Eden Inverted: On the Wild Self and the Contraction of Consciousness

The Trumpeter 3 (23):45-77 (2007)
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The conditions of hunting and gathering through which one line of primates evolved into humans form the basis of what I term the wild self, a self marked by developmental needs of prolonged human neoteny and by deep attunement to the profusion of communicative signs of instinctive intelligence in which relatively “unmatured” hominids found themselves immersed. The passionate attunement to, and inquiry into, earth-drama, in tracking, hunting, foraging, rhythming, singing, and other arts/sciences, provided the trail to becoming human, and provide external grammatical structures that became the basis of human language and animate mind. I outline my new philosophy of history as a progress in precision, counteracted by a regressive contraction of mind. The progress associated with history since the beginning of agriculturally-based civilizations can be considered as a regressive contraction from animate mind of our hunter-gatherer evolutionary past, to anthropocentric mind, and finally to the ghost in the machine world-view of mechanico-centric mind. Contemporary consumption culture represents an inversion of the original conditions of the human self, and indeed, targets aspects of developmental neoteny to condition conformity to its rational-mechanical system imperatives.

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Eugene Halton
University of Notre Dame


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