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Multi-Regional Symbolism

From: Neuropsychiatry, Neuropsychology, Clinical Neuroscience, 3rd Edition
by Rhawn Joseph, Ph.D.
(Academic Press, New York, 2000)

Multi-Regional Symbolism

by Rhawn Joseph, Ph.D.


Compared to all other species, human beings are genetically quite similar though individual, sexual, and racial "genetic fingerprints" can be easily discerned and identified. That is, there are recognized racial and individual differences in nucleotide sequence activation, and gene placement among the chromosomes. It is these individual and racial variations in the genome which account for differences in skin pigmentation, height, cranial size and shape, bone density, and other physical details, as well the well documented variations in IQ and intellectual capability (Hernstien & Murray, 1994; also see edited volume by Jacoby & Glauberman, 1995). Moreover, it is apparent that some groups (on average) are neurologically more advanced than others; particularly in regard to the frontal lobe and angular gyrus, (Joseph, 1996) and thus in regard to impulse control, grammatical language production and the ability to read and write. This is not to discount the important influence of the environment as has been well demonstrated by this researcher and his colleagues (Casagrande & Joseph, 1978, 1980; Joseph, 1979, 1982; Joseph & Casagrande, 1978, 1980; Joseph & Gallagher, 1980; Joseph et al. 1978). However, environment also acts on gene selection, not only among individuals, but entire racial groups across untold generations.

Again, however, it must be stressed that compared to all other species, humans could almost be considered to be genetically homogeneous. It is this basic similarity in genetic structure which accounts for the fact that across cultures and racial groups, that humans generally behave, smile, frown, love, gesture and construct language similarly and employ almost identical syntactical and grammatical rules when they speak (Chomsky, 1957, 1972; Eible-EIbesfeldt, 1993; Ekman, 1993; Joseph, 1993, 1996; Waal, 1989; Wickler, 1973).

Indeed, family structure, social organization, status seeking, sex differences, gambling, sports, religiosity, spirituality, facial expression, smiles, frowns, fists of anger, the tendency to clap hands when happy or excited, to hug, hold hands, to bow down to superiors, to establish dominance and submissive and leader-follower relationships, and to develop chiefs and rulers, to suffer kingship and queenship and to entertain the belief that kings and queens are descended from gods, etc., are behaviors, beliefs and customs which are strikingly similar world wide. Humans are basically in possession of the same DNA instructions. The fact that humans and chimpanzees share many of the same exact genes likewise accounts for the similarities between these apes and H. sapiens sapiens (see chapters 8 and 9).

Hence, wherever humans have "evolved" they have "evolved" the same behaviors and otherwise act in an identical fashion. Regardless of culture humans sing, dance, curse, lie, kill, and so on; and, for almost two million years, whereever they roamed, they invented and employed almost identical stone tools.

Across time and over the centuries humans have also "invented" the same symbols, and/or respond to the same symbols with similar feelings of emotion or spiritual awe (Campbell, 1988; D'Alviella, 1894; Frazier, 1950; Joseph, 1996; Jung, 1964). This includes, for example, the "cross" and the "swastika" as well as the triangle and circle. The sign of the cross is a religious symbol employed by the Sumerians, Babylonians, Egyptians, Africans, and the ancient Europeans and Americans including the Mayas, Aztecs, and plains Indians. The swastika also appears world wide, and has been employed for thousands of years.

And not just symbols, but similar works of art and architecture appear repeatedly throughout history, across distant oceans, continents and cultures. These similarities are a product of the same genetic instructions, rather than secondary to cultural diffusion.

For example, Paleolithic and Neolithic humans constructed "mound" cultures in Siberia, the Americas, China, Europe, and Africa. Almost regardless of race or where they roamed, humans have lived in earthen mounds, buried their dead in same, and often constructed huge pyramid-like mounds upon which the rich and the royal would live and rule.

Cleaved from the same ancestral DNA, humans throughout the world have behaved similarly. Six thousand years ago humans were constructing pyramids in the ancient Middle East, in Africa, in North- Central- and South America, including the Mississippi and Ohio river valley (and perhaps even Mars). However, the evidence suggests that 13,000 years ago, humans were also building grand pyramids, some of which may still still stand in Giza -a monument to pre-deluvial, Paleolithic, human ingenuity.

The pyramids and the mounds were not the first grand achievements of the peoples of the Paleolithic and Neolithic. Underground Paleolithic cathedrals and cave paintings are found every where, throughout the world. So too are similar, almost identical works of art and similar religious rituals, even among Archaic humans (Joseph, 1993). Indeed, humans, throughout the world, since time immemorial, have entertained beliefs in ghosts and spirits, and the haunting of the dead, and/or have experienced religious rapture and awe, and fears regarding death and the unknown. World wide they have invented similar religious and spiritual beliefs and myths. In fact, humans have been burying and weeping over their dead for over a 100,000 years, leaving grave goods including food and weapons (reviewed in Joseph, 1996). Burials are found everywhere modern and ancient humans have roamed. Just as birds might be expected to build nests or bees to build hives, humans, world wide, communicate, gesture, and use language in a similar fashion, engage in the same behaviors and rituals, and create the same or similar symbols and architecture; which is not all that surprising considering all have brains and DNA that are almost identical.

Humans are all cleaved and cloned from the same ancestral DNA. From the perspective of metaphor it could be argued that the modern Earth is populated by billions of clones. Minor variations of a theme, of the same identical genetic instructions.

Again, it is recognized that there are individual and racial differences. However, the environment acts on gene selection and can hinder or hasten the pace of metamorphosis. The molding influences of geography and environment for millions of years, contribute significantly to racial differences. Consider, again, the Neanderthals vs the Cro-Magnon. Those racial groups who lived in an area of the world rich in divergent and varied resources and, thus, opportunity, vs, for example, those whose ancestors lived in the more arctic environment of Paleolithic Europe, underwent metamorphosis at a more rapid rate. The environment acts on gene selection, and that includes the early rearing environment of any child, and the environment in which various races have called home over eons of time. The environment acts on gene selection over the course of individual or species development.

Hence, there is variability, and some are more neurologically and culturally advanced, and more intelligent than others. Of course there is the caveat that there are different types of intelligence...and this is true both between and within races (e.g. Herrnstein & Murray, 1994; Jacoby & Glauberman, 1995), and has been the case for all of human history beginning well over five million years ago.

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