Why a Point Omega transition ?
Why we can expect a Point Omega transition:
the implication of 2 antagonist mechanisms of positive reinforcement in processes of human learning and development
1) Unfolding of innate potentials, normal or extraordinary ?
- Self-actualization the exception, rather than the rule, in Homo sapiens
- Is the foundation of Humanistic Psychology an Evolutionary Paradox ?
2) How we learn from experience; The CEL (Cognition-Energy-Learning model)
- 2a) The CEL and contagiousness
- 2b) Contagiousness between individuals
- 2c) Evolutionary efficiency of the CEL
3) Theory of the point of inflection
- 3a) Positive reinforcement loops in two directions
- 3b) The inflection-point relationship between self-actualization of individuals and self-actualization in the population at large
4) The usual Upper Limit of Intelligence in Evolution
5) The Evolution of Power Structures
6) Evolutionary Jet-Lag
7) N-demands versus P-feelings, their effect on Self-actualization in power structures
8) Means of subjugation
9) N-demands from the Power Structures
- 9a) N-demands and the low level performance of human beings
- 9b) N-demands versus the two Basic Options of the Learning System
10) Modern developments undermining the customary subjugation props of the power structures
✰ <level 1> This article explains how the conclusion was reached that it is likely that humanity will shortly go through a transition that will change the life of us humans more than anything before in human history, yes even more than anything in human evolution. If our deductions are correct, the coming transition will even be a novelty from the perspective of evolution itself on our planet. In that case it will in fact be the emergence of what we could label as "conscious evolution" which we may consider, as explained further below, as a novel, be it unavoidable, development of earthly evolution.
What is more, if our deductions are right it should be considered as a basic law of nature that on any planet in the universe where life is possible, sooner or later "conscious evolution" will emerge. For our planet that moment in time is now, or rather, very soon. And we humans happen to be the carriers of that pinnacle of evolution. This may seem a rare coincidence, but on the other hand the emerging awareness of these phenomena itself is determining the uniqueness and the importance of this particular evolutionary moment.
This strange conclusion, that we can indeed expect such a sudden rise in human potentials and in the quality of human functioning, is based on a combination of 10 "findings", either in the form of well established facts or in the form of hypotheses that one might wish to corroborate further. We will mention these 10 "findings" very briefly below, and then indicate how taking these 10 findings together, leads us to quite surprising conclusions, conclusions that seem quite unbelievable at first glance.
About each of these "findings" more detailed information and argumentation can be found in other articles on this Wiki. Links are provided in the text, indicated with (*), (**) or (***), depending on the level of detail. Some of these findings are well known, but are commonly not applicable in a context as we apply it here. Some other findings are also well established, but as yet only in circles of specialist researchers. Finally, a small minority of the findings that we utilize here, are novel in the sense that they have not yet been published before, or only very summarily. The latter couple of findings have as yet not been the subject of a broad scientific discussion.
In case the texts below are experienced as incomprehensible or maybe even as repulsive reading, please read the disclaimer(*) first, before continuing reading and putting your personal tranquility of mind at risk.
Since this article aims at explaining how the conclusion of a pending Point Omega shift was reached, the 10 findings, presented here, leading to that conclusion, are only mentioned very briefly and summarily. Otherwise we cannot keep sufficient overview to make the conclusion plausible. For grasping the theme of this article, it is enough to just take these 10 findings for granted. Checking proof of each of them can be postponed till reading the more detailed articles on the Wiki about each separate issue. While going, the places where more detailed argumentation can be found, are indicated.
1) Unfolding of innate potentials, normal or extraordinary ?
Self-actualization(***) the exception, rather than the rule, in Homo sapiens
✰✰ <level 2> The first finding is about the, still rather controversial, finding that most human individuals are functioning way below their innate capacities, that they are on average only reaching levels of skills and mastery that are a fraction of what "could have been". Expressed in other terms, "self-actualization", the coming to bloom of a rather complete collection of innate potentials in a human being is the exception, rather than the rule.
If this issue is correct, it is clearly an anomaly. The least one has to admit to the critics of this scientific idea, is that, if it is correct, it certainly is very different from how it works in other species. How then, if correct, is such a strange and unexpected situation possible and how could that ever be an ESS (Evolutionarily Stable Strategy) ?
- We have derived this idea from Abraham Maslow, who stood at the basis of humanistic psychology(**). He launched the concept that in humans self-actualization is the exception, rather than the rule. And personally, as a curious researcher, well familiar with his field of research, I could not discard his work as being mistaken. Under scrutiny, Maslow appeared to have done his homework quite thoroughly, starting with his research on monkeys and subsequently investigating if and how his findings also pertained to humans.
Although going quite strongly against anything that an evolutionary biologist would expect, Homo sapiens emerged from his research indeed as an anomaly, an evolutionary contradiction, in the sense that we apparently are a species in which the majority of the members are functioning way below their inborn potentials and not the other way around, as is customary in any other species. Naturally, and logically, in other species the average phenotype can be considered as more or less the best that the genotypes in question can produce under the customary circumstances. Maslow's findings about humans seem to be at variance with this basic rule of behavioural organization. However, under scrutiny still not being able to discard Maslow's work as mistaken, I was left with contradictory and seemingly impossible information about the behaviour of ourselves, of Homo sapiens.
Is the foundation of Humanistic Psychology an Evolutionary Paradox ?
✰✰ <level 2> At first sight it does make absolutely no sense that in Homo sapiens, considering itself as the evolutionary pinnacle of intelligence, it seems to work the other way around as what is the case in the rest of the animal kingdom. According to Maslow and his followers, just a minority of the human population (way less than 5%) seems to be actualizing the full innate behavioural repertoire, while the majority gets stuck in truncated behaviour patterns, neuroses and other fear clusters. How strange ! If the available data are correct and interpreted in the right way, there must be something quite extraordinary going on in our own species !
In what follows below we need to stay aware of this puzzling question mark that we are stuck with up to this point.
In describing the differences he found between "self-actualizers" and ordinary people, Maslow pointed out, among other things, that self-actualizing people keep showing playful moods and behaviour until higher age, whereas most adults appear to almost lose their propensity for playfulness and are "serious" most of the time. This difference ties in with what we ourselves found out about the basic organisation of our learning process, as laid down in the CEL(***). And that novel learning model (CEL = Cognition-Energy-Learning model) is the second finding we need to mention here. This CEL is about the technical details of how the innate potentials are in practice translated into mastery and skills :
2) How we learn from experience; The CEL (Cognition-Energy-Learning model)
✰✰ <level 2> The development of the CEL (Cognition-Energy-Learning)(***) model, my novel theory of learning, based on Apter and Smith's Reversal Theory, but expanded with some evolutionary considerations, shows that the system of emotional and motivational reversals (see fig. 2.1, 2.2, 2.3, 2.4 and 2.5) can be regarded as the behavioural engine that is needed to enable individuals to make optimum use of an open-ended capacity of learning. This model deals with the antagonist system of telic and paratelic (meta)motivational states that motors the processes of gathering relevant experiences. That implies that any species with the capacity to acquire a behavioural repertoire that is specifically geared to deal with different personal coincidental circumstances of living, does have such a reversal system in its behavioural organisation. Without such a reversal system, a capacity for situational adaptation is not possible.
Since the CEL is at variance with most customary learning paradigms (the approach-avoidance model for instance being implied as just a special case in the learning process), it seems appropriate at this point to illustrate the CEL with some graphs and illustrations. For what follows further below, a good basic understanding of how our learning system works and of how our emotional and motivational dynamics play their role, is indispensable.
While studying the dynamics of the CEL, it is good to keep in mind that this mechanism, this system of choosing and selecting experiences, when it developed some hundred million years ago, was a major step forward in the evolution of flexible behaviour patterns that can adapt to changing circumstances.
The Cognition-Energy-Learning model (the CEL) describes how situational learning options are in practice exploited, how behaviour patterns grow and develop, depending on circumstances. The CEL accounts on the one hand for the development of cumulations of fear triggered avoidance reflexes and on the other hand accounts for the reprocessing and further integration of experiences into a higher level integration and "understanding" of complex situations. The way the CEL operates produces quickly acquired rough and ready avoidance reflexes, that tend to grow in clusters of related situations (see fig. 2.a.3). But, if the individual manages to frequently attain paratelic motivational states, the collected experiences can be reintegrated into higher level understanding and more efficient behaviour patterns that are applicable in more situations.
So, the CEL accounts for rough and ready avoidance reflexes, but also for "mastery". And which option prevails, primarily depends on the timing of the successive experiences, nót on their outcome (an experimental demonstration of this principle is described elsewhere on this Wiki)(**). And because of the positive feed back loops involved in the learning process, these learning processes are highly contagious, within individuals as well as between individuals of a group (see paragraphs 2a and 2b below).
The CEL predicts and explains traditional (behaviourist) laws of reactive learning as well as mechanisms of pro-active learning and growth as described by e.g., humanistic psychological theories of learning and growth. The CEL can explain both and solves the seeming contradictions between these two major schools of psychological thought (to be further explained in a different article on this Wiki).
Whereas the CEL, as a relatively new learning paradigm (first published between 1984-1986 and 1991), is not widely in use yet among scientists, it is basically nothing very special. It is a behavioural asset that is available in many animal species from different evolutionary phyla, that is in all species that have the capacity to develop a flexible behaviour pattern, that can be adapted to the coincidental individual circumstances of living of the individuals in question.
2a) The CEL and contagiousness
✰✰ <level 2> What is of importance here, is that this CEL model describes that learning and behavioural growth is not only flexible, but also highly contagious(***). What we mean with "contagious" is that badly processed experiences lead to emergency-oriented, rough and ready, behavioural avoidance responses, fear complexes and eventually to neuroticism, and that subsequently such fear complexes diminish the likelihood of a proper processing of further experiences in the (immediate) future. Formulated in a different way: sub-optimal frequencies of certain aversive experiences in the past diminish the likelihood in the immediate future to arrange a more optimal frequency of experiences of those aversive situations. Unless the subject in question manages to establish long enough and frequent enough "time outs" from those experiences in question, he/she will be stuck on a path of culminating and expanding fear- and avoidance reflexes without good chances for eventual mastery of the situation.
Reversely, well-processed experiences, stemming from a more optimal frequency of the aversive experiences in question, increase the likelihood of well processing further experiences and thus a further increase of skills and mastery. From experiments with mice(**) I learned that the "timing" of experiences was a major determining factor for resulting in either high level skills, or just in clusters of rough and ready avoidance reflexes. This finding was quite different from the common idea from behaviourist theory that the result of experiences, avoidance or mastery, mainly depends on the immediate outcome of the experiences in question.
On the contrary, it appeared that a proper timing of the always aversive experiences in question was far more important for the outcome of the learning process.
Considering the general characteristics of the mechanism of the CEL, it strikes the mind that there is a basic "unfairness" to the whole learning mechanism, in that the already favoured individuals learn best and the misfits have the worst chances to further profit from their further experiences. So, the learning system tends to further amplify already existing differences in development.
But from an evolutionary point of view, the system works very efficient and economical. Basically the CEL harbours two types of so called positive reinforcement loops, one in the direction of gaining skills and mastery, and the other in the direction of culminating avoidance reflexes and eventually neuroses (see figures 2.a.1 and 2.a.2 below).
(Note that both the "positive learning spiral" as well as the "negative learning spiral" are, technically speaking, "positive" feed back loops, loops with an "amplifying reinforcement".)
So the CEL describes how eventually negative COEX-systems are formed and may expand and strengthen in time. The resulting phobia and neuroses may seem disfunctional, or at least sub-optimal, but such negative COEX systems make the individual avoid all situations that may lead to similar aversive reactions as caused the avoidance reflexes in the first place. The negative COEX system may reduce the degrees of freedom available and may produce highly truncated and stereotyped behaviour, but for the time being it makes the individual to keep distance from the aversive situations and anything like it, for the time being. Survival is thus getting priority over "mastery". Mastery may still eventually follow later, if the subject in question in due time has sufficiently managed to re-establish more optimal alternations of the telic and paratelic states.
The more situations and experiences of any kind have been experienced, re-experienced, and subsequently digested and mastered, and thus have become familiar and maybe even reassuring, the easier it is to attain relaxation in any one problematic situation inducing the telic state. And this is the more likely if the previously mastered situations and settings are in some way related to that particular problematic situation in question.
Well-integrated experience and skills are most easily applicable in situations to which those experiences and skills bear some relevance. New skills and fields of mastery are therefore most likely to develop in areas of experience which are in some way related to other, already properly integrated and mastered areas of experience.
Skills therefore tend to grow in clusters, and conversely, unskills (sets of stereotyped avoidance reaction patterns) also tend to grow in clusters (see Figure 2.a.3).
A cluster of 'unskills' (see figure) can sometimes be labelled as a "phobia" or as a specific form of 'neurosis', and indeed this is the case if the cluster of frightening items is—for the onlooker (e.g., a therapist)—easily recognizable as a 'special' setting. However, according to the view presented here, a behavioural repertoire which is just neurotic in general, may also be considered as an individual-specific set of phobias, resulting in a general restlessness, anxiety and unpreparedness for stress-evoking stimuli from the environment.
This prediction about the occurrence of clusters of related skills on the one hand, and of frightening and not-mastered items on the other, is supported and illustrated by the findings of the depth-psychological investigator and psycho-therapist Grof (1972, 1973, 1976). He analyzed some 2000 protocols of therapeutic L.S.D. sessions and concluded that for a more complete understanding of these sessions as well as of the personality structures involved, a new principle would have to be introduced into psychoanalytical thinking, which he called the principle of "specific memory constellations" or "COEX-systems" (systems of COndensed EXperience).
And he discussed for instance: systems connected with sex, systems that involve aggression and violence, systems related to humiliation and degradation damaging to the self-esteem, systems connected with guilt and moral failure, systems connected with emotional deprivation and rejection, etc.
- [Grof, 1976: ..] "The personality structure usually contains a greater number of COEX systems. Their character, total number, extent, and intensity varies considerable from one individual to another. According to the basic quality of the emotional charge, we can differentiate negative COEX systems (condensing unpleasant emotional experiences) and positive COEX systems (condensing pleasant emotional experiences and positive aspects of an individual's past life)".
✰ <level 1> As we mentioned above, within an individual, apt (optimal) processing of experiences is contagious just as badly processing of experiences also is contagious, but in the other direction. Besides, and on top of that, a similar contagiousness also exists between individuals of the same group, living together. The more skilled the other members of the group, the better the chances of an individual to receive "strokes" when in need of recovery. And the easier "strokes" can be found, the easier it is to achieve control and / or relaxation when in a telic state. And the easier relaxation is achieved, the easier it is to establish optimal sequences of telic / paratelic alternations. And the better the alternations between telic and paratelic states occur, the better is the high level integration of experiences and the better is running the processes of development and growth. And the other way around. The less mastery has already been developed on average among all the people around, the lower the chances to also end up in learning spirals in the desired direction, towards more mastery and skills. And the more neurotics and fear ridden cowards around, the worse are the chances for an individual to learn optimally from his or her own experiences.
In short, this mechanism implies a strong contagiousness of processes of learning and growth between the different members of social groups.
2c) Evolutionary efficiency of the CEL
✰✰ <level 2> The CEL predicts that there are basically two optional outcomes of a sequence of experiences. The one option is the favorable one, leading to increasing skills and mastery and the other option is leading to increasing avoidance clusters and a truncated behavioural repertoire. In other species, the unfavorable option mainly occurs in a minority of the specimens, in the minority of individuals who don't make it and in that way are "weeded out" more efficiently and more quickly than what would be the case without such a behavioural provision. The open ended learning capacity is that way boosting processes of natural selection, favoring the specimens with the highest learning capacity. This organization of behaviour and of the learning system thus obviously makes evolutionary sense. And that's why this mechanism of flexible learning spread so successfully in many phyla of animals, and what is more, several times, independently of one another. And of course this mechanism is crucial for understanding our own behaviour. Homo sapiens is after all the learning animal par excellence.
This completes the second finding, the C.E.L., the automatic utilization of surplus energies in the most useful direction for the individual for the short term and eventually, but very differently, for the long term. And a consequence of this organisation of the learning process, the CEL, is contagiousness of the learning process within an individual as well as between individuals. And finally it brings evolutionary efficiency.
3) Theory of the point of inflection
3a) Positive reinforcement loops in two directions
✰✰ <level 2> The third finding is about the positive reinforcement character of both the favourable and the unfavourable option of the process of learning and development, having similar results as other, comparable, systems with a double mechanism of positive reinforcement or self-amplification.
As an example we may consider what happens in a chemical solution with a strong acid and a strong basic component. In such a watery solution the water molecules react in an acidic or in a basic way, depending on which types of molecules constitute the majority. The way the water molecules behave is more or less in line with how the majority of the molecules in that watery solution behave in their direct surrounding. And that statistic bias in the behaviour of the individual water molecules reinforces the percentual bias in the chemical behaviour of the whole solution. The behaviour of the water molecules is subject to two antagonist positive reinforcement effects stemming from the acidic part and from the basic part of the components in the solution. The net result of these opposite but complementary reinforcement loops is that the acidity (pH) of the solution very rapidly changes if close to the chemical equilibrium between acid and base and that it only changes gradually if the solution is far away from the equilibrium point. The result is the well known S-curve of acidity as depending on the amount of acid or base added.
3b) The inflection-point relationship between self-actualization of individuals and self-actualization in the population at large
✰✰ <level 2> Individual chances for an optimal development depend on the percentage of individuals around who have emotional space and energy to hand out "strokes", also to the individual(s) in question. Let's change focus from learning animals in general to the situation in Homo sapiens. Attaining optimal frequencies of telic-paratelic switches, necessary for the best possible learning results, is most likely to occur in a social environment of Self-actualizers(***). There the likelihood of receiving enough "strokes", if in need, is highest. And thus the likelihood of an optimal alternation of telic and paratelic states is higher also. And thus the likelihood of well processed and well integrated experiences is also higher. And similarly the other way around also holds. It is clear that also here we are dealing with a system with self-strengthening feed back loops in two directions.
The contagiousness between people implies that the more Self-actualizers there are in a population, the better the chances for any individual in that population to also attain self-actualization / actualization of the innate potentials. And reversely, the more neurotic and fear ridden individuals there are in a population, the more likely it is that any individual in that population also will end up as fear ridden and neurotic (as a "zombie").
From the perspective of process dynamics we are dealing here also with two antagonistic positive reinforcement loops, each with an opposite final result. From a technical point of view, both options are stable in itself, because of the built in positive feed back loops or self-amplification loops. Each of both options has a self-stabilizing internal mechanism. Both are structurally stable in itself.
Having seen above that in present day humans the learning process is in general miraculously impaired compared to what in principle would be possible from a congenital point of view, the question arises why the neuroticizing variety of the two options apparently has prevailed.
We will return to that question further below.
The above figure expresses the effect of positive feed back mechanisms in two opposite directions and the resulting S-curve relationship between the likelihood for an individual to attain optimal development as depending on the average developmental health of the whole social environment. What remains is the question at what % of self-actualizers the inflection point may be expected, where an extra addition of self-actualizers in the population will have an increasingly strong effect on the condition of the whole population.
Leaving the last question open, let us arrest this third finding, the notion of the existence of an inflection point. We will apply that finding further below.
4) The customary Upper Limit of Intelligence in Evolution(**)
✰✰ <level 2> The fourth finding is an issue that is rather novel and that thus far only once has been published at a scientific congress in 2013.
There is something peculiar going on in evolution as far as intelligence is concerned. In different phyla, in quite different eras of earthly evolution, species developed intelligence, which we define here as freely applicable information processing capacity. What strikes the observer, is that in all those different phyla, and in all those different evolutionary eras, the level of intelligence acquired ends at more or less the same level. That suggests that there exists a functional upper limit to freely applicable information processing capacity. Apparently, a too high level of intelligence in principle is not an ESS (Evolutionarily Stable Strategy). In the following we will suggest a reason why this is the case.
Considering how behaviour evolves and is selected for in evolution, it is easily noticed that there is a certain, all-important relationship between the proximate causes of behaviour, the innate reflexes of liking and disliking, of approach and avoidance on the one hand and on the other hand the ultimate (evolutionary) "reasons" for certain behavioural reflexes, which are the ultimate procreational results. What is important here to note, is that selection forces exert their influence on the ultimate effects of the proximate behaviours, whereas only the proximate feelings and urges themselves are present in the awareness of the actors. The actors are not aware of the ultimate effects of their behaviour and they could not care less. It can be argued that an intelligence that reaches the level where it can be applied to (re-)considering its own proximate urges and to finding short-cuts to attain desired results in non-traditional ways, is likely to discover new, different ways to fulfill short term proximate urges, but without the customary non-conscious ultimate effects at the level of reproduction and therefore also without paying the "price" for it, in terms of a lower proximate average level of satisfaction (which they are not aware of anyway).
Our hypothesis is therefore that in principle a too high intelligence will automatically weed itself out as soon as it enables the carrier of that intelligence to manipulate its own behaviour in order to fulfill proximate desires in novel and "clever" ways, different from the evolutionary "meaning" or (ultimate) "goal" of the original reflex-based behaviour.
Only by developing a special characteristic, a specific blindness for the own behaviour, blocking the utilization of intelligence for finding different options for satisfying urges concerning the own behaviour and social behaviour, could the intelligence of our early ancestors rise above the usual, ordinary upper level of intelligence.
Combining these 4 findings leaves us with a riddle
✰✰ <level 2> The above described 4 phenomena, taken together, already can lead us to the conclusion that in Homo sapiens, in us, there is something extraordinary going on, as compared to other species. In summary, these 4 findings were:
- 1) Different from other species with a flexible behaviour repertoire, possessing a flexible learning system, in Homo sapiens a full deployment of behavioural potentials is the exception, rather than the rule. From an evolutionary point of view, this seems highly puzzling.
- 2) The Cognition-Energy-Learning model (the CEL) describes how situational learning options are in practice exploited, how behaviour patterns grow and develop, depending on circumstances. The CEL accounts on the one hand for the development of cumulations of fear triggered avoidance reflexes and on the other hand accounts for the available option of the reprocessing and integrating of experiences into a higher level integration and "understanding" of complex situations. The way the CEL operates produces on the one hand quickly acquired rough and ready avoidance reflexes, that tend to grow in clusters of related situations. But on the other hand, if the individual manages to frequently attain paratelic motivational states, the collected experiences can be reintegrated into higher level understanding and more efficient behaviour patterns that are applicable in more situations. The CEL accounts for rough and ready avoidance reflexes, but also for "mastery" on a higher, more intelligent, level.
What is clear from the mechanisms of the CEL, is that learning processes, whether they lead to avoidance clusters or to mastery, primarily depend on the timing of the experiences, nót on their outcome.
And because of the positive feed back loops involved in the learning process, these learning processes are highly contagious, within individuals as well as between individuals of a group.
The CEL predicts and explains traditional (behaviourist) laws of reactive learning as well as mechanisms of pro-active learning and growth as described by e.g., humanistic psychological theories of learning and growth. The CEL can explain both and solves the seeming contradictions between these two schools of psychological thought.
- 3) If a process contains mechanisms of positive reinforcement in two directions, these processes can lead to two opposite outcomes, each with a certain measure of stability. Examples can be found e.g. in chemistry, but the process of learning, as described by the CEL, also harbours two opposite positive feed back mechanisms that presumably should lead to two antagonist outcomes that are each rather stable in itself. Describing the results of such antagonist mechanisms of positive feed back loops, can be visualized with S-curves with a point of inflection, describing very sudden transitions between the 2 antagonist outcomes.
- 4) In evolution there is in principle an upper limit to the use of logic and freely applicable intelligence. Apparently, a too high intelligence is not an ESS (Evolutionarily Stable Strategy). For that reason one finds throughout the animal kingdom many species with a certain measure of intelligence, but always only up to a certain (non harmful) level. The reason for such an ordinary upper level to intelligence can easily be understood. However, Homo sapiens appears to be an exception to that rule (the only exception on earth). Apparently, there is something extraordinary to the recent evolution of Homo sapiens.
It is postulated that intelligence could only evolve further in the ancestors of Homo sapiens by the development of a specific blinding mechanism, shielding off its own behaviour from intelligent exploration. Only that way intelligence could rise further without endangering the evolutionary stability. We labeled such an evolutionary provision as "Self-Blindness".
These four findings leave us with as many big question marks.
- How come the majority of Homo sapiens are not Self-Actualizers ? It doesn't seem to make sense.
- The CEL describes a motivational system that works in any species with an open-ended capacity of learning. As such, it is not something exceptional. Still, the CEL is not yet commonly known to psychologists and behavioural evolutionists. Taking the mechanisms of the CEL into account, it might bring us insights that have been sadly missing up to this point in time.
- If we combine the mechanisms of the CEL with models of positive reinforcement, it becomes clear that from a purely technical point of view the result can be either "mastery" or cumulation of avoidance reflexes. But how can it be that in a certain species, us, Homo sapiens, chronic cumulation of avoidance reflexes (neuroticism) is the rule, rather than the exception ? That also simply doesn't make evolutionary sense.
However, we can solve this 4-fold riddle by taking another set of findings into account, findings that have something to do with our recent (<10,000 years) agricultural revolution.
5) The Evolution of Power Structures(**)
✰ <level 1> The fifth notion that we therefore have to take into account is that since the agricultural revolution a different type of evolution started off. That is the evolution of sets of "memes" that form power structures. Labeling the ordinary evolution, based on DNA, as "hardware"-evolution, the evolution of power structures can be labeled as a "software"-evolution. The point is that agriculture is technically impossible if there is not a military organization that secures the products of the agricultural efforts for the people who have made the investment in agricultural labour and work. This development is very recent, just between 5.000 and 10.000 years old in most inhabited regions of the world.
6) Evolutionary Jet-Lag(**)
✰ <level 1> To that fifth notion a sixth notion is linked, which is that the evolution of power structures can proceed at a higher speed than the evolution of DNA. Software needs less time to evolve and change than does hardware. Humans beings are the carriers of genes as well as of memes. Humanity is therefore suffering from evolutionary "jet-lag"(**) in that our primordial hardware is lagging behind as compared to the demands from the recently evolved software of the power structures. This evolutionary jet-lag produces mismatches between what we "really" want (primordial P-feelings) and what the power structures impose on / demand from us ("new" N-demands).
7) N-demands versus P-feelings(**), their effect on Self-actualization in power structures
✰ <level 1> Power structures need high quantities of malleable, docile slaves and military to man the agricultural mass projects and the warring machinery. One of the methods to produce high percentages of docile people is to increase the average fear levels of people by reducing the likelihood of reaching frequent enough paratelic states for optimizing the developmental processes. By keeping people at the "wrong side" of the above discussed "point of inflection" negative COEX systems will keep dominating the individual's behavioural system. Avoidance clusters will prevail and curiosity will be kept "low". Less areas of mastery will develop and less creative output. But that will keep people highly fearful and dependend and easier to manipulate. We could label such situations of the dominance of negative COEX systems as "customary mild states of general neurosis". Basic security is low and fears dominate most areas of life.
In other words: our learning system harbours positive feed-back loops in both directions, the direction of of mastery, but also the direction of cumulating neuroses. By increasing the average fear levels, a power structure can increase the malleability of people, of their carriers. And that is exactly what happens. Less creativity and mastery, but more massive pushing power through large herds of enslaved individuals. That way power structures tend to induce neurotic states in as many of the human beings/carriers involved as possible. Neurotics may function sub-optimal as compared to their original congenital potential, but they can easier be manipulated into obeying the requirements of the power structures in charge. It is therefore not surprising that the data available to us indicate that indeed in the case of contemporary human societies the full actualization of the innate potentials is the exception, rather than the rule, which latter option has always been applicable for other species. The situation in Homo sapiens appears to be exceptional indeed (and not in a pleasant way).
If we take these last findings also into account, the riddles we have assembled can suddenly be solved. Adding the requirements of the inevitable power structures, that are a necessity in the case of agriculture, all the, at first sight incomprehensible, phenomena fall into place and become comprehensible as a whole of jig saw pieces, the complete picture of which does indeed make evolutionary sense, be it in an exceptional way.
The situation of our species is now comprehensible in the light of the findings as listed above. But it is not a very pleasant sight. The evolutionary jet lag makes our lives rather miserable. Indeed, self-actualization has become the exception, rather than the rule, as it always was in earlier times. That serves the power structures in charge better than the self-actualized carriers of meme-level information that we were before the agricultural revolution started. And the much older genetically based propensity for Self-Blindness facilitates the neuroticizing effects of all the power structure tricks that keep us bound in slavery. All in all it is a rather gloomy picture.
But, on the other hand, seeing through all the mechanisms that rule our present lives, we also can draw the conclusion that quite other and better ways of living have come within our reach. (And these new possibilities are so different from what we are used to, that mankind will probably be taken by surprise, and in a pleasant way, by what is now coming our way.)
8) Means of subjugation
- We can recognize several mechanisms in the working of human societies that help to keep the carriers of the power structures (us) subdued(*) and immersed in neuroticizing processes of control and deformation. We mention a few:
- We maintain schooling systems that "inject" knowledge but that block awareness of the CEL dynamics, which results in blocking self-actualization.
- We instill and maintain "working" ethics to the extent that it is detrimental for optimal frequencies of meta-motivational reversals (see the article about learning experiments with house mice(**)) (see more details about the CEL here(***) and here(***)).
- We seduce captains of industry and captains of other systems of slavery to continue doing their job with exorbitant salaries.
- We always turn spiritual movements gradually into religions of superstition and blindness(*).
- We maintain strict information privileges for the people in control of the masses that are kept stupid.
- The innate propensity for Self-Blindness in humans is amplified where possible. The prevailing cultures in the power structures in question forcibly impose the required ignorance.
- etc., etc.
The above described mechanisms, and a lot more, are all geared to keep us human beings under control of the power structure we happen to be part of. The various powers structures in the world, competing with one another for supremacy, may differ a lot. But almost all of them have in common that they make use of practically all of the above mentioned basic tricks for stabilizing our enslavement. They mainly differ in flavours and tastes and in some "couleur locale", just enough to make it clear to its carriers, us, to which power structure each of us happens to "belong".
Recognizing the above selection of "tricks" by the power structures to keep us carriers malleable and under control does nòt mean that the power structures do all those things "on purpose". These ways of operating are the result of automatic, involuntary evolutionary processes, also on the "meme-level". The power structures that coincidentally wielded those "tricks" procreated better than their competitor power structures that did not wield them so well. As usual, we should not confuse "purpose" with "survival value".
Evolution has no "purpose". Evolution just means that the most stable structures prevail and procreate. It is an automatic process and is in principle purpose-less. That we humans often tend to think in terms of "purpose" and cherish the concomitant, false ideas and notions, should be ascribed to our on average telic dominant states. When one suffers from an imbalance in the telic / paratelic alternations and as a consequence leads a mildly (or strongly) neurotic life by a chronic shortage of emerging paratelic states, one is inclined to think primarily in terms of goals and of "purpose". The more one is lacking in paratelic, goal-free states of mind, the less one is inclined to be happy with processes without purpose or goal. Enjoying situations and acting on them "just for the hell of it", is typically part of playful behaviour and does not need to be goal-directed.
Likewise, the strong general tendency of people to think in terms of conspiracies is a typical fruit of such delusions. Trying to investigate human behaviour from an evolutionary perspective is basically non-teleological. In other words: evolutionary thinking is especially difficult for neurotic people. They find it difficult to maintain a world picture without purpose and when things seem to go wrong, a world without (develish) conspiracies. For telic dominant neurotics it is difficult to ascribe failures to general or to their personal incompetence. They find belief in some malevolent genius(ses) much easier to accept than to simply face the ordinary personal shortcomings that we all suffer from.
In general people tend to over-estimate the capacities of their superiors and leaders and to ascribe failures to malevolent conspiracies instead of to simple day to day common and customary human failures. What stays out of sight for example is that once a relatively fair and just society has been set up and organized, natural selection processes and genetic deterioration will after some time trigger again the occurrence of war, genocide and similar horror-scenes, in which the necessary selection process recoup lost terrain. Thus evolutionary processes will automatically and inescapably seek ways to reset the genetic qualities of the population(s) in question. In order to survive successfully power structures make use of all innate and culturally imposed stupidities of mankind. Myriads of superstitions and forms of ignorance are forcibly imposed, but to think of that process as "purpose-full" is a mistake. Evolution just has favored those forms of culture that enhanced all those blindnesses that would facilitate frequent enough break downs and disasters to maintain sufficient selection forces to prevent genetic deterioration from running rampant. And the more subjugation, the more self-blindness and the more likely it is that the natural selection forces can proceed unhampered by our intelligent organizational and political manipulations.
9) N-demands from the Power Structures
9a) N-demands and the low level performance of human beings
✰ <level 1> Taking the above findings and considerations together, a possible explanation of the strange rarity of self-actualization in the case of the human species emerges. That explanation is that since the agricultural revolution our species has been pushed into systems of neurotization and subjugation. The power structures(*), that are in the lead since that time, take a strongly lowered useful output per person for granted in exchange for a much higher malleability and docility of their carriers. Thus the power structures that neuroticized best could outcompete power structures that were less effective in that sense. If this view is correct, it would explain the at first sight incomprehensible phenomenon that the majority of the individuals of the human species is functioning way below its congenital capacities and that in our species self-actualization is the exception rather than the rule, as it is in other species. Our species is in general considered as the pinnacle of (primate) evolution, but it almost exclusively consists of underperformers. How strange !
9b) N-demands versus the two Basic Options of the Learning System
✰ <level 1> However, knowing how the mechanism of learning and development works, it is also clear that from a purely technical point of view, the opposite option in principle also exists, the option of a critical % of the population being in a state of self-actualization and as a consequence a very high likelihood of also attaining self-actualization for any individual in that population (see fig. 3b above). Technically speaking, both options exist, although large and by humanity has not experienced the favourable option for many thousands of years.
There are some exceptions that may be found in remote corners of the earth where the power structures have not - yet - managed to establish their power. For an eloquent description of how such groups of not yet corrupted and still self-actualized people could perhaps view our complex, modern societies, if they would have an opportunity to pay a visit to our modern world, one may read The Papalagi, by Scheurmann (1927)(*), written in the form of a series of lectures by a Samoan chief, Tuiavii of Tiavea (1976)(*), to his fellow-villagers about how things work in Europe. In that format Scheurmann presents a mirror-view of the main characteristics of our society, characteristics that we tend to take for granted, almost without noticing, but that may be quite at variance with our more original, natural state.
10) Modern developments undermining the customary subjugation props of the power structures
✰ <level 1> Having researched the above mentioned mechanisms that help to keep the carriers of the power structures subdued and immersed in neuroticizing processes of control and deformation, we have reached the conclusion that many or most of these props as automatically and involuntarily (as evolution works) applied by power structures are gradually crumbling down under pressure of modern technical developments. We name a few of those developments that are ever more undermining the web of subjugation tricks that always served to keep us bound in slavery in whichever of the prevailing power structures: these new developments are the information explosion, the democratization of information, the increasing transparency on all levels, family planning techniques, techniques for eugenic planning, unlimited availability of energy, technical innovations and machinery making slavery superfluous, etc., etc. (see here(*) for more information about these cumulative new developments).
✰ <level 1> Our estimate is that not only are we in a situation where the above developments are in a process of speeding up, undermining the previously absolute power of the impersonal power structures ever faster, but also that we are in the phase of the exponential rise in the average chances for individuals to attain full actualization of their innate potential. That would imply that we are getting closer and closer to the inflection point that we have labeled as Point Omega. The conclusion is not only that Homo sapiens does have the very realistic option to become immeasurably more effective, but that we are in fact very close to that shift, a shift that is likely to happen with unexpected suddennes and unexpected speed. This is similar to what happens with the above mentioned acid-base solution when we add the last drop of alkaline solution to the mixture, before it suddenly swaps to a couple of pH grades rise per drop, changing the indicator-colouring all of a sudden. The reason for that "suddenness" is in the presence of 2 antagonist options, each stabilized by positive (self-amplifying) feed-back loops.
So, taking the 10 findings as mentioned above together, our conclusion is that a Point Omega transition is near. And that transition not only will launch humanity in its next evolutionary phase, but the whole planet Earth will enter a different phase in its evolutionary development because ............ intelligence will finally start to understand itself. And one of the consequences of that self-awareness of intelligence will be that human stewardship over the world will get a new and more serious connotation.
The Point Omega transition in Evolutionary Perspective
✰ <level 1> To facilitate a proper understanding of where we stand in evolution and which evolutionary phases had to be completed before we ended up standing at the brink of "conscious evolution", we give here a listing of the steps of evolution that came before.
Let's start with the statement that what perceptibly exists, has a certain stability over time, more than alternative configurations. Molecular configurations with higher chemical stability are therefore the configurations that are more common than their alternatives. In fact, this description may be viewed as a tautology. Basically, the whole of evolution may similarly be regarded as a tautological concept. Evolution exists, because that's how it works with matter. (For a good argumentation for this line of thought see for instance Jackes Monod: Chance and Necessity, 1971.(**)) But we will dive into the details a bit further, because it is of course the details of our own role in evolution that matter most to us. Posing the "why" question in relation to these matters is therefore a token of "misunderstanding it all". The only reason why things exist is because those things are evolutionarily stable enough. And that's all. (Clinging to the "why" question instead of to the "how" question may be taken as a token of neuroticism and chronic unhappiness. It is a symptom of a too low frequency of paratelic states(***).)
- Conditions on our planet Earth have since a long time been suitable for the formation of large and eventually complex molecules.
- At some stage molecules were coincidentally formed, that had a novel property, which was that they acted as catalizers for the formation of more of these same types of molecules.
- Once this effect emerged, a type of evolution of as yet "non-living" matter got started, the self replicating molecules coming in more and more varieties. This process took vast amount of time.
- A next step in this sequence of evolutionary events is when different types of self-replicating molecules start a form of symbiosis, helping one another in each one's self-replicating effects, for instance by influencing the flow of certain chemical compounds to one another's advantage. Such combinations of different self-replicators already change in the direction of organelles or units that could also act as (still primitive) functional parts of a cel.
- At some stage in such a soup of self-replicating molecules and already more complex proto-organelles, organelles may combine and form a communal form of defense, an outer layer that is difficult to penetrate for other, competing, replicators. What emerges in that way can be considered a first approach to the phenomenon of cell walls. And all that is the beginning of what we tend to label as "life". The cells that start to emerge in that way each contain different structures that cooperate, each with their own specialization. Cells contain primitive organelles. This happened some 5.000 million to 3.500 million years ago (which is still less than the last 10% of the total period of life on planet Earth).
It is rather arbitrary where exactly one wishes to draw a line between "life" and "proto-life" or "just complex molecules". The self-replicating large molecules that we are best familiar with, DNA, can these days be mapped and the evolutionary history be traced into great detail. From these recent analyses of contemporary DNA variations it can be concluded that the earliest DNA strings that started to replicate, resulting in all life on Earth, did emerge some 4.000 million years ago. Those DNA strings are labeled LUCA (last universal common ancestor). It is good to notice that these transitional evolutionary phases took very long periods of time, much more time than the time that was needed to evolve from the period of the Dinosaurs to the emergence of Homo sapiens.
- Once such a life phase with cells has started, evolution can really start off at an ever increasing speed. Self-reduplication of course not always is perfect, mistakes do happen, so variation is paramount and the best varieties continue their lineage best. And that is what evolution is all about. Once cells inhabit a variety of places and conditions, different varieties, adapted to different circumstances emerge and that variation starts to lead a life of its own. Evolution proceeds.
- Multiplying cells need materials for the composition of the organelles and tissues that the cells need for their offspring. Also, collecting energy is one of the methods to improve the speed of reduplication. Energy can be used to move around matter that cells need to grow and multiply. Cells have found different methods to tap energy from the environment and utilize that energy for growth and multiplication.
- One of the energy-tapping methods is absorbing fotons from light sources. Plant cells can do that and they can use for instance chlorophyll molecules to "catch" fotons from the light. With chlorophyll they are fishing for energy, energy from light rays.
- Another method of tapping energy is by making use of great local differences in temperature, tapping the calory-flow. This happens for instance in the life forms that evolved around deep sea hot springs, where high pressure hot water continuously escapes from the volcanic rock structures under the sea floor. Here temperature flows are the fuel for a rather complete ecosystem and not the flow of light.
- Plants are groups of cells, each with their specialization, that collect their energy from light, by means of chlorophyll. They do not need to move.
- A next development was the emergence of entities that do not bother to collect energy from light themselves, but "eat" the energy as stored in the plant bodies. Such living entities we label as herbivores. They do move from source to source.
- And subsequently, also carnivores emerge, because it is relatively easy to consume and process living matter that is already very much composed as is the body of the predator itself. Converting flesh into animal matter takes less energy than converting plants. So, by then evolution has produced bacteria and other one-cell organisms, plants, herbivores, carnivores and of course also organisms who get their energy and basic building materials from dead or decaying plant- or animal bodies. Fungi are for instance of that class of living things.
- Microbes or plants that catch light for their growth are normally sedentary. They sit in their place and live from what is available in their immediate surrounding. Animals differ from plants in that they can move from place to place. But in order to move they need a system of perception and of generating a preference of where to go to. Animals are moving entities and they differ from plants in that they all have developed a perception system for assessing important aspects in the environment and a system that makes them move in the preferred direction. So, once animals have evolved, these entities do have a system of emotions and motivations. If not, they would just sit still and not move. Being attracted by something and being repulsed by something else is therefore an indispensable characteristic of any animal, no matter how small. In higher, more complex, animals we label these tendencies as emotions and or motivations.
- For processing incoming information and for translating that information into useful action, a nervous system is useful and so all higher, more complex, animals have a nervous system, a sort of controlling and coordination center.
- Once animal nervous systems have been developed in all sorts of variations and sizes, sooner or later more sophisticated systems of data processing evolve. We can call that intelligence. What we see in the animal kingdom, is that in many era's of evolution and in many phyla of animals, intelligence has developed. And those developments have emerged completely independently of one another. Intelligence was "invented" several times. What should be noted here, is that in all cases (except our own case) the evolved levels of intelligence are of about the same level, no matter how many millions of years the development of such an intelligence had time to evolve further. What also is striking, is that intelligence emerged in quite different nervous systems. The nervous systems of vertebrates, like monkeys or whales, birds or dogs, have a comparable set up. In each of those phyla one finds very dull, non-intelligent species as well as quite intelligent species. But similarly high intelligence has also developed in mollusks, like in various octopus species. Their composite nervous system is located in different parts of the body and this very different basic design nevertheless produced a level of intelligence that is comparable with what can be found in vertebrate phyla like birds, whales, monkeys, etc. Elsewhere on this Wiki(**) we have explained what is the reason of this same level of intelligence in so many different animal species. That reason is that normally, basically and firstly, there is a functional upper limit to freely applicable intelligence. As soon as intelligence reaches a level where it can be utilized to find short cuts to proximate satisfaction, that higher intelligence will weed itself out automatically (see point 4 above).
- However, once that maximum level of freely applicable intelligence has emerged in a number of species, sooner or later one species will develop a way around that maximum. That is what happened in the ancestors of Homo, later - sapiens, where a trick was built into the system that was making sure that the intelligence could not any longer be utilized for finding short cuts for the fulfillment of proximate impulses. So, now we have a species saddled with Self-Blindness, and as a consequence the intelligence of Homo could rise further, way above the ordinary upper limit of intelligence. (We can describe this as a pun: we could become so intelligent, because we had become so incredibly stupid !)
- One of the consequences of such a rising intelligence is that gradually the species in question, us, will manage more and more to escape from the traditional dangers like predators, hunting accidents, etc. They get too clever to compete on an equal level with the competing species around. They become an "ecologically dominant" species. More than is the case in other related species, primates in our case, Homo sapiens became increasingly its own predator and competitor. It is not surprising therefore that recent research (see Gómez et al.(2016)(***) has shown that Homo sapiens is by nature more violent towards conspecifics than are other primates. Homocidal tendencies are more prominent in us than in our evolutionary relatives.
- When intelligence started to increase in Homo sapiens above its ordinary upper limit, freed by Self-Blindness, we were living in hunter-gatherer bands. This development started between 1 and 2 million years ago. During that time "Homo" really became "sapiens" and increasingly made use of tools and fire. Brain size increased, language developed further, but on the other hand giving birth became an increasing problem. The birth canal has not evolved to let such a big skull pass. The possibility to give birth to skulls as big as Human babies have, is a relatively recent evolutionary adaptation. And it is evidently an adaptation that still could improve a lot more in due evolutionary time.
Nevertheless, in spite of being more violent to one another than were related primate species, at that point of evolution our innate tendencies and feelings were still well in balance with the niche we lived in. After becoming ecologically dominant, Homo sapiens, living in hunter gatherer bands during a period of about 1 million years, evolution had had plenty of time to bring our instincts in balance with our new niche. That behavioural balance would only be disturbed much later, only some 40.000 years ago, when some hunter-gatherer groups took up a life style of exploiting an exceptionally rich source of food in some particular location. Such a new focus would trigger the need for defending such a specific location with those extraordinary food-sources. And effective defense requires more hierarchical social relationships. On the other hand it also allowed for higher population densities locally. Finally, some 10.000 years ago, this tendency resulted in outright, full fledged agriculture.
And from that time on, also the meme-evolution started to gain momentum.
- The shift from hunter-gatherers to firstly "delayed return" hunter gatherers (or non-egalitarian or semi-sedentary hunter gatherers) and later to "real" agriculture, is in a very comprehensible way summarized by Peter Gray (2009)(**). From that time on there was a need for an organization for defending the own food sources, but not all of the semi-sedentary tribes developed the skills for dealing with intraspecific adversaries. And such military requirements would need more hierarchical structures. Research shows that bands of "simple" hunter gatherers used to predate on the resources of the "delayed return" hunter gatherers. Nevertheless, such "delayed return hunter-gatherers" started to emerge in more and more places and produced in general more offspring than their "simple hunter-gatherer" conspecifics could ever produce.
- By that time Homo sapiens had entered the next step in human evolution, the "invention" of agriculture. Agriculture is the ultimate way to change the environment as to get as much food and needed materials from it as possible. There is however a heavy price to be paid inevitably for starting agriculture. And that is that agriculture is only possible in combination with an increased capacity to wage war on a massive scale.
- At that point in evolution, the evolution of software items, "memes", takes over, because meme level power structures can and do evolve much faster than do DNA based evolutionary processes. Power structures make use of us, intelligent carriers, and compete with one another, but always over the backs of their subjects. The power structure that is best in wielding masses of soldiers and masses of slaves, will outcompete other power structures.
What next ?
- Because of the difference in speed of the evolution on the meme-level, as compared to the speed of evolution on the gene-level, we Humans, as carrier of the meme-level information as well as carriers of the gene-level information, have suffered, since the start of the agricultural revolution, from a sort of evolutionary Jet-lag. Such a situation, wherever in the universe, only will last as long as the power structures can abuse their carriers to maximize their chances in the competition with other power structures. At some stage, the raised intelligence will, in combination with technological developments, start to look through and to understand the nature of the Jet-Lag and of the slavery aspects of living in the power structures. At that point there will occur a break down of the power structure configuration of human life on earth, triggered by an understanding that escapes from its ordinary cognitive shackles. Curiosity at that point wins over fear. We have labeled that point in time as Point Omega.
- The next stage, that is awaiting us now, is the start of conscious evolution. It will be understood how and why in the old situation it always was structurally impossible to organize a lasting societal structure that was supportive of human wishes and preferences, peaceful and agreeable. The influence of genetic pollution and of selection cycles in social structures will be understood and will be replaced by various forms of conscious evolution, then easily bypassing the classical sources of war, genocide and economic strangling techniques. The issues that will be fought about will shift to discussions about which direction we prefer for our conscious evolution. But that is by far a luxury problem as compared to what mankind has been subjected to for the last 10.000 years.
The above listing of the different phases in evolution does not represent a regularly distributed time schedule. The different phases in the beginning of evolution are wide apart and each cover very long time periods, hundreds of millions of years. The more recent phases have taken ever less time. The latest evolutionary phases as described above follow each other in historical time, which means "within the blink of an eye" as compared to earlier epochs. Our conclusion is that we, the human species, finds itself right now in a very special and unique situation. We are at the point of shifting into a totally different mode of evolution, "conscious evolution". It is only natural that for most people this shift, the most important shift in the whole of human history, is still inconceivable. The concepts that, together, are required for understanding this situation, are not yet part of our contemporary culture. That is still to come. Nevertheless, our (as yet private and personal) conclusion is that the Point Omega shift is very near and that the accelaration phase of the transition seems to have started already. The theory predicts that awareness of what is really going on, will tend to lag behind the flow of events. Therefore most probably mankind will completely be taken by surprise.
I hope that for the curious reader the evolutionary "reason" for, or rather the evolutionary "origin" of this development, this Point Omega transition, has been clarified a bit in these pages.