A Liberal Theory of Human Nature

Human Nature – Part VI: Homo vanitas

Filed under: Human Nature, Justice, Sexual Selection

Jean Jacques Rousseau wrote, “Nothing can be more gentle than [the human] in his primitive state, when placed by nature at an equal distance from the stupidity of brutes, and . . . civilized man.” If Rousseau were around, he would probably identify apes as the stupid brutes, but I would extend his “civilized” qualifier to …

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Vanity in Human Evolution

Vanity and Human Evolution

Filed under: Evolution of Emotion, Human Nature, Mental illness | 1 Comment

In Yuval Harari’s widely acclaimed book, Sapiens: A Brief History of Mankind (2015) he makes this sweeping statement: “The most important thing to know about prehistoric humans is that they were insignificant animals with no more impact on their environment than gorillas, fireflies or jellyfish.” He then makes the case that the event that catapulted …

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Mental illness stigma

Hidden Evolutionary Benefits to Mental Illness?

Filed under: Evolutionary psychology, Human Nature, Mental illness

I recently got a note from someone about Old Mind, New Mind who has suffered from mental illness. As soon as he found out that the book was about the relationship between mental illness and human evolution, he assumed that I thought that mental illnesses are adaptive in some way and expressed his reservations about …

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What we caught from Neandertals

SAD is an STD (and we caught it from the Neandertals!)

Filed under: Mental illness

major mental illnesses are an epiphenomenon—or “side effect”—of the major adaptation that bestowed upon us the miraculous capacities of reflective self-consciousness and the deep complexity of syntactical language that has enabled our rich symbolic culture. Therefore we should look at the mentally ill as paying the price for our extraordinary capacities.

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A Philosophical Journey – Discovering the Mystery of Creation in the Mind – a memoir; #10: The Genius of Vanity

Filed under: Evolution of Emotion, Evolutionary psychology, Language, Summary of Philosophy

Freud’s observation that humans are hypersexual has become such a cultural staple to have settled in as the sitcom-with-canned-laughter cash-cow. Although I had long been steeped in Darwin’s theories of sexual selection and sexual display, I hadn’t put the two together until I read Geoffrey Miller’s book, The Mating Mind (2000), the thesis of which …

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Dating the Emotional Fossil of Mania

Filed under: Emotional Fossils, Evolution of Emotion, Language

Vital to dating a fossil is to be able to carefully evaluate the surrounding stratum in which the fossil is found which possibly could be accurately dated.  Embedded within the symptoms of the manic phase of bipolar disorder is the equivalent of such a stratum, which is clearly of strictly Homo sapiens origin.  One of …

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Emotional Fossils – V – Summing It Up and Questions Raised

Filed under: Belief, Emotional Fossils, Evolution of Emotion, Evolutionary psychology, Self domestication | 3 Comments

  Mental illnesses lift out into bas-relief segments of our normal emotional function that have been evolved in the successive eras of our six million year hominid legacy, as if placing them under a microscope and magnifying their fundamental elements.  The anxiety disorders reveal that the source of their emanation is our social ecology.  Separation …

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Emotional Fossils IV – Mania and the Genius of Vanity

Filed under: Emotional Fossils, Evolution of Emotion, Evolutionary psychology, Language, Sexual Selection | 6 Comments

Mania is not usually thought of by itself because it is almost always followed by depression, hence the names Manic Depression or the current Bipolar Disorder.  However, while the shutdown response is simultaneous with the underlying emotional hyperactivity in major depression, it is manifested serially in Bipolar Disorder.  So, the manic part of this condition …

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