[Epistemic status: the world is insane but this is true. I am very confident (98%+ probability) of the central idea, though I’m less sure about specific details.]
Souls are made of parts
We can understand them through study
And by this means may death be reversed across the multiverse
The bodies people walk around in here on Ancient Earth do not necessarily match the sensorimotor portions of their brains, and/or other information content about what their bodies are supposed to be like. The mismatch between the two results in prediction error in every thought, sensation or action that involves a mismatched body part. This can be experienced as a phantom limb, phantom limb pain, dysmorphia, or can exist in the background as something someone is not explicitly aware of (but would suddenly notice if it were fixed). People with dysmorphia usually dissociate to some extent from their bodies, in order to have the ability to think without the prediction error from their body drowning everything else out.
Humans and other animals have True Forms that don’t necessarily match their bodies.1
Body-True Form mismatch is something that transgender people and amputees are familiar with. I would also expect eg hunchbacks to have dysmorphia for the same reasons.
(The hypothesis I describe in this post will probably be easier for these people to understand because they are already attuned to body-True Form mismatch.)
One’s True Form is not necessarily encoded in a single 3D representation, but rather a bunch of individual patterns that might leave some details underspecified and others overspecified. The True Human Form is probably multiple conflicting things. It need not project losslessly into our familiar 3D physics, and attempts to do so may appear chimeric (ie a bunch of different animal features mixed together, like dragons or anthropomorphic nonhuman animals).
(As an extension of this, there are also ways that people’s minds/brains are supposed to work and ways that their ability to affect reality is supposed to work, that don’t necessarily match the minds and physics they live in. For example: people with dementia or brains with the wrong hormones, and depictions of using magic, but I think it generalizes: we are supposed to have better brains than the ones we have.)
Then: what is the True Human Form?
Different parts of human psychology evolved at different points along our evolutionary history.
Looking at the evolutionary history of humans, there’s a sense in which the speed of evolution looks intuitively sort of constant (there’s a little bit of anthropic effect in that, but I would expect the same to be true of many/most modern animal and plant species).
Evolution doesn’t usually fully erase things that have become obsolete, it just kind of covers them up with new things so long as they don’t actively cause problems to keep around.
Memory is any mechanism where information content from the past is kept in a way that can be accessed in the present/future, even if we have to do some inference and forensics to fill out the full details of the recollection. We humans have a very limited amount of ancestral memory that we can observe by introspecting on prediction error and what is written in our souls. We can see echoes of situations that our ancestors were in again and again.
From what I can tell by looking at stuff from the fossil record, other modern species, and my own ancestral memory, it seems that a large part of the True Human Form evolved between 30mya and 85mya, around the time of our common ancestors with lemurs.
Modern-day ring-tailed lemurs look like this:
Our ancestors around 60mya probably looked similar to ring-tailed lemurs.
Most of our proprioceptive body map probably was selected on during this period of time because the delta to our ancestors’ survival was strongly tied to them using their bodies very precisely and acrobatically.
Unrelatedly, it seems like the human desire to fly arose during this period of time as well, since [desire to fly] of the sort humans have is something that you would expect to evolve in a species where jumping was very important to their survival.
Also a chunk of our social machinery evolved during this period of time, which you can tell by looking at lemurs. They are very merp2.
Since our divergence point with lemurs, we seem to have evolved a lot of social modules, and some new things have added to our concept of ourselves, including being furless, tailless, bipedal, tall, and snoutless. But the old machinery seems to still be present, sort of overlaid on / meshed with the new.
The human interest in cats, foxes, and wolves3 4 5; the way that furries dress up and the artwork they draw; and therians all seem to be cases where humans intuited this part of their evolutionary history without really knowing what it came from. The emotions and social modules that furries are known for also are maybe/probably ones that evolved during the same time period.
An anthropomorphic mammal seems like a valid way of trying to project the human self-concept including sensorimotor body map, visual modules, and social modules into a 3D form.
There is some sense in which I’m supposed to have light grey fur (?) and a snout, and somehow to both be small and able to jump onto trees and be large like I currently am. When I was a child and therefore smaller, I was able to move with more agility, and that may have come in part from my innate body map being tuned to that body size.6
Also there seems to be some gender dimorphism detectable by looking at information about our snouts that’s written into our souls (from me comparing with Astria): afaict men are supposed to have slightly longer snouts7. Which maybe contributed to the “cats are female, dogs are male” archetype. IDK if this is an actual feature of our ancestors, or whether this is the snout portion of our ancestors mixing with more recent gender dimorphism.
Dragonkin seem like a related but different phenomenon. Astria has thought of herself as dragonkin for several years, wanting to become a dragon through technology8. Her conceptualization of dragons encoded information about human snouts, female hand/arm/face proportions, desire to fly, fusion of right-female and left-male intuitive optimization styles9, survival and exploration optimization, and quadrupedal movement + upright sitting posture, as well as some other things that we haven’t made tangible yet but still seem important. Wings obviously are not something evolved as part of the human body map, but possibly dragonkin are leveraging an underspecified part of the human True Form to project the desire to fly into a part of their 3D body map.
Example relevant dragon art:
Being monkeys is our heritage, is who we are inside.
- An example of a nonhuman animal which I’m very confident has dysmorphia: small dog breeds like chihuahuas, given that there has not been much evolutionary time or pressure for their body maps to match the bodies they were bred into. I expect nearly all living vertebrates have dysmorphia to some degree.
- a right hemisphere noise some people make–nyaa is another example but with a different connotation
- ie cute cat pics
- the most common animals that furries are interested in: 1 wolves, 2 red foxes, 3 dragons, 4 cats (source)
- lemurs are like large foxes with human hands that can climb
- most adult humans look dissociated from their bodies, only make a narrow range of postures. however, they also seem more broadly dissociated from reality.
- we originally noticed this as a difference in imagined snout angle from the perspective of the eyes
- Astria: however, the dragon deep/narrow chest shape sucks, and having a long neck would be cool sometimes but probably dysmorphic to have all the time. we figured this out through using lucid dreams to build a draconic body map based on repeated simulation of how a dragon would move/interact.
- Astria: dragons are both innately beautiful and powerful–no, rf and lm cannot be reduced to just that