Self-blindness in humans as prerequisite for the evolution of advanced intelligence
On "Amathology" or the Science of Ignorance (**)
- 1 Summary
- 2 Evolution of Intelligence
- 3 Proximate and ultimate causes of behaviour
- 4 Breaking out of the customary intelligence ceiling
- 5 Self Blindness and Social-role Blindness
- 6 Cultural props for Self-Blindness
- 7 Point Omega
- 8 Where do we stand ?
- 9 Point Omega and Self-Blindness
- 10 Before Point Omega:
- 11 After Point Omega:
- 12 Towards "Amathology" or the science of ignorance
- 13 Summary
Evolution of Intelligence
✰ <level 1> There is something peculiar about the emergence of intelligence in the evolution of species.
What we can see is that in different phyla in the animal kingdom some form of intelligence has developed. Such intelligence includes a capacity to analyse complex situations soberly and creatively, to apply logic to problem solving, to summarize and categorize experiences systematically and efficiently, to utilize an efficient system of information storage and to utilize some measure of abstraction in assembling experiences (thus moving from sufficiently-oriented behavioural responses, to necessity-oriented behavioural responses; for more information about this - cognitive - aspect of intelligence, see here(***) and here (***)). In short, intelligence evolved to increase the efficiency in problem solving and to improve the ability to explore the environment.
Since such levels of intelligence have developed in quite different phyla, the tendency in evolution for intelligence to develop, apparently happened in the different phyla independently from one another. In fact it looks like the emergence of intelligent capacities is something "inherent in evolution", as if the mere occurrence of evolution already implies that sooner or later intelligence will emerge.
It is not so strange or exceptional that throughout the animal kingdom the emergence and development of intelligence has occurred several times, independently from one another, as parallel evolutionary developments. Parallel evolutionary developments do happen more often. The development of visual capacities, seeing, is another of the numerous examples of such independent parallel developments in different phyla. In the animal kingdom we do find several different optical constructions doing the job. We can compare for instance the quite different technical approaches in the insect eye(s) system (facet-eyes) with the vertebrate's eye, with which we are all familiar. Also, we can compare the mollusk's eye with the vertebrate eye. In each of those two phyla, the problem of focussing is solved in a quite different and characteristic way. In mollusks focusing is realised by moving the lens closer or further away from the retina, just as we do when focusing with a camera.
In our own vertebrate eyes however, the lens cannot be moved forward and backward and the problem is solved by changing the focus distance of the lens itself. The form of the lens is changed, which is possible because the lens is made up of liquid in a sack, that can be contracted or be flattened by small muscles around its perimeter. Solving the vision problem apparently was such an evolutionary advantage, that it could happen several times in evolution, independently from one another, with every time a somewhat different technical solution.
Something similar we see with locomotion. We can easily recognise a great variety of locomotion methods, each forming a different answer to an evolutionary need. Compare for instance the different solutions found in worms, millipedes, spiders, snakes, kangaroos, horses and man.
Intelligence is something similar. If we compare the nervous system of an octopus, a mollusc, with that of a vertebrate, we see a completely different approach of developing an efficient information processing device. Still, both approaches in the end came up with comparable intellectual capacities, in monkeys as in octopuses.
There is one other peculiar feat about the issue of intelligence. And that is that we humans seem to be quite a bit more intelligent than any of the other intelligent animal species. Our intelligence is sticking out conspicuously. We seem to be the real champions of intelligence in the animal kingdom.
However, this is also somewhat puzzling. Among the intelligent species we humans are an exception in that our intelligence has surpassed quite considerably the ordinarily found intelligence levels. What is more, if we look at the other species' intelligences more closely, we find that all other intelligences have reached more or less equal levels of understanding, cognitive abstraction and logical thinking. If we look at the intelligent faculties of for instance crows, parrots, primates, whales or octopusses, we see that the intelligence reached does not differ very much in general level.
This is somewhat surprising, since these different species from altogether different phyla, presumably have developed intelligence in very different time periods in evolution. Still, they all seem to have consolidated a certain general level of intelligence, and to have stopped there, no matter how much more time was available in their evolution to develop intelligence further.
In summary, these different intelligences have developed independently from one another, they are based on altogether different basic nerve structures, each in their own individual way facilitating intelligence, and they all have stopped increasing intelligence, once they had reached a certain specific level. In cases where more evolutionary time was available, this did not result in higher intelligence levels being reached in the mean time until now. (We humans seem to be the only exception.)
The only way we can explain this peculiar phenomenon, is that there seems to be some sort of general maximum to the development of intelligence in any species. Could it be that intelligence, higher than that specific level, normally is not an E.S.S. (Evolutionarily Stable Strategy) ? If we look more closely at the organisation of behaviour, at the proximate mechanisms, we can indeed find arguments why "too high" intelligences in general will be self-defeating, and therefore will weed themselves out.
Proximate and ultimate causes of behaviour
✰✰ <level 2> Behavioural tendencies, the innate structure of feelings and sensitivities, of preferences and reflexes, have evolved in such a way that they help the individual to have its genes contribute to the next generations as much as possible. "Why" that goal is realised, is the ultimate reason for the behaviours in question. At the proximate level however, the reasons for a certain behaviour are quite different. These reasons have to do with the satisfaction of certain, specific feelings and cravings. An animal does not eat to grow and in the end to procreate. No, it is eating because it feels hungry and eating stills the craving for food. Satisfaction is derived from a full stomach, not from a future capacity to score higher on procreation, based on sufficient energy being stored in the body. The latter is the ultimate reason for eating, but it is in no way of any concern to the individual itself "on the spot". An individual only bothers with the proximate reasons.
Likewise, a male seeking sex, does so because of a sex craving and the satisfaction that copulation brings forth. It is not the thought of future pregnancy of a partner, the birth of young from a partner or the future parenthood that is driving the male to seek sex with a female. In fact, looking at ourselves, at Homo sapiens, in men the very thought of the future results of having sex with a female, may often strongly reduce the urge to have sex instead of stimulate it. Thinking of the consequences may in fact have a strongly sobering effect.
In summary, our behaviour is organised in such a way that proximal tendencies make us behave in a way that satisfies innate urges and needs, while having as an involuntary collateral effect an increase of the likelihood to contribute to the next generation. Evolution realises its goals by selecting for proximate urges and tendencies that make the animals in question behave in such a way that they involuntarily maximize mother nature's ultimate goal, procreation. For a proper understanding of the situation it is important to understand well this relationship between the proximate and ultimate reasons for behaviour.
However, there is a catch. Since the ultimate goals are "collateral" effects of urges and tendencies at the proximate level, and since these proximate behavioural tendencies have evolved primarily in a non-intelligent setting, a novel capacity to intelligently invent more efficient ways to satisfy the proximate needs and urges, may change the proximate behaviours in such a way that the urges are satisfied more efficiently, but by means of behaviours that have changed so much that the involuntary collateral ultimate (procreational) results are being bypassed and thus are not fulfilled.
What is more, the intelligence can be used to figure out more precisely what are the collateral secondary costs of certain proximate urges and cravings and can be used to figure out how to satisfy these cravings without paying the price of the traditional and "natural" collateral costs. Avoiding the collateral costs however, often also reduces the ultimate procreational results of those collaterals.
In general, if a species applies its intelligence on its own behaviour, it may discover how to circumvent the collateral secondary disadvantages of its strivings. Behaving in a more clever way therefore is likely to reduce procreational results. In general, evolution is therefore likely to prevent cleverness to reach too high levels. Intelligence should not be able to meddle with the own personal and social behaviours. In short, behaving too intelligently presumably is literally killing for evolutionary success.
Apart from sexual behaviour, similar considerations hold for other forms of social behaviour, like warning-for-danger behaviour, loyalty to group-defense, dealing with group habits and group standards for maintaining group membership and an incrowd status. An intelligent individual may achieve the targets and goals of the cravings and needs in question, while avoiding cleverly the collateral costs and risks, that serve(d) to increase the inclusive fitness of the group in question. He or she may find ways to secure group membership and social acceptance while avoiding taking the normal risks involved in gaining group recognition and as a consequence losing some inclusive fitness.
In a similar way social animals have scores of tendencies, emotions, feelings and reflexes in other fields of behaviour that yield the best procreational results if they are carried through without reserve and without (clever) changes and modifications. Merely thinking such behaviours over is already likely to reduce procreational results. Again, intelligence above a critical level will reduce the number of offspring. Intelligence above that certain level is therefore not an E.S.S. (Evolutionarily Stable Strategy). In general, what intelligence normally tends to bring about is a further clarification and elucidation of proximate costs and revenues while at the same time reconsidering or skipping altogether the automatic reflexes that secure ultimate evolutionary effects. These are the reasons why we presume that ordinarily there is an evolutionary maximum to intelligence. A very high intelligence can therefore not be an E.S.S.'' (Evolutionarily Stable Strategy).
Breaking out of the customary intelligence ceiling
✰ <level 1> So, what we see is that intelligence may / might be used to find alternative – easier - shortcuts to short term satisfaction. And such (alternative) shortcuts are quite likely to outflank the collateral behavioural effects of those primordial instincts, collaterals that serve procreational purposes, for which reasons those instincts (proximate reflexes) were evolutionarily selected for in the first place. So, intelligence, applied to our own behaviour, therefore quickly leads to sterile behaviour, no matter how satisfactory from a personal emotional (very proximal) point of view.
Our hominid ancestors however, still less intelligent at that time in evolution, were living in circumstances where a high intelligence did indeed yield very high premiums. Complex communication skills for instance would increase the effectiveness of group hunting tremendously. Better communication and other advantages of intelligence would enable those hominids to become far more effective hunters. However, a too high intelligence, higher than the "intelligence ceiling", would on the other hand yield detrimental procreational effects if applied to the own (social) behaviour.
Therefore, with a higher intelligence, evolving wherever in the animal kingdom, sooner or later there is an equilibrium between on the one hand the general usefulness of intelligent capacities, a multi-purpose general behavioural tool, and the danger of such intelligence leading to finding alternative short cuts for the satisfaction of proximal urges and desires, thus bypassing the original "traditional" behaviours for the performance of which those urges evolved in the first place. Proximal urges and the concomitant behaviours with ultimate evolutionary goals, can be cut loose and separated in that way, thus diminishing the behaviours with clear procreational effects, that the urges in question were evolved for. This equilibrium represents the ordinary maximum to the evolution of intelligence. Any higher intelligence in principle becomes self-defeating.
Our hypothesis is this: mother nature finally came up with a solution for this ordinary stalemate evolutionary situation. It invented in our hominid ancestors a specific awareness block regarding the own behaviour. That way the higher than normal intelligence cannot produce any more the collateral damage of undercutting the crucial functional links between the personal proximal urges and desires and the originally linked behaviours that produce a high procreational yield. Once this specific "Blindness for the Self" was emerging, the evolution of intelligence could carry on, also beyond the aeons old upper limit or upper ceiling as applicable in all other "intelligent" animal species.
If this hypothesis is correct, a superior capacity for language and for complex communication and for tool making only could develop in our human ancestors "in exchange for" blindness for the Self.
Such a "blindness for the Self", in short, has the following function. It serves to prevent the invention of novel short cuts between proximal urges in our behaviour and the desired outcomes. Such short cuts would namely destroy the functional links between the proximal organization of our behaviour with all the emotional urges implied, and the original ultimate evolutionary goals of such behaviours. Whereas very satisfactory to the individuals in question, such short cuts would impair their full participation in procreational efforts, which in turn would make the short cut capacity (superior intelligence) go extinct again. Therefore a higher intelligence is in principle self defeating in the evolution of any species, unless it is combined with "Self-blindness".
In humans intelligence could only rise above that certain level after, or rather while, such a specific provision had been built into, or rather happenened to become built into, our behavioural system, making sure that such high intelligence only could be applied to any type of problems in life as long as it would not be applied to the bearer's own behaviour.
Built in blindness and well consolidated ignorance towards the self have therefore been the key to the evolution of higher human intelligence.
Self Blindness and Social-role Blindness
✰✰ <level 2> So, we have a peculiar situation in Homo sapiens. We can put a man on the moon, we can dive to the bottom of the deepest oceans, we have produced Hydrogen bombs, but . . . . . . we cannot think clearly in front of a mirror. Very strange indeed ! But now we can at least understand how this strange situation came about.
Quite obviously, we seem not to be capable of understanding our own behaviour, let alone organize it intelligently in a useful way. It seems for instance far more easy to organize war involuntarily than to organize lasting peace. This failure to understand our own behaviour can indeed also be corroborated by psychological research from the last half century. It appears indeed that human beings possess an uncanny capacity to not-see how they are functioning themselves. We are struck with a very strong form of blindness for our own emotions, motivations and feelings. Of course, we do have some sort of notion of what we feel, what we see and what we want, but, as an overwhelming avalanche of scientific psychological research shows, these personal, internal notions differ greatly from reality. (See for instance: Bateson, 1972,1979, Dixon, 1976, Laing, 1967,1969,1970, a recent overview article on research about failing Self-Insight from Ehrlinger et al. 2008 and a list of cognitive biases on Wikipedia)
What is more, human beings in fact spend surprising amounts of energy and brain capacity to mystify and hide their own behaviour from sober and intelligent investigation, by themselves as well as by each other (see the chapter on the Good-Bad dimension in personality research for massive research data on this phenomenon). Evidently, it appears that this typical blindness, blocking our awareness and thinking power in certain areas, does have a significant evolutionary advantage. This human blindness apparently is an ESS, an Evolutionarily Stable Strategy.
One of the areas where this blindness is very conspicuously present is in social relations and the way social roles develop and are distributed. The ruling awareness blocks for one’s own behaviour, one’s emotions and motivations, make human beings in particular blind for 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 our future, click here(***) .
In summary, 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.
Cultural props for Self-Blindness
✰ <level 1> So, what we see is a recent development in human evolution, since some one or two million years, that made possible an explosive development of intelligence, but ...... at the cost of incorporating a striking human blindness for the self, in turn strengthened by a culture favouring and strengthening such self-blindness.
As pointed out above, 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 primordial social reflexes. Moreover, social and personal blindness is culturally supported by massive and multidimensional organized ignorance and superstition.
Cultural influences, strengthening and consolidating human blindnesses, are very strong indeed. Let's for instance consider the thinking about the very subject of this Wiki, the understanding of the general situation of humanity.
The understanding of the general situation of humanity, the working of its fate, its history and its future, is namely strongly coloured by "where human thinking can go and where it may not". The difference between what we understand and what remains a mystery to us is not so much determined by the technical knowledge that we already have and that we could make use of, but is primarily determined by where our thoughts are allowed to proceed and where our thoughts are not allowed to proceed, where they are being blocked by taboos.
When people talk about superstition, they generally refer to medieval or even older situations when people used to believe in witches, fairy tales, gnomes, and a heaven full of gods. In short, superstition is supposed to be something of past eras.
However, this is not how the situation really is. The difference with the past is not that we used to rely on superstition and now not any more, the difference is that we now simply are ruled by other sets of superstition than in previous times. But it is still superstitions that rule our lives, not significantly less than ever before.
It is a peculiar human characteristic that we only can recognize superstitions from the past that have been overcome and have been replaced by “new” insights, but that we stay fully unaware of the superstitions that rule our lives today. The world as we “see” it, the way we look at ourselves and the way we look at other, foreign people, is in fact very much determined by intricate systems of fantasy, superstitious beliefs and unproven “certainties” that we, together, are supposed to believe in. In each culture we find different sets of “belief systems”, that are ruling society and also rule the so called “knowledge” it harbours.
The function of the various prevailing superstitions is to enhance confusion in human beings, to decrease the likelihood of soberly understanding the (social) situation and thus to decrease the likelihood of finding ways to escape from neurotic fears and slavery. As long as confusion and fear are the result, any fairy tale, at difference with reality, will do. Other than that, the contents of superstitions can be virtually anything. They don't need to match reality anyway.
One other important function of superstition is that it provides the "incrowd" carriers of the superstition in question with a specific cognitive "nest odour". It helps people discriminate between incrowd and foreigners. The right superstition, or "belief" represents the right "odour" and helps to determine to which individuals one owes loyalty and which individuals may be considered "fair game". (For more about the function of the varieties of superstition see there.(*))
What all prevailing belief systems have in common, is that, in all their cultural variety, at least they also help to block awareness of the own behavioural tendencies and reflexes regarding the self and regarding social interactions. Thus they help to secure that also in humans the primordial, aeons old animal like behavioural systems keep running as they always, throughout evolution, were supposed to run, unhampered by intellectual meddling and modification. (For more information about the relation between (social role) blindness and human culture see there(***)). In fact, in each of us, and for each of us, a lot of energy and time is continuously spent to strengthen the blocking of our awareness of these crucial functions in our own thinking.
But, ....... nowadays ....... the more factual information is becoming readily available, the more difficult it becomes to maintain misinformation, ignorance and blindness. In modern times, this cultural system of keeping us humans stupid, of securing collective blindness, is taking an increasing lot of time and energy and is gradually becoming more and more unstable because of the rapid development of technical achievements and novel information facilities. Increasing transparency increasingly undermines superstition and with that the technical foundations of human slavery.
✰ <level 1> Making a few steps back and looking again, it would indeed seem unavoidable that at some point in time, in a not too far future, the paradox of a high intelligence, paired to not understanding oneself, becomes technically too unstable to continue. The innate propensity for Self-Blindness may stay in place, because genetically determined, but the culturally enhanced part of our blindness is ever more difficult to maintain, in the light of ever more growing assaults of scientifically based information about our own functioning.
It would, also from an evolutionary point of view, seem probable that at some point in time Intelligence will come to understand its own evolutionary structure at which point in time the intricate and complex system of inborn and organised blindness and stupidity will collapse. It then simply has become too unstable.
We therefore postulate a Point Omega (term borrowed from Teilhard de Chardin) in the near future, when the present system collapses, when collective ignorance cannot artificially be maintained any longer and understanding of self and social relationships breaks out of its cultural fetters and then starts to spread like a prairie fire, releasing at the same time unparalleled amounts of energy, boosting in turn this process itself. It will probably function as a sort of chain reaction resulting in an explosion of awareness and clarity.
The unexpectedly sudden and explosive timing of such a breakthrough can be concluded from, on the one hand the large quantities of social energy that can be spared, once the need for maintaining the cultural fetters of blindness and misinformation can be suspended, and on the other hand from the structure of positive feed back loops in the engine of our learning process, the Cognition-Energy-Learning system (C.E.L.) (see here for more details (***)).
Where do we stand ?
✰✰ <level 2> Human culture has arrived at a point where we can control nature to such an extent that we do not run the risks any more that formerly were determining life and fate of each and every individual. We have now learned to fight and win any conflict with large predators, with cold, with heat, floods, drought, starvation, and even with almost all contagious diseases. In principle, technically speaking, any healthy individual now could live until old age in peaceful circumstances, were it not for mankind itself providing fatal risks for oneself and for each other. This evolutionary "achievement" resulted as a consequence in Homo sapiens being its own most important predator. This can for instance be shown by investigating what percentage of deaths is caused by intraspecific agression as compared to such cause of death in other species. Recent (2016) research by José Maria Gómez from Granada University shows that indeed aggression between humans is an important selection force, accounting for more deaths than is the case in other species. Evolutionarily, mankind has apparently become its own primary source of risk, its own most important selection force. As a consequence, the main direction of selection has changed dramatically since some hundreds of thousands of years.
In more recent times, since around 10.000 years ago, another major shift occurred with respect to evolutionary forces determining the fate of humanity. This shift can be verified also by recent DNA research that shows that the speed of change of the human DNA has increased tremendously since the beginning of this most recent period of human evolution, the beginning of agriculture.
In fact, the human species has arrived at a quite peculiar situation. Seen from the point of view of our most basic instincts, our most basic feelings, wishes and desires, we have, in our modern world, developed the technical means and tricks to fulfil each and every wish, stemming from our inmost primordial systems of emotions and motivations. We could in principle all be "happy" and safe.
However, as it appears, reality is quite different. We have become our own predators and any large scale civilization is in fact just some postponement of selection pressure, that is taking its toll anew at any occasion when things run out of control. As has been said by philosophers before, civilization can in practice be regarded as a conspiracy against evolution, human evolution. Civilization is always just a shortlasting postponement of selection pressure. In any culture, periods of peace and prosperity don't last very long. Evolution has to take its course, and it does, also in us cultured humans. At such moments in time, wars break out and starvation, diseases, migration waves, genocides and other disasters make evolution recover lost terrain. Then evolution again effectuates its selection pressure in the typical, novel, human evolutionary direction and does away with cumulated genetic pollution, incurred in periods of relative peace. (For more information about the effects of genetic pollution in animals as well as in man, see here.(**)
This is how mother nature ascertains that evolutionary processes continue, even under conditions of human civilizations. Only, this repeated process of catching up evolutionary selection pressures, coming with wars, genocide, etc. etc., is getting more and more dangerous for humanity's survival.
Let's take one step back.
Looking at the present human situation from the outside, it seems highly peculiar that we can fly through the air with hundreds of people at a time in one machine, that we can sail the seas in vessels harbouring tens of thousands of people, that we can plan and cultivate food for a hundred times or more people than are living in the areas in question, that we can put a man on the moon and dive down into the deepest oceans and return to tell what we have seen, that we can look into the universe into distances so far away that it is difficult to imagine what such distances mean, distances, travelled by light in millions of years, that we understand the most elementary particles of matter to the point where we can put together nuclear bombs and nuclear energy plants, we can annihilate the whole of the human world population within one day, and still, and still, ................ we cannot think clearly in front of a mirror, as the above paragraphs argue. How strange !
Looking at the human situation with some sobriety, the urgency of our situation hits us in the face. It would seem that this urgency will force humanity, sooner rather than later, to step back and have a proper look at itself, which is likely to trigger more awareness and to undermine the culturally organised stupidity and blindness. It is this sense of urgency, especially pressing in periods of disaster and mayhem, that will eventually facilitate the breaking of our cultural fetters and therewith trigger the Point Omega chain reaction. The potential energy for feeding this explosion of awareness has by now grown to gigantic proportions indeed. Therefore our guess is that it is most likely that the suddenness, the speed and the overwhelming massiveness of the Point Omega transition will take mankind by surprise. In that process the innate human propensity for Self-Blindness will rather suddenly become transparent, will lose its sting and will no longer determine our collective lives.
Point Omega and Self-Blindness
✰✰ <level 2> Let's summarise the effects of social-role-blindness and self-blindness up till now, during the transition and after Point Omega.
Until now, Self-Blindness and Social-Role-Blindness result in:
- 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.
The relevance for the Point Omega transition:
- Breaking awareness blocks / intelligence blocks is of crucial importance.
- Awareness of the own personal motivations opens strategic moves for change and for escape from neurotic imprisonment.
- This awareness and the breaking of the intelligence blocks is crucial antidote against the power structures in charge.
After Point Omega:
- Innate propensity for Self-Blindness will still be there, because this quarter million years old condition is part of our genetic make up.
- The cultural props enhancing and stabilising Self-Blindness will lose their influence.
- Cultural support to overcome and compensate the innate tendencies for Self-Blindness will be developed and gradually will become more effective.
- The awareness of our innate propensity for Self-Blindness will grow and become more stable in time and will help individuals to overcome this blindness.
- The various cultural props that used to support Self-Blindness will be recognised as such and be considered as an interesting characteristic of a historical phase in human evolution, that has now been overcome for good.
- These "after point Omega effects" will help individuals to spare enormous amounts of energy. That, in turn, will free energy and time to spend on supporting other people and that will facilitate also in those other people the likelihood to escape from neuroticizing structures and to reach higher levels of self-actualization. And the latter will have a contagious effect on the individuals around. So, what we can expect to happen soon after the switching point of Point Omega, is a social-psychological chain reaction, producing very quickly a completely different world with a totally different social environment. And because this is basically a chain reaction on "software" level, it will happen much quicker than people can imagine or can anticipate.
( For more information, click here: Social Role Blindness(***)).
The above list in bullets in short indicates the relationship between Self-Blindness and Point Omega. If we take into consideration the mechanisms of learning processes and the meta-motivational states involved, as elaborated in other articles on this Wiki(***), then we can reach a deeper level of understanding the role of Self-Blindness in this evolutionary phase of mankind. In terms of Reversal Theory(***)) and the C.E.L.(***) the situations before Point Omega and the situation after Point Omega in relation to Self-Blindness appear as follows in detail.
Before Point Omega:
✰ <level 1> In the majority of people the Telic Meta-motivational State is strongly dominant. Therefore these people are goal-oriented and rarely enjoy the moments of life itself, emotionally aware of the flow of events. Such people, before Point Omega the majority, have a strong need for structure and purpose, because that is what goal-orientedness is all about. They rarely dwell in the "here and now" and find it difficult to live with purposelessness, which is rather a characteristic of the paratelic state.
Evolution is basically, intrinsically, goal-less. Chance and necessity determine direction in evolution, also in our own evolution. The direction comes from within, not from outside. There cannot be an outside source of direction to evolution. Evolution is a blind and automatic selection process creating relatively stable structures in a changing environment, changing also by evolution itself. It is basically open ended, permanently creating itself. Therefore evolution is a threatening perspective to telic dominant people. Evolution does not provide a specific "destiny" as a conceptual anchoring point. Therefore reality feels too "naked" to most people to bear. Being full of fears, neuroses and misery, people are stuck with the basic question: "what then is the purpose of all this suffering?" Reality can therefore not easily be known by telic dominant people, who cannot live with purposelessness. They have to cling to something solid and fixed.
Because of the above, if one is a telic dominant person, which is mostly the case until Point Omega, there is a strong need, a craving for "purpose". And being social creatures, this then comes in the form of a strong emotional need for shared and fixed ideas about the "purpose" of (one's own) existence, even if these ideas are highly improbable or rather are basically just fairy tales. Any fixed idea, no matter how stupid or crazy, seems to be desirable above no idea at all. “Purpose” of the suffering gives emotional support and perspective, no matter how false the purpose giving "goal" is in reality.
However, technically speaking, superstition is in principle unstable in a field of (growing) knowledge.
In power structures ignorance is preferred above intelligent insight. Ignorant people can easier be manipulated and controlled. However, intelligent insights make continuation of superstition difficult. Intelligent enquiry causes instability of fixed ideas about our “goals” and “purpose”, because they are not based on reality, but on wishful thinking and superstitious indoctrination. Thus: successful societies cherish and protect superstition and ignorance. Otherwise they are not an ESS. For power structures it pays off to invest energy in keeping people stupid and prevent them from conducting intelligent enquiry. These amounts of energy, spent for that purpose, can be huge.
Choosing another perspective, taking a cognitive point of view, telic dominance implies a propensity for sufficiency-oriented recipes and world views. Such ideas and views do not contain a high level of sparsity and of logical coherence and stability, but rather a multitude of ad hoc recipes without much coherence and interrelatedness. Incongruence of ideas is not so much of an emotional problem there. As such, such sufficiency oriented pictures of the world can easily contain ideas and concepts that appear superstitious, simpleminded and dumb, at least they appear so to more stable personalities. Before Point Omega, in our time, the views of the world show an enormous richness and cultural variety, be it that in general they lack truthfulness and efficiency.
After Point Omega:
✰ <level 1> Telic dominance will diminish and paratelic states will be more prevalent. Need for externally indicated purpose will therefore dwindle away and exiting unpredictability and richness of possibilities will be enjoyed instead of being feared. No need for communal tales of purpose any more, no need for superstition any more, no need for blocking of intelligence any more, no artificially stabilized massive stupidity any more. The cumbersome and complex systems to maintain blind ignorance and superstition, consuming huge amounts of time and energy, have become superfluous. That way much energy is freed for creative purposes and for stabilizing growth and development and understanding.
At the cognitive level, there is more and more dominance of necessity oriented models of reality, models that are more sparse, more coherent and more stable in time. At Point Omega a run-away positive feed back loop starts, causing an unprecedented exponential growth of human intelligence and understanding.
In summary, the removal of awareness blocks, and the freeing of huge amounts of intelligent capacities and energy, will cause a massive chain reaction in many fields of functioning. This we may label as the Point Omega chain reaction.
One of the many effects will be that we will gain deep and detailed knowledge of and insight in evolutionary processes, also our own. This will enable mankind to creatively influence and steer evolution in humans. For that reason we will finally emerge from our gradual evolution towards more and more consciousness into a process of conscious evolution.
Towards "Amathology" or the science of ignorance
✰✰ <level 2> In view of the data as presented in this chapter, it would be worthwhile, and it would certainly pay off in terms of understanding the nature of mankind's most important contemporary predicaments, to establish a scientific research discipline on the mechanisms and effects of Social Blindness- and Self-Blindness. This could greatly enhance a better understanding of all the various cultural mechanisms (meme sets) that have kept us stupid until now and it might help to "grease" the way to a Point Omega transition. We could label such a research discipline as "Amathology", from the Greek word "Amathos" or "ignorance".
In psychological and in philosophical literature one can find ample illustrations and examples of typical human blindnesses, particularly where notions about the self are at stake. See for instance the list of cognitive biases on Wikipedia, being the focus of many research activities.
One of the following articles on this Wiki, Good and Bad, an illusory dimension as the cornerstone of human personality, may constitute a part of the scientific research in the field of "Amathology".
Another issue for "Amathology" research could be attempts to solve the following scientific "bet".
The above considerations would predict that in the past millennia in many strata of human societies there may have been a selection power in favour of limited intelligence and limited conceptual capacities. Such a tendency would help stabilize existing power structures and their mind block mechanisms and thus confer survival value to the power structure / culture in question and to its carriers. This effect should possibly have been there from the start of the agricultural revolution, some 10,000 years ago, until today. (It is OK if a small minority of top dogs is intelligent. However, the masses had better be stupid !)''
It should be possible to find ways to verify or falsify this postulate.
This might for instance among other things be an explanation for the archaeological finding that the skull content / volume of present day men is slightly lower than skulls from some 10.000 years ago, whereas the speed of DNA-changes in man has increased tremendously during that period. This finding of decreased skull content, combined with recent research data showing a strong relationship between frontal cortex skull content and intelligence and the genetic basis thereof (see for instance Thompson et al., 2001), would suggest that verification of the above postulate should be possible.
Other Amathology research targets:
The theory on this Wiki predicts among other things that large quantities of energy and thinking capacity are being spent on maintaining and corroborating blindness for ourselves and blindness for our assessment of other people's behaviour.
From personality psychological data it should be possible to derive proof that much of the personality psychological tools are being used for hiding, rather than soberly assessing and predicting the own and each other's behaviour. A hypothesis to be tested could be that:
An important part of all personality descriptive adjectives etc. are not correlated with any actual behaviour, but are used to maintain a colouring of the personality characteristics with strikes of goodness versus strikes of badness, thus inducing and stabilizing an attitude of support for or of resistance against the rated person in question. Sober and objective assessment of persons' behaviour is thus replaced by cognitively hiding the actual behaviours in question and by the creation of an emotional foundation for the already existing social role relationship between rater and ratee. Intelligent objective assessment is thus replaced by unhampered primordial social reflexes.
This good-bad dimension in personality research is so overwhelmingly important that it can be found in multivariate statistical analyses as the unrotated first principal component in factor analysis. The largest part of the correlations between personality descriptive adjectives is therefore not describing any actual behaviour or actual personality characteristics at all, but is just a tool for cognitively protecting primordial, primitive social reflexes against sober intellectual investigation. It should be possible to calculate from basic correlation matrices of personality descriptive adjectives and from basic physiological data on blood streams to the human head, how much of human energy is on average spent on maintaining a specific blindness towards own and other people's characteristics in order to protect crucial social reflexes from being understood intellectually.''
If this can be shown as postulated, it can serve as proof of the enormous evolutionary importance of human blindness for the Self. Such a finding would have tremendous bearing on how humanity views itself and also would have bearing on how we choose to proceed from here as a species.
Another hypothesis that could be tested in a discipline of "Amathology" could be on the role and function of human Self-blindness for fueling the cyclic changes in social structures. A hypothesis to be tested could be:
Population cycles in Lemmings and other small rodents have their counterpart in cyclic changes in human social structures and have the same behavioural-genetic basis. The evolutionary function and role of these cyclic changes is in the periodic re-shuffling of genes in the gene pool, in the colonization of thus far uninhabited areas, etc. In Homo sapiens these same cyclic changes can be observed and these cyclic forces can only keep operating by virtue of a strong Self-Blindness in us humans, protecting the unhampered social selection forces ruling the primordial in-crowd / out-cast social reflexes, motoring these social cycles. It should be possible to show that the genetically based behavioural dimension on which these selection forces operate is close to specific established personality dimensions in personality psychological literature and it should be possible to show where this personality dimension is located in the multidimensional adjective space.
It would be worthwhile to cooperate in this research with biological researchers investigating the genetic roots of such personality differences in other social mammal species.
Another hypothesis to be tested under the flag of "Amathology" could be about the Cognition-Energy Learning model (the C.E.L.), being a novel learning paradigm next to behaviourism and humanistic growth psychology and explaining both, and being able to effectively describe and predict the present evolutionary situation of mankind. A hypothesis could be:
According to the CEL, rhythm and timing of experiences are more important than the outcome of the learning events. Strongly aversive experiences can have neuroticizing or rather strengthening effects on the subjects, depending on the timing and the rhythm of the experiences. The same aversive experience can produce heroes or neurotic cowards depending on the timing of the experiences. Proof for this hypothesis could be derived from simple and quick experiments with small mammals.
It should be possible to find similar phenomena in human personality psychological literature.
Another hypothesis to be derived from the CEL models in this Wiki could be about the effects of positive feed-back loops in 2 directions: the neurotic direction and the self-actualization direction. One prediction from this model would be that the usual neurotic human psychological condition can in principle be reverted into a collective state of actualization of all innate potentials, as soon as a critical % of humans has entered actualized states.
The famous B.J. Kouwer wrote a book on personality "Het spel van de persoonlijkheid: Theorieën en systemen in de psychologie van de menselijke persoon" (1963), that has become a bible for a whole generation of personality researchers at Groningen University. Kouwer eloquently points out the illusory character of much of the daily used personality concepts and illustrates how we delude ourselves and each other with those terms, believing in the non-existent solidity of what we consider "personality". It would be worthwhile to write a sequel to Kouwer's famous work in view of the data that we have derived from the articles on this Wiki.
The Kouwerian point of view in that light is for 100% correct and applicable to the first unrotated principal component in factoranalytic personality research. The remainder of the personality vocabulary refers to real behavioural variables. However, most of the personality descriptive adjectives do have some or much correlation with the Good-Bad dimension, being the first unrotated principal component. Therefore the Kouwerian aspect, the virtual aspect, for some part sticks to almost all personality descriptive adjectives. But that is not the whole story.
The contributions on this Wiki enable us to discriminate more clearly between what is purely Kouwerian and what is based in real behaviour that can be objectively determined. It should be possible to show that by partialling out the correlations with the first unrotated principal component, the Good-Bad dimension, a collection of "real" personality dimensions remains. This would enable us to show which parts of our conceptual personality tools should be regarded with great caution and it could tell us how the Kouwerian view and principles can help us to construe a comprehensive model of personality, clean of the all pervading human tendency to indulge in primordial and automatic social reflexes that form a veil over any sober assessment of our own and of each other's behavioural characteristics.
For a summary return to the first page of this article.