It Would be Sad if True

  • Posted on: 19 July 2019
  • By: C.J.
Image of book cover of The Accidental Homo Sapiens

I'm reading The Accidental Homo Sapiens: Genetics, Behavior, and Free Will by Ian Tattersall & Rob DeSalle more for the survey of human evolution than for new ideas.

And then, I ran into this:

"For it is literally impossible for us to envisage a from of consciousness that is almost like ours—but not quite." (p. 93)

I knew I might run into trouble when the second sentence of the foreword stated, "as members of the world's only introspective species…" As if that could be known? I looked for where I think the authors repeat the statement, but with that hedge, so I plunged ahead...

And, without noting the apparent contradiction, in the first chapter on p. 2, Francis Crick is approvingly quoted to state that "our thoughts and emotions are in essence nothing more than the sum of a host of molecular and chemical reactions," yet p.xv of the "Prologue[?--ed.]" states that "what makes us so different is that we have become symbolic. [emphasis in the original]" which may not be a contradiction, but I haven't yet resolved it in the reading.

And to the point, it would be sad if it is literally impossible for anyone to imagine a form of consciousness almost like verbal and symbolic consciousness but yet different... Because I have literally read while growing up countless fiction that did just that. I think the late, great Ursula K. LeGuin had done an amazing job at that. She was able to break down language and gender and awareness in ways that still enthrall me.

And, of course, I grew up with musicals, so don't try to tell me that's not a whole 'nuther kind of consciousness, right there. Where, in addition to verbal and symbolic consciousness, there's also consciousness that simply requires everything to be sung. You know, as one does. Throughout the day, just bursting into song and busting out mad dance routines. And that's just for a start!

It's not a long read, for all of its details. I'll let you know how it turns out. DUN-DUN-DUNNNNNNN!


C.J.'s picture

Not an endorsement:
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C.J. Pitchford, Paracounselor