|from John Dupré, Processes
of Life: Essays in the Philosophy of Biology (Oxford, 2012)
. . . I am skeptical about the usefulness of the very concept of human nature. . . . Evolutionary flexibility is . . . inextricably connected to developmental flexibility. . . . Human diffferences, the diversity, however much there may be, in actual human developmental outcomes is our best clue as to the diversity of outcomes that might be achieved with a will and a better understanding of human development. (pp. 258-59)
It is increasingly acknowledged that niches are not pre-existing givens, but rather co-evolve with the organisms that inhabit them. And surely the organism that has taken this phenomenon to the highest level is Homo sapiens. . . . One way to see the power of cultural evolution . . . is to stress its role in the reconstruction of the human niche. (pp. 280-83)
It is . . . clear that recognition of the variety of factors involved in deveopment makes possible a diversity of individual outcomes within even quite narrowly defined populations. (p. 285)
Ultimately my central contention is that human nature is open. . . . The openness of human possiblity, of possible changes to the human developmental niche, can cut both ways. (p. 292)
from Merlin Donald, A
Mind So Rare: The Evolution of Human Consciousness (W. W.
Norton & Company, 2001)
. . . modern culture contains within it a trace of each of our previous stages of cognitive evolution. It still rests on the same old primate brain capacity for episodic or event knowledge. But it has three additional, uniquely human layers: a mimetic layer, an oral-linguistic layer, and an external-symbolic layer. The minds of individuals reflect these three ways of representing reality. (p. 262)
and Merlin Donald, "The mind considered from a historical perspective: human cognitive phylogenesis and the possibility of continuing cognitive evolution." In D. Johnson & C. Ermeling (Eds.) The Future of the Cognitive Revolution (Oxford University Press, 1997), pp. 360-61
Mimetic representations are evident in human children before they acquire language competence. . . . They continue to be important in adults, taking the form of highly variable social customs, athletic skills, and group expressive patterns (such as mass demonstrations of aggression or rejection).
from Jeremy E. C. Genovese, "Piaget, Pedagogy, and Evolutionary Psychology" (Evolutionary Psychology , Volume 1, 2003)
Tamburrini (1982) pointed out that “there is considerable evidence that formal operational thought is contextually bound” (p. 319). This is no small concession; the very point of formal operations is that they go beyond context and content. The failure of adolescents and adults to reason in the ways predicted by Piaget is a serious problem for both the theory and practice of education, for it is precisely the formal reasoning skills that are necessary for mastering academic subjects such as math and science beyond the elementary level. p. 130
Biologically primary abilities are acquired universally and children typically have high motivation to perform the tasks involving them. In contrast, biologically secondary abilities are culturally determined, and often tedious repetition and external motivation are necessary for their mastery. From this perspective it is understandable that many children have difficulty with reading and higher mathematics (p. 63). p. 131
from Yrjö Engeström and Reijo Miettinen, "Activity theory and individual and social transformation," in Reijo Miettinen, and Raija-Leena Punamaki, Perspectives on Activity Theory (Cambridge, 1999), pp. 25-6:
Differences in cognition across cultures, social groups, and domains of practice are thus commonly explained without seriously analyzing the historical development that has led to those differences. The underlying relativistic notion is that we should not make value judgements concerning whose cognition is better or more advanced--that all kinds of thinking and practice are equally valuable. Although this liberal stance may be a comfortable basis for academic discourse, it ignores the reality that in all domains of societal practice value judgements and decisions have to be made everyday.
from Eugen W. Holland, Deleuze and Guattari's Anti-Oedipus: Introduction to schizoanalysis (Routledge, 1999)
The account which Deleuze and Guattari provide of three modes of social-production--savagery, despotism, capitalism--is best understood not as a history of modes of social-production but as a geneology . . . Geneology, in the sense of the term Foucault derives from Nietzsche, is based on the premise that historical institutions and other features of social organization evolve not smoothly and continuusly, gradually developing their potential through time, but discontinuously, and must be understood in terms of difference rather than continuity, as one social formation appropriates and abruptly reconfigures an older institution or revives various features of extant social organization by selectively recombining to suit its own purposes. As Deleuze and Guattari put it, "the events that restore a thing to life [in a given form of social organization] are not the same as those that gave rise to it in the first place."
The Creation of Inequality: How Our Prehistoric Ancestors Set the Stage for Monarchy, Slavery, and Empire (Harvard, 2013)
Steven Mithen, London Review of Books, 11 April 2013 (link)
Turning to ‘egalitarian’ hunter-gatherers, Flannery and Marcus stress various factors: the role of humour, teasing and ridicule as levelling mechanisms; how influence is won not by bullying but through generosity, modesty and diplomacy; how language and intelligence serve – and most probably evolved – to promote social networking; the absolute imperative to share. They remark how strikingly the urge to maintain egalitarianism contrasts with the jostling for power in chimpanzee societies. The explanation, they suggest, is that while apes put sex first, followed by food and then defence, the order for humans is food, defence and then sex, with marriage acting as a food-getting partnership rather than a hormone-driven sexual liaison. This is why marriage was always a flexible institution: one man one woman;two men one woman; two women one man; foursomes and so on. That said, hunter-gatherer egalitarianism is rather a sham. Flannery and Marcus argue that even the most egalitarian of them had a dominance hierarchy as clear-cut as that in any ape society. The difference is that for humans, the alpha elite were invisible supernatural beings, far too powerful to be overthrown, while the betas were ancestors who did the bidding of the alphas. No ‘egalitarian’ hunter-gatherer was ever more than a gamma in the social hierarchy
Eric Poehler, American Journal of Archaeology, Jan 2014 (link)
Part 1 of The Creation of Inequality takes the reader though Rousseau's "state of Nature" and sets the baseline in the Paleolithic for the development of inequality. Physical differences had always separated members of species—strength, agility, intelligence—and they form the basis of social organization in our nearest primate kin. Thus, in chimpanzee troupes, the strongest (the alphas) dominate the rest through violence, betas dominate all but the alphas, and so on. The authors compare this "natural" order to the stratification of beings in early cosmologies: gods are all-powerful alphas, ancestors are betas, and humans can only be gammas. What separated humans from chimpanzees and prevented our earliest societies from being ruled by force was our capacity for language. In these first chapters, Flannery and Marcus demonstrate how most early groups used shame, humor, and the clamor of the group to maintain fairness among its members.
1/r--The epigraphs (Stark, Nietzsche, and Hennesy) confront the fundamental stance of today's Left: the idolization of the people, the rhetoric of liberation and emancipation, the ideal of equality. This is a critique of anti-capitalism not for its opposition to the new world order but for its fundamental incorporation into the new world order--its failure of nerve, its inability to confront the present in terms of the present. What do I mean by this? Figure 1 is only for starters. There is the FOOD article, the DRUG articles, the active nihilism of one half of American politics,, the and the passive nihilism of the other half
the "gray mass" see Zelnick
This site orginated (at the time that Don Imus made his racist remarks on TV) in the attempt to use internet-accessible data to present for purposes of analysis the emotional and cognitive performances of 'the people'. The underlying problematic at that time was to understand the triumph of reaction in post-war politics. Out of this developed the notion of semiotic regimes.
The approach is hegelian-pragmatist. Each "ontology" is actually the antithesis of ontology as construed as fundamental being--the thing in itself. Ontology as I use the term is a reference to key elements within textual fields--eg, res and MD--that provide the generative matrix for the phenomena under examination. Thus, the philo and psycho texts contained in that field converge on ressentiment/MD. The latter, as fundamental, provides the necessary cognitive structure for the apprehension of phenomena. I think this is what Miguel de Beistegui, Truth and genesis: philosophy as differential ontology (Indiana University Press, 2004) is getting at, and more explictly, for my purposes, what Margolies has to say: . . . Hegel's strategy . . . retires altogether the very idea of reference to a 'noumenal' world or a world the properties of which are seperable from from whatever they are said to appear to be to human inquirers . . .
The sharp decline in the scores of Finland and Sweden, and the significant decline of the scores of the Anglo-Saxon nations, suggests that the late twentieth and twenty first centuries are where two lines of development--sociotechnical advance and cognitive regression--clash. Capitalism--at least advanced capitalism--requires advanced minds. Narcissistic regression--the culture of consumption--undermines the very possibility of advanced cognitive development. This is one of the profound internal contradictions of capitalism.
If the subject--fixed ontological presupposition that grounds unreflective thought-- is called into question (Foucault), this does not do away with the question of ontology, but rather transforms and negates yet preserved it. This is the meaining of genetic ontology: where the unreflective mind sees subjects as homogeneous entitites, genetic ontology sees the effects of a proc ess of production, effects which might be called subjct-like. Consider the
There are two lines of thought that comprise the ontological: the first is an historical-developmental approach to cognition (Vygotsky et. al.). The second is a psychoanalytic approach to the problem of Dasein, and proceeds in the spirit of Deleuze and Guattari's Anti-Oedipus (1972) and A Thousand Plateaus(1980), with this difference: these works were published at a time when modern biology, archeoogy, etc had hardly begun; and were done in the context of an era in which the major developments which now clealy engulf us were qpestions of speculation. I consider the problematic posed by primitive, despotic, and capitalist regimes. But in place of a typology of regimes I develop, immanencty, five gentic ontolgies.
A large proportion of the youth population in the highest scoring nations are capble of formal operational thought (see the PISA Results: Evolutionary, Historical, Developmental, and Psychological Perspectives). The genetic ontology that produces this capability I call, after Hegel, Bildung. I also refer to it as Progressive Narcisissm (after Alcorn), and it refers to processes of sublimation and individuation. See Bidlung: Was Mozart a Communist?