At some point in our evolution we began to reflect on our experiences. I posted long ago wondering when we first noticed the beauty in scenes like these clouds:
This seems preliminary to me to any spiritual apprehension. Of course the converse also happened in our history; some Greek person walked up Mt. Olympus and saw nothing beautiful or supernatural, just a practical, natural reality, and so skepticism was born.
Along with this reflection on the luminous comes reflection on our lives, our selves and our experiences. Suzanne Langer thought that humans became truly conscious when we realized that each life, our own life, was a single act with beginning and end because that signals the possibility of profound reflection. Now a recent discovery from Israel contributes to this picture. A statue from 3800 years ago was uncovered of a human figure pondering with chin in hand, much like Rodin’s The Thinker. Check it out:
The figure is perched on a jug but the report does not say if it once contained a reflection stimulating drink, say a Middle Eastern vintage from long ago. If so, maybe the person felt like he or she was sitting on top of the world.
Of course I bet other animals reflect on their experiences in some manner. Consider my usual picture of a chimpanzee:
And now we see Neandertals as also reflective creatures, not brutes:
Finally, some may see these postures as expressing worry, but I think Mose Allison, who recently passed away, captured an old wisdom in his lyric, “I don’t worry about thing because I know nothing is going to be alright”. Travel on.