I’ve been reading this truly wonderful book about the history of humankind that suggests, from a biological perspective, all of our social, economic and religious structures are fictions.
The beginnings of language, according to Dr. Harari, provided the means for storytelling. Putting words to phenomena and situations not quite understood produced magical beings and assigned human characteristics to the animal kingdom. These stories spread and were embraced by the imaginative creating a unity among otherwise alien groups which allowed a certain trust to develop, cooperation was established, and before they knew it populations of mutually dependent individuals became what we know as civilization. This, of course, took millennia to occur and the stories tended to lose their impact over time so the stories needed to be modified or replaced, upgraded I suppose, because civilization depended upon social, economic and religious structures to maintain validity.
I guess what this all means is that without fairly immediate familial connections humankind is unlikely to trust or cooperate with others unless they share some sort of fictional structure. They need to learn to play the game.
I have to wonder how many, if any, of these games are good for biological mankind. Social organization of any kind inhibits instinctual behavior, communism undermines individualism, most religions emphasize a next life scenario which doesn’t bode well for biological survival and capitalism encourages excessive consumption which threatens the health of our natural world. I could go on and on.
Well, I suppose, as humankind evolved, shedding unnecessary and destructive genes along the way in favor or a larger brain and opposable thumbs, perhaps a gene or two of dubious worth survived. Maybe humankind’s demise will be the result of a ‘security gene’ that led to the development of civilization.
One truth is that humanity lives a life of separation from nature, which is the cause of a lot of the challenges humanity faces.
You’re right Alex; I think it may be time for me to once again seek solace in the wilderness.