Trump and the Republican Senate of 2020 to present is the greatest Marxist influence on out government in the history of our country.
Chuck Scheumer and Nancy Pelosi got the best Christmas of their life in the Summer of 2020 when Trump wanted to give everyone in the country free stuff. As long as Trump got to put his name on the check so that everyone would know that Big Government = Trump and we can bow down and thank Big Trump Government for saving us from the harsh reality of Capitalist Market forces. Then he followed it up with the the closest thing we’ve ever had to UBI by giving everyone zero reason to work for a year because Big Trump Government gave them $600 a week PLUS unemployment.
This state of affairs started in the early 2000’s. Conservatives who were against “tax and spend” Democrats became “borrow and spend” Republicans. Just instead of social programs they spent trillions on a fake war and the trillions of dollars disappeared into the pockets of corrupt Iraqi and Afghan politicians - and then was laundered and probably ended up funding ISIS and other terrorist organizations. Instead of helping Americans.
Then followed the “Anti-Obama” years - eight years where the only priority was to be against Obama. If Obama went left, they went right. If Obama went right, they supported left.
We now find ourselves in a situation where the word Marxism as used by @FermentedAgave no longer has any meaning. It’s like a 1st grader calling people “poopy head”. It just means “I have no logical reason and can’t explain it consistently and rationally - I just don’t like you.”
So again - back to why I love Zizek - “Where are the Marxists? Name one.”
I’ll tell you why this is so difficult - The Marxist, when looked at in a logical unbiased way - is @FermentedAgave
The communists came into power in Russia and Eastern Europe by pointing the finger at a group and saying “poopy head”. Then they got enough people saying “poopy head” and it became the truth and the majority believed it. The economic system was completely besides the point, just as it is now in the United States. The parallel between Marxism in the 1930’s to the1960’s and Trump Republicanism in the 2010’s to the 2030’s is that they are both cognitively hypocritical and inconsistent and cover this by arbitrarily choosing an external enemy and calling them “poopy head”.
The holistic spitiual perspective … “At any point in history, the political ideal is to let each stage be itself, and govern from the highest reasonably available at any given time.”
The globalist plutocratic perspective might read … "Drive political chaos and isolation to each stage by itself, magnify the division pitting neighbor against neighbor making them all vulnerable to accept any change that presents itself.”
In the early 2000’s I worked about 10 years for the Ministry of Defense of an Eastern European country designing and administering English examinations that were required for admissions to NATO.
I recognized a META very early and implemented it in a way to screen out Communists enmeshed in the military and ensure they never advanced.
The META was simple - if I asked a question about certain topics they experienced immediate and deep cognitive overload and could no longer even utter a basic sentence in English, much less answer the question.
Let’s say they could normally pass Defense Language Institute Level 3. If they were asked a question about LGBT, feminism, or any other “woke” topic, they might immediately regress to level 1. Note I didn’t care what their answer actually was. For example, many on the exam panel were religious and socially conservative to a degree not seen in the US since the 1950’s. The other panelists just observed that the candidate’s English fell apart and they could not even form a basic sentence.
I return to the US a few years later and notice the same trend most obviously in what we used to call “Regan Democrats”, who we can now call “Trump Republicans”. The observation being that when presented with a direct logical challenge to their position, their emotional response is strong and their cognitive faculties decline inverse to their emotional response.
This only happens to the most extreme militant on the left, but happens in the rank and file on the right.
On the topic of Trump American Socialism -
Let’s just beat this dead horse and recognize that Trump was elected to bring back American Jobs that were in industries that are no longer competitive in a Modern Capitalist economy.
Coal and steel workers did and do not want to re-train to a new career or move to where the new jobs are. Instead, they want Big Trump Government to bring their jobs back and use the power of government to force it. That is Marxism, plain and simple.
The methods Trump tried to use to accomplish this was protectionism and forcing our allies to buy our steel using political pressure to override market forces. Again, this is right out of Stalin’s “How to Communism” playbook.
Love it. As I’ve said, I think most of the time our MGM vs. MAM culture wars are just a MOM distraction. Whenever enough political capital starts to build up to actually better-regulate our plutocratic-owned economy, a whole new batch of culture war issues come to the surface.
The people: “Hey guys, let’s maybe do something about massive wealth inequality, poverty, the breakdown of economic mobility and the disappearing middle class.”
@corey-devos I just wanted to stick my head into this conversation with my observation that your “major scales of integral politics” and “minor scales of integral politics” are upper-level manifestations (cultural, systemic) of lower level (primal) principles based in semiotics. Or to rephrase this another way, these major and minor scales are not just complex structures realized in an advanced intellect (Ken Wilber). They are upper-level manifestations of the primal dynamics that play out at the lower, semiotic level.
Ken has referenced semiotic theory in the past, and there is the following link that introduces the relevance of semiotic theory to the Integral movement:
But I think it might be helpful to our cause to also delve more deeply and directly into the semiotic side of the theory, because semiotics provides major insights into the source of our motivations and behaviors.
The semiotic theory of American philosopher Charles Sanders Peirce defines the categories of firstness, secondness and thirdness. No need to be put off by such terms, these can be understood more simply, in the context of motivation (firstness), association (secondness) and habituation (thirdness).
Agency theory, within the semiotic context, incorporates the mind-body unity to explain the choices to which an agent is predisposed. A human agent with hands and vocal-chords is predisposed to making choices from culture, while a swimming agent with scales and fins is predisposed to making choices from its ecosystem in water. The human agent and the finned agent are predisposed (firstness, motivation) to make very different kinds of choices (secondness, association, associative learning) that are learned and persist across time (thirdness, habituation), thus accounting for very different kinds of behavior. These behaviors are not “programmed” into a genetic code, but learned. They are habits. The self is a habit. Thoughts are habits. To quote Peirce, “The man is the thought.”
Biosemiotic theory extends the semiotic theory of CS Peirce more generally to non-human agents, such as the fish example, above. The biosemiotic interpretation factors in mind-body predispositions. We have Jakob von Uexküll to thank for that. He also played a crucial role in the development of systems theory; from Wikipedia (Humberto Maturana): “(Maturana) was inspired by the work of biologist Jakob von Uexküll.”
Why is (bio)semiotic theory so important? Here are some of its implications:
The systems that you and Ken describe are habitual systems (cultural) based in associations (associative learning), which account for agents’ (people) behavior, their motivations and their resistance to change. Thus, an example in the context of gender roles in human culture:
Gender roles are habits (thirdness, habituation);
Gender roles are chosen (secondness, associative learning);
Men and women “like” the roles to which they have been assigned (firstness, motivation, as determined by mind-body predispositions of the agent).
From this, it follows that the gender-role controversies that play out in our current zeitgeist require a semiotic interpretation in order to be better understood and addressed. It helps to know that gender roles are just habits. It helps to know that gender roles are our choices and our complicity playing out within the web of culture and its interconnections.
@corey-devos you make several important references above that are of special semiotic significance, for example, externalist vs internalist, and Agape (love as a form of motivation). To the outsider not familiar with the connections that you are making, this can seem a lot to take in. But if we frame it all in the context of semiotic theory, we provide a platform for making it richer, and all the more obvious and self-evident.
FURTHER EXAMPLES AND IMPLICATIONS
Did you know that the Peircean categories apply also to neurons (and other cellular forms)? From the work of Eric Kandel, we know that neurons also learn by association and habituation. And AH Klopf’s book, The Hedonistic Neuron, provided the basis for the associative learning algorithms in neural-net architectures. Hence the relevance of BIOsemiotics;
A human whose only tool is a man’s body will perceive the world differently from a human whose only tool is a woman’s body (inferred from Mark Twain’s famous aphorism, “A man whose only tool is a hammer will perceive the world in terms of nails”);
A human whose only tool is a dolphin’s body will perceive the world as a dolphin perceives it (do we see where we are going with this? It relates to the importance of subjective experience and the subjectivity/objectivity controversy… it ain’t in the genes, there is no such thing as “objective” reality). The mind-body relationship is primary.
TRANSLATING ALL THIS TO THE CULTURAL-POLITICAL SPHERE
Translating semiotic to the cultural-political sphere is how I interpret Integral Life’s mission, imho. But more general implications are as follows:
The semiotic paradigm opens the way for “knowing how to be” and Heidegger’s Dasein;
Religions have generally been open to the role of “knowing how to be” because they’ve not been infected by neo-Darwinian determinism; though I do find the because-God anthropocentrism of Judeo-Christainity to also be problematic. The not-God of neo-Darwinism is in part a knee-jerk reaction to the because-God of the anthropocentric, humans-r-speshul fundamentalists, and both remain trapped in their human exceptionalism;
This is a living universe. And it is immense. One of the problems with the current political landscape is that narratives are framed in the context of existing dualities as we’ve experienced them. We keep deferring to earthbound examples, never universal examples that are beyond our experience. Left versus Right. Asian versus Occident. Patriarchy versus Matriarchy. But if the universe is as immense as implied in the Hubble deep-field views, shouldn’t there exist many, many more possibilities that are beyond our comprehension to imagine?
By confining our thinking to earthbound examples, we lose sight of the possibilities, and therefore the possibilities for transformation. There are possibilities that are beyond our cultural domains, possibilities that cannot be imagined, and maybe even possibilities that have yet to be imagined even within the universal domain;
Human exceptionalism has provided the basis for our reliance on earthbound examples, and has been a curse to progress not just in the life sciences, but also to the cultural, social and political sciences. We need to understand that the same principles that apply to non-human animals apply also to human animals. The time for a Copernican revolution in the life sciences is long overdue, methinks;
Advanced alien cultures exist throughout the universe. It’s my default assumption. The only reason we’ve never encountered any, and are unlikely to in the future, is that the distances are too ridiculous. It will never happen unless an alternative technology is discovered. This insight implies that there are so many more possibilities to be open to. Our earthbound experiences, as the basis for our examples, keep weighing us down so long as we defer to them as our imutable “truths”.
To anyone who has read thus far, thanks for making the effort. I think I’ve gone on enough, there is much to take in.
But to summarize the purpose of this post, I think that Integral Life could benefit from increased immersion into the semiotic and its universal principles. The strife that the world is experiencing today can be attributed to our reliance on earthbound examples. We need to think outside the box, to imagine examples that we’ve not encountered, examples that must surely exist in the wider universe, a universe governed by the universal principles of semiotic theory.
In my rush to turn up for a meeting on time, I forgot to include a mention of that other “thought” that dawned on me when I was in my late 20s. It perhaps marked a turning-point in my life when I began to realize a bigger picture. Where Peirce says “the man is the thought,” I expand on his rationale with my own “the culture is the thought”. Here is the “poem” I wrote as an expression of this idea (not formatted as I would like as the html options don’t appear above, but you should get the idea):
I AM CULTURE
Sociologists studied the behaviors of crowds, and never saw my essence.
Psychologists analyzed the behaviors of individuals, and never saw my form.
Others - also with their own personal problems and private lives - have categorized, labeled and pigeonholed me.
They call me “Culture”.
But you don’t know me.
Indeed, very few people can even guess how I might affect their lives.
Yet I am responsible for the way that you and all your brothers and sisters live and interact.
I am responsible for the successes and failures of each and every one of your kind.
I am more powerful than you could ever have imagined.
Yet whole lives can be lived without ever knowing - or caring - that I exist.
Everyone sees and responds to the consequences of my power.
Each and every thought, each and every action is a direct result of interactions with my power.
Even if one of your kind knew me - even if he could know my power and would choose to rebel against it, he would be powerless.
For he is but one against… the world?
And I would cast him out. For I AM his world. And he knows no other.
For I have taught him how to interpret all he experiences.
And how to respond to all he experiences.
I have taught his parents and their parents before them.
For I am the source of his knowledge of Being.
I am his reality.
I reside within him and he, within me.
My form - his reality - is duplicated in his mind.
In isolation, he is like a piece removed from a hologram - for he contains most of the information required to duplicate my form.
Should he turn against me, he would only be turning against himself.
For I am all he knows.
This would be his demise.
For me, his demise is without consequence.
For my form lives on, in the minds of each and every one of you.
And I will continue to be, long after you have been survived by your children.
And I would banish him to beyond the fringes of the all the world’s mythos’.
I would leave him to wander in a penumbral limbo - left to stumble in the quagmire of his own insanity.
And for me, nothing changes.
I am history.
I am the present.
I am the words in your language.
I am the collective consciousness of all of you.
I change only when you all change, together.
I am you, the self is the other.
I am your reality.
You think you are superior to nature’s beasts, yet you are governed by the same laws.
For all life, all logics of every organism that has ever been are governed by the laws of habit, association, choice and desire.
You think that you are so independent,
Yet everything you know, you’ve imitated from me.
Can you really believe yourself to be beyond beast?
You, the beast with human body,
You, the beast with tongue with which to speak and hands with which to work, I give of myself that you might be.
For without me you can only ever revert to the beast whence you came,
The beast you deny, the beast that lurks in the shadows of your subconscious mind.
You, the beast of human form.
You perceive the illusion of the power that you have over your own life.
With obligations to no-one but those you know.
Trapped by the illusion of your ego.
You perceive the illusion because you can choose that which you desire.
But it is I that shapes your desires.
It is I and I alone, that delivers the options from which you must choose.
For in reality, your own life - everything you have been and will become - is intertwined with the lives of others.
A complex web of action, interaction and reaction.
The person who understands me understands himself.
He who understands me knows heaven and hell and everything between.
He who truly understands me knows thought and the sculptor of life.
And he knows to be humble.
For each of you is but a neuron in the mind of One that is far greater. And me, I am but one of His thoughts in time.
@steljarkos Great post. Very well thought out. Very much appreciate the references for Peirce and Semiotics, as well as for Stephan Jarkos works.
I would say that we might keep closer to home in looking at our intellectual “wrestling match” where many of the techniques involve time-shifting (2000 BC, slavery, Lenin,…) or place shifting (being fearful of violence occurring 3000 miles away). Neither example is a recommendation to not study history or cultural turmoil across the globe, but simply to keep in context level of immediacy and relevancy.
I think Integral Theory has already incorporated (lifted, borrowed?) Grand Theories and Universal Concepts that perhaps have taken IT many levels removed from the “plumber fixing your drain”. Integral Theory already purports to have mapped “True Integral Levels”, seemingly Rapture-sque if you will, and even specifically what these “Heaven Altitudes” look like. Not coincidentally these Integral Levels are strikingly similar the cultural visions from which IT has been derived from, the underlying Thirdness which is layered upon the Secondness upon the Firstness.
Are you recommending a perhaps reevaluation of the Integral Theory levels through the Semiotic Lens?
I am of the personal belief that humanity through interaction (communication, dialog, economic activity, warfare, etc) strives to find “better ideas”. Perhaps not the “best ideas” but at least concepts leading to constructs that are “better than that the bad ones”. We have continual feedback loops providing “signs or signals” through our classic and new structures.
I also picked up from Peterson that coming up with “ideas” is the easy part and that while interesting, we also need to remember that in actuality “most ideas are bad ideas”. Identifying the “good” ideas takes significant rigor. Having concepts manifest in society/culture/world is insanely difficult.
I do agree that perhaps the “best ideas” might very well come from “outside the box”, but we also need to be very rigorous in our evaluation and development of these ideas since “most ideas are bad ideas”. I think we naturally conflate (concepts of confirmation bias, cognitive miser, …) “having an idea” with “having a potentially good idea” to “knowing it’s a good idea”.
Perhaps. Integral Theory provides a language and useful tools for classifying dimensions that play out in culture. With a greater appreciation of semiotic theory, though (i.e., a Semiotic Lens), we can arrive at interpretations that are better able to embrace the nuances, the dynamics and their source. Semiotics, as the “science of meaning”, is more explicit in the role of choices, motivations, associations and habits, and it would be helpful to more purposefully factor in these nuances.
Very well put. Perhaps a bit of my life perspective is in order. My first language wasn’t English. Wrestling with 2 languages while growing up immediately gives one a taste of thinking “outside the box” and predisposes one to testing what’s real. A child with two or more languages asks questions about reality that a child with one language won’t.
Knowing that an idea is a good idea also takes rigor. Like you say, confirmation bias is a tough thing to master. One must continually evaluate how consistent an “outside-the-box” idea is with reality. It takes a lot of effort to be anal. The development of an idea also takes a long time. As @excecutive suggested in one of his most recent posts, reality is an unfolding. You can’t grasp it all in one sitting. Where I wrote my poem “I Am Culture” a couple decades ago, my arrival into the semiotic theory that is consistent with it is an “unfolding” that is a much more recent development. One might THINK they’ve grasped an idea in one sitting, but once the seed is planted, the unfolding can take decades, to incorporate the nuances with the bigger picture. I continue to be amazed at what I keep learning that’s new.
So am I suggesting that you just pull ideas out of thin air and not have any obligation to account for them? Not at all. Rather, I am suggesting that the universe is a big place with many, many possibilities, and an ability to intuit the scale of that possibility is its own form of rigor. By contrast, to retreat into experienced reality as the only legitimate reality is its own form of failure. What I’m suggesting is that the blind acceptance of our assumptions, without questioning them, is itself a breakdown of rigor.
I liken this to differential calculus. We have position - where we are today. We have movement or velocity of where we are - speed/velocity - 1st deriviative relative to time. And then acceleration of change.
Position (coordinates - X, Y, Z) you cannot “feel”, but can experience the location you are in. Velocity you can see the movement (dX/dt, dY/dt, dZ/dt), but actually do not “feel” it. It’s only with acceleration that we “feel” ourselves pressed into the chair on throttle, plunged towards the dashboard in braking, or pushed towards the door in a turn (actually the door pushes against you). Jerk is the most noticeable which is felt as abrupt change say from accelerating to braking or whiplash when getting rear ended.
I know this is out of physics, but not completely foreign even in social sciences. Linear equations enable humanity to describe the world and it almost all instances does describe the world.
There is very little “outside the box” that was not based on “the box” so to speak. Ideas and concepts may alter direction of cultural or societal momentum, but they are in fact altering our “boxes”.
Out of the meta modern camp, they introduce the concepts of systematic and multi systematic thinking. Systematic thinking is the ability to understand, operate proficiently within, and perhaps synthesize/expand the systems. A chemist (eg Pierce) is operating in their system at whatever level proficiency they are willing and able to operate within.
Multi systemically adds in the exponential complexity of multiple systems - say biochemistry, sociology, finance, regulatory, etc…
The natural inclination is for each of us is to discount the systems we don’t have proficiency with, much as a teenager might not understand the system of driving or household budgeting and demand a Tesla Plaid out of their psychological systems of desires, very likely trumpeting “but but it’s green. Your Ford is killing the planet!”
What I’m getting to is that there is ALWAYS for EACH and EVERY ONE of us areas within systems or multi system interactions that we just don’t understand. We then look to “black box” the not understood areas of systems or multi system interactions as irrelevant, oppressive, unfair, mystical, mythical, evil, good, incomprehensible, unknowable, or out side the box.
What I would add is that out of the 6.5B or so people on the US there are at least several million that understand the stock market better than I do, freely operate within international arbitrage, can build a car bomb out of household cleaning materials, that operate much more proficiently in political systems, that have achieved levels of religious enlightenment that I cannot fathom… And these millions of people do understand the unknowable (at least for me), they are communicating with us constantly (whether we hear them), they are continuing to strive (I’m preoccupied with my system/domain/world) and make the world (from within their domains or systems) a better place, all without me or you having to “understand” it all or even know that the work is happening. Regardless of whether I think what they are working is necessary or efficient or valuable or detrimental their human drive for achievement and contribution and perhaps greed has them to keep doing their thing.
Amen brother! There’s a reason we steep our tea, percolate our coffee, simmer our sauces, stir our drinks, savor our wines.
But likewise the new to me kambochta tea is great and all, but is it “better” than having an espresso with my aunt in an ancient city? We get to have them both.
I like your metaphor of differential calculus (us STEM types think alike, hehehe). We each move within our domains that is the self, the “I”, and if we live authentically, we are watching the dx/dt variation. We assess, we calibrate, we cross-reference. Does it all hang together? Does it make sense? Avoid confirmation bias… do this by cross-referencing across contexts. Be anal about it, and don’t let it go until you are satisfied. You want rigor… you’ve got it.
By contrast, to live inauthentically is to turn a blind eye to the incremental changes, to fail to assess, to fail to calibrate and cross-reference. The inauthentic’s priority is to belong, to fit in and to be liked. That’s blind IMITATION, the source of groupthink, and the source of what we are up against in this world gone nutso. This is the problem of the ego that Buddhists often talk about.
@FermentedAgave, you were replying to my post where I included the point: “Rather, I am suggesting that the universe is a big place with many, many possibilities, and an ability to intuit the scale of that possibility is its own form of rigor.” This can be unpacked further. There is a reason why we should take seriously a proper assessment of the scale of possibility. It is entropy. No need for a Creator. No need for woo woo. Just a simple appreciation of a couple of fundamental facts:
The persistence of complexity across time. You only need to find one place in the universe where complexity (life) persists across time, to appreciate that this is a living universe, where life will emerge anywhere and everywhere where the conditions are right. We are living on it;
As it is over here, so too, it is over there. Consider the predispositions of the void (or empty space, if you will). The void’s predispositions that led to the formation of our sector of the universe exist throughout the whole universe. The whole universe is replete with the same predispositions;
CHNOPS. It’s not a misspelling of a favorite German beverage. It refers to the life-essential elements carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen, phosphorus and sulfur. It has now been fairly well established that these life-essential elements pervade throughout the whole universe;
Assume that the elements of any one kind are identical to one another. A hydrogen atom in its natural state over here is identical to a hydrogen atom in its natural state on Andromeda;
Third power reduction. The physics of our experienced world (what we call reality) are very different to the physics of the very small. When you reduce the length/height of an entity, its mass (volume) is reduced by the third power. Strange behaviors at the atomic and subatomic levels are inevitable, because they are released from the sorts of physical constraints that we encounter. This is why such remarkable complexity is possible within cells and their DNA, why ants and spiders have long legs, and why the tiniest bugs appear like monsters from alien worlds, when viewed under an electron microscope.
We can think of this listing as our axiomatic framework. Can we now better appreciate why taking possibility seriously is a matter of scientific rigor?
These concerns revolve around the topic of entropy. It is a matter of rigor to take seriously entropy and the possibilities that pervade the universe. If we don’t, we’ll be inclined to the woo-woo, the anthropocentrism, the because-God exceptionalism that has retarded progress in the life and human sciences. Our existence is neither a happy accident, nor the design of a Creator.
Humans are not the center of the universe, the center of all being and purpose. Human exceptionalism is nonsense, and it was a disappointment for me when Intelligent Design took this route. A Copernican scale of revolution is required in the life sciences to extinguish this silly indulgence… an indulgence that plagues both the because-God creationists and the not-God neo-Darwinists.
@steljarkos I too agree that there likely is life throughout the Universe specifically due to your CHNOPS statement. Also agree that Humanity is not likely "center of the Universe’, when looking at humanity from the Universe sized lens.
Here on Earth, humanity is exceptional due to our cognitive capabilities, for good, bad or otherwise. Earth and ourselves and everything here that we can “get too” is our Copernican Jail, but also the “entirety of our world” so to speak.
The community stranded on a remote Island builds, develops, and lives their remote island life - until the war canoes roll up on shore.
Is there anything actionable with this? Should we be searching for or preparing for anything? What should we be doing differently today and tomorrow?
See my conundrum?
Here’s my spiritual contribution to this technical stuff which I love reading
Chaos the Path to Enlightenment
Each human tribe and community group has been established with social compacts based on love and mutual consideration. This was guided by spiritual energy of nurturing and caring for one-another within our tribal groups.
Since the world is now fully explored and basic survival is no longer the driving force of our character, we are expanding into the integral phase of human development. We are moving beyond the individual enlightenment of self-interest to a holistic ideal of altruistic selflessness.
We all have to realize that our future cannot sustain the animalistic processes of self-interest and dominance of one group over another. Those who are spiritually open-minded certainly feel this deep disconnect happening.
All those tightly tied to their unique ideological tribal group feel threatened. Every ridged ideological group is definitely breaking apart. Those who have not individually matured to the point of actual acceptance are suffering. Many are fighting to hold tight to their group identity as this breaking is unfolding before their eyes.
This chaos will continue as long as we clutch to our tribal identities. We do this by negative stereotype labeling of “the others”. Labels of socialist or capitalist’s, bigots and racists, Nazi-Fascist, religious fanatic, homophobic, greedy, lazy, selfish, ignorant, stupid, careless and any other negative identity that they can assign to “the others” … this is a last ditch attempt to hold onto their individual selfish egotistical tribal identities.
Those spiritually open-minded individuals who are connected to the bigger picture see the limits in their own group ideologies. They feel it deep inside that the system requires change. There is no longer a battle of us against them. It’s now a battle of us against us, together we survive and thrive or together we die.
@excecutive Yes, we are definitely on the same page. It’s a difficult thing to escape tribal allegiances. I considered myself of the leftist persuasion during my youth, but through much soul-searching, I had difficulty accepting their contradictions, and now find myself in my current frame of mind. Once you start questioning your existing assumptions, it sets the stage for questioning everything else.
Thanks for the link. Your references to children growing up under the influence of their parents is an extremely important topic. It relates to neural plasticity and the brain’s functional specializations - it is estimated that 90% of the human brain’s wiring is accomplished within the first four years of life (e.g., Dr Jill Stamm, Arizona State University). The brain’s functional specializations are not “determined” in any kind of DNA blueprint. They develop with experience, hence the importance of growing up in a loving family.
We enter our lives in innocence, knowing nothing, and learn about our worlds first through our parents, then through our cultures. That same principle applies to all creatures, when you think about it. Neural plasticity is a topic that merits a much closer look, as it explains much about what it means to enter the world in innocence, and to learn about it by navigating it with our mind-bodies.
@FermentedAgave I understand this sentiment, and where it comes from (my first degree was engineering… classic STEM, Cartesian, brains-as-computers education, so I get it). But it troubles me. An animal in the wild makes intelligent choices that are in accordance with how it defines the things that matter (relates to Peirce’s pragmatism within the biosemiotic context). Sure, neither wild nor domesticated animals can do what we can, but this has less to do with intelligence than it does with the fact that the things that matter to us are not the things that matter to them. It also has everything to do with culture. The mind-body relationship is crucial to understanding the point that I am making here. The emphasis here is less on ability than on the fact that it does not occur to non-human animals to do what we do… it does not occur to them that human stuff matters. This is the point I was alluding to in my earlier point in a previous post, where I wrote, “A human whose only tool is a dolphin’s body will perceive the world as a dolphin perceives it.” The topic of neural plasticity relates.
Let’s explore this topic from another perspective, that of feral children. Sure, we do smart things like build houses, do math, drive cars and so on. But we get all this from the top down, from culture. Our cognitive abilities depend absolutely on culture. Raise a human in isolation, or raise them among wild animals, then you never ever finish up with an ultra-smart humanoid capable of learning the things that we take for granted. Search the internet on the topic of feral children. The “wild boy of Aveyron” is a famous example of a Victor (of Aveyron) who was raised from infancy, by wolves. More recent examples exist that include the Ukrainian girl raised by dogs (Oxana Malaya) and Genie, a girl who was raised in isolation. The phenomenon of the feral child establishes quite conclusively that humans are not “special”. Our potentials and abilities are inextricably linked with culture. The book that first introduced me to the topic of feral children:
McCrone, J. (1993). The Myth of Irrationality - The science of the mind from Plato to Star Trek. Macmillan London.
By your argument, my two dogs should be composing bossa nova jazz and day trading stocks by now.
I think humankind’s “floor” is right there with a wolf or rabbit or killer whale so absolutely we have MUCH in common with rest of the animal kingdom. Humankind’s “ceiling” for organization, awareness, invention is well beyond that of a puppy or chimp or frog. We’re chatting here more on the “ceiling” end of the spectrum as opposed to the “floor”.
I do agree that culture shapes us not only in what we think but how we think. Some cultures or families actively work to “stretch the minds” (neural plasticity) by teaching their children how to learn, a desire for inquiry. To think otherwise would be a disservice to all the amazing parents, families and teachers out there. Some families and cultures guide (or the teenager sees as “making”) their children into sports, music, quizzes on a road trip, self introspection after arguments, consideration of others to exercise empathy, religious experiences, intellectually rigorous training and to think logically.
In Integral terms this might be considered a virtuous cycle between internal and external quadrants - external guidance to develop internally.
So absolutely yes CULTURE MATTERS and perhaps more than genetics. Again, we’re not focusing on rock bottom floor of humanity, we’re trying to raise the ceiling so to speak.
hey @FermentedAgave, there is much to unpack… or as @excecutive frames it, much to unfold, and we can’t cover it over an email forum.
Biosemotics is at the cutting edge, and gaining traction. Integral members might like to follow up on what they have to offer. They hold annual gatherings that are well-attended. Here is a link to this year’s Gatherings compilation, definitely worth a look, 2021 Gatherings in Biosemiotics - YouTube: