The Nature of Consciousness

Piero Scaruffi

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These are excerpts and elaborations from my book "The Nature of Consciousness"

The Neurological Alternative to Sociobiology

The French archeologist Jacques Cauvin introduced the expression “symbolic revolution” to refer to the sudden change in art and society that took place in the neolithic, notably  the transition from hunting and gathering to agriculture and domestication of animals, with the consequent transition from nomadic life to settled life. The traditional explanation was that whatever caused the change, it came from the environment and then it "migrated" into people's minds, causing a new way of symbolic thinking in religion and politics. Cauvin argued that, on the contrary, agriculture and domestication of animals were a by-product of a change in mental life: first the mind underwent the symbolic revolution, which also involved a new cosmology, and then this new mind conceived of agriculture and domestication.  The change in mental life must have originated from a physical modification of the brain, from a mutation of sorts.

Along those lines South African archeologists David Lewis-Williams and David Pearce claimed that human neurology inevitably leads to a tripartite nature of religion, which yields a three-realm cosmology that they believed to be widespread in ancient civilizations.

An extreme interpretation of this argument would be that humans created civilization not to adapt to the environment and not because it was useful to survival but simply because a mutation in their brains made them do those things, just like human brains make humans see and hear. Everything that happened afterwards was just a consequence of a new brain that was thinking differently.

 


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