Have we replaced our animal instincts?
We are also creatures “prone to anxiety, extremely helpless in his natural state, almost entirely devoid of instincts.” Therein lay the paradox. ”Instead of remaining free and broadly adaptive, the new symbolic animal immediately became ‘symbolically re-instinctivized’ almost as solidly as the other animals were physio-chemically instinctivized.”
Sapiens evolved into creatures with symbolic structured modes of behavior. Human consciousness extended wo/man’s reach to infinity—wherein infinity is within the extended reach of human imagination. We are creatures with the ability to create symbolically a virtual reality that extends out to the limits of our imagination.
Evolution has programmed the animal world to act automatically in certain ways under certain conditions. Humans have lost a good bit of these programmed responses because we have an ego that places our responses on hold until we have had time to reflect and construct a non-programmed response.
Humans create the world we live in; it is a virtual world constructed principally because of the neurosis we have developed in the first five years of our life.
If we try to think about a virtual world I think we must start with a natural world so that we have a starting point, something with which we can compare. What is a natural world? Is it what we ‘see’? Is it the ‘thing-in-itself that Kant tells us about? Depending upon which is a natural world I think we can begin to realize that the world we live in is a virtual world. We are creatures who create symbolic worlds that are more important to us than the world we ‘see’.
Water boarding is a good example of what we feel about death. Being sentenced to death for a crime is a good idea of what we think about the importance of death. The things people do to prolong their life one more day is a good example. We have been very successful about hiding these anxieties from our self that we have created an inferior culture in our pursuit after something that we do not allow our self to think about. Self deception is our greatest enemy and our closest companion.
I am claiming that the reaction we feel when water boarding or claustrophobia is that very fear of death. If someone asks me what is the fear of death I will say that if they can imagine the feeling of being water boarded they are feeling the fear of death. Our rather blaze attitude that we say we feel about dying is our self deception.
This fear of death that we work so hard to hide from our self is one of the major reasons that we have created a virtual realty and this virtual world we have created is going to kill us. Now ain’t that ironic?
Quotes from Escape from Evil by Ernest Becker
Do you think that humans have replaced the basic animal instincts with symbolic type instincts as the author notes?