I've been pondering the long term consequences of evolution, particularly evolutionary psychology. My train of thought just pulled into a wierd station and I'd like to get some feedback. Posting this on the Evolutionary Psychology site seemed a prudent choice. Since most of us are agreed as to the basic issues and positions (presumably we all embrace Evolutionary Psychology, for one) and we can avoid re-hashing old arguments long settled. I have numbered the steps in my argument so that respondents can easily focus on which parts they don't like. Keep in mind that brevity requires that I oversimplify many complex points and issues.
1. We humans are AT LEAST biological machines. Even if you wish to adhere to transcendent souls or emergent properties, it cannot be denied that we are ALSO biological machines shaped by evolutionary forces. The human brain - the biological structure almost solely responsible for human behavior, is itself a product of evolutionary forces.
2. Let us accept that we are, biologically speaking, still Paleolithic Hunter-Gatherers. We have brains that were shaped by evolution to perform those tasks required of Hunter-Gatherers living in small groups. These evolved brain mechanisms still greatly influence us, and in many cases virtually dictate the structure of our minds. Our brains possess a host of mental mechanisms designed for a Paleolithic lifestyle, even though the world we now live in is unsuited to these traits.
3. The conflict, on the one hand, between a human nature produced by these evolved mechanisms and, on the other hand, the demands of our modern lifestyle, has created an Adaptive Gap - a gulf between how we tend to behave and how we should best behave, given our modern lifestyle. I think that this Adaptive Gap is a primary factor contributing to many of the physio- and socio-pathologies evident in modern life. The continuing rise in the percentage of our population afflicted by pathological stress and anxiety disorders, plus the near-epidemic rise in depression, most probably reflect the consequences of this Adaptive Gap, of this attempt by Paleolithic minds to cope with a highly unnatural technological world.
4. (Most of you are probably still with me so far, since none of this is new. Now we take the next logical step.) Since technological change is driven by market forces and therefore cannot be stopped, our modern lifestyle will continue to change at a rapid pace. Further, this technological innovation changes the world in a specific way - it makes the world progressively less Paleolithic in nature. This means that the Adaptive Gap will continue to grow. Cultural change will increasingly fail to help us bridge the gap because our brains, our evolved mechanisms of adapting, place limits on human adaptability.
5. As more individuals find thenselves unable to bridge the Adaptive Gap, more people will find themselves unable to cope with the demands of a constantly changing, ever more unnatural, style of living - unable to the extent that they become non-functioning members of society, unable to fulfill expectations, unable to hold a job, perhaps unable to care for their basic needs. As this process continues, the percentage of the population that can no longer cope and are therefore non-functional will grow. At some critical point, society itself will become non-functional. Food production and distribution, transportation, power generation and distribution, communications systems and most social norms of behavior will simply fail.
6. This Adaptive Crash cannot be avoided. No workable solution exists. We cannot stop technological change because such change offers powerful short-term advantages to any sovereign entity that embraces it. Likewise, even if we develop the biotechnology to genetically alter ourselves (our children) so that we are better adapted to an ever-changing world, society at large is philosophically, psychologically and emotionally incapable of embracing such an unnatural and sacrilegious solution. Any nation or group that did attempt such a genetic re-engineering would see the products of its efforts feared, hated and ultimately killed off by us normal, paleolithic us-Vs-them people. A society that has yet to resolve the abortion issue is dreadfully ill-equipped to deal with the issue of genetic tampering with god's work, and the consequent development of a new species of human, that the Adaptive Gap absolutely requires.
I would greatly appreciate feedback on this. I really hope someone has a solution that has eluded me. Thank you for your time.