Point Omega (summary)
summary, 20 lines
✰ <level 1> Humanity seems to be at the brink of a major change in the direction of its evolution. What happened before is the following. An increased intelligence emerged somewhere between 2 million and a quarter million years ago. This could only happen after a safeguard had emerged in our ancestor's genome preventing high intelligence to be used for manipulating our own behaviour. We call that congenital Self-Blindness. It is argued here that this is a prerequisite for the evolution of higher intelligence. More recently, only some 10.000 years ago, another major shift occurred in human evolution, the development of agriculture. Agriculture made military defense, high level organisation and long term planning necessary.
From that moment on, evolution at the meme level took over the lead from evolution at the gene level. Meme evolution moves much faster than gene evolution and thus drags our gene evolution along. Human beings therefore suffer from incompatibility between on the one hand the "old" genetic organisation and primordial innate impulses and on the other hand the "recent" meme level demands of modern agricultural, political and military structures.
Moreover, the meme level power structures have increased their influence over us humans by facilitating high levels of neurotisation. However, quite a number of techniques with which power structures keep their carriers, us humans, down and unawares, are nowadays gradually losing their strength. Once these blinding forces have lost their power sufficiently, understanding will emerge of the cultural mechanisms that keep us bound in an unpleasant subjugation since the beginning of the agricultural revolution. By that time it will as a consequence also become more likely that humanity will become aware of the reasons for our innate Self-Blindness which has been our special feature for more than half a million years already. Intelligence will then deploy more fully and it will end up understanding itself. And that is likely to trigger a chain reaction of understanding, freeing our effective intelligence and opening up myriads of new possibilities. The gradual evolution of humanity towards more consciousness, will then shift to the conscious evolution of Homo sapiens.
We have labeled this shift as the "Point Omega" transition.
summary, 2 pages (On the treshold of change)
✰ <level 1> On this Wiki it is argued that humanity is on the treshold of a major change in the direction of its evolution, which changing point we call Point Omega. Human hominid ancestors developed an increased intelligence somewhere between 2 million and a quarter million years ago, escaping from the usual upper boundary of intelligence in the animal kingdom(*). This could only happen after a provision, a safeguard had emerged in our ancestor's genome preventing high intelligence to be used for manipulating our own behaviour. We label this provision as (cognitive) Self-Blindness. So, what happened is that from the time the species Homo developed out of its primate ancestors, it paired a superior intelligence to a specific inability to utilize intelligence to its own behaviour. In a sense, we were able to become so clever by virtue of that peculiar stupidness, or rather a specific blindness for the self. All this happened more than 200.000 years or maybe even starting some 2.000.000 years ago.
The agricultural revolution
More recently, only some 10.000 to 20.000 years ago, another major shift occurred in human evolution. That was the development of agriculture. That cultural innovation thoroughly changed the way groups of humans lived together. The family groups or bands of individuals, our primate ancestors and related primates lived in, were replaced by much larger social structures with a much higher level of task specialisation. And agriculture made military defense, a high level of organisation and longer term planning, necessary. The evolution of culture became of paramount importance for survival in the group-competition for (agricultural) resources. From that moment on evolution at the meme level took the lead over evolution at the gene level(**). Meme level power structures compete with one another for supremacy and in the process they are dragging the much slower selection pressure at the gene level in their carriers, us humans, along.
Suffering from evolutionary "jet-lag"
Thus, selection processes between competing power structures nowadays determine the fate of mankind. It is "group selection" to the extreme. Homo sapiens is the carrier of genes and at the same time the carrier of memes. Only, the meme evolution moves much faster than the gene evolution. And since the gene evolution is moving so much slower than the meme evolution, human beings are suffering from a certain emotional and motivational friction between our gene-level basis and the present day meme-level demands. This friction stems from an incompatibility between on the one hand our primordial genetic organisation and subsequent innate impulses and on the other hand the demands and requirements of the quickly evolving modern agricultural and military organisations that are ruling our lives. We could call this an "evolutionary jet-lag" from which humanity is suffering(*).
Power structures need masses of carriers, us humans, that can easily be manipulated and programmed. One of the ways power structures achieve that goal is by facilitating high levels of neurotisation and feelings of dependency. That is of course not conducive for a high level of individual development(***). But, whereas the quality of the behavioural output may thus on average be reduced in us neurotic carriers of the power structure memes, this negative effect is more than compensated by increased economic and military pushing power of the meme level power structures in charge. For the power structures malleability and obedience is more important than individualist creative output. Since one of the results of such neurotic dependency is an impaired developmental process, the result is that in us humans self actualisation(***) has become the exception rather than the rule, which is contrary to the state of affairs in primates and other animals.
Dormant intellectual potential
In summary, we humans are evidently the pinnacle of the evolution of intelligence. However, our intellectual faculties appear to be harnassed by specific awareness blocks and intelligence blocks at several levels. So, different mechanisms work together to keep human intellectual faculties under control. More specifically, we suffer from the following handicaps regarding the deployment of high intelligence: 1) an innate Self-Blindness(*), blocking awareness of our own behaviour, originating from a quarter to two million years ago; 2) high average neurotic states and stress levels because of a structural mismatch(**) between our primordial behavioural impulses and modern requirements from meme level power structures; this mismatch arose since some 10.000 to 20.000 years ago; 3) extra neuroticising special effects from the meme level power structures that further facilitate malleability and obedience of its carriers. Both 2) and 3) result in higher strength and pushing power of the power structures in charge, but at the expense of a lower than normal percentage of self actualising individuals in the population.
This leads us to the following conclusion. With an intelligence that is structurally and genetically blocked regarding the own behaviour and that is furthermore systematically reduced by neuroticising power structures, the full human intellectual potential is not coming to full expression, but is largely laying dormant. If this view is correct, it implies a rather sorry state of Homo sapiens, but simultaneously points at unsuspected human potentials.
When studying in detail the mechanisms ruling learning and development(***) and the mechanisms ruling the life and birth of power structures(***), it can be argued that a number of the mechanisms that in practice keep us humans trapped in neuroticising power structures, are nowadays gradually losing their influence and power. That will most probably lead, at some point in time, to a situation in which humanity's intellectual potency will not be controlled and limited to the same extent any more and will gradually or suddenly break loose from its cultural fetters causing a chain reaction in personal and social development, including an explosion of free intellectual capacity.
That will then in turn lead to an understanding of the cultural mechanisms that keep us bound in subjugation to the impersonal power structures in charge since the beginning of the agricultural revolution. And once that will happen, it is becoming more likely also that humanity will start to grasp the reason for our innate Self-Blindness that has been our special feature for more than half a million years already.
In short, once that happens, intelligence will understand itself, which future point in time we have labeled Point Omega. That is likely to trigger a chain reaction of understanding, opening up myriads of new possibilities. From that moment on, the gradual evolution of humanity to more and more consciousness, will shift to conscious evolution, which will be an important shift towards a completely new direction in the evolution of Homo sapiens. This shift in human evolution will be far more basic and far more influential than was the agricultural revolution. From an evolutionary point of view, the agricultural revolution will then be seen as just a transitory state of mankind, that, in hindsight, unavoidably occurred just before our species "came of age".
summary in 5 pages
✰ <level 1> This 5 page summary and the data it refers to consist of only scientific data, devoid of and often contrary to popular beliefs. Wishful thinking is eliminated wherever it is traced. All data presented are derived from scientific research and can be traced and checked by anybody interested. The novelty about it is in the unusual combination of facts and data from different disciplines, rendering an overall picture of the human condition with quite unexpected perspectives. The prediction of a Point Omega transition that can materialize in a relatively short period of time, results from simple and clean thinking. The only speculative part is the quantification of timing; when can it / will it happen ?
This summary consists of four parts.
- The human species is peculiarly unable to think clearly about its own behaviour. Our intelligent capacities are effectively blocked regarding our personal and social functioning. It will be argued that this specific blindness, a blindness which started to develop some half million to two million years ago, is a prerequisite for the evolution of high intelligence (no matter how peculiar and contradictory this sounds). We will explore the consequences of this phenomenon, in the past as well as for the (near) future.
- The second part is about how the dynamics of our emotions and motivations are organized. We will deal only with the most elementary of these motivational dynamics. I will present the basics of “Reversal Theory” (developed by Apter and Smith) and explain how this theory explains the basics of our learning process and why this is important to be aware of.
- What controls our lives at present? Human autonomy is an illusion. Instead, highly impersonal power structures are in charge. This development started with the agricultural revolution, some 10.000 years ago. Since then we gradually ended up in a situation where humans only do have any value insofar as they are suitable carriers of “memes”, belonging to winning power structures. However, this millennia old state of affairs has become highly unstable lately, leading us to discussion item 4.
- On the probability of a Point Omega transition, possibly within the near future.
1) Self Blindness and Social-role Blindness
✰ <level 1> We can put a man on the moon, we can dive to the bottom of the deepest oceans, we have produced Hydrogen bombs, we can annihilate the whole of the human world population within one day, but we cannot think clearly in front of a mirror. How strange !
The human species is peculiarly unable to think clearly about its own behaviour. Our intelligent capacities are effectively blocked regarding our personal and social functioning. It can be argued that this specific blindness, a blindness which started to develop some half million to two million years ago, is a prerequisite for the evolution of high intelligence. Social and personal blindness is a prerequisite for the evolution of intelligence, any intelligence, beyond a certain level.
Social and personal blindness is culturally supported by massive and multidimensional organized ignorance and superstition. It can easily be shown experimentally that human beings are quite unawares of the way they socially interact and how their capacity to understand matters is effectively blocked to give ample space to original and primordial social reflexes.
The reason, why in such matters intellectual capacities are blocked in favor of original, primordial reflexes, is stemming from the functional conflict between proximal and ultimal causes of behaviour. I will explain why this is so, and what are its consequences. In short, it means that ultimal reasons for behaviour, the evolutionary usefulness of behaviour, are not the same as the short-term reasons why we behave like we do. We derive feelings of satisfaction from obeying emotional drives and instincts successfully, drinking, eating, sleeping, sex, exploration, etc. These instincts are organized in such a way that, ultimally, they serve procreational purposes.
Intelligence may / might be used to find – easier - shortcuts to short term satisfaction. However, such shortcuts are quite likely to outflank the collateral behavioural effects of those primordial instincts, collaterals that serve procreational purposes, for which reasons those instincts were evolutionarily selected for in the first place. Intelligence, applied on our own behaviour, therefore quickly leads to sterile behaviour, no matter how satisfactory from a personal emotional (very proximal) point of view. For that reason awareness blocks for the own behaviour had to develop, parallel to the development of superior intelligent capacities. Otherwise the latter never could have evolved further than a certain, not dangerous, level.
However, from an evolutionary point of view, it is also unavoidable that at some point in time the paradox of a high intelligence, paired to not understanding oneself, becomes technically too unstable to continue.
Point Omega (term of Teilhard de Chardin) is when the present system collapses, when collective ignorance cannot be maintained any longer and understanding of self and social relationships starts to spread like a prairie fire, releasing at the same time unparalleled amounts of energy, boosting in turn this process itself. It will function as a sort of chain reaction resulting in an explosion of awareness and clarity.
The presently ruling awareness blocks for one’s own behaviour, one’s emotions and motivations, imply that human beings are in particular blind to how they interact socially. For more on this phenomenon of “Social-Role Blindness” and for exploring some examples of how this works and what are its consequences for the present as well as for the future, click here(***) .
Some of the consequences of Self Blindness:
- Socially, we act like animals, especially where things matter very much.
- Fears continue and are not understood. Thus human beings are more easily locked up in neurotic systems permanently.
Implications for the future:
- Breaking awareness / intelligence blocks is of crucial importance.
- Awareness of the own personal motivations opens strategic moves for change and escape from neurotic imprisonment.
- This awareness and the breaking of the intelligence blocks is crucial antidote against the power structures in charge.
For more, click here: Social Role Blindness(***).
2) Reversal Theory of Emotions and Motivations
✰ <level 1> Children learn and develop by playing. Almost everybody is aware of that. Children play for fun. They like to explore and to venture out. In between they seek - and generally find - cover, security and reassurance. Alternating between venturing out playfully and seeking cover and reassurance, they gather experience in optimal quantities and thus develop their skills and behavioural repertoire. Adults show less playful behaviour. They are "mature" and their behavioural repertoire is supposed to be fully grown. Still, human adults and also semi adults, show less playful exploration than what seems natural. It seems that humanity largely lost its ability to learn by playing. The CEL (Cognition-Energy-Learning model)(*), based on Reversal Theory, explains how this works in detail and this Wiki elsewhere deals with the reasons why humanity lost most of its capacity to learn by playing in the natural way and what are the implications of this defect for the present human situation.
“Reversal Theory" (developed by Apter and Smith) explains the basics of our learning process. The basic principles are explained in a different chapter with graphs, pictures and examples. click: Reversal Theory(***)
Since these mechanisms of emotions and motivations are the very basis of our behaviour and thus of our very existence, consciousness of these mechanisms is of crucial importance. It is striking and highly peculiar, that awareness of these mechanisms has not always already been the normal state of affairs. Our cultures invariably have taken care of blinding us specifically for these basic aspects of our existence, utilizing and enhancing the already innate specific human blindness for the self, establishing and maintaining numerous structures to help consolidate that innate blindness.
Becoming aware of the reversal mechanisms in our emotional organization is therefore a key to any attempt of mankind to (re)gain autonomy.
Once these basic mechanisms of collecting and digesting experience, and from there the dynamics of learning, are understood, it is much easier to optimize instructional and educational methods, helping to enlighten mankind. In fact, this very theory can render the tools to boost self-actualization processes on a massive scale. It enables people to effortlessly enhance and stimulate general developmental processes in one another.
Before diving into the details of Reversal Theory(***) it is good to realize that whereas the mechanics of the motivational reversals are basically very, very simple from a purely technical point of view, they are nevertheless very difficult to grasp for most people. This is because of clear evolutionary reasons, that are resulting in the unavoidable specific human blindness for oneself and for all mechanisms involved.
3) Impersonal power structures ruling our world
✰ <level 1> Since the agricultural revolution, since over 10.000 years ago, human evolution switched to another level and took a novel course. Evolution up to that point basically was an affair of competing gene structures, in humans just as in any other living creatures; the familiar Darwinian stuff. From that time on however, power structures (meme-structures) took over. This means that, essentially, meme-structures (term of Dawkins) started to compete more strongly with each other in a struggle for survival. The major evolutionary forces, working on mankind, from that time on also operated on the level of memes. The evolution of memes runs much faster than the evolution of genes. The classical evolution of genes is lagging behind, now responding to the requirements imposed by the evolving meme structures. As a consequence, the genes humans carry in their bodies, have become just subsidiary to those goals. We have to be suitable meme carriers in the first place. From being merely gene’s survival machines, we have become the pawns of power structures as well. From the time of the agricultural revolution, some 10.000 years ago, up till this moment, it has been in the interest of the power structures in charge to keep us humans in a perpetual state of neurosis and stress. Neuroticism renders a lower than optimal useful output, but this lower output per individual is more than compensated by increased pushing power and retaliation force of the meme structures in charge. Besides, the neurotic state also enhances controllability and malleability of masses, which is an important advantage for the power structures. The collective neurotic state is characterized among other things by a high average fear level and as a consequence over-dominance of the telic meta-motivational state (***), which in turn hampers healthy developmental processes in the individual. (For more details click here (***))
Because meme-selection occurs much faster than gene-selection, there is a time squeeze involved. We humans, as the only carriers of those meme-structures, find ourselves at the interface between the ancient gene-evolution and the novel meme-evolution. We humans therefore get the full load of that time squeeze, our gene-evolution lagging behind our meme-evolution, with all the internal and external frictions involved (see also here (**)).
An easy way to explain the human situation is by utilizing terms from computer technology. We human beings, with our intelligence and learning capacity, are the carriers of information, of memes. The suitability for that task is determined in the first place by our genes. The genes make our hardware so to speak. We are the PC’s. The memes we carry, are the software. We humans contain flesh and soul, hardware and software. We are subject to evolutionary forces at two levels, the old evolution of hardware and the new, much faster, evolution of software.
However, there are good reasons to assume that this state of mass neurosis and slavery regarding the power structures in control (**), has become highly unstable lately, leading us to issue number 4, Point Omega and mass enlightenment.
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4) Point Omega / Mass enlightenment
✰ <level 1> There are reasons why we can predict that the old scheme will collapse and enlightenment (once more) will spread (and this time will win for good).
Analysis of the usual state of affairs and the evolutionary selection mechanisms keeping us there, renders a number of insights (and reasons for optimism):
- The information explosion. Power structures derive much of their power from information gaps. Information privileges are breaking down these days. Also, unpopular power actions are increasingly more difficult to hide. Secrecy schemes are evaporating all over the world.
- Power structures derive great advantages from ignorance and superstition, making their meme carriers / subjects more malleable and manageable. The information explosion renders a strong democratization of information. Ignorance is therefore increasingly more difficult to induce and to maintain. Structures of superstition, like religions and such, are rapidly losing their stability and influence.
- Like neuroticism, self-actualization is also very contagious. The communication explosion of this era reduces distances. Through the Internet all sorts of groups emerge with increasing ease. Self-actualizers, historically a small (escapee) minority, therefore also can easier find their likes nowadays. Critical sizes of self-actualizing groups can therefore develop easier and can eventually trigger chain reactions of contagious self-actualization. That will undermine the usual thoughtless and massive subservience to power structures.
- Birth control is inducing more and more children being born wanted with parents who are ready to bring them up successfully in more harmonious situations. This increases the percentage of children growing up with sufficient basic security. This in turn increases the likelihood of self-actualization and thus of enlightenment.
- Two other genetic mechanisms will be discussed each of which is quickly losing its age-old function and evolutionary purpose. That way some cornerstones are taken out of the foundation of the power structures in charge.
- .. One of these is the effect of selection forces against self-will and creativity in any type of organization.
- .. Another one is the disastrous effect of genetic pollution wherever there is a relatively even distribution of wealth and reproductive capacities.
- Both of these primordial causes for periodic catastrophes and disaster always thwarted any attempt to establish schemes for larger scale self-actualization and made them inherently unstable in time. Scientific understanding of these genetic and social mechanisms can take also these stings out of human evolutionary existence, freeing the way for a stabilization of massive self-actualization and enlightenment.
- There are a number of threats for the (pleasant) survival of mankind that force more and more people to think over thoroughly the human condition and the options that we have. There is mass pollution, there is the nuclear capacity to destroy the human species largely or completely, waging war is nearing more and more to potential massive self-destruction, etc. etc. These urgencies trigger more awareness about our own situation and our own functioning than has been usually the case, due to the innate blocks preventing awareness of and preventing clear thinking about our own behaviour and our own (social) situation. Such increased awareness therefore sooner or later undermines the ultimate power of the meme structures in charge and will undermine their blinding schemes.
In order to compensate for the changes as mentioned above, the power structures in charge would need to step up selection forces to make their meme carriers even more reliable then before. That would mean: more blindness for the own behaviour than before, more neurotic and thus more malleable then before, less intelligent then before, etc. However, many of the changes as mentioned above, occur in such a rapidly increasing speed, that there simply is not enough time any more for the selection pressure to change the properties of us meme carriers quickly enough to secure the safety and evolutionary success of the meme-power-structures. The whole of the meme structures is rapidly slipping towards a point of no return, where the meme world will inescapably start "to understand itself".
Whereas it is difficult to estimate what type of time schedule follows from the above insights, the conclusion is that in a not too far future the all pervading power of the meme structures in charge will be overruled and that the subsequent neurotic and subservient state of the human species will also end and be replaced by mass enlightenment, which has been mankind’s primordial potential to start with. The natural state of enlightenment is where we come from, be it without the awareness at that time of all our behavioural mechanisms, behavioural reflexes, that took us for a (rough) ride during the last 10.000 or 20.000 years, since before the agricultural revolution. Becoming aware, and with our present day technological tool box, we finally can reclaim our long lost right to lead complete lives, and we can take the evolutionary lead ourselves. And besides, ................... we have no choice.
Speaking about mass enlightenment we should clarify one common misconception. We do not mean to claim that after passing Point Omega mankind will enter in a stable state of eternal "happiness". Happiness is a very relative concept. In the Canadian philosopher Tennesson's words: "happiness is for the pigs". We are designed to feel and become aware of differences. Steady states tend to slip out of conscious awareness. Feeling happy therefore refers to a change in mood. Thinking of it as a steady state to be sought after is therefore a delusion. What will be mankind's condition after point omega, as is the condition of present day enlightened persons, is a state in which the rather continuous emotional and motivational friction, caused and fueled by the functional discrepancies between P-Feelings and N-demands, has been overcome, has disappeared. As is discussed elsewhere in more detail, P-feelings, "Primordial" feelings, stem from our primordial evolutionary heritage, representing our most basic feelings, preferences and tendencies. N-demands, "New" demands, stem from the relatively recent, less than 10.000 years old, complex social power structures we live in since the agricultural revolution. After Point Omega we will not so much "feel" more happy, we will "only" be more happy from an objective point of view (which we do not feel). In particular, the functional friction and stress between the P-feelings and the N-demands will be reduced by a basic and thorough understanding of how it all works, an awareness that will take us humans "off the hook".
That's all. Whereas it will not be felt so much, it is sufficiently worthwhile to rejoice! It will affect our real behaviour, not our subjective, delusionary perception of it.
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