Eschew Intercourse with Those without a Theory of Mind

Eschew mating with people who do not possess a theory of mind.

Theory of Mind + Reality Denial = Civilization. It’s a question of management.

“We can put ourselves in the mental shoes of others, thus understanding each other’s minds, thoughts, and actions and then easily imitating them if we wish to.

“This ability has allowed humans to transmit complex and increasingly sophisticated cultures and technologies to future generations, aided by various means of communication, most especially language.

“This ability to fully attribute mental states to others is sometimes called full theory of mind.

“The initial acquisition of full theory of mind (becoming fully aware of the self-awareness and personhood of others) actually had immediately negative consequences for the individual.

“Witnessing the death of another individual of its own kind, the one with full theory of mind would also become aware of his or her own mortality and death risk…

“The first individuals to understand mortality would not be able to rationalize or understand the fear.  A deep fear and anxiety would result.

“Thus the capacity to sustain and propagate this ability within any species may have been repeatedly blocked by a psychological evolutionary barrier that only humans finally transcended.

“General reality denial and suppression of mortality fears are not by themselves positive features for an individual member of a species because of the danger of inappropriately risky behavior.

“Meanwhile, we have already said that acquiring a full theory of mind and understanding mortality would also be a negative feature at first.

“But the simultaneous occurrence of these two negative attributes in the same individuals would cancel each other out, allowing those developing a full theory of mind to survive and propagate by denying mortality risk.”
This is the final chapter “Coda” from the book Denial by Ajit Varki and…
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