1 PREFICE Andrew Marvell (1621 – 1678) Self-reflection inevitably ...

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1 PREFICE Andrew Marvell (1621 – 1678) Self-reflection inevitably ...

1PREFICEA DIALOGUE BETWEEN THE SOUL AND BODYSOUL O, WHO shall from this dungeon raiseA soul enslaved so many ways?With bolts of bones, that fettered standsIn feet, and manacled hands;Here blinded with an eye, and thereDeaf with the drumming of an ear;A soul hung up, as ‘twere, in chainsOf nerves, and arteries, and veins;Tortured, beside each other part,In a vain hear, and double heart?BODY O, who shall me deliver whole,From bonds of this tyrannic soul?Which, stretched upright, impales me soThat mine own precipice I go;And warms and moves this needless frame(A fever could but do the same)And, wanting where its spite to try,Has made me live to let me dieA body that could never restSince this ill spirit it possessed.Andrew Marvell (16211678)Self-reflection inevitably entails the experience of an “I” inhabiting a body. Mind-bodydualism is the primary source for the discontents of the human condition. It is where thehumanities and social sciences converge with biology, evolution, and the naturalsciences. Such specialists as neurological scientists, linguists, psychologists,anthropologists, and biologists, have written books on the evolution of the uniqueproperties of the human mind. At the present time there are several credible narratives butno persuasive solution.We seem to be faced with three possibilities:1. Fossil remains will never furnish sufficient evidence to solve the problem ofthe evolution of the mind. If so, we will continue to be unable to choose frombetween a number of interesting just-so stories.2. A future discovery of some kind will provide a solution. If so, the newevidence will come from a specialist. It is difficult to imagine what kind ofdiscovery could lead to a solution of the mystery.3. The pieces of the puzzle we presently possess are sufficient to resolve theproblem if they can be put together in the right way. If so, the solution willcome from a generalist.If the third possibility is the case then the missing part of the puzzle will likely be a verysimple idea, as almost all great ideas are simple. We may be staring at it, but notrecognizing it, like the large diamond hidden in plain view by the thief who attaches it toa crystal chandelier.


2The experience of being a soul, spirit, geist, anima, or psyche within a physical bodyis a product of the capacity of humans to self-reflect. What was the first self-reflectivethought, and what was the ongoing Darwinian selection process by which it evolved tobecome the soul? Discovering the answer is far from simple. For the generalist,discovering the key to the evolution of the unique features of the human mind, ascompared to our sister species chimpanzees and bonobos, is like having a number ofdifferent jigsaw puzzles all mixed together and trying to select and fit the pieces to formone of the particular pictures. A generalist would require a dogged determination; awillingness to invest a great deal of time; a capacity to recognize connections acrosssubject boundaries; an in-depth exploration in a broad spectrum of disciplines; and asubstantial amount of luck.This book claims nothing new by way of discovery. Every item is drawn from thework of experts in their particular field. The power of the narrative will depend upon theitems selected and the way they are integrated into an explanatory account. Sexualdialectics is a well-recognized area of sexual selection, and is consistent with MaynardSmith and Richard Dawkins’ concept of evolutionarily stable strategies and counterstrategies.The approach is compatible with Terrence Deacon’s The Symbolic Species; hisfocus on semiotics; and his anti-Cartesian approach to the issue of subjectivity. It is inharmony with George Lackoff’s theory of generative semantics. It follows the directionsuggested by Douglas Hofstadter who demonstrated that the “I” of being and Gödel’sincompleteness theorems share the same self-reflective structure.The power of this generalist narrative depends upon what pieces are selected, howthey are interpreted, and with the way that they are put together. The reader can disagreewith the validity of a particular component such as Charles Saunders Peirce’s theory ofmind. One can differ with the interpretation of a specific area such as the self-reflectivenature of Gödel’s incompleteness theorems. The priority given to the evolution of selfreflectionover the evolution of language can be open to challenge.The book is in direct conflict with Steven Pinker’s theories and publications, andevolutionary psychologists who take a similar approach. One way to look at SexualDialectics, Self-Reflection and the Evolution of the Soul is to compare and contrast it withPinker’s The Language Instinct: How the Mind Creates Language. Three tests could beconsidered:1. Simplicity – How well does each conform to the essential elements ofDarwinian selection (natural selection and sexual selection)?2. Universality – which approach can best explain the widest range of humanconduct in terms of the fewest Darwinian assumptions, (the evolution oflanguage or the evolution of a self-referential mind that can generate languageand mathematics)?3. How well do the theories transcend Cartesian mind-body dualism (mind ascomputation versus mind as dynamic embodied information – semiosis)?4. Language is generative and recursive at both the levels of semantics andsyntax. The entire field of linguistics is divided between those who followChomsky in regarding syntax as primary and those, like Lackoff, who regardsemantics as primary. Which approach can best integrate semantics andsyntax into a single generative and recursive model?


The foundation of postmodern critical social theory is the dialectical negation entailedin Nietzsche’s thought; the divided subject of psychoanalysis; and the representationaltheory of mind implicit in semiotics. Psychoanalysis is grounded on a theory ofsymbolism and semiotics is the science of signs. Both deconstruct the Cartesian subjectand co-introduce a revolutionary view of subjectivity. There can be little argument that,at present and for most of our history, our species has been and remains male dominated.An evolutionary psychology, conceived only in terms of simplistic unilinear naturalselection causality, suggests that male monosexual dominance as between the sexes isgenetically determined. The problem facing postmodern critical social theory is how toexplain the evolution of the human mind in terms of Darwinian selection while avoidingthe patently false gender determinism implicit in many of the explanatory narratives ofcontemporary sociobiology, now known as evolutionary psychology.Sexual Dialectics, Self-Reflection and the Evolution of the Soul completes my antipatriarchytrilogy of which the first book is The Neurotic Foundations of Social Order:The Psychoanalytic Roots of Patriarchy, published in1990 by New York University Pressas a part of their Psychoanalytic Crosscurrents Series. The second is The Castration ofOedipus: Feminism, Psychoanalysis and the Will to Power, co-authored with CarlaFerstman, also published by New York University Press in 1996.3

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