reptiles: jurassic spark

The individual as mistake. Imperfection. An enraged Yahweh dissatisfied with the result, torn between creating in his image and getting anxious as they approached? Maybe better to kick the proverbial can of evolution down the road and let succeeding generations deal with it. As above so below? Ghosts in the machine are a bit disconcerting, getting rid of skeletons in the closet but their aura seems to hang on; or as Koestler asserted, there is an antagonistic split in function built into our species. We are genetically inconsistent. In the scheme of Koestler, psychiatrists treat a three-in-one patient: the alligator, the horse and the human, each a progession on the previous structure. There is some intuition here; we seem to have the capacity to solve material issues through logic and reason, but conceptual solutions, those inflection points of emotion and rationality are rarely contented neighbors….

As Paul MacLean, the brain researcher at the U.S. National Institute of Health who gave the “limbic system” its name, would have us believe, evolution left us with not one brain in our skulls, but three. They are the cortex, the limbic system (mammal brain) and the reptile brain. The most ancient part of the human brain is known by scientists as the R complex or “reptilian brain”. It is the most obvious remnant of our reptilian genetic history….

---In search of an answer Arthur Koestler- known principally for his novels but concerned in recent years with science and psychology ("The Sleepwalkers" and "Act of Creation")- posits "some built-in error or deficiency," or, more vividly, "a screw loose in the human mind." He takes us on a long journey through psychology and evolution to conclude: man's difficulty is his proneness to delusion; he suffers from "an endemic form of paranoia" which dominates his entire history and which is "built into the wiring circuits of the human brain." This is so, Koestler goes on to tell us, because Homo sapiens is a "biological freak, the result of some remarkable mistake in the evolutionary process." The mistake resulted from the speed with which the hominid evolved (the whole thing took only half a million years), or from what is known as "explosive evolution." Koestler follows the neurophysiologist Paul MacLean in stressing the "unseemly haste" with which the specifically human areas of the brain were superimposed upon the phylogenetically older structures, resulting in "insufficient coordination" between older (emotional) and newer (intellectual) functions. --- Read More: image:

…According to Arthur Koestler, as the human brain has grown, it has built upon earlier, more primitive brain structures, and that these are the “ghost in the machine” of the title of his book. Koestler’s theory is that at times these structures can overpower cognitive logic, and are responsible for hate, anger, lust and other such negative impulses which create disharmony in oneself and in the world.

It is our responsibility to connect the parts and make a harmonious whole. Human beings in the most part have failed in this task and that is the main cause of turmoil and disharmony. All religions, recognising the existence of this fractured personality in us, have urged us to use the power of intelligence and discrinination provided by the frontal lobe to gain victory over the reptilian and mammalian brain’s instinctual behaviour to achieve Shanti.Read More:

---The fact is we are dealing here with a reward system that is irrational, not in our best interests as human beings. As Aldous Huxley suggested, our glandular system, which is “admirably well adapted to life in palaeolithic times,” is not at all well suited to life now. We produce far more adrenalin than is good for us. Arthur Koestler’s view is even more gloomy. He believed that the human brain suffered from an evolutionary “design error,” a split between our thought and our feelings, between the human and the animal in us that couldn’t be bridged. The only solution, he felt, was biochemical intervention, a kind of physiological censorship. --- Read More: image:


‘It is the only example of evolution providing a species with an organ which it does not know how to use, a luxury organ, which will take its owner thousands of years to learn to put to proper use – if it ever does. “- Koestler
The shortcomings of the theory become painfully clear when it is applied to man’s most difficult dilemmas. For instance, concerning man’s uniqueness in knowing that he must die, Koestler claims that “the discovery [of death] originates in the new brain, the refusal [to accept death] in the old.” This all-important refusal is responsible for the witches, ghosts, ancestral spirits and gods which inhabit the human mind, and also for “comforting promises of eternal survival.” And the cause of it all, Koestler believes, is “instinct,” which “takes existence implicitly for granted, and defends it against threats in anger and fear; but it cannot conceive of its change into non-existence.” Yet one could just as well argue the other way around. The human infant possesses an innate (or “instinctual”) sense of connection and a tendency known as “attachment behavior” toward other human beings. This innate tendency later finds expression in various relationships of blood, sexual love and friendship, as well as in more symbolic ties to various social groups and to past and future generations….

---Object relations theory holds that within each of us reside the vestiges of our most powerful past relationships, symbolized into a system of affectively charged templates. These templates form relationship expectations, that we are compelled to bring to life in a most determined and tenacious fashion. We unconsciously choose “eligible” people, in a mysterious process whereby we find others whose templates somehow mesh with our own. From this primordial coterie of actors and actresses, protagonists and antagonists are cast and dramas unfold. The present becomes the past, and the past the present. I wonder if Arthur Koestler thought to call ghostbusters.--- Read More: image:

…Maintaining this “instinctual” sense of connection greatly enhances man’s always limited capacity to accept his own death, because he “survives himself through his attachments.” On the other hand, man’s “acquired” and ostensibly higher achievement of reason can greatly contribute to his refusal to accept death. For man’s increasing knowledge of natural and human phenomenon has been accompanied by a trend toward individuation, and this in turn has weakened his sense of connection and presented him with the unacceptable prospect of death as total distinction.

The point is that our present understanding of man no longer permits us to posit a simple dichotomy of “instinct” (and “faith”) versus “reason”; and the error is compounded by extending the dichotomy into such discrete anatomical and physiological assumptions about the brain. The dichotomy can be transcended by the kind of unitary approach which many writers have recently emphasized (including Lancelot Law Whyte whom Koestler quotes in other contexts). One must then consider the symbols and forms man requires in order to make sense of his world and act upon it – and the way in which these combine various elements of emotion (or “f

”) and “reason” (or “logic”). As Susanne Langer has emphasized, man’s lifelong mental task is one of continuous “transformation” of the “data” reaching him from within and without. And this “symbol-making function is one of man’s primary activities, like eating, looking, or moving about… the fundamental process of his mind.”

From this standpoint man’s quest for “eternal survival” can be seen as symbolically realized by artistic and other cultural “works” he transmits to future generations, as well as by his simple biological continuity in families and nations. The quest is most likely to take dangerous forms during periods of historical upheaval when this symbolic community is impaired. At such times members of one group may feel compelled to reaffirm this immortality by murdering members of another. Read More:

…in our Reptilian Brain, the common part of our heritage which we share with reptiles. The Reptilian brain is only concerned with survivaland sex, hence our culture often limits us to just survival. We share 96% ofour genome with apes. The Alpha Male Theory of Leadership is something which a group of humans share with a pack of wolves or chimpanzees. For all these species, both sexual privileges and serotonin level goes up with the increase in hierarchy and status… Read More:

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