I am reading “Genesis” by E.O. Wilson. I love him for the last forty years since I read “Sociobiology”one of the first books in English , while working in The Gambia and learning about the West. Then ” Consilience” and then “On Human Nature”- he is the closest to the mentor- virtual mentor- I never had a “real” one.
Now, putting together my notes, (I have actually finished the book), I see this text in triplicate. I see Wilson’s problem, similar to modern human’s problem, similar to evolutionary trick which created homo sapiens.
Wilson knows more than any human I know, mostly about ants and other insects, some about other animals, and humans. But he is a hard nose materialist, scientist numb and deaf to the language of unknown.
The same with modern humans, we forgot how to evolutionary benefit from two languages we have learn, one- the language of science, Newtonian logic, materialism and money. Other – the language of divine, poetry, love and empathy. To survive we have to combine both, tertium non datur.
It was the trick which created us, we have to use it again to survive.
The insight came in two steps. First i was reading about ants , wasp ant termites ( the cousins of cockroaches!) They built eusociality, incredible empires with the intricate system of members programmed to forgo own benefits for the mother queen. These were genetic traits, they strengthened the colony expressed by members instinct and pheromones and neurotransmitters. But at what a cost !- the cost of rarity- the more formidable these societies are – the fewer of them exist. And this is the evolutionary no- no, the dead end. With rarity you have no chances for diversity- thats it, finito.
My old concepts of mechanisms of evolution helped me with the second step.
The evolution works via diversity, complexity and the third element, how to call it? – biomass? or sheer number of organisms, amount of energy absorbed. All three interrelated, all increase the chances of species survival.
The diversity- a major genetic system is preserved at the expense of he minor variations (skin color) producing phenotypes still interbreeding but improving species niche, energy intake.
The complexity- A. the quality of the description of the behavior to be encoded or remembered. the quality of organism’s Umwelt, the system of senses, memories and feelings- it is what we call- outside World.
B. sociality, system of competition versus cooperation, group selection, the texture of relationships, altruistic group beats selfish group ( David Sloane Wilson)- working for some ants, wasps bees, termites and hominids.
The number, size of the niche, biomass- balances the cost of above elements increases the chances of rare and difficult things to occur. More often than not it fails and species is extinct, despite being the “good prospects”- the Neanderthals, the dinosaurs, the whales ( almost extinct).
Each route , as we see is expensive, so wouldn’t be just peachy to combine all?
Quite a few systems combines 3 of 4 ways to survive, but the problem was that the tools for complexity- A. and B. -they compete. A uses vision, sound, ultrasound to describe Umwelt, B. uses chemicals (pheromones), neurotransmitters , electricity- (chakras??) and other senses- smell, and touch. Evolutionary dead end.
Only humans developed system of combining all 4 elements within one noncompeting but self enhancing system.
It happens when the description of the Umwelt (A) had to include the description of the elements of (B) eusociality. Unidirectional communications – orders, warnings, grooming, dominance, even stories did not need to use so much of the “shortcuts” or “grammar”. The Theory of Mind- sure, animals have it, your dog knows well what you think, but when the toddler tells his friend: “you do it” and the friend answers , “no, you do it”, this is language.
Only when the mother started to teach this ( above) more and more complicated material to older and older infant the switch occurred. The infant responded IN LANGUAGE, the oxitocin, the love, however you call it, precluded her from ignoring the invention of the communications reciprocity, the relationship did it, and the rest is history.
To repeat, there is the chance, small chance, in our dwindling niche, for us not to ignore similar situation. To survive (again, remember last 10 000 sapiens leaving Africa?) we need to combine the language of the Umwelt description, science, materialism with the language of eusociality – unknown (poetry or spirituality), experience, empathy.