Re: Why do we seek to transcend ourselves?

From: Dani Eder (
Date: Wed Jul 24 2002 - 06:59:59 MDT

> >
> >> > 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?
> >

Evolutionary psychology may have an answer.
Prior to the dawn of civilization ~10Kyrs ago, many
primates lived in 'tribal' sized groups. They
did so because it was a successful adaption (i.e.
the ones who lived in groups had a better chance
on passing on their genes to the next generation).

With modern culture, people live in nuclear
families or alone, which does not match the wired
in preference. In my hobby, medieval re-enactment,
our large events involve camping in groups. The
choice of how many people to camp together in a
group has small costs and benefits. I observe the
average group (12,000 attendees, 300 groups) is
40 people, which is about the same as a
chimpanzee tribe.

Another couple of evolved traits in humans are
'follow a strong leader' and 'believe what seniors
tell you'. Those may be sufficient to explain
the occurence of religion - as an accidental
side effect of traits that were adaptive in
past times.


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