The last major threshold in the growth of CMS complexity was reached when animals began to cohere in social groups, as early as 150 million years ago. Survival and reproduction began to require the ability to make choices about kinship relationships and social competition for food, status and mating. These demands reached new heights of complexity in the evolutionary line of primate species that emerged approximately 40 million years ago. The human line of descent diverged from our common ancestor with chimpanzees approximately six million years ago. In the subsequent period, the natural selection of more complex choice-making systems is evident in the fossil record of increasing brain sizes of pre-human primates. Sexual selection and selection pressure acting on choices associated with tool use and language were no doubt responsible in part for the final progression to the level of CMS complexity evident in present day humans.
The pathway described above suggests that evolutionary history contains a complete continuum of simple to advanced choice-making systems from the earliest single cell life forms to each modern animal at the end of its evolutionary branch.
All functions of the human mind/brain including the cortex, sensory processing, memory, emotions, speech and logic can be viewed as direct choice-making or choice-making support systems. Choice-making is the evolutionary purpose of the mind/brain. And it is the only functional way to view the mind/brain as a coherent whole. Think of the thousands of choices you make every day, from the ancient choices of how to move and what to eat, to the modern choices of what to say, what to think, what to write, what to believe, how to interact with other people, how to look at and read this word, and much more all blending together in a feeling of continuous engagement with the internal and external worlds.
There is much more to this theory than could be presented here. For more information check out The Origin of Consciousness: The Natural Selection of Choice-making Systems (2012) available from Amazon. The book discusses many of the implications of this theory for modern human consciousness including free will (yes) and qualia (useful). And look for the sequel The Micropsychology of Choice-making: How Fractal Choice-making systems drive what we think feel and do.
Banner Image: Source: NASA.GOV
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