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Brent (9)

Jordan Peterson's Evolutionary Psychology


Peterson has made popular (probably again) the idea that our human psychology is best understood in the context of very long time frames. He thinks that we are ancient beings carrying inside our make-up the lessons and instincts learned over billions of years. 

Jordan speaks with this basic assumption firmly in place as he tries to make sense of human mythology as found in religious writings. He is trying to extract truths about different stages of our evolution from beings without consciousness to how we think and behave today.

It's very fascinating, though at times he seems to stretch the allegories too far and seems to be defending venerated scriptures to a fault - but that is another matter.

What I have been wondering is wether billions of years are necessary to build some of these things into us or whether a shorter period of time could have done it.

When we see the dominance hierarchy and tribal violence in chimps for example, does it necessarily follow that some of our own traits were inherited from our ape ancestors, or could they have developed in us as complete humans simply because we lived in similarly competitive and vulnerable circumstances.

It has long seemed to me that the process of evolution and natural selection does make a lot of sense of human behaviour. Take the preoccupation with survival and passing our genes on to the next generation and all the behaviours it seems to motivate and explain. But more recently I've been thinking that the "survival of the fittest" is a mantra that would be deeply etched into us wether or not it resulted in macro-evolution, the progression from one species to another.

Human tribes suffered all the same threats that other species suffered and would have developed all the same strategies for survival. 

I suppose I could summarise this question as, "Does psychological or even moral evolution require any level of biological evolution?"

You might ask, "Why is this question relevant in light of the scientific consensus that evolution is the mechanism by which we came to be?" The answer is that I have been revisiting whether or not evolution is in fact the mechanism by which we came to be. If there is some creative input required, as certainly seems to be the case for the emergence of life among other junctures, then what could be the nature of that input? What moral responsibility would such a creator have for the inherent suffering in a mechanism we describe as 'the survival of the fittest' which could just as aptly be called, 'the demise of the weak'.
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