The crisis of the human gene-based mental system;
need for an integrated approach to move towards intelligent mental processes
The crux of what we have so far elucidated about mental processes is that any serious/mature intelligence about them can only be acquired through an integrated approach of grasping the gene-based biological, brain and mental processes as phenomena in their own right and seeing their historical and practical interconnections. This is what will enable us to take an intelligent, holistic view of the living process including ourselves. So that when we come to the problems of the human mind, we will be addressing them holistically, and not separately from the processes that have a played a key role in their emergence and evolution, i.e., genes, biological process and the brain. As discussed in the previous pieces of writing, mental processes originally emerged in the form of the genetic mechanism (which in our view is not a molecular but a hybrid phenomenon), which added a mental capability to an existing biological process. And the core function of this new addition was to deal with those problems of the biological form which it was not capable of handling on its own. The origins and evolution of the brain and consequently more elaborate and complex mental processes is basically an unfolding of the development of this original mental capability of genes, for handling growing and multifaceted problems of the biological life forms. This is the evolutionary connection between biology, genes, brain and mental processes, which is the bedrock of all post-brain species including us.
Viewing our mental processes in the above light will help us understand how the peculiar problems of our species actually arise from the fact that despite producing highly advanced abstraction based emotional and intelligence processes, our entire mental complex, at the core level, continues to be primarily a gene-based mental operating system. However, now we have reached a stage in our evolution where the growth and use of this system has really come to a head. Our life form is facing a crisis arising from the growing incapability of this system to resolve and handle our continuously increasing problems. The reason being that for quite some time now we have been producing both new mental functions/processes (including their applications) and different kinds of problems, going beyond the scope of what the gene based-mental system and capabilities were originally designed to handle. And our persistence with the old instead of evolving a new design and a corresponding system to address this situation has only created more and complex problems, resulting in more suffering at both the biological and mental levels.
General features of the gene-based mental processes, and the current crisis of handling human problems on its basis
Some broad features of gene-based mental processes, which emerged and evolved for biological purposes, are: one, their functions have a limitation arising from the fact that they are designed to operate within the timeframe of a living (including botanical life) specimen’s biological lifespan, and not beyond it. The other feature is that they were devised to address problems as and when they concretely arise and not on a hypothetical basis. This means the focus of mental functions is on what is happening at a given time because that is the time dimension in which the biological problem exists. The third feature of these mental processes is connected with the issue that in a particular situation or context and at any given time, an individual biological specimen will have more than one kind of problem. There will be a problem ‘package’ rather than ‘a’ problem. For instance, the problem of thirst for water in a particular specimen might appear as one problem but in fact it unleashes a flood of other connected problems: how and from where to quench that thirst, and how to ensure that when there are ten other specimens who are also thirsty and trying to acquire water from the same scarce source, and so on so forth. This example was given to illustrate that problems come in packages, which implies that gene-based mental processes must be capable of multi-tasking in order to address numerous problems simultaneously; a task that involves engaging different parts of the brain as well mental processes. So handling this kind of complexity also has to be a part of the gene-based mental functions for dealing with problems as and when they arise, and within the biological life span of a specimen.
A byproduct of our mental functioning in the above framework, has been the emergence of surplus mental functions/processes operating beyond the problems and issues for which mental processes were originally designed. A growing experience of using the mind for problem solving and practically doing things, has been improving and developing our perceptual and cognitive processes and consequently our thinking, intelligence and doing capabilities. It is this dynamic (and not a mechanical state) which has been producing surplus mental functions, in the form of new knowledge, ideas, and other mental formations like desiring comforts, luxuries etc., and consequently new inventions, discoveries, and tools. All of which have accumulated to produce progress, and contemporary human life (individual and social).
In modern times, due to enormous progress of the recent decades, which is still continuing on an ascending scale, the complexity of the problem package has increased probably a thousand fold. We will be able to clearly picture this in our minds if we recall the various dimensions of problems that have arisen in our subjective and objective environments, and the additional complexity they have created within the individual biological and mental existence. An addition to internal complexity is the manner in which external progress has been taking place, in terms of a rapid and extensive emergence of new and more factors in the reality that surrounds us. This spiraling process has really brought us to a stage where we are confronting a crisis of our existing gene-based mental operating system and capabilities, in terms of their increasing inability to cope with all these problems having varied dimensions. The first general problem that our mental system and its products confront is that they no longer have to only address immediate problems but have to now anticipate and plan for problems way before they have arisen. For instance, when a child is born, parents start planning for investing in some assets and policies for his/her future education, marriage expenses, etc. It is a general feature of our times that people are aware of and can anticipate possible factors in the future, which thereby become a part of their problem package. There are hundreds of such examples which reveal how the dimensions of problems have crossed the hitherto boundaries of the gene-based mental system. To mention a few, the problems one encounters in trying to achieve a successful career in an extremely competitive environment, or to pursue some idealistic goal, or agenda like fame, or even problems that we call ‘psychological’, or ‘imagined’, are completely outside the scope of the gene-based mental processes.
On a more subtle plane, today the complexity of the problem package also includes dimensions coming from an awareness of one’s ignorance, and recognition of the relevance and importance of that ignorance, which is certainly not what the gene-based mental processes were designed for. Moreover, a distinct characteristic of this dimension is that the complexity it produces is not only on one plane but many. And these planes also keep moving, due to the emergence of new discoveries, knowledge and information about the various aspects, layers and dimensions of natural reality. These include discoveries like elementary particles or quantum states, the redshift, black holes, dark matter, dark energy, and last but not the least the pre-big bang universe. Today this knowledge has also become a part of the problem, because what we know of these phenomena is still far less than what we do not know, coupled with the fact that this new knowledge has challenged and upturned a lot of what we already knew about natural reality. Formerly, we made paradigms with confidence and certainty about the dimensions and problems we knew, but not so today. Now we are confronted with those dimensions, complexities and problems which exist and operate beyond the framework and criteria of the gene-based mental operating system and capabilities. This has given rise to a crisis in our existing mental processes and capabilities, wherein they are being overstressed, and stretched beyond their capacity. We are using the word ‘crisis’ because it is not about the inability of some one individual, but as mentioned before, a general design limitation of our gene based mental processes in evolution, which is giving rise to new forms of problems. And our failure to tackle these problems is in turn producing new kinds of disorders, conflicts and contradictions within our minds. That is why we have to embark upon another evolutionary stage, wherein we become capable of addressing both these new forms of problems and ensuing mental conflicts that are engulfing us today.
The need to generate new mental capabilities based upon the intellect for further human evolution
The direction in which our further evolution needs to proceed is that we should first of all generate a new mental function or capability, the next more mature stage of our existing intellectual capability. Through which we can begin to step outside our ‘subjective mental box’, and initiate the process of acquiring an objective and holistic (reason and knowledge based) understanding of ourselves, in the context of and as a part of the larger objective reality of macro Nature. That has to be the direction and function of the mature intellect; to attempt to seek a rational and comprehensive understanding of the formation and working of phenomena including man within the framework of the understanding it achieves of macro Nature and its logic. And it is this comprehensive understanding that has to be its reference point for seeking answers and solutions. The mature intellectual capability we install can begin to understand all the dimensions and layers of our existence—biological, mental, social and evolutionary—on the above plane. And then discover answers and solutions to our problems, and also new design criteria and mental tools for changing the existing and developing new mental processes and capabilities—perceptual, cognitive, emotional, and executory. Today this is becoming possible on a qualitatively higher level due to the emerging scientific knowledge about the origins and working of macro evolutionary process of Nature, and the micro phenomena within it including the human brain and mind.
Our hitherto purely subjective gene based mental processes (whose basics we share with all life forms) did not have the facility of this new form of intellectual capability but only the mental function of intelligence that merely served the purpose of dealing with subjective problems. But today the crisis we confront is precisely this that we need an objective mental capability on a much bigger scale to cope with the dimensions of the objective realities we ourselves have produced, while we are persisting with extremely subjective mental processes. In fact we will observe that there is an enormous resistance from our subjective to move in this direction. A manifestation of this can be seen in how the emerging scientific knowledge is readily and predominantly used to promote and safeguard our subjective ideas, objectives and motivations, instead of discovering its objective applications for seeking new directions that would reduce the conflicts and contradictions pervading human internal and external life.
The basic issue is that even when we do acquire objective intellectual capability (in terms of knowledge, ideas and understanding) as we have been doing so, particularly during the last five to six thousand year phase of civilization (in the form of religious, philosophical and scientific works), it is ‘hijacked’. Just as the original work of prophets and religions has been hijacked over the course of our history. What has been happening is that when objective mental capabilities are emerging and the subjective process cannot stop them, then it tries to subvert and appropriate them to make them an integral part of its own basic framework. And that gives rise to a whole world of elaborate falsehoods. This is how the contradiction and conflict operates between functioning at the subjective level and responding in accordance with the objective need and capability for change. In the earlier period of our evolution before civilization, the objective functions of our mental processes (for acquiring information about the external world) were firmly tied to our subjective problems, and hence the knowledge they acquired was true vis-à-vis these subjective problems. There was no contradiction between the objective mental functions and the subjective process, hence the former were truthful and relaxed in relation to the objective knowledge they acquired. But after civilization and particularly in modern times, the crisis that has arisen is that we have to artificially subvert our growing objective knowledge because of the above mentioned conflict going on within us. Which means that the subjective application of this knowledge has to now resort to falsehoods in methods, processes and in facts, with no holds barred. Somehow we want to ensure that even if objective knowledge is going beyond the boundaries of our subjective design motivations for knowledge acquisition, it remains restricted to their applications. So at that stage we find it necessary to falsify or falsely subvert knowledge and manipulate it in different mental ways, where the intention (most of the time unconscious) is to preserve the primacy of the subjective in our mental processes, for at least our life spans. But inevitably and logically with the passage of time the problems of our falsehoods come in front of us and confront us with bigger problems, internally as well as externally.
It is this situation which has brought us to the realization that we need this new objective mental capability based upon intellect, in which the primacy is of the objective reality of Nature’s process and our minds like all other phenomena have to be viewed in its light and as parts of it. Acquiring this new form of objective mental capability does not mean discarding our subjective reality but integrating it as a component of objective reality, and only discarding the irrational and defective subjective mental formations we have evolved over the course of our history. As these are obstructing our further evolution towards developing holistic and objective mental formations and capabilities based upon the intellect’s motivation for reducing and eliminating contradictions and producing harmony. A motivation it acquires from discovering Nature’s own direction, which is from the dialectic of contradiction to dynamic of harmony, or in other words from pain to pleasure and happiness. In fact viewing our subjective reality as a part of the objective reality of Nature and its logic will give us a much richer understanding of its problems as well as its significance in this macro dimension, including even the importance of our biological form and reality. Which began its journey from a simple gene-based cellular form and evolved for billions of years to produce the contemporary human form with its very advanced mind and intellect, which today has the potential for moving on to the intelligent process stage in Nature.
We need to realize that the biological form is the most complex phenomenon that Nature produced around 3.85 billion years ago. Its complexity is the product of the coming together of all energy and matter forms that have existed and evolved in Nature since the pre-big bang. As discussed earlier a stable gene based biological process emerged as a hybrid of post big bang mass-based energy processes (including elementary particles, atoms, inorganic and organic molecules) and the pre-big bang massless energy states. And it harbored the beginning of mental systems based on the programmed process. This ‘all-inclusive’ biological phenomenon has proceeded to evolve through numerous forms and stages to reach the present human form.
We are suggesting that perhaps with the advent of developed language and civilization, the human form of this process reached a very high level of maturity in evolutionary terms. Wherein mental processes of this form, which had so far been evolving as tools for biological purposes, and essentially within the framework of the gene-based programmed process, start going beyond it and stepping into the territory of the intelligent process stage of evolution. Today we can see that this intelligent process, as it is developing in the contemporary man’s mind, is becoming intelligent about the biological phenomenon as one comprehensive process and not just as biology, physiology or anatomy that is taught in medical schools. Its significance is that we are becoming intelligent about the most advanced and mature product of the macro evolutionary process of Nature, wherein come together not only all phenomena, but also all the stages of Nature’s own evolutionary journey—random, programmed and intelligent. When man acquires a holistic intelligence about himself it becomes a window for him to look upon Nature not as separate things but as an integrated Universal Logic Process and then view its products in the light of this process. Which in turn sets the stage for an intelligent (reason based) integration of the micro and the macro dimensions in Nature, and thereby a unified rather than a segmented and discrete view of Nature.
Thus in our view a comprehensive intelligence about all dimensions of man means an integrated intelligence of his three fairly distinct or identifiably separate components i.e., gene-based biological, brain and mental processes, and also the three major processes that have been employed in the entire history of Nature, i.e., the random, programmed and the intelligent processes. In our form, we will observe the latter three processes coming together and operating at different levels and degrees within our three components. We can say that the prototype of this integration of the three phenomena (biological, brain, and mental) and three processes of Nature (random, programmed and intelligent) can be found in the genes. Which also informs us that we need to begin our holistic understanding of man from an understanding of genes and their history. This level of understanding will enable us to not only resolve the contradictions in our personal and social lives but also the dialectic of contradiction which has hitherto been a constant feature of the journey of Nature as a whole. This dialectic constitutes manifold contradictions within the micro and macro dimensions of Nature and also between them. On the other hand, the intelligent process (which embodies an integrated understanding of phenomena and processes) sets the stage for resolving all these contradictions and replacing them with the dialectic of harmony. Which as discussed earlier connotes the existence of the pleasure and pain principle inherent in motion itself, due to which its tendency is to move towards the dialectic of harmony (through stability and pleasure), which we have suggested as the Aesthetic of Nature. If we can intelligently observe and understand where Nature itself has been and is going, then surely that tells us where to go ourselves. We would be our own enemies if we say that let Nature go in the direction of the dialectic of harmony while we want to follow in the footsteps of military industrial complex and market death, torture and pain.
i. A compound of mass based and massless energy forms.
ii. Compared to animals.
iii. The connection between mental processes and biology was designed to enable the former to function only while that connection lasted and was required. After which they were to stop functioning and disintegrate.
iv. The intellectual capability which can focus on the mind in the same way as it does on all other phenomena in Nature.
v.In human beings the category and variety of contradictions are those which arise through the use of the advanced form of our mental systems that produce ‘ideas’ and corresponding responses. The advanced human mental processes (that become aware of the thought processes) have a different logic of their own compared to the logic of pre-mental (random) and simpler mental processes. And that is the logic of the ‘potential of producing ideas’. Wherein ideas are produced on the basis of our localized responses, reactions, personalities, some abnormal mental formations, or our ego, instead of objective understanding, and consequently become the source of various forms of inner and outer contradictions.
Contradiction is actually another word for illogicality, as illogical connections will produce disorders. However, in the random process, at the pre-mental and simpler programmed mental process stage, they are innocent contradictions, which result in destruction of things and the process moves on. So in these stages the rejection process is very simple. But when we produce contradictions at the level of our highly intelligent and aware mental systems, they become really serious and almost malicious and vicious, and create much bigger problems. Consequently, the rejection process also becomes much more complex because of the combination of intelligence and Will, wherein we use all the acquired positive knowledge for the pursuit of our subjective motivations and ideas. So we actually use all the advantages of these past selections (in terms of ideas, knowledge and understanding) for generating new contradictions and rejections, which are more difficult to reject because they are strengthened by the selections of the past.
Hence this is the vicious aspect of the contemporary dialectic within our minds, that we use the selection of the past to reinforce the necessary rejection of the present, and then we call it personality, or in lieu of a better justification ‘human nature’, which means that one is allowed or is free to use all of one’s assets to produce obstacles in the way of the future. This is the current human scene, which we need get away from. Because if we keeping pushing against the Universal Logic Process by persisting with our illogicality, then this macro process will have no problem in scratching off its project “Man”, just like it did in the case of dinosaurs, and innumerable other species, and start afresh with some other evolutionary product. Thus we need some people who will address this issue and look at the cross road at which we (as individuals and society) are.
vi. McFadden, 2001, p. 84
vii. Whose beginnings in the form of philosophy, serious art and religions go back to almost six thousand years.