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Dennett’s Parable of the Sower
Posted: 19 August 2009 08:06 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 46 ]  
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John Brand - 17 August 2009 06:52 PM

I think you are taking a philosophical stand which I would call scientistic.
Scientism can work against the project I develop above in two ways:
(1)  By insisting that emotions, philosophy, culture, etc. are not phenomenon and, therefore, are irrelevant; or
(2)  By insisting that any interest in religion as a phenomenon is beyond the scope of science.

If I understand you correctly, we can establish a point of agreement.  I am fully confident that emotions, philosophy and culture are not only relevant, but central to any understanding of the condition of man.  Perhaps we can avoid the question of “phenomenon,” since I don’t want to have to brush up on Heidegger.

However, I also fully accept the notion that god is real, and the resurrection is real, TO THE EXTENT THAT they are identified as phenomenological objects residing in the consciousness of various humans.  (Before Clay4him gets excited and thinks I have been saved, of course god and the resurrection, as a biological or historical fact, are total bullshit.  Please, Clay, let’s not start that argument.) 

So perhaps we can identify what appears to be a mutual view of culture as an important aspect to understanding what it means to be a human.

John Brand - 17 August 2009 06:52 PM

The genes are the biological source from which adaptive behavior emerges.  My quotation from Dennett above echoes Wilson when Wilson equates ‘the fitness of individuals’ with ‘their propensity to survive and reproduce in their environment.’  It is the group that enhances this fitness.  Thus, the group is a function of the biology of the individuals that make up the group.

I agree with this statement, taking it literally.  The most important part of the statement, in my mind, is, “Thus, the group is a function of the biology of the individuals that make up the group.”

The group, however, has no independent biology.  We may use metaphors, and talk about the “head” of an organization, or wonder whither the “body politic?”  These metaphors do not transform a human institution into a biological organism with its own independent imperatives.

For that reason, I find the “meme” theory wholly unconvincing and unsatisfactory.  I understand that a good number of really smart people who I respect find it useful, but I simply don’t.  If the meme theory was useful, then we would have to say ““Thus, the group is a function of the biology of the […] group.”

John Brand - 17 August 2009 06:52 PM

Dennett and Dawkins are arguing that the meme is a ‘unit of cultural information’ that aids in the survival of the human species particularly as that is enhanced through participation in a group.

Maybe I have misunderstood the “meme” arguments.  After all, I doubt there is a settled definition of ‘meme.”  If it just means “a ‘unit of cultural information’ that aids in the survival of the human species particularly as that is enhanced through participation in a group,” then I don’t see how it helps us understand culture, how it is generated, or how it affects human behavior.  In the first instance, it assumes that this “unit of cultural information” is helpful, whereas of course random mutations in dna are very far from being automatically helpful.  Secondly, the desire to discuss culture as if it was an independent organism, seeking to propagate itself, strips away the material conditions which in fact generate culture, and lead us on a wild goose chase.

To try to put it a different way, it seems reasonable to assume that humans, with our pathetically clawless paws and vulnerable abdomen, lumbering about the forests and plains, would find an adaptive advantage in the capacity to cooperate.  It does not seem reasonable to assume that those forms of cooperation would then seek to propagate themselves.

Here’s an experiment which, unless this discussion degenerates into a flame war, should probably be kept to the level of a thought experiment.  Suppose we could isolate every organism that was host to the H1N1 virus, take them to a remote location, kill them and bury them in a deep pit.  Voila!  No more H1N1 virus.

Now imagine that we could isolate every human being that was host to the “unit of cultural information” that the earth is more or less a sphere, rather than a circle or rectangle.  We haul all them out to a remote location, kill them and bury them in a deep pit.  No more round earthers?  On the contrary, it would just be a matter of time before that “unit of cultural information” reemerged.

Now before everyone insists that “round earthism” is a “scientific fact” and not a “unit of cultural information,”  you should know that Teuchter is no scientist,  and to this day has no idea how you would prove the earth is a globe.  He obtained this idea as a very small child from adults showing him a globe, and saying, “This is what the earth looks like.”  (He was surprised when those guys sent back pictures from the moon landing, and every country wasn’t a distinct and solid color;  this makes him suspicious that the moon landing was staged.)  For most people who view the world as a globe, it is a matter of the transmission of culture than of purely scientific fact.

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Posted: 19 August 2009 10:37 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 47 ]  
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burt - 19 August 2009 02:24 AM

I think it’s wrong in saying that biology and evolutionary theory have nothing to contribute here, but it is correct (and important) to point to the way that these tools of thought can be misused when they are constricted within some narrow ideological belief system and used, knowingly or not, to support that system rather than discover what’s actually the case.  Of course, doing this means viewing the market in the larger context of human society, including human biology and psychology.

I like the way that you put this, Burt.  I thought about somtehing along this line in relation to Teuchter’s helpful objections to the Durkheim/Wilson approach. In order to make sense of anything, we need symbols that represent what it is that we are trying to understand.  We can overcome some of the awe of the market by reducing it to symbols that represent variables, in much the same way that symbolic logic is used to reduce complex arguments to equations.  Once we have symbols agreed upon, we can develop a language that helps us communicate with one another, etc..  This is what Wilson is doing.  I find it helpful.

I was thinking about an illustration of someone who may wish to pursue an interest in Wildflowers.  Immediately the symbol flower is being amended to wildflower.  This might be further subdivided into Prairie Wildflowers and, then, into the Tall Grass Prairie.  This provides a symbolic system which brings together all people who like to grow perrenials in their gardens such as Liatris, Black-Eyed Susans, Purple Coneflowers, Gaillardias, Goldenrods, etc. which derive their origin from the Tall Grass Prarie as a result of European flower collecting, etc., etc..

My wife enjoys taking pictures of tiny little wildflowers and finding out what they are called and what their unique characteristics are, etc..  As a result, I notice these flowers on my way to work.  For example, the Manitoba Crocus grows along the ditches.  The enjoyment of the flowers is enhanced when their is a language that can facilate discussion.

Economics is a huge part of our lives.  We spend about half of our life making a living.  It is helpful to understand what it is that we are trying to accomplish and how this may be rooted in things like our cerebral cortex and what has been called the cortical lottery by psychologist Jonathan Haidt. What I enjoy, especially, about the studies of Haidt and others is that they incorporate ancient thinking into modern psychological studies in order to point people toward happier lives.  One of the findings of Haidt is that making more money does not increase happiness.  By investing in what does make us happier, we can decrease the pressure on the market.

But in order to reach the goal of a more healthy market we do need to understand ourselves and what it is that we need in terms of physical and emotional demands built into our systems.

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Posted: 19 August 2009 10:38 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 48 ]  
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eudemonia - 18 August 2009 07:55 PM

‘There is a great freedom in realizing that what drives the market does not have to drive our interests and pursuits:  We don’t need to sell our interests.  We can pursue them for their own sake and the enjoyment that that pursuit brings to us.’

Boy I sure hope so. The day that our interests must be market driven or must be ‘sold’ is the day I do not want to live anymore.

This has been a fascinating discussion by the way.

Cultural evolution, memes, sexual selection, Marxism…

This one has some good shit!

Hey, thanks for this!

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Posted: 19 August 2009 12:01 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 49 ]  
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teuchter - 19 August 2009 12:06 PM

Now before everyone insists that “round earthism” is a “scientific fact” and not a “unit of cultural information,”  you should know that Teuchter is no scientist,  and to this day has no idea how you would prove the earth is a globe.

Aristarchus

Don’t foist off on other people your problems thinking in three dimensions.

The “meme” is an analogy with a “gene”. The gene serves to build phenotypes that aid in the propagation of the gene. The meme serves to build behavior that propagates the meme, in an argument by analogy. There is no reason to suggest that memes have anything to do with biology, other than by the susceptibility of a particular neurology to memes in general, and not any one in particular. Very particular.

[ Edited: 19 August 2009 12:11 PM by Traces Elk]
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Posted: 19 August 2009 02:09 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 50 ]  
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Traces Elk - 19 August 2009 04:01 PM

The “meme” is an analogy with a “gene”. The gene serves to build phenotypes that aid in the propagation of the gene. The meme serves to build behavior that propagates the meme, in an argument by analogy. There is no reason to suggest that memes have anything to do with biology, other than by the susceptibility of a particular neurology to memes in general, and not any one in particular. Very particular.

As I said, I don’t have any problem using concepts of evolution or biology as a metaphor or analogy.  What I have a problem with (which may just be my problem) is the concept that a “meme serves to build behavior that propagates the meme.”  This leaves me with the sense that, for example, feudalism progogated feudalism until something more virulent, like capitalism came along.  Feudalism was propogated by feudalists, and particularly those occupying a position of privilege in a feudal structure.  The idea that relations of exchange should replace relations of liege was not the result of a battle of memes, but a transformation of the productive relations of society.  A man who was tied to the estate by obligations to the lord was not free to sell his labor in the market, and therefore a new ideology exalting relations of exchange of loyalty necessarily arose to match the conditions of the new mercantile economy and ultimately industrial production.

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Posted: 19 August 2009 02:55 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 51 ]  
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teuchter - 19 August 2009 12:06 PM

If I understand you correctly, we can establish a point of agreement.  I am fully confident that emotions, philosophy and culture are not only relevant, but central to any understanding of the condition of man.  Perhaps we can avoid the question of “phenomenon,” since I don’t want to have to brush up on Heidegger.

Yes, we do have a point of agreement.  You have been emphasizing the abstract quality of culture while I am emphasizing the source of culture in the biological drives.  Even if we don’t agree on that aspect, we do agree that emotions, philosophy and culture are important for understanding what makes us tick, why we fight, etc..  If we agree at your end of the continuum and call these abstractions, we may still be able to agree that we have a ‘field of study’ which is what I mean when I use the word phenomenon

An important influence on Heidegger’s thought, Edmund Husserl, attempted to bring the abstract into the field of science through the analogy of the concept of number.  Husserl wanted to separate the cardinal number from the abstraction that it represents.  He argued that number has an existence apart from what is being numbered.  As I understand him, this means that number is an abstract symbol that is given a reality and can be used to solve problems that are not abstract.  If this is true of number, it can also be true of philosophy, emotions, culture, etc..

I used the analogy of the field of study of wildflowers in an earlier post today.  The categories that we give to the flowers, even the name flower itself, is an abstraction separate from the flower itself.  But it helps us to talk about them and, above all, to enjoy them.

Similarly, if we can develop abstract symbols that help us to understand the condition of man, we can put our heads together and make some progress in overcoming some of the patterns that result in unpleasant emotions.  The abstract concept happiness or eudaimonia (Greek) is the general category where ancient thought has been applied in order to translate older concepts into a language that can be understood in our own culture.  I referred to Jonathon Haidt as a current example.

teuchter - 19 August 2009 12:06 PM

However, I also fully accept the notion that god is real, and the resurrection is real, TO THE EXTENT THAT they are identified as phenomenological objects residing in the consciousness of various humans.

 

The words point to something that is happening in human consciousness.  A great mistake that is made by the religious community when it identifies salvation with belief in the resurrection.  Daniel Dennett has a helpful discussion about first, second and third order beliefs in Breaking the Spell that I agree with to a great extent.  It doesn’t help the human condition to believe that Jesus was raised from the dead, if there is no corresponding resurrection experience in the believer.  Conversely, an individual may reject the resurrection and, yet, experience the concept through Buddhist meditation, for example.

If we think about the origin of law, for example, as the means to harmony in society and add to this the failure of individuals to keep the law as the reason for the disruption of harmony in society, then we can understand that the biggest obstacle set before us is the inability to do what it takes to foster harmony in our relationships.  This is tied to improper ideas as to what it takes for us to be happy.  For example, we may agree that fidelity in marriage is a good thing and will produce healthy, happy offspring.  But the statistics for divorce as a function of infidelity indicate that many people think that happiness comes from having sex with someone even if they are in a committed relationship.  The problem is that people do not understand the value of delayed gratification and that sex is often used as a flight from suffering which is the essence of neurosis.

Both the concept of resurrection and the Buddhist notion of nirvana apply to detachment from the feelings of suffering or the neuro-transmitters that are not being released because of a perception in the human being.  Buddha and, I would argue, the early Christians found a way to release neuro-transmitters through their belief in the resurrection.

teuchter - 19 August 2009 12:06 PM

So perhaps we can identify what appears to be a mutual view of culture as an important aspect to understanding what it means to be a human.

John Brand - 17 August 2009 06:52 PM

The genes are the biological source from which adaptive behavior emerges.  My quotation from Dennett above echoes Wilson when Wilson equates ‘the fitness of individuals’ with ‘their propensity to survive and reproduce in their environment.’  It is the group that enhances this fitness.  Thus, the group is a function of the biology of the individuals that make up the group.

I agree with this statement, taking it literally.  The most important part of the statement, in my mind, is, “Thus, the group is a function of the biology of the individuals that make up the group.”

The group, however, has no independent biology.  We may use metaphors, and talk about the “head” of an organization, or wonder whither the “body politic?”  These metaphors do not transform a human institution into a biological organism with its own independent imperatives.

Yes. I agree with what you are emphasizing.  I said earlier in this post that I think you are emphasizing the abstract quality of emotions, culture, etc. while I am emphasizing the origin of these in our biological makeup. 

teuchter - 19 August 2009 12:06 PM

For that reason, I find the “meme” theory wholly unconvincing and unsatisfactory.  I understand that a good number of really smart people who I respect find it useful, but I simply don’t.  If the meme theory was useful, then we would have to say ““Thus, the group is a function of the biology of the […] group.”

John Brand - 17 August 2009 06:52 PM

Dennett and Dawkins are arguing that the meme is a ‘unit of cultural information’ that aids in the survival of the human species particularly as that is enhanced through participation in a group.

Maybe I have misunderstood the “meme” arguments.  After all, I doubt there is a settled definition of ‘meme.”  If it just means “a ‘unit of cultural information’ that aids in the survival of the human species particularly as that is enhanced through participation in a group,” then I don’t see how it helps us understand culture, how it is generated, or how it affects human behavior.  In the first instance, it assumes that this “unit of cultural information” is helpful, whereas of course random mutations in dna are very far from being automatically helpful.  Secondly, the desire to discuss culture as if it was an independent organism, seeking to propagate itself, strips away the material conditions which in fact generate culture, and lead us on a wild goose chase.

To try to put it a different way, it seems reasonable to assume that humans, with our pathetically clawless paws and vulnerable abdomen, lumbering about the forests and plains, would find an adaptive advantage in the capacity to cooperate.  It does not seem reasonable to assume that those forms of cooperation would then seek to propagate themselves.

I see what you are saying.  Dennett emphasizes the plasticity of human consciousness.  It is like a putty that can be manipulated to a certain extent.  You and I probably are on the same wavelength here.  I do find Dennett’s emphasis on the Lancet Fluke (i.e. the meme) as the problem.  You do not like his giving the meme a life of its own.  In either case, it is the human being that has the biological drives that are directing his behavior (rather than the meme or the Lancet Fluke).  Your next illustration is helpful:

teuchter - 19 August 2009 12:06 PM

Here’s an experiment which, unless this discussion degenerates into a flame war, should probably be kept to the level of a thought experiment.  Suppose we could isolate every organism that was host to the H1N1 virus, take them to a remote location, kill them and bury them in a deep pit.  Voila!  No more H1N1 virus.

Now imagine that we could isolate every human being that was host to the “unit of cultural information” that the earth is more or less a sphere, rather than a circle or rectangle.  We haul all them out to a remote location, kill them and bury them in a deep pit.  No more round earthers?  On the contrary, it would just be a matter of time before that “unit of cultural information” reemerged.

Now before everyone insists that “round earthism” is a “scientific fact” and not a “unit of cultural information,”  you should know that Teuchter is no scientist,  and to this day has no idea how you would prove the earth is a globe.  He obtained this idea as a very small child from adults showing him a globe, and saying, “This is what the earth looks like.”  (He was surprised when those guys sent back pictures from the moon landing, and every country wasn’t a distinct and solid color;  this makes him suspicious that the moon landing was staged.)  For most people who view the world as a globe, it is a matter of the transmission of culture than of purely scientific fact.

I get your point and it is well made!  Much of our thinking comes into our minds in the manner you describe as adults showing us [objects, feelings, etc.] and telling us what they are and how they can be satisfied.  However, the biological drives stay the same.

For example, satisfaction of the biological hunger drive may be poorly taught by an adult. I think of an example from Nanny 911 about a family that was climbing the walls. The Nanny that was called on directed attention to the over use of milk as a hunger satisfier.  When the parents limited the milk that they gave to their kids and gave them the right food, the kids calmed down considerably.

Much of the human condition can be traced back to culture as improper teaching about how needs should be met. I think that we are in basic agreement here.

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Posted: 20 August 2009 02:27 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 52 ]  
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Traces Elk - 19 August 2009 04:01 PM

There is no reason to suggest that memes have anything to do with biology, other than by the susceptibility of a particular neurology to memes in general, and not any one in particular. Very particular.

Your statement obviates the assumption of Dawkins and Dennett that it is the biological driven intentional system that the meme uses to perpetuate itself.  The biological drives have the authority rather than the intentional system.  The direction they are working from is something like the rat that pushes the bar in order to get the food.  This is stimulus-response. The rat’s hunger (biological drive) has been rewarded with food for pushing the bar (the meme) and will continue to push the bar thinking that the reward will be forthcoming (biological driven rat under the authority of the meme).  There is a direct transfer being made from the observation of the rat (or, in Dennett’s case, the ant) to a cognitive understanding of human beings.

I would argue that biological drives can be understood through the meme but that these drives exercise constraint in the stimulus-response model with a delay in gratification (i.e. thinking) coming between stimulus and response.  A human being differs from an ant (or a rat) in that he can think about what he is doing and derive better ways in which to reach the goals of his biological drives.

The worldview of the original Parable of the Sower places the emphasis on the thinking human being rather than on the meme. In particular, it makes a difference between a human being who functions toward the end of a continuum represented by the rat (or ant) and the the human being who functions toward the end of the continuum represented by a fully conscious intentional system.  The variable that determines which end of the continuum at which a human being will find himself has to do with delayed gratification of the biological drives.

Plato used the analogy of a block of wax for the human mind. Hardened wax cannot receive impressions from a die nor can liquid wax but the golden mean of a wax at the right temperature, can receive the impression.  He illustrates the impenetrable nature of the mind that is a slave to the biological drives. The unconscious individual (the ant or rat) is like the hardened wax.  The conscious individual has learned to delay gratification of the biological drives so that he can determine how they might be satisfied in order to get him to where he wants to go rather than allowing the drives to determine his destination for him. 

The meme is a way of satisfying the drives transmitted to individuals through inculturation.  However, we are in full control of the our own intentionality.  We can recognize where an idea is going to take us (whereas the ant and the rat cannot) and we can set our own course.

[ Edited: 20 August 2009 03:01 PM by John Brand]
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Posted: 20 August 2009 04:55 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 53 ]  
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John Brand - 20 August 2009 06:27 PM
Traces Elk - 19 August 2009 04:01 PM

There is no reason to suggest that memes have anything to do with biology, other than by the susceptibility of a particular neurology to memes in general, and not any one in particular. Very particular.

Your statement obviates the assumption of Dawkins and Dennett that it is the biological driven intentional system that the meme uses to perpetuate itself.  The biological drives have the authority rather than the intentional system.  The direction they are working from is something like the rat that pushes the bar in order to get the food.  This is stimulus-response. The rat’s hunger (biological drive) has been rewarded with food for pushing the bar (the meme) and will continue to push the bar thinking that the reward will be forthcoming (biological driven rat under the authority of the meme).  There is a direct transfer being made from the observation of the rat (or, in Dennett’s case, the ant) to a cognitive understanding of human beings.

There is another factor here, too.  Human beings can get reinforcement for acting automatically in accord with a “meme” (although I have trouble with that general term, I’d prefer to say a particular belief, prejudice, or etc.) through things like being able to feel smug and self satisfied, righteous indignation, moral superiority, smart, correct, and so on.  In fact, some people will manipulate situations so that they are able to employ certain memes thereby gaining the associated emotional/cognitive reward. 

Question: why do the more rabid right wing types seem to be somewhat overweight with necks constrained by tight collars?  Is that an unconsciously present meme that they aspire to emulate, or is it a result of their ideology?  grin

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Posted: 21 August 2009 10:47 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 54 ]  
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burt - 20 August 2009 08:55 PM

There is another factor here, too.  Human beings can get reinforcement for acting automatically in accord with a “meme” (although I have trouble with that general term, I’d prefer to say a particular belief, prejudice, or etc.)

The thing being pointed to by the word must always be borne in mind.  You quoted the wise caterpillar earlier:  “It’s a matter of who is in charge, you or the words.”  The words belief, prejudice (literally:  “to judge beforehand”) are good replacements.  I was thinking of paradigm, theory, etc. in terms of a pattern that is used to bring together things that appear to be the same.

Human beings are always looking for patterns to help them make sense of their world.  In an earlier thread, Bruce Burleson drew our attention to an article from Newsweek by Sharon Begley entitled The Ghosts We Think We See which discusses the studies of cognitive psychologists concerning our habit of creating patterns: “cognitive scientists now realize, belief in the supernatural arises from the same mental processes that underlie everyday reasoning and perception.

Chief among those normal processes is our neurons’ habit of filling in the blanks. The brain takes messy, incomplete input and turns it into a meaningful, complete picture.”

Problems arise when we overlook anamolies in favor of the pattern which is retained because of the feedback that we receive from using the pattern.  You have provided some excellent examples:

burt - 20 August 2009 08:55 PM

... through things like being able to feel smug and self satisfied, righteous indignation, moral superiority, smart, correct, and so on.  In fact, some people will manipulate situations so that they are able to employ certain memes thereby gaining the associated emotional/cognitive reward.

Since our topic is the religious meme or pattern, we can use this example.  Religion is an aspect of culture which is a means of binding a group of people together.  For example, it is conceivable that our earliest ancestors asked questions about what happens after someone dies.  The answers to the question involved questions about justice in the afterlife, etc..  All of these questions are answered by particularly forward thinking individuals in the society but they are answered for the particular group. 

When group meets group, the feelings of smugness and righteous indignation at the different patterns experienced comes into play.  For instance, one group might eat their dead (as in the case of the Callatians reported in the History of Herotodus) while another group may burn their dead. Still another group may think that since fire is a god, burning the dead would be to give the corpse to the god and deem this a scriledge as in the case of the Persians (see Herotodus, Book III).  One can imagine the conflicts!  But the problem is that differing meaningful patterns developed when the groups were not in contact with one another.  The only way out of the mess is for the groups to think about the interest of the larger group which will involve abandoning identification with the old group. 

I am reminded of the Madymaka and your citation of Dante’s Paradisio

As my sight by seeing learned to see
the transformations which in me took place
transformed the single changeless form for me. 

The pattern is the obstacle. I think the Madymaka said ‘the path is the obstacle’(?)  It must be abandoned and a new pattern sought to explain the thing

burt - 20 August 2009 08:55 PM

Question: why do the more rabid right wing types seem to be somewhat overweight with necks constrained by tight collars?  Is that an unconsciously present meme that they aspire to emulate, or is it a result of their ideology?  grin

LOL That does remind me of Thorstein Veblen’s Theory of the Leisure Class.  He pointed out that certain habits of clothing, shoes, etc. were designed to demonstrate that the person wearing them was able to enjoy some of the leisure that only those who inherited wealth enjoy.  For example, the high heel shoe (how could a person do any work in in shoes like this).  The fact that they are uncomfortable only enhances the esteem!

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Posted: 21 August 2009 10:58 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 55 ]  
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eudemonia - 18 August 2009 07:55 PM

‘There is a great freedom in realizing that what drives the market does not have to drive our interests and pursuits:  We don’t need to sell our interests.  We can pursue them for their own sake and the enjoyment that that pursuit brings to us.’

Boy I sure hope so. The day that our interests must be market driven or must be ‘sold’ is the day I do not want to live anymore.

Have you ever heard of the book The Peter Principle by Laurence J. Peter?  I was reminded of his principle as a result of your comment.  He noted how upward mobility often will tend to work against the enjoyment that individuals get out of their work.  His principle is that in a hierarchy individuals tend to rise to their lowest level of incompetence and then stay at that level for the rest of their career.  At each level below this, they are competent or able to perform the job required.  Because they are competent, they are promoted and they get more money.  Eventually, they rise to a level where they can no longer do the job properly.  For example, a good mechanic is promoted to a job as an administrator.

The Peter Prescription involves stepping back down one level in the hierarchy but this is often not done because it goes against what is ingrained into us through cultural memes.  And when we go against culture, we experience sanctions such as being snubbed by those higher up in the hierarchy. 

Thus, we are free to enjoy what we do apart from economic constraints but taking the freedom involves go against what we also enjoy:  Esteem, prestige, etc..

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Posted: 21 August 2009 02:50 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 56 ]  
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teuchter - 19 August 2009 06:09 PM

The idea that relations of exchange should replace relations of liege was not the result of a battle of memes, but a transformation of the productive relations of society.

Waaaaaal, y’know, I think the phrase “transformation of the productive relations of society”, while not totally devoid of meaning, can be fleshed out to have just as much “explanatory power” as the phrase “battle of memes”. I think what you’ve identified in “relations” is there somewhere in “memes”. The real problem with memes is that the term refers to too wide a variety of cognitive events. It’s understanding the analogy over-all that some consider worth while, and not necessarily being able to label and trace memes through the meme pool. Is “capitalism” really so much more “virulent” than feudalism? It’s more effective at making big piles of stuff at one geographic location. What’s “virulent” is wanting to make big piles of stuff at one geographic location.

Transformation transforms! Beware the possibility of impossibility.

[ Edited: 21 August 2009 02:59 PM by Traces Elk]
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Posted: 21 August 2009 04:42 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 57 ]  
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John Brand - 21 August 2009 02:47 PM
burt - 20 August 2009 08:55 PM

Question: why do the more rabid right wing types seem to be somewhat overweight with necks constrained by tight collars?  Is that an unconsciously present meme that they aspire to emulate, or is it a result of their ideology?  grin

LOL That does remind me of Thorstein Veblen’s Theory of the Leisure Class.  He pointed out that certain habits of clothing, shoes, etc. were designed to demonstrate that the person wearing them was able to enjoy some of the leisure that only those who inherited wealth enjoy.  For example, the high heel shoe (how could a person do any work in in shoes like this).  The fact that they are uncomfortable only enhances the esteem!

When I look at one of these guys it seems to me that they are saying something like “I’m really exasperated” and I worry that they may pop.

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