Saturday, July 08, 2017
The return to human nature in conservatism
The always excellent James Kalb recently wrote about "returning to type" (Chronicles), which I would rather call the return to human nature. But conservatives (I consider myself a conservative) have had problems absorbing the science of sociobiology, so the conservative return to type has had problems.
Traditional conservatism has retained values and morals that relate to the sociobiological view of human nature, or vice versa, but has remained almost hostile to Darwin and the Neo-Darwinism of sociobiology and the biological origin of much of our social behavior, when they should have added it.
What perhaps stopped them or blocked them was what I call the Great Spiritual Blockade as well as the materialism or philosophical naturalism of science. The traditional God was non-material and reaching Godhood involved blocking the desires of the flesh, best accomplished in monasteries or on mountain tops. So religion and conservatism faded.
In our time almost all art, literature, philosophy, even religion have rejected or denied the deepest elements of human nature (deep conservatism), some more than others. Kinship and ethnic identity have clashed with the universalism of religion (and the cultural form of Marxism), which blocked the values of kinship and ethnic identity in both religion and in secular culture, and our people have absorbed it, since it is all they see in the Media and is all they are taught in school.
Even the smallest change in human nature, in our DNA structure---for example, in our immune system---took hundreds of thousands of years (now we have genetic engineering which is more rapid). But still we all remain kin-centered, gender defined, age-graded, heterosexual marriage-making, hierarchical, ethnocentric, even xenophobic, and religious-making, among other things, with group-selection as the primary unit of selection. Rational and instinctive channeling of human nature and human drives, or education in general, need to move in this direction.
And religion needs to move there too, while retaining all the elements of real human nature inherent in conservatism. In theological materialism Godhood is seen as evolved to in the material and supermaterial world. This brings religion and cultural life back to nature, and back to real human nature, synthesized with science. Politically it suggest an ethnopluralism of ethnostates, which conservatives can adapt to the constitutional separation of powers and states.
I believe we will eventually go there, if we can survive.