Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Asperger Thinking as a Legacy of Pre-Agricultural Humans

Excerpts from: Ascent of Humanity by Charles Eisenstein, Evolver Editions Feb. 2013
Chapter II: The Origins of Separation / Cultivation and Culture For full text go to www.ascentofhumanity.com 
"With agriculture (about 10,000 BCE), the separate human realm expanded into radically new territory to include the various animals, plants, and other parts of nature that we made ours. No longer was domesticity limited to the campfire circle. With agriculture, we began to domesticate the whole world."
"Hunter-gatherers had the means to regulate their population levels and in many places did so successfully for thousands of years; population grew dramatically as a result of agriculture more than as a cause."
"Inevitable or not, agriculture was not a sudden invention but the cumulative consequence of a series of incremental developments that marked a gradual shift in human attitudes toward nature."
"Eventually, (domesticated) plants came also to depend on the assistance of the planters, whether through deliberate breeding or unconscious coevolution. In any event, the domestic corn plant cannot reproduce without human assistance; nor does a domestic chicken (nor a domestic human) stand much chance of survival in the wild."
"Once domestication began, the much larger population density it permitted meant there was no going back. Agriculture, the archetype of human control over nature, induces dependency and the need for ever-increasing control—over land, people, plants and animals—as the population continues to grow."
"Along with the gradual shift to agriculture came a transformation in human attitudes toward nature. Hunting accords with a view of other animals as equals. After all, nature works that way—some eat and some are eaten—and the human hunter is doing nothing different from animal hunters. Domestication imposes a hierarchy onto the interspecies relationship, as man becomes lord and master of the animals. Understandably, this relationship is then projected onto the whole of nature, which becomes in its entirety the object of domestication and control."
"The farmer's new relationship with nature engendered a new conception of the divine. As agriculture and other technology removed humans from nature, so also did the gods become supernatural rather than natural beings. The process was a gradual one, starting with ancient pantheons closely identified with natural forces. Gradually, identity evolved into rulership as the gods were abstracted out of nature, eventually resulting in the Newtonian watchmaker God completely separate from the earthly (the natural) realm. At the same time, as we lost touch with nature's harmonies and cycles, the gods took on the capricious character exemplified by the Greek pantheon and the Old Testament. Accordingly, the gods must be propitiated, kept happy through the offering of sacrifices, a practice found in most ancient farming and herding cultures but not among hunters."
"The angry God that arose in early civilizations is also linked to the concept of good and evil and the concept of sin. The corn is good, the weeds are bad. The bees are good, the locusts bad. The sheep are good, the wolves bad. Technology overcomes nature by promoting the good and controlling the bad. As for nature, so also for human nature. The self is divided into two parts, a good part and a bad part, the latter of which we overcome with the controlling technologies of culture."
"Whereas hunter-gatherers could easily adapt to all the vicissitudes of the local climate, farmers were at the mercy of drought, hail, locusts, and other threats to a successful harvest. While the resources of hunter-gatherers were virtually unlimited and their population fairly stable, agricultural civilizations experienced famines, epidemics, and wars that decimated whole populations and defied any attempt at prevention. Here was a source of constant, inescapable anxiety woven into the fabric of life itself—no matter how successful this year's harvest, what of next year?—as well as a motivation for the increased understanding and control represented, respectively, in science and technology. Scarcity and the threat of scarcity is implicit in the attempted mastery of nature. Jockeying for position in the face of scarcity, we endure an endlessly intensifying competitiveness that is built into our system of money, our understanding of biology, and our assumptions about human nature."
The primary changes related to domestication, that is, the subordination of the individual to a social hierarchy that is intent on maintaining inequality and injustice, and which is cruelly enforced by a supernatural and psychopathic God, is utterly alien to my way of perceiving and relating to the earth and all life.

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