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  • Writer's pictureMateusz Zalewski-Grzelak

Civilized Beast, Civilized God

A human being is born neither good nor evil, as Plato claimed. He has certain neurocognitive tendencies based on his neural phenotype, which are expressed in the natural environment and in his interaction with the world and the Other. The neural phenotype, or cognitive phenotype, is the hard-wired tendency toward certain cognitive-emotional structures, such as psychopathy, or the tendencies that shape worldviews, political attitudes, etc. To avoid neural determinism, I prefer to emphasize adaptation, the acquisition of automaticity and social behavioral skills that shape certain tendencies that are the basis of socialization, viz. social training in passive and interactive modes, and self-mastery, overcoming and maturing into independent, self-reflective individuals capable of taming the "tartarism" or primal beast within and directing the "jumping monkey of the mind" into more insightful, creative and responsible channels.

Here I would like to pick two from Jaan Panskepp's list of instincts and explain how they develop under cultural and civilizational modalities and how the human beast becomes a human being and how a humane human being develops his inner daimon to detach himself from the world of animals into the worlds of the Divine. The Divine is always present and is never in conflict with nature insofar as the doors of perception are purified and the intellect and feeling sublimate and correct to a higher standpoint of understanding and perception.

Hunger and thirst are natural for anyone deprived of nourishment. The excessive satisfaction of these cravings is associated with the reward centers, and your regular "gourmands" enjoy the esthetic taste of a variety of ingested substances. As an aside, there is a secret to communion with substances, an ancient shamanic discipline, pure substances work best, and since prana follows thought, a tear of myrrh I once ate returned my saturnine nature to its proper place, it was called the tear of Horus in ancient Egypt. But let us proceed without further ado: The principle of pleasure is related to the libidinal or sexual drive. Thus, everything that has to do with pleasure is a satisfaction of the libido, which "consumes" the object of desire for which it thirsts.

The enjoyment of art and eroticism at a high level is indeed a devouring of the subject of passion, because hunger, thirst, and libido are sublimated and embedded in civilizational and cultural values that align them with acculturated systems. Can a hungry, thirsty person enjoy art? Only disciplined individuals who control themselves, or who are obsessed with art, may be deprived of sleep, food, and concentration on it. That's why I have always been an enemy of Maslov's pyramid - you can satisfy high cravings while being deprived of basic cravings, but they have to be trained first. A salute to the starving artists!

Well, metaphysical cravings are constant hunger and thirst, they put the instinct in hypostasis, for the place of completion in a transcendent reality, a craving that cannot be satisfied immediately. Is it the building of castles in the air? Or is it the finest point of civilizational-cultural sublimation, where heaven descends upon us and we find ourselves whole again because we have arrived at the starting point through the subversion of nature. We have bypassed the generative worlds of Aphrodite by sabotaging the atavisms of nature, and have returned to the womb of Mater Magna! The myth of the eternal return is not that the Deity returns to humanity, but that man returns to his home, "child of nature and starry heaven, but my home is heavenly" - Orphic Mysteries. Need I not mention that certain instincts that have been misinterpreted, that have fueled New Age conspiracy theories and other outrageous ideas, are merely a shredded and fundamentalized need for desire. For example, a person who longs for the stars may deny science and evolutionary neurobiology and falsely assume that we came from the stars on some "spaceships" (nest-building locality) and everything else is a lie.

Similarly, a person who has metaphysical or peak experiences will try to justify them with "extraterrestrials, angels," as if they were instantaneous. Basically, he reifies them into something objectively basic, tangible, and fetishizes them into subjects of his game (play instinct), but in the reverse role - he is subject to them, it is "they" who are in control of his life, a cabal, a syndicate that rules as a gray eminence and pulls the strings of the mortal scene. Do I deny the existence of angeli bonum? My second sight has revealed much, but autophany (self-manifestation) is but a sign of a great essential type, indecipherable to a mortal human animal. Curiosity commands interpretation, but when wonder is interrupted, all the demons of certainty creep in, and this is where both religious bigotry and fanaticism and blind faith in one's own ideas begin. In other words, the critical apparatus is suspended in order to pursue fantasy. But you see, realized potential offers much more satisfaction than fantasy. It is as if instincts chain us in Plato's cave, and only through refined works do we loosen their grip and approach the heavenly mien.

We are still mortal, but somehow our souls, minds and hearts are changed. As with the mutations of vices and virtues, they may be derived from civilizational instincts. I once analyzed the basic Hindi "kleshas" in Patandjali's model (vices) and found that all forms of mutated vices can be traced back to these simple dharmas: "attachment, I am I, delusion, ignorance, repulsion." Similarly, we can derive various mutations from the lower instincts that pass through the riverbeds of the whirlwinds of civilizational and cultural history of ideas, the noospheric bastions and the revolutions that overturn them like giants to establish new, small and large reforms of the social logoi.

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