Friday, December 14, 2012

Ideology and Behavior/Memory and Imagination

B. Ideology and Behavior:
     Ideas and behavior should not be segregated one from the other, for this would lend itself to cognitive dissonance. Ideas promote activity and activity lends itself to other possibilities. This human phenomenon finds its launch pad in what Dr. Morgan referred to as the “vortex of thought and action,” since “Ideas come and attitudes are formed all within the framework of reflection upon real experiences and anticipated experiences.”[i] This point being stated does not in any way place human conscious activity outside the scientific arena, since human evolution encompasses learning through trial and error. The expressiveness of the Cro-Magnons, out of which evolved the Moderns (Homo Sapiens Sapiens) and to which all extant humans belong, provides for us today a foundation for noting the emergence of “religious consciousness”.  Prior to the cave-dwellers, there isn’t any scientific evidence regarding aesthetics.[ii] Human expressiveness, as in the case of cave art, weaponry, burial practices, etc., demonstrates the fostering of “action” and “deed”.  Psychologist Nicholas Humphrey states: “the depth, complexity, and biological importance far exceed those of any other animal,” inclusive of the capacity for self-reflexive insight.[iii]
C. Memory and Imagination:
     Integral to the human equation is memory and imagination, without which human survival and transference of information would have placed the human animal of the Upper Paleolithic period at great risk. Dr. Morgan writes: “Whereas memory, and knowledge [my emphasis] that we possess memory, offered reassurance of our survival, imagination induced audacity towards the future.”[iv] Memory of past events and the creative imagination of future possibilities intersect in the present, whether it is in social interpersonal exchange, storytelling, or the symbolic transcendental meaning of life as depicted in art, painting of the ritual burial of the dead, or items of ornamentation found in grave sites. Inevitably, religious consciousness emerges, and it is without question that the modern humans, as in the case of the Cro-Magnon, had religious belief. Ian Tattersall writes:
…religion in some sense is one of the earliest special proclivities that we are able to detect in the archaeological record of modern humans; for even if we do not understand precisely what the artistic productions of the Cro-Magnons represented to the people who made them, it’s nonetheless clear that this art reflected a view of these people’s place in the world and a body of mythology that explained that place.[v]

[i]Ibid. 41.


[iii]Humphrey, Nicholas, “The Uses of Consciousness.” 57th James Arthur Lecture on the Evolution of the Human Brain. New York: American Museum of Natural History, (1987).

[iv]Morgan, 43.

[v]Tattersall, 201.

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