A question was asked on Quara and I answered it as I do when it is an opportunity to flesh out what I am thinking of or show it from a different point of view. The person asked a question and got some responses which seemed not only wrong, but extremely wrong.
The question was asked "Is it possible that we as humans have developed a behaviour, that which is, good, bad or ugly, that might have stopped us from evolving into the next level of species?" I am very concerned about our potential for violence endangering the civilization we depend on for survival, but the responses to the question seemed to need correction as well or at least to be used as a starting point to offer a better understanding.
Thomas Fant responded No, because there are no “levels" of species. Evolution is not directed, nothing is more or less evolved, just more or less well adapted for reproductive success in a particular environment.
Frank Reichenbacher first said there is no "next level" of species but then said that human language and cognition is so great of a development that from that standpoint humans had already achieved the “next level” of species.
Where I disagreed with him was that we have changed from what we were but we have not reached the next level yet. That is what we still must do. We aren't there yet.
This was my Response. It discusses a couple important issues.
May I politely but strongly disagree with the previous two answers. The “next level” is the next ecology that humans inhabit after the hunter-gatherer ecology that we left when we created the farms and cities of civilization. It is so different that “next level” might very well be the only way to describe it. We will live in a created ecology that does not exist in nature. We will have to be “post Darwinian” in that we will need to husband our genes instead of relying on Natural Selection as I describe in my book Genetics For A New Human Ecology. All animals have strategies that come from Darwinian imperatives. Humans do as well, but to survive in the future we will need human created strategies that have no precedence. These have been called culture, law, technology, etc. I am currently working to describe this new ecology and strategy. The largest problem I have is just that the change in ecology that humans have to deal with is so huge that it’s a question of if we can manage to adapt to this New Ecology. It is qualitatively different enough from every previous ecology and what humans will have to do to adapt to it, qualifies it as “next level” by just about any standard.
Now back to answering the original question - Is it possible that we as humans have developed a behavior, that which is, good, bad or ugly, that might have stopped us from evolving into the next level of species? … Yes, certainly and it is my biggest worry and why I am working so hard to describe the next strategy we need. During most of humanity’s existence, there haven’t been many humans on Earth and they were having a tough go of surviving. They had a number of predators including big cats. To survive we had to be very cooperative. We couldn’t use violence against other humans very much, because there weren’t that many of them. Violence within the small tribal groups endangered the entire group. It wasn’t of much use between tribes either though, because there weren’t enough humans for them to really be bumping into each other a lot. Arguably about 130,000 years ago though, things changed. Tools and art became more common. Our numbers started rising. My buddy says that it might be related to the development of the parietal lobe of the brain and also some neurological re-organization. We started killing the cats. We started killing everything. Humans started to dominate their ecology and increase in numbers. Then about 75,000 years ago, Mount Toba in Sumatra erupted… big time. It caused a volcanic winter around the world. It seems that it killed almost all humans except some thousands that survived along the coast of what is now South Africa. The world recovered and so did humans only now they seemed even stronger. They flooded the world. Tribes got bigger and even tribal federations formed. We bumped into each other and competition with other humans became more important. Violence became a good strategy within and between tribes. It became necessary in order to hold territories that supported the tribal food supply. Humans were not in any danger of going extinct due to low numbers. The value, organization, and strategy of violence continued to grow, peaking with the Iron Age and the Roman Empire. Western civilization has been dominated by a military-based ruling caste that initially developed in the West when Sargon the Great conquered Sumeria. Only the warrior caste of the society really practiced was as a primary strategy… though the rest of the society has suffered greatly from their wars and violence. It got bad enough that various cultures developed philosophies and religions to cope with it such as Buddhism and Christianity. That finally changed with weapon development during the American Civil War. The development of the rifled musket meant that any trained soldier could effectively fight in a war. War was not going to be dominated any longer by a military caste that trained all their life to use their weapons.
And here we are now. We can make total war using everyone and every industry. The trouble is that war endangers that New Ecology - Civilization that we have developed and depend on. It is like any ecology, our life support system. Even minor violence can damage it. We need to use our older cooperative instincts to survive and make it to the next ecology, the next level but our instincts and strategies of violence could prevent that. If we fail to make it to the next ecology, we would revert to a previous ecology and be little more than animals subject to disease, starvation and ignorance. If we can preserve our civilization for a few thousand years and adapt to it, we will become something different and far more than animals, but we must control our violence if we want to do that. If we do that, we can achieve our aspirations.