What does the above sentence claim to mean?
Well, for one, it will not be based on nothing, as many metaphysical theories are. But rather, my interest is to link biophysical dynamics with
psychodynamical dynamics: I want to show how the mind - the self that we are - grew as a function of an ontological sorting of the world in terms of
coherency: that which was experienced to be bad could then be consciously "forced", as it were, into a particular category (good or bad) within the
internal activity of the self aware mind.
You can't evolve true consciousness without a forebrain. Indeed, there is plausible archeological evidence that indicates that neanderthals were a
lot less "smart" than Humans. Of course, it will not count to call them brutes either - we have little evidence either way as to the general nature
of their feeling relations, but one thing seems to be certain: they were far more cognitively limited - in a social sense - than Humans are, and so
the evolutionary psychologist Robin Dunbar considers them to have had a less complex social-group.
The basis for this evidence is the sloped forehead and thus a very small forebrain. Conversely, the back of the neanderthal brain (the occipital
region) is very enlarged, which means that the neanderthal had more acute vision than modern Humans (the back of the head is where vision is processed
in all animals with visual systems). The reason for this is again ecological: the neanderthal evolved from a homo heidelbergensis population in Europe
and Eurasia. The more northerly in latitude you go on Earth, the less daylight: the less daylight, the less time for finding food, and thus enough
calories to maintain your existence.
The solution of the neanderthals - as well as "denisovan man" - is to expand the visual center of the brain to extract more information from the
environment i.e. to accommodate normal light levels as well as very low light levels. The neanderthals made extensive use of the evening for hunting
and gathering - although some people still debate whether they regularly used fire.
Humans are different. Evolving in Africa, with the L3 mitochondrial haplotype amongst Africans evolving into the non-african peoples of the world, the
Human species progressed in a way that must have been very different from the mindless meandering of less social-aware creatures. Indeed - what
consciousness is, in effect, is well described by the neuroscientist Paul Nunez
“In short, consciousness of the stimulus occurs after 300 milliseconds, perhaps accompanied by a brief period of large scale synchrony, and
apparently followed by sustained gamma rhythm activity…In essence, coherence is essentially synchrony with significant time delays.” – Paul L.
Nunez, The New Science of Consciousness, pg. 234, Prometheus, 2016
The psychological technique of masking, or another one known as "binocular rivalry", proves that we do not become conscious of information that our
unconscious picks up within and below the 200-300 millisecond time period. Consciousness, as Nunez shows, is a temporally emergent phenomena -
temporally extended, as well as spatially distributed across both hemispheres.
Yet consciousness also depends on an environment - and world - and specifically what I call "salient others". Consciousness can be said to be the
increasing expansion of mind from one moment to another moment, "holding its self" - literally 're-membering' it's internal structure.
The ontological realm is the realm of meaning and concepts, and so essential to my view of evolution is the correlation between the evolution of
"socio-cognitive" dilemmas and their resolution through regular oscillations between conflict and resolution. Conflict is essential - but it is
resolution - the stress and conflict, metabolized within a mind that senses its essential need for enlivenment, relaxation and sense of being real
depends on the Other - on the others affirmations, its speech, its enlivening powers - to get us going and moving in the same way.
All of this entails much - but specifically the process of representation - of taking from an immediate experience and being able to capture in an
utterance or an act - the movement into "symbolization" - or spoken language, certainly constitutes a huge transformation of the Human species, and
in particular, the evolution of conceptualization, and the way and manner conceptualization operated as "mnemonic", as Deacon writes, for something
else i.e. some self-other relationship, with a generous lattice-work of other ideas - since a conceptual system is only a symbolic system if has ways
of communicating ideas with reference to other ideas.
Ultimately, the mind is "above" the body - always responding to the bodys internal dynamics
. There is a duplicity here - phenomenologically
speaking - between an 'observing mind' that uses symbols
and the implicit feeling streams which emerge unconsciously and as a function of the
ecological-situatedness of the selfs-immediate embeddedment. That is, your past experiences are there framing your immediate interactions with your
environment at the pre-300 millisecond stream of information flow in your brain - working to assemble a feeling (or meaning) relationship in which you
can find symbols - ideas, concepts - to communicate your immediate interests.
On the physical Level
Meanwhile, your brain is a physical structure - a dissipative structure in the language of biophysics. The biophysicist, unlike the biologist, is
interested in exploring how the laws of chemistry operate to generate an organism. Beginning small, origin of life researchers have studied the way
and manner molecules interact within a biophysical system - such as a E. Coli - and study how the electrodynamics of molecule interactions generate
'networks' within 'networks' of dissipative activity, which is to say, of the transformation of energy from one state to another, all the while
maintaining an actual biological structure.
In biophysics, researchers and theorists have emphasized that the organism functions in terms of coherency, or in correlating its internal
dynamics, temporally as well as spatially
- and this property of correlation is ultimately responsible for the emergence of geometry - or symmetry
- which also happens to be an essential property of all biophysical systems.
By the time the Human being evolved, its 'biodynamical system' had run through hundreds upon hundreds of generations of social-evolution. In an even
larger time period, the biophysical system of our present day bodies can be seen to be an actual continuation of dynamics that began at the start of
the Cambrian (and more abstractly, all the way back to the big bang) where the first animals evolved.
When mind emerged, it emerged as an emergent property
of biophysical - large scale "coherency" between parts - system, that had begun to use
its body - specifically, its nervous cells, to compute the information emanating from the body of another animal. When consciousness emerged (not the
same as mind - a dog has a mind; not consciousness) it emerged as a function of the evolution of mimesis
, which opened up even greater
possibilities for self-other communication. It is now accepted by more and more scientists and philosophers interested in Human evolution that mimesis
- or body to body affective communication -