Can We Be Awe-Inspired without Thinking Hierarchically?

Can We Be Awe-Inspired without Thinking Hierarchically?

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Can We Be Awe-Inspired without Thinking Hierarchically?
The Problem of Early Modern European Pantheists and Panentheists
       In a world that is not always friendly, animal survival often enough seems to rely on the ability to discern patterns and sequences and to grasp categorical and symbolic relationships if not the fine points of causal necessity and sufficiency.  Edward Wilson reminds us “The waggle dance of the honeybee… is a miniaturized rehearsal of the flight from the nest to the food.”(1)  In Africa, vervet monkeys have different vocalizations that must be learned by their young to indicate danger from above and danger from below.  Thus, the vocalization for a leopard is different from that indicating an eagle, and while the former causes an adult vervet to go high into the treetop canopy where branches are too thin to support a leopard’s weight, the latter has an adult vervet dash for the bushes.(2)  In human cognition, according to Irenaus Eibl-Eibesfeldt, there is an ability “to directly grasp the regularity immanent in complex natural events, that is to filter it from the background ‘noise’ information that is simultaneously transmitted by our sensory organs and perceptual apparatus.”(3)  This alone is not so far removed from other animals.  However, just as other animals have developed particular mental skills within their evolutionary contexts, humans, like so many other primates, have evolved in a social context that influences and perhaps even clouds our thought.  In general terms, Leda Cosmides, and John Tooby argue that the demonstrated ability of human primates to construct relationships among objects evolved in the context of a social animal’s need to determine relationships within the group, as did “coalitional action in chimpanzees” and “‘friendship’ and dominance in baboons.”(4)  Pascal Boyer, in Religion Explained, writes, “Our inference systems may be there because they provide solutions to problems that were recurrent in normal human environments for hundreds of thousands of years.”  When we foraged “for food in small nomadic groups, where close cooperation is a matter of survival and information is richly transmitted through example and communication,” humans learned to perceive complex action as a function of the benevolent or threatening intentional agency of others.(5)  If this perspective is accepted on the basis of the strength of its factual and inferential evidence, it should come as no surprise that, to cite Edward Wilson, “Culture, including the more resplendent manifestations of ritual and religion, can be interpreted as a hierarchical system of environmental tracking devices.”(6) 

    David Sloan Wilson, however, sees religion as often functioning as a leveller of special benefits and individual selection.  As suggested by the the book Darwin’s Cathedral, culture and its specific religious manifestations may very well serve as tracking devices indicating who can be trusted to provide altruistic aid and thereby promote group selection, as in the case of the Christians of the Roman Empire, who seemingly had a better support system in times of contagious plague and a resulting higher survival rate than pagans.(7)  Still, in the midst of binding communities, religion creates hierarchies in thought, eventually replicated analogously in social hierarchies needed to organize societies larger and more complicated than the small foraging bands in which Homo sapiens originally evolved.  Christianity acquired a pope in the west and a patriarch in the east as a result of this process.

    Religion, from the Latin “religare” (to bind fast) is thereby embedded within a system of hierarchically constructed survival mechanisms-mechanisms that especially promote the survival of the individual’s community through the priestly and kingly communication of rules that dare not be broken at the risk of offending supreme otherworldly power:

“To sanctify a procedure or a statement is to certify it as beyond question and imply punishment for anyone who dares to contradict it….  The individual is prepared by the sacred rituals for supreme effort and self-sacrifice.  Overwhelmed by shibboleths, special costumes, and the sacred dancing and music so accurately keyed to his emotive centers he has a ‘religious experience.’  He is ready to reassert allegiance to his tribe and family, perform charities, consecrate his life, leave for the hunt, join the battle, die for God and country.  “Deus vult” was the rallying cry of the First Crusade.  God wills it, but the summed Darwinian fitness of the tribe was the ultimate if unrecognized beneficiary”(Wilson, E.O. 8).    

    Through religion human individuals who recognize themselves as individuals with individual purpose are indoctrinated to submit to the group and its leaders.  They are bound fast by chains of social and cultural relationships, by accepted patterns of behavior.  Though human history has exhibited some ambivalence to hierarchy and the capacity of coalitions to lessen hierarchical impact, even egalitarian sympathizers like Christopher Boehm warn us that the most egalitarian foragers must be vigilant to lessen hierarchical impact in their communities, and a propensity for hierarchical construction is a human trait.(9)  According to Marc Hauser, “When animals compete for resources, the number of individuals they track is small: a few competitors of higher or lower rank, two or three allies in a coalition, and a small number of potential mates.”(10)  Often enough living in extremely large communities, humans may use the conceptual abstractions of culture and religion to keep track, even as the authority of alphas is reinforced by religious code.  Where hierarchy is pronounced, religion has served as an ally of hierarchy, even as intimated by Edward Wilson. 

       However, religious cognition may also be related to the discernment of other, broader patterns of relationship than the social cohesion stressed by D. S. Wilson and the hierarchical cultural tracking devices emphasized by E. O. Wilson.  In Sociobiology, Edward Wilson argues, with some evidence, that before religious power belonged to priests and kings, it belonged to shamans actively trying to manipulate nature and the deities.  Thus, he proposes that a relationship with a broader natural world may have taken precedence over social relationships in the development of religious sentiment.  In Biophilia: The Human Bond with Other Species, Wilson indeed argues for an “innate tendency to focus on life and lifelike processes,” to distinguish life from the inanimate, and, from infancy, to “concentrate happily on ourselves and other organisms.”  For him, “biophilia” involves a wide-ranging diversity of bonds and experiences, including “awe of the serpent,” “the idealization of the savanna,” and “the hunter’s mystique.”(11)  It is a submergence of self in relationships with the natural world, and although he does not define biophilia as a religious expression, it is written about as a discourse replete with poetic symbolism if not ritual.  Thus, the biologist Edward Wilson himself raises an interesting question: does human religious cognition manifest itself as a general sense of awe, a relationship between individual and overarching environment?  Does it grow as a reflection on the animal ability to process information about the world around us?  In the words of Marc Hauser, “All species carry specialized mental tools for processing information about objects, number, and space,” but the human species does show a proclivity for ascribing intentionality to others.(12)  Does this propensity for the assignment of intentionality so cloud human mental processes that religion must be the search for intent and superhuman, intentional actors called gods, goddesses, ancestors, ghosts, saints, and bodhisattvas?  Philosopher Daniel Dennett, in fact, has drawn a direct relationship between our ability to take an intentional stance, to ascribe a theory of mind to others, and animism, “the idea that each moving thing has a mind or soul.”(13)  Is human religion nothing more than an anthropomorphic attempt to project our intentions and methods of social organization unto the entire universe?  Are we capable of nothing else?

    In order to answer this question, I will explore the expression of pantheism and panentheism in the early modern European world.(14)  Did thinkers who identified all reality with god (pantheism), or saw nature as part of the infinite reality that is god (panentheism), use monism as a means to leveling hierarchical and intentional thinking in a demographically large culture with a pronounced sense of hierarchy, and if they did, how successful were they?  In turn, how do pantheism and panentheism fit within an evolutionary framework?  With a limited data base presented in an historian’s narrative discourse, I cannot pretend to make universal claims.  I have indeed developed the habit of proposing hypotheses based upon limited evidence in the hope that at some point other historians might investigate further.  At present though, I will suggest that a binary tension between religion as social and hierarchical projection and religion as a sense of awe building from cognitive relationships with the natural environment has manifested itself in cases other than my early modern European example.

    During the Eastern Zhou Period (770-256 B.C.E.) in the land that would become China, kings and warlords struggled for the control of resources measured in land and laboring peasants.  Authority was often enough measured by the expression of force.  In response to this cultural context, two great Chinese intellectual traditions arose: Confucianism and Daoism.  While the former focused on an attempt to define proper ritual and custom, the latter embraced a way-the Way-embedded in the natural world.  The teachings attributed to Confucius do state that “The Master never spoke of the supernatural, violence, disorder, or gods and spirits,” but they then often enough portray Confucius as honoring the rites and rituals associated with revered dead ancestors and divine forces: “In making Ritual offerings, he looked tranquil,” and “He made an offering of even the simplest rice and vegetable, broth and melon-and he did so with the greatest solemnity.”(15)  Likewise, the sayings attributed to Confucius taught that subjects should subordinate themselves to rulers and youth to elders.  His thought tried to bind a violent China through hierarchical relationships and rites, through “li,” and through reciprocity within those relationships, or “shu.”(16) Confucius may have personally taken no interest in supernatural speculation, but like Machiavelli after him, he saw religious ritual as a means of binding people, of creating a community through a particular form of communication between humans and the human-like intentions projected into the universe.  In contrast, Daoism argued for the development of character through pursuit of the Way (Dao).  Both kind and unkind, the Way embedded in Nature taught the Daoist sage to adopt behavioral practices according to changing circumstances and to be suspicious of status attributed through culturally constructed hierarchies and the use of human communication. 

The Daoist Sage “loves the (lowly) earth,” and “dwells in (the lowly) places that all disdain.”  He learns from Nature, and “Nature says few words:/ Hence it is that a squall lasts not a whole morning./ A rainstorm continues not a whole day./  Where do they come from?/  From Nature./  Even Nature does not last long (in its utterances),/  How much less should human beings?”(17)   Eschewing relational thinking through language and observance of social hierarchy, though still ascribing intent to nature writ large, the very first statements of Daoism, though not necessarily later ones, vere towards a sort of highly adaptive pantheistic anarchism in rejection of the binding functions of culture and religion-those binding functions being seen as the source of competition, violence, and the problems of the Later Zhou.  While Confucianism sought out a more tightly defined sense of hierarchy and social binding, using the rituals of religion as a means, early Daoism rejected these things in an attempt to become one with Nature and changing environments, though later Daoism would evolve into a set of rituals presided over by priests.  Thus, as the Han dynasty disintegrated in China during the second century C.E., religious leaders in Szechwan Province taught the Five-Peck-Rice sect of Daoism, in which charity, the building of roads, and other constructive acts of social religion were seen as a means of religious redemption before the deities and heaven.  Early Daoist thinkers tried to abandon hierarchical social thought through an impersonal pantheistic sensibility.  Later Daosim tried to do so through altruistic acts, but scholars like Henri Maspero and C. K. Lang agree that priests eventually came to lead and direct a more hierarchically inclined Daoism.(18)

    In a different culture, that of Medieval European Christendom, St. Francis of Assisi (1182-1226) blended a respect for hierarchically defined religion with the leveling notions of a nature mystic and near panentheist.(19)  In his synthesis, he avoided the stigma of heresy by submitting to the authority of the Medieval Church, its priests, and Pope Innocent III, seeking out Innocent’s expressed approval for his Order of Little Brothers.  In fact, he tried to keep his followers from ever becoming priests or university professors, to be different from St. Dominic’s contemporaneously founded Order of Preachers.  He failed, and in 1220, he retired from active leadership where his order of friars was concerned.  A submissive personality, Francis had great difficulty drawing up regulations for his order that were not entirely vague.(20)  He could live human religion as a hierarchical social construct, but he could not play the role of an alpha, even though his life and words inspired others.  A leader who avoided the trappings of leadership, he saw nature as the holy and blessed signification of god’s presence.  His “Canticle of Brother Sun” does not identify god with nature in any pantheistic or panentheistic way, but it reveres an intentional nature as beloved by god: “Be praised, my Lord, for our Sister, Mother Earth./ Who nourishes and governs us,/ And produces various fruits with many-colored flowers and herbs.”(21)  In honoring and anthropomorphizing “our sister, mother earth,” Francis passively denounced the Cathari heresy of his day that attacked the established clerical hierarchy and saw nature as the evil creation of Satan.  Francis was accepted by Innocent for his submission to the established Church in an era of heretics like the Cathari and Waldensians.(22)  His humble example of service bound people all the more to the medieval establishment, even as he tried to lose himself in natural and social relationships.  After all, he was the saint who preached to birds and reputedly taught a ravenous wolf and the town of Gubbio he preyed on to live together in harmony.(23)

    By attempting to embrace all of nature while remaining rooted in human society, Daoism and Francis lived a tension that reflected a binary of human needs identified by Boyer in Religion Explained: “What humans especially need, more than any other species, are two types of goods without which existence is impossible.  They need information about the world around them; and they need cooperation with other members of the species.”(24)  Historically, these needs also apply as a template for understanding early modern Europe.  Theodore Rabb has described the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries as ones in which Europeans confronted a crisis in authority.(25)  The idea of a united western Christendom collapsed before the Reformation, the competition for trade routes and colonies as a new source of wealth, and the call for individual self-expression found within some of the notions associated with the Renaissance.  In response, some turned to religion as the prime means to maintaining social order and social control, while others seemingly sought it out as an escape from existing social control and social tensions.  Certainly a group like the Anabaptists of Munster (1534-1535), who made food public property and introduced polygamy, cannot be seen as supporting the traditional customs of their culture, though a new hierarchical cooperation arose under the leadership of Jan Mathijs.(26)  In an era of diverse religious opinions, pantheism and panentheism surfaced as a challenge to religion’s primarily fulfilling a function associated with social stability and/or social cooperation.  Pantheists and Panentheists stood in awe of nature, but the ability to think religiously without thinking of hierarchical and binding social relationships failed again and again in pantheistic and panentheistic perceptions.  Early moderns struggled with human cognition’s ability to be conscious of relationships and categories in the natural world and its ongoing need to see things as personalized social relations filled with intent.  If our mental sense of categorization and relational thought evolved in a primate context of living as a social animal, one would expect this to be the case.  The early modern case study points in this direction.   

    When Spaniards embarked on the establishment of an American empire in the early 1500s, they encountered Amerindian cultures that reflected the pronounced sense of hierarchy to which the Spaniards were accustomed.(27)  In Religion and Empire: The Dynamics of Aztec and Inca Expansion, Geoffrey Conrad and Arthur Demarest have argued that the Aztecs of Mexico and the Andean Inca Empire used their religions to justify and reinforce their drive to conquer and dominate other peoples.  While the Incas required new lands and labor tribute to maintain the courts held by revered imperial mummies, to continue the expression of hierarchy and social cohesion even after the death of an emperor or his consort, the Aztecs required imperial expansion, war, and war captives to strengthen their deities in their struggle against the forces of darkness that would put an end to this world of the fifth sun.  Deities like Tonatiuh, Tlaloc, and Teteoinnan-Cihuacoatl all required human blood as food even as they provided the sunlight, rain, and fertile soil for crops.  The blood of male warriors taken in battle and sacrificed atop a temple pyramid fed the gods, while Aztec nobles and priests lacerated their ears, tongues, and genitals in acts of sacrifice and submission before the gods, thus justifying their elevated status and their own collection of tribute from Aztec peasants and defeated peoples.  If the Aztec elite lived better than commoners called “macehualtin,” they risked much, being pre-eminent and prestigious targets on the battlefield themselves, for Mesoamerica was a land where warring cities on all sides defined victory in both gold and sacrificial victims taken in battle.  Priests and nobles not only bled themselves, submissive before the deities like any commoner, they bled others, dominant on earth, even as they performed acts of charity, giving alms to poorer Aztecs.(28)  As noted by Edward Wilson, imperial religion within a settled agricultural context taught dominance and submission and the willingness to sacrifice for the group, whether in acts of charity or on the battlefield.  If anything, the Amerindians elevated human sacrifice to the level of performance art, teaching appropriate hierarchical behavior and setting up sexist exemplars for male warriors:

“Those who slew them were the priests.  Those who had taken them captive did not kill them; they only brought them as tribute, only delivered them as offerings; [the priest] went laying hold of their heads, and seizing [the hair of] their heads….

And when some captive faltered, fainted, or went throwing himself upon the ground, they dragged him.

And when one showed himself strong, not acting like a woman, he went with a man’s fortitude… he went strong of heart and shouting, not without courage nor stumbling, but honoring and praising his city”(29).

    Upon conquering the three Aztec, ethnically Nahua, city-states of Tenochtitlan, Texcoco, and Tlacopan, the Spanish imperium proceeded to justify its own dominance and hierarchical relationships in religious terms.   While viewed culturally as the purging of undesirables and reconciliation of lost sheep to the flock, the Spanish Inquisition’s “auto de fe” was an explicit display of crown and priestly potency comparable to human sacrifice in its very public affirmation of leadership’s prerogative to spill blood.  Intrinsically linked to the expulsion of the Jews in 1492 and the disciplining of the moriscos of southern Spain, the Inquisition burned 3/4 of its victims at the stake in the first twenty years of its history, a history which lasted over three centuries.  Still, beyond that period starting in the 1480’s, Maureen Flynn has noted the theatrical and pedagogical qualities of the auto de fe as a culture-creating lesson for the subjects of the Spanish empire.(30)  Thus, on November 30, 1539, the Nahua Don Carlos Ometochtzin of Texcoco was publicly burned in Mexico City before Bishop Juan de Zumarraga and Viceroy Antonio de Mendoza.(31)  He was seen by the leading males among the Spaniards as a native noble rival who defended Amerindian religious beliefs and customs which they could not tolerate.  Like the Aztecs before them, Spaniards in a position of power communicated their desire to define cultural norms in religious terms, using violent religious display to define social relations.  Still, there were those among them who sought out nature as a means to dismantling religion’s ties to expressions of earthly hierarchy.

    Thirty years after the fall of the Aztec Empire, in 1551, a Spaniard named Pedro de la Torre was tried in the episcopal court of Puebla on charges of heresy.  A physician who claimed to have been educated at the University of Padua, but could produce no papers to that effect, de la Torre had been heard to utter that god and nature were the same thing before a priest, medical licentiate, and regidor of the town council of Veracruz (where de la Torre lived).  During his trial, he was also accused of not going to mass and forbidding the women and servants of his household from going to mass.  He denied this charge, and denied the charge of pantheism by arguing that he only meant that god and divine nature were the same thing, not god and “created” nature.  His questioners saw all this as somewhat diversionary, but he was eventually only sentenced to recant his blasphemous claim that god and created nature were the same thing in the plaza mayor of Veracruz before a public audience that included his accusers.  Pedro de la Torre submitted before religious authority, even as he was accused of demanding that his household submit to his heretical views.  He may have been spared worse punishment by the fact that he had earned a reputation as a highly charitable medical practitioner in a colonial Mexico that still had few Spanish doctors.  When charged for falsely claiming to be a physician in 1545, de la Torre had been defended by Viceroy Antonio de Mendoza and the Bishop of Mexico City, Juan de Zumarraga.  The numerous witnesses who rallied to his defense included those who pointed out that while other Spanish physicians refused to treat Amerindians and African slaves, de la Torre did not, and that he refused payment or reduced fees for poorer patients.  A man who may have elevated his status in the hierarchy through false claims, he seemingly ignored other hierarchical presumptions assumed by his fellow medical practitioners, gaining powerful allies through altruism without adherence to the established Church’s dogma.  That he probably ran his household as a patriarchal figure, typical of the men of his day, cannot also be denied.  Pedro de la Torre may have challenged hierarchical display in matters of religion, but not in everything.(32)

    In the Republic of Venice in the late sixteenth century, a peasant miller named Domenico Scandella also was accused of pantheism.  According to witnesses at his 1583 trial before the Venetian Inquisition, this peasant also known as Menocchio “‘used to say that God was the sun, the air and that which you see,'” and according to a peasant named Bartolomeo, “‘he does not believe in God and blasphemes very strongly.'”(33)  When brought before the inquisitors, at first, Menocchio himself said:

“I believe that the whole world, that is air, earth and all the beautiful things of this world are God, and that the sun is a creature of God, because we say that man is made in the image and likeness of God and in man there is air, fire, earth and water and from this it follows that air, earth, fire and water are God”(34).

    Though he eventually begged forgiveness at this trial, Menocchio was later burned as a heretic in 1599.  By that time a man in his sixties, he had persisted in his pantheist views despite his first trial before the Inquisition.  As stated by Carlo Ginzburg in The Cheese and the Worms, “Actually, the distinction between creator and creatures, the very idea of a creator God, was totally foreign to him.”(35)  Instead he used his notion that god gave the holy spirit to all to argue for the equality of all faiths and the illegitimacy of priests and nobles lording it over peasants.  Though he would occasionally lapse into visions of a hierarchical heaven, with god commanding hosts of angels to do his dirty work as a lord would command peasants, perhaps doing this to satisfy the desires of his inquisitors, Menocchio’s testimony reveals a man who used pantheistic discourse to dismantle the hierarchical assumptions that surrounded him and were reinforced by notions that god had so ordered the world as to decree subordination to the pope and other lords.(36)  Domenico Scandella shows us a valiant attempt to embrace a religiosity without hierarchy, and at a very personal level, according to his son Giovanni, Menocchio refused to submit to the desires of his local parish priest in the Venetian village of Montereale.  Odorico Vorai was devoted to eliciting the observance of Catholic holy days and all the Catholic rituals from his parishioners, but he was also devoted to the pursuit of young women.  According to Menocchio’s son, when Vorai asked the miller for the sexual services of Menocchio’s daughter Menica, “‘(M)y father answered, ‘Nothing doing’ and stomped off.'”(37)  He refused to submit to religion as a means of defining hierarchical relationships of dominance and submission, even though he may or may not have been the absolute patriarch in his own house.

    At the same time that Domenico Scandella was being burned at the stake, the trial of Giordano Bruno for heresy was coming to a close in Rome.  An intellectual of the elite, Bruno adopted a panentheistic position in which god is infinite, at once identifiable with physical nature and having attributes that transcend the sensory.  A defender of the Copernican system, Bruno, unlike de la Torre and Menocchio, refused to recant concerning his views.  He spoke of other worlds replete with life and of a universe with no center.  As such, he denied an ordered chain of being with god directing earthly hierarchy through his pope, a vicar found at the center of his creation, where man held sovereignty over nature.  To Bruno, man was a part of nature, not apart from nature-a little thing who should stand in awe of the natural universe and learn from it before human society.(38)

    The list of panthestic and panentheistic individuals can go on ad nauseum, and Nicholas of Cusa (1401-1464) and Lucilius Vanini (1585-1619) might be explored in this light.(39)  Some pantheists and panentheists may have used subterfuge to try to hide their heterodoxy, while others were bolder.  In short, there is empirical evidence that religion can be a binding to nature, a type of biophilia, as well as a binding to social relationships.  In the latter, perhaps more typical manifestation of religion, human communication in the form of language and ritual display constructs a cognitively recognizable sequence of statements and events that reinforce the practitioner’s sense that one thing should follow another and one person should also follow another.  The experience of the absolute as an intentional, personalized, omniscient and omnipotent god becomes the creation of a focal point for a community and its endeavors.  God becomes the cosmic policeman, and just an alpha male chimpanzee settles disputes among subordinates in his fission-fusion community, and becomes a focal point for coalition formation, exercising a control role, so too the being known as god serves as an alpha around whom earthly princes and religious leaders can rally their troops through appeal to a leader who cannot be denied and can punish even beyond death.(40)  In Sociobiology, Wilson argues that the pastoral herders of the Middle East readily adopted notions of one good shepherd, of one leader, leading herds of earthly sheep, and in this assessment, he arrives at a fairly Nietzschean interpretation of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.(41)  In The Creation of the Sacred, Walter Burkert agrees with this, seeing the creation of an eternal, community-binding alpha as one of the functions assumed by early Mediterranean religious formation.  As a means to social control, religion teaches humans to perceive the world intentionally and hierarchically.  In Burkert’s words, “The Lord, honored by submission, grants protection and ensures security.”(42)  God supersedes his creatures, and religious leaders and political leaders who are the “lord’s anointed” supersede earthly followers.  To early modern European thinkers like Machiavelli and Hobbes, the ontological veracity of this type of religion was indeed seemingly less important than its ability to maintain the status quo, the “commonwealth, ecclesiastical and civil,” to use Hobbes’s words.(43)

    On the other hand, there are always those who refuse to live in such submission as we have seen.  Is this the awe of saintliness that leads to a less hierarchical and, at least sometimes, more pantheistic religious expression?  Is this where Wilson’s biophilia and early modern panentheism and pantheism meet?  For Lady Anne Conway (1631-1679) and Baruch/Benedict Spinoza (1632-1677), this seems to have been the case.  Both thinkers found some initial inspiration in the Jewish mystical tradition of the Kabbalah and its notion of creation as a series of emanations from god, but Conway, later inspired by the Society of Friends or Quakers, went on to develop a philosophical panentheism, while it is still debated whether Spinoza was panentheist or pantheist.  What should not be debated is the extent to which both the English noblewoman and the Jewish lens grinder rejected highly pronounced hierarchies and religion as a means of supporting such hierarchies.

    Conway’s Friends rejected swearing allegiance to the dogmas of England’s established Church.  They allowed everyone to speak freely at their services, observed the right of women to preach, and eschewed the hierarchical rituals of addressing a superior differently form an inferior or doffing one’s hat in the presence of a superior since all were equally infused with Christ’s living spirit.  In her Principles of the Most Ancient and Modern Philosophy, Conway took the Quaker notion of the intimate presence of the living Christ in humanity and projected it unto all of nature, thus leveling some of the distinctions drawn by other Christians of her time between humans as the crown of creation and other living beings.  As creators, god and Christ,”possess the privilege of being intimately present in creatures.”(44)  Of necessity, as a factor of “the inner impulse of his divine goodness and wisdom,” god created, and he created creatures so infused with his infinite love that “there is also a certain universal love in all creatures for each other.”(45)  With god present in all creatures and yet also beyond them, Conway’s notions of god stand as classically panentheist.  She is also intriguing in her view that the mutability of created nature is a sign of god’s love and a provision for the continuance of his creation:

“To be sure, it is almost common knowledge that the visible earth will not always remain in its present state, which can be proven by the best arguments.  Therefore it necessarily follows that the continual generation of animals in their crass bodies will also cease.  For if the earth assumes another form and produces no more vegetation, then horses and similar animals will cease to be as they were before.  Since they would not have their proper nourishment, they could not remain the same species.  Nevertheless, they will not be annihilated, as it is easy to conclude, for how can anything be annihilated since the goodness of God towards his creatures always remains the same and since the preservation or continuation of his creatures is a constant act of creation?  Yet, if one replies that the earth will change… then horses and other animals would change their configuration along with the earth, and the earth would produce nourishment for them according to their new configuration….” (46).

    For Conway, transmutation of one creation into another as the preservation of creation is a manifestation of divine justice operating “not only in human beings and angels but also in all creatures.”(47)  On one level, all of nature and super-nature were one for Conway, and in her actual life she took great pleasure in the gardens of her Ragley Hall estate.(48)   Ragley Hall became the meeting place for establishment intellectuals and dissenting Friends alike, and Conway herself served as intermediary and leveler, with, her friend, the Cambridge professor Henry More himself adopting a somewhat more tolerant view of Quakers in later years.(49)  Seeking direct and immediate knowledge through personal experience, these Quaker individuals broke with social convention.  They saw themselves as part of a huge interacting, intentional universe by not solely focusing on social grooming and sequential and hierarchical relationships, and by sometimes reveling in the awe of life as it is, and as it is experienced at the moment, just as an animal in the forest or on the savanna will hear the sounds, smell the smells, and see the sights-being aware of the moment so as to live. 

    Both implicitly and explicitly, Spinoza attacked the established social relations of his day through construction of a broader spectrum of relational knowledge.  Unlike the Friends, with whom he may have had some contact in Amsterdam, Spinoza sought to abandon a universe of personalized wills and intentions.(50)  Explicitly, in his Theologico-Political Treatise, he argued that the Bible taught “obedience,” while “The sphere of reason is… truth and wisdom.”(51)  Likewise, contradictions and the application of historical methodology to the scripture demonstrated, among other things, that “it is thus clearer than the sun at noonday that the Pentateuch was not written by Moses, but by someone who lived long after Moses.”(52)  In defense of such controversial positions, Spinoza’s argument extended to state “That it is impossible to deprive men of the liberty of saying what they think,” and “That every man may enjoy his liberty without detriment to the public peace,” and “without injury to his allegiance.”(53)  Explicitly a Dutch republican who eschewed dogmatic litmus tests of loyalty, he argued for coalitions of rational humanity without the need for religious rituals as social glue.  Implicitly, and foundational to the rest of his propositions, Spinoza undermined thought focused on intentional hierarchical relationships by equating god with nature and proposing that nature is self-generating.  By recognizing a fundamental assumption common to western philosophical definitions of both substance and god-that both have been conceived of as utterly independent-Spinoza equated substance and god.  By also recognizing that nothing in perceived nature exists without interdependence and a set of relational activities, he argued that no mode in nature is substantial, that only the whole of nature can be, and that if nature is substance and god is substance, then nature is god and god nature.  Deus sive natura, “god or nature,” became Spinoza’s catchphrase for the reality he perceived through attributes that he summarized as thought and extension.  All beings ultimately interacted as aspects or modes of the one ultimate reality that is being itself, natura naturans, or self-generating nature, as well as natura naturata, or nature as necessarily and unteologically expressed by being.(54)  In Radical Enlightenment, Jonathan Israel argues that this notion inspired some of the eighteenth-century Enlightenment’s most radical thinkers, including Diderot and La Mettrie, and that Spinoza’s name became synonymous with anarchic challenges to established social order as a result.(55)  Rather than predicating a universe created by a transcendent god portrayed as a type of cosmic alpha male, Spinoza presented a universe where we natural beings are subject to no personalized and intentional superhuman forces. 

    If our ability to categorize and recognize relationships is fundamentally tied to a primate’s cognizance of social relations, then Spinoza asked us to think in a way not possible for us.  This mental path, however, was possible for Spinoza, and other animals obviously can engage in forms of relational thinking without being social.  Still, the pantheist Spinoza found thinking beyond the personalized, social and hierarchical difficult.  He constructed hierarchies in thought, where intuition and reason were valued more than faith and obedience to authority (two states he found so central to religion).  He said that animals could be used by humans since humans had the power to do so and, according to him, correctly showed more affinity for their conspecific modes than for modes of the one substance different from themselves, though also dependent like themselves.(56)  Finally, he expressed a pathological fear of women and betrayal by women, and he deemed men more rational than women as a result of patriarchal proclivities that may have been formed in his Iberian Jewish community and exacerbated by a failed romance.(57)  While breaking down some hierarchies in thought, Spinoza constructed others.

    Of this, Lady Anne Conway was also guilty.  Firstly, a panentheist does distinguish between a god both transcendent and immanent and the dependent, inferior creation of that god.  Secondly, she may have written of shared animal and human emotions, and she may have tried to create dialogue between Quakers and their intellectual opponents, but she still set herself a bit apart from her Quaker servants.  When she was buried, her only epitaph was “Quaker Lady.”  She was buried as both Friend and hierarchically superior viscountess as a result.   Just as Darwin and other nineteenth-century evolutionists would periodically lapse into progressivist language that would speak of “higher” and “lower” animals instead of the non-teleological radiation that is evolution, so too early moderns who embraced nature as a leveler continued to perceive hierarchically as well.

    The lesson learned from this is that humans, often enough the same individual, are capable of processing information through both hierarchical and egalitarian prisms, and through both social and ecosystemic reference points.  Humans can also use religion to reinforce hierarchical or egalitarian thought, but religion as ritual and dogma, as a method of bonding a large coalition of groups socially, tends toward the hierarchical in the examples presented here, while religion as a sense of awe before being itself, before nature, tries to project a more egalitarian and perhaps a less anthropomorphically social sensibility.  Pantheism and panentheism in the early modern period attempted to undermine religion as a method of social construction and control.  However, even as supposedly egalitarian communists create a supreme party as “vanguard of the proletariat,” and even as the !Kung San of the Kalahari will speak of being “the people” set apart from the rest of nature, and of  the “best people” or outstanding hunters and healers, early modern levelers constructed their hierarchical categories.(58)  Today, egalitarian thinkers like Christopher Boehm and Peter Singer argue that humans and other primates exhibit a capacity for coalition formation to limit the power of domineering alphas.(59)  Among bonobos, female alliances and cooperation coexist with a much less pronounced expression of male violence and dominance than among chimpanzees in the wild, where more solitary females generally spend much less time constructing alliances.(60)  However, in zoos, chimpanzee females have been observed to limit male behavioral extremes in ways similar to bonobo females.  At the Arnhem Zoo in the Netherlands, Frans de Waal noted that females dominated in taking objects away or claiming a place to sit 81% of the time in the 1970s, and a female named Mama, with her staunch coalition partner, a female named Gorilla, could influence reconciliations and the general community stability of the Arnhem colony.(61)  Likewise, primates occasionally demonstrate a capacity for altruism beyond kin selection.  A capuchin with food in a rather cruel laboratory experiment was observed to feed a starving conspecific in a neighboring cage, and rhesus monkeys have self-regulated and decreased their acquisition of food when such acquisition has meant inflicting an electric shock on a conspecific.(62)  Primates, humans, can share authority and items of material value, but they also play games of dominance and submission.  Boehm and Singer remind us to be realistic without being reductionist.  Ethological observations portray humans, at least in this case study, as both hierarchical and egalitarian.

    In this early modern European case study, religion is both awe-inspiring experience and hierarchical method of social cohesion.  In his Discourses on Livy, the early modern Machiavelli himself anticipated the biologist Edward Wilson’s arguments when he argued, “where religion exists it is easy to introduce armies and discipline, but where there are armies and no religion it is difficult to introduce the latter.”(63)  Yet, individuals like Menocchio, Pedro de la Torre, Anne Conway, and Spinoza tried to live in awe as a part of a greater whole that is “god or nature,” not as members of a tribal “chosen people” or “a people set apart” from others and potentially at war with others.  It perhaps all depends on how we draw our categories.  We are given to drawing distinctions even as Cichlids easily distinguish diverse species by means of color patterns and often enough aggregate or school exclusively with members of their own species in proto-tribal formations.(64)  Through religion we can be xenophobic, or we can be inclusive.  Pantheism and panentheism were early modern religious attempts at creating inclusive, all-embracing categories, but human cognition has a well-pronounced tendency to blend processing methods.  Today, members of the Christian Right in the United States will distinguish their so-called welcoming religion of love from Islam portrayed as a tribal, exclusionary religion of hate, even as they use these words to rally their tribe for war, for a Christian crusade.(65)  Group selection persists, and David Sloan Wilson reminds us that a forager alone without a tribe is an individual sentenced to death.  In a community numbering in the hundreds of thousands or millions, the hierarchical bonds in religion and ritual may become all the more vital in promoting altruism, forgiveness, and group cohesion through social control.(66)  In the nineteenth century, Charles Darwin blended his own waning religiosity with an awe of an interdependent nature and a desire to still create hierarchies of being:

“It is interesting to contemplate a tangled bank, clothed with many plants of many kinds, with birds singing on the bushes, with various insects flitting about, and with worms crawling through the damp earth, and to reflect that these elaborately constructed forms, so different from each other, and dependent upon each other in so complex a manner, have all been produced by laws acting around us.  These laws… being Growth with Reproduction; Inheritance… Variability from the indirect and direct action of the conditions of life, and from use and disuse: a Ratio of Increase so high as to lead to a Struggle for Life, and as a consequence to Natural Selection, entailing Divergence of Character and the Extinction of less-improved forms.  Thus, from the war of nature, from famine and death, the most exalted object which we are capable of conceiving, namely, the production of the higher animals, directly follows.  There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed by the Creator into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being evolved” (67).

    After Spinoza and Enlightenment evolutionary philosophers like his own grandfather Erasmus Darwin, Charles Darwin could conceive of “natura naturans” as the evolving creative process, though in The Origin of Species, he still posited a transcendent creator as the source of this process.  Charles Darwin’s experience of “natura naturans,” however, was clearly awe-inspiring, and both leveling and hierarchical where categorization is concerned.  The modern project of the industrial age embraced religion as a personal sense of awe, even as it increasingly embraced equality before human law and democratization.  Today both these expressions of the modern project are being challenged by socially oriented religious fundamentalisms, postmodernism’s tribal identity politics, and a superpower that refuses to submit to international law for all nations. 

    Indeed, we are highly imitative animals, as illustrated by Michael Tomasello’s now classic experiment in which both chimpanzees and two-year-old human children learned to use a T-shaped rake to access food, but the children used the precise technique demonstrated for them by an adult, even when that technique proved inefficient.  Chimpanzees, on the other hand, used whatever worked for them, having learned a relationship between the rake and food acquisition, but not proving as “loyal” to their teacher’s methods.(68)  Likewise, Andrew Meltzoff and M. Keith Moore have noted that infants between 42 minutes- and 72-hours old are able to match adults in a number of facial manipulations, and their experimental studies demonstrated “that 12- to 21-day-old infants could imitate four different adult gestures: tongue protrusion, mouth opening, lip protrusion, and finger movement.”(69)  From birth, our cognitive propensity towards “groupishness” allows us to out-ape the apes.  This means that cultural hegemonies can have great influence in shaping who we are, and in early modern Europe religion was often enough seen as a prime means to group affiliation through mass imitation of ritual and belief.  Many never went beyond the “faith of their fathers,” the binding unity presented by alphas.  However, there were those who innovated beyond what was taught them in their youth, or recombined the meme-like building blocks of religious construction in new ways.  Early modern Europe’s heretics stand as proof against the complete and utter cultural construction of the individual.  They often enough revitalized themes faintly remembered in the human cognitive and cultural code, but, nonetheless, still there.  According to historians like Jonathan Israel, unforeseen variables like Spinoza even led to the emphasis of some cultural trends over others, and modernity as a form of cultural hegemony was born.  For a time, learning about the world as an individual seemingly trumped the human need for cooperation, though the latter of Boyer’s two basic needs obviously never entirely disappeared.  Today, we continue to recombine our flexible propensities, and religion as social institution is once again at the fore.  Perhaps it is the historian’s task to show how different flexible, yet essential, traits of Homo sapiens do cross cultures and time periods, and how their pre-eminence can wax or wane, depending on a particular culture’s dominant voice and what is taught.  In early modern Europe, pantheists and panentheists offered an alternative to religion as a method of social organization, even while Catholics and Calvinists, Machiavelli and Hobbes, viewed religion as such.  This is not to say that John Calvin never stood in awe before his god.  After all, pantheists and panentheists thought hierarchically even as they tried to “love” the whole world equally as god.  We are complex animals with complex, multifaceted thought processes.  The Darwinian approach to religion is only beginning to scratch the surface here, and adaptive religions like adaptive individuals are complex.

       Abel Alves
       Department of History
       Ball State University


1 Edward O. Wilson, Sociobiology: The New Synthesis, 25th Anniversary Edition (Cambridge, MA and London: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2000), 560.

2 D. L. Cheney and R. M. Seyfarth, “Vocal Recognition in Free-Ranging Vervet Monkeys,” Animal Behaviour 28 (1980): 362-367; D. L. Cheney and R. M. Seyfarth, “Selective Forces Affecting the Predator Alarm Calls of Vervet Monkeys,” Behaviour 76 (1981): 25-61; D. L. Cheney and R. M. Seyfarth, “vervet Monkey Alarm Calls: Manipulation through Shared Information?,” Behaviour 93 (1985): 150-166; D. L. Cheney and R. M. Seyfarth, “Assessment of Meaning and the Detection of Unreliable Signals by Vervet Monkeys,” Animal Behaviour 36 (1988): 477-486; D. L. Cheney and R. M. Seyfarth, “Attending to Behaviour versus Attending to Knowledge: Examining Monkeys’ Attribution of Mental States,” Animal Behaviour 40 (1990): 742-753.

3 Irenäus Eibl-Eibesfeldt, Human Ethology, trans. Pauline Wiessner-Larsen and Anette Heunemann (New York: Aldine de Gruyter, 1989), 105.

4 John Tooby and Leda Cosmides, “The Psychological Foundations of Culture,” in The Adapted Mind: Evolutionary Psychology and the Generation of Culture, ed. Jerome H. Barkow, Leda Cosmides, and John Tooby (New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1992), 19-136; Leda Cosmides and John Tooby, “Cognitive Adaptations for Social Exchange,” in The Adapted Mind: Evolutionary Psychology and the Generation of Culture, ed. Jerome H. Barkow, Leda Cosmides, and John Tooby (New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1992), 163-228.  See especially p. 96: “Once animal behavior researchers let the pigeon out of its barren artificial cage, a rich flock of behavioral phenomena appeared, and questions inevitably arose about the mechanisms that guide the animal to do all the different things it needs to do in natural environments to survive and reproduce.”  Also see p. 208, “An evolutionary psychological perspective suggests that the universal evolved architecture of the human mind contains some content specific algorithms that are shared across individuals and across cultures, and that, therefore, many things related to social exchange should be the same from place to place-as indeed they are.”

5 Pascal Boyer, Religion Explained: The Evolutionary Origins of Religious Thought (New York: Basic Books, 2001), 116, 142-165.

6 Wilson, Sociobiology, 560.

7 David Sloan Wilson, Darwin’s Cathedral: Evolution, Religion, and the Nature of Society (Chicago and London: The University of Chicago Press, 2002), 18-25, 36, 151-157.

8 Wilson, Sociobiology, 561.

9 “Hunter-gatherers… comprehend the need for eternal political vigilance, and the need for force in the hands of the rank and file as means of controlling the self-aggrandizing tendencies of their own leading citizens.  Similarly, the Iroquois understood the need for formal checks and balances in their very large version of tribal government.”  Christopher Boehm, Hierarchy in the Forest: The Evolution of Egalitarian Behavior (Cambridge, MA and London: Harvard University Press, 1999), 257.

10 Marc D. Hauser, Wild Minds: What Animals Really Think (New York: Henry Holt and Company, 2000), 62.

11 Edward O. Wilson, Biophilia: The Human Bond with Other Species (Cambridge, MA and London: Harvard University Press, 1984), 1, 139.  For Wilson on shamans in Sociobiology, see p. 560.

12 Hauser, 88, 194-195.

13 Daniel C. Dennett, Kinds of Minds: Toward an Understanding of Consciousness (New York: Basic Books, 1996), 33.

14 Historians traditionally define “Early Modern Europe” as the period between the 1400s and the French and Industrial Revolutions, when Europe experienced the spread of print culture, the expansion of imperial might into the Americas, the Protestant Reformation, violent religious wars, the Scientific Revolution, a declining death rate, changing labor patterns, and a growing cult of individualism.  The period 1492 to 1848 may provide convenient heuristic boundaries.

15 Confucius, The Analects, trans. David Hinton (Washington, D.C.: Counterpoint, 1998), 72, 104, 106.

16 “Adept Kung asked: ‘Is there any one word that could guide a person throughout life?’ The Master replied: ‘How about “shu”: never impose on others what you would not choose for yourself?'” Ibid., 176.

17 The Wisdom of Laotse, trans. Lin Yutang (New York: Random House, 1976), 140, 76.

18 For the development of Daoist rites, priests, magic, and religious doctrine, see Henri Maspero, Taoism and Chinese Religion, trans. Frank A, Kierman, Jr. (Amherst: The University of Massachusetts Press, 1981), 25-37; C. K. Yang, Religion in Chinese Society: A Study of Contemporary Social Functions of Religion and Some of Their Historical Factors (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1961), 112-115.

19 Roger D. Sorrell, St. Francis of Assisi and Nature: Tradition and Innovation in Western Christian Attitudes toward the Environment (New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988), 78-87.

20 Brian Tierney and Sidney Painter, Western Europe in the Middle Ages 300-1475, 3rd ed. (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1978), 340-344; Norman F. Cantor, Medieval History: The Life and Death of a Civilization, 2nd ed. (New York and London: Macmillan, 1969), 457-459.

21 “Canticle of Brother Sun” translated by Roger D. Sorrell, 101.  Also see Sorrell, 128.  Similarly, in her Book of Divine Works, the Benedictine abbess Hildegard of Bingen (1098-1179) transformed nature into an intentional and anthropomorphic embodiment of God’s will.  Hildegard of Bingen The Book of Divine Works: Ten Visions of God’s Deeds in the World and Humanity, trans. Robert Cunningham, in Hildegard of Bingen’s Book of Divine Works with Letters and Songs, ed. Matthew Fox (Santa Fe: Bear and Company, 1987), 8-11.

22 Tierney and Painter, 330-335.

23 Sorrell, 59-60, 133-134.

24 Boyer, 120.

25 Theodore K. Rabb, The Struggle for Stability in Early Modern Europe (New York: Oxford University Press, 1975), 33-36.

26 Carter Lindberg, The European Reformations (Oxford and Cambridge, MA: Blackwell Publishers, 1996), 222-224.

27 Even among the Taino of the Caribbean, where both men and women were eligible to serve as chiefs or caciques, caciques were responsible for the storing of agricultural surpluses and their distribution according to need.  Though redistribution according to need implies some level of egalitarianism, a cacique with command over processes of production and distribution demonstrates hierarchy in the form of the leader’s prerogative-albeit one limited by communal needs by coalitional unity.  See William Keegan, Morgan Maclachlan, and Bryan Byrne, “Social Foundations of Taino Caciques,” in Chiefdoms and Chieftaincy in the Americas, ed. Elsa M. Redmond (Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 1998), 232; Irving Rouse, The Tainos: Rise and Decline of the People Who Greeted Columbus (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1992), 16. 

28 Geoffrey W. Conrad and Arthur A. Demarest, Religion and Empire: The Dynamics of Aztec and Inca Expansionism (Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press, 1984), 1-4, 41-48, 121-137; Michael E. Smith, The Aztecs (Malden, MA and Oxford: Blackwell Publishers, 1998), 212-218, 221-222; Inga Clendinnen, Aztecs: An Interpretation (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991), 195; Davíd Carrasco, City of Sacrifice: The Aztec Empire and the Role of Violence in Civilization (Boston: Beacon Press, 1999), 185; Bernardino de Sahagún, Florentine Codex: General History of the Things of New Spain, Book 10: The People, trans. Charles E. Dibble and Arthur J. O. Anderson (Santa Fe: The School of American Research and the University of Utah, 1961), 20-22; Abel A. Alves, Brutality and Benevolence: Human Ethology, Culture, and the Birth of Mexico (Westport, CT and London; Greenwood Press, 1996), 42-43.

29 Bernardino de Sahagún, Florentine Codex: General History of the Things of New Spain, Book 2: The Ceremonies, trans. Arthur J. O. Anderson and Charles E. Dibble (Santa Fe: The School of American Research and the University of Utah, 1981), 46-47.

30 Maureen Flynn, “Mimesis of the Last Judgment: The Spanish Auto de fe,” The Sixteenth Century Journal 22:2 (Summer 1991): 281-297; Henry Kamen, Inquisition and Society in Spain in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1985), 42.

31 Proceso inquisitorial del cacique de Tetzcoco don Carlos Ometochtzin (Chichimecatecotl) (Mexico City: Biblioteca Enciclopedia del Estado del México, 1980).

32 John Tate Lanning, Pedro de la Torre: Doctor to Conquerors (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1974), 23-42, 6-7, 14, 16-17, 94-95.

33 “Summoning of the Witnesses. Montereale, 2 February 1584,” in Andrea Del Col, Domenico Scandella Known as Menocchio: His Trials before the Inquisition (1583-1599), trans. John and Anne C. Tedeschi (Binghamton: Medieval and Renaissance Texts and Studies, 1996), 18, 14.

34 “Summoning of Domenico Scandella. Tuesday, 7 February 1584, at Concordia,” in Del Col, Domenico Scandella, 25.

35 Carlo Ginzburg, The Cheese and the Worms: The Cosmos of a Sixteenth-Century Miller, trans. John and Anne Tedeschi (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1992), 106.

36 Ibid, 16-17, 63, 71.

37 Del Col, xxvi.

38 Paul Colilli, “Bruno, Giordano,” in Encyclopedia of the Renaissance, 6 vols., ed. Paul F. Grendler (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1999), 1:306-308; Agnes Heller, Renaissance Man, trans. Richard E. Allen (New York: Schocken Books, 1981), 33, 377-378.

39 Frederick Coplestone, A History of Philosophy, Vol. 3, Part 2: Late Medieval and Renaissance Philosophy: The Revival of Platonism to Suárez (Garden City, NY: Image Books, 1963), 32, 45-47.

40 Frans de Waal, Chimpanzee Politics: Power and Sex among Apes, revised ed. (Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1998), 112-116, 118, 145-146.

41 Wilson, Sociobiology, 561.

42 Walter Burkert, The Creation of the Sacred: Tracks of Biology in Early Religions (Cambridge, MA and London: Harvard University Press, 1996), 82.

43 Where Hobbes was concerned, Leviathan, or the Matter, Forme, & Power of a Common-Wealth Ecclesiasticall and Civill involved a seamless blending of ecclesiastical and civil power in the hands of a temporal sovereign. For Hobbes, given the division of Christendom, Church and State were one under the authority of a Christian monarch. It is also interesting to note that Leviathan states the only necessary Christian article of faith to be that “Jesus is the Christ,” while it also argues that the Pentateuch could not have been written entirely by Moses. Liberal with his interpretation of scripture, Hobbes was extremely strict in presenting organized religion as a bulwark to monarchical authority and social order. See Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan, or the Matter, Forme, & Power of a Common-Wealth Ecclesiasticall and Civill, ed. C. B. MacPherson (Harmondsworth and New York: Penguin Books, 1968), 498-499, 567, 575, 615, 417-418 (Part 3, chaps. 33-43).

44 Anne Conway, The Principles of the Most Ancient and Modern Philosophy, trans. Allison P. Coudert and Taylor Corse (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996), 50. Also “Introduction,” xxiii for information on the Quakers.

45 Ibid., 16, 47.

46 Ibid., 33.

47 Ibid., 35.

48 “Lady Conway to her husband.  September 9, 1664.  Ragley,” in The Conway Letters: The Correspondence of Anne, Viscountess Conway, Henry More, and their Friends, 1642-1684, ed. Marjorie Hope Nicolson, revised ed. by Sarah Hutton (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1992), 227; “Lady Conway to her husband.  April 15, 1659,” in The Conway Letters, 156-157

49 Ibid., xxvii.

50 Margaret Gullan-Whur, Within Reason: A Life of Spinoza (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2000), 79-83.

51 Benedict de Spinoza, A Theologico-Political Treatise, in A Theologico-Political Treatise and a Political Treatise, trans. R. H. M. Elwes (New York: Dover Publications, 1951), 194.

52 Ibid., 124.

53 Ibid., 264-265.

54 Spinoza, Ethics, in The Collected Works of Spinoza, Volume I, trans. Edwin Curley (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1985), 408-409, 420, 434, 544.

55 Jonathan I. Israel, Radical Enlightenment: Philosophy and the Making of Modernity, 1650-1750 (Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2001), 252, 464.

56 Spinoza, Ethics, 566.

57 Gullan-Whur, 179-189.

58 Among the !Kung, some individuals have more influence over the sharing of goods than others, and men establish themselves as among the “best” by their mid-thirties or accept lesser status for life. Wilson, Sociobiology, 287, 549.

59 Boehm, 2, 156-161, 253-255; Peter Singer, A Darwinian Left: Politics, Evolution, and Cooperation (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1999), 35-39, 60-62.

60 Richard Wrangham and Dale Peterson, Demonic Males: Apes and the Origins of Human Violence (Boston and New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1996), 206-219. Female chimpanzees generally spend less time engaged in same-sex grooming than males do, grooming being a vital means to the establishment of social bonds among chimpanzees. At Gombe, females spend about 65% of their time alone with only their dependent offspring in tow. See Yasuyuki Murayama and Yukimaru Sugiyama, “Grooming Relationships in Two Species of Chimpanzees,” in Chimpanzee Cultures, ed. Richard Wrangham, W. C. McGrew, Frans B. M. de Waal, and Paul G. Heltne (Cambridge, MA and London: Harvard University Press, 1994), 174; Anne Pusey, Jennifer Williams, and Jane Goodall, “The Influence of Dominance Rank on the Reproductive Success of Female Chimpanzees,” Science 277: 5327 (8 August 1997): 828-831.

61 De Waal, Chimpanzee Politics, 180, 44-50, 56-60; Frans de Waal, Peacemaking among Primates (Cambridge, MA and London: Harvard University Press, 1989), 20-26, 51.

62 Frans de Waal, Good Natured: The Origins of Right and Wrong in Humans and Other Animals (Cambridge, MA and London: Harvard University Press, 1996), 148; Hauser, 222-223.

63 Niccolò Machiavelli, Discourses on the First Ten Books of Titus Livius, trans. Christian E. Detmold, in Niccolò Machiavelli, The Prince and the Discourses (New York: Random House, 1950), 147 (Bk. 1, chap. 11).

64 George W. Barlow, The Cichlid Fishes: Nature’s Grand Experiment in Evolution (Cambridge, MA: Perseus Publishing, 2000), 124-125.

65 Charles Haynes, “Watch Out: War on Terrorism Should Not Mean War on Islam,” Inside the First Amendment (August 18, 2002),

66 Sloan Wilson, 172, 198-199, 216.

67 Charles Darwin, The Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favored Races in the Struggle for Life (New York: The Modern Library, 1993), 648-649.

68 Hauser, 131; Michael Tomasello, Sue Savage-Rumbaugh, and Ann Cale Kruger, “Imitative Learning of Actions on Objects by Children, Chimpanzees, and Enculturated Chimpanzees,” Child Development 64 (1993): 1689; Michael Tomasello, “Do Apes Ape?,” in Social Learning in Animals: The Roots of Culture, ed. Cecilia M. Heyes and Bennett G. Galef (San Diego: Academic Press, 1996), 328-329.

69 Andrew N. Meltzoff and M. Keith Moore, “Infants’ Understanding of People and Things: From Body Imitation to Folk Psychology,” in The Body and Self, ed. José Luis Bermúdez, Anthony Marcel, and Naomi Eilan (Cambridge, MA and London: The MIT Press, 1995), 50.  Also 49-50.