A short selection from Essay Thirty in Darwin, Dogen, and the Extremophile Choice.
… and one day she slipped off the cover and looked in. Forthwith there escaped a multitude of plagues for hapless man—such as gout, rheumatism, and colic for his body, and envy, spite, and revenge for his mind —Bullfinch’s Mythology
With the ‘backdoor gift’ of fire, and the technology that the control of fire fostered and represented, it would eventually become possible for mankind to escape from Nature’s genetic constraints: illnesses like “gout, rheumatism, and colic” would slowly cease to be an immediate and final barrier to procreation, and, in the fullness of time, our Naturally contained predispositions  for “envy, spite, and revenge” would find a place within that plethora of ‘justifiable’ attitudes that is humanity. With technology, bodies are no longer structurally limited to the efficient performance of resource-partitioned tasks, and so human nature is no longer constrained by competition with better adapted species. The ecological lid is off, and we are beginning to understand that Evo-Ecology itself is the immortal Intelligence our wily Promethean ancestors offended—an offense punishable by loss of both Natural and human integrity.
a five-layer anatomy of evo-ecological intelligence
A bio-association (as opposed to an ecosystem, which includes non-biological elements) can be thought of as a phenotype-negotiating over-system that uses genetically recalled sub-system reiteration to directly evolve and maintain 1 innate structure (such as bird feathers), and 2 innate behaviour (bird flight); to indirectly assemble and maintain 3 acquired structure (bird nests); to indirectly limit 4 acquired behaviour, or learning (egg stealing); but that has no direct or indirect power over, or timely response to 5 learning-acquired structure (frying pans). [As an example to show the diversity of ‘un-Natural’ forms that can fit into this last Learning-Acquired Structural Tools category (the LAST Niche), even a cooking fire can be seen as an unusually rarefied and notoriously unstable ‘structure’ that was acquired by way of learning (acquired behaviour) as a key addition to the Homo erectus tool-kit.]
1. Pinker, Steven. 2002. The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature. New York: Penguin Books. Many feel that Steven Pinker’s The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature, goes too far in emphasizing the role genes play in controlling our behaviour. But over-emphasis itself seems to be ‘natural’ when we feel the urge to restore balance to a conversation. Is this a specific genetic trait? Or is it just ‘descended from’ our survival instinct—in Pinker’s case, and probably mine, a need to make a living selling books? Anyway, it has been my experience, as a mindfulness practitioner, that we become less defensive about our capacity to modify both innate and conditioned behaviours, when we begin to see, in a non-judgemental way, just how autonomous they really are. A strong emphasis in my book is how human insight allows for the ‘evolution’ of human nature beyond its animal roots.