RE: Why do we seek to transcend ourselves?

From: Ben Goertzel (
Date: Mon Jul 15 2002 - 08:40:02 MDT

> > I think this drive exists, and is an abstraction from several more
> > particular drives, including the drive to compete, the drive to find
> > an optimal mate, to seek social status, etc. etc.
> >
> > I do not think it's one of our more powerful drives, however
> I'm hitting myself over the head for going on quibbling over this, but
> what do you mean by the term "abstraction"? Abstraction is a conscious
> process; it takes place in the (human) organism, not the genome. How
> can an evolved drive be an abstraction?

Neural evolution, as a learning process, can carry out abstraction. It can
create new neural modules that embody abstractions of properties common to
previously existing neural modules. First, there were many different
drives, each containing a drive to intelligence as a part or corollary.
Then, there emerged a drive to intelligence....

GA's appear to carry out abstraction, when you follow their evolution over
time, so why can't natural evolution?

> > My hypothesis is that the modern human psyche generically contains a
> > certain lack, a feeling of emptiness. Obviously this is far from an
> > original idea! It's been called many things -- a feeling of
> > aloneness, meaninglessness, purposelessness, existential angst...
> Obviously a great many people feel this way. But why would the human
> psyche generically contain it? Where does it come from?

According to Freud, in his great book "Civilization and its Discontents," it
comes from the fact that large parts of our brains want us to run wild as
animals, yet civilization forces us to constrain our activities in ways that
are "unnatural" to these parts of our brains.

According to David Bohm, in "Thought as a System," it comes from the
"fragmentation of mind" that modern culture has brought, as opposed to the
"wholeness" of the primitive mindset and the greater wholeness of the animal
mindset before it.

According to Indian religions, it's due to the "veil of Maya" preventing us
from perceiving true nirvanic reality underneath...

-- ben g

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