Looking at Daryl Domning’s Book (2006) “Original Selfishness” (Part 6 of 16)

0037 In prior blogs, I associate a sequence of four waystations in the history of the word, “selfishness”, to four elements in Domning’s visualization of original sin.

0038 Traditional theological accounts of original sin fuse its universal and its moral realities.  

The universal reality is direct descent from Adam and Eve, as proposed by Saint Augustine seventeen centuries ago.  This universal reality has been debunked by modern genetics.

The moral reality is a corruption of human free will.  People tend to be selfish, even with moral deliberation.  This implies a fall from full rationality and self-control.

0039 Domning’s theological account separates original sin’s universal and moral realities.  But, the separation is not complete, because original selfishness (A) evolves into the self (B).

Evolutionary selfishness (pre-A) culminates in psychological expressions of I-myself (original selfishness, A), which I associate to the initial terminus of the term, “human selfishness” (D).  The passage involves the terms, “self” (B) and “selfish” (C).  Moral deliberation enters the picture with the term, “selfish”.

The moral reality, the disordered practices of human selfishness, is nothing more than original selfishness, but now with moral deliberation.

0040 The association between four waystations in the history of the word, “selfishness”, with four elements in Domning’s visualization of Original Sin appears convincing.

So, I want try my luck with another composite term, “concupiscence”.

“Concupiscence” builds upon three technical expressions.  These technical expressions associate to waystations (B, C and D) in this development of the word, “selfishness”.

Figure 11

Note that these technical definitions do not correspond to traditional definitions of these words.  I will get to that difficulty later.

0041 Once again, where am I going with this?

0042 The development of the word, “selfishness”, parallels Domning’s argument about the nature of original sin, once its universal and moral realities are separated.

The key step is the transition from the emphatic, I myself (A), to self (B), a noun.  Domning attributes this step to evolution.  The next step is the adjective, “selfish” (C), describing a tendency towards placing one’s own self above others.  Here, moral constraints may come into play.  “Selfishness” (D) reifies the adjective.

0043 Now, I want to repeat the procedure with the word, “concupiscence”.  Concupiscence is traditionally used to describe the moral reality of original sin.  The universal reality is descent from Adam, which now has been debunked by science.


Looking at Daryl Domning’s Book (2006) “Original Selfishness” (Part 7 of 16)

0044 The development of the word, “concupiscence” (D’), from the originating emphatic, I-myself (A), produces technical definitions of words, that are at odds with traditional definitions.  Cupid (B’) starts by labeling the presence of self among other selves.

Figure 12

Cupid (B’) associates to self (B).  If self (B) labels the intensional awareness of an internal consolidation of various, situational I-myselves, then cupid (B’) labels an extension of that awareness.  This extension occurs, in the Lebenswelt that we evolved in, as individuals cooperate in social circles, the family (5), intimates (5), teams (15), bands (50), communities (150) and so on.  So, the consolidation that produces the self (B’) is motivated by a competition to perform as a self among other selves in various social circles.

That competition entails concupiditas (C’), the desire to perform as a self among other selves.  Concupiditas (C’) corresponds to selfish (C).  Concupiditas (C’) is an adaptation that satisfies the biological criteria of evolutionary selfishness and conforms to Domning’s criteria for original selfishness, manifested in the emphatic, I-myself (A).

0045 Here is a picture.

Figure 13

0046 Like cupid (B’), the technical term, concupiditas (C’), does not align with common parlance.

A contemporary example of a concupidic behavior (C’) takes place in bars and houses around college campuses.  Drinking games meld competition and cooperation.  Each participant is a cupid (B’), competing to shoot an arrow into a keg of beer, in order to endear oneself to others in the drinking group.

One must compete in order to cooperate?

How twisted is that?

0047 Concupiditas (C’) is situational.  Concupiditas entails human choice.  Concupiditas introduces rules to the game.  Concupiditas is being with others, in particular situations, where performance is congruent with belonging.

The rule of the drinking game is simple.  Drink as much beer as you can.  This rule is given precedence over other rules, such as long-term cooperation necessitates that other selves are not injured.  The drinking game entails risk.  Concupiditas (C’) entails a human choice about which game to play.  The games belong to concupiscence (D’).  The choice belongs to the person and concupiditas (C’).

0048 Concupiscence (D’) corresponds to selfishness (D).  One must compete to cooperate.  One must perform in every social circle that one belongs to.  That performance entails risk.  Sometimes one is born into a social circle (the family, band and community).  Sometimes one must choose (intimates, team).  Concupiscence (D’) is the state of competing to cooperate.  Each self desires to cooperate, because those who cooperate take the greater risks and enjoy the greater benefits.  Each self desires to be among other selves.  Each self has its own original selfishness.  Every game and every social circle has rules, established by tradition.

Figure 14

We compete to belong to and to flourish within social circles.  We compete to cooperate. 


Looking at Daryl Domning’s Book (2006) “Original Selfishness” (Part 8 of 16)

0049 In the competition to cooperate (D’), one must have theories of mind.  One must be able to anticipate the desire to belong (concupiditas, C’) of others.  One must fashion the selves of oneself and others (B’) through clues, including the expression of emphatics, such as I-myself, in various situations (A).

Figure 15

0050 In the end, a deep irony emerges.

These alternate technical formulations of cupid (B’), concupiditas (C’), and concupiscence (D’) describe original justice, not original sin.  In other words, the niche of triadic relations allows forms of cooperation (associated to the goddess Venus) that are so rewarding that original selfishness drives us to compete (associated to the god Mars) in order to participate and flourish in cooperative social circles.

Does the term, “original justice”, describe the state of humans in the Lebenswelt that we evolved in?

Concupiscence (D’) is so adaptive that we evolved a willingness to sacrifice, even die, for one another.

0051 The most productivity-oriented social circle is the team.  Being a member of a successful team increases self-preservation and reproductive success.   Teams are task oriented, voluntary, opportunistic and spontaneous.  Teams are most effective in scavenging resources in mixed forest and savannah, where opportunities are seasonal and varied.  Teams are so successful that they share their bounties with family, band and community.  Hand talk is an adaptation to team activity.

So, why do I say that the human niche is triadic relations, rather than cooperation?

0052 Cooperation and competition already are adaptations into the niche of evolutionary selfishness.  Domning is clear on this.  Original selfishness is a psychological adaptation that spontaneously expresses one’s presence.  That psychological adaptation opens the door to the realization of self.  That realization is not a thing.  It is a triadic relation.

Is this way the technical definition of cupid (B’), proposed here, is precisely the opposite of the thing known in Greek mythology as Cupid, who is not a relation at all.


Looking at Daryl Domning’s Book (2006) “Original Selfishness” (Part 10 of 16)

0059 Now, I consider the simultaneous evolution of self (B) and cupid (B’).

According to the masterwork, The Human Niche, the Homo lineage adapts into the ultimate niche of triadic relations.

A judgment is a triadic relation.

A judgment brings what ought to be (category) into relation (category) with what is (category).

The categories are firstness, secondness and thirdness.  Firstness is the monadic realm of possibility.  Secondness is the dyadic realm of actuality.  Thirdness is the triadic realm of normal contexts, signs, mediations, judgments and so on.  When categories are assigned to each element, then a judgment becomes actionable.

For animals, a judgment leads to immediate action.  For hominins, a judgment may lead to immediate action.  A judgment may also create an actuality.  The element that is assigned to secondness becomes what is for further judgments.  This is the case for the evolution of self.

0060 Can I describe the transition from manifestations of I-myself in diverse situations (A) to self (B) as an adaptation into the niche of judgment as a triadic relation?

Yes, the associations are obvious.

Figure 17

0061 This particular judgment is an adaptation into the niche of triadic relations.

This particular judgment is innate and yields self (B) and cupid (B’) as actualities.

Remember, cupid (B’) is defined as the self among other selves.

The noun, self (B), proceeds to the adjective, selfish (C), where the self becomes the actuality that one obsesses over.The noun, cupid (B’), proceeds to the noun, concupiditas (C’), the desire of oneself to be with other selves, where cooperation with others becomes the actuality that one obsesses over.


Looking at Daryl Domning’s Book (2006) “Original Selfishness” (Part 11 of 16)

0062 When I re-articulate Domning’s foundational diagram (figure 10.1) using the development of the term, “selfishness”; I end up making the same points that Domning makes.

Figure 18

0063 When I re-articulate Domning’s foundational diagram using the components of the term, “concupiscence”; I end up with a scenario that is completely different.

Figure 19

0064 In fact, my technical definitions of cupid (B’), concupiditas (C’) and concupiscence (D’) appear to be inversions of traditional definitions of the same words.

More on that, later.

0065 Right now, I want to dwell on the idea that the self is what ought to be, imbued with secondness, in an innate judgment.   Because what ought to be is assigned to the category of secondness, it becomes an actuality, the internal self (B) and the external cupid (B’).

0066 Domning warns against reductionism in chapter eight, on evolution and human behavior.

0067 For example, the claim that our somatic selves exist only to perpetuate our “selfish” DNA is a contemporary popular reduction.  It is technically correct, since our somatic selves are adaptations into the niche of perpetuating DNA through self-preservation and reproductive success.

But, this reduction is misleading, since this reduction is used to veil later ultimate niches, such as the one that encourages the adaptations of sea cows and the one that encourages the adaptations of hominins.

0068 Similarly, my claim that our somatic selves are really adaptations into the niche of triadic relations and that our perceptions of our own somatic selves are adaptations into the potential of judgment, is also reductionist and technically correct.

But, this reduction is revealing, because it shows that original selfishness does not “evolve” into the self.  Rather, original selfishness is what is, the self is what ought to be, and consolidation is the relation.

The word, “consolidation”, is composed of “con-” (with), “solid” (a state of matter) and “-ation” (the process of becoming).  Consolidation3 transforms the potential of diverse exhibitions of the emphatic, I-myself1 (A), into the solidity of a unitary self2 (B).

0069 In human evolution, the ability to make this judgment increases self-preservation and enhances reproductive success.

But, the ability does not derive from self-preservation and reproductive success, per se.

The ability derives from the realness of immaterial triadic relations.

0070 The masterwork, The Human Niche, changes the landscape beneath Domning’s argument.

Domning separates the universal and moral realities of original sin, using terminology that supports a re-conceptualization of original sin.

Here, I repeat Domning’s procedure with different terminology and end up supporting a re-conceptualization of Aquinas’s notion of original justice.

This is the topic of the next blog.


Looking at Daryl Domning’s Book (2006) “Original Selfishness” (Part 12 of 16)

0071 Thomas Aquinas is a theologian.

To wit, Aquinas comes up with the notion of original justice as the state of Adam before the Fall.  Correspondingly, this notion should apply to humans in the Lebenswelt that we evolved in.

0072 Domning is an evolutionary biologist who is interested in theology.

To wit, Domning has read the Jesuit paleontologist, theologian and mastermind, Teilhard de Chardin.  De Chardin is profoundly influenced by evolutionary theory and concludes that the stories of Adam and Eve are highly problematic.  There is no way that Adam and Eve are the parents of all humans, which is the universal reality in the doctrine of Original Sin.

So, if the universal reality of Original Sin is scientifically incorrect, what does that imply?

Domning follows de Chardin in drawing the obvious conclusion.  The universal reality of Original Sin must be found in the evolution of selfishness.  So, selfishness must be the moral reality underlying Original Sin.

0073 But, this is not the case.


The self (B) is an adaptation to the niche of the triadic structure of judgment.  The self (B) is also cupid (B’), which is a self among selves.  Concupiditas (C’) is not selfish (C). Rather, it is the desire to be a self among selves, which turns into a competition to belong to a flourishing social circle (that is, concupiscence (D’), the state of competing to cooperate).  Performance counts.

Cooperation within various social circles increases self-preservation and reproductive success, which in turn are adaptations into the niche of natural selection and genetics.

0074 The topic of social circles appears in Comments on Clive Gamble, John Gowlett and Robin Dunbar’s Book (2014) “Thinking Big”, available at smashwords and other e-book venues.  These researchers discuss human evolution in terms of various social circles, including family (5), intimates (5), team (15), bands (50), communities (150) and later, megabands (500) and tribes (1500).  As it turns out, the relative size of the mammalian brain correlates to group size.  The hominins start with brain sizes typical for bands and end up with brain sizes typical of communities.  The typical person keeps track of 150 other people.

Surely, the evolution of self plays a role.  Perhaps, the coincidence of self (B) and cupid (B’) plays a role in the formalization of personal relations, especially in regards to larger groups, which meet seasonally (mega-band) or on rare occasions (tribe).  More importantly, the realization of self (B) as relational (cupid (B’)) sets the stage for the competition to perform well in a social circle (D’).

0075 What does this mean for a freshman, who tries to keep up with hardened seniors, drinking beer at a college bar?

Surely, the freshman is trying to impress his superiors, the seniors, who are really his colleagues.

But, there is something more.  The freshman is dying (figuratively, and occasionally literally) to join the team or the band.

The freshman is a cupid, saying I-myself, all the way to the porcelain throne.

0076 Would Domning regard such excess as selfish behavior on the part of the seniors (who should know better) as well as the freshman (whose mother warned him about this)?

I suppose so.

But, it is also more.  The competition (to drink one more pint) stands at the threshold of a cooperative reaction (oh shit! he is about to barf! let’s get him to the can!).  The competition triggers cooperation.  Cooperation is the tree of life, ever fruitful, productive, innovative and challenging.  Performance counts in the competition to cooperate.

0077 How is the evolution of self (B) different from the evolution of cupid (B’)?

Clearly, the freshman and the seniors are motivated by concupiditas (C’).   The drinking game is an arena for expressing the desire to be among other selves.  The drinking game has rules.  The game has ethics.  These ethics associate to concupiscence (D’).

So, the self (B) is an adaptation into the potential of the triadic structure of judgment. The self (B) is also an actuality, a self among others, a cupid (B’), who has the capacity to desire to work and belong and create with other selves (C’). Concupiditas (C’) is an adaptation that introduces culture, rules, social expectations and so forth.  Concupiditas (C’) serves as the gateway to concupiscence (D’), where cooperation produces tangible results in terms of self-preservation and reproductive success.

0078 At this point, a theologian in the back of the room, yells, “Those are not the traditional definitions of cupid,concupiditas and concupiscence!  This is insane.  Your alternate definitions have the words precisely backwards!”

To which I reply, “Oh, you are correct.  What does that imply?”


Looking at Daryl Domning’s Book (2006) “Original Selfishness” (Part 13 of 16)

0079 Domning is on target, even while completely missing his intended endpoint.  Evolution is red in tooth and claw.  Evolution is also the most economic means to an end, the glory of God, in the abundance and diversity of life on Earth.  One cannot pick and choose.  God creates the world.  God calls it “good”.

But, one can misread the creativity of natural selection, by insisting that all niches are potentials of material things.  There is one niche that is the potential of an immaterial thing, the triadic relation.  That is the human niche.

When I consider this unique niche, then the evolution of concupiscence (D’) produces a definition that inverts the traditional theological term.

0080 There is a reason for this inversion of meaning.

These alternative definitions apply to the Lebenswelt that we evolved in.

Here is a list.

Figure 20

0081 What does this imply?

The traditional definitions apply to our current Lebenswelt.

Here is a list.

Figure 21

0082 The alternate definitions describe original justice.

The traditional definitions describe original sin.

0083 What else does this imply?

Our current Lebenswelt is not the same as the Lebenswelt that we evolved in.


Looking at Daryl Domning’s Book (2006) “Original Selfishness” (Part 14 of 16)

0084 Of course, there is an explanation for why our current Lebenswelt is not the same as the Lebenswelt that we evolved in.

The explanation is called the hypothesis of the first singularity.

The hypothesis is plainly laid out in The First Singularity and Its Fairy Tale Trace.

The hypothesis is dramatically rendered in An Archaeology of the Fall.

The hypothesis is reflected upon in Comments on Original Sin and Original Death: Romans 5:12-19.

0085 Here is a snapshot.

Figure 22

0086 There is a reason why all the origin myths of the ancient Near East depict recent creations of humans.  The myth tellers cannot see beyond the time horizon set by the first singularity.  In particular, the people of the Ubaid, then Uruk, then Sumerian Dynastic archaeological periods in southern Mesopotamia could not remember the Lebenswelt that we evolved in.

The Creation Story is the sole exception.  But, it does not stand alone.  The creation of Adam and Eve immediately follows the first chapter of Genesis, giving the impression that Adam and Eve are the first humans.

Consequently, humans are created twice in Genesis 1-4.  In Genesis 1, humans are created as images of God in an evolutionary framework.  In Genesis 2.4-3, the preamble to the creation of Adam clearly places the Garden of Eden at the confluence of four rivers, including the Tigris and Euphrates, during the Wet Neolithic of southwestern Asia.


Looking at Daryl Domning’s Book (2006) “Original Selfishness” (Part 15 of 16)

0087 In conclusion, I would like to conduct a point-by-point comparison of the alt- and trad- definitions of the terms that compound into “concupiscence”.  The alt definitions correspond to the Lebenswelt that we evolved in and original justice. The trad definitions correspond to our current Lebenswelt and original sin.

0088 Here is the first comparison

Figure 23

0089 In the alt-definition, the self (B) is a psychological actuality produced by an innate judgment, where consolidation (relation, thirdness) brings the self (B) (what ought to be, secondness) out of various psychological expressions of I-myself (A) (what is, firstness).

Cupid (B’) expresses the sociological realities of the self (B).

These realities are implicit abstractions.  They cannot be pictured or pointed to in hand talk, so they cannot be subject for discussion by our hominin ancestors.  Instead, they are held in mind as judgments, fed by experiences of other selves in action.

0090 In the trad-definition, Cupid is a passion-child of the goddess of cooperation and god of competition.  There is no hint of triadic relations or implicit abstraction.  The abstractions are explicit.  Cupid is a selfish thing.

0091 Here is the second comparison.

Figure 24

0092 In the alt-definition, concupiditas (C’) is the desire to belong with others in a social circle.  The desire entails performance, not analysis.  Not analysis?  In hand talk, one cannot image or indicate an explicit abstraction, such as “desire” or “performance”.  Instead, one performs desire through actions, just like the animals, who also have no means to arrive at explicit abstractions.  The desire is real.  The performance is real.  They are so real that we innately anticipate suffering for the well being of others and accepting the ministrations of others with humility.  Do unto others, as you would have them do unto you.

0093 In the trad-definition, concupiditas (C) is like selfish (C), a parody of belonging.  Selfish attitudes aim for conditional (or better, forced) acceptance.  Belonging is conditioned by my desires and my desires are not oriented to others.  The balance of give and take is always off kilter.  What appears to be fair play carries a dangerous edge.  In Greek myth, Cupid tips his arrows with poisonous desires.

0094 Here is the third comparison.

Figure 25

0095 In the alt-definition, concupiscence (D’) is what humans evolved to do, compete to cooperate.  We strive to bond with one another, according to the traditions of each social circle, which itself adapts to encourage human flourishing, as opposed to immediate gratification.

Indeed, our most addictive pleasures evolve under cultural traditions that forbid the full expression of the addictive behavior, if that makes sense.  For example, if we could give our lives for others over and over again, we would.  But, that cannot be done, because we are flesh and blood.  The tree of life forbids unconstrained courage and self-immolation, while offering the fruits of its abundance.  We flourish when we are willing to sacrifice ourselves for others, not when we get carried away and go too far.  Courage can become addictive.  Courage must be weighed by prudence.

The alt-definition of concupiscence (D’) denotes the presence of original justice.

0096 In the trad-definition, concupiscence (D) is the state of being with Cupid.  Cupid is a shallow twit of a god, the mischievous passion-child of Venus and Mars.  Cupid’s arrows are tipped with poisons that carry us too far.  For example, one poison conveys a desire to have others desire to sacrifice for me.  Seduction is a type of fixation.  One can get addicted to one’s own power of seduction, demanding that others sacrifice for one’s own preoccupations.

Concupiscence (D) is unhinged selfishness (D).  Concupiscence asks to be justified.  Speech-alone words are willing servants.  After all, a spoken word does not directly image or indicate its referent.  A spoken word means whatever I want it to mean, in the presence of my fixation.

Surely, the trad-definition of concupiscence (D) denotes the presence of original sin.


Looking at Loren Haarsma’s Book (2021) “When Did Sin Begin” (Part 2 of 21)

0009 The actualities of human evolution2 and original sin2 intersect.

Here is the diagram of the intersection for this example.

Figure 03

0010  The intersection is a relational structure.  The e-masterwork, How To Define The Word “Religion”, available at smashwords and other e-book venues, introduces the intersection.  This relational structure associates to the message underlying the term, “religion”.  

0011 Note how all the items in Haarsma’s title are captured by elements in the above intersection.

Two transitions (3H and 3V) touch base with the question, “When?”.

Two actualities (2H and 2V) go with human evolution2H and the doctrine of original sin2V.  These two actualities join into a single reality, which I currently label as one realness.

The potentials (1H and 1V) are implied.  Let me examine each.

0012 The potential of adaptive change1H arises in response to a niche.  Typically, the niche involves some material advantage (to be exploited) or disadvantage (to be ameliorated).  For our lineage, the niche involves immaterial advantages and disadvantages.  How so?  The Homo lineage adapts into the niche of triadic relations, as discussed in the e-masterwork, The Human Niche.

0013 The potential of the start of sin1V is not so different than the potential of the Genesis Primeval History1V.  For this reason, I enter the potential of the stories of Adam and Eve1V, as the possibility underlying original sin2V.  I could also have entered the potential of the letters of Saint Paul1V.  

At the same time, the mythological character of the Primeval History comes into play.  The stories of Genesis 2:4-11 are set in the Ubaid, Uruk and Sumerian Dynastic archaeological periods.This setting is discussed in the February 2022 blog series at www.raziemah.com, entitled, Looking at Carol Hill’s Article (2021) “Original Sin with respect to Science”