The Undifferentiated Human

From Horizontal to Vertical Life

When we emerge from the womb we are very vulnerable for the human organism is immature and helpless and depends completely on its mother. If the 40 weeks in utero was the development of embryo to fetus to infant, then the next few years illustrates the process yet again. The first eight or nine months of life the human child lacks the ability to be independent. If we were to look at it as part of a holon or holarchy then this child illustrates an undifferentiated state. It infers that the parts that have created it are not yet acting as interdependent holons or complete entities within the organism. The infant is functional – it lives – but it is not independent of its primary host, for although we are unattached from our uterine dependence on our mother’s, we may still remain as if psychically attached to our mothers, and certainly for our immediate survival we require constant attention. Graphically you could think of the child having a material self – a blueprint – a physiological self (systems and organs) with a partially developed mammalian self (gender, lungs, joints and muscles) and incomplete human self (neocortex).

“The child looks like me (or Dad) – genetic or material self – it is whole and integral (we counted the toes and fingers, it can hear, has startle reflexes, (scored 9 on the Apgar scale), it cries, eats, poos and pees (physiological or vegetal self), does sleep and digest its food (flexibility), and baby turns its head, hears my voice, looks at me (us), has four limbs, and wriggles around – animal self and reflectiveness – and smiles and is beginning to respond (human-animal)”.

The infant is undifferentiated. It now goes through an intense period of cortical development, integration of its lower and higher centers, becomes neurological competent (integrity) and begins to interact with the outside world, moves from wriggling its limbs, to turning over, begins to crawl, stand and fall copying its peers and all that is going on around it. It is emergent.

As the child interacts with its environment, it begins to differentiate how it feels, and starts to have different emotive-reactive responses to communicate its needs in its non-language period. Its voice is the cry, the whimper, the pout, the aggrieved, the wounded, the hurt as well as the giggle and laughter sounds as it interacts with the mother and others. It differentiates too through what it wants to eat, or not eat, when it wants to go to bed, sleep or be put down to rest or farmed out to the provider or nanny. It starts to emerge out of history and emerge into an emotional world which it begins to sift through ‘responses’ so that it can interact with its environment.

We send the child off to school, as it has outgrown its environment, and is ready for another adventure, one of self autonomy and discovery. This is the animal phase where the child now interacts with others, with different tribes and groups (if its lucky) and begins to discover self through others.

The bantu word UBUNTU as described by Archbishop Desmond Tutu in 2008:
“One of the sayings in our country is Ubuntu – the essence of being human. Ubuntu speaks particularly about the fact that you can’t exist as a human being in isolation. It speaks about our interconnectedness. You can’t be human all by yourself, and when you have this quality – Ubuntu – you are known for your generosity.
We think of ourselves far too frequently as just individuals, separated from one another, whereas you are connected and what you do affects the whole world. When you do well, it spreads out; it is for the whole of humanity”.

The development of this humanist or ethical model is our dynamic interaction with others. This is the training between instincts, desires and needs, historical and unseen genes and memes trying to promote their dominance or power over the organism. This phase can last a long time (“he’s never grown up, he’s always in survival mode, he’s always after the girls, she’s a little fox, out for what she can get”), and may last a lifetime. Generally speaking we mark this movement from animal to human as another rite of passage. This is often the school matriculation or University graduation; where someone is honored for their learning and erudition, which has paved their way towards being a meaningful and valuable contribution towards humanity.


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WorkShop Pre-requisite: Participants are asked to read Being Human: Exploring the forces that shape us and awaken an inner life - by Solihin and Alicia Thom and Alexandra ter Horst.

Solihin and Alicia Thom and Alexander ter Horst’s book Being Human: exploring the forces that shape us and awaken an inner life carries a full explanation of the Human Template Model, and was published six years ago, with several reprints over the years. It is available on Amazon or direct from us. NB

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