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VI. Earth Life Emergence: Development of Body, Brain, Selves and Societies

6. A Symbiotic Personal Self

Quartz, Steven. Toward a Developmental Evolutionary Psychology. Rauscher, Frederick and Steven Scher, eds. Evolutionary Psychology: Alternative Approaches. Boston: Kluwer Academic, 2003. On the need to include ontogenetic factors in the study of how human behavior was formed. Rather than due to modularity alone, cerebral evolution and development is seen to proceed in a hierarchical sequence. A crucial impetus is the “progressive externalization” of symbolic culture which in turn influences brain architecture. Behavioral systems are thus seen as a more appropriate conceptual vehicle than evolved modules.

Ramos, Renato, et al. Self-Organized Criticality and the Predictability of Human Behavior. New Ideas in Psychology. Online in Press, 2010. Brazilian neuroscientists find that nature’s ubiquitous complex, dynamical systems of interacting entities applies to and explains even our variegated social conduct and manners.

The behavior of normal individuals and psychiatric patients vary in a similar way following power laws. The presence of identical patterns of behavioral variation occurring in individuals with different levels of activity is suggestive of self-similarity phenomena. Based on these findings, we propose that the human behavior in social context can constitute a system exhibiting self-organized criticality (SOC). The introduction of SOC concept in psychological theories can help to approach the question of behavior predictability by taking into consideration their intrinsic stochastic character. Also, the ceteris paribus generalizations characteristic of psychological laws can be seen as a consequence of individual level description of a more complex collective phenomena.

Rauscher, Frederick and Steven Scher, eds. Evolutionary Psychology: Alternative Approaches. Boston: Kluwer Academic, 2003. Taking issue with earlier efforts which are seen as too narrow and skewed, these essays seek a broader compass that can include, e.g., group selection, culture/gene interaction, developmental aspects, so as to provide a more comprehensive, robust endeavor. (See Quartz above for a typical article.)

Read, Stephen, et al. A Neural Network Model of the Structure and Dynamics of Human Personality. Psychological Review. 117/1, 2010. A University of Southern California team, in a lengthy technical article, propose to bridge a prior gap between pattern and process in such studies by way of motive-based generic neural nets. Please compare this work with Judith Armitage’s, et al, neural net model for bacterial communities as examples how this version of a complex adaptive system is being realized across such disparate realms. All of which may suggest a grand universe to us learning experience.

Rees, Tobias, et al. How the Microbiome Challenges Our Concept of Self. PLoS Biology. February, 2018. . T. Rees, McGill University, Thomas Bosch, University of Kiel, Germany, and Angela Douglas, Cornell University survey how this latest integration of our human persona with myriad internal bacteria proceeds to redefine and indeed expand our “selves.” By these vital insights, we peoples gain further integration into life’s biospheric evolution.

Today, the three classical biological explanations of the individual self––the immune system, the brain, the genome––are being challenged by the new field of microbiome research. Evidence shows that our resident microbes orchestrate the adaptive immune system, influence the brain, and contribute more gene functions than our own genome. The realization that humans are not individual, discrete entities but rather the outcome of ever-changing interactions with microorganisms has consequences beyond the biological disciplines. In particular, it calls into question the assumption that distinctive human traits set us apart from all other animals––and therefore also the traditional disciplinary divisions between the arts and the sciences. (Abstract)

Ried, Katja, et al. Modelling Collective Motion Based on the Principle of Agency. arXiv:1712.01334. University of Innsbruck and of Konstanz philosopher physicists study how animal groupings take on an overall dynamic forms for better survival. Their interest is to show that this benefit is achieved not by subverting individual members, but rather by fluidly integrating the semi-autonomous behaviors of each entity.

Rochat, Philippe. The Self as Phenotype. Consciousness and Cognition. 20/1, 2011. Based on studies of a minimal self-awareness in fetuses and newborn infants, the Emory University psychologist advances a novel perception, per the quote, of an affinity between one’s bodily development and how a child may arise into personal selfhood. The essay then led to my wonderings whether such a composite individual sensibility and identity might likewise be in ascent for our quickening, embryonic Earthkin.

As a general framework, I propose to think of the self as a phenotype, in the literal sense of an organism emerging from the interaction of the genotype and the environment. At the origins, and at a basic level, it is perceived as something that has form and unity, a Gestalt that is more than the sum of its parts. The self is indeed an organism, in the dictionary sense of “a form of life composed of mutually interdependent parts that maintain various vital processes” or “a complex system having properties and functions determined not only by the properties and relations of its individual parts, but by the character of the whole that they compose and by the relations of the parts to the whole.” (109)

Rosen, David and Michael Luebbert, eds. Evolution of the Psyche. Westport, CT: Praeger, 1999. A volume on the concerns of evolutionary psychology such as sexual strategies, collective memory, social mores, creativity, intelligence, and so on, set in a general recapitulatory matrix.

Rossano, Matthew. Evolutionary Psychology: The Science of Human Behavior. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley, 2003. A proficient introductory text that ranges from basic tenets to feelings, actions, cooperation, development, family dynamics, sexual mores, and cognition.

Rossi, Ernest. The Unseen Order of the Self-Organizing Psyche. Psychological Perspectives. No. 32, 1995. A psychiatrist and author extols the conceptual expansion of psychological science by virtue of complex system science.

Schiepek, Gunter. Complexity and Nonlinear Dynamics in Psychotherapy. European Review. 17/2, 2009. From the Paracelsus Medical University in Salzburg, an approach to a 21st century re-evaluation, via in this case synergetics, of a person’s lifelong psychic development or lack thereof as set in their social context. Consider with VanDerHeide and Coburn below. Wherein, as usual, hats are tipped to Sigmund and to Charles, but we must really now move beyond and forward.

For human development processes, human change and learning processes, the dynamics and prognosis of mental disorders, problems manifesting in social systems such as couples, families, teams, or the question of how psychotherapy works, self-organization is ubiquitous. In the context of self-organization, complexity is a quality of changing patterns and patterns of change, produced by nonlinear coupled systems. (331)

Seeley, William and Bruce Miller. Disorders of the Self in Dementia. Feinberg, Todd and Julian Keenan, eds. The Lost Self. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005. The chapter begins by observing that selfhood arises in personal ontogeny by the same, recapitulated path as it does in evolution. A person is constantly engaged with and striving for the attainment of a narrative, temporal, core, or minimal identity, which is primarily located in the right brain.

We experience the self as a unified whole, yet self-representation by the brain requires an interconnected hierarchy of parts that can be selectively dismantled by neurological disease. (147) Human self-awareness is built upon layered and distributed but separable neural systems. These self-representations are rooted in the right hemisphere and are designed to address all human needs, from mundane to sublime. (160)

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