8 Apr 2009

Innate Tendencies for Wild Heterogeneity: Shepard, Coming Home to the Pleistocene, Ch.8, subsection 8

Paul Shepard

Coming Home to the Pleistocene

Chapter VIII: Wildness and Wilderness

Subsection 8

Innate Tendencies for Wild Heterogeneity

Physiologist Rene Dubos notes that our "human genetic makeup was stabilized about fifty thousand years ago." It is evident now that we have the innate capacity to retain varieties of images, to create a diversity of languages, and to devise continually new inventive ideas. But these abilities suggest that we did not evolve in a homogenized world, as we see in our urban high rises, parking lots, and automated factories. Nonetheless, we culturally adapted to such blank uniformity. Yet genetically our minds are wild. They want color, variation, and heterogeneity. Society and individuals develop many ailments as a result of the tension between our genetic and cultural adaptations.
We have become accustomed to identifying a wide range of physical and social disorders -- everything from war to ethnic intolerance, stress and trauma disorders, epidemic disease, and the vague dissatisfactions that lead to addictions and suicide -- as weaknesses in the social, political, or technological order, rather than as evidence of a deep, ecological dissociation from our genetic core. (148b)

Shepard, Paul. Coming Home to the Pleistocene. Washington, D.C.: Island Press, 1998.

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