It is not uncommon that I am with a friend who is in distress and he or she is describing an experience that he or she has had or is having that is not related to the distress but which occurs during the time of distress.  The experience is informed by the individual’s emotional and mental state, resulting in what appears to me to be an experience very different from what it would have been without the distress.

Underlying, or presupposing, any experience is the mental/emotional place we are in when it occurs.  What I mean is that experience is informed by context.  An individual’s ability to be aware of his or her personal context while being exposed to life’s experiences can have a lot to do with how empowered a person feels by his or her life.  There are layers and layers of underlying context or presupposition.  These have been called personal stories or scripts.  It can be argued that the deeper our awareness of this context, the more empowered, the more secure we feel.

This kind of context, these presuppositions, is integral to understanding evolutionary theory.  Gould alludes to these issues in various works, including Ontogeny and Phylogeny and Mismeasure of Man.  William Irwin Thompson and Ken Wilber and many others have explored these issues.  What has me thinking now is how presupposition informs theorizing about evolution when theorists reverse the flow and make content inform a theory about process while demanding it’s the other way around.

There is the fact that, for me, consciousness and split consciousness and the nature and character of consciousness and split consciousness are integrally tied to my theory of evolution both at the levels of how split consciousness evolves and at the presuppositional level of how the theory comes together and can be understood.  In other words, you can’t really discuss evolution, particularly human evolution, without also discussing epistemology, or how it is that we understand something.  To write a theory of evolution is to also write an origin myth, a myth that describes both how our bodies and our minds emerged.  Without making epistemological presuppositions explicit, you end up with a Dawkins/Dennett paradox, where the theory creator insists that people believe that their beliefs as regards a creator be true without it being made clear that the belief is a presupposition that supports the theory, not the other way around.

A reductionist sees the world in pieces.  An interconnectionist sees connections.  It’s not about which is right.  It’s about what benefits accompany the two perspectives.

Evolutionary psychologists seem to often do two things suggestive of my friends who, while in distress, describe an experience that they have had or are having, unaware that the distress that they carried into the experience impacted their perception of the experience.  Evolutionary psychologists often insist that they are right because an evolutionary psychological explanation can explain what they are studying and it is both a simple explanation and an explanation used for many other related things.  This being the case, they then state that more complex or less related explanations should be rejected.  Evolutionary psychologists are using a presupposition to state they are right (according to the presupposition) instead of simply sharing the benefits of the conclusions implied by the presupposition.  They refuse to admit that what they are seeing is directly related to what they presuppose.

They presuppose a satisfactory explanation is simple.  Simple answers must be right.  This reminds me of friends in distress.  Experience is deeply informed by presupposition.

Second, it’s not only that evolutionary psychologists often insist that they have an exclusive solution that makes other answers less necessary, evolutionary psychologists such as Dawkins and Dennett state a belief is true without bowing to the fact that a belief is a belief, usually based on hidden context.  We can act as if something is true.  We can live our life as if something is true.  But to make believe that we can reach below the level of presupposition and haul up information that in itself is true is to violate the whole idea of science.

There can be no truth.  There can only be experience, which is relative.

I am an interconnectionist.  I presuppose connection.  A result is that I often feel part of something larger than myself.  This informs the theories I create and the life I live.  Nevertheless, I don’t purport to experience the truth.  My experience is based upon both hidden and nonhidden context.  Life is a mystery.

To be humble can be useful when seeking understanding.


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