11/22/22

Looking at Daryl Domning’s Book (2006) “Original Selfishness” (Part 1 of 16)

0001 Biologist Daryl P. Domning and theologian Monika K. Hellwig collaborate in a work, entitled, Original Selfishness: Original Sin and Evil in the Light of Evolution.  Domning professionally studies the evolution of sirenians, sea cows, while maintaining an interest in Catholic theology.  The sea cows, like the whales and the seals, are land mammals that adapted to an aquatic environment… or should I say?… niche.

0002 In terms of human imagination, sea cows associate to mermaids.  Mermaids are chimeric.  They are half woman and half fish.

0003 The titular word, “selfishness”, is chimeric as well.  It starts in Germany as an emphatic, added to a pronoun (A).  For example, I can say, “I myself” or  “you yourself” or “he himself” or “she herself” and so on.  Then, in Old English, the emphatic coalesces into a noun, “self” (B).  Then, the noun becomes an adjective with an added,”-ish” (C).  “Selfish” denotes an emphasis on self by self.  Then, the adjective converts back into a noun with an added “-ness” (D).  Selfishness (D) is the state of being selfish (C).

0004 So, there is an evolution to the word, “selfishness”, as well.

What games we play with words.

It makes me wonder whether the evolution of this spoken word has anything to do with evil in the light of evolution.

0005 If I change the mode of talk to hand-talk, I may say POINT TO MYSELF.  I may not say I POINT TO MYSELF, because the pronoun, I, is signified by pointing to myself.  I may gesture, POINT TO MYSELF twice, or with dramatic flair, but that is not equivalent to the spoken word, “self” (B) or “selfish” (C).  It may be equivalent to the emphatic, “I, myself” (A).

0006 If language evolves in the milieu of hand talk, then our distant ancestors do not hand talk the equivalent of the spoken words, “self”, “selfish” or “selfishness”.

Does this fact provide a clue to original sin in light of evolution? 

At least, it provides a clue to a divide in the course of human evolution.

The emphatic, I-myself (A), associates to hand talk and the Lebenswelt that we evolved in.

The explicit abstractions of self (B), selfish (C) and selfishness (D) associate to speech-alone talk and our current Lebenswelt.

0007 Our current Lebenswelt is not the same as the Lebenswelt that we evolved in.

In 2006 (and perhaps, anytime before Domning reads this), the author does not suspect that there may be a twist in human evolution.  In general, evolutionary biologists have no idea.  Like Domning, they are focused on genetics and natural history, not cultural turns.  The hypothesis of the first singularity first appears in 2012 with the masterwork, An Archaeology of the Fall, available at smashwords and other e-book vendors.

11/17/22

Looking at Daryl Domning’s Book (2006) “Original Selfishness” (Part 4 of 16)

0021 Domning’s move is clever, except for a critical implication.  There is a sequence of adaptations within the Homo lineage that follows and builds on the primal adaptation into the niche of natural selection and genetics.  So, the universal aspect of Original Sin, dealing with descent from a progenitor, and the moral reality of Original Sin, concerning the disordered expression of original selfishness in humans, are not fully separate.

Domning offers a graphic.

Here is my re-enactment of figure 10.1.

Figure 06

0022 Original selfishness does not implicate moral deliberation.  Human selfishness does.

0023 What is “X”?

Domning places the word, “evolution”, here.

I ask, “How can this be?”

How can natural selection eventually yield human free will… er… selfish human free will?

Is selfish human free will an adaptation?

How does the Homo lineage pass from instinctive behaviors to deliberate choices?

0024 I suppose that Domning covers this challenge in chapter nine, titled, “Evolution and human ethics”. 

What does he say?

Evolutionary selfishness is one thing, corresponding to adaptation into a niche of natural selection and genetics.  Psychological selfishness is a second thing, corresponding to “original selfishness”.  Psychological selfishness that intentionally disregards the interests of others is a third thing, corresponding to “human selfishness”.

So, X describes the evolution of psychological states.  Selfish human free will, the foundation of human selfishness, evolves from original selfishness.

0025 However, I already am inclined to think that there must be another step, the evolution of self, that enters into the picture.  Why?  If human free will is to be selfish, then there must already be a self.

Here is a picture.

Figure 07

0026 Isn’t that curious?

The four waystations in the historic development of the word, “selfishness”, recapitulates the evolutionary sequence from “original selfishness” to “human selfishness”.

Okay, I immediately wonder, is there another word that also parallels some sort of evolutionary progression, from noun to adjective then back to noun?

Yes, there is.

0027 The term is “concupiscence”.

Concupiscence is a technical term used in theological discussions of the doctrine of Original Sin.  It may be derived from Latin roots in more than one fashion.

Here is a picture.

Figure 08

0028 Of course, my preferred derivation is the lower option.  To me, “concupiscence” is the state of being with Cupid.  Cupid is an implicit abstraction from two features of natural selection: cooperation (Venus) and competition (Mars).

What do I mean by the term, “implicit abstraction”?

In some way, Cupid may be stated in hand talk, in the same fashion that Cupid is portrayed in visual art.  PANTOMINE DRAWING A BOW, PANTOMIME ARROW FLYING, POINT TO MY OWN HEART.  This fully linguistic statement in hand talk does not make sense, at first.  Later, it does.

Cupid is the self, in the presence of other selves.

Cupid shoots arrows of desire, in the presence of other selves.

0029 I ask, “How could hominin awareness of the counterintuitive nature of Cupid evolve?”

This question does not surface in Domning’s chapter on evolution and human ethics.  

Ethics among animals is mediated through ritual and emotion.  The rules of the game say that cooperation may be necessary for surviving to the next competition.

In contrast, human ethics transcends an animal’s sensible and amoral tendencies.  Human ethics demands social construction.  Social construction is addressed in the masterwork, How To Define The Word “Religion”, available at smashwords and other e-book venues.

11/16/22

Looking at Daryl Domning’s Book (2006) “Original Selfishness” (Part 5 of 16)

0030 In chapter nine, on evolution and human ethics, Domning envisions a short step from an amoral psychology (original selfishness) to a moral psychology associated with Original Sin (human selfishness).  All that is required is the evolution of creatures capable of self-reflection.

Is that the same as the evolution of self?

Or, is that the evolution of cupid, the self in the presence of others?

Uh oh, the term, “cupid”, now has a technical definition.

0031 Is our capacity for self-reflection an adaptation into an ultimate niche or is it an evolutionary spandrel, an architectural feature of adaptations into diverse proximate niches?

Domning suggests the latter, by noting that intelligence is a composite of a wide variety of faculties, many of which are contradictory.  Trade-offs favor a psychological ambivalence, which looks more and more like free will.

Does this imply that human free will arises from a diversity of “original selfishnesses”, each specific to a dilemma in the environment of evolutionary adaptation, psychologically expressed as behaviors consistent with the emphatic, I-myself?

So, the “self” seems to be a spandrel, where all these architectural (and archetypal) psychologies come together to form something, that ends up labeled as “self”.

0032 Remember this one?

Figure 09

0033 Item A entails no moral deliberation.

Item D involves moral deliberation.

0034 Item B, the consolidation of psychological expressions of I-myself into a single entity, the self, does not entail moral deliberation.

Item C, the tendency to put one’s own interests above other interests in the exercise of human free will, implicates moral deliberation.

0035 Now, I would like to substitute my newly minted technical term, “cupid” (B’), in for “self” (B) and see what happens.

Figure 10

0036 Right off, the nature of “cupid” as an adaptation accounts for the spandrel-like “self”.   Its niche entails some sort of judgment (a triadic relation) in which the self is socially constructed out of a variety of psychological expressions of I-myself.

Here is the key.

Psychologically, self-interest is composed in response to other selves.  Cupid is the self becoming aware of its own self-interests in a social world where others exhibit their own interests through psychological expressions of I-myself.  In order to consolidate my self, from my own expressions of I-myself, I must consolidate the selves of others, from their own expressions of I-myself.

In brief, the self (B) does not arise in a vacuum.  Cupid (B’) designates that fact.

11/14/22

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. 

11/11/22

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.

11/10/22

Looking at Daryl Domning’s Book (2006) “Original Selfishness” (Part 9 of 16)

0053 What does Domning have to say about the evolution of self?

Chapter eight is called, “Evolution and human behavior”.

0054 Richard Dawkins writes a book, titled The Selfish Gene, where the organism is reduced to gene expression.  A living creature’s diverse features are really I-myselves of a self, composed of chromosomes (and its package, the cell).

Here, Dawkins projects the human term, “selfish”, which means, “to be preoccupied with one’s self”, onto an organism’s DNA, so that the organism itself is merely phenomena of a genetic noumenon.

Dawkin’s analogy is both counterintuitive and entertaining.  It gives rise to a competition to demonstrate one’s intellectual prowess by reading and discussing its quackery with other self-identified “public intellectuals”, thereby joining highly educated elites who disdain the morons who have no interest in such postmodern wizardry.

 0055 But hey, isn’t the term, “original selfishness”, also a projection?

Well, yes, imitation is the highest form of flattery.

0056 However, unlike the selfish gene, the selfish organism manifests psychological traits that express I, myself (A).   Thus, original selfishness (pre-A) can be explicitly defined and used as a model for behavioral traits.

So, Domning has that going for him.

0057 Of course, the problem is that the term, selfish (C), introduces a moral seed that blossoms when the adjective becomes the noun, selfishness (D).  Morals imply judgments.  Animals make judgments, but they do not make moral judgments.

Really, animals perform judgments.  Humans deliberate judgments.  Both make judgments.  But, the former does not dwell on the triadic structure of judgment.  The latter does.

0058 What exactly is a judgment?

A judgment is a triadic structure with three elements, relationwhat is, and what ought to be.  A judgment brings what ought to be into relation with what is.  When Peirce’s categories are assigned to each element, the judgment becomes actionable.  Otherwise, the judgment is contemplative.  An actionable judgment unfolds into a category-based nested form.

Here is a picture.

Figure 16
11/8/22

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.

11/7/22

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.

Why?

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?”

11/4/22

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.

11/3/22

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.