The Global Barkada and the Evolution of
Fred Abraham 
Sir! Goddess  of our noetic transformation [3,4] Neither leader nor teacher, but icon of our commitment to our
salvation, to the tao of self-enlightenment .
Warrior  of the mind, and challenger of our complacency as
students of the mind, fertilizer to the seeds of our imagination, may our
efforts, our curiosity, and our desire to learn be worthy of your confidence,
your dedication, your love.
Can it be true, if Jerison (1991, pp 4-8, 13-24), the speaker for the dominator
culture of science, is right in claiming that the brain evolved for the
reconstruction of reality so that we can maneuver and survive in our
environment, that those same brain capacities can sustain the remarkable
evolution of thought and being that Thompson (1996) talks about in his book, Coming
Into Being? Is it not enough of a stretch of the imagination to think that
a perceptual-action machine like the brain can be capable of learning,
reasoning, creativity, dreaming, and all those things that Calvin (1996, e.g.,
p 20) claims the neocortical machine can do by being blessed with dynamical
nonlinearity as it behaves in a Darwinian or evolutionary fashion, its
hexagonal macrocolumns shifting their patterns of activity within an
interactive play between thought, brain, and environment? Does Rapp's pictures
of dynamical (chaos) trajectories show a picture of greater complexity of these
network patterns as the brain does a cognitive task compared to the lower
dimensional activity in resting mental activity? Do not the research of Raichle
and Squire, Givens, and Gray also support Calvin's picture of evolutionary
networks in the brain, based on the same macrocolumns mentioned by Jerison (p
27) as well as Calvin? (see Flaherty, 1993, pp 108-110, 125-126, for these
Can these same brain processes be the basis of not only the co-evolution of
language, culture, and all other complex mental activity, including the
mystical and religious experiences and management of states of consciousness mentioned
by Thompson?  Are these revealed in myth, folktales, and
the great religious and cultural epics such as the Gilgamesh, the Enuma
Elish , the Iliad, the Ulahingan, the I
Ching, the Ramayana, the Rig Veda, the Mahabarata, and
the Tao Te Ching? Do they do so without further genetic evolution of the
brain, or do they probably involve what Lumsden & Wilson (1983) claim , that culture and brain have continued to evolve beyond that
claimed by Jerison, and that complex social behavior, including that of our
religions, have their basis in such complex co-evolution?
If there has been a struggle of the masculine and feminine in the history
of human culture and consciousness, does this have a basis in genetic
differences in brain? Probably, but mainly at limbic and hypothalamic levels
which interact with other neuroendocrine systems, and thus phylogenetically
very old brain, at least reptilian aged, and probably not as Lumsden and Wilson
might claim, in terms of possible neocortical and frontal cortical levels of
brain. That is, the co-evolution is based only in terms of general features,
not on specific, higly localized mechanisms or circuites innately dedicated to
each comples behavior. But that raises the issue of archetypes and Jung's
concepts of anima-animus, and the debate over whether Jung's concepts of the
collective unconsciousness, archetype, anima-animus, and so on, have a genetic
foundation, in which some archetypes would by phylogenetically very old. They
would have to be if Jerison's claim that the brain is basically genetically set
by 200,000 years ago is true .
All this brings us to our final question, or rather, Thompson's final
question. In his final chapter he recapitulates his theme brought up in chapter
1 where he first claims that we are undergoing a difficult bifurcation to the
noetic stage of civilization, and he his very critical of culture as being on
the wrong path with its emphasis on science and technology and pop culture, a
favorite postmodern theme. In the final chapter, he focuses on the Tao Te
Ching, and claims that Chinese culture long ago made the same wrong choice
in choosing the way of Ming Confucianism rather than Taoism. So I want to pose
the following thesis as a central issue for our course:
Can the export of Philippine barkadism help save the world?
McLuhan (1964) and Thompson, and other postmodern writers (Benjamin, 1973;
Baudrillard, 1983; Poster, 1989) all talk about the global village and the mode
of communication (TV, the internet, fax and phone, etc) and about the
homogenization of culture, and its reliance on entertainment and technology. We
are embarking on a research project in Psychology 86 & 220 that focuses on
the psychology of the self-determination of career and study, and using the
internet in that study. The study involves asking the question of whether the
large family prototype of the Philippines and the barkada life style might be
somewhat in conflict with the Western type of individualization that makes for
more self-determined life trajectories. We are looking at the effect of the
internet and cross-cultural conversations on this process. We are asking can we
synthesize the best of both approaches without having to abandon one in favor
of the other. The same thing can be asked for the course of human civilization.
Can our use of the internet help pave the way for a good balance between
bakardian cooperation and individual creativity, choice, and self-determination?
We start with a project to look at the effect of the internet on us, but this
is an interactive process, and we just might develop answers to how we can
affect the future course of civilization. Can we help save it from the cultural
decay about which Thompson and other postmodern writers are concerned? Can we
create a viable internet barkada and model our future? Shall we try?
Abraham (1996). The dynamics of creativity & the courage to be. In W.
Sulis & A. Combs (Eds.), Nonlinear dynamics in human behavior. Studies
of nonlinear phenomena in life science, vol. 5. Singapore: World
Abraham, Chaos, Gaia, Eros. Harper, 1994.
Baudrillard, Simulations, Semiotext(e),
Walter Benjamin, "The Work of Art in the Age
of Mechanical Reproduction", in Hannah Arendt (Eds.), Illuminations,
Allan Combs, The Radiance of Being, 1996.
Riane Eisler, The Chalice and the Blade,
Barbara Engler, Personality Theories: An
Introduction (3rd ed.), Houghton Mifflin, 1995.
Thomas H. Flaherty et al. (Eds.), Mind and
Brain. Time-Life, 1993.
Harry J. Jerison.
Brain Size and the Evolution of Mind. American Museum of Natural
Charles J. Lumsden & Edward O. Wilson, Promethean
Fire. Harvard, 1983.
Marshall McLuhan, Understanding Media: The
Extensions of Man, McGraw-Hill, 1964.
Karl H. Pribram "Quantum Information
Processing in Brain Systems and the Spiritual Nature of Mankind". Frontier
Perspectives, 1996, 6 (1), 7-16.
Karl H. Pribram, Brain and the Composition of
Conscious Experience. Preprint, Radford University, 1997.
Robin Robertson, A Beginner's Guide to Jungian
Psychology, Nicolas-Hays, 1992.
Robin Robertson, A Beginner's Guide to
Revelation, Nicolas-Hays, 1994.
William Irwin Thompson, Coming Into Being.
St Martin's, 1996
paper, Topic 1, The Evolution of Consciousness, Psych86&220, Silliman
University, Dumaguete, Philippines, Dec. 1, 1997. To show not clarity of
prose, but integration of several sources onto a theme. return
- These terms establish
various polarities, the tensions of which contribute to the co-creation
of the evolution of human culture and consciousness. The first is the
asymmetry between the addressee and the addressor pretend teacher and
student respectively), which is quickly resolved in the next sentence to
a cooperative, more symmetrical relationship. Another is the cosmological
polarity between the self and the universe, and yet another between the
self and society. These are also part of a co-creative cooperative
relationship. The last, and most obvious is the yin-yang of gender, whose
co-creativeness is the principal subject of Thompson's last chapter
(Thompson, 1996, pp 247-260). Thompson appropriates the term 'noetic'
from Buddhistic traditions that emphasize nonlinear, dynamical
bifurcations of the mind in forms of knowing. return
- The transformation to
the electronic, planetized, and participatory forms is the last, and
current stage in the McLuhan-Thompson five-stage evolution of human
culture and consciousness. The first stage, the oral, mentions
evolutionary evidence based on endocasts as in Jerison. Jerison talked
about the last evolution of homo brain encephalization occuring after the
onset of Homo sapaiens about 250,000 years ago after which the brain
stopped evolving (about 200,000 years ago, where Thompson's story begins.
(Jerison, 1991, pp 72-75; Thompson, 1996, pp 3-4.) return
- We avoid
the more sterile and less familiar term 'bifurcation' here from dynamics
(chaos theory). Thompson is committed to the term, as am I, but it is a
bit intrusive for the present inquiry. Thompson also notes that human
culture has had too orderly a geometric and hierarchical, more Confucian
than Taoist, nature for much of the past 6,000 years, but we have seen
from the Chaos Video that the new geometry can express the complexity of
our interactive universe quite well, and the attractors and fractals can
remind us of the beauty of order within disorder in nature. The
tug-of-war between order and human domination of nature, and chaos, the
feminine, the underground, the goddess, as sources of fear generating the
need to control them and submit them to our control, is the subject of
two other great recent books, Eisler's The Chalice and the Blade
(1987), and R. Abraham's Chaos, Gaia, Eros (1994), both of which
point to the need for a new cooperative culture, just as Thompson
requests in his final chapter. return
- Again, by combining
the Western psychological, philosophical, and social emphasis on self
with the Eastern religio-philosophical emphasis on surrender of self to
the cosmos, this tension of co-creative opposites is emphasized. See
Engler, 1995, Personality Theories, especially chapters on the ego
psychologists, the humanist and existential psychologists, and the final
chapter on Bhuddistic psychology-philosophy-religion (1995). return
warrior image, while representing the masculine or animus or dominator
part of the psyche, has been used from time immemorial to describe and
emphasize metaphorically the anima-animus struggle in the unity and
co-creativity from the process of the interplay of oppositions. The Bhagavad
Gita has its protagonist Arjuna going into battle to fight clansmen,
while his charioteer, Krishna (Thompson talks of the humanization of
deities, chap. 10 in the Ramanaya, another Vedic/Hindi folklore).
Heraclitus used the warrior's bow and arrow for his discussion of unity
from opposites, and Bhuddism uses the warrior image as well. It is
interesting to note that Thompson's last chapter, entitled in part,
"The Road Not Taken", was taken from a poem by Robert Frost
about self-direction, self-fulfillment, and freedom of choice. Frost
wrote it for a friend, pretty much as Krishna's poetry to Arjuna, urging
his friend to go fight in World War I. return
Pribram (1996, 1997), for discussions of these possibilities, including
the involvement of quantum theory. return
- An example of the
evolution to a high level of abstract thought is in "The Babylonian Enuma
Elish [which] is fascinating precisely because it enable us to see
this transition from the arithmetic to the geometric mentality. The Enuma
Elish appears around 1750 B.C.E. and ends up in its final
codification in the library of Ashurbanipal in the seventh century B.C.E.
The text starts out with the usual enumeration of the generation of the
gods, and it has the typical lists and repetitiveness, but the conclusion
of the text celebrates the achievement of form in the construction of the
city of Babylon. Marduk builds Babylon out of the dismembered remains for
the goddess Tiamat. The form of the city is an expression of the power of
geometry to repel chaos, and it reveals the triumph of mind over matter,
male over female." (Thompson, p 177.). Thompson despairs this
cultural "advance", exemplified by the development of
mathematical thought. He concludes, "So we can see this movement
from nature to culture is homeomorphic to the Rig Veda's movement
from female to male, from milk to semen." (Thompson, p178.) return
- Lumsden and Wilson,
chaps 1 and 10. Prometheus was a Greek god (a Titan) who acted a
messenger between the Gods and humans but stole the fire of the Gods and
gave it to humans. It is thus an example of what Thompson characterizes
as the descent of the divine to the human (chap 10) as well as the
aspiration of the human to the divine. Not surprisingly, this myth comes
in Gebser's age of mythology (Thompson, chap 1, pp 14-15). Thompson, chap
10, pp 215-218. return
- Other sources of
reading on Jung can be found in Engler, Robinson (1992, 1994), and Combs.
See also footnote 4, as the books by Eisler and Abraham
mentioned there also deal with cultural bifurcations based on gender