Guns, Germs, and Steel and the Birth of the Gods
Thomas T. Lawson
in Theory & Psychology (2004), Vol. 14(6): 846-854
After I had sent Carl Jung, Darwin of the Mind off to the publisher I didn’t expect to write another book. But then I came across Peter Richerson’s and Robert Boyd’s Not by Genes Alone, How Culture Changed Human Evolution. It gave me a grasp how the whole thing might have come about — culture came to evolve independently of the genes. Here was a way in which Neumann’s conception of an archetypal progression in the direction of an increasing consciousness (The Origins and History of Consciousness) might play out. Ideas began germinating in my mind that were ultimately to lead to A Brand New Mind.
A lot of things were going on at this time, in culture related fields. There were significant scientific advances in cultural anthropology, archaeology, cognitive science, neuroscience, and evolutionary linguistics, to name some. Not least among them were the insights of Jared Diamond’s Guns Germs and Steel. I found highly persuasive Diamond’s analysis of how Eurasia was geographically set up to further the sort of cultural interchange that leads to societal advance — in a way that the Americas and Africa were not.
At about that time I had encountered Trevor Watkins’ translation of Jacques Cauvin’s masterwork The Birth of the Gods and the Origins of Agriculture. Cauvin demonstrated that the earliest agriculture was brought about in the Fertile Crescent (cite Wikipedia), not as a result of climatic, demographic, and economic factors, but rather as a consequence of a psycho-cultural change in populations that opened the way to a farming culture. Human beings had come to see themselves in a worshipful relationship with something outside of, and larger than, themselves.
Putting this together I come in the article to conclude that that Diamond, notwithstanding the acuity of his geographic analysis, might have gotten “the environmental cart before the psychological horse”.