A Philosophical Journey – Discovering the Mystery of Creation in the Mind – a memoir; #9: The Narrative
I concluded that, in order for the newly evolved hominid entity of group authority to coordinate group behavior, a new form of communication evolved in which all group members had to be constantly gesturing to each other in order to “stay on the same page,” similar to the mutual interactions with constant small adjustments of tempo and rhythm by the members of a musical band to remain in unison. Because of the sudden increase in the sheer volume of communication needed, early hominids had to stand upright in order to be in visual contact with one another in the process of perceiving their group’s communal intentions to survive.
I speculated that for the first 3.5 million years of hominid evolution—2.5 million years before the appearance of the first species of our own homo genus—the benefits of converting the wastefulness of political competition into the peaceful coordination of foraging was sufficient to enable these early hominids to grow huge molar teeth and indolently thrive, dividing into over a dozen species while content to graze on low quality foods. Environmental stresses had been eased sufficiently such that there were no pressures to increase brain size.
Then in response to a marked deterioration in the climate 2.5 million years ago the resulting pressure on these group organisms caused them to greatly expand their communal behavior, developing a stone tool industry and increasing the proportion of meat in their diet. It was not just monogamous pair bonds that vastly expanded their brains but entire monogamous groups of nuclear families evolving to synchronize their behavior to maximize the benefits of dozens of heads and bodies over one. De facto leadership would emerge in particularly able individuals, but only because they could better perceive and communicate communal actions for the common good. One might even refer to this kind of leadership as priestly.
The hand ax industry remained virtually unchanged for well over a million years while the dramatic expansion of the “communal” brain was occurring. The manual skills to chip stones were genetically selected in individuals, but the actual transmission of the practice was undoubtedly cultural, and the unchanging nature of the hand ax industry can be taken as evidence of the peaceful coexistence both within and between groups. The transmission of this industry, similar to their language in general, was a process akin to the psychological mechanism of identification whereby the developing child assimilates emotional and behavioral properties of adults. Individuals in groups – and groups of groups – all knapping stones would make small adjustments to each other in order to stay “in tune” with communally held notions of chipping technique, its heart-shaped size, and sharpening it all around the perimeter.
In short, I began imagining pre-human hominid species, as harsh as their lives must have been, to have lived in a kind of Eden, with all individuals completely immersed within the singular “mind” of the authority of their groups, the intention of which was for the group to harmoniously thrive as an organism. Meanwhile, I had already concluded that our own Homo sapiens species had undergone an evolutionary “fall” from this Edenic prehuman status with the rise of our great gift and our burden, the highly individualized self-promoting mental agency known in common parlance as ego.