3 out of 4 stars
Share This Review
As a researcher, I seized the opportunity to read and review this book as soon as I saw the title and read the description. Emergence of Modern Brain and the Imaginary Build-Up of Civilization: Trends in Modern Brain Evolution is a very thought-provoking read. Dan Mrejeru has qualifications and experience in various disciplines such as geophysics, paleogeography, neuroscience, archaeology, and genetics. In this research paper, he explains the historical stages of brain development. The author states that spoken language has caused mutations. His speculation about the future of humanity is surprising and deserves further reflection.
I read this book from my own interdisciplinary perspectives. I am interested in the philosophy of language, theological anthropology, psychology, spirituality, and medicine. Hence, I shall highlight a few points from this book that are connected to these fields. The author’s ideas and terminology are remarkably complex and could be challenging for the average reader. Therefore, I shall describe a few preliminary aspects instead of going into details, just to offer a glimpse into the contents and express my opinions.
Dan explains how humans can deal with a very small percentage of available information. Most of it sinks into the unconscious. He focuses on the concept of entropy (a trend toward disorder) in our environment, which is directly proportional to uncertainty and inversely proportional to predictability. He analyses how the human brain and civilization emerged, by emphasizing the fact that the reaction of our oculomotor system to changes was different from that of other lifeforms. Cosmogenic radiation impacted the left hemisphere of the brain, thus helping human cognition and development of language. Local entropy was suppressed with the rise of consciousness and language. Humanity began imagining the unknown. It used gestures that were followed by nouns and verbs. The author correlates these developments with psychological theories and suggests that most animals may be at stages similar to human infancy and childhood.
Is history converging toward a focal point, or is it diverging? Is it moving toward order or disorder? Is it moving toward simplicity or complexity? I had these questions in my mind before selecting this book and was surprised to read that human maturation is associated with increasing entropy and timelessness. Creativity increases information, entropy, and uncertainty. Nevertheless, language becomes simpler when people become civilized. I was surprised to read that there is less entropy in the digital world compared to our natural surroundings. My favorite aspect of this book is the correlation of these factors with psychological theories and disorders. Dan analyses his own discoveries by comparing or linking them with other scientific resources.
The concept of time and the linguistic differences between the East and the West are explained thoroughly. The discussion on linear and non-linear thinking added to my knowledge. I also appreciate the information on how people in some parts of the world visualize the past in front of them and the future behind them. I liked the author’s comments about the abstract, analytical, and imaginary language of the West in comparison with the concrete, holistic, relational, and contextual language of the East. I think this has implications on theology. Some of the ideas in this book have challenged my own ideas, and they could be applied to mysticism. Dan’s comments on how meditation affects entropy in different parts of the brain are interesting. Mindfulness increases order. Open meditation helps divergent and creative thinking, but focused meditation leads to convergence.
I think the author should have included illustrations to explain his position. This book is an unfinished task and needs further research. Dan seems to be aware of this. The publication helps to formulate the questions, but it leaves most of them unanswered. The author believes that spoken language slowed down the “perceptual processing speed” of the human brain and reduced the size of the skull. It helped writing and reading, thus increasing order. Mutations in the human brain have “opened windows into the unconscious.” He wonders whether uncertainty is essential to human nature and mentions the difference between imaginary and emotional thinking. He has refined and developed his ideas in papers written subsequently. I am very eager to read them, but they are outside the scope of this review. It will take several days or weeks for the contents of this book to sink in and allow me to reflect before I apply them to my own context. I feel grateful to the author for sharing this information.
Emergence of Modern Brain and the Imaginary Build-Up of Civilization has exceeded my expectations, and hence I feel sad to award it a rating of 3 out of 4 stars. It has several grammatical errors and typos. Perhaps what I read was a draft copy. However, after a round of professional editing, it would deserve a rating of 4 stars. I am happy to recommend it to researchers in various fields such as neuroscience, philosophy, psychology, anthropology, and spirituality.
Emergence of Modern Brain and Build Up of Imaginary Civilization
View: on Bookshelves