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Can man become civilised

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h_k_s
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Re: Can man become civilised

Post by h_k_s » December 31st, 2018, 6:04 pm

Mark1955 wrote:
December 31st, 2018, 12:41 pm
h_k_s wrote:
December 31st, 2018, 11:39 am
While evolution in the Darwin sense is a convenient theory in Science, it really has no place in Philosophy.

Philosophy deals with the body and soul and mind.

Not evolution.
What if the body, soul and mind are the direct function of our genetics and thus evolution.
Evolution is a hard issue for Philosophy to deal with.

Certainly the similarity between worm bones and fish bones and amphibian bones and reptile bones and mammal bones and primate bones and human bones leaves little doubt that there was and is some kind evolutionary pattern going on the development of animals.

And when you add to this the fossil record and archaeological dating to these fossils, you can conclude that the invertebrates were here before all of the rest of us.

That part is easy unless someone is unduly religion and takes the Judeo-Christian Bible too seriously.

As far as the soul and mind go, my own reference to them comes from Aristotle. These notions are speculative and well within the realm of Philosophy itself. Aristotle simply assumes that they exist. He does not try to prove them.

I know I am a conscious being.

I wonder about my cat also being as conscience as I am? He seems to be.

I wonder if all animals are conscious like me and the cat are?

Plants and microbes do not seem to be conscious at all. They simply nourish themselves and grow and are then eaten by us animals.

We really don't have any more clues about consciousness today than we had in the days of Aristotle himself.

Your question, as to whether consciousness evolved with the body (to paraphrase), is also unknown. The best we can do is speculate.

IF you add consciousness to evolution as a simple byproduct, then you only create yet another dilemma.

Based on the dilemma, or contradiction, as it were, I would conclude that our consciousness is independent of our bodies.

And that was what Aristotle concluded as well.

I feel good when I can work through a stream of logic which arrives at the same point as Aristotle. It is an emotional thing for me.

Same as ethics -- ethics too is emotional for me.

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Re: Can man become civilised

Post by GE Morton » December 31st, 2018, 8:11 pm

Alias wrote:
December 31st, 2018, 12:58 pm

I see plenty of signs of civilizati0on breaking down.
No, you don't. What you are seeing are the consequences of our failure to adapt to it --- wars, crime, racial and ethnic hostilities, "class" warfare, civil strife motivated by archaic and irrational religious or political ideologies. Yet despite this turmoil civilization continues to grow and spread. There is no sign whatsoever of it breaking down.
Humans do not adapt to civilization; they adapt civilization to themselves.
We will not be changing its defining characteristic --- that civilizations are societies of strangers, whose members have no natural bonds, no shared personal histories, no goals or interests in common with most of the other members, and no overriding concern for their welfare. The only thing relating them is their occupancy of a common territory. Hence we need to develop a social weltanschauung that is reflective of those facts.

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Re: Can man become civilised

Post by Alias » December 31st, 2018, 9:48 pm

GE Morton wrote:
December 31st, 2018, 8:11 pm
What you are seeing are the consequences of our failure to adapt to it [civilization]

We will not be changing its defining characteristic ---
You don't need to change the defining characteristics of something in order to adapt it to your purpose. Horses have been adapted over time by humans to use for food, haulage, treadmills, cavalry, transportation, farming, messenger service, sport and pleasure, yet the definition of "horse" hasn't altered since its domestication.
Civilization is what humans have made; it will continue - for however long it continues - to be what humans make of it. Through warfare and technology, humans have changed the character of civilizations radically; through legislation, culture and trade, they change it minutely every day.
Civilization is adapted to suit human requirements; humans do not breed for 'civilized' genetic traits. Indeed, whenever such a notion [eugenics] is expressed aloud, they tend to greet it with outrage and/or derision.

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Re: Can man become civilised

Post by GE Morton » December 31st, 2018, 10:03 pm

Alias wrote:
December 31st, 2018, 9:48 pm
GE Morton wrote:
December 31st, 2018, 8:11 pm

You don't need to change the defining characteristics of something in order to adapt it to your purpose.
It is already adapted to our purposes. We, however, are not adapted to it. Until we adapt ourselves to that defining characteristic the turmoil will continue, with ever growing carnage. The 20th century was the bloodiest in history.
Civilization is adapted to suit human requirements; humans do not breed for 'civilized' genetic traits. Indeed, whenever such a notion [eugenics] is expressed aloud, they tend to greet it with outrage and/or derision.
As it should be. But there is no need for eugenics. The adaptation will occur naturally. Eventually.

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Re: Can man become civilised

Post by Alias » December 31st, 2018, 11:50 pm

GE Morton wrote:
December 31st, 2018, 10:03 pm
It is already adapted to our purposes.
That's what I keep saying.
We, however, are not adapted to it.
Obviously. Evolution selects for an advantage in a set of givens. Civilization is not a pre-existing condition; its the animal's own product.
Until we adapt ourselves to that defining characteristic the turmoil will continue, with ever growing carnage. The 20th century was the bloodiest in history.
Only because there are more people to carry it out.
there is no need for eugenics. The adaptation will occur naturally.
That's exactly what cannot happen. No set of genetic characteristics that can fill the demands of civilization.
Evolution is glacial; technology is frantic. The pace of genetic mutation and selection is hopelessly mismatched with the pace of change to urbanized environment. Even the most aggressive program of genetic manipulation could not begin to anticipate what traits will be an advantage by the time that generation of test-tube mutants reached productive age. And, as there is no chance of a global consensus on the requirements of today's civilization, they wouldn't even know what traits to select for. And, of course that same generation of mutants would nullify the whole exercise by changing their environment to suit their requirements.

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Re: Can man become civilised

Post by Mark1955 » January 1st, 2019, 5:41 am

Felix wrote:
December 31st, 2018, 3:42 pm
Mark1955: What I meant was we are civilised because we live in cities, but we are not genetically adapted to do so. So when can our genetics catch up with our situation, if ever.
I'm glad you finally clarified your point but now it makes even less sense. "Genetically adapted to live in cities," how would that work? You mean like termites or ants? You would consider that to be an improvement?
Well maybe being an unevolved human I don't know because my unevolved brain doesn't think that way, but the easy way to look at it seems to me to be to ask what are humans bad at and a change that made an improvement would help. As a couple of simple examples, we're genetically programmed to overeat because food was scarce, now we mostly have efficient farming we need to evolve a better sense of 'fed' to avoid obesity for our own good health. Secondly we lived in small groups, our social structures are built on an extrapolation of small group dynamics and frankly don't work very well. So your hive analogy is in one way correct in that that would be one possible route to follow, however we are more complex creatures so something exactly like an inspect hive is unlikely but it would be useful if we were more inclined to naturally co-operate and less inclined to aggressively compete [maybe].
Now to come back to evolving into this new improved human then the behaviour must have breeding benefits so I think the follow up question is; do we have/could we build a society in which these traits did have an evolutionary advantage, or is society so structured that this a) isn't possible of b) is actively being impeded.
If you think you know the answer you probably don't understand the question.

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Re: Can man become civilised

Post by Mark1955 » January 1st, 2019, 5:52 am

Alias wrote:
December 31st, 2018, 11:50 pm
No set of genetic characteristics that can fill the demands of civilization.
Evolution is glacial; technology is frantic. The pace of genetic mutation and selection is hopelessly mismatched with the pace of change to urbanized environment. Even the most aggressive program of genetic manipulation could not begin to anticipate what traits will be an advantage by the time that generation of test-tube mutants reached productive age. And, as there is no chance of a global consensus on the requirements of today's civilization, they wouldn't even know what traits to select for. And, of course that same generation of mutants would nullify the whole exercise by changing their environment to suit their requirements.
So how long before we create an environment which implodes because we have created a civilisation that is inherently unstable and the 'crash' consequences are sufficiently bad to actually destroy humanity. We've seen human greed create economic crises and human power mania start genocidal wars. As the technology gets more important and more powerful how long before we engineer our own destruction.
If you think you know the answer you probably don't understand the question.

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Re: Can man become civilised

Post by Alias » January 1st, 2019, 12:44 pm

Mark1955 wrote:
January 1st, 2019, 5:41 am
As a couple of simple examples, we're genetically programmed to overeat because food was scarce, now we mostly have efficient farming we need to evolve a better sense of 'fed' to avoid obesity for our own good health.
The first statement is conditional: we are not programmed to overeat all the time; we crave more calories under stress, as in periods of scarcity. In fact, post-civilized humans became noticeably less well nourished than hunter-gatherers. Also, until about 70 years ago (nowhere near long enough to show up as a genetic modification) the majority of even the richest nations had to do physical labour for 8-12 hours a day, which would require all the calories they could consume - and they didn't get enough high-quality food.
Second,"efficient" farming methods have not translated to a reliable food supply for the majority of human beings. 9 million a year still die of malnutrition-related causes.
Third, much of the obesity in developed countries is due, not to efficient farming and involuntary overeating, but to psychological stress and the ubiquity of non-nutritious, addictive manufactured edibles - i.e. an adaptation of civilization by humans, not the other way around.
Secondly we lived in small groups, our social structures are built on an extrapolation of small group dynamics and frankly don't work very well.
In evolutionary terms, whatever increases species numbers population is successful. They have evidently worked all too well!
Besides, what's wrong with building a large structure from small, strong blocks?
... it would be useful if we were more inclined to naturally co-operate and less inclined to aggressively compete [maybe].
Finally, we see one example of the kind of trait you think would benefit civilized man.
Two questions regarding that notions:
1. Were/are small tribal units less co-operative or more co-operative than urban populations? 1.b. By what measure?
2. In civilized societies of the last 5000 years, which males have reproduced more, the co-operative or the aggressive?
Now to come back to evolving into this new improved human then the behaviour must have breeding benefits so I think the follow up question is; do we have/could we build a society in which these traits did have an evolutionary advantage,
You've put the question it back in the right order: not "how does civilization change us?" but "Can we change civilization?"
Of course! We do it all the time.
or is society so structured that this a) isn't possible of b) is actively being impeded.
Both a and b. Civilization is inherently hierarchical. It is founded on a command/power/dominance structure. It depends for survival on growth, expansion, wealth-accumulation. Its cultural basis is competition, performance, progress.
The kind of co-operation required is that of soldier-ants: credulity, solidarity, obedience. We already have that in large numbers of civilized human.
The traits that would get you elected to elder in a Native village get you dismembered in a civilized consulate.
So how long before we create an environment which implodes because we have created a civilisation that is inherently unstable and the 'crash' consequences are sufficiently bad to actually destroy humanity.
Maybe we already have. Civilization has destroyed so much of the natural environment, and has so overpopulated and stressed humans and has so fantasticated economies that we can no longer keep track of our own complex interactions, let alone control them.
But not because it's inherently unstable. Civilizations can be, and have been, quite stable on their own - what they don't tolerate is the existence of rival civilizations, empires or superpowers: they deliberately destroy any stable social structure to serve their own advantage. If the whole world were dominated by a single triumphant megapower, it could theoretically be stable again. The cost of that victory would be high, but affordable. The cost of making no immediate change is inestimable.
We've seen human greed create economic crises and human power mania start genocidal wars. As the technology gets more important and more powerful how long before we engineer our own destruction.
We have the capability and we have the crazy boss-men to accomplish mutual destruction.
Maybe they'll back down.
There sure isn't time to breed them out: they are the most successful product of civilized evolution.

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Re: Can man become civilised

Post by GE Morton » January 2nd, 2019, 12:20 am

Alias wrote:
December 31st, 2018, 11:50 pm

That's exactly what cannot happen. No set of genetic characteristics that can fill the demands of civilization.
Evolution is glacial; technology is frantic. The pace of genetic mutation and selection is hopelessly mismatched with the pace of change to urbanized environment. Even the most aggressive program of genetic manipulation could not begin to anticipate what traits will be an advantage by the time that generation of test-tube mutants reached productive age. And, as there is no chance of a global consensus on the requirements of today's civilization, they wouldn't even know what traits to select for. And, of course that same generation of mutants would nullify the whole exercise by changing their environment to suit their requirements.
Ah, I think we're arguing two different theses. The adaptation to which I referred was not biological adaptation, via Darwinism, but cultural evolution --- the abandonment of beliefs, expectations, assumptions, and intuitions inherited from our tribal, primate ancestry. What we need is not a new biology, but (as I said before) a new social weltanschauung. Modern societies lack the structure within which those archaic assumptions and beliefs developed, and upon which they depend for relevance.

It is possible, of course --- even likely --- that some of those beliefs and intuitions derive from innate dispositions and affective responses selected for, in Darwinian fashion, over that long primate history. But dispositions are not rigid commands; they can be overridden by reasoned judgment. Indeed, civilization could not have arisen had the disposition to regard strangers as threats and enemies not been overridden (in Guns, Germs, and Steel Jared Diamond noted that "With the rise of chiefdoms 7500 years ago people had to learn, for the first time in history, how to encounter strangers regularly without trying to kill them.")

In short, we need an ethic reflective of the realities of modern social structures, not a hand-me-down from our tribal pre-history.

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Re: Can man become civilised

Post by GE Morton » January 2nd, 2019, 12:25 am

Alias wrote:
January 1st, 2019, 12:44 pm

Second,"efficient" farming methods have not translated to a reliable food supply for the majority of human beings. 9 million a year still die of malnutrition-related causes.
Er, Alias, 9 million is a far cry from "the majority." And those victims, for the most part, did not practice efficient farming methods (often because they were not allowed to do so, due to warfare, anarchy, or political meddling).

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Re: Can man become civilised

Post by barata » January 2nd, 2019, 12:26 am

it is an damn kind of foolishness that you people are still talking about can men become civilized. when the fact is you people are already civilized.

and you are civilized so dont bother about others.

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Re: Can man become civilised

Post by Alias » January 2nd, 2019, 11:27 am

GE Morton wrote:
January 2nd, 2019, 12:20 am
Ah, I think we're arguing two different theses. The adaptation to which I referred was not biological adaptation, via Darwinism, but cultural evolution --- the abandonment of beliefs, expectations, assumptions, and intuitions inherited from our tribal, primate ancestry.
Why? Which particular belief, which particular expectation, which particular assumption, which particular intuition served 7000 years that does not serve now? One example of each would suffice for the purpose of discussion.
What we need is not a new biology,
which is what 'evolution' refers to
but (as I said before) a new social weltanschauung.
That happened a long time ago. We have lots of world views radically different from those of pre-civilized peoples. Unfortunately, the pov of civilized societies is inimical to nature, and thus ultimately self-destructive. The belief-systems invented by civilized philosophers are fundamentally different from primitive belief-systems.
Modern societies lack the structure within which those archaic assumptions and beliefs developed, and upon which they depend for relevance.
Again, what assumptions and beliefs in particular ?
Civilization has certainly used human credulity and magical thinking to its fullest potential: superstition has been parlayed into the mega-business and political control instrument of civilized power elites; natural suspicion of strangers has been whipped into highly organized and regimented xenophobia and reaped immense benefits for those same elites. And then, in a brilliant move, latter-day political leaders dove deep into the primitive psyche and fished out the notion of equality ("When Adam delved and Eva span, Who then was the gentleman?")... selectively and conditionally applied, this becomes yet another path to power.
Civilized rulers have been very, very successful in harnessing the impulses of our primitive ancestry.
What would induce the beneficiaries of civilization to change tack?
But dispositions are not rigid commands; they can be overridden by reasoned judgment.
Which do you think takes more self-discipline, to refrain from slapping a chief or to refrain from slapping a shift supervisor?
All social organization, at any level of complexity, requires the sacrifice of some autonomy, the learning and respecting of rules, deferred or sublimated gratification, co-operation, some degree of submission of self-interest to the welfare of the group.
Indeed, civilization could not have arisen had the disposition to regard strangers as threats and enemies not been overridden (in Guns, Germs, and Steel Jared Diamond noted that "With the rise of chiefdoms 7500 years ago people had to learn, for the first time in history, how to encounter strangers regularly without trying to kill them.")
Not quite true. Trade and intermarriage, as well as territorial treaties, go back a longer way. And to say "for the first time in history" about an event before which there was no history is meaningless. We don't know what-all happened in prehistory; we're just guessing.
In short, we need an ethic reflective of the realities of modern social structures, not a hand-me-down from our tribal pre-history.
We have literally hundreds already. Choose one and impose it on all of civilized mankind.

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Re: Can man become civilised

Post by GE Morton » January 2nd, 2019, 2:16 pm

Alias wrote:
January 2nd, 2019, 11:27 am

Why? Which particular belief, which particular expectation, which particular assumption, which particular intuition served 7000 years that does not serve now? One example of each would suffice for the purpose of discussion.
One of them is revealed in this quote from you: "All social organization, at any level of complexity, requires the sacrifice of some autonomy, the learning and respecting of rules, deferred or sublimated gratification, co-operation, some degree of submission of self-interest to the welfare of the group."

Groups have no welfare that is not reducible to the self-interest of its members. The sacrifice required is not of self-interest to group interest, but of immediate self-interest to longer-term self-interest, for each member. And while social organizations indeed require the rules and cooperation you mention, civilized societies, as wholes, are not "social organizations" in the relevant sense. A social organization is a group formed, typically voluntarily, to cooperatively pursue a goal or interest shared by its members. Greenpeace, Kiwanis, business corporations, a model railroad club are social organizations; civilized societies are not. They are not not collectives of any kind --- not tribes, brotherhoods, "teams," giant co-ops, or "big happy families." They are randomly-assembled groups of unrelated, independent, autonomous individuals who happen, by accident of birth, to occupy a common territory. Their members have no common goals or interests, no shared personal histories, no natural bonds, no a priori obligations to one another universally acknowledged. Hence the personal interest in one another's welfare characteristic of members of tribes and other kinship groups, and of many voluntarily formed cooperative groups, is absent (and indeed, impossible) over civilized societies as wholes. Humans living in civilized societies will never "love thy neighbor," as Christianity abjures, never "come together for the common good" (because there is no common good), never attain the "common feeling" Plato offered as the mark of "the best-ordered State."

Civilized societies are not "organic unities;" there is no "collective consciousness." The social assumptions and expectations --- of comity, unity of purpose, empathy, mutual obligation, fraternal feelings --- characteristic of tribal societies and idealized in most modern ethical systems and political ideologies, are unworkable and unattainable in civilized societies, and efforts to secure them by force yield only frustration, conflict, and bloodshed.

Here is an excerpt from an essay of mine from a few years ago:

------------------------

A fundamental choice when constructing any social theory is that between two different sociological assumptions, which we can call atomism and organicism. It is an assumption concerning the nature of the relationship between the individual and the society of which he is a member. If you go wrong at this point, you end up with a theory that is irrelevant, that describes (or prescribes) a society that does not (and perhaps cannot) exist.

Fortunately, whether society is best described as an organism or as a collection of “atoms,” interacting but having no fixed connections among one another, is essentially an empirical question. It can only be answered by observing societies and the patterns of interaction among their members. And only a moment’s observations are needed to convince us that the atomistic model is much closer to the truth.

Let’s look at Plato’s formulation:

And is not that the best-ordered State in which the greatest number of persons apply the terms ‘mine’ and ‘not mine’ in the same way to the same things?

Quite true.

Or that again which most nearly approaches to the condition of the individual–as in the body, when but a finger of one of us is hurt, the whole frame, drawn towards the soul as a centre and forming one kingdom under the ruling power therein, feels the hurt and sympathizes all together with the part affected, and we say that the man has a pain in his finger; and the same expression is used about any other part of the body, which has a sensation of pain at suffering or of pleasure at the alleviation of suffering.

Very true, he replied; and I agree with you that in the best-ordered State there is the nearest approach to this common feeling which you describe.


But in what modern society do we find even an approximation of this “common feeling”? Nowhere do we find a global or “general” will or uniformity of purpose; in none do we find everyone, in Plato’s words, applying the terms “mine” and “not mine” in the same ways to the same things. Instead we find millions of individual wills enthusiastically pursuing millions of individual purposes; instead of commonality and coherence we find diversity and disorder. We find cooperation, but also competition and conflict. No matter how diligently we search for the collective consciousness, all we find are individual minds, each infused with its own uncertain conception of the good and beset by the dread of its eventual extinction.

Homo sapiens, if the anthropologists are right, has been on Earth for about 200,000 years. Until the last 10,000 or so of those years, he lived in small tribal villages, consisting of a few dozen to a few hundred members — small enough that all of its members knew all of the others; indeed, had known each other all of their lives. They midwifed one another’s births, tended one another’s illnesses, shared one another’s possessions, and married one another’s cousins. They knew and trusted one another, and had dense, intimate relationships among one another. They needed no formal ethics nor any political structure to govern their affairs, simply because each was and had always been a part of every other’s life.

The organic model is a good approximation of the structure of such societies. But with the rise of civilization — societies characterized by cities — that model began to break down. People found themselves living in communities in which most of the people around them were strangers, with whom they had no familial or other personal ties, and often very little in common. People began to take notice of the differences among them — differences in coloration and bone structure, in choices of dress, in temperament and mannerisms, in interests and tastes, in the habits and practices of daily life, and eventually even in religion and language. They acquired individuality.

In tribal societies there is no free will, and no individuality. All the myriad choices we today are constantly obliged to make are prescribed by the tribe; they’re part of the tribal consciousness, codified in tribal tradition, the “folkways” of the tribe. How one dresses, what one eats, where one lives, how one earns a living, the choosing of mates, the Gods to be worshipped and the rituals for worshipping them, all the petty rules governing the tasks of daily life and the “standard methods” for performing them, are absorbed from the tribe, without question and without the need for thought.

There is no individuality to speak of in these groups because all members have known and interacted only with each other since birth, and they are locked into a resonance. There is no politics, no debate, no alternate point of view on any matter — and as a result, almost no innovation. Tribal cultures can remain all but static for thousands of years, with only a slight refinement in spear points to indicate any time has passed at all. Australian Aborigines, for example, when encountered by Europeans in the 18th century, were making didgeridoos indistinguishable from those made 2000 years earlier. In 40,000 years they never added another instrument to their musical technology.

That resonance, however, cannot be maintained in larger groups, because the required intimacy is impossible. The group becomes too large for everyone to know and interact constantly with everyone else; hence one soon finds oneself in the company of strangers — individuals with whom they’ve had no prior contact and whose habits, preferences, and beliefs cannot be predicted in advance. And because they’ve all been subject to different combinations of influences, they begin to differ in all the ways indicated above.

The breakdown of that resonance represented a huge transformation, not merely of the social structure, but of the human psyche. The traditional tribal control mechanisms, based on age and personal stature, gave way to formal systems of governance — politics. The tribesman’s intuitive sense of right and wrong, which derived primarily from his personal ties to and commonality with his fellows, gave way to formal systems of ethics. Indeed, ethics, like law, is a code for regulating behavior among strangers — among people who have no personal interest in one another’s welfare.

Every utopia conceived in the last 5000 years has been an attempt to recapture the tribal consciousness. The Garden of Eden story embodies this “fall from Grace” — the loss of mankind’s oneness with God and Nature, his “alienation,” his exile into a world of strife and temptation, where he seems to have free will and must constantly choose between good and evil, between this course of action or that, relying only on his own judgement, and must suffer the consequences when his judgments go awry.

All these laments of lost innocence and alienation are atavisms, psychic echoes of our tribal heritage, the social form honed over the course of our 3 million year primate history. All of our fellow primates still practice that form, and until the rise of civilization, so did all humans. It would be surprising were our brains not adapted to that social form. They have evolved syncronously with that form, and thus may be expected to function optimally in that environment, in many ways. So it is not surprising that we miss that form, or that we long to regain it. We are ducks out of water, trying to find our way back to the pond.

We remain “wired” for tribal life. We long for it, unattainable though it may be. And often we try to recreate or or substitute for it, by immersing ourselves in cults or joining in totalitarian movements. The cult seeks to insulate itself from the “society of strangers;” the totalitarian movement seeks to subdue it and impose a tribal-like conformity, a synthetic common identity and purpose — usually resulting in much bloodshed.

But civilized humans are individuated; they are no longer interchangeable instances or exemplars of a tribal identity, and cannot be forced into that mold. That individuality is what drives the dynamism of civilized societies; what enables it to change more in 100 years than tribal societies might in 10,000. It is what has permitted humans to overcome the famines, diseases, disasters, and other idiosyncrasies of Nature which beset them and all their primate cousins for millions of years, and to transform the natural world to better meet their needs and better satisfy their ever-evolving and proliferating desires.

What worked for pre-civilized societies never worked very well, and cannot work at all for the unrelated, individuated members of civilized societies. There is no longer a collective consciousness, and in communities of more than a few hundred members, not even any common goals. Modern societies are meta-communities — public venues for personal interactions. They provide opportunities for individuals to forge relationships with others, but supply no content for those relationships. They are like public playing fields; they offer space and seating, but each team brings its own gear, its own personnel, and its own game with its own rules. The house rules are few and general: “No reservations accepted: first-come, first served,” “Do not intrude on others’ games,” and “Pick up your litter.”

The organic society that continues to beckon from our long primate ancestry is lost to history. It is irrecoverable. Contemporary social theorists need to let it go, and craft theories applicable to societies and to persons as we find them today.

Every totalitarian movement that emerged in the bloody 20th century began with some version of the organic sociolological assumption. But that premise is false, destructive, and obsolete.

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Re: Can man become civilised

Post by Alias » January 2nd, 2019, 6:06 pm

GE Morton wrote:
January 2nd, 2019, 2:16 pm
Groups have no welfare that is not reducible to the self-interest of its members. The sacrifice required is not of self-interest to group interest, but of immediate self-interest to longer-term self-interest, for each member.
Granted. Same for civilize4d and pre-civilized peoples, except in civilization, many individuals can be sacrificed for that of a single controlling interest. For that to be universally accepted by all members is not in the long-term interest of the group, but controlling persons don't care.
And while social organizations indeed require the rules and cooperation you mention, civilized societies, as wholes, are not "social organizations" in the relevant sense.
!!!?
A social organization is a group formed, typically voluntarily, to cooperatively pursue a goal or interest shared by its members.
Why voluntarily? If you are born into a social species, you are nurtured, raised and trained by your pack, herd, pod, flock or whatever the unit of social organization happens to be. A member may marry into or join another group - if they accept him/her, but the majority of belonging is automatic.
So is nationality and religious denomination.
Greenpeace, Kiwanis, business corporations, a model railroad club are social organizations; civilized societies are not.
Not social? Then why call them societies? Not organized? Then why pay for all that governance, armed forces and legal apparatus?
They are randomly-assembled groups of unrelated, independent, autonomous individuals
No nation is random or assembled. They're organic, coherent populations that have grown out of tribes that merged and were subsumed; they the shared geography, history, mythology, world-view and self-image of a biological entity, while also containing smaller groups - both voluntary and mandatory - and some individuals who share little more with their fellow citizens than citizenship - but that is crucial.
Looking, in an age of unlimited communication and near unlimited mobility, at modern, heavily populated post imperial nations, we can perhaps down-play that sense of belonging, but national identity is still very much "a thing." In the classical periods of civilization, this shared identity was far more evident, even in the physical appearance of local populations. Not all of them: Rome at the height of its power looked cosmopolitan, but was still solidly Roman for all that.
Their members have no common goals or interests,
Then how are they so readily persuaded to take arms against some perceived enemy? Or demand the building of stupid walls? Or stand to attention upon hearing a particular song?
no shared personal histories, no natural bonds, no a priori obligations to one another universally acknowledged.
Of course they do! They disagree as to what those interests and obligations ought to be, so the rules are under constant negotiation and sometimes open contention, even conflict, but those issues are always resolved and the organization continues.
Hence the personal interest in one another's welfare characteristic of members of tribes and other kinship groups, and of many voluntarily formed cooperative groups, is absent (and indeed, impossible) over civilized societies as wholes.
Nobody cares about his or her fellow citizens? Then why all those voluntary helping organizations? Why social welfare? Why the political factions that demand universal health-care, prison reforms, old age pensions, child protection, etc. to which most civilized governments must accede?
Civilized societies are not "organic unities;" there is no "collective consciousness."
No intelligent mammal immerses its own consciousness into a collective. Human clans certainly don't! For that, you have to go back to the termites. Complex animals communicate and co-operate. Civilized societies co-operate on an enormous scale: look at the highways, the armies, the internal revenue...
The social assumptions and expectations --- of comity, unity of purpose, empathy, mutual obligation, fraternal feelings --- characteristic of tribal societies and idealized in most modern ethical systems and political ideologies, are unworkable and unattainable in civilized societies, and efforts to secure them by force yield only frustration, conflict, and bloodshed.
They most certainly do exist. There is no need to use force. In fact, when force is used, it is generally an attempt to replace natural co-operation in an enterprise that benefits the populace with unnatural orchestration in a cause that is counter to their interests.
Uniformity of thought and perception and desire are not prerequisite to a co-operative social interaction, at any size or complexity. People are perfectly capable of working out their differences. All that's required is the right to express individuality without curtailing anyone else's.
But in what modern society do we find even an approximation of this “common feeling”?
All of them. See what happens after a flood or fire, or when some foolish child falls into a crevice.

Running short of time.
Anyway, what change should be made in individuals to better fit them for civilization?
And why make that change, as opposed to better fitting civilization to the needs of its members?

GE Morton
Posts: 508
Joined: February 1st, 2017, 1:06 am

Re: Can man become civilised

Post by GE Morton » January 3rd, 2019, 12:52 pm

Alias wrote:
January 2nd, 2019, 6:06 pm
A social organization is a group formed, typically voluntarily, to cooperatively pursue a goal or interest shared by its members.
Why voluntarily? If you are born into a social species, you are nurtured, raised and trained by your pack, herd, pod, flock or whatever the unit of social organization happens to be. A member may marry into or join another group - if they accept him/her, but the majority of belonging is automatic.
So is nationality and religious denomination.
Greenpeace, Kiwanis, business corporations, a model railroad club are social organizations; civilized societies are not.
Not social? Then why call them societies? Not organized? Then why pay for all that governance, armed forces and legal apparatus?
You can become a member of a group involuntarily, but not a member of a "social organization" involuntarily. There are two ways one can become a member of a group --- by enlistment, or by definition. Only the former entails any moral commitments. One can define groups at will, thereby making everyone embraced by that definition a member of that group. "The group of all males in the US over 40 years old of Nordic extraction." There --- I just created a group, and everyone satisfying that definition is a member of it. But that form of membership creates no obligations or relationships among those members, most of whom will be unaware of their new membership and if they become aware will be indifferent to it. Such memberships are arbitrary and morally meaningless.

But to be a member of a social organization, in any meaningful sense, one must share its goals and contribute, in cooperation with other members, in some way to further those goals. There are no goals or interests shared by all members of civilized natural societies, and no goals to which all members work to further. Indeed, for any given goal declared by governments or interest groups, you will always find members who disavow it and work to thwart it. Governments are social organizations, but the societies they attempt to govern are not.

They are randomly-assembled groups of unrelated, independent, autonomous individuals
No nation is random or assembled. They're organic, coherent populations that have grown out of tribes that merged and were subsumed; they the shared geography, history, mythology, world-view and self-image of a biological entity, while also containing smaller groups - both voluntary and mandatory - and some individuals who share little more with their fellow citizens than citizenship - but that is crucial.
"Crucial," how? In what sense? Citizenship for most people is automatic, an arbitrary legal property assigned by definition. It has no more moral significance than group membership by definition, and implies nothing about an individual's interests, goals, beliefs, habits, behaviors, or lifestyle. Nor do members of civilized societies share history, geography, mythologies, or world-views --- as will be immediately obvious to anyone who ventures beyond his own neighborhood, or just reads a newspaper. The only properties those members share is occupancy of a certain defined territory and being subject (in theory) to the dictates of its government.
Their members have no common goals or interests,
Then how are they so readily persuaded to take arms against some perceived enemy? Or demand the building of stupid walls? Or stand to attention upon hearing a particular song?
You're overlooking the obvious there: A common goal or interest is one shared by all members of a particular group. There has been no war, no wall, and no song that has elicited the actions you mention by all members of US (or any other) society. Most US wars, for example, have been opposed by substantial fractions of the population.
no shared personal histories, no natural bonds, no a priori obligations to one another universally acknowledged.
Of course they do! They disagree as to what those interests and obligations ought to be, so the rules are under constant negotiation and sometimes open contention, even conflict, but those issues are always resolved and the organization continues.
That is contradictory. You cannot claim that they "disagree as to what those interests and obligations ought to be," and in the same breath insist that they share interests and universally acknowledge certain obligations.
Hence the personal interest in one another's welfare characteristic of members of tribes and other kinship groups, and of many voluntarily formed cooperative groups, is absent (and indeed, impossible) over civilized societies as wholes.
Nobody cares about his or her fellow citizens? Then why all those voluntary helping organizations? Why social welfare? Why the political factions that demand universal health-care, prison reforms, old age pensions, child protection, etc. to which most civilized governments must accede?
I didn't claim that "nobody cares about his or her fellow citizens." Everyone (or nearly everyone) cares about certain other people. They do not, however, care about everyone else's welfare, as indicated by their behavior. For every person who voluntarily contributes to any given charity, there will be 10 others who do not. For every political faction advocating some new form of government paternalism, there will be a faction opposing it. And of course, that a majority favors a certain policy does not make it universally favored. Majorities tend to favor government free-lunch schemes that will benefit them, especially if someone else can be forced to pay for it.
The social assumptions and expectations --- of comity, unity of purpose, empathy, mutual obligation, fraternal feelings --- characteristic of tribal societies and idealized in most modern ethical systems and political ideologies, are unworkable and unattainable in civilized societies, and efforts to secure them by force yield only frustration, conflict, and bloodshed.
They most certainly do exist. There is no need to use force. In fact, when force is used, it is generally an attempt to replace natural co-operation in an enterprise that benefits the populace with unnatural orchestration in a cause that is counter to their interests.
I agree with you on the latter. Social cooperation, however, while it benefits its participants, does not necessarily benefit the "population." And comity, unity of purpose, etc., do indeed prevail within cooperating groups. But society as a whole is not such a group.
Anyway, what change should be made in individuals to better fit them for civilization?
Acquiring an ethic which acknowledges the autonomy of individuals, the diversity of their goals and interests, and their status as equal moral agents, free to pursue their various interests as they see fit, as long as they violate no one else's rights, and with no a priori obligations to pursue anyone else's.

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