Professor Washburn noted the link between language control systems and Man's evolution in Scientific American's special issue on Evolution.
"The acceleration of human history cannot be better illustrated than by comparing the changes of the past 10,000 years with those of the previous four million. Language, that marriage of speech and cognitive abilities may well have been the critical new factor that provided a biological base for the acceleration of history. Just as upright walking and toolmaking were the unique adaptation of the earlier phases of human evolution, so was the physiological capacity for speech the biological base for the later stages."
Professor Waddington, in the "Issues in Evolution" series published 100 years after Darwin, said,
"Man has acquired what amounts to a new evolutionary system. It is a truism that the major characteristics of man include conceptual thought and the communication of information by language, writing, and the like. In this evolutionary context, the important point is that conceptual thought and language constitute, in effect a new way of transmitting information from one generation to the next. This cultural inheritance does the same thing for man that in the subhuman world is done by the genetic system, which transmits its information from generation to generation in the form of a DNA chain."
Ralph Gerard, working with a multidiciplinary team of scientists, conducted a study on parallels between biological and cultural evolution. The team did a brilliant analysis on the similarities between the evolution of languages and evolution of species. (Gerard, R.W. et al 1956.)
Once cells learn how, as a community of billions, to form a particular concept - a coral or a fish - their communication network maintains and selectively perfects the integration of this concept within the surrounding environmental networks.
The communication network dictates where each cell will be and what it will be doing. This pattern is instrumental in the process of evolution (the development of a species), and in embryology (the development of an individual). Cells take on specific forms and characteristics depending on where they are located withing the developing embryo. Any variation from the established pattern of communications is, almost certainly, dangerous to the existing behavior pattern. Therefore, an elaborate system of controls act as an immune system to new ideas.
Every species alters its own environment by its behavior and the reflexive behavior of its predators, prey, and associated organisms. A change in behavior by one population of a species will change how the rest of the populations that relate or depend upon it must behave in order to survive. A good example is the change of behavior of fire ants that forces changes in behavior of humans, other ant and insect species and plant communities. Individuals within all these populations are forced into new territories and new modes of behavior.
This fits in perfectly with the idea of a growing, learning awareness on the planet. Each new behavior pattern leads myriad parts of the interlocked communication webs towards some unknown and seemingly predestined goal.
The idea fits in, too, with awareness blossoming in the language mind of Man, guided by a force almost universally identified as God. From this view, God is a practical and prosaic being: the communication network of all humanity. Not ethereal, not mystic, but written words and carefully defined electronic pathways.
In the Bible, St. John writes: "In the beginning, was the word, and The Word was with God, and the word was God." I don't think this was supposed to be a metaphor, I think John was explaining exactly what was, and still is, actually true.
The first public writing was a civic control system chiseled onto obelisks in the center of budding cities in the Middle East about 3500 years BC. The writing on the obelisks were public proclamations by God via the highest official - the King. Writing, not spoken language, was the great transformer. Writing was the information mutation Professors Washburn and Waddington were writing about. Writing is the extrasomatic system of genetic memories.
Awareness increases with an expanding interval of recognition of change. Spoken communications (words) limit awareness to intervals of remembered change; a few human generations depending on the importance of the change.
Awareness, in pre-writing days, could not expand beyond what was reliably passed on by word of mouth. Spoken memories must, because of the constant need to remain 'the same' be static, evolving very slowly. Written memories can be flexible and changing and, at the same time, permanent. And the faster written words can be generated and transmitted to large populations of people, the faster concepts can evolve.
With the invention of writing, awareness became simultaneously dynamic and immortal.
Writing was to learning what DNA was to mind. To paraphrase the Bible, In the beginning of Man's ascent to the stars there was the written word (see Julian Jaynes, 1976. The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind. Houghton Mifflin 467pp).
The written word tightly controls Man's destiny. Like all communication systems in the nested layers of becoming, the myriad forms of human written communications are instrumental in perception, memory and response. Like all communication systems, it is built from and requires the communication network of the component individual humans and exists only when informtion is flowing through this network.
Unlike any of the other layers of perception, memory, response, the human language web has a special capability. It not only enables biological perception through time (as does DNA) it also enables perception through all of the layers of being - from atom to cosmos and illuminates the relationships between these layers.
This is what is so special about human written language. It has enabled an expanding universe of perception far beyond the horizions of any other creatures, far more rapidly than DNA evoloution. Finally, with clarity, we can see the thread of awareness in chaos and perceive ourselves as a living planet. Human language has become a kind of pan-consciousness connecting all the levels of becomming.
Here we are, blundering into a new era where our perceptual horizons have dropped away revealing almost limitless variations in the mental environment. Yet as these horizons recede, the language control systems - laws, regulations, guidelines, social order - tighten their hold on the minds of individual hominids.
Professor Emerson, in the 100 Years After Darwin series on evolution, keyed in the issue of control systems and evolution when he pointed out:
"As the next highest level evolves it shows an increase in homeostasis which, in turn, results in a decreased homeostasis for the included part; I.e. Human body cells are less self-regulatory than amoebas and humans living in a tightly controlled civilized environment are less able to cope with varied environments than a primitive."
Knowledge is piped through ducts, channeled in tightly confined directions. Specialists work in teams and although science is exploding with new information, the minds of the hominids (scientists or not) are not building at the same rate.
With the explosion of available perception and memory, "The Force" - The Moirae - God - has attained a whole new level of behavioral control. The behavioral control system is no different, fundamentally, from the evolutionary control system that bootstrapped bacteria into cells into corals into fish into lemurs and eventually people. It differs in extent rather than kind.
The various lines of scientific thought are conceptual tributaries flowing together. They are, even now, merging to form a mighty river of understanding. Some scientists predict the new century will bring mankind to a point where the exponential increase of information will reach a new level and something wonderful will happen. In effect, the mighty river of human thought will enter an Ocean: This Magic Sea.
But I suspect the individual hominids will still be very small fish and there will always be the fishermen to worry about. And of course any idiot can see that our control systems have some pretty nasty traits.