For over one million years, sentient beings that preceded Homo sapiens, lived in a Darwinian world grounded on survival of the fittest. Natural selection was the operational code. Then, 50,000 years ago, mind and brain co-designed consciousness. A new code of consciousness was needed to transcend the physicality of being. And this was the beginning of the development from survival to meaning. Existence was no longer sufficient for the coherence of oneness. Selfhood surfaced demanding answers to Who am I? What am I doing here? Who cares?
But before moving further on our inquiry into Selfhood, we must define meaning. Meaning is the significance we give to who we are, the reason for our existence in time and space, and who cares during our private journey. Then our quest moves from what we need for survival to what brings validation in our lives.
The recognition of this transition from survival to meaning, has psychoneuroimmunological consequences. Biology had to adjust to the evolutionary leap in order to interpret the emerging consciousness code. The nervous, immune, and endocrine systems required novel interpretations based on the bioinformational code for meaning.
But the survival code was not discarded. Instead, it incorporated a new agent for meaningful existence. At this junction, Aristotle comes to the rescue. He proposed, 2,300 years ago, that pleasure for the sake of pleasure (hedonism) was not enough for a significant life. Instead, he argued, pleasure should come from the meaning, purpose, and service we seek in our lives.
Recent research in psychoneuroimmunology, shows eudaemonia provides stronger immunological protection against adversity than hedonism. You decide…