Analysis: “The Biology of Transcendence”

About thirty-five years ago we read Joseph Chilton Pearce’s first and now classic work: The Crack in the Cosmic Egg, and found his perspective on the constructs of mind and reality to be very much in sync with our 1960s non-drug-induced adventures in consciousness. Despite that earlier connection with Pearce, we have been slow in getting to his 2002 publication: The Biology of Transcendence: A Blueprint of the Human Spirit. 

This latter book asks: Why is the world so driven by negative impulses and actions while professing to revere teachings of luminaries such as Jesus and Buddha? Divided into three parts, the book begins by examining the structure and processing of the brain’s neural centers, along with an additional neural center in the heart. This part is what caught our attention and caused us to put this book above others that we have in stacks waiting to be read. Because it relates directly to our May, 2010 post: “Abraca-Chakra.” 

In the second part of the book Pearce makes a strong case against “enculturation”—with an emphasis on Western culture—culture that fuels and feeds on anxiety, conflict, and defensiveness. He argues that enculturation thwarts Nature’s efforts to allow the grand-scale emergence of human brains that function on a higher, heart-intelligence-driven, transcendent, level. He points to, for example, ancient statuary depicting people with large prefrontal lobes and, building on information presented in the first part of the book, speculates that such people lived in a time of prolonged peace. In his examination of the evolution of culture, he explores the role of religion, particularly the effect of doctrines that removed Jesus from the role of teacher and model for neurological development to reinvent him as the Great Mediator in whose name nations justify atrocities. 

In the book’s third section: “Beyond Enculturation,” Pearce builds on a seed he planted in the previous section: the idea that women are natural heretics with respect to challenging the intellect-biased male approach to structuring civilization. He proceeds to set forth a prescription for the role of “father” vis-à-vis the role of “mother” that would, in effect, turn back the clock to the 1950s, at least in the USA. In promoting this (we say) unrealistic vision, Pearce manages to, in our opinion, undermine his vision for a more loving and peaceful planet by rekindling the brain-shrinking battle of the sexes. In our assessment, the flaw in his analysis is his focus on male and female individuals instead of focusing on masculine and feminine energies. We can agree that the world would benefit from a better balancing of these energies; in order to materialize a harmonious society, both women and men must be able to choose freely from the full spectrum of activities at work, at home, and in the community. 

The idea that the inclination and skills to manage a household and nurture children versus pursuing a non-domestic career has something to do with breast and genital design ignores an enormous body of evidence to the contrary that has been developing over the past forty years. So, while we can support Pearce’s criticisms of enculturation, and we can support his contention that the heart is the seat of unique and underutilized intelligence, we cannot support a prescription for human sexuality, reproduction, and child-rearing that does not adequately address the full spectrum of human desires in all possible patterns of future socialization. Otherwise, defensiveness still rules.

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2 Responses to “Analysis: “The Biology of Transcendence””

  1. Sandi Says:

    I totally agree with Pearce that male intervention in women’s issues, especially related to child-bearing, needs to be gotten rid of. He doesn’t specifically mention abortion although he mentions conception, but that is obviously part of the intervention. As he also pointed out, all mammals, not just humans, will shut down the birthing process if there is any interference.

  2. PluribusOne™ Says:

    Our response is two-part:

    First, regarding the idea that male participation in matters related to impregnation, gestation, birthing, and child-rearing is “intervention” in “women’s issues” is extremely offensive to any emotionally intelligent man because it reduces him to the role of sperm donor and observer. This attitudinal polarity (which we believe is an artifact of enculturation) has already damaged vast numbers of marriages. Emotionally healthy men have an equal interest in the timing of procreation as well as in the survival, health, development, and success of their children.

    Second, the claim about all mammals shutting down due to outside interference during the birthing process is not true. Men are often present and participate in the birthing process, and do so because the wife or mate desires it, not because they are intervening or interfering. Other mammals sometimes prefer company—even the company of a human being. When I was young our family had a cat that would not give birth UNLESS we were present. We tried to give her privacy and she refused to be left alone.

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