The Ascension of Dominance

Recall that Tim White’s team of Ardipithecus ramidus experts chose Owen Lovejoy to interpret that the mating system of this founding species of our hominid Family was monogamous.  Recall also that this is reinforced by the finding that the mating systems of the founding species of all the other super-cooperative species besides us (insects) were also monogamous.  Recall also that in the context of apes faced with extinction from low birth rates, the energy squandered on males competing for females could be put to better use by helping provision a monogamous family.  It was in the interests of females to evolve the capacity to be selected for the ability to select less aggressive males willing to form a cooperative family unit by virtue of the maximal “inclusion” of fitness fostered by all the siblings sharing 50% of their parent’s and each other’s genes.

            The first time I read a prominent scientist connect the evolution of language with monogamy was in the spellbinding and eminently readable, The Symbolic Species, The co-evolution of language and the brain (1997) by Terrence Deacon, a neuroscientist and evolutionary anthropologist.  Referring to the need for a novel  kind of language in the establishment of monogamy: “The first requirement, then is that there must be a means for marking exclusive sexual relations in a way that all members of the group recognize…Sexual access is a prescription for future behaviors.  No index or memory of past behaviors can represent this…The pair-bonding relationship in the human lineage is essentially a promise, or rather a set of promises that must be made in public.  These not only determine what behaviors are probable in the future, but more important, they implicitly determine which future behavior are allowed and not allowed; that is which are defined as cheating and may result in retaliation.”  As Dr. Deacon discusses the cognitive dimension of language, I address its foundational emotional aspects.

            The rules of a vertical hierarchy were relaxed by the effect of balancing the mentalities of dominance and submission by means of sexual selection allowing a condition rife for self domestication.  This was accomplished by a means similar to sexual selection except that the dimorphism involved was now the mentalities of dominance and submission instead of that of male and female. Driven by the biological fecundity of the monogamous pair-bond, the dominance mentality began to be selected for the ability to select obedience to the sanctity of monogamy in the submissive mentality of individuals involved in such a process. 

It was thus through following the laws of biology that the dominance mentality, hitherto bound to the individual, thus Ascended to reign, first over a single pair-bond, again as a result of the fecundity of the cooperative family unit, and then proceeding to spread to the relationships between pair-bonded couples.  The various dominance mentalities of individuals Ascended into the single entity of group authority (see image II& Image III in header) because there were not two or three forms of justice available to dispense in a monogamous group, but only one: the Rule of Right and Wrong.

The combined dominance entity of group authority began to itself enforce these new rules through intensifying the fear of separation and the fear of being trapped outside the group, projecting these emotions into the submissive mentalities within individuals felt as guilt and shame as the price of moral transgression and then proceeding to immerse these groups into the regulation of depression previously described.  

Thus, as it always is, the evolution of emotion precedes the evolution of cognition.   The tripartite structure of language was created in which individuals began to attempt to simultaneously express and understand the justice of group authority, in order to fathom the coordination of the survival and maximal procreation of their behavior now reconstituted as a single group entity.      



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