January 21, 2018

Homo Deus - A Brief history of tomorrow by Yuval Noah Harari

Homo Deus - A Brief history of tomorrow by Yuval Noah Harari

[Likewise the first book (Homo Sapiens, this book is also a great one to read]

The first part of the book looks at the relationship between Homo Sapiens and other animals. The second part of the book examines the bizarre world Homo sapiens has created in the last millennia. The third part of the book comes back to the early 21st century: our current predicament and possible futures.

Famine, epidemics and war

For thousands of years, famine, plague and war were always at the top of list of problems. Many thinkers and prophets concluded that famine, plague and war must be an integral part of God’s cosmic plan or of our imperfect nature and nothing short of the end of time would free us from them.

Yet at the dawn of the 3rd millennium, humanity wakes up to an amazing realization. Most people rarely think about these three issues as we managed to rein in famine, plague and war.  We know quite well that needs to be done in order to prevent famine, plague and war. In the 21st century, the average human is far more likely to die from binging at McDonald’s than from drought, Ebola or an al-Qaeda attack.

Until recently most human lived on the very edge of the biological poverty line, below which people succumb to malnutrition and hunger. Provisions were scarce; transport were too slow and expensive to import sufficient food; and the government were far too weak to save the day.

During the last 100 years, technological, economic and political development have created an increasingly robust safety net separating humankind from the biological poverty line. There are no longer natural famines in the world; there are only political famines.

In the 18th century Marie Antoinette allegedly advised the starving masses that if they ran out of bread, they should just eat cake instead. Today, poor people are following this advice to the letter. Whereas the rich people eat lettuce salad and steamed tofu with quinoa, and in the slums and ghettos, the poor gorge on Twinkle cakes, Cheetos, hamburgers and pizza. In 2010 famine and malnutrition combined killed about 1 million people, whereas obesity killed 3 million.

After famine, humanity’s second great enemy was plagues and infectious diseases. The most infamous outbreak (aka black death) began in 1330s, somewhere in east or central Asia. Between 75 million and 200 million people died - more than than a quarter of the population of Eurasia. The Black Death was not a singular event. More disastrous epidemics struck America, Australia and the Pacific Islands following the arrival of the first Europeans - they brought with them new infectious diseases against which the natives had no immunity. Up to 90% of the local population died as a result.

Both the incidence and impact of epidemics have gone down dramatically in the last few decades. In 2015 doctors announced the discovery of a completely new type of medicine of antibiotic -- teixobactin - to which bacteria have no resistance as yet.

For the first time in the history, when governments, corporations, and private individuals consider their immediate future, many of them don’t think about war as a likely event.

Homo Deus

Success breeds ambition and our current achievements are now pushing humankind to set itself even more daring goals. Humanity's next targets are likely to be immortality, happiness and divinity. And having raised humanity above the beauty levels of survival struggles, we will now aim to upgrade humans into gods and turn the Homo Sapiens into Homo Deus.

Throughout history, religions and ideologies did not sanctify life itself. Christianity, Islam and Hinduism insisted that the meaning of our existence depended on our fate in the afterlife. They viewed death as vital and positive part of the world. Human died because God decreed it.

Even ordinary people who are not engaged in scientific research, have become used to thinking about death as a technical problem.  For a technical problem, there should be a technical solution. Google Ventures is investing 36% of their $2bn portfolio in life science startups, including several ambitious life extending in the fight against death. Like them, there are many more VCs investing in a-mortality mission. Some experts believe that humans will overcome death by 2200, others say 2100. They maintain that anyone possessing a healthy body and a healthy bank account in 2050 will have a serious shot at immortality by cheating the death a death at a time.

Modern medicine hasn’t extended our natural life span by a single year, but it could save us from premature death and allowed us to enjoy the full measure of our years.


The second big project on the human agenda will probably be to find the key to happiness. In ancient Greece, the philosopher Epicurus explained that worshiping God is a waste of life that there is no existence after death. Happiness is the sole purpose of life. Most people reject such idea in those days, but it has become the default view.

Industrialized nations as Germany, France, and Japan established gigantic systems of education, health and welfare, yet these systems were aimed to strengthen the nation rather than ensure individual well-being. Even the welfare system was originally planned in the internet of the nation rather than of needy individuals. When Otto von Bismarck pioneered state pensions and social security in the late 19th century Germany, his chief aim was to ensure the loyalty of the citizen rather than to increase their well-being.

Material achievements alone will not satisfy us for long. Epicurus recommended to eat & drink in moderation and also to curb sexual appetites. In the long run, a deep friendship will make us more content than a frenzied orgy.

Achieving real happiness is not going to be much easier than overcoming old age and death. The glass ceiling of happiness is held in place by two stout pillars, one-psychological, the other biological. On the psychological level happiness depends on expectations rather than objective conditions. On the biological level, both our expectations and our happiness are determined by our biochemistry, rather than our economic, social or political situations.

According to Epicurus, we are happy when we feel pleasant sensations and are free from unpleasant ones.  A thousand things can make us angry, but anger is never an abstraction. It is always felt as sensation of heat and tension in the body, which is what makes anger so infuriating.

The biochemical pursuit of happiness is the number one cause of crime in the world (alcohol, drugs etc. ). People drink alcohol to forget, they smoke pot to feel peaceful, they take cocaine and meth. To be sharp and confident, whereas Ecstasy provides ecstatic sensations and LSD sends you to meet Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds.

The Buddhist view of happiness has a lot in common with the biochemical view. Both agree that pleasant sensations disappear as fast they arise. And that as long as people crave pleasant sensations without actually experiencing them, they remain dissatisfied. The Buddhist suggestions was to reduce our carving for plesant sensations and not allow them to control our lives.

The upgrading of humans into gods may follow any of three paths:
  1. Biological engineering,
  2. cyborg engineering,
  3. Engineering of non-organic beings.  

Biological engineering starts with the insight that we are far from realizing the full potentials of organic bodies. Bioengineering is not going to wait patiently for natural selection to work its magic. Instead, bioengineers will take the old Homo sapiens body and intentionally rewrite its genetic code, rewire its brain circuits, alter its biochemical balance and even grow entirely new limbs.

Cyborg engineering will go a step further, merging the organic body with non-organic devices such as bionic hands, artificial eyes, or millions of non-robots that will navigate our bloodstream, diagnose our problems and repair damage.

A bolder approach dispenses with organic parts together and hopes to engineer completely non-organic beings. Neural networks will be replaced by intelligent software, which could surf both virtual and non-virtual worlds, free from the limitations of organic chemistry. Breaking out of the organic realm could also enable life to finally break out of planet earth. Not even the toughest bacteria can survive on Mars. A non-organic artificial intelligence, in contrast, will find it far easier to colonize alien planets. The replacement of organic life by inorganic beings may therefore sow the seed of a future galactic empire, ruled by data.

For thousands of years history was full of technological economic, social and political upheavals, yet one remained constant: humanity itself. However, once technology enables us to re-engineer human minds, Homo sapiens will disappear, human history will come to an end and completely new kind of process will begin, which people like me and you cannot comprehend.

In the 21st century, the 3rd big project of humankind will be to acquire for us divine powers of creation and destruction and upgrade Homo sapiens into Homo Deus. This third project obviously consumes the first two projects and is filled by them. We want the ability to re-engineer our bodies and minds in order to escape the old age, death and misery, but once we have it, we may well think of the new human agenda as consistently really of only one project: attaining divinity.

History is often shaped by exaggerated hopes. Our future economy, society and politics will be shaped by the attempt to overcome death. It does not follow that inn 2100 humans will be immortal. Knowledge that does not changes behaviorist useless. But knowledge that changes behavior quickly loses its relevance. The more data we have and the better we understand history; the faster history alters its course and the faster our knowledge becomes outdated.

Looking back, many thinks that the downfall of the pharaohs and the death of God were both positive developments. May be the collapse of humanism will also be beneficial. People are usually afraid of change because they fear they unknown. But the single greatest constant of history is that everything changes.

With regard to other animals, humans have long since become gods. The Homo sapiens has rewritten the rules of the game.  Homo sapiens decide the fate of the other animals: there are 200K wild wolves still roam the earth, but there are more than 400 million domesticated dogs. The world contains 40K lions compared to 600 million house cats; 900K African buffalo versus 1.5 billion domesticated cows...

Pie-chart of global biomass of large animals prove that point:
Wild animals -  100 million tons
Humans - 300 million tons
Domesticated animals - 700 million tons

Who is afraid of Charles Darwin?

Why does the theory of evolution provoke such objections whereas nobody seems to are about the theory of relativity or quantum mechanics? If you really understand the theory of evolution, you understand that there is no soul. This is terrifying thought not only to the devout Christians and Muslims, but also to many secular people who don’t hold any religious dogma, but nevertheless want to believe that each human possesses an eternal individual essence that remains unchanged through life and can survive even death intact.

Evolution means change, and is incapable of producing everlasting entities. From an evolutionary perspective, the closest thing we have to a human essence is our DNA and the DNA molecule is the vehicle of mutation rather than the seat of eternity. This terrifies large numbers of people, who prefer to reject the theory of evolution rather than give up their souls.

Science knows very little about mind and consciousness. Current orthodoxy holds that consciousness is created by electromechanical reaction in the brain and the mental experience fulfills some essential data-processing function.

Value of Corporations

History provides ample evidence for the crucial importance of large scale cooperation. Victory almost invariably went to those who cooperated better. In order to mount a revolution, numbers are never enough. Revolution are usually made by small networks of agitators rather than by masses.

In the 19th century, several EU powers had claim to African territories. Fearing that conflicting claims might lead to an all out EU war, the concerned parties got together in Berlin in 1884 and divided Africa as it were a pie. They knew little about the courses the African rivers took inland, about the kingdoms and tribes that lived along their banks and about the local religion, history and geography. This hardly mattered to EU diplomats. They unrolled a half-empty map of Africa and divided the countries among them.

As bureaucrats accumulate power, they become immune to their own mistakes. Instead of changing their stories to fit the reality, they can change realities to fit their stories. In the end external reality matches their bureaucratic fantasies, but only because they forced reality to do so.

The borders of many African countries disregard river lines, mountain ranges and trade routes, split historical and economic zones unnecessary and ignores local ethnic and religious identifies. The same tribe may find itself riven among several countries, whereas one country may incorporate splinters of numerous rival clans. When EU powers left the African region, the new countries accepted the colonial borders, fearing that the alternative would be endless war and conflicts. Many of the difficulties faced by present day African countries stem from the fact that their borders make little sense.

Traditional & Modern Jews

Scientist pointed out that biblical Judaism was not a scripture-based religion at all. Rather it was a typical Iron Age cult, similar to many of its Middle Eastern neighbors. It had no synagogues, yeshivas rabbis or even a bible. Instead it had elaborated temple rituals, most of which involve sacrificing animals to a jealous sky god so that he would bless his people.

During the Second Temple period a rival religious elite gradually formed. Due to partly to Persian and Greek influences, Jewish scholars who write and interpret tests gained increasing prominence. These scholars eventually came to be known as rabbits and the test text they compiled were christened s ‘the Bible’. The clash between the new elite and the old priestly families was inevitable. Fortunately for the rabbis, the Roman torched Jerusalem and its temple in 7-AD while suppressing the Great Jewish Revolt. With the temple in ruins, the priestly families lost their religious authority, their economic power base and their very raison d’etre. Traditional Judaism disappeared.

Science & Religion 
In 1600, cities like Cairo, Istanbul you would find there a multicultural and tolerant metropolis where different religion coexisted without much conflict., Ottoman empire routinely discriminated against people on religious grounds. It was liberal paradise compared to Christian Europe.  Yes, Scientific Revolution began in London and Paris rather than in Cairo and Istanbul. It is customary to portray the history of modernity as a struggle between science and religion. In theory, both science and religion are interested above all in the truth and because each upholds a different truth, they are doomed to clash. In fact, neither science nor religion cares that much about the truth, hence they can easily compromise, coexist and even cooperate.

In medieval Europe, the chief formula for
knowledge was Knowledge= Scriptures X Logic
In Scientific Revolution, Knowledge = Empirical data x Mathematics
In humanism Knowledge = Experience x Sensitivity

Why did Marx and Lenin succeed where Hong and the Mahdi failed? Not because socialist humanism was philosophically more sophisticated than Islamic and Christian theology, but rather because Marx & Lenin devoted more attention to understanding the technological and economic realities of their time than to scrutinizing ancient texts and prophetic dreams. The discoveries and inventions created unheard of problems as well as unprecedented opportunities. The experience needs and hopes of the new class of urban proletariats were simply too different from those of biblical peasant.  To answer these needs and hope, Marx and Lenin studied how a steam engine works and other such inventions and how it influences the politics.

Since Marx & Lenin understand the realities of the new inventions, they had relevant answers to the new problems of industrial societies as well as original ideas about how to benefit from the unprecedented opportunities. In the 19th century few people were as perceptive as Marx and hence only a few countries underwent rapid industrialization. These countries conquered the world. Most societies failed to understand what was happening and therefore missed the train of progress. Countries like India remained for more preoccupied with God than with steam engines, hence they were occupied and exploited by industrial Britain.

In the 21st century, socialism, which was very up to date a hundred years ago failed to keep up with new technology. Russians and Cubans held on ideas that Marx and Lenin formulated in the age of steam and did nit understand the power of computers and biotechnology. Liberals adapted far better to the information age. This is why USSR failed and the liberal capitalists who eventually buried the Marxist.

Radical Islam is in a far worse position than socialism. It has not yet come to terms even with the industrial revolution - no wonder it has little relevance to say about genetic engineering and AI.  

In addition to social and ethical reforms, Christianity was responsible for important economic and technological innovations. The Catholic Church established medieval EU’s most sophisticated administrative systems and pioneered the use of archives, catalogues, timetables, and other technique of data processing.

Useless Class

Liberals uphold free markets and democratic elections because they believe that every human is a uniquely valuable individual, whose free choices are the ultimate source of authority. In the 21st century, three practical developments might make this believe obsolete:

  1. Humans will lose their economic and military usefulness, hence the economic and political system will stop attaching much value to them
  2. The system will continue to find value in human collectively but not in unique individuals
  3. The system will still find value in some unique individuals, but these will constitute a new elite of upgraded superhuman rather than mass of the population.

The idea that humans will always have a unique ability beyond the reach of non-conscious algorithms is just wishful thinking. The current scientific answer to this pipe-dream can be summarized in three simple principles:

  1. Organisms are algorithms. Every animal is an assemblage of organic, algorithmic shaped by natural selection over millions of years of evolution
  2. Algorithmic calculations are not affected y the materials form which the calculator is built. Whether an abacus is made of wood, iron, or plastic, two beads plus two beads equals four beads.
  3. Hence there is no reason to think that organic algorithms can do things that non-organic algorithms will never be able to replicate or surprise. As long as the calculations remain valid, what does it matter whether the algorithms are manifested in carbon or silicon?

When the algorithm developed by Frey and Osborne to do the calculations estimated that 47% of US jobs are at high risk. For example, there is a 99% probability that by 2033 human telemarketers and insurance underwriters will lose their jobs to AI (algorithms). There is a 98% probability that the same will happen to sports referees, 97 % that will happen to cashiers and 96% to chefs. Waiters -94%, Paralegal assistants - 94%, Tour guides - 91%, Bakers - 89%, Bus drivers - 89%, Construction laborers - 88%, Veterinary assistants - 86%, Security guards - 84%, Sailors - 83%, Bartenders - 77%, Archivists - 76%, Carpenters - 72%, Lifeguards - 67%, and so forth.

The data religion

Dataism declares that the universe consists of data flow, and the value of any phenomenon or entity is determined by its contribution to data processing.

If we take the really grand view of life, all other problems and developments are overshadowed by three interlinked processes.

  1. Science is converging on an all-encompassing dogma, which says that organisms are algorithms and life is data processing
  2. Intelligence is decoupling from consciousness
  3. Non-conscious but highly intelligent algorithms may soon know us better than we know ourselves.

These three processes raise three key questions, which I hope will stick in your mind long after you have finished this book

  1. Are organisms really just algorithms and is life really just data processing?
  2. What is more valuable - intelligence or consciousness?
  3. What will happen to society, politics and daily life when unconscious but highly intelligent algorithms know us better than we know ourselves?

January 17, 2018

The evolution of beauty by Richard O Prum.

The evolution of beauty by Richard O Prum.

How Darwin’s forgotten theory of mate choice shapes the animal world and us.

[The book covers various species of animal kingdom, the notes taken only pertaining to human side]

In trying to understand human sexual behavior, we must remember that many of our ideas about sexuality and gender are culturally influenced, or culturally constructed, . Human sexuality is uniquely complicated. It has been shaped by interactions among multiple sexual selection mechanisms, often operating simultaneously. They include the following:

·       Male-male competition
·       Female-female competition
·       Mutual mating preference for ornamental traits that are common to both sexes
·       Female mating preference for male display
·       Male mating preferences for female display
·       Male sexual coercion
·       Female sexual coercion
·       Sexual conflicts.

Darwin proposed that nearly naked human skin - the evolutionary reduction in body hair - evolved as a sexually selected trait. Another unique trait - the retention specialized patches of hair in the armpits, pubic region, scalp and eyebrows is ornamental. The fact that the retention of these patches of hair is the same in both sexes. Underarm and pubic hair cultivate aesthetic sexual odors through a combination of skin secretions and microbes.

Among more than 5000 species of mammals on earth, permanent breast tissue is unique to humans. The existence of permanent breast development is not required for reproduction itself, and no naturally selected advantage. Rather the existence of permanent breast in women is likely an aesthetic trait that has evolved by male mate choice. Similarly, the narrow waist, broad hips, and buttock fat in women might have been exaggerated beyond the proportions necessitated by natural selection alone.

Similarly, there is a large evolutionary psychology literature on facial ‘femininity - that is relatively small chin, large eyes, high cheekbones and full lips - as an evolutionary indicator of female ‘reproductive value’ or the remaining individual lifetime reproductive potential.

Oddly there is a much smaller literature on female preferences for male physical attractiveness than vice versa. Even the data that do exist in print are difficult to interpret as evidence of adaptationist views. For example, there is a consistent evidence that females do not prefer the most masculine facial features, which have been characterized as prominent square jaws, wide prominent brows, think eyebrows and thin cheeks and lips. Numerous studies have shown that women instead prefer intermediate or even what some researchers call feminine facial features in men and one study has shown that female prefer a light stubble over a masculine full beard. They tend to like lean but somewhat muscular male bodies with broad shoulders and V shaped torsos the most, and men with larger more muscle bound bodies the least.

Female mate choice has likely played a crucial role in the evolution of one central feature of the male body - the human penis. Among primates, the penis is one of the most variable of all organs. From species to species, there are radical difference in its length, width, thickness, shape, surface texture, and elaborations. All these variations are beyond what is required to accomplish reproduction.

Human penis is substantially larger (6 inches) than that of other apes, even though humans are intermediate in body size between gorillas (1.5 inches) and chimpanzees (3 inches). We should also note than in contrast to human’s greater penis size and elaborations, humans have testes that are both relatively and absolutely smaller than those of our closest chimpanzee relatives.

Human males are notably distinct from other primates in that they lack baculum, which is the mammalian penis bone (functioning in retracting the penis between erections). Biologist Zevit and Gilbert propose that the Genesis story claimed that God had created Eve not from Adam’s rib, but from Adam’s baculum.

Male genital dangle would have become an increasingly conspicuous display with the evolution of bipedality in the last 5 million years of human history. Human’s exaggeratedly large scrotum which is far bigger than is necessary to house testes is indicative of history of selection for an additional communication rather than a mere physiological function. That is, the scrotal sac might have gotten larger because female liked the way it dangled.

The concept of beauty changed in Western world. Now, even Marilyn Monroe would not make to the first round of America’s Next Top model contest. Now, more emaciated, sometimes anorexic female movie stars are considered as beauty queens. Similar changes happening in male star selections - muscular physiques than the old style of softer bodes of 40s & 50s.

Ethnic groups from different cultures can vary considerably in appearance, but few of these variations are likely to be under natural selection. For example, skin color variations in strongly associated with latitude, the probable result of strong natural selection for darker skin at equatorial latitudes to protect from skin cancer or preservation of folate and strong natural selection of lighten skin at higher latitudes to facilitate Vitamin D synthesis. Same goes with other differences color, shape, size etc.

Female orgasm is completely unrelated to female fertility. Female sexual pleasure and orgasm are the evolutionary consequences of female desire and choice and they are ends unto themselves.

The hypothesis is supported by the existence of many evolved features of human sexuality that are different from our ape relatives and then can only be explained as expansion of sexual pleasures. For Example, copulation duration in gorillas and chimpanzees is measured in seconds. On average, human copulation lasts several minutes and of course, can continue for far larger than that. The longer bouts of intercourse would enhance female stimulation and create greater likelihood of orgasm. Any evolutionary explanation for larger copulation times in humans is inherently about enhancing the pleasurable sensory experience of sex.

The female orgasm might have been evolved functions. It is sexual pleasure for its own sake, which has evolved purely because of women’s pursuit of pleasure. In men, however, orgasm almost always occurs with ejaculation and is thus required for sexual reproduction. Consequently, the subjective experience of male orgasm is constrained by natural selection for a peristaltic pumping of semi-viscous seminal fluids up and down the vas deferens and out the urethra. Thus, the naturally selected physiological function of male orgasm places limits on the magnitude, frequencies and duration of male orgasmic pleasure.

Anthropological data from a range of cultures document that there are plenty of men who take little interest in women’s sexual pleasure and orgasm. In many societies, men initiate sex with minimal foreplay and proceed to climax without ever concerning themselves with the woman's pleasure. In fact, in many cultures, men aren’t even aware that it is possible for a woman to have an orgasm. A 2000 survey found out that 42% of college educated Pakistani men did not know that women were capable of orgasm. Furthermore, many patriarchal cultures actively suppress women’s capacity for orgasm through clitorectomy and other forms of toward female sexual pleasure and orgasm by men in many of the world’s culture.

BY contrast, female orgasms are not constrained by design for any ancillary physiological function. Female orgasms do not need to deliver any goods or perform any task. The contractions of the vaginal, uterine, perineal and abdominal muscles are enlisted purely in the service of pleasure without the compromising constraints of fulfilling any other function. This helps to explain why many women are capable of rapidly repeated multiple orgasms. Because women’s orgasm does not need to accomplish anything beyond pleasure itself, women require no recovery period and have no limits on repeating the experience other than their own desire.

The hypothesis that human same-sex behavior has evolved through natural and sexual selection for the expansion of female sexual autonomy is congruent with great deal of the evidence on variation in human sexual preference and behavior.

Darwin discovered that evolution is not merely about the survival of the fittest but also about charm and sensory delight in individual subjective experience. As Darwin hypothesized, with the evolution and the choice comes the emergence of a new evolutionary agency - the capacity of individual judgements to drive the evolutionary process itself. Aesthetic evolution means the animals are aesthetic agents who play a role in their own evolution.

The aesthetic view of life reveals new ways in which evolutionary biology has been hampered by failing to recognize the aesthetic agency of individual animals. For example, we can see that much of the scientific study of sexuality has been characterized by a deep anxiety about the subjective experiences of sexual pleasure and desire - esp. When it is a matter of female pleasure.

The cultural sexual conflict theory poses a productive and exciting new intellectual interface between aesthetic evolution, sexual conflict, cultural evolution, and contemporary sexual and gender politics. From this perspective, for example, it is not an accident that patriarchal ideologies are focused so intently on the control of female sexuality and reproduction and also on the condemnation and prohibition of same-sex behavior. Female sexual autonomy and same-sex behavior have both evolved to be disruptive to male hierarchical power and control. These disruptive effects were likely the driving force behind the cultural invention and maintenance of the patriarchy itself.

Aesthetic evolutionary theory reminds us that women are not only sexual objects but also sexual subjects with their own desires and the evolved agency to pursue them. Sexual desire and attraction are not just tools of subjugation but individual and collective instruments of social empowerment that can contribute to the expansion of sexual autonomy itself.

Traditionally aesthetic philosophy has failed to appreciate the aesthetic richness of the natural world, much of which has come into being through the subjective evolution of the animals. By viewing the beauties of the nature through an exclusively human gaze, we have failed to comprehend the powerful agency of many nonhuman animals.

Originally, we human conceived of ourselves as being at the center of all creation, with the sun and the stars revolving around us. Over the last 500 years, however, scientific discoveries have demanded that we reframe our view of the cosmos and our place in it. With each discovery, humans have moved further and further from the organizing center of universe. While many have found this intellectual change disconcerning, I think such knowledge can only enhance our appreciation of the astounding , unexpected richness of the biological world, human existence, our conscious experience and our technological and cultural accomplishments.

December 31, 2017

The origins of creativity by Edward O Wilson

The origins of creativity by Edward O Wilson

What is creativity? It is the innate quest for originality. The driving force is humanity’s instinctive love of novelty. We judge creativity by the magnitude of the emotional response it evokes.

A mind is its own place, and in itself, can make a heaven of hell or a hell of heaven.

A team of psychologists from University of Virginia and Harvard University found that volunteers disliked sitting alone even a little as 6 min with nothing to do but think. They even preferred electric shock to themselves if nothing else was available.

The full explanation of any biological phenomenon engages three levels of thought.
  1. For any conceivable living entity or process, the first inquiry must be ‘What is it? Provide the structure and functions that define the phenomenon.
  2. Howe was it put together? What made it came into existence, what were the events that resulted in the conditions of its origin
  3. Why do the phenomenon and its preconditions exist in the first place? Why not a different mode of evolution not present on this planet that have produced a different kind of thinking brain?

The most beautiful face has a slightly smaller chin on average relative to the rest of the face, eyes set farther apart, and higher cheekbones.

Neurobiologists have come to recognize the existence of three neural routes activated in the brains of human and other advanced primates during social interactions.

  1. Metalizing, in which goals are formed and appropriate activities planned to meet them.
  2. Empathizing, putting oneself in the skin of another to access their motives and feelings and anticipate their future actions. Empathy is kind og gaming, through which the individual communicates with the group and the group thereby organizes itself.
  3. Mirroring by which the individual senses the mood and emotions of another and experiences them to some degree. Mirroring leads readily to imitation of successful strategies by others.

Empathy and mirroring have evidently evolved to a degree that corresponds to the average amount of time members of the group interact with one another. Human beings spend a great deal more of their time socializing than do these and other Old-World primates.

Neuroscientists at Duke University observed that the apes easily cooperate with their group mates in mutually beneficial behavior, they can do so only for a few, relatively simple task. They suspect that it is not a tendency to act altruistically that makes human unique.

To express this increasingly complex as succinctly as possible, the ancestors of our species developed the brain power to connect with other minds and to conceive unlimited time, distance and potential outcomes. This infinite reach of imagination, is what made us great.

What exactly is creative literature, by what means a language rendered as art? The answer is: by its innovation of style and metaphor, by its aesthetic surprise, by the lasting pleasure it gives. Some examples

““Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins. My sin, my soul. Lo-lee-ta: the tip of the tongue taking a trip of three steps down the palate to tap, at three, on the teeth. Lo. Lee. Ta. She was Lo, plain Lo, in the morning, standing four feet ten in one sock. She was Lola in slacks. She was Dolly at school. She was Dolores on the dotted line. But in my arms she was always Lolita.” Vladimir Nabokov

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way – in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only. - Charles Dickens.

The humanities, particularly the creative arts and philosophy, continue to lose esteem and support relative to the science for two primary reasons:
  1. Their leaders have kept stubbornly within the narrow audiovisual bubble we inherited happenstance from our pre-human ancestors.
  2. They have paid scant attention to the reason why (and not just how) our thinking species acquired its distinctive traits.

The full meaning of the humanities will not come from STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics). It will come from a combination of many less vaunted disciplines, of which the most important are: paleontology, anthropology, psychology, evolution biology and neurobiology.

We are primarily audiovisual, one of the few animals on the plant that depend on sight and sound to find their way. In both audio and color spectrum, we can only hear and see very limited spectrum. Same goes with smell and senses. Why can human see a particular spectrum of color but cannot see infrared, or ultraviolet or other frequencies outside the narrow segment of the electromagnetic spectrum?

We are close to blind when speaking of touch, humidity and temperature. We are physically trapped inside the human bubble and worse, remain unconscious of its limitations. .

It turns out that three preconditions came together to produce human-grade species.
  1. Creation of the campsite, made possible by the shift in diet (from hunters to settlers)
  2. High levels of cooperation among members of the group
  3. Capacity for spoken language and language skills

Why humans have limited life span when compared with some trees (sequoias and pine of the Southwestern US last several millennia).

 The human conditions depend upon phenomena at four levels.
  1. Processing of sensory input (five senses)
  2. reflexes (eye blinks and autonomic nervous systems)
  3. Paralinguistic (facial expressions, hand movements and laughter)
  4. Symbolic language

Each of the four levels is altered to some extent by emotional centers of brain. The result of all these processes is what we call ‘thinking’.

There is a logical reason flowers and gardens should rank so high on into modern times. The poet Diane Ackerman has expressed it close to perfection:
“A flower's fragrance declares to all the world that it is fertile, available, and desirable, its sex organs oozing with nectar. Its smell reminds us in vestigial ways of fertility, vigor, life-force, all the optimism, expectancy, and passionate bloom of youth. We inhale its ardent aroma and, no matter what our ages, we feel young and nubile in a world aflame with desire.”

Flowers grace our literature, our fashions, our religious ceremonies.

The invention of language in the first place defined as the expression of thought through sounds given arbitrary meaning, was the supreme achievement of human evolution, genetic in its origin, cultural in its elaborations. Without metaphors, we would still be savages.  

Metaphors are the device by which new words, combinations of new words and new meaning of words are invented. An added poetic content invests language with emotion. Language impelled by emotion creates motivation, which drives civilization.  The more advanced the civilization, the more elaborate its metaphors.

Contributions from the social science of the first kind can be in premier journals such as ‘Nature, Science and The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Those of the second kind, allegiant to the humanities are to be found in The New Yorker, The New York Review of Books, Public Internet and Daedalus, the journal of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.