The Problem of Evolutionary Psychology, Part #2

The basic idea of EP was straightforward enough, that evolution is what has made living things and systems what they are and that psychology is not exempt, that the objects of psychology are evolved things, created by forces associated with evolution, selection, adaptation, etc., I think this is how people think about it, yes? My point, and this is my specialness, be it a disorder or some bit of cleverness, is that that syllogism goes both ways.

That it’s an interaction, that psychology is also causative in this evolution we’re undergoing – and psychology means pain, abuse. I’m saying, if you say we self-domesticate, if you’re saying “civilization,” “law and order,” and/or “parental structure,” then you’re missing it, because those are the things that send us to the therapist, that is not the therapy, not the psychology, that’s the abuse!

We self abuse. We may look domesticated most of the time, but surely you know, domestication isn’t enough. Large, domestic animals are still dangerous – but that is not the point, the point is that this abuse is a part of our evolution, part of who we are, a large part of this who the modern us is, and I don’t see anyone accounting for it. I see it as an unconscious blind spot for everyone, scientists very much included. Again, I see “your mind has evolved, your mind is part of an animal,” and yes, of course.

What I do not see is “your abuse of one another is evolved” because . . . ? Because our abuse of each other doesn’t exist? It’s an accident, or some default that requires no scientific inquiry? Because we do it for “good reasons?”

What I do not see is “your abuse of one another affects you, influences who you are” in evolutionary terms or contexts. We have gotten this far at the level of individual lives, and that is positive, that is proper psychology. But I do not see “your multi-generational (back to at least some period of prehistory) abuse of one another has made your species who they are.”

And that’s what I’m after, that is my contribution.

Again, the existing origin story for our species seems to explain us well enough when things are going well, but it fails to explain when things go sideways while simultaneously refusing to consider thousands of years of abuse, probably hundreds of thousands or more as factors in our evolution. It’s a fair weather explanation and then it either defaults to Christian Original Sin or pretends that somewhere in our animal past we have the sort of madness for huge wars and that it’s “still with us.” This narrative supports moral abuse, and so we are still self-directing our evolution in the wrong direction while we wonder why it isn’t getting better.

We know “nurture” from its negative, we know abuse, and we know nature, so we have a truth table, we think about nature and nurture of a person, we think what are they, and what have they suffered and learned? We think about nature and nurture of a species, we think what are they, and what have they learned? There is a missing element in this table, the most important bit of this picture.




January 29th., 2020


Part #1:

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