THE MIND IS NOT BORN BLANK by Perry Mann

THE MIND IS NOT BORN BLANK
5-6-12.

Man is programmed by nature. He is genetically determined. He is directed and bound by biology. Such is the conclusion of modern sociobiologists and scientific materialists. Thus, It appears that John Locke (1632-1704), the English philosopher of the Enlightenment, who opined that the mind was blank at birth and that it was through the five senses that reality inscribed itself upon the blank mind, was in error; and that in fact innate ideas reside in the genes and determine to a large extent what the child becomes, intellectually, socially and morally.

Edward O. Wilson, one of the world’s greatest living scientist, in his book On Human Nature, with respect to Locke’s theory, has this to say: “So the human mind is not a tabula rasa, a clean slate on which experience draws intricate pictures with lines and dots. It is more accurately described as an autonomous decision-making instrument, an alert scanner of the environment that approaches certain kinds of choices and not others in the first place, then innately leans toward one option as opposed to others and urges the body to action according to a flexible schedule that shifts automatically and gradually from infancy to old age.”

That is, the mind sees the environment, selects situations where choices are to be made, makes a choice in accordance with innate promptings and urges the body into action, continuing so from childhood to adulthood except that the innate promptings change with the mind’s age thus changing its actions with regard to the same situation. The consistencies of humans’ actions produced by the innate promptings are sufficient to label them human nature and to deduce that the makeup of the species is essentially identical wherever it settles or may be.

In his book Professor Wilson presents a hypothesis authored by Robin Fox, an anthropologist and pioneer in human sociobiology: Suppose, he conjectured, that children were reared by remote control, in total isolation from their elders. Could the children learn to speak to one another? Fox’s answer to the question is as follows:

“I do not doubt that they could speak and that, theoretically, given time, they or their offspring would invent and develop a language despite their never having been taught one. Furthermore, this language, although totally different from any known to us, would be analyzable to linguists on the same basis as other languages and translatable into all known languages. But I would push this further. If our new Adam and Eve could survive and breed — still in total isolation from any cultural influences — then eventually they would produce a society which would have laws about property, rules about incest and marriage, customs of taboo and avoidance, methods of settling disputes with a minimum of bloodshed, beliefs about the supernatural and practices relating to it, a system of social status and methods of indicating it, initiation ceremonies for young men, courtship practices including the adornment of females, systems of symbolic body adornment generally, certain activities and associations set aside for men from which women were excluded, gambling of some kind, a tool- and weapon-making industry, myths and legend, dancing, adultery, and various doses of homicide, suicide, homosexuality, schizophrenia, psychosis, and neuroses, and various practitioners to take advantage of or cure these, depending on how they are viewed.”

That is, were Adam and Eve to begin again, were they to find themselves in another Eden, the result would be the same; for the interaction between man’s biology and nature would produce essentially the same culture that it and nature have so far produced. It is not true that man can be changed willy nilly into whatever society thinks is an improvement over what evolution has produced and that society and science, government and religion, or whatever cultural and political dictator, can morph humans into beings that reflect a societal consensus of what men and women should be and do.

The human brain, is evolutionarily mandated to choose within the bounds of what nature has taught from the beginning of time and what she has programmed in the genes with a view to survival and the perpetuation of the species. Man at his peril ignores what nature has learned and encoded with respect to how man should best conduct himself.

His real chance. however, at freeing himself from the binds of nature is messing with the mind by genetic manipulation; that is, by playing God. Can anyone believe that genetic engineering by mad scientists — and only mad ones will play such a role — will result eventually in any other manner than the procreation of Frankensteinian freaks? The mind is a watch that nature has created and meticulously fine tuned for millions of years, an instrument of such complexity that the mind reels at the figures that describes it, and yet some men believe that they can replace this or that part with another and that this wonder of nature will tell time more accurately. It is my guess that a successful dicker here will be, in time, a dicker of disaster there, just as has been most of man’s “improvements” on nature.

If Wilson is right and Fox’s hypothesis is sound what reasonable conjectures can one make? On child-rearing: one should spare the rod — if not throw it away — then protect and love the child and let nature take its course; for the course, to a large extent, is preordained..

And unless the mad scientists alter man’s genetic character, he will be eternally territorial, sex-driven, status-seeking, law-giving and law-abiding, superstitious, worshipful of the supernatural, aggressive, tribalistic and nationalistic, altruistic and romantic, realistic and idealistic, criminal, psychotic, sinful and saintly and all else that he has been heretofore. Further, history will repeat itself; for the impetus and direction that produces and reduces one society will be the same for the next , ad infinitum.

Finally, man is nature’s creation and thus nature is man’s parent and the source of all that he is and has; and man should be ever aware of his progenitor and his legacy therefrom and pay appropriate honor and reverence thereto and work toward conservation thereof. Can one do better than honor his parents and save their gift?

About Sam's Branch

I joined the Peace Corps in 1961 as West Virginia’s first volunteer. Go to Amazon.com to order my book Imagonna: Peace Corps Memories. I am the eighth generation of my family born in the Big Coal River Valley of West Virginia. My father and grandfather were underground coal miners. I have a chemical engineering degree from West Virginia University (WVU). After training to make sidewinder missiles, I joined the Peace Corps and taught chemistry and coached the track team at a secondary school in Nigeria. Since that time, I was WVU’s first full time foreign student advisor and worked in urban outreach, organic farming, construction labor, and high school teaching. I recently retired from the board of directors of the West Virginia Highlands Conservancy (wvhighlands.org), and recently retired from the board of directors of the West Virginia Kanawha State Forest Foundation (ksff.org). I am still on the board of the Labor History Association and the West Virginia Environmental Education Association and recently joined the board of the West Virginia Civil Liberties Union. I am active in the campaign to stop the destructive practice of mountain top removal strip mining in the Appalachian Mountains. You may contact me at martinjul@aol.com or my blog samsbranch.wordpress.
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