Introduction of the soul
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01-06-2011, 04:41 AM
Introduction of the soul
I did not put the following in the philosophy section because I'm looking for information regarding the development of the human brain. If there is a better section, please move the thread.

I have been a Wikipedia editor since 2006. The site has a "reference desk" for people to ask questions about the humanities, language, and computer tech stuff. I remember one person asked the question some time ago about when the soul was introduced to the body. They reasoned that such things as love, poetry, architecture, and art came about after the soul was introduced.

I explained to the OP that love was merely nature's way (via chemicals) of insuring the survival of the next generation. They and others were greatly offended by such a statement. As for poetry, architecture, and art, I didn't know enough about evolutionary psychology at the time to comment. I would venture a guess that it had to do with the ever increasing power of the brain. Once hunter-gatherer societies settled into agrarian societies, they could devote time to thinking about esoteric or abstract things instead of where they were going to spend the night, or when their next meal would be.

Are there any specialists here in evolutionary or developmental psychology?
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01-06-2011, 07:01 AM
RE: Introduction of the soul
The 6th chapter of the Meme MAchine is something you may find interesting:

http://books.google.com/books?id=jBdFR_7...&q&f=false

OR I could write a sum up of all of it, if you dont want to read so much Smile (not like I'm an expert or something)

..."we can be truly free - not because we can rebel against the the tyranny of the selfish replicators but because we know that there is no one to rebel."
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01-06-2011, 11:21 AM
 
RE: Introduction of the soul
(01-06-2011 04:41 AM)ghostexorcist Wrote:  Are there any specialists here in evolutionary or developmental psychology?

I'm no specialist but I have a great deal of intel on that. Just throw your questions at me; either in this thread or through a PM. The basic concept is that for all the things you mentioned, in order to evolve, a certain age needs to be achieved. This is why, we did not have those in prehistoric times, because the mean life expectancy would average on 20 years.
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01-06-2011, 11:35 AM
RE: Introduction of the soul
Daniel Dannette explains the idea of soul in one of his books, you might be want to read that. Smile
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01-06-2011, 11:53 AM
RE: Introduction of the soul
(01-06-2011 11:21 AM)Celestus87 Wrote:  
(01-06-2011 04:41 AM)ghostexorcist Wrote:  Are there any specialists here in evolutionary or developmental psychology?

I'm no specialist but I have a great deal of intel on that. Just throw your questions at me; either in this thread or through a PM. The basic concept is that for all the things you mentioned, in order to evolve, a certain age needs to be achieved. This is why, we did not have those in prehistoric times, because the mean life expectancy would average on 20 years.

Throw it here! I'd like to hear that stuff tooSmile

..."we can be truly free - not because we can rebel against the the tyranny of the selfish replicators but because we know that there is no one to rebel."
Susan Blackmore : The Meme Machine
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01-06-2011, 12:16 PM
 
RE: Introduction of the soul
(01-06-2011 11:53 AM)TheSelfishGene Wrote:  
(01-06-2011 11:21 AM)Celestus87 Wrote:  
(01-06-2011 04:41 AM)ghostexorcist Wrote:  Are there any specialists here in evolutionary or developmental psychology?

I'm no specialist but I have a great deal of intel on that. Just throw your questions at me; either in this thread or through a PM. The basic concept is that for all the things you mentioned, in order to evolve, a certain age needs to be achieved. This is why, we did not have those in prehistoric times, because the mean life expectancy would average on 20 years.

Throw it here! I'd like to hear that stuff tooSmile

I'll get cracking as soon as I can. It might take up to 4-5 hours though. Undecided

:edit:

I'm back... and writing. Smile
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01-06-2011, 04:38 PM
 
RE: Introduction of the soul
I'll split the answer into two different things. The art thing and the soul thing.
Here it goes:

The art thing!
“Well, let's start with the basics. How many great children artists do you know? Have you heard of any? Yes, you sir at the back. You say you've heard of one. Excellent! You should consider yourself lucky. Most people can't cite any at all. Now, how many old farts having the same core attribute can you cite? Yes! DaVinci, that is correct! Picasso, outstanding! Nietzsche, absolutely!”…

There are two elements to this but before we begin, the first thing we have to do is to define art and creativity and show the difference between them. Why one painting is seen as a piece of art while another is defined as simply “creative”?

In general people might depict artistic tendencies from a very young age. However, most of the material created in early life is only characterized by an overwhelming degree of creativity and nothing more. Creativity is a helpful tool that is a prerequisite to the development of any artistic talent but it is not what defines a person that will be remembered by his or her work.

In order for one’s work to gain prestige, he or she has to apply philosophy into it. Most use elements of the past in an attempt to predict the future. They tap into their memories and extract the raw emotion. They try to understand it; they try to define it. In order to do that, they use their creativity. They create philosophies that seem to predict the future, they depict events that scarred the collective human spirit. They have the ability to use their talent to invoke their emotion and project it onto others.

The biggest problem with this is that young people do not have the life experience required to accomplish that. Art comes from pain and suffering. Art comes from depression. Art comes from pessimism. Art comes from death. It’s no wonder that the majority of the most famous artists only became known after Erik Eriksson’s generativity vs. stagnation psychosocial developmental stage was achieved.

According to E.E., one reaches a stage in his life during which he looks back and tries to estimate whether or not he made any sort of contribution to the human race. This stage is initiated in the early years of senility and spans until the last stage of E.E.’s theory and of course death. It is during this stage, that history’s most glorious artists made their most famous masterpieces.

All these were a necessary prologue in order for the statements below to be understood:

In prehistoric times, the mean lifespan of the average human was 20 years. 20 years, means that this person would die while he was still an adolescent. He would have a hard time reaching the level of maturity required to engage in metacognition, retrospective evaluation of emotion and projection to a possible future.

The inability to reach this phase was one of the two things related with the manifestation of artistic talent. The other, although may sound peculiar to say the least to some, is abnormality. If writes down someone else ideas he is not considered artistic. If someone copies a panting, he is not considered artistic. If one mimics reality, he is not considered artistic.

The second element that is characteristic of art is the distortion of the shared objective reality. What is impressive by art, is the perceptual eccentricity of the given artist. This eccentricity is more often than not a direct effect of an abnormal psychology. Common abnormalities that have been acknowledged as the catalysts for art are depression, schizophrenia and narcissism. Not surprisingly, according to a contemporary survey (I will ask for the reference), artists scored higher in the generic abnormality scale than any other area that could be considered a profession. (Irrelevant but funny fact: Psychiatrists scored second for an entirely different set of reasons.)

So all in all, we have two distinct elements that contribute to the manifestation of art. Senility and abnormal psychology. At a very first sight, they seem random and disassociated. This is not the case. They both have an attribute in common. Endurance.

To produce real art, people have to endure through time, to surpass life difficulties, to refuse to commit suicide, to live through natural disasters, to cope with their mental illnesses. They have to be resilient. Resilience = art.


PS. I had an overwhelming load of things that I wanted to say and maybe some points are not clear because my thoughts were too erratic (kinda filling dizzy after writing this wall of text). If something needs disambiguation, let me know. I’ll work on “the soul thing” part tomorrow.
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01-06-2011, 08:22 PM
RE: Introduction of the soul
When we stopped being rocks?

As it was in the beginning is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.
And I will show you something different from either
Your shadow at morning striding behind you
Or your shadow at evening rising to meet you;
I will show you fear in a handful of dust.
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02-06-2011, 01:26 PM
RE: Introduction of the soul
To me it still doesn't explain WHY art is present at all.
You need abnormality, pain, experience to create art, it's Ok, it's clear. But from these things art doesn't seem to come necessarily in the sense as for example evolution comes necessarily from it's 3 basic conditions.
You can be senile, abnormal and old and not make art.

..."we can be truly free - not because we can rebel against the the tyranny of the selfish replicators but because we know that there is no one to rebel."
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24-03-2012, 08:32 PM (This post was last modified: 24-03-2012 11:07 PM by ghostexorcist.)
RE: Introduction of the soul
(01-06-2011 04:41 AM)ghostexorcist Wrote:  [...]

As for poetry, architecture, and art, I didn't know enough about evolutionary psychology at the time to comment. I would venture a guess that it had to do with the ever increasing power of the brain. Once hunter-gatherer societies settled into agrarian societies, they could devote time to thinking about esoteric or abstract things instead of where they were going to spend the night, or when their next meal would be.

I've had some time to study up on the subject. My initial observations were partly correct; it does have something to do with the "ever increasing power of the brain," but art predates the establishment of agricultural societies. The Chauvet cave paintings from southern France are very good examples of this. They have been dated to around 35,000 years old! Man didn’t gain dominion over crops until some 25,000 years after this. Here is a snapshot of some of the Chauvet paintings:

[Image: Chauvet_cave%2C_paintings.JPG]
This obviously predates Christianity and the very concept of the soul. Someone might venture to ask why the art of the Renaissance period is light years ahead of the art that came before it. Naturally, they would make themselves look silly in the eyes of the religious community if they claimed that the Renaissance was when the soul was first introduced to man. This would mean that man had lived for thousands of years without a soul prior to this point. The real reason that Renaissance art is so good is because this was a time of scientific inquiry. As one would expect, art progressed through the ages because the proceeding generation improved upon the techniques of their forbearers. But it wasn’t until the Renaissance when artists began to seriously study the science of anatomy, optics, and perspective. This explains how artists began to produce photo-realistic paintings.

It’s interesting to point out that China had its own cultural Renaissance during the Song Dynasty (960-1279), thanks largely to the advent of Neo-Confucianism. This was a period when paintings of people and landscapes became very realistic. If this had continued (like in Europe hundreds of years later), I have no doubt that the world of art would have been changed forever. People like Fang Kuan and Dong Yuan would have become household names instead of Michelangelo or Leonardo da Vinci. However, this period did not last long as China was conquered by nomadic tribes from the north, and Chinese artists of later dynasties rejected realism.
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