Evolution of the Brain: Creation of the Self

Evolution of the Brain: Creation of the Self

Evolution of the Brain: Creation of the Self

Evolution of the Brain: Creation of the Self

Synopsis

Sir John Eccles, a distinguished scientist and Nobel Prize winner who has devoted his scientific life to the study of the mammalian brain, tells the story of how we came to be, not only as animals at the end of the hominid evolutionary line, but also as human persons possessed of reflective consciousness.

Excerpt

It is extraordinary that there has been so little publication on the brain developments during the most important creative process of biological evolution, namely from our hominoid ancestors through some 9 to 10 million years of hominid evolution to the human brain with its transcendent capacity for creativity. The story of hominid evolution to Homo sapiens sapiens is the most wonderful story that can be told. It is our story. Each of us has to realize that the great success of hominid evolution was the only chance of existence as human beings, if one dares to speak retrospectively. Why then is this story not being often told in the essential features of the coming-to-be of human brains, as has been done in this book? It could be that the brain evolution story appears to be empty of facts and good only for unjustified speculations. While recognizing that much is unknown or only imperfectly known, I have been able to unfold the fascinating story of hominid evolution of the human brain using creative imagination restrained by rational criticism.

At a time when it is fashionable in certain quarters to denigrate Darwinism and even rationality, this book conforms with the Darwinist hypothesis of biological evolution except that phyletic gradualism gives place at intervals to such modifications as the punctuated equilibrium (Section 1.3) and possible chromosomal rearrangements (Section 1.4). The theme of the book goes beyond the materialistic concepts of Darwinism only in the last three chapters, where there is consideration of the most controversial evolutionary happenings. First, there was the emergence of consciousness in the higher animals (Chapter 8) and secondly the much more remarkable transcendence when hominids experienced self-consciousness (Chapters 9 and 10).

Right at the outset of hominid evolution there is mystery. As revealed by albumen dating, the hominoid line split into hominid and pongid evolutionary lines at 9 to 10 million years ago (Section 2.1, Table 2.1). Unfortunately there is an almost complete fossil 'black-out' for 5 million years after this most critical time of hominid evolution (Sections 2.1 and 2.2). Presumably the number of hominids was then extremely small. During those 5 million years there was the evolutionary transformation to bipedal walking as told in Section 3.3. One can assume that there were series of stages between

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