Progress Toward an Unthinkable Consummation: Sin and the Evolution of Human Consciousness
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Michael Polanyi has argued that tacit knowing—the consolidation and integration of earlier achievements from which to launch further advances— plays an essential role in evolution. Tacit knowledge is often transmitted by observation and imitation—what anthropologist Rene Girard calls mimesis. Girard suggests that this mimetic tendency has had both beneficial and negative effects: violent outbreaks of mimetic rivalry among early hominids necessitated the development of ritual controls, representing the beginning of culture. Beneath all culture, a universal scapegoating mechanism—humankind\'s \"original sin\"—remains hidden. Jewish and Christian scriptures present a countervailing cultural force, challenging human beings to develop in directions not dependent on rivalry and violence.