Monday, July 29, 2013

from Prolegomena to a New Spiritual Psychology

This is an excerpt from an essay I'm working on entitled Prolegomena to a New Spiritual Psychology. It is divided into a number of sections, including:
1. On perfectibility
2. Sensing the Divine
3. Knowing where we stand
4. What is faith?
5. On how we can discern our genomic nature?

This excerpt comes from the last section. Your critical feedback will be of great value to me.

Human institutions are the measure of our inherent, genomic values. They are the projection of the structures of our souls/consciousness/ phylogenic inheritance.  Categorizing those structures, those institutions, will help us see what our essential nature is, what I’ll call our genomic nature/essence/structure.

The primary institutions I am thinking of are religious and political, expressing our need for power, order, and meaning. Those institutions have created constitutions, canonical documents, and/or oral traditions. If we superimpose those canonical narratives and values over each other, we are able to ascertain the core narratives, the genomic essence of our laws. We will discern the ethics that define us all, that define our archetypes, our stereotypes, the core truth of us. This I call the organic view, a top down view, a deductive view, in which the individual is a minor variation in the genome.

Looking in the opposite way, from bottom up, from the individual towards the genome, an inductive view that observes the minute variations of the individual as it deviates from or conforms to the genome, this I will call the atomistic view. This is the view that characterizes much of modernism and post-modernism, thru deconstructionism, evolving out of the philosophy of the Enlightenment, the politics of American democracy, and ironically*, Marxist philosophy, tending towards an anti-institutional stance and world view.

* I say that it is ironic that Marxist ideology supports the atomistic view because Marxism itself postulates a dominating role for central government. To this end its historical implementations have been anti-enlightenment, suppressing both the individual and non-institutional narratives. However, in its status as a minority opposition, it takes on a counter-institutional, Enlightenment stance!

The virtue of the organic view is that the genotype, the genomic essence is easily and fairly clearly derived, unobscured by atomistic variations. Shortly we will explore this as a methodology to derive conclusions about human genotypes, such as universal moral values. The virtue of the atomistic view is that it allows us to study and give value to individual variation. Developing this perspective as a methodology allows us to critique both institutions and individual narratives to discern where they fail and where they succeed.

The corollary to the above virtues is that the organic view will serve very poorly as a means to study the individual, and the atomistic view will serve very poorly at understanding archetypes and fundamental structures.

Indeed, both these views have often been used to draw conclusions where their knowledgebase is least qualified to do so. Thus, governments and religious institutions have suppressed minority and individual voices/narratives for the sake of maintaining authority and control, thus extinguishing information and knowledge and creativity, and destabilizing their ecological diversity and vitality. Equally destructive, atomistic thinking is incapable of discerning any inherent and defining structures in the profusion of individual perspectives. Thus, we have seen gulags, inquisitions, jihad, and death camps justified by institutions and their dogmas, and we have seen revolution, anarchy, the dissolution of individual worth, and the rejection of moral constraint, justified by ideologies based on relativism and egoism.

We now know that all the individual physical variations in the human species are the product of variation in less than 0.5% of the human physical genome*. While we are still unable to trace any links between the physical genome and human thought (indeed, we don’t even know what human thought is!), we can see quite clearly that well over 99% of the human physical genome is invariant, with the variation bell-curving narrowly away from the 99% mean, so with human thought, we are dominated by concerns, needs, and ideas that are as invariant as the 99+% of our physical genome.

* eg Wikipedia article “Human genetic variation”, where it says, “Genetic variation among humans occurs on many scales, from gross alterations in the human karyotype to single nucleotide changes.[6] Nucleotide diversity is the average proportion of nucleotides that differ between two individuals. The human nucleotide diversity is estimated to be 0.1%[7] to 0.4% of base pairs.[8]”
[6] Kidd, JM; et al. (2008). "Mapping and sequencing of structural variation from eight human genomes". Nature 453 (7191): 56–64. Bibcode:2008Natur.453...56K. doi:10.1038/nature06862. PMC 2424287. PMID 18451855.
[7] a b Jorde, LB; Wooding, SP (2004). "Genetic variation, classification and 'race'". Nature Genetics 36 (11s): S28–33. doi:10.1038/ng1435. PMID 15508000.
[8] a b Tishkoff, SA; Kidd, KK (2004). "Implications of biogeography of human populations for 'race' and medicine". Nature Genetics 36 (11s): S21–7. doi:10.1038/ng1438. PMID 15507999

While from an atomistic point of view we appear, as individuals, to be unique and strikingly different, in both physical and mental manifestations, yet in fact, when observed organically we can see how minute our individual variations truly are.

So let me say again, just as we cannot trust the organic view (and most institutions) to properly value and protect individual variation, so we cannot trust the atomistic view to properly weigh and promote genomic (universal) standards.