Social structure and the environmental effects upon social structure feel central to how species change cascades across an ecosystem.  I just typed “social structure” and “testosterone” into Google, wondering who might be discussing relationships among the environment, social structure, testosterone, estrogen and evolution.  I expected one of my postings to come up first, but preceding that there was a book I’d not heard of, Social Structure and Testosterone.  I just ordered it.  It seems to be carrying a sociobiological banner, but perhaps there are patterns the author is uncovering that will offer insight.

Most evolutionary psychology or sociobiological theorizing seems to assume or emphasize male impact.  Tanner, Hrdy and others have pioneered female influence.  I’ve written often about the heritage of our patrifocal society creating stories that emphasize a male’s influence.  I’m now encouraging myself to view animal evolution as heavily influenced by social structure, with female sexual selection perhaps understandable in a context of social structure that only sometimes makes it obvious that female choice or female sexual selection is in play.

It is possible that my estimation that estrogen is managing the timing of testosterone, heavily influencing directions in evolution, is integral to understanding the relationship among the environment, social structure and hormonal change that then adjusts evolutionary trajectories.  It’s feeling like Hrdy and others, in their work, have just about wrapped their minds around how much power females really have, but the piece that connects this all together is how ontogeny is influenced by social structure and the environmental effect on hormone levels, and the relevance of the direct connection between ontogeny and phylogeny.  It keeps coming back to evolution being about maturation, not just survival.

“My archeological research does not confirm the hypothetical existence of the primordial parents and their division into the Great Father and Great Mother figures or the further division of the Great Mother figure into a Good and a Terrible Mother.  There is no trace of a father figure in any of the Paleolithic periods.  The life-creating power seems to have been of the Great Goddess alone.  A complete division into a ‘good’ and a ‘terrible’ Mother never occurred: the Life Giver and the Death Wielder are one deity.”  (Marija Gimbutas, The Languages of the Goddess (San Francisco:  Harper & Row, 1989), p. 316.)

It seems that what is necessary to develop a deep intuition for what I’m describing is a familiarity with pre-Indo-European immanent experiences of deity.  Ken Wilber describes the common mistake of confusing prerational and transrational interpretations (see  He also calls this prepersonal and transpersonal.  “Prerational” connotes magical, childlike, “infantile states of narcissism, oceanic adualism, indissociation, and even primitive autism.”  (Ken Wilber, Sex, Ecology, Spirituality, Volume 1:  The Spirit of Evolution  (Boston:  Shambhala Publications, Inc., 1995).)

“Transrational,” from a Wilberian perspective, embraces, nests inside and builds off of preceding maturational/evolutionary states, including rational perspectives.  What seems useful to me is an understanding of how humans interpreted their connection to the world back before patrifocal perspectives took hold.  Gimbutas was an expert in this area.

Feeling both the prepatrifocal, matrifocal immanent interpretation of experience (with the female as grounding matrix) and the patrifocal transcendent interpretation of experience (with male dissociation able to parse out cause and effect), there is suggested a third path, an integration of the two, where it becomes possible to observe the impact of the female in animal/human evolution as we again embrace relationship, in the context of change over time.


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