In evolutionary theory, what is central to the thesis and what is a contingent result of the central-thesis dynamic have everything to do with the society that the theory seeks to serve.  That very sentence can be interpreted in two ways depending on whether the theorist believes in a natural-selection-reductionist or an epigenetic-cooperative-grounding frame.  Either the most useful theory survives to become the zeitgeist paradigm, according to a survival-of-the-fittest point of view, or the community forms conclusions based upon information from a variety of sources, with conclusions reflecting a larger whole.

At this time, evolutionary conjecture often suggests that human self awareness, consciousness or split consciousness, however you say it, is a contingent outcome of prodigious synapse production.  Exponential brain growth has been hypothesized to be connected to the demands of unique environments, the demands of unique social environments, or, according to Geoffrey Miller, the demands of aesthetics.  Because the productions of culture didn’t emerge until long after the creation of a brain size that made culture fashionable, it’s been a mystery why a brain would grow that big.

And then there’s the issue of dramatically different brain sizes in contemporary humans resulting in an almost universal experience of self awareness, consciousness or split consciousness.

Consider that children, humans with smaller brains, also evidence self awareness, consciousness or split consciousness.

Brain size is not the only issue.  Different portions of the brain evidence different relative sizes compared to our great-ape cousins and different contemporary human populations.  Different brains exhibit different degrees of cerebral lateralization, related to different degrees of early ontogenetic synapse pruning.  Brain mass, distribution and balance all contribute to variation among individuals and populations.

Evolution theorists posit that consciousness is an accident of our evolution.  With Darwin’s theory of natural selection, features are often explored and analyzed that do not seem to fulfill an evolutionary niche.  Contingent explanations are offered, answers that emphasize that accidents in species characteristics often happen when some connected or related, specific, different feature has been selected.  Consciousness qualifies as such an accident according to this point of view.  This is because culture is such a recent addition to our species and consciousness is intuited to be closely related to culture.  Consider that an exploration of evolutionary explanations concentrating on whether they presuppose or do not presuppose that consciousness already exists may offer a new way of addressing this conundrum.

It may seem subtle, but almost everything that we do has a guiding aesthetic.  The aesthetic of reductionism demands that we seek solutions that offer the fewest complications.  All things being equal, the simplest answer is the best.

There is an alternative aesthetic, one might call it a feminine aesthetic, which demands that we seek solutions that offer a reflection or mirroring of the most number of processes as is possible, making possible a greater integration.

There are nonreligious or nonspiritual definitions of god, ways of approaching the subject that don’t come with mythological baggage or reliance upon non-sense-based origins of information that provide explanations for unexplained phenomena.  Such a nonreligious/spiritual definition of experience is based on an aesthetic different from our reductionist milieu.  This is the aesthetic of connection/cooperation sensitive to the compulsion of integration.  Experience is evaluated in the context of context.

In modern interpretations of Darwin’s theory of natural selection, there is a heavy emphasis placed upon an individual’s ability to survive to procreation age with individual features that have been randomly assigned.  There is little emphasis placed upon the power or ability of constituent parts of a multiple-individual, multiple-species environment to perform.  This is performance that is useful to the surrounding community so that the community can continue to thrive.  This is a survival of the cooperative.

A question is:  Does observing nature and society from a cooperative frame vs. a reductionist frame offer more useful outcomes?  I would suggest that presupposing connection creates an enhanced ability to observe connection.  The extreme of presupposing connection is to presuppose consciousness as a foundation that operates beneath, within and all the way through experience.  The benefit of such a presupposition is that it becomes more possible to intuit features of experience that evidence system-wide manifestation.

Physicists, at least some of the time, seem to walk this path.  Why not biologists and societal observers?  What would happen if theorists that explored how human beings evolved walked a path characterized by connection?  What if those struggling to determine when consciousness evolved instead sought to understand how human split consciousness evolved?  What benefits would this alternative model provide?

Presupposing universal connection is not the same as having a religion.  There is no evangelical imperative, no mythology, no right or wrong.  Each moment can be lived “as if” something were true in order to observe the benefits of this perspective.  What could be more powerful, more reductionist, than to consciously and deliberately adjust one’s own presuppositional foundation to enlist consciousness as a theorizing tool?

Reductionist perspectives don’t actually take things down to their smallest constituent parts.  Deciding how exactly we use consciousness is where theorizing begins.  No matter how you cut it, all theorizing begins in the here and now.  In evolutionary theory, what is central to the thesis and what is a contingent result of the central-thesis dynamic have everything to do with how we theorize.  It may seem like consciousness is contingent to evolutionary theorizing.  Consider that how we choose to exercise consciousness has everything to do with what kind of theory that can be made.


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