Homo sapiens sapiens is the label our lineage acquired upon entering the era of the Holocene, the era in which we gained dominance over Earth’s Living System. Homo sapiens sapiens loosely translates to “The Ape that thinks about what it thinks”, in other words, abstract thought, which is an excellent description of the essence of our human potential. This ability for “Second-Order Cognition” breaks our bondage to the natural system from which we emerged, extending the reach of Earth’s Living System, through our actions, far beyond anything that had previously been attainable.
The ability to observe one’s thinking processes has an even more interesting ramification – that it facilitates observing oneself, or self-awareness. Awareness of the other is something we share with many social mammals, however, awareness of oneself in relation to others, which is the role of our Ego, is rare and is probably found only in a select group of mammals. In addition to our species, Dolphins, Whales, some other primates, Elephants and an ever-increasing list suggest somes attributes of self-awareness.
By positioning one’s individual perspective as an attribute of the entire living system, what this means is that we potentially facilitate Earth’s living system’s self-awareness – our species is the Ego of the Earth’s living system. In the 3.5 billion years life has evolved here, it is only within the last few hundred thousand years that we, and consequently our planet, have begun to stir from our slumber of automatic cognition into self-awareness.
Thinking about what we think is an incredibly powerful evolution of cognition. Before this occurred, all cognition functioned essentially in a Stimulus/Response model where sensory information was processed against hard-wired and learned “experience”, with the result expressed as a reflex, drive, instinct or emotion. This “First-Order Cognition”, although effective, has the liability of always producing the same result from the same range of inputs (this is also known as Primary-Process cognition). Evolving the capacity to “edit” this process, to think about what we think, opened the possibility of complex, variable, group-oriented, evolving, adaptable learned responses that the Living System had never encountered before, opening a dramatic lead in the race for dominance. Here this type of egocentric cognition is described as “Second-Order Cognition”. A primary intent of the perspective presented on this website is illustrating the influence First-Order Cognition exerts on our experience, thereby decoupling Second-Order Cognition from mirroring the reflexive, automatic perceptions from which it is sourced. An example of how this can be modeled is reframing the awareness “I am angry” to the awareness “My instinctual reaction to this trigger is anger”. Easily accomplishing this requires understanding that the source of almost all of our conscious thoughts originated from these non-conscious, First-Order cognitive mechanisms. Comprehending this is greatly assisted by understanding the qualities and attributes of the stratified layers of First-Order Cognition.
Cognitive automaticities are an attribute of every evolutionary layer, extending complexity as every layer emerged from its predecessor. Our primate neurophysiology is extremely complex, but still foundationally driven by stimulus/response mechanisms. In examining each evolutionary layer, one can observe how these cognitive mechanisms persist as dynamic attributes of our experience. However, whereas other animals respond to stimuli in the context of the living system within which they evolved, we have built a system detached from nature within which our ancestral cognitive automaticities may be contextually suboptimal. Our social, technological and cultural experience synthesizes First and Second-Order Cognition. Teasing out how First-Order Cognition influences our experience facilitates further evolution of our species, which embodies appropriate, but managed, expression of these ancestral cognitive automaticities. We thereby facilitate liberation from their ignorant, repetitive, stimulus/response qualities, and perhaps grasp an appreciation of the brilliance of their genius as enablers of our evolution, and their continuing utility as facilitators of conscious awareness.
Second-Order Cognition’s detachment from the “flow” of the living system means that it can just as easily come up with a bad idea as a good one, and not be able to intrinsically tell the difference. This is the role of learned ethics and morals. However, these parameters for a good idea are only as good as the ethics and morals they are evaluated against, which is an explanation for how we currently find ourselves in the situation of irreparably degrading the closed-system within which we live. This time of great change which we currently experience requires a redefining of our ethics and morals to facilitate a stable, sustainable relationship with our surroundings. An example of the work of redefining the ethical baseline for our species is the:
LONG NOW FOUNDATION
There is a section here speculating on further possibilities for our evolution:
There is a section here discussing the ramifications of living within the constructed surroundings of our urban environments:
STRUCTURAL PARAMETERS HUMANS EVOLVED WITHIN
Our species is unique in that our bodies evolved a framework for manipulating tools. We can, therefore, partition human structure into a Core, which is the underlying ancestral animal form, and a Sleeve consisting of the arms and hands. Although the Sleeve retains some ancestral capacity for facilitating movement (Crawling, Swimming), it is organized dominantly around tool manipulation. Tool use requires a lot of brainpower and a discussion on the Head is also presented.
ARMS AND HANDS
The Dimensional Mastery Model is a meta-framework to which we can compare our experience as living beings. The intent of the model is to enable an opportunity to reframe our experiential reference from an Anthropocentric, God created us in his image worldview to an Ecocentric, we are an attribute of Earth’s living system worldview. If God created us, we are simply as we are and however we are is really God’s problem, not ours. However, if we are an attribute of an evolving living system that has attained self-awareness, we carry an immense responsibility to honor the intent of this system’s evolutionary trajectory. The more clearly we can perceive our origins and our origins influence on our experience, the more accurately we can honor our source.
Discussion of the Evolutionary Paradigms illuminates the integral role cognition plays at every evolutionary stage of our lineage. A better understanding of how Reflexes, Drives, Instincts, Emotions and the Ego express in us can facilitate operating less reactively, and become more proactive in our decisions:
The Therapeutic Protocols discuss the varied means for further maturation of these neurophysiological assemblages:
The Diagnostic Tools will offer further insights into the influence these evolutionary assemblages manifest in our experience when they have not fully matured, as well as tools to assess the origin or dysregulation: