Our Animal Condition and Social Construction

Jorge A. Colombo, MD, PhD
Director Emérito, Unidad de Neurobiología Aplicada, Investigador Principal (CONICET), Cdad. Buenos Aires, Argentina

Series: Human Evolution, Biological and Cultural Domains
BISAC: SOC002000

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Our species origin has its roots in ancestral habits, behaviors and survival drive, through changing environmental conditions, and crystallized during millennia in basic neurobehavioral circuits, be it as predators or potential prey: we were not born in a mother-of-pearl cradle and protected by magic agents. Placed on the thread of time, modern cultural contexts –norms, priorities, values– appear as “newly born”. Socio-cultural ecology upon which our brain organization and behavioral constructs derive include shared basic behavioral drives with non-human primates. This bio-cultural interaction and “dystopia” carved our identity, genetic expression and the possible origin of beliefs, resulting in an arch of possible behaviors and cultural phenotypes.

This book offers evidence –as a way to acquire conscience– of evolutive grounds and socio-cultural ecology upon which our brain organization and behavioral constructs derived. Among those, shared basic behavioral drives with non-human primates. The biological nature of our construction drags millenniums of species trials with variable rates of survival times. They provide traces of a variable and multiple evolutive chains.

The emergence of humans with a sophisticated language allowed the development of complex virtual constructs based on symbolism and the instruments of culture, which has enhanced cognitive capacity and emotional interaction supported by processes anchored in neural networks distributed within cortical and subcortical levels. Basic, essential neural connectivities were preserved during the evolutionary development of the species. Which and how much of our current drives –individually and as a global community– are driven by ancestral, inherited traits imprinted in our animal condition? This issue pertains to our identity as a species, our social constructions, and ecological interaction.

The biological (animal) matrix and inheritance are usually segregated from the social and cultural construction. Although sophistication of our cultural development tends to “set up a divisive fault” from our animal condition, primitive foundations of non-human animal behavior (survival, territory, reproduction, prevalence, access to nutrients) are basic templates and underlie essential individual and group basic drives and cultural constructs. Humans have not ceased from being territorial (whether applied to virtual or material dimensions).

In our time and through human history various forms of social inequities were expressed. On evolutive terms, the notion of individual “social status” within the social structure (rights, priorities) in a gregarious community with hierarchical organization, generated the probability of an individual ascending or descending the hierarchy within the said organization: the potential figure of leader or the subordinate or marginalized. Is there an evolutive antecedent for human social inequities? How to construct a different future?

Postindustrial societies became increasingly dependent on material consumerism and technological cultures to the point of “embraining” them, conceptually becoming technological hybrids. It represents a developmental “must” or an uncontrolled “spin-off” of human inventiveness, affecting our future? It ought to be taken conscience of, at the social and political level.

Construction of supernatural agents played a significant role in socialization/domestication processes. Agents with intentionality flourished through altered states of conscience or under fear from natural phenomena, or attributed to supposed inhabitants of the Natural Kingdom or virtual beings. This imaginary universe, reinforced by ritual behaviors, contributed to control personal/collective distress of various possible origins, and conditioned our “degrees of emotional and cognitive freedom”.
(Imprint: Nova)

Acknowledgments

Preliminary Quotes and Introductory Remarks

Foreword

Chapter 1. The Evolutionary Identity

Chapter 2. Evolutive Impact of Neurobiological and Cultural Development: Epigenesis

Chapter 3. Comparative Issues

Chapter 4. Identity and Moral Issues under a Neurobiological Approach

Chapter 5. Social Ecology and Brain Reorganization

Chapter 6. Evolutive Background of Poverty and Social Marginality: Poverty and Marginality as Social and Economic Categories

Chapter 7. Emotional Components in the Construction of Beliefs

Chapter 8. Further Comparative Analysis of Culture Generation and the Evolutionary Origin of Beliefs

Chapter 9. Supernatural Constructions and Altered States of Conscience

10. Final Comments

Summary Addendum

Bibliography

Professor Karl Zilles, , MD, PhD, JARA-Senior Professor at the Research Center Jülich and RWTH University Aachen, Germany; Editor-in-Chief, Brain Structure and Function. To read the review, click here.

Michael I. Posner, , Professor Emeritus of Psychology, University of Oregon. To read the review, click here.

Keywords: Human genetic baggage, Culture as an evolutive modifier, Reward, pleasure, and risk-taking, Social ecology and brain reorganization, Poverty and social marginality comparative evolution, Beliefs, rituals and emotional components, Beliefs and their evolutionary process, Religiosity, Social dominance, Supernatural beliefs, altered states of conscience, Rituals and social bonding, Social inequity and human evolution

Audience: Basically undergraduate and graduate students in the fields of Sociology, Anthropology and Psychology, Social and Educational policy makers, teachers in the previously mentioned fields.

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