childhood

Four evolutionary processes (Maturana, Verden-Zoeller)

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From Sound to Waves to Territories, Introduction
Biology of Love (Maturana, Verden-Zoeller)
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from: Biology of Love (paper), By Humberto Maturana Romesin and Gerda Verden-Zoller, Opp, G.: Peterander, F. (Hrsg.): Focus Heilpadagogik, Ernst Reinhardt, Munchen/Basel 1996. [pdf]

The authors state:
We humans are the present result of these four basic processes. But there is more to our human condition than what is apparent in these reflections, both in the richness and range of being animals that live in conversations:

  1. the expansion of childhood and the expansion of the emotioning of the child/mother* relation
  2. the expansion of female sexuality
  3. language
  4. intelligence and consensuality

The four basic processes in the evolution of mankind

  • Some five to six million years ago, the lineage of primates that gave origin to us began in a trend of continuous expansion of childhood in a manner that has progressively extended to involve now practically our whole life span. This is a frequent evolutionary phenomenon, and is called neoteny (extension of childhood), and occurs as a systemic conservation of a manner of living, in the terms that we described above. This process entailed in the history of our lineage not only the conservation of child like body and physiological features into adulthood, but also, and above all, the expansion of the emotioning of the child/mother* relation as a relation of total mutual trust in body acceptance into the adult life. The result was the constitution of a lineage whose evolutionary history was centered on love as the basic emotion in community relations, not aggression or competition as has happened with other primates like chimpanzees. Mammals are loving animals in general, and this can be easily seen in how they become like children when they live in close relations of love with humans, but not all of them live in love along their whole life as the center of their manner of living that defines their identity. The identity of a species in terms of its manner of living is not genetically determined or conserved, but it is determined and conserved systemically in the relation, organism/medium. The genetic constitution determines a field of epigenetic developmental possibilities in a living system, while in the realization of its ontogeny and phylogeny, living system and medium change together congruently in the systemic conservation of a manner of living. And this is precisely what has happened in our evolutionary history in which the conservation of the relation of love in mutual trust and care proper to the mother*/child as a life habit into adulthood, has been the peculiar feature of the manner of living in which both organism and medium have changed together congruently constituting the peculiarity that defines our lineage as a particular primate lineage.
  • Some four million years ago the females of our lineage began to live an expansion of their sexuality that went from a yearly cycle of desire for sexual intercourse and pleasure in the intimate body proximity of the other, to a continous desire that matched the continuous sexual desire of males. We think that this must have happened as a feature of the neotenic trend of our lineage. Sex has to do with body acceptance in mutual trust in the joy and pleasure of the nearness and contact of the body of the other whether male or female. The first most basic consequence of this process was the separation of sexual intercourse from reproduction as a feature of the course of living, and the establishment thereof, of sexual pleasure as the most fundamental manner of relation between the members of a group. The second basic consequence was the arising and development of permanent intimacy in tenderness, sensuality, and individually oriented sexuality, as the source of stability and joy of living together that resulted in a manner of living in small family communities of four to seven individuals.
  • Some three and a half million years ago, language, to live in language, must have begun as a manner of living in consensual coordinations of consensual coordinations of behavior conserved generation after generation in the learning of the children of the small families in which our ancestors lived as a result of the expansion of the sexuality of the females. In fact, what must have begun then, must have been living in the braiding of languaging and emotioning that we call conversations, and with that what began then was human living as a living in networks of conversations, so that everything human takes place in conversations as a flow in consensual coordinations of consensual coordinations of behaviors and emotions.
  • The evolutionary history of our lineage as a history of the conservation of a neotenic trend in the biology of love, is a history of social life also centered on consensuality and cooperation, not on competition or aggressive strife. As such our evolutionary history is a history of expansion of the capacities for consensuality, and, hence, of expansion of intelligence. Intelligence has to do with consensuality, intelligence is not primarily the capacity to solve problems, but it is the capacity to participate in the generation, expansion, and operation in consensual domains as domains of coordinations of behaviors through living together. Problem solving takes place as an operation in a domain of consensuality already established, so it is secondary to consensuality, not prior to it. Languaging, indeed, living in conversations as we humans do requires such an enormous capacity for consensuality, that we humans are all essentially equally intelligent, and the differences in intelligence that seem to exist between humans are not due to differences in their capacity for consensuality, but in their emotioning. In fact, due to the nature of intelligence as a relational biological phenomenon, different emotions affect it differently.Thus, ambition, competitiveness, anger, envy, aggression and fear, reduce intelligence, because they restrict the domain of openness for consensuality. This is acknowledged in daily life with popular expressions such as: he or she is blinded by anger or ambition. Only love expands intelligence, because love as the domain of those behaviors through which the other arises as a legimiate other in coexistence with oneself, opens us to see and to enter in collaboration. To live in love, in the biology of love, in the conservation of collaboration, in the acceptance of the other and in the acceptance of the conditions of existence as a source and not as an opposition, restriction or limitation, has been the fundament for the evolutionary trend of conservation of the continuous expansion of intelligence in our lineage. We humans are the present result of these four basic processes. But there is more to our human condition than what is apparent in these reflections, both in the richness and range of being animals that live in conversations.

* mother can mean both male and female as it is understood as a caring function

Humberto Maturana Romesin and Gerden Verden-Zoeller, The Origin of the Humanness in the Biology of Love, Imprint Academic, Exceter, 2008

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