuel Butler notion that we are surrounded by an impenetrable mystery is validated. Despite the lack of a proof there is plenty of evidence that suggests the existence of a Divinity or Divinities:
1. The occurrence equivalence of Reasonableness, Utility, and Beauty in all things as discussed in Chapter 1 of On the Preservation of Species.
2. A logical order satisfying this occurrence equivalence underlying the affairs of human beings despite the disorder on the surface. This has been expressed rather well in the new literature of film by Alan Ball in American Beauty, which won the Academy Award, and by Jacob Fredont-Attie in String Theory, which should win the Academy Award if it ever gets out of the film festivals and into the theaters. See http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0169547/.
3. The role of the observer in quantum mechanics.
4. The Big Bang itself.
5. The mere fact that there is something rather than nothing. For example, the fact that the Universe exists at all.
6. The peculiar relationship between pressure, volume, and temperature for water without which we could not exist on Earth. It might be argued that we would be based upon another substance if water did not expand upon freezing, but there is no other substance that exhibits that behavior. It might be argued that we could have existed elsewhere than on Earth, but that might be the same as existing on Earth. Nevertheless, see the entry for Anthropic Principle in the Wikipedia. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anthropic_Principle
7. The Laws of Physics, complete and perfect in every detail.
8. The mysterious nature of consciousness. Is it an Illusion? Does it exist only in humans? In certain animals only? In all animals? In everything? Is it of divine or profane origin? What about artificial consciousness? Is there such a thing?
Personally, I like my question, "Why is there something rather than nothing?" as the best evidence of Divinity. In any case, the existence of God would validate my assumption that Man is Good but corruptible. God would not have created Man out of the animals by giving him language unless he were Good despite the corruptibility, which was necessary to provide a modicum of Free Will. Quantum weirdness seems to indicate not only a possibility of Free Will but the possibility of Man in a privileged position of Observer without whom an infinitude of possible Universes is NOT collapsed into one Universe with the collapse of the wave function.
I have no idea what to think about the existence of the Devil or, rather, an overarching Evil principle that contends with the Divine Principle. Perhaps the Divine Principle is the egalitarian side of Human Nature and the Evil Principle is the authoritarian side in the reductionist view. According to Chapter 9 of my book On the Preservation of Species all evil stems from Materialism, which is a manifestation of the dominance characteristics of Human Nature. And, by the way, there is no getting beyond good and evil (or good and bad). If you think that this is wrong, then you think that what I have written is "bad"; and, you have disproved your contention. "Good" and "bad" are damn good words, and there is no point to letting a crazy man (who even forgot to have Zarathustra bury the tight-rope walker as he promised) goad us into leaving these terms to fundamentalist preachers and politicians. Everything that is beautiful is useful and reasonable; everything that is useful is reasonable and beautiful; and everything that is reasonable is useful and beautiful. In my book, On the Preservation of Species, I noted that this observation led me to suspect the existence of a Divinity behind the substance of the Universe.
Nevertheless, the existence or non-existence of God is indeterminate. As Samuel Butler said in The Way of All Flesh, we are surrounded by an impenetrable mystery. Anyone who claims to have penetrated The Mystery is not to be trusted. This is my understanding of Butler’s intent. As far as I am concerned, we can follow Walt Whitman’s putative advice not to argue about God.
Although I suspect the existence of a Divinity or Divinities, place me squarely in the Hard Agnosticism camp. I don’t know, you don’t know, and it cannot be known whether a God (or Gods) exists or not. The flip side of this is that the possible existence of God cannot be eliminated from our discussion of Free Will.
Despite the existence of abundant evidence of a Divinity for those who choose to interpret it in that way, probably no proof of the existence of God is forthcoming. Even without a proof of the existence of God or Gods a number of things exist to which may be ascribed the role of Divinity:
1. Logic (logos or "the Word", as in "In the beginning was the Word; and the Word was with God; and the Word was God.") One could argue that language (including its embedded logic) separates human beings from animals and exempts us from genetic compulsion or, as evolutionary psychologists say, adaptations that no longer favor survival.
2. Samuel Butler's Mystery.
3. Truth and Beauty, which, according to the poet, are the same thing, and Love according to St. John. These correlate well with my observation concerning the occurrence equivalence of utility, aesthetics, and reasonableness in all things.
4. Mary Baker Eddy, also a poet, wrote "God is All in All", by which she may have been referring to the substance behind phenomena - that with which science can make no contact whatever, i.e., the thing itself, inasmuch as science is a phenomenological tool.
6. Our Father in Heaven for whom we work daily to produce a suitable monument. Our “Fathers” may speak from time to time with the voices of our own fathers if, indeed, we “hear” voices as the profoundly religious sometimes do. People who “hear voices” are frequently diagnosed as schizophrenic by incompetent psychiatrists.
7. That with which we will come face to face then when we see only through a glass darkly now. See http://www.dematerialism.net/Death.html.
In Figure 1, we see a representation of the semiotic scheme ascribed by Charles Sanders Peirce to any word as a sign. See the section entitled “Logic as Semiotic: The Theory of Signs” in Philosophical Writings of Peirce, Dover, New York, 1955. In Figure 2, we see a diagram in which the word “God” in the small box refers to a useful Type 2 object in the realm of Ideals that does not exist in the sense that objects of Type 1 in the Universe exist. That object may be a hypothetical heavenly patriarchal omniscient being who sees our every thought and deed and loves us despite our shortcomings while expecting us to do the very best we can in every situation according to our best lights for His sake. A hypothetical god should be every bit as useful as an operative god if one refers one's behavior to the hypothetical god to good advantage. The reason one would be motivated to do so is the certainty of death and the possibility of Heaven and Hell. See http://www.dematerialism.net/Death.html.
The representamen is the word “God” itself the replicas of which appear on the printed page. The interpretant is an object that appears in the mind of a person capable of learning from experience when he sees the representamen. Underneath the interpretant lies an idea about the object God that is referred to as the ground of the representamen. Both the ground of the word “God” and the object in the small box are ideals just as Euclidean Geometry and our idea of Euclidean geometry are both ideals but completely distinct objects. The word “God” in Figure 2 that is not in a small box is supposed to be the label for the large box that contains the Universe, Mind, and the Ideals. My understanding of Peirce is subject to correction.
Figure 1. Charles Sanders Peirce’s Semiotics
Figure 2. God as an Ideal
1. All language is metaphor. It is like historical fiction – not what did happen, but like what did happen. Imagine that everything I say is preceded by “It is as though …”. The Bible is a metaphor, which is why the (Religious) Fundamentalists miss the point of everything. Science is a metaphor, which is why strict reductionists (Scientistic Fundamentalists, if you will, not to disparage fundamentals) miss the point of everything. (A reductionist is someone who imagines that the Universe is all there is. However, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reductionism. Also, please see http://tinyurl.com/c5ao8.)
2. It is as though there were a God who created Man in His image and likeness. Therefore Man is good but corruptible. Evolutionary Psychology (EP) is a study of both the good and the corrupted. If it confuses the good with the corrupted, it is a vast tangle of errors. (The atavistic animal nature of the body of Man is NOT what is corrupted in Man. Evolution is true as a metaphor.) If EP is viewed properly, it is a useful aid to understanding. Remember this is a metaphor. It is a fictive account of reality. Reality is unapproachable by the five senses.
3. All of this must be taken on Faith. Whoever said that Science could do without Faith?
4. The World is imperfect. But, underlying the World is a Spiritual Structure that is perfect. In Dematerialism, we believe that whatever is Beautiful is Practical, whatever is Practical is Reasonable, and whatever is Reasonable is Beautiful. Therefore, Beauty, Utility, and Reason come together or not at all. Dematerialists call this Occurrence Equivalence. It is an equivalence relation like every equivalence relationship, namely, commutative, transitive, etc.
People who do not see the underlying spiritual structure of the World are Materialists. Not every non-Materialist is a Dematerialist, but no Dematerialist is a Materialist. This is not to disparage material as is done in Christian Science, otherwise the word would be empty. When Dematerialists use the word they are referring to matter in the sense of Physics. Material wealth is useful and should be treasured and conserved but not hoarded.
Behind every cause is another cause until a cause is reached that has no cause because of quantum weirdness. Ideas are the effects of strings of causes that have no cause. Thus, ideas are uncaused. Ultimately, for ourselves, we must assume that we are endowed with Free Will. We may not excuse our own misbehavior by claiming that we are completely determined by our genetic code and our environment and, therefore, cannot be held responsible for what we do. It is best to assume that other people are not responsible for their behavior; but, we cannot extend this assumption to ourselves. Determinism for others; free will for ourselves. Despite the fractionation of our personalities, we know that, previous to every wicked deed, we have succumbed to a moment of dishonesty.
If, for others, rather than to assign blame for their various transgressions, we would assume the absence of free will, then, in good conscience, we could give up punishment as a response to social disorder. This is a reform overdue by about a century and a half, which is approximately the length of time that has elapsed since the publication of Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky.
The dialectic of the morality of wealth sharing is easily mapped: If no Free Will, then wealth sharing according to the 'accidents of birth' formula. If Free Will given by God (in the absence of any other agent to give it), then equal sharing because God would not bequeath the Bounty of Nature unequally except as a reward or punishment for behavior in a previous life, which theory is ruled out by rigorous accounting procedures applied to souls. If an evil or otherwise unfathomable god is at work, we might have to defy him; but, I haven't ignored too many possibilities in this brief analysis, which I expect to be read in good faith. I await improvements.
Also, differences in wealth, income, and political power can be shown to be maladaptive, as I have done by sentential calculus in Chapter 9 of my book, competition for relatively greater wealth, income, or political power, which ultimately leads to the neo-cons, Tom Delay, perpetual war, global warming, the extinction of species, the destruction of the Amazon, AIDS, cheating on tests, phony college degrees, and so on, and so on, and so on.
Opposition to wealth sharing is caused principally by centuries of propaganda that can be overturned in a single generation under the right circumstances, which is what makes it utopian, since the right circumstances have existed precisely nowhere. It is up to us to create them. In any case, either we do or we perish.
There is no excuse to tolerate injustice in the world simply because our animal ancestors did not understand the concept of justice in terms of rational language. The worst thing that Jesus ever said was that we will always have poor people. Certainly this was inconsistent with his advice to share wealth.
The concept of duality has been useful throughout the intellectual history of man. It is a powerful tool for thought. For example, algebra is dual to geometry. Every true theorem in geometry has a true counterpart in algebra. The exploitation of this duality has paved the way for important progress in mathematics. We may refer to this relationship as an isomorphism. An isomorphism is an exact one-to-one mapping between two objects – the one onto the other.
Similarly, the duality between the mind and the brain has proved useful; however, a perfect isomorphism between the brain and the mind has not been established. For example, the Mind may correspond to more of the body than just the brain – the reproductive organs and, perhaps, the heart itself. Moreover, there are parts of the Mind for which no known part of the brain, or any other part of the body, can account. Nevertheless, it is convenient to speak of a duality between that which is corporeal and that which is spiritual. It is not necessary to determine if a human spirit exists in the same sense that the brain exists, namely, as part of the Universe. Everything exists unless it is said to be something which it is not; therefore, the Mind, for example, exists as perceived by every conscious being. [Peirce would say the phanerons of the Mind, which are immediately apparent to every conscious person.]
We are immersed in a world of phenomena, essentially a world of appearances, and it is not known whether or not anything substantial exists that gives rise to the phenomena we perceive. The Mind is as substantial as anything else we perceive. Until an exact isomorphism can be established between Mind and brain, there is no reason to assume that such an isomorphism exists.
Thus, to be able to discuss honor, justice, duty, loyalty, trust, morality, inspiration, and nostalgia to give only a few examples, it is helpful to posit an independent Mind, completely spiritual and separate from the brain. The Mind as a spiritual entity has been the traditional domain of the theologian and, lately, the psychologist.
Evolutionary psychologists do not reject the existence of the Mind. Instead they tend to emphasize the modularized brain as the principal cause of the behavior exhibited by all human beings to the extent that it can be considered a part of a universal Human Nature. This is entirely proper and has produced a rather impressive body of knowledge. This paper is concerned with what is missing from that body of knowledge. Many aspects of Human Nature, specifically identified by evolutionary psychologists as adaptations acquired during our Era of Evolutionary Adaptedness (EEA), are no longer useful to perpetuate our species as denizens of Earth, in particular, those which have led to over-consumption and over-population, which together have resulted in Overshoot during the recent fossil-fuel period of human history, which is about to wind down in the wake of Peak Oil.
Scientists have been able to identify many examples of species that have found themselves with nothing to check the growth of their numbers, which results ultimately in Overshoot followed by a Crash and Dieoff, in many cases leading to complete extinction. It has happened to a certain extent to isolated groups of human beings such as the inhabitants of Easter Island according to the legend. However, the wonderful thing about evolutionary psychology is that rational human beings are able to understand those aspects of Human Nature that lead to Dieoff and take steps to restrain them by altering their personal behavior, the character of their culture, and, as a last resort, the passing of binding law to restrain the less rational members of their species. But, how did human beings acquire language?
In the movie 2001, a monolith somehow appears among a group of cavemen to whom something about the monolith that is not explained endows the men with the ability to use tools. The monolith represents an extraterrestrial influence – perhaps an influence from outside the Universe. The only change I would make is to have the monolith bestow language rather than the use of tools. Rather than a monolith, we might as well suppose that God is the giver of language and the author of reason, manifest principally in mathematics and mathematical logic, a noble edifice that exists in eternity and awaits discovery by rational creatures who dwell for a short time on Earth and perhaps elsewhere. Since the origins of these Ideals shall forever remain beyond our experience and inaccessible to science, they may as well be assigned to a Divinity, forever mysterious and unknowable. It behooves Man to reflect upon these great mysteries with humility, wonder, and reverence. These are the tools that permit Man to transcend his animal nature, that is, The Beast. It remains only for Man to actually achieve this Ideal State, which is his True Nature and, probably, the reason he exists at all.
Thus, I place before you my latest denial that there are mal-adaptive aspects of human nature that we cannot transcend. Furthermore, I contend that the authors who have placed before you evidence to the contrary either have not acted in good faith or have been allowed to pollute the written literature of Man with mistakes that favor the status quo while the correcting literature is rigorously censored and its authors threatened with criminal prosecution as seditionists.
If I know that I have a characteristic such as resource dominance that was useful during the EEA but is no longer useful, I can form a rational response to it and couching that response in language, which itself is an artifact of reason, fashion a suitable restraint. Once EP identifies such a maladaptive trait it seems that there is no excuse for NOT transcending it. For example, if I know that I may have a tendency to think of distantly related human beings as not quite human, and I know that it is "wrong" to treat them as non-humans, I can craft a suitable remedy. Why not? A tiger cannot change its stripes; but, the situation for humans (rational humans) is unique.
Every maladaptive aspect of Human Nature inherited from our animal ancestors has been described in words or will be described in words. Whether language, the vehicle of logic, was specifically given to humans at a particular time in our evolution from the animal state or language was enfolded into the mechanism of evolution when the Universe was engendered by the Fount of all Intelligence at the Heart of the Great Impenetrable Mystery in which Man finds himself enveloped is not important. There is no point to arguing about God. Logic exists in Eternity. The Universe is governed by the ultimate Laws of Physics, which exist in all of their splendor in the timeless Realm of the Ideals complete and perfect in every detail. Language is the tool that every rational man ought to employ to transcend maladaptive materialistic propensities. Language is the tool that ought to be used to inculcate non-materialistic principles in men who are incapable of original rational thought. Language is the tool by which the principles may be given as laws to those who might otherwise resist reason, aesthetics, and utility. (Please see On the Preservation of Species for further explanation.)
Thus, theories related to evolutionary psychology that predict the inevitable doom of the human species due to propensities of human nature that cannot be avoided apply absolutely to all human beings except those who possess language in the sense that they have the ability to create statements logically. All people repeat statements made by others as a parrot would do, but many cannot create new statements logically. Some of us can create personal rules for our personal behavior that absolutely subvert our maladaptive tendencies. If these rules had the force of Law, Dieoff could be prevented. Regrettably, the people who control the passage of laws do not wish to prevent Dieoff. It is our duty to relieve them of this control. It is absurd to suppose that man has animalistic propensities that cannot be transcended by language. Anyone who maintains otherwise is an obstacle to preventing Dieoff.
I was tempted to express even more intolerance with people who imagine that a defect once recognized and articulated cannot be remedied. There's really no excuse for saying that. One may not be able to do anything personally, but to add fuel to the fire by writing that mankind can never change or be changed is unconscionable. People who do this are no better than people who claim they are victims of breeding and their environment and are not responsible for their own wicked deeds.
Lately, I read Dale Glaebach's "Fragments of an Anarchist Anthropology" [book review] at http://www.dematerialism.net/fragments.htm. The propensities for resource dominance must have developed after the introduction of agriculture. Previously, if a man wanted something I have, I would very likely have said, "Fine, you carry it around with you then." Imagine how patterns of acquisitiveness might change if people had to carry everything they owned on their backs. Since agriculture did not begin until the Era of Evolutionary Adaptedness ended, it is impossible for these propensities to be hardwired in the human brain. This is an extremely compelling argument, but I suggest that you read http://www.dematerialism.net/fragments.htm all the way through. I think you will like it.
Much has been said in the Dieoff forum concerning Human Nature. Is it possible that we have been confusing Human Nature with Animal Nature? I have been looking at a book on the origins of language by Terrence W. Deacon called The Symbolic Species, the co-evolution of language and the brain. In a much earlier attempt at an essay on Human Nature, I suggested that, in the famous film *2001*, the monolith that intruded the use of tools upon prehistoric Man should have been represented as intruding the use of language. Deacon points out the singular fact that no other species exhibits anything that is remotely like partially evolved language – not whales, not dolphins, not chimps. This is peculiar. It suggests that something very like the intrusion of the monolith, i. e., the passing through a point of bifurcation of an unknown physical parameter, actually occurred at some definite instant in our evolutionary past whether this was built into the initial conditions of the Universe or not.
Deacon relies heavily on the great American philosopher Charles Sanders Peirce (pronounced 'purse') who influenced Russell and Dewey and many others profoundly although they never mention it, which induced me to pick up my long-neglected Dover book of Peirce's essays. Peirce discusses the role of (mathematical) logic in semiotics and in the everyday life of Man.
A few weeks ago I scribbled the following passage:
It occurs to me that we could well afford to create categories of objects such that the words good and bad could be applied to the objects in Category A but should not be applied to objects in Category B. The same could be done for statements that apply to spontaneous acts like fight or flight and statements that apply to acts upon which much deliberation is spent before initiation. Jay Hanson has suggested that we have decided what to do in the first case before our rational minds fashion an explanation for them. This analysis would not apply to the second category of acts the explanations for which the cold light of reason has shone upon for one or more risings of the sun. The second category of acts would include political acts upon which we have slept for one or more nights or for many years as in the case of the political changes called upon to prevent Dieoff.
Peirce gives me every reason to hope that the statements in the passage are true. In particular, decisions based upon inferences from true premises using sentential calculus are guaranteed to be correct and cannot be influenced by atavistic traits coded into our genotypes. Of course we are at liberty to choose false premises; however, this has nothing to do with the ratiocination after the fact to which Jay was referring. It is important to recognize that, although Godel showed that it is impossible to determine the consistency of a system of knowledge as broad as arithmetic (a negative result if anything is), he also showed that sentential calculus, unlike arithmetic, can be determined to be consistent and correct. (See Godel's Proof by Newman and Nagel for precisely what it was that Godel proved.)
The moral of the story: Don't believe anything unless it has been proved using sentential calculus. The following example shows that, while sentential calculus may spare its user many mistakes, it may not be useful to disabuse the non-reasoning man of his errors:
In my debate with Ron Patterson concerning the causes of Overshoot (archived on the website for this group at http://www.dematerialism.net/mythofsustainability.htm and http://www.dematerialism.net/MaterialismCausesOvershoot.htm), I proved that Materialism is a necessary and sufficient condition for Overshoot using some light sentential calculus. This was exactly the excuse Ron needed to abandon the argument as his mistake would have been shown to him clearly if he had troubled himself to understand my proof. On the other hand, Ron relies principally on his unquestioned assumption that things in the future will continue to be as they have been in the past, which makes us wonder what he thinks the denial of Peak Oil is all about. His most cogent remark amounts to: "That can't happen; it would violate my intuition." Logic separates us from intuitively appealing but incorrect beliefs by replacing them with the counter-intuitive truth. Coincidentally, it annihilates propaganda; but, Ron is impervious to logic as it 'bores' him (his word not mine). In addition, Ron makes liberal use of his dictionary to exclude context from decisions as to what his interlocutor might have meant. This is precisely the distinction between indexical and symbolic meaning that Deacon and Pierce dwell upon to draw a distinction between human language and animal non-language such as mating and warning calls. Ron is a fine representative of low animal cunning.
Thus, an emotionally charged cartoon might be more effective in converting others to a better point of view.
Setting aside the various interpretations of Occam’s razor or, as it is sometimes spelled, Ockham’s razor, we may argue that the reason the Soviet people grew dissatisfied with communism is much more likely to have been Western opulence and the Cold War than a module in the brain that is dedicated to resource domination whether or not it favors reproductive advantage.
Some students of (and advocates for) evolutionary psychology will argue that we have solid scientific evidence for the existence of such a module; however, if we do, I have yet to see it. Contrariwise, if we could find a collection of American men who satisfied three conditions, we would be able to conclude that resource domination was cultural and not physical:
1. Every member of the collection shall have sustained minor brain damage in some part of the his brain such that a map of all such damage would include the whole brain if it had occurred in a single individual.
2. Every member of that group, without exception, is invested with a desire to acquire wealth far beyond what is necessary to live without inconvenience to himself or his family.
3. No evidence of a distributed module can be found; that is, there is no disjoint network of neurons capable of functioning as an integrated circuit for the purpose of informing the host with the necessity for resource domination. This rules out the possibility that the module exists but does not have a specific locus in the brain.
As I see it, the existence of a resource dominance module is necessary to the argument that any economic system based upon wealth shared equally is inconsistent with human nature. If it's not a dedicated module, then it can be redirecting toward something truly adaptive such as genuine reproductive advantage.
In the case of a give-away economy, everyone can have what he wants except he understands that sustainability depends upon not taking any more than what he needs. In the meantime, he may be manifesting excellence, attracting women, gaining the admiration of all and sundry, and doing what he enjoys doing most, namely, what he's good at. See the literature of the intrinsic motivational school of psychology: Deci, Ryan, Condry, and others. This can be explained bio-chemically too.
My journal entry for February 5th describes a new essay on human nature that has already sparked a good deal of criticism. My critics believe that evolutionary psychology provides irrefragable evidence that, regardless of any moral consideration, our propensity to acquire resources in as great excess as possible - which is a hard-wired adaptation that arose during the Pleistocene, our Environment of Evolutionary Adaptedness, due to its usefulness for survival - cannot be suppressed in any manner whatever. I believe that it can be transcended through persuasion, education, indoctrination, diversion, and/or coercion. It would not be important except that the fate of the human race (extinction or not) depends upon who is right.
Opponents of dematerialism should argue that, without materialism, society must degenerate to a state that cannot provide the driving force necessary to prevent further degeneration to unacceptable levels of infant mortality and early death for all but the most dominant individuals and their slaves. The argument then shifts to whether or not this is inevitable and whether or not a Natural Economy with a Rational Social Contract can be established. In "Why Dematerialism Is NOT Inconsistent with Human Nature", the first draft of which can be viewed for editing at http://www.dematerialism.net/onhumannature.htm, I have argued that the rational mind can overcome the mal-adaptive propensities of human nature by means of political and cultural change. This would not have been possible without language. Language distinguishes us from other animals.
If I know that my Stone-Age mind, which evolved during the Pleistocene Era, comes equipped with an innate “loss-avoidance mechanism” that might be maladaptive in the extreme in a commodity trading context, I will consciously defeat such maladaptive tendencies through rational thought. In fact, the very name “loss avoidance” is the key to the solution. Similarly, if I were driven to accumulate wealth and to dominate other men or to pursue fame in the hope of profiting thereby, I would not make the mistake of striving for a succedaneum for reproductive advantages when I can obtain what I really want directly without destroying the planet and trivializing my own life. Evolutionary psychology has given me a name for maladaptive status seeking; and, in this case, to know the name of the ‘demon’ is to defeat it.
Like some religions, the social-economic-political system proposed in On the Preservation of Species is based on morals. Unlike most religions, it makes no absolute claims for itself. It encourages doubt in human institutions and faith in human nature, but it does not insist upon the existence of a deity. If, as Shaw may have believed, religion is necessary to create community, one can only hope that religion can be built on reasonableness, aesthetics, and utility. Curiously, the early doctrine of Jesus, according to Shaw in the preface to Androcles and the Lion, was comprised of the following tenets:
1. The kingdom of heaven is within you. You are the son of God; and God is the son of man. God is a spirit, to be worshipped in spirit and truth, and not an elderly gentleman to be bribed and begged from. We are members one of another; so that you cannot injure or help your neighbor without injuring or helping yourself. God is your father: you are here to do God’s work; and you and your father are one.
2. Get rid of property by throwing it into the common stock. Dissociate your work entirely from money payments. If you let a child starve you are letting God starve. Get rid of all anxiety about tomorrow’s dinner and clothes, because you cannot serve two masters: God and Mammon.
3. Get rid of judges and punishment and revenge. Love your neighbor as yourself, he being a part of yourself. And love your enemies: they are your neighbors.
4. Get rid of your family entanglements. Every mother you meet is as much your mother as the woman who bore you. Every man you meet is as much your brother as the man she bore after you. Dont waste your time at family funerals grieving for your relatives: attend to life, not to death: there are as good fish in the sea as ever came out of it, and better. In the kingdom of heaven, which, as aforesaid, is within you, there is no marriage or giving in marriage, because you cannot devote your life to two divinities: God and the person you are married to.
Although it might offend my atheist friends, I must admit that I use the word 'God' when I talk to myself. As far as atheists are concerned, I wonder what it is that doesn’t exist. Also, I believe Jesus favored a give-away economy, in fact, abandoning money altogether, which is perhaps a better interpretation of "Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar's" than the standard interpretation, namely, that is alright to pay your taxes. I believe this is a superior idea to the idea of throwing one’s property into the common pool as it solves the problem of who will manage the common pool.
May 27, 2006
Revised July 27, 2006
* I mention my highest degree only to acknowledge that my education did nothing to qualify me to write this paper.