History, Evolution, and The Darwin Debate

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pernicious darwinian confusions about human nature…//There’s no philosophy of life without a theory of human nature | Aeon Essays

April 26th, 2018 · No Comments

The idea of human evolution is a crucial one but darwinism entered the scene and completely confused everything: one result is the inability of scientists to confront the complexity of man and the outright rejection of essentialist arguments.

As j.g. bennett noted it is very difficult to penetrate the complexity of the ‘human’ and his ‘nature’ and few ever succeed. Buddhists and yogis use a strategy, the path of enlightenment, to bypass that complexity with a strategy of (over)simplification. A book like bennett’s Spiritual Psychology, despite its flaws, (or The Dramatic Universe) points to a seven-tiered layered complex of ‘selves’, with a core ‘true self’, and behind that an individuality, all this in the context of a complex dialectic of essentialist and existential triads in a larger dimension of space time. It is a bit much, almost gothic and may itself be open to critique, but the point should sink in that noone has yet really mapped out let alone explained the labyrinth of man whose emergence could never have arisen via natural election. A case can be made that bennett, who got his ideas from a mysterious strain of sufism, upgrading to a unique ‘scientific’ framework, didn’t understand himself what he was talking about. But he at least made a basic point: man as we find him lives in a shrunken shell of his ‘real self’.
The behaviorist psychologies of scientism are almost a joke by comparison.

What exactly does science tell us about the idea of a human nature? If we take evolutionary biology seriously, then we certainly should reject any essentialist conception of it, such as Aristotle’s. There is no immutable, clearly defined ‘essence’ that characterises human beings, and only them, within the whole animal world. From Charles Darwin onward, the scientific consensus has been pretty clear: we are but one species among millions on Earth, members of a not particularly numerous branch of the tree of life, endowed with unusually large and structurally complex brains.

Source: There’s no philosophy of life without a theory of human nature | Aeon Essays

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