Since the publication of Charles Darwin's
"The Origin of Species"
in 1859, the theory of evolution has become widelyaccepted in the scientific community. Natural selection is now considered the primary process by which animal, plant andmicrobiological species change (usually slowly) over time and by which new species emerge from existing ones. Thepertinence of evolution to homo sapiens- us- though, has always been the most controversial aspect of Darwinism. Inrecent decades, sociobiology or evolutionary psychology has "upped the ante" of the controversy by now purporting toexplain the development of stereotyped human nature as a series of adaptations. (Just as our standard physical form isassumed to be the result of adaptations initially due to random genetic mutations and then favored historically- but notnecessarily in the future.) IMO, the general process of natural selection in shaping the human form and behavior isalmost certainly correct. However, some sociobiologists overreach by attempting to explain too much with adaptationism.This essay then is another attempt to examine the relatively new field of sociobiology and its possible implications.
The Mind is the Body
Mental ailments were once distinguished either as psychological or neurological disorders. Media reports of newscientific studies, though, are now routinely rife with a blurring in the distinction between the two. Increasingly, behavioralproblems like compulsive gambling, alcoholism, drug addiction, anorexia, violence (and other criminal behavior) are nowbeing linked to physiological "disorders" in the human brain. To be blunt, though, the traditional distinction between the"mind" and body (brain) has always been suspect (possibly even ludicrous). It's simply been the case that the physicalmechanisms of the brain have never been understood unlike, say, the heart or kidney.The human brain has been and remains the ultimate "black box" in medicine and engineering. And this is no surprise,since the most complex, modern supercomputer, which can only now be understood barely on a system-level by anindividual, remains a "tinker-toy" compared to the human brain let alone, say, the brain of a cockroach. In fact,understanding all aspects of the human brain may simply be beyond human understanding. The remarkable progressseen in technology, particularly in the semiconductor IC industry, is misleading: some people now think "nothing'simpossible" anymore. However, despite all of the "miraculous" progress of the 20th century, there are and always will befundamental limitations. Some things are impossible and will remain so, no matter how much scientific progress wemake (e.g., fundamental thermodynamic constraints).Ultimately, the human brain is "just" a machine (albeit an incredibly complex one). Certainly, if a stapler, typewriter,automobile and computer are all considered machines, then the human brain is one as well- just to a different degree ofcomplexity. If this is accepted, then there can be no real difference between psychological and physiological disordersexcept that psychological disorders involve the brain, which no one understands. The same thing applies to emotional/ psychosomatic problems (stress, depression and "imaginary pain all in the head"); even though no obvious braindamage or chemical disorder exists- the underlying process in the brain is just elusive. Treatments for behavioralproblems then are really all the same:
drug and behavioral therapy work by causing corresponding physiologicalchanges in the brain; even though the specifics are beyond our understanding now. (E.g., no one really understands thechemical process of human memory.) The "mind" is that which is generated by the physical brain.As for the human "soul", the idea is becoming increasingly quaint. For ex., what happens to the soul of a person who
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