Now that’s a long title, but it’s a great Tweet, isn’t it?
This is convergence, this little essay, for me this is where all the major threads in my mind come together: the ancient classic dialogue, human behaviour, child discipline, and yes – even trolling.
OK, that wasn’t bad, but this is just the bullet point brainstorming stage right now.
- A note about “things”
- A note about the “Nature” thing
- Trolling and narrowing the argument
- The “Nurture” thing, the Abusive Ape Theory
- Warrior society’s fears, head on, a lethal mutation (too late, we already have several)
- Liberals’ fear of science, dark hints
- The “Deep Roots of War” thing
Whups, turned into a Table of Contents. Maybe that’ll work.
- A note about “things”
I’ve written this idea many times, the idea that there are two sorts of mindsets, corresponding loosely with many of life’s dichotomies, one that sees things and one that sees processes. It’s never grown wings before, so I won’t try to force it today, I’ll simply say that I see motion and processes and a mind that sees things as explanations I find completely alien, I can’t fathom it. Things are players, not the play, I say this as self-expression, it’s a fact to me; I understand it’s not to everyone, in fact only to about half of us. But when we ask for instance, “Why are men X?”, I do not feel satisfied with an answer like “testosterone.” I cannot, in good faith to my reason, sign off on all the things that must be presumed and assumed to fit that “thing” into a meaningful sentence that can even be an answer at all to a bottomless question like “why?”
I mean, from that noun as an answer we don’t even know if the noun is an actor or an inhibitor – OK, maybe you do. I have spent my adult life in this misunderstanding here, that when a paper says, “correlated with” or “associated with,” that I have simply dug my heels in and opined that it isn’t specific enough be worth saying, that it indicates obfuscation, some science version of name dropping. I’m distrustful; I have been given to understand it means positive correlation, the presence of the agent in question, it just doesn’t take. The young idiot I was who got it wrong the first time is still screaming “well, why don’t you spell it out?”
I think the reality in this case, is the presence of one hormone indicates the past action of another, it can be a by product and neither actor nor inhibitor.
Hormones have gone through a few roles because of that, because it was produced, because it got used, because it didn’t get taken up again, evolving positions about what its presence meant. Nouns as answers are never the end and never can be. The search goes on for the verbs, what are these things doing? It was a textbook sort of example, to be sure, but, happy accident, it’s turning out to be a good one.
If I ask, “Why are men X?” and someone answers with a noun, “testosterone,” then it’s not fair to say anyone nods and walks away smugly knowing they have the answer, as also anyone reacting like Socrates or Pyrrho, with “I still know nothing,” (like me) is a logical extreme and not a real-life case. In real life, though, most peoples’ reactions are going to have a considerable portion of at least one of those responses, and probably some portion of both – meaning they either feel like they know or they don’t, to some degree – the point being that neither result is optimal by a mind like mine, one seems like empty understanding, a name but no role, and the other like no understanding at all. I need verbs, Man! I know, scientists know it and they’re looking and succeeding, and just because all I’m picking up from my internet connection are these buzzwords, these nouns, doesn’t mean that’s all there is going on, labeling. The point of this, though, is that that is all half of us want is the labels, or all of us are half-satisfied with names. A massive portion of our knowledge is this sort of half-knowledge, a catalogue of labels, that we use like shorthand, and the data compression costs detail.
Wherein, we know, lies the truth. I know, human brains were designed for human goals and the capital “T” Truth was not one of them. It is now, though, right? Has anyone heard the folks telling us the first bit telling us the second? Again, I am a suspicious, twisted little man and I see the general trend, the general voice of biology as sort of dark and . . . self supporting. There is this awful thing that if we identify some nasty, animal biological trait, that it’s some sort of “right,” natural and good or something . . . you see where I’m going, I don’t write novels, this won’t take long; we’re talking about Blank Slate liberals VS Nazi scientists here. Some folks assume a universal truth right around the corner and some folks don’t mind the idea of a relativistic world with only “biological truths.”
You know what? I got faith, of a sort, call it science, call it stubbornness, I think there is one universe, one world, and when “facts” appear to be in opposition, that is only an indication of a larger context, a larger world, and a larger understanding that is required to resolve the apparent conflicts. A single universe with a single complex universal truth may not have been what our minds were evolved to perceive, we would certainly be overqualified for life in the jungle or in any of our jobs were that the case, but it’s out there. If the world isn’t out there, what are our senses even for? If every biological organism lives in its own literal world, then I guess there is no communication, no shared world to try to understand, no social anything, is that it? The things we create exist because we create them, invisible things like rights and laws – the external universe is not one of those things.
Unfortunately, what this organ between our ears did evolve for is very much a part of the kind of mindset I’m battling here, it was evolved to make out friend from foe, and so this is its question, often as not, no matter what the text of the question may be: who are we talking about here? Give us a name. I think that’s why we think nouns are answers. I think we are capable of fighting memes and ideas, but mostly we were evolved to fight people, and the people we’re fighting are things, with names and addresses. This is our address, as some fellow in an est spinoff group that I attended said once, this is where we live, always bringing an amygdala to a frontal cortex fight. We want to reason, but we were evolved to fight. We try to see what we’re doing, and we come back with an endless list of possible actors, rather than actions.
Wow, that connection, nouns with people, why that mindset is so prevalent, that was empirical for me until now, anecdotal, and that just clicked into place here, as you see it and I didn’t see it coming either. This really is coming together, maybe. I am going somewhere even more basic with this argument, but I hope you all see the high-level, social importance of whether nouns pass as answers, as explanations generally, because that is the basic form of racism, xenophobia and scapegoating of all sorts: if “testosterone” is a satisfactory form of answer, then so is “terrorist,” at least to some folks who expect a “thing” for an answer, and of course those nouns get worse and worse from there.
OK, so that’s the limitation of nouns as explanations, and the biological roots of it, as I see it. Maybe a list next, things that have served us as explanations, past and present.
Nov. 15th., 2017