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Free market and mind

by kcurie Thu Mar 8th, 2007 at 06:40:19 AM EST

A short diary. A diary to start up a conversation by telling you something.

There has been a quite astounding discovery in anthropology recently. And I learned it from the New York Times magazine article about God and antrhopology. The NYT Magazine is like a jewel of journalism that I would deem as the best in the world. As long as they exist, the US Empire is worthy... somehow:)

But this discover does not matter so much really unless you ar every much into it... but the article that appears in the NYTM explains very clearly why Free market rules... without really realizing. It also explains very well what I have been trying to explain all this time about Levi-Strauss, and narratives, and mythologies... and reality...

Here I try to explain in more detail why reality does not matter or even exists..even in what one would consider the most reality-absed of our needs: our economic system.

From the diaries -- whataboutbob


First what I learnt. I learnt that some parts of the "false-belief test" already fail with 15 months-old children. This is really remarkable if you  know what I am talking about (or you like science and antrhopology very much).

But if you don't, it is worthy to recall the full "false-belief test" and why narratives and mythologies work.

I will use the words of Darwin's God. The article about God itself is rather lame.. regarding God and the simple vision that everything have to be an adaptation or coming as a byproduct of adaptation. The fact that universal traits could not be biological or that if they are bilological may not have anything to do with anything called evolution (in the sense of some kind of improvement) is out of their frame, a pity.

But I am not here to discuss why the darwinian approach or even frame is bad and utterly wrong regarding this planet history but about hard-core data in antrhopology and pshychology (in the good sense of the word psychology ... anthropological pshychology).

And here it goes...one of the human universals is the structural belief that there is a common mind denominator. No matter if you live in a culture where the self exists or does not exist, it does not matter your vision about the relations with other, or if you live in referential or self-center structure... every human has the ability to know/act/produce that the other may have the same "sense/theory of mind" that one has, what I like to call "social awareness" (other people call it in other ways).

And here is the standard theory:

The traditional psychological view has been that until about age 4, children think that minds are permeable and that everyone knows whatever the child himself knows. To a young child, everyone is infallible. All other people, especially Mother and Father, are thought to have the same sort of insight as an all-knowing God.

But at a certain point in development, this changes. (Some new research suggests this might occur as early as 15 months.) The “false-belief test” is a classic experiment that highlights the boundary. Children watch a puppet show with a simple plot: John comes onstage holding a marble, puts it in Box A and walks off. Mary comes onstage, opens Box A, takes out the marble, puts it in Box B and walks off. John comes back onstage. The children are asked, Where will John look for the marble?

Very young children, or autistic children of any age, say John will look in Box B, since they know that’s where the marble is. But older children give a more sophisticated answer. They know that John never saw Mary move the marble and that as far as he is concerned it is still where he put it, in Box A. Older children have developed a theory of mind; they understand that other people sometimes have false beliefs. Even though they know that the marble is in Box B, they respond that John will look for it in Box A.

But, now put God into the picture.. God or Free Market or anything that a mythological structure has ingrained in the society... and what do you get?


Barrett showed young children a box with a picture of crackers on the outside. What do you think is inside this box? he asked, and the children said, “Crackers.” Next he opened it and showed them that the box was filled with rocks. Then he asked two follow-up questions: What would your mother say is inside this box? And what would God say?

As earlier theory-of-mind experiments already showed, 3- and 4-year-olds tended to think Mother was infallible, and since the children knew the right answer, they assumed she would know it, too. They usually responded that Mother would say the box contained rocks. But 5- and 6-year-olds had learned that Mother, like any other person, could hold a false belief in her mind, and they tended to respond that she would be fooled by the packaging and would say, “Crackers.”

And what would God say? No matter what their age, the children, who were all Protestants, told Barrett that God would answer, “Rocks.” This was true even for the older children, who, as Barrett understood it, had developed folkpsychology and had used it when predicting a wrong response for Mother. They had learned that, in certain situations, people could be fooled — but they had also learned that there is no fooling God.

The bottom line, according to byproduct theorists, is that children are born with a tendency to believe in omniscience, invisible minds, immaterial souls — and then they grow up in cultures that fill their minds, hard-wired for belief, with specifics. It is a little like language acquisition, Paul Bloom says, with the essential difference that language is a biological adaptation and religion, in his view, is not. We are born with an innate facility for language but the specific language we learn depends on the environment in which we are raised. In much the same way, he says, we are born with an innate tendency for belief, but the specifics of what we grow up believing — whether there is one God or many, whether the soul goes to heaven or occupies another animal after death — are culturally shaped.

Now change God for free market... and I think you know what I have been talking about all this time here...the only thing is that "belief" is not the proper word.. is actually a mixture of narrative explanation requirement (addressed also in the article) and social awareness. In this world (ours), reality does not matter, actually reality is not what we think that reality is. Reality is just a byproduct of the mythology we learnt when we were kids without being aware of the fact. And this is associated with a certain way to look at the world around us   also linked wiht our mythological framework. But belief systems and narratives and false-belief frames are universal. The particulars are different..and in these differences we show how to think about the human world (society) and about reality.

A fight to define reality is a fight to define the narrative and the myths we share. Reality mythology is about how we see and how we would like the human kind to change in the future... A fight of mtyhs. And of course the NYT Magazine puts it better that everyhting I could have managed.... only that they talk about God..we talk about Free Market.

 

Display:
actually much of spiritual thought, particularly Buddhist and Taoist, agrees completely with this.
the only thing is that "belief" is not the proper word.. is actually a mixture of narrative explanation requirement (addressed also in the article) and social awareness. In this world (ours), reality does not matter, actually reality is not what we think that reality is. Reality is just a byproduct of the mythology we learnt when we were kids without being aware of the fact. And this is associated with a certain way to look at the world around us   also linked wiht our mythological framework. But belief systems and narratives and false-belief frames are universal. The particulars are different..and in these differences we show how to think about the human world (society) and about reality.
Some would say this insight is one of the first steps to enlightenment.
by wchurchill on Wed Mar 7th, 2007 at 03:26:37 PM EST
You really caught me here off guard.

I thought hte relation between eastern mystic traditions and science were mroe realted with physics and maybe neurobiology in the strict sense of mind as brain being aware of the completeness of the existence. Somehting like "seeing" the complexity or teh network of links that existence is. Not item but the whole.

I did not know that the approach to reality was so "narrative"....It's good to know taht it can really be adapted.

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Wed Mar 7th, 2007 at 04:16:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
one of the core concepts is that we don't actually see reality.  we all see a world that is filtered through a screen, a screen that is made up of all of our past experiences, what we have learned, our prejudices.  a master reaches a state of "emptiness", where all of that is put aside, and reality comes directly at the master, who just reacts, or not, naturally.  Emptiness is more of a Buddhist concept.

There is probably a much better verse from the Tao, but just opening it to Verse 10:
Can you coax your mind from its wandering
and keep to the original oneness?
Can you let your body become
supple as a newborn child's?
Can you cleanse your inner vision
until you see nothing but the light?

Can you love people and lead them
without imposing your will?
Can you deal with the most vital matters by letting events take their course?
Can you step back from your own mind
and thus understand all things?

Giving birth and nourishing,
having without possessing,
acting with no expectations,
leading and not trying to control;
this is the supreme virtue.

I'm sure others such as rg and Fran would have different insights, and explain much better.

by wchurchill on Wed Mar 7th, 2007 at 07:06:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I really like tao mythology.. I love it :)

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Wed Mar 7th, 2007 at 07:10:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It seems that Abrahamic religions and Dharmic/Thaoic religions go the opposite ways. Spiritual experience in the latter religions is undressing reality from illusions. Abrahamic religions seem to pack perception with illusions. That is quite a difference.
by das monde on Thu Mar 8th, 2007 at 02:04:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I can't really disagree with your comment now.  I would say that both Christianity (the desert saints, Thomas Merton, and others) and Islam (Sufiism) have a mystic tradition, and there may be some parallels there.  But that tradition doesn't seem to be mainstream in either of the two  religions,,,,,though maybe there is more to learn.  Merton's "New Seeds of Contemplation" is very interesting.  But I would have to admit that to my knowledge, or lack thereof, you make a good point.
by wchurchill on Thu Mar 8th, 2007 at 02:36:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Interesting article, kc. I agree with you that universal traits don't necessarily have to be explained in terms of evolutionary biology, but I suppose the article is about evolutionary biology... I also noted that the writer only took the "relation between different brain mechanisms" explanation, and didn't consider more straightforwardly the capacity for greater symbolic thought of an enlarged neocortex.

Adaptive or a neutral by-product, the propensity for belief is in any case apparently not negative in its effects. This is something that struck me:

But religious rituals "generate greater belief and commitment" because they depend on belief rather than on proof. The rituals are "beyond the possibility of examination," he wrote, and a commitment to them is therefore emotional rather than logical
(my bold)

Is it possible that, the more you call on people to believe, the more they respond with belief?

Or, put another way, why is proof an insufficient narrative form?

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Mar 7th, 2007 at 04:20:43 PM EST
why is proof an insufficient narrative form???'

Oh man.. this is the keystone question.. but I rephrase it.. why some people take some narratives over other when there is some kind of different offers?

Are there some mythologies which are universal? Why are they taken?

So proof in the scientific science is not enough if you are not in a mythical scientific world.

An example. There is an old history about an anthropologists applying science proof in a compeltely different world view... prrof was irrelvant in their society.. they were worried about why?

So .. you can proof something.. like that you had a car accident because of bad brakes ina car.. but in another frame the key question could be why the combination of bad brakes, and bad wetaher and your car having it and you being there happened to you?

Different mythologies have different focus so scientific proof or why explanation or any other question or mythology I may heard of has sense..

But why when there are different options available some people choose one over other?

Finally, rituals based on belief are more powerful in a judeo-christian vision of the world. I am not sure it is teh same in all cultures.. so the answer of this anthropologists may not be really universal.. but very common in society where the one-God is a possible thought (the idea that there is only one God is quite complex and it does not exists in a lot of places... therefore the evangelical "success").

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Wed Mar 7th, 2007 at 05:02:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I think you have to be taught not to accept narrative.

Narrative shorthand pseudo-explanations seem to be the default form of primate social signalling.

Going beyond that to deliberate reality-testing (even to some limited extent) seems to be an optional stage of development.

Effectively it's a meta-narrative ('question what you're told and what you believe') that fills the space that's usually filled up with default signalling.

It's also a question of how safe the surrounding environment is perceived to be. If surroundings are safe, mistakes and exploration are acceptable and you'd expect narrative systems to reflect that.

If the environment is threatening, mistakes are potentially fatal, and narratives are more likely to converge on much simpler ideas of right and wrong.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Wed Mar 7th, 2007 at 05:46:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It certainly can be that way.. I do not know enough about that.. but it certainly can be true.
Environment contraints is something present...although we may choose to ignore them. But they could constrain the myths available..

Absolutely.

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Wed Mar 7th, 2007 at 06:51:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
proof in the scientific science (sense?) is not enough if you are not in a mythical scientific world

Right, but it's not quite what I meant. Most people in the cultures we live in (and with whom we would wish to communicate) are, to some extent, in a mythical scientific world. They have notions to do with "proof", "facts", "observation", they share a narrative about science's ability to deal with these things (even if the narrative is relatively sketchy). In some cases they may believe in science in a quasi-religious manner. So that kind of narrative may be persuasive.

But I was asking, with the word "proof", about rational discourse that does not demand a leap of faith. The free market ideology offers a belief system: invisible hand, wheels within wheels, immutable laws calling for purity of application to produce magical outcomes. This narrative works, people go along with it. If you tell them, look, reality is complex, there are all kinds of problems with asymmetric information and influence, not to speak of plain power, that skew things so the pure market narrative is inapplicable, you'll be followed by a small number who were probably already thinking that anyway.

So I was wondering, do people really prefer to be asked to believe? Is a leap of faith attractive?

I think I can say from my own experience, having lived part of my life in a very religious setting, that a leap of faith offers relief. People speak of their happiness that a burden has rolled away from their backs. In the Christian narrative, that burden is explained as sin, but I think it's the burden of existence as an individual with the responsibility of making choices; the leap of faith is abandonment to predetermined choices, to a complete explanatory narrative of what you must do each day, to a new belonging to a collective existence (the body of believers). Those who find that hugely satisfying may have psychological weaknesses of the kind exploited by cults... But still, one can see the kind of pleasurable emotions the leap of faith can bring about.

Does an attractive/persuasive narrative (seductive, to use tbg's term), have to offer some or all of these elements, even in an attenuated form?

By asking people to accept a narrative that we call reality or fact-based, are we at risk of producing anxiety?

How far are we willing to think in terms of a new progressive narrative that entails a leap of faith?

Or does any complete narrative, anyway, call for the suspension of disbelief?

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu Mar 8th, 2007 at 11:47:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
seduction was Melanchthon, not ThatBritishGentleman.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu Mar 8th, 2007 at 11:53:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think the problem is that the more complex the narrative, the less appealing it is. All narratives are fact-based, what makes the "scientific method" narrative unappealing is that it is open-ended. There is a narrative of "scientism" which is that science has an answer for everything, and that is appealing. But if someone who subscribes to "scientism" asks a follower of the "scientific method" for the "scientific answer" and the answer is "you see, things are really complex, and we don't have all the facts, but...", eyes start rolling.

Sort of like students wanting you to tell them the answer to their homework but not being really interested in an explanation.

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Mar 8th, 2007 at 11:54:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Thus the appeal of an Ideology where every question is answered and the future assured.

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre
by ATinNM on Thu Mar 8th, 2007 at 12:48:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Ok.. this is mmy  absolute personal opinion, afew. No facts involved whatsoever (now that I get your question poroperly).

I think that an  anthropologists called M. Delgado is right. He states that science is really powerful when it is combined with magical explanations.

According to him.. nothing beats science and factual science when the explanation outwards is magical and directly mythical myths clear in the air..

And I agree with him.. but now convince scientists that they should learn a lot about magic thinking and magic explanation and eyes start rolling.

My humble humble opinion... yes science together with magic thinking is more powerful that faith jumps... the mysticism .. the wonderful, the amazing is more powerful that the security.  But jump of faiths are better than plane "compelxity"

My equatiosn would be

sicence < jump of faith

science + amazement + myths >> jump of faith

At least in our society.
Ei, afew.. no proof whatsoever for this.

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Thu Mar 8th, 2007 at 01:48:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
In the following, I will use indiscriminately the words narrative and paradigm, because in this case a narrative is the rhetorical form of a paradigm.

Any new narrative/paradigm requires a leap of faith in the beginning. Verification/proof comes only afterwards. And this for very rational epistemological reasons.

First, we all believe in science, not as a religious belief, but as trust, because we are not able to make all the experiments which prove the laws of physics, chemicals, biology... We can learn which has been the process of a demonstration or experiment, but we nevertheless have to believe/trust the scientists. What makes us trust them is the specific culture and methods of the scientific community (openness, peer review, debate, reproducibility) but, at the end of the day we have to believe/trust them. Hence the scandal when a fraud is unveiled.

Second, the question of the proof is a very peculiar one in social sciences. It is very difficult to demonstrate/proof something in the field of social sciences. What they can do is propose models which have a good explanatory/heuristic power for a givens set of facts/phenomena. Only certain social sciences like experimental psychology and economy can demonstrate some  "laws", but these are "demonstrated" only within the conditions of the experimentation, and their transposition in real life is very problematic. (to use a quantum mechanics metaphor, the decoherence delay is very short...).

Third, and this has been clearly explained by Thomas Kuhn and Edgar Morin, there is a logical impossibility to demonstrate/prove the efficiency of a new narrative/paradigm. Why? Because, as it is new, it has not been widely tested/experimented. Even if the new narrative/paradigm is promising, its promises will only  be held in the future. And to test/experiment/prove it, you have to convince a significant number of persons (in Kuhn's case, scientists) who accept to drop the certainties/habits of the old narrative/paradigm and to adopt the uncertainties of the new one.

It's even more true if it's a new economic/social narrative, because you can only test/experiment it in real conditions, which means involving a number of people and institutions. For sure, your new paradigm will eventually have to deliver, otherwise, people will go back to the ancient one but, at the beginning, you have to rely upon a leap of faith.

That's the reason why I said that you have to seduce a significant number of people in order to make possible a  narrative change in the socio-economic domain.

"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet

by Melanchthon on Thu Mar 8th, 2007 at 03:27:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Only a small note to a brilliant comment.

In science you do not only have to beleive /trust in scientists.. somehow... the important thign is that yo have to believe , understand or think as relevant the scientic mythology or paradigm.

Notions like facts, experiments or reality as an object as understood in our science businenss is pure mythology.. just as another myhtology. An as any other mythology which is quite ingrained we can not avoid believing in it if we are in the business.

For a lot of people science is just a status genrator.. like religion used to be.. but for the people doing scince or understanding the notions of "fact".. and the "how"question and other basic scientific mythologies.. the real leap of faith is believing in science, whcih we do nto feel like a leap of faith because we consider ours special (as any other perosn with other mythology would do).. in the sense that it is a myth as any other one.. and as obvious as any other religion could be to a religios person or buddhism to a buddhist or any gender relation learnt or spatial symbolic strucutre in any given society.

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Fri Mar 9th, 2007 at 04:30:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
This is the Enlightenment's refutation by reductio ad absurdum.

Here's how it goes: the enlightenment produced both Kant's epistemology which made it clear that we don't know what there is (noumenon) but only our perceptions (phenomena) that we assume caused by a noumenon and so allow us to infer things about it. The enlightenment also produced the narrative of the scientific revolution and the scientific method, and the belief that reason is a powerful force that can ultimately address and solve any problem. Then people like Humboldt founded anthropology. And then anthropology shows us just how fragile the basis for rationalism, the enlightenment and the scientific method is: it's just a narrative, and not a particularly appealing one at that.

We're doomed, I tell you, doomed.

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Mar 9th, 2007 at 04:55:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Gee.. that's a great summary!!!!!

But we are not doomed (well maybe .... I just hope not)... if we apply your ideas about a scholars and my ideas about using magic thinking to transmit ideas about science...everything is solved :)

That would make science particularly appealing!!!!!

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Fri Mar 9th, 2007 at 05:11:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It's not my ideas, it's Morris Kline's.

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Mar 9th, 2007 at 05:33:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You need a scholar who can read about magic thinking applied to maths .. or physics. or biophysics.. or whatever...and also can teach well...

A pleasrue

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Fri Mar 9th, 2007 at 09:16:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
A scholar performing the functions we have just described may not be a good teacher.


"It's the statue, man, The Statue."
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Mar 9th, 2007 at 09:33:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Teacher of the public.. so may be...

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Fri Mar 9th, 2007 at 10:25:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I agree that we have to believe in science in order to believe the scientists (in their field). That's what I meant when I said "What makes us trust them is the specific culture and methods of the scientific community (openness, peer review, debate, reproducibility)". I could have added scientific myths, heroes and medals...

But I beg to differ: I think there is a difference between the religious belief/creed and the rational belief/trust. The difference lies in the revocability of trust and the radical doubt that is at the heart of the scientific culture (and which you practise with incomparable virtuosity...). The religious belief/creed in science leads to scientism, as Migeru says somewhere in this thread.


"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet

by Melanchthon on Fri Mar 9th, 2007 at 05:04:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I see.

And sure.. there is a difference..absolutely .. no doubt.. each mythology is absolutely different, and of course religion and science are...

Although Kant envisioned that both would address different issues...pity, people did not like Kant and his "!how" and "why" questions.

So in mythologies, mechansims and basis , the same.. content, different... and I guess you know which mythology I like more... or trust more :)

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Fri Mar 9th, 2007 at 05:08:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
why is proof an insufficient narrative form?

The question is what moves/motivates us ?

The strongest drivers of our behaviour are emotional/affective, even if they can be channelled or oriented by rationality.

If I am a progressive, it's not because I have made a long comparative study between right-wing and left-wing narratives and decided the second ones performed better! This came afterwards. I am a progressive because I place some values like justice and equality above others and because I am moved by the obscene level of injustice of the society in which we live.

Any proof or demonstration only makes sense within a certain set of values.

"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet

by Melanchthon on Wed Mar 7th, 2007 at 06:54:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And all this general narrative comes in a culture where emotions and affectios are given spetial roles. Otherwise you dcould not even think that way.

For example we do not adscribe feelings with state of movements.. or states of objectsa s other people do... or consider humans to be "all  bout emotions".

We also have a strong mythology about humans being necessarily affective which makes by the way any scientific analysis of emotions almost impossible to carry on given the strong cutlrual baggage stating that all emotions are universal..even when they evidently are not.

So I could not agree more with you. It is within a framework about emotions.. and with a way of looking at the world.. and understanding injustice that we are left-wing... and it is this narrative and explanation that drives us... And I am personally proud of it.

Demonstration comes later on.. and absolutely.. and only becasue we value proof if we adquired and assmilated the "scientific imagianry" (which by the way it is clearly not universal in western societies sicne you can live perfectly without understanding science as a mere status generator).

Dead on.

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Wed Mar 7th, 2007 at 07:09:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
When I said "within a certain set of values", I should have said: within a certain set of definitions, values, rules, methods, scales, visions and stories... in other words within a certain paradigm.  

As Thomas S.Kuhn and Edgar Morin pointed it, the only way to make people think/behave in a new narrative/paradigm is to seduce them into adopting it. So, the key word is seduction...


"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet

by Melanchthon on Wed Mar 7th, 2007 at 07:51:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The values are, er, rationalised rationally. You're quite right they're not caused by narratives - or reason.

But people still persist in trying to persuade others using pseudo-rational narratives. And sometimes they even succeed.

I think values like justice and equality are already narrative statements. The emotional roots for the soft left probably come down to empathy, curiosity and inclusiveness.

The hard left seems more likely to be driven by jealousy, and a desire for revenge against parental figures.

The right seems to live on a dominance/submission axis, where the prize for dominance and 'success' is the right to live out your instincts with only minimal guilt.

(This is maybe one reason they prefer authoritarian values. They know how dangerous they are - they assume everyone else is just as dangerous and can't be trusted without external control.)

You can't map these root emotions into each other. Left and right narratives make no sense to other side, because they literally lack the emotional make-up that gives them a foundation.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Wed Mar 7th, 2007 at 07:49:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You can't map these root emotions into each other. Left and right narratives make no sense to other side, because they literally lack the emotional make-up that gives them a foundation.

In T.S. Kuhn terms : incommensurability

Whereas I share most of your view, I beg to disagree on one essential issue: Apart from a (more or less) small number of fanatics, most of the people share share a certain set of basic human values, but they do not prioritise them in the same order. Example: for some people of the right, individual freedom is the highest value. It is also a value I share, but I don't put it above social justice.

That's the reason why (except for the fanatics), it is possible to discuss and make alliance with people from the right and even seduce them into a progressive narrative (see above).

"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet

by Melanchthon on Wed Mar 7th, 2007 at 08:08:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
mmm, nice and chewy, ta kc.

stockholm syndrome fascinates me, as does masochism.

as children we figure out on a gut level who our captors are, and how to please them. if they run naked around a maypole before dinner, we soon see the advantages of aping this behaviour, life is so much more peaceful when one doesn't rebel against the status quo...

the problems arise when other, potentially conflicting myths start to exert their attractions.

on a gut level, perhaps we are shifting allegiances to peers, who are going to be around, influencing our survival, after or parents are dead and gone, becoming the 'deciders' of much of our destinies, our new 'captors', if you will.

in short, i believe the friction between the first 'safe ' narratives, into which we are born, and the cultural memes that encourage us to wonder and question if perhaps the model to which we unthinkingly adhere is really more akin to 'reality' than the exciting new models our parents are clueless about, (but which haven't yet been time-tested).

for my generation, the advent of psychotropic agents that were a quantum leap beyond the recreational 'drugs of choice' for my parents' martini generation, is a perfect example of this dichotomy, but there are many.

how our parents handle our 'deviance', and in turn how we handle THAT, are the two principle factors in how we navigate adolescence, which of course determines so much of what we call 'character' or 'personality', ie the traits that are most rooted in our psychological make-up at the most crucial formative stages, becoming the most embedded and difficult to modify.

i prefer the word 'modulate' actually, as modify is a bit utilitarian for the delicate 'wetwork' involved.

as for crackers and rocks, when was the first apprehension that all was not what it seemed?

i remember the sense of betrayal when, even emptying out the whole brand new cereal box on the table to find him, the little plastic toy promised on the box, and he WASN'T THERE!!!

around 4 or 5 i guess.

natch, as soon as the wool starts to shift from the optics, the road to all-out scepticism is swift and short, as there is little so dignity-stripping as failing to follow the 'right' ideas.

my dad being an advertising man certainly helped me look at the meta around trust, belief and gullibility early and often.

it was odd to learn that other families didn't gather round the boobtoob to watch the new 'cheezwhiz' commercial, for example.

a useful lesson in the proclivity for lies that is such a feature of the 'free marketista' ideology, and how many of us grown adults are still sifting through the cornflakes in search of the 'satisfaction' promised on the box, and still beating ourselves up for having believed it.

see where masochism fits in?

and to remedy the pain from that, we are encouraged to collaborate in snaring others into the same mire, as misery loves company, and why should someone else go free, when being enslaved is the right and proper survival strategy?

i mean. we're all in this together, sink or swim, right?

right?

sure buddy....now please sign here....

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Wed Mar 7th, 2007 at 06:15:21 PM EST
I love always love your deconstructions of present subtle pereceptions... or even discourses.

Besides parents and peers there is what some people call inmate mythologies. Structures of mind so ingrained that the are needed in language and minimal social awareness whcih can be different form culture to culture (or language to language)

These kind of mythological structures are called by me fundamental mythologies in the sense that you can not think they are wrong..even when you are shown others.

In this sesne most of the marketista , and drugs, and masochistic is not fundamental (it is of course very relevant, very, absolutely but I can certainly beleive they are wrong).

So about your point about first explnations and more complex memes about asking "ourselves" that appear later on in our culture.. I could not agree more about the description. But I doubt you can really change the truly fundamental ones.

I really can not stop thinking myself as myself.. there is no way back...as much as I know that other people never thougth that way..and understand that the "self" myth is one extreme myth among others.. I can not stop thinking it about as "ture".. not in the sense of "fact".. but I feel it that way..as much as I would like to quit thinking that way.

You and willchurch seem to imply that you can really modify or even change these basics , basic western urban myths... through mediation, or experiences, and the help of other memes and other ideas.... I am just not sure..

I stress, not sure.. which means it could be completely true... it is just that I have not experienced myself in the ones I think as very deep myths. On the other hand, it is certainly possible that I ahve modified some myths without me being aware of the fact.. some myths that other people find obvious and obviously true..and that for me they are no longer true in an absolute sense of the word.

So I really do not know...

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Wed Mar 7th, 2007 at 07:03:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
thanks, kc, i appreciate it.

i don't know either.....

because the farther i go into looking for the 'original kernel', inside myself, there are just onion layers, one after the other.

i sometimes get the feeling i am protected by some invisible 'governor' that adjusts the flow of novelty, so as not to become overwhelmed...

so there is a feeling of not being able to open the sluice gates completely, even if one wanted to.

just enough to irrigate...

the onions...

i know i'm tired by how many meta4's i mix!

fantastic reply, btw, though i'm still puzzling over whether you meant 'innate' or 'inmate' in your second graph-

works either way, a bit hit-or-myth, huh?

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Wed Mar 7th, 2007 at 07:39:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
LOL!!!!

I love the original kernel stuff!!!.. that was a real good one.. I felt like if you were thinking in my head (as a bororo would say).. Love it.. original kernel.. a linux one I hope :)

I meant innate.. but actually is not the right word.. because it is cultary innate.. not brain-innate that comes from birth... :)

Your wording is the right actually.. some kind of basic cultural kernel.. Like notions of self and/or community,  sapce and boudnary structures. Cateogrization structures and vertical or horizontal structures/hierarchies. Patriarchal, Matriarchal, bilineal ... family units... this kind of stuff... All of it..

And there are always onion rings about these things..and they are there.. and even when you know they are there youc an not avoid thinking in this terms.. they are still your  onions even if you would like  to change some of them for garlic!!! Geeee

Love it.

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Wed Mar 7th, 2007 at 07:48:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks for this diary and for pointing to this article, kcurie! It was worth waiting!


"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet
by Melanchthon on Wed Mar 7th, 2007 at 06:56:54 PM EST
Indeed, humans have innate tendency for belief. Yet, having a universal model does make evolutionary sense. Firstly, even wrong models can give adequate answers in important situations. Secondly, a belief like in God offers a psichological safe harbour. Humanoids without ability to believe had little surviving chances, we must assume.

Humans indeed seek narratives (language ability pushed our evolution) and "alpha" leadership (we are primates). That is why purely logical argumentation has little appeal for most people. That does not mean that progressives should avoid rational argumentation in politics. It rather means, we should master story telling and charismatic leadership as well, or just go for spotlight roles more often.

In particular, the current unassailable status of free markets and power policies became creeping normalcy, under light but persistent pressure of business interests, with no adequate opposition.

by das monde on Wed Mar 7th, 2007 at 07:44:24 PM EST
Love the comment!!!.. but alpha males .. I am sorry I do not buy it.. no proof about it :)

I can give you all the names of matriarchal societies where the dominant roles in magic and shamanism were given/lead by women you may want. I love the bolivean matrairchats.. love them... it is so nice to see the alpha discoursed crushed so nicely with a simple ethnography! This basic antrhopological data destroy all alpha related discourse. It is actually an artifact a particular western vision of the world, not science (as far as I know)

And actually , most of the people do not believe alpha male stuff is even close to anything that happens in all primates ( it hink there is littel doubt it never happened in humans where geneder roles ara a mistery and only hints that they were as complex as now have surfaced.. if I remember correctly). Actually bononos do not have alpha primates in any meaningful use of the term.. and bononos are primates.

I agree with the rest though.. :)

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Wed Mar 7th, 2007 at 07:55:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, alpha does not have to be male thing in this context. My core suspicion is that social systems without clear leadership structure are not sufficiently developed in human "practice".

Nevertheless, I am concerned that there were no big matriarchal societes thriving until the modern times. Can agression of male tribes be the only reason? Or is there some complication (of over-excitement?!) that feminine societies have yet to overcome?

But women can be the only thing to save this world. You see, a big lot of modern consumption comes from men doing their best to please their women. If only women would say that they don't necessarily need a landscape destroyed to have own happy corner created, or would shift their choice preferences somewhat, the world could be saved amazingly easy.

by das monde on Wed Mar 7th, 2007 at 08:47:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It all depends on how you define trhiving.. if by thriving you mean technological development .. you are right.. but there were only a few of them who get clearly ahead on that area.

If you think thriving is solving the social instabilities... and social problems.. or that thriving is having a complex socio-symbolic structures (rich and amazing).. then patriarhal and amtriarchal cna give you examples of both (and the eskimos with their family being our"type" of family as well).

Would you like some reading about it?

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Thu Mar 8th, 2007 at 05:26:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
By thriving I mean a relatively stable society continuing up to modern times. I am keen to see an interesting example (by any definition), but I would like then to know what happened at its end as well.
by das monde on Thu Mar 8th, 2007 at 07:07:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Myabe you woudl like this

http://www.second-congress-matriarchal-studies.com/du.html

Of course fighting back means exaggerating a little bit your claims like they did in the congress.. but I could get the data from the narrative behind.

Egalitarian gender societies exist indeed and they could be the majority thousands of years ago before civilization... Gender division is a civilaztory characteristic I would dare to say (almost without porrof).

Even int he last two hudnred years the number of soceities where both gneder roles were different but equally relevant and even they can be interchangeable did exist.

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Thu Mar 8th, 2007 at 05:47:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
What would they say in this diary?
by das monde on Thu Mar 8th, 2007 at 07:10:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
There are lot of societies where the concept of self-interest does nto exist.. Actually the great majority ... actually only ours has a concept of self so much in the "extreme".

We and the bororos (not to be confused with the bononos) have two extrme vision .. we believe in "self" explicitly, bororos believe in the "colletivity of minds" explicitly.. most of the others society do not give a damn about those mythes. I mena they do nto have it, they do not exist. Most societies are positional.

It is not that they do not give a damn.. it is just no in their world view.. like adolescence for most of socieities except us this concept doe snot exist. (well actually even my grandma did not know about that adolescence stuff sicne the adolescence myths is quite recentn like fifty years).

The proper question is how you change such a basic and fuandmental mythology of western societies like the one about "you are one entity whose sense in the world is to become a person adn become better,and improve..and grow".. well you know all that stuff about being one person aand independent which must look for self-realization.

It is an absolute fact that in this case our culture is not really the mainstream one (by mainstream I mean number of societies, not of people) and actually this mythology came quite late in our technological development.. although some people claim that it helped to give the last push in the industrial revolution.

So Colman problem is "our" problem .. not the problem of human kind.

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Thu Mar 8th, 2007 at 07:31:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I agree much. It is tricky to accept that your world view is not mainstream in a large picture, especially when it is most influential at the moment.
by das monde on Thu Mar 8th, 2007 at 07:46:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
There are lot of societies where the concept of self-interest does nto exist

I don't believe you: citations please?  I can believe that the expression, phrasing and emphasis is different but I have a hard time believing that there is no concept of self-interest. How do you avoid starving to death if you're not willing to act in your own interest?

You're generally citing precisely the isolated cultures outside the mainstream. The Chinese were discussing the tension between self-interest and group-interest thousands of years ago as well. Not sure about the Indians, but since they tended to act as the bridge between China and Europe I'd assume they were infected too.

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Mar 8th, 2007 at 08:11:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You're generally citing precisely the isolated cultures outside the mainstream.

You're clearly an unreconstructed evil imperialist and must be reeducated.

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Mar 8th, 2007 at 08:20:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
We knew that already.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Mar 8th, 2007 at 08:44:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Resistance is futile.

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Mar 8th, 2007 at 09:03:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
As a side issue, how isolated in breeding terms are the populations you're talking about? To what extent have environmental pressures differentiated the balance of their innate tendencies from those of the mainstream? And to what extent is the balance of tendencies in 21st C humans different to that of 18th C humans. Does improved nutrition change mental development? How many complicating factors can I dig up here?
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Mar 8th, 2007 at 08:46:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
How many complicating factors can I dig up here?

You're just trying to confuse the issue.

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Mar 8th, 2007 at 08:59:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
No, just trying to point out that the issue is confused.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Mar 8th, 2007 at 09:01:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You see, a big lot of modern consumption comes from men doing their best to please their women.

Because women don't spend a lot of effort consuming and displaying, no.

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Mar 8th, 2007 at 05:50:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Nope. Only men compete for mates and status. Well known fact.

Please ignore the fashion industry, if you wouldn't mind.

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Mar 8th, 2007 at 06:00:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
My snarkometer is giving me an ambiguous reading.

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Mar 8th, 2007 at 06:01:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Much of the fashion stuff comes onto guy's account anyway, eventually ;-)
by das monde on Thu Mar 8th, 2007 at 08:58:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
This is an old fashioned male chauvinist comment

"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet
by Melanchthon on Fri Mar 9th, 2007 at 04:01:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I meant something more mysterious. But yeah, I realize I did not make myself look good. I will have to pay for this...
by das monde on Fri Mar 9th, 2007 at 04:39:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Actually bononos do not have alpha primates in any meaningful use of the term.. and bononos are primates.

Hey, bonobos have sex for fun, are matriarchal and the women exchange sexual favours for material goods. We can't allow people to know that we're as close to them genetically as to the patriarchal, warlike and cannibalistic chimpanzees.

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Mar 8th, 2007 at 06:00:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That would be certainly dangerous.

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Thu Mar 8th, 2007 at 06:15:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Am I the only person unconvinced by the 'Some monkeys do it this way, and since we're monkeys our natural state is to do it that way too'?

It looks like a pseudo-explanation no matter which side you come at it from.

The idea seems to be that there's a natural form of expression which we could all enjoy if only if it weren't for our social conditioning, and which is 'better' than our social conditioning because it's 'natural.'

What if being conditioned socially actually is our natural state?

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Thu Mar 8th, 2007 at 08:53:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The analogies with our relatives are useful insofar as they give us some idea of the range of behaviours of other animals similar to us in many ways. The assorted ape's behaviours are social conditioned to some extent as well. The ape studies are mostly in opposition the the myth of male-dominated hierarchy as the "natural" state of mankind.

Being socially conditioned is our natural state, but we don't start from a blank slate - we are primed in all sorts of ways and the innate tendencies vary from person to person. If the social conditioning is too much in conflict with our instincts and needs then there is excessive tension and the situation isn't very stable or much fun.

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Mar 8th, 2007 at 09:00:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The analogies with our relatives are useful insofar as they give us some idea of the range of behaviours of other animals similar to us in many ways.

That would be useful if it were true. But that's not how I see these studies being used. The Social Darwinists and the Bonobo Fans both seem to be intent on creating narratives that say we 'should' be like their subjects because it's 'natural.'

I don't think that's a valid premise. In fact I think it should be challenge vigorously.

As for the possible range of behaviours - when you have anthropological studies that seem to cover almost every imaginable social structure - the range of actual human expression is already wide enough without needing to draw on animal studies.

Being socially conditioned is our natural state, but we don't start from a blank slate - we are primed in all sorts of ways and the innate tendencies vary from person to person.

That's also true and personal differences seem to be under-appreciated in these models.

But that's more or less the point I'm trying to make - there is no 'right' culture, and no 'natural' one. And the range of possible cultures is huge.

It's the diversity and adaptability that's unique to humans. Not some specific ethological instantiation.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Thu Mar 8th, 2007 at 09:07:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The Social Darwinists and the Bonobo Fans both seem to be intent on creating narratives that say we 'should' be like their subjects because it's 'natural.'

We have an ongoing cultural problem with the conflation of 'natural' with 'desirable'.

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Mar 8th, 2007 at 09:15:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
So there's one narrative that says "whatever is natural is desirable". What are the alternative narratives?

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Mar 8th, 2007 at 09:21:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]



"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet
by Melanchthon on Thu Mar 8th, 2007 at 09:40:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Mr Natch has spoken!

And a 10 for Melanchthon!

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu Mar 8th, 2007 at 12:14:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
So who is Mr Natural here? (And where did you find this?? This is great!!)

"Once in awhile we get shown the light, in the strangest of places, if we look at it right" - Hunter/Garcia
by whataboutbob on Thu Mar 8th, 2007 at 02:06:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
where did you find this??

Melanchthon's Dual-BrainTM Technology


"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet

by Melanchthon on Thu Mar 8th, 2007 at 03:34:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
So who is Mr Natural here?

I suggest a poll...


"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet

by Melanchthon on Thu Mar 8th, 2007 at 03:36:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The narrative isn't about being desirable, but about being inevitable.

You can't argue with human nature, after all. Although oddly no one seems to agree what human nature is.

It's just another variation on the traditional 'God says you should...' gambit, with more a pseudo-scientific gloss.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Thu Mar 8th, 2007 at 12:28:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I coudl not agree more.

Nothing is natural in humans.. or all almost nothing is natural..

And now let's gonna discuss why there are some universal traits to all humans... That's tough , man and as I say either you can explin it purely on cultural terms or as a combiantion of environment biology and cultural cahnge.. but each case is different. Stuff is complex as Migeru's says :)

And the last sentence.. you nail it my friend.

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Thu Mar 8th, 2007 at 01:59:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Count me unconvinced as well.

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre
by ATinNM on Thu Mar 8th, 2007 at 11:43:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The "need to believe" as Darwinian adaptation can be explained by sustained individual functionality, or our ability to keep a social function and relationships despite going through any sort of dire circumstance.

Reality, it appears, is more accurately portrayed by the clinically depressed. Using a therm i find very appealing, they have their Psychological Immune System malfunctioning. This PIS does all sorts of funny tricks to keep us happy, it's what a horrible experience becomes uplifting and a learning and growing experience, when we look back at it after some time. It actively paints reality in beautiful colors whenever it can (sometimes its just not possible, of course).

This way we can carry on nourishing our offspring or searching for mates, hence the Darwinian aspect.

http://www.edge.org/3rd_culture/gilbert05/gilbert05_index.html

by Torres on Thu Mar 8th, 2007 at 07:24:00 AM EST
I do not like darwin approach for the "need of blief". I clearly stated that I hate the frame "need of belief" like if we were stupid...

Besides, it is a wrong approach... things do not ahppen because of adaptation to anything.

the darwing approach is like a child that can not accept taht we may not know how soemthing worked out so we invent a fairy history to calm us down..s ure sure.t here is an exaplanation.. look if some group or person beat another one because he was 2best". This is not onlya  disgusting approach.. is usign psuedo-science to carry the water for a particualrly western and hierarchical structure of the world. The darwin appraoch looking at soem adaptative advantage is a nonsense from my poin of view.

Animals , chimps, bononos lived in a complex environemnt with multiple interactions and relations. the complexity that can self-arised in this network landscape makes any attempt to approach this problem in this way futile.

It merely shows the biased opinions of the researcher. it is not science.. it is pseudo-science.

I also can not share your opinions about happines or sadness.. it recalls me of some pshychologists trying to defend that they could do exactly their work with the eskimos, the dowayos, the dogon ... and so on and on. Happiness is universal like deression (despite clear evuidence to the contrary) the freudian or purely pshychological approach is nonsense. Emotions are mostly narratives (maybe with a couple of exception whcih are truly universal like empathy or fear) about how we must behave.. they do not have an independent-frame  values .. they depend on the frame. So they can nto explain why we do things.

So I must and do completely disagree with you...

But great to show the disagreement :)

A pleasure


I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Thu Mar 8th, 2007 at 07:41:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Being that humans are biological beings, to start with, i don't see the problem with trying to trace certain traits  to their biological roots.
As for meme theory, the jury is still out on its validity on explaining cultural phenomena, and i agree other avenues may prove more fruitful.

Having said that, i do believe that most cultural human diversity we witness is a fruit of it's environment. (Here im using a broad definition of environment, including history and other cultures).

"Need to believe" or the "need to construct compelling narratives" are, for me, one and the same thing. Both are attempts at a coherent and functional representation of reality.

As a side note i think there is a lot of prejudice regarding Darwinism. Darwinism is a description not a prescription. "Social Darwinism" and other similar ideas gave it a bad name, but anyone familiar with the naturalistic fallacy should be able to see through the misconstructions.

Finally, i must add that i don't feel qualified to extend this debate much further as i got my understanding of these matters mostly from my Biology course and books of popular science. I admit sometimes i'm lost when you go deeper into anthropology 's terminology. :)

by Torres on Thu Mar 8th, 2007 at 09:57:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
No problem whatsoever to look for bioogical explanations int he environemnt biology and culture when there are universal traits. No problem.. my problem is with the so-called purely darwinian explanation (oh yes i know darwin was a much more better scientists that all his followers make it to him, it is amazing how many things people say he said that he never actually uttered. Darwin was an incredibly good scientist by any measure of the word).

And as I have said we disagree in your second paragraph in the sense that most cultural evolution is probably self-contained. Some elements can certainly have a mixture of biology and culture..and be two sides of the smae coin.. but I really fight out any attempt to disentegrate culture and environment and fix biology and environemnt as the leading role for cutlure. Not at all.Cultural questions should be answered either with purely cultural frames/research or with integrated research. Normally, people who do not follow that path  and try to explain culture as a sbusidiary of some kind of folk biology have a clear agenda behind.. they try to fix our cultural situation as soemthing given by "nature" that you can not fight. It is one of the most dangerous aspects of the bad-use of science. I feel responsable for it .. so I fight back at every iopportunity :)

Third paragrpah and fourth.. could not agree more!!!

And finally..well I am  physicist working in biology.. go figure!!!

A real pleasure to argue with you torres!!!

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Thu Mar 8th, 2007 at 01:56:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I meant before that thinking that happiness and depression or sadness has an universal value like pshychologists thinks, goes agaisnt all the data recollected.. despite that, most phychologists stillt hing that their science universal.

they do not let any study or ethnography messed with their preconceived view.

So feelings do explain things.. but not in a vacuum. that was my point. They explain things but you need the context, this is why happiness or sadness can not give you a general answer to a general proble involving all societies.

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Thu Mar 8th, 2007 at 07:48:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
what if religions were attempts to codify evolutionarily advantageous behaviour into narratives, for the purpose of social engineering?

so the early gods/avatars were hammer-wielding thugs, or wise, placid meditators, or flute-playing satyr/warriors, polygamous camel-trading merchants or gentle, self-sacrificial shamans, depending on the locality and era.

all bound by imaginations forged in the preglobal epoch,

as each religion strives to propagate beyond its original geography, it hits various bumps, because it was customised for its indigenes, and finds its valence diminishes with travel, like wine.

it's true that christianity has spread to some pretty far-flung corners, as has islam, so this theory has some holes, lol!

what we don't yet have is a narrative that speaks truly universally, one that can leap continents with a message-myth that resonates with every person, and embodies the virtues we want to celebrate, pay homage to, and guide our little ones towards.

there are a few religions that have the integrity imo to be acceptable candidates, the native american, the taoist, tibetan buddhist,pure christian, and animist ones that are basically democratic and unsexist at heart.

but they have so far been dominated by basically undemocratic, heirarchical, sexist belief systems, alas...

and social engineering-wise.....it's a right fuckup, mostly.

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Thu Mar 8th, 2007 at 03:35:53 PM EST
I've thoroughly enjoyed reading the diary and everybody's contributions, sorry it took so long to catch up with this one.  Great stuff to think about.  

I'm deconstructing and reconstructing my own narratives as I sit here!

by In Wales (inwales aaat eurotrib.com) on Fri Mar 9th, 2007 at 03:05:21 AM EST
what a rich, meaningful diary and discussion!

it's indeed a pleasure...

reading what you write, kc, windows open to the light of understanding in my mind.

i look forward to opening many more in your company, muchos grazias.

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Mon Mar 12th, 2007 at 04:02:21 AM EST


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