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

0097 Original sin is the absence of original justice.

That is what Saint Thomas Aquinas claims.

The association between original justice, the state of Adam before the Fall, and the Lebenswelt that we evolved in is developed in Comments on Daniel Houck’s Book (2020) “Aquinas, Original Sin and the Challenge of Evolution”.

0098 This examination of Daryl Domning’s book adds depth to that commentary.

By separating the universal (descent from common ancestor) and moral (the traditional definition of concupiscence) realities of original sin, Domning offers me a path to discover one of features of the Lebenswelt that we evolved in, as well as one of the features of our current Lebenswelt.

0099 What games we play with words.

My thanks to Daryl Domning and Monica Hellwig for their speculative effort, trying to reconcile evolutionary science and Christian doctrine.  Original Selfishness: Original Sin and Evil in Light of Evolution is first published in 2006 by Ashgate.  My copy is published in 2016 by Routledge.  The first edition in paperback is issued in 2021.  ISBN is 978-1-03-224358-0.