Confronted By Existential Meaning
I just wanted to elaborate on what I wrote yesterday on dinosaurs because I think, even if we can't explain how consciousness relates with matter, we
are nevertheless existing in a world that accosts us again and again with existential meaning. Really, it is hilarious how we align ourselves as
'atheists' or 'theists' 'materialists' and 'idealists'. Fact is, were living in a freaking STRAGE LOOPY world where fractal patterns appear over and
over and over again.
We can either ask ourselves: is the universe speaking to us? And if it is, what is it saying?
The evolution of Organisms: Dinosaurs and Humans
When you look at the evolution of life on planet earth, I just want to hone in on one particular organism: Dinosaurs, and how these enormous creatures
captivate our human imagination.
What, you might ask, should the existence of dinosaurs have for human beings? Why should it matter? It matters a lot! And it matters in a way that
boggles our imagination, simply because the significance I'm about to highlight is purely metaphorical. If philosophers of mind are correct, the
unique capacity of human thinking is our ability to tranpose bodily feelings into symbolic structures we call "concepts".
If were honest and not arbitrarily exclusive in our definition of evolutionary processes, then human concepts are as much a creation of evolutionary
process as any physical organism. In fact, anything that emerges, and has existed, can be seen retrospectively as an "accretion" to what existed in
Dinosaurs as a Historical Metaphor for Human Beings
My argument rests on the concept of fractals: with evolution, NOTHING seems to be lost, but contained and "folded in" within the development of any
future system. EVERYTHING that exists seems to exist in just this way: the emergence of physiological structures is dependent on 'the folding in' of
cause with effect; genes with proteins; biology with environment. In human development, for example, there is a constant feedback between what is
given 'without' and what is established within. The body recursively "holds within itself" the information imbibed from the environment. To complete
the loop, the mind pursues the very things its been entrained to pay attention to; and the things it pays attention, as per the recursive loopiness of
it all, has been determined by another human being: the mother; who in turn has been shaped by the relationships that have shaped her.
Does anything happen 'under the sun' that isn't folded within the fractal web of established existence?
What I find amazing about dinosaurs is how metaphorically significant, from an existential perspective (the basic metaphorical meaning) their physical
existence on earth is for the human organism that emerged millions of years later.
The relationship being posited between dinosaurs and Humans is causal "only" in a metaphorical sense: but why should metaphor not be treated as
important? Why should we exclude the reality of metaphor from the phenomena established by supposedly "blind evolutionary process"? No reason. Nothing
other than blind dogma keeps people from picking and choosing what should be treated as meaningful.
The Metaphor of Physical Enormity
No other earthbound creature has grown as large as the reptilian dinosaurs. They were enormous, and as studies of modern day reptiles indicates, their
behavior was limited to "survival of the fittest". While nowadays we speak of nature and its creatures as "cruel", in many ways it is far from it.
Wolves, Lions and Bears are all fearsome creatures, but with one another, and particularly in the early life mom-infant relationship, we see licking,
grooming and a great deal of mammalian nurturing. This is love, a felt expression, of course - something that can only be inferred from the outward
behavior - of something we humans can only see as loving.
In terms of our brains, what might as well be considered a type of spiritual hardware, the brain of a modern day wolf is significantly larger than the
brain of a tyranosaurus rex, even though the wolf is many times smaller than the gargantuan body of the T-rex. What does this mean? In prehistoric
times, we see a creature with an enormous body - what nowadays, with our metaphorical, teleological and ontological proclivities, we can't help but
associate with the "reptilian" side of our personalities.
Take the metaphor from genesis of the snake and its association with evil. How did humans make this association? Perhaps, it was from an observation
of reptiles; or, conversely, perhaps our unconscious naturally associates certain aspects of human behavior - such as the selfish instincts which
naturally arise when aligned with natural emotional drives - for sex, food, control and power over others - with the sleek and surreptitious
meanderings of the snake, hiding beneath the weeds yet ever-ready to attack.
In mentioning dinosaurs and their hugeness, I want to draw attention to the way evolution has both a) created a creature we call dinosaurs, and b) has
produced a creature - humans - millions of years later, which can associate the physical hugeness, behavior and apparent ruthlessness of dinosaurs,
with a part of our own physiology, our brainstem, which essentially performs the same homeostatic functions, and drives the same self-absorbed
behaviors, which for many people can be metaphorically interpreted as "enormous"; as difficult to control and as menacing to confront as the
monstrously-sized creatures of our planets history of life.
Big and Small
In positing a relationship between dinosaurs - a historical creature that once existed on planet earth - and our innate vulnerability to
self-interest, I am basically claiming that the 'outer' and the 'inner' reflect the same dynamic pattern. Not only am I claiming that there seems to
be a relationship between the two, but that the distinction between outer and inner is purely a construction of our linear-minded imaginations.
In the same way that things like 'intrapsychic' dynamics feed in and out of bodies into words and behaviors and back into bodies, creating an
incessant feedback between 'how we think and feel' (a psychological phenomena) to how our bodies organize themselves (a physiological phenomena) I
think something similar is happening over history; the physical reality of dinosaurs, existing millions of years ago, 'exist within' human minds today
as the extraordinaly powerful, dangerous and competitive urges mediated by the part of our brain called by neuroscientists "the reptilian brain". In
stating this connection, I am both pointing out the continuity between us and them, as well as the profound metaphorical significance of the
relationship, at least, in terms of how being human and living with other creatures imposes upon us the need to be MINDFUL of relationships if we want
to avoid causing harm and perhaps, inviting desolation akin to the asteroid which wiped out dinosaurs millions of years earlier.
15-12-2014 by Astrocyte because: (no reason given)