a reply to: TechniXcality
Sorry to hear about your troubles TechniXcality.
Yes, I can not only tell you, glibly, or with philosophy, that love is real. But I can give you a scientific reconstruction of our own species
evolution to actually prove, logically
, that love not only exists, but is the very substratum of consciousness.
I will argue, quite simply, and perhaps a tad esoterically, that consciousness is created by "moments of recognition", whereby the mind of one
organism "senses it self" in the externalized cues in the behavior of the other. We barely notice this, but it is this very unconscious responsivity
of the body to non-verbal relational cues that indicates the "sympathetic" tension between individual human minds.
Just ask yourself: what do I care about more? What someone says, or how they say it? If you're asking someone for something, would you prefer a
response that seems reluctant or is full of non-verbal violence (irritation, passive aggression) or a response that sympathizes with your own
affective (feeling) state? Inside, everyone knows that they care what other people think about them; so much so, that we know, instinctively, what to
do to avoid thinking about painful things.
On to a scientific explanation. Somewhere between Australopithecus Africanus and Homo Erectus began a feedback loop very different from others in the
I like to think of human beings as being most like insects in their social organization. It isn't immediately apparent, inasmuch as we look somewhat
like apes in body-plan, but human behavior is coordinated in a way that can only be properly compared to insects like ants, bees and termites. So this
is what you need to keep in mind: just as ants coordinate their activity with reference to the "whole" of a particular ant colony, so too do humans
define their experience in terms of their immediate relations in their social world. Thus, we can say that humans constitute a "group organism", as
the evolutionary biologist David Sloan Wilson has argued (as a way to explain the existence of altruism)
This is all actually very simply to understand. Each organism, such as an ant or a human, is programmed to "respond to" certain environmental stimuli;
thus, the genes which exist within the organism are "entrained" to the dynamic operating between each member of the group. For some reason, biological
life has preferred to combine itself; first, with the symbiosis between a bacteria and a archea that created the nucleated cell; then cells came
together and became a larger organism, whose functions were defined by the level of organism. Then some individuals of these organisms combined to
become a "super-organism", coordinated in their behavior in pursuit of a commonly shared goal (i.e beehive, ant hill, termite mound) such as the
collective activity we humans call "society".
First thing to notice is that life seems to prefer connection and more complex organization. In us humans, we falsely imagine that our "relatedness"
is merely biological. The thing about the human brain-mind, is that each humans consciousness is shaped like puddy by the interacted with non-verbal
environment. Even before birth, the stress response system of the brain is being shaped by surrounding cortisol levels in the mothers body, so that
the quality of a mothers emotional does indeed have determinative effects on the construction of her childs reactivity level: it is, after all, just
like other processes in evolution: predictive. The developing body is preparing to enter a world; and the world to be entered is either one way (safe,
responsive) or another (threatening). Our biology is thus pre-programmed toward a certain level of responsivity to the world as determined by the
mothers experiences during pregnancy, as well as the extended genetic history of nervous systems in her own family history. Imagine a "frame within a
frame". The past enfolded into the genetic present. The nervous systsem is turning out to be VERY different from what genetic determinists have
thought; ones "sensitivity" is something entirely 'attuned' to the vagaries of external circumstances. And why shouldn't this be the case, given all
the knowledge amassed from psychoanalysis, psychology, sociology and psychiatry, about the needs of human beings?
So, were a big social organism, or a "super-organism". But it isn't very apparent, why? Well, we evolved FROM apes, and so have retained the
"shame-pride" continuum that was the earlier regulatory factor in ape evolution. When homo erectus evolved, the brain had ballooned to 600 cc's. How?
Well, as far as I'm concerned, empirical evidence from psychotherapy and developmental psychology indicate that "safe-relationships", defined as
communicative styles of mutual concern and care for the other, reflected in facial expressions, body movement, and vocal tone, both GROWS the brain,
as in secure vs. insecure attachments, as well as stimulates neurogenesis, as volume estimates of white and grey matter before and after psychotherapy
show (such as for trauma disorders).
Thus, as far as I am concerned, LOVE = Neural development. When we experience sympathetic emotions - from compassion, to play, to mutual interests -
our brain is stimulated to grow.
Thus, the transition we see from homo erectus to homo heidelbergenesis is an evolution of an ape-species into a mimetically organized super-organism,
still partially under the influence of a shame-pride continuum, but now inclining more and more towards states of sympathetic engagements, in body,
but also, at the same time, in mind, in affective experience, and in meanings.
I have postulated "micro moments of recognition" as the atomic structures of mind-brain growth. The more and more this happened, the more and more
complex human-human interactions became. Mind you, I am talking about the internal
side of the picture, whereas the psychologist Michael
Tomasello carves out the external side, with humans engaging in the day to day needs of survival. Survival in humans was about coming to a state of
"shared-intentionality", which means that each human had a phenomenological experience that inclined him towards "common agreement" in perception;
indeed, affective processes act as the 'background', which attentional awareness is guided by. By inducing shame at certain times, pride at other
times, hubris can be controlled. However, seeing someone sick, ill, shamed, or vulnerable, also inspires compassion, so compassion became tethered to
an empathetic genetic attunment to other peoples affective expressions.
12,000 years ago, with the start of agriculture, mankind began to amass land, which was psyhologically experiences as an increase in "self" i.e.
pride. Hubris grew as technical prowess and the force of utility began to displace the underlying mimetic sympathy that stabilized "recognition of
anothers emotions" in fair and equal communities.