Saturday, April 9, 2016

The Error Called Man


Arthur Koestler considered man an evolutionary blunder.  The lion’s share of the wealth we create is spent in war, terrorism and other destructive activities.  We have infinite gods with countless priests and yet we are not able to surmount the unbounded hatred we carry inside our little hearts.  We work miracles with science and technology but remain crude brutes deep inside us.  Is it all because of some evolutionary error?

Arthur Koestler
Koestler believed it was.  There is “a screw loose in the human mind,” he wrote in his book, The Ghost in the Machine.  He called the Homo Sapiens a "biological freak, the result of some remarkable mistake in the evolutionary process."  It is because the ape began to walk on two legs too quickly.  The whole mutation took place in too short a time for the human heart to change significantly.  The reasoning brain evolved, but the heart remained savage.  That’s what Koestler says.

Koestler relied on neuroscientist Paul D. MacLean’s model of the human brain for his arguments.  According to MacLean, three brains coexist in the human skull: a primitive reptilian one, another inherited from the lower mammals, and the really human one.  These brains function more or less autonomously.  Consequently we, human beings, see the world through two different lenses: a very primitive one which has not evolved much from the brains of the snakes and the donkeys, and the other thinking, reasoning, evolved brain.  Unfortunately, the snake and the donkey inside us insist on imposing their perceptions as the truths on us.  The result is a form of schizophysiology and the crude animal brain makes us delusional mass murderers.

 
Paul D. MacLean
Mooted in the 1960s, MacLean’s theory has been studied in greater detail later and has many takers today in various sciences including psychology.  It has a good number of detractors too.  My knowledge of science being highly limited, I shall not weigh the scientific merits of MacLean’s brain model.  But I think it can make us think about ourselves in a different light.  It can make us think about why we continue to invest in war materials more than peace and compassion.  About why we choose to divide us into Hindus and Muslims, the elite and the untouchable, Ramzade and Haramzade...


14 comments:

  1. may be man is a product of some experiments carried out by aliens; experiments that went wrong

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    1. Interestingly, Koestler recommended a genetic mutation as a remedy for the error. But experiments at that level are more likely to go wrong!

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  2. The only reason we divide is to rule/domesticate and it begins with the division of nature and culture.

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    1. Very true. The hunger for power is more demanding than the hunger for food. Power will bring everything else!

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  3. We haven't progressed much from our primitive days. The quest for power can be explained partly by animal instincts and territorial behaviour. Problem also is social and cultural mores have often been manipulated by the powerful to keep a hold on the masses

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    1. I find myself agreeing with you on a lot of points, Lata, including the ones I read elsewhere. Probably, we think on similar wavelengths.

      Power motif is something that I have been working on for months now. I think power has become the basic drive now that poverty and hunger are not a serious problem for most. Even the religious people are trying to acquire power when they grab lands, show off mighty fan (devotee?) following, set us business empires... Power brings everything else.

      Even culture, the way it is being manipulated today in India, is a tool for garnering more power.

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  4. Hmm, the donkey and the snake still rule the roost in most of mankind methinks after reading about Maclean's theory! A very interesting perspective that offers a perspective to justify the schizo physiological human behavior acting on a self-destruct mode!

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    1. MacLean's perspective can explain a lot of things easily. I'm not sure how far science has accepted the theory. But I find it explaining a lot of human behaviour. You too seem to find it equally acceptable.

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  5. Koestler's theory makes a lot of sense. The heart remained savage. That explains a lot, doesn't it?

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    1. The theory is vindicated by observation whatever science may say about it.

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  6. Replies
    1. Nice to see you here after a long time, Uppal ji.

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  7. "Nothing is more sad than the death of an illusion" I still remember this quote by Mr. Koestler. He words, often harsh do make a lot of sense. Wonderful Write up sir.

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    1. Thank you, Jig. We are still savages at heart, according to Koestler. Many people can't accept that, I guess.

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