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Ch. 15. Is free will chained by man's four basic needs? Print
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Ch. 15. Is free will chained by man’s four basic needs?

Final outline.

     1. Introduction: The basic hypothesis and question.

2.     Has God a “free will”? From Epicurus to Searle.

3.     Imperialism. From Malthus to Bush.

a.     Malthus, Darwin and Mendel.

b.     St. Augustine on the desire for life.

c.     Growth of population, redundancy and homeostasis.

d.     Imperialism grows out of hunger.

e.     We are all potential imperialists.

4.     Hierarchical discrimination or why we hate reality.

a.     Johannes Gregor Mendel.

b.     William D. Hamilton

c.     Joseph Alois Schumpeter.

5. Darwin’s Natural Selection.

6. An extra note on Mendel and free will.

7. Jerisonian arms race as a fourth basic human need?

8. Back to free will or determinism.

     9. Human Nature, History, and Condition. My most

parsimonious summary.

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1. Introduction: The basic hypothesis and question.

The basic idea of this chapter is that nature, during the first 99.8 percent of man’s existence, in a leadership stratum of mankind has selected for imperialism, hierarchies and discrimination. As these three ways of behaving have become innate biological elements of us, we can neither blame nor get rid of those who so behave, but we can try to “mitigate” the worst forms of them.

Such attempts are especially necessary as cultural selection, during the latest 0.2 percent of our existence, has also selected our remaining leaders for an Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, for what they believe is “progress” but which in reality is a blind Rig-Veda “going around and ‘round” in technological and scientific circles. Which blindness, in the 21st century A.D. threatens the survival also of the 21st prototype for an intelligent creature on this globe.

The question of this chapter is: how much “free will” do we have to change these behaviours before they kill us?

2. Has God a “free will”? From Epicurus to Searle.

Either God wants to abolish Evil and cannot, or he can but doesn’t want to, or he neither can nor wants to, or he wants and can.

The first alternative would mean that God would be impotent, which is against the idea of an omnipotent power. If he can but doesn’t want to, he would himself participate in Evil, which is against the nature of a good God. If he neither can nor wants to, he is both impotent and evil, which is doubly against the idea of an omnipotent and good God, and if he wants and can, which corresponds to God’s nature, then we are forced to ask, from where does Evil come and why doesn’t he abolish it?[1]

Some two millennia after Epicurus, who lived between 341-270 before Christ, Leibniz simplified the discussion by asking if God is both almighty and good, why does evil exist. Doesn’t the good God have a free will? Is He not able to make the best of all possible worlds even better?

Voltaire bitterly ridiculed Leibniz-Pangloss in his famous Candide. In a way, it was Voltaire who started the modern belief in man’s omnipotence – in his allmightiness to change society by his free will. – This belief has characterized much of the left-liberal discussion from Lamarck and Condorcet to Lysenko and today’s critics of what they call “biologism”, for them, equal to fascism, if not Nazism. On the right side, it also characterizes the naïve idea of creating “instant democracy” by American weapons in West Asia.

David Hume once suggested that the issue of “free will” is the most important one in all of philosophy. Which might well be true, also today, as for instance John Searle suggests in his Freedom & Neurobiology.[2] And it is, indeed, important to understand, as Searle makes probable, if unconscious molecular movements in the brain go before what we love to believe is our conscious choice, for instance of chocolate instead of vanilla ice cream.

Searle has one formulation which I find brilliant: “The most important question in contemporary philosophy is this: How, and to what extent, can we reconcile a certain conception that we have of ourselves as conscious, mindful, free, social and political agents with a world that consists entirely of mindless, meaningless particles in fields of force? How, and to what extent, can we get a coherent account of the totality of the world that will reconcile what we believe about ourselves with what we know for a fact from physics, chemistry and biology.”

The give a coherent view of “the totality of the world” is, in spite of all that I try to grapple, somewhat outside of my capacity.

If we now are but “inflated bacteria”, as the title of my own latest book suggests, then it seems infinitely more interesting, however, to find some of the facts from physics, chemistry and biology which may have laid the basis for these “pre-action” brain movements in us, explaining our, in that case, predetermined choices.

 

 

What can be a more probable explanation than that this is the normal evolutionary urge to survive and to get reproductive success, for man as well as for all other animals?

 

May I phrase my own doubts like this: If the free will of an omnipotent God can be questioned, as was done by Epicurus and Leibniz, how much more must we not question any free will in chimpanzees. And how is it then with the 96 percent chimp who loves to think himself created in the image of that omnipotent God, who yet has not done away with evil?  Can man really have a free will to do it? If so, given the many tragedies in the world, must man not be truly evil?

 

But, and this is one important question in this chapter: if man doesn’t have a free will, can man then be considered evil?

 

3. Imperialism. From Malthus to Bush.

a. Malthus, Darwin and Mendel.

Man’s lack of free will to abolish all Evil can today, to a large extent, be explained by a few more hard than soft deterministic – to speak with William James – biological factors.

Man is not free to avoid the Malthusian margin. At that margin he is predetermined to engage in a Darwinian struggle for survival. And in any given external situation, the normal Mendelian distribution of any and all human characteristics has a deterministic influence on who will win, that is, on who will get the favour of natural selection to carry his genes over to the next generation of mankind. That is, to those who have given us, who now live, our human nature.

These three deterministic elements can be enlarged into any number of books. So let my just try to find the most parsimonious summary of them.

b. St. Augustine on the desire for life.

Are you free to choose to eat or not to eat? And when you don’t have food, are you not biologically determined to try to get food in whatever way, including by violence?

St. Augustine contemplated these questions. We already quoted him in an earlier chapter. But, as St. Augustine surely has been studied by ten times as many people than those who have read any so-called social science book, it is well worth once more to ponder his top-modern biological insight, that[3]:  

“...there is no man that desires not to be, as there is none desires not to be happy: for how can he have happiness, and have no being?”

“So naturally does being delight, that very wretches, for nothing else but this, would rather endure their misery than leave the world, and though knowing themselves wretches, yet would they not die. And the most wretched of all, either in the judgment of the wise because of their foolishness, or in that of those who hold themselves blessed, if one should proffer them an immortality of misery, and tell them if they refused it, they should become just nothing, and lose all being, verily they would rejoice and choose an eternal misery before a nullity of being…....And what of brute beasts that understand not this, from the dragon to the worm? Do they not show their love of being, by avoiding death in all ways possible?”

Can we find a better explanation for our so-called population explosion?

c. Growth of population, redundancy and homeostasis.

Of course, you are not free to choose to eat or not to eat. All forms of life require some form of energy input. In the case of us humans, we call it eating. Some may keep slim, others cannot avoid eating themselves into obesity but, to live, both need food.

Nature has also invested you with sexual urges and a deterministic will to get reproductive success. That there may be exceptions to this rule is only a reflection of the fact that all characteristics are distributed on a normal distribution curve. Like the very slim versus the very obese. The difference is that you cannot live without food, but you may possibly survive without sex, even if it would be rather unpleasant.

As some priests, who had promised to live in celibate, in a most human manner have demonstrated both in the United States and elsewhere. Who hasn’t broken holy promises!

As survival has been extremely difficult for most forms of life, nature has invented what is called “redundancy”. In order to get only two surviving children, for replacing the parents but not more, most animals have been selected for having many more. But all the others, except the two replacements, are simply born for getting killed. Cruel? Sure! But so it is.

Different creatures in the animal kingdom have different levels of redundancy. Nature functions, however, so wisely that it tends to some balance between the various rates of children. Some few children, for instance, may eat the many. Like man eats caviar. That tendency to balance goes under the name of “homeostasis”.

An average woman may give life to about ten children. But until agriculture, with the help of very high infant mortality, also mankind tended to live in a relative homeostatic situation. We had shown some tendency to disturb nature’s balance. But with the growth of intelligence, giving us new tools and weapons, our forefathers were able to initiate a great revolution against nature’s homeostasis.

If you look deeply at it, it seems justified to characterize all forms – all! – of human culture as different tools and weapons in this hubristic warfare against nature’s natural redundancy. The growing brain capacity gave us at least some self-consciousness. Contrary to all other animals, we do not unconsciously accept that some of our children are born to die. We now consciously strive to keep all of them alive and, even, to give them a materially rich life.

The more we are successful in that striving, however, the more we violate nature’s homeostasis, and the greater becomes the annihilation of other species. Please, note that this destruction of the rest of nature basically is caused by our most human wish for food and reproductive success of not only two, but of all our children.

This is the result of the struggle for food around the “Malthusian margin”. A great thinker once expressed it thus: “The principle object of the present essay is to examine the effects of one great cause intimately united with the very nature of man……..the constant tendency in all animated life to increase beyond the nourishment prepared for it.”

The first edition of this equally important as neglected book was published by an anonymous author in 1798. But let me give you the full title of the fifth edition of it[4], published with the name of the author, T.R. Malthus in 1817. In a nice way it reveals the moral foundation of its author: “An essay on the Principle of Population; or, A view of its past and present effects on Human Happiness with an inquiry into our prospects respecting the future removal or mitigation of the evils which it occasions.”

If we do not have the “free will” to remove the evils, we should at least try to “mitigate” them! Said Malthus! I will much use this verb, “mitigate”, because for that we might have some soft, but anyway free will. If Malthus, our first overpopulation apostle, had it is questionable; it is reported that he himself produced eleven little girls! Eleven!

d. Imperialism grows out of hunger.

When Alexander, a most famous imperialist, crossed Indus he thought he was at the end of the world. He hadn’t the slightest idea about the immensely big world that existed on the other side.

That happened some 2300 years ago. Can we imagine that those strong Africans, who went into Caucasus over 40,000 years ago, twenty times earlier, could have the slightest idea about what lie before them? Or that the first Homo sapiens had it, when they started to take over all of Africa perhaps 200,000 years ago ? Or that the first non-chimps had it when they climbed down the trees and became our forefathers?

All of them were, in some rudimentary way, imperialists!

Modern discussions of the Malthusian problem tend almost exclusively to focus upon the present size of the global population.[5] In so doing we miss one important point, the biological origin of what most people hate, and what those who nowadays engage in it deny they do, that is, imperialism.

When we in the West try to defend ourselves against the accusation of imperialism, especially in the present Western warfare in West Asia, we tend to point to earlier imperialist expansions of for instance Moslem Arabs, of Mongols, of the Ottomans or, when the Soviet Union still was a threat, to the Muscovy expansion to the Baltic, the Black Sea, the Caspian, the Hindu Kush, and the Pacific Ocean.[6]

That is, however, a rather weak and short-period defence. The truly important one is that behind what we today call human imperialism is an innate biological urge to expand. If it is so, it is something that has been selected for by evolution not only in us but also and earlier in lots and lots of animals. The ultimate explanation for such behaviour is, however, not a desire for ruling other nations, as we normally think and condemn, but the simple laudatory desire to get food for our own children.

Each generation has a perspective that is limited to what they know. Assume, in taking a longer one that, as an average, a group of humans during our six million pre-cultural years was able to feed itself for ten generations inside the area in which they lived. With 250,000 such generations, we get 25,000 Malthusian margins in which our forefathers have been driven by actual hunger, or by a subjective fear of future hunger, to expand out over their borders and to occupy new land. Is it not likely that those, who had a strong innate tendency for such expansions in nature, were chosen by natural selection?

During the first 99.8 percent of our existence, this “imperialism” was primarily used against all other living forms in nature. As we know, this adventure was difficult and dangerous; some twenty prototypes of ourselves have disappeared in the process.

When our own prototype of a truly intelligent organism had filled out the earth, as hunters and gatherers live, the imperialist struggle changed into becoming one between different groups of mankind.

                                                   

e. We are all potential imperialists.

Let me now repeat a few of Malthus’ words: “the constant tendency in all animated life”, he warned, is to go towards what we now call a “Malthusian margin”. All animated life !!!

You and I are forms of animated life. So have been the at least 250,000 great great grandfathers behind us since we separated from the chimps. So have been all the various forms of forefathers among primates and other forms of somewhat higher life.

The fear of hunger and the tendency to expand geographically – struggle for territory - are surely two elements that coming genetic research will be able to locate in hundreds of genes in us. It is a biological inheritance which none of us can escape. It is part, a very deep part, of our human nature.

Thus, I will claim, there is none of us who in one way or another has not been formed by the threat of a Malthusian margin, deterministically making all of us into potential imperialists!

4.Hierarchical discrimination – or why we hate reality.

Nobody can become a successful imperialist without building hierarchies. For hierarchies to be successful, the imperialists must discriminate among its content.

Those are deterministic laws of reality. No “free will” can get rid of them, but only, in the best of cases, somewhat “mitigate” their worst consequences.

Now, if we all are potential imperialists, doesn’t it follow that all of us also are potential discriminating hierarchy-builders?

And if all of us are like that, why don’t we like our own nature? Why do we hate the successful imperialists who have the most efficient hierarchies built with the help of the best IQ-discriminatory[7] tools?

 

The answer consists of three main elements:

a.      We are not all equally good at it! Because our Mendelian material is different.

b.     b. We don’t like each other equally much. As has been shown by William Hamilton.

c.     And, in the process of innovative “creative destruction” our deserts are hugely and increasingly unequal. Which Joseph Schumpeter told us a hundred years ago.

a. Johannes Gregor Mendel.

Modern genetic knowledge, based upon the foundation laid by Mendel in the 1860’s, teaches us that we are all unequal.

Every one of us consists of about three billion small DNA-fragments. Do we really believe that all of them are equal? Of course not! We are all unequal, unequally capable in a given situation. As we know, but hate to admit!

Lately it has, for instance, been proven that “copy number variations”, variations in the repeats on the DNA double helix, of what we for years thought was some kind of DNA-trash, does separate not only  different individuals and ethnic groups but also Asians, Europeans and Africans, with respect to, for instance, various diseases.[8] And, surely, also in various capacities.

Darwin’s phrase: if we “vary however slightly” in a given situation is very important. Because we do, in an infinite number of ways! And that is why the leaders of our societies discriminate. And, as the world now is, are forced to discriminate between us, their tools and weapons, if they want to win the Darwinian game at the next Malthusian margin, to which we will come back two pages down.

b. William D. Hamilton.

However much we try to hide it, we don’t like each other equally much.

This is what William Hamilton, in combination with Mendelian science, emphatically has shown us.

Human kindness, human altruism, in the sense that I am willing to sacrifice something for other individuals, does exist. But, and that is what Hamilton has shown, it is proportional to the biological relationship between the kind altruist and those he helps.

Natural, biological kindness exists for your own kind. But very little for others.

That is the tragic truth that much material summarized in “Hamiltons rule” has taught us.[9]

In smaller kinship groups, that is, those in which we have lived for 99.8 percent of our existence, kinship altruism does function. There altruism is a natural, selected, an innate biological fact. And so it is not only in humans but, it seems, in all primates and lots of other animals.

But outside of such kinship groups? What does Hamilton’s rule tell us there?

It tells us that exhortations to be kind to all and anybody do not function very well. It tells us that, most probable, the strong will only be kind to others, non-related to themselves, if they have other causes to be so, if they are stimulated by “reciprocal altruism”, by good stimulus or what economists call incentives.

The opposite of altruism is egoism. Does Hamilton’s rule possibly also tell us that with increasing integration of ever less biologically related individuals the natural altruism is falling and egoism is increasing. If so, what could we do to keep a truly global future world peacefully together?

c. Joseph Alois Schumpeter.

What Schumpeter has told us is that all creation also entails a “creative destruction”. All new means of production throw out some old ones and often also the old workers. Normally, those who already are at the top gain from the creation, those at the bottom lose from the destruction. This, too, seems to be part of nature’s blind discrimination.[10]

With increasing technical innovations hierarchies grow is size. The distance between top and bottom increases, as do the gaps in power and wealth.

Those at the top increasingly treat those at the bottom as mere tools and weapons for their own conflicts. And those at the bottom, who are neither very capable for, nor much liked by the top, suffer from the discriminating arrogance of those who think themselves superior or chosen.

From which hate-filled class and ethnic conflicts have arisen all through cultural history and now, again, are on the rise, this time on a global level.

These gaps start to interact with the “troublesome conflict” I mentioned in chapter 3:7, that is the conflict between the “3Bs and the 1015”, between our three basic needs and the about one million billion connections inside our brains, permitting us to dream any impossible dream.

This is a basic conflict in the human condition; we can all dream about a good life at the top of our social hierarchy but brutal reality forces almost all of us to survive at a much lower level.

What is worse, every step of the process of integration increases this trouble. It may give more food. It may decrease child mortality even in the poorest of groups and nations. But if the dreams are about living at the very top, they increasingly become impossible and frustrated inside the given forms of our efficient hierarchies.

                       

5. Darwin’s Natural Selection.

Why does all this matter? Basically because all of us desire “a better chance of surviving, and thus be naturally selected”!

While very few seems to have knowledge about the wisdom of Malthus, most are well aware of his pupil, Charles Darwin.

                                                                                                 

In the very introduction to his famous book from 1859 on “The Origin of Species” Darwin invoked Malthus as the origin of his own theory of natural selection. He wrote:

“……the Struggle for Existence amongst all organic beings throughout the world, which inevitably follows from the big geometrical ratio of their increase, will be considered. This is the doctrine of Malthus, applied to the whole animal and vegetable kingdoms. As many more individuals of each species are born that can possibly survive, and as, consequently, there is a frequently recurring struggle for existence, it follows that any being, if it vary however slightly in any manner profitable to itself, under the complex and sometimes varying conditions of life, will have a better chance of surviving, and thus be naturally selected. From the strong principle of inheritance, any selected variety will tend to propagate its new and modified form.”

In an age where “equality” in one form or another is a big ideal, this doctrine of Malthus and Darwin has been much besmirched. Very rarely, even, the full title of Darwin’s famous book is correctly quoted in our world, ruled by opportunistic political correctness: “The Origin of Species. By Means of Natural Selection Or the Preservation of Favored Races in the Struggle for Life.”

We should all be equal! Thus any variation between men and women, “however slightly”, does not exist. It is just a “social construction”. So at least the Swedish socialist government once instructed the Swedish Parliament!

Racial discrimination should not exist! Thus, idealists also claim, it does not exist. Best to cut away the latter part about “Favored Races” in Darwin’s ugly title!

If it were so simple!  Our high humanistic ideals are certainly worth fighting for! But to deny reality is not the way to do it. In the long run lies are always counterproductive.

Variations, both individual, ethnic, sexual, and racial, do exist. As, most regrettably, so does discrimination. It always has been so. And so it still is in a very important part of reality.

6. A note on Mendel and “free will”.

Darwin, however, did not know what created the ‘however slight variations’ that he found in reality.

That is what a slightly younger monk in Brno, Johann Gregor Mendel, has shown us. Darwin was born in 1809, Mendel in 1822. He will come to the centre of my next chapter.

Here I only want to include one Mendelian thought, relevant for understanding hierarchy building.

Whatever “free will” is, modern Mendelian knowledge suggests that in any given group of people it is to be found along a normal distribution curve.

May that not mean that in bigger societies the “strong-willed”, those at the right end of that curve, can make tools and weapons – profit-giving smokers or cannon fodder – out of the “weak-willed”, those at the left end?

Can this be true in all and every unit inside, as well as for the whole, of any big society?

If so, is that what helps us to understand, for instance, the truth of many observations in Gustave le Bon’s classic “Psychology of the Masses”, the fact of social integration into ever fewer and bigger Superbrains, the ugly possibility of renewed one-man-tyrannies, or, now, of “wars without blood” in which the “strong-willed” by modern biological technology form the thinking of the “weak-willed” into a perfect voluntary, happy and peaceful slave mentality. Serious experts on biological warfare are scared by the growth of such possibilities.[11] The policy of “profiling” is a warning about what might be on its way.[12]

And what is mass media trying to do, if not just that, forming–or anaesthetizing - the blind thinking of the masses as the owning elites want to have them?

Hierarchies are all around us. The kinship groups, with an alfa-mail at the top, was also a hierarchy. Since we started with agriculture these hierarchies have only grown in size. Not least in the media world. This seems, indeed, to be a deterministic development.

But why do the hierarchies grow in size, since about 12,000 years?

7. Jerisonian arms race as a fourth basic human need?

Let me come back to what I started to discuss in chapter 13:3,  the 60 million years of arms race between predators and ungulates.

There I suggested that mankind might have one, until now not recognized biological inheritance in our nature from this long period. We, too, are predators. We, too, live on the ungulates. Why shouldn’t we have been selected for an arms race against our most dangerous or competitive enemies, that is, during the latest 0.2 percent of our existence, against other human beings? That was my question in chapter 13.

I will now take one more step and suggest that the arms race itself is a fourth basic human need in mankind. If that would be true, we may have found a most important deterministic element in the present world, perhaps driving us towards catastrophes.

Can these elements, the Malthusian margins, the Darwinian struggles in a Mendelian material, resulting hierarchies and Jerisonian arms races, be united into a dynamic picture, into a deterministic Weltanschauung ?

I am inclined to think so.

Playing with this idea, I get a picture which does help - at least me - to understand both the horrible warfare, during the century in which I lived most of my life, and the fabulous success in creating preconditions for the trebling of mankind, in the same century.

My picture – or set of hypotheses – can, shortly, be formulated like this:

Reproductive success demands satisfaction of man’s two basic needs, food and sex.

Darwinian competition during six million years of extremely precarious living since man left the chimpanzees, has selected for men with such a strong wish to win every single struggle for survive, that this urge to become Number One, the desire for power, has become a third innate basic need in those who did survive.

In order to win in the struggle between such adrenalinomaniacs, all of them equipped with this third basic need for power, ever better arms and tools have become necessary. “If I don’t get them, my enemy will!” Thus nature has blindly selected for such individuals who have had alleles for what I call an Obsessive Compulsive Disorder for inventing and developing ever newer and more efficient such tools and weapons.

To repeat, this selection has been so efficient, I permit myself to assume, that this behaviour now has become a fourth innate basic need in a big group of individuals, today mostly to be found in the sector called “science and technology.

In this our latest evolutionary chapter, this blind natural selection has probably been helped by a somewhat conscious cultural selection during, say, the latest one hundred generations. Lately is has been much stimulated by Nobel Prizes.

8.     Back to free will or determinism.

With the help of these four basic needs the Hegelian World Spirit has been able to give a unique reproductive success to his favourite creation, the selfish genes of mankind.

The World Spirit has engaged his strongest adrenalinomaniacs in a global elimination game, during the latest 12,000 years making them ever fewer at the very top of power.

To the victorious of them he has given one new bunch of people after another. Out of these, the adrenalinomaniac leaders have distilled the most innovative and intelligent ones. Those they have employed in their race for more and better tools and weapons than the next competitor or enemy has.

 

By thus concentrating ever more intelligent brain power into their still competing Superbrains, these leaders have been speeding up the arms race.

At an ever faster and more stressing rate, their laboratories and organizations are producing and distributing ever more food for an ever growing global population, as well as ever more murderous weapons for suppression or killing this population, in case they make too much trouble for the globally victorious adrenalinomaniacs. Many of the suppressed in this “creative destruction”, of course, tend to fight back, thus stimulating the race a bit more.

The Darwinian struggle at the Malthusian margin is biologically determined. So is the will to win. If we accept that also the desire for ever better tools and weapons has become an innate fourth basic need, selected during sixty million years, so is the arms race.

Where, in all this, does any “free will” come in?

And can it, the “free will”, at all enter if we do not first understand our reality, possibly the one I have here described?

9. The Human Nature, History, and Condition.

My most parsimonious summary.

Man, like all animated life, is blindly and inexorably, by his need for food and sex, driven to a series of Malthusian margins.

At these margins, blind Darwinian struggles for survival in the Mendelian material have selected for a third basic need, that for reproductive success, which in half conscious man is power, the dream, even, of omnipotent power.

To get and to maintain power in the eternally continuing struggle an individual must have somewhat better arms than his next competitor. Blindly, since sixty million years in animals, and somewhat consciously during the latest twelve thousand years in man, natural and cultural selections have selected for a strong fourth basic human need, that for an Obsessive Compulsive Disorder for winning any Jersonian arms race.

The net result of all this is the growth of ever bigger Superbrains. Inside, they get ever bigger gaps in power and wealth, leading to ever more intensive arrogance at the top and ever more intensive hate from those, whom the top considers as mere tools and weapons, at the bottom of them. Outside, these Superbrains get into ever bigger conflicts with each other, equipped with ever more dangerous weapons, now so dangerous that they have become potentially suicidal for our animal species.

Those are the four basic human needs, I think, out of which blind evolution has created Human Nature and, through man’s long history, has also given us our present Human Condition, mostly called “globalization”.

To which I will come back in my next and final chapter.



[1]  Epicuro, Opere, a cura di M.I.Parente, Torino, UTET, 1974, p. 389. Here taken from Fernando Fiorentino’s Introduction to Tommaso, Il Male. Rusconi 1999, p. 7.

[2]  John R. Searle, Freedom & Neurobiology  Reflection on Freedom, Language, and Political Power.  Columbia University Press 2007.

[3]  The City of God, Everymans’  Library, No 982, Book XI, chapters XXVI and  XXVII, p. 335. Stress added.

[4] London: John Murray, Albemarle-Street. 1817, pp. 2-3. Stress added.

[5]  A most useful summary is Paul Demeny and Geoffrey McNicoll, editors, The Political Economy of Global Population Change, 1950-2050. Population Council, New York, Supplement to Population and Development Review, Vol. 32, 2006.

[6]  This example comes from the famous historian Bernard Lewis in a Jefferson lecture from 1990 on “The Roots of Muslim Rage”.  The Atlantic Monthly, Sept. 1990, p. 53.

[7]  see Science, 23 Febr. 2007, p. 1080. ####

[8] Richard Redon, “Global variation in copy number in the human genome.”, Nature, 23 Nov. 2006, p. 444.

[9]  For an easy summary of Hamilton’s work, see Marek Kohn, A Reason For Everything. Natural Selection and the English Imagination. Faber, London 2004, chapters 11 and 12, or L.A. Dugatkin, The Altruism Equation. Seven Scientists Search for the Origins of Goodness.  Princeton UP 2006. Narrow Roads of Gene Land  is an excellent three volume collection of Hamilton’s best writings. Freeman 1996-2005.

[10]  Capiralism, Socialism and Democracy. Harper 1950, p. 83.

[11] See interview with M.S. Swaminathan in Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists.Jan-Febr 2007, p. 53.

[12] See The Economic Journal vol. 116, No. 515, Nov. 2006, for a good discussion of that issue.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Searle has one formulation which I find brilliant: “The most important question in contemporary philosophy is this: How, and to what extent, can we reconcile a certain conception that we have of ourselves as conscious, mindful, free, social and political agents with a world that consists entirely of mindless, meaningless particles in fields of force? How, and to what extent, can we get a coherent account of the totality of the world that will reconcile what we believe about ourselves with what we know for a fact from physics, chemistry and biology.”

The give a coherent view of “the totality of the world” is, in spite of all that I try to grapple, somewhat outside of my capacity.

If we now are but “inflated bacteria”, as the title of my latest book suggests, then to me it seems infinitely more interesting would be, however, in that case, to find some of the facts from physics, chemistry and biology which may have laid the basis for these “pre-action” brain movements in us, explaining our, in that case, predetermined choices.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 


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