An artist's interpretation of the hominins that lived near the Sima de los Huesos cave
in Spain from Baffling 400,000-Year-Old Clue to Human Origins (New York Times).
primate to paleolithic: human culture is an emergent phenomenon
We now know that many animal species have culture; that some have a rudimentary symbolic capacity and language. Thus, on these two levels of complexity it it no longer possible to distinguish in absolute terms between homo sapiens and other animal species. What is distinctive--this is the point Chase and others make--is that "human culture is an emergent phenomenon in a way that nonhuman 'culture' is not. . . . the nature of human social life [is] different in fundamental ways from that of all other species (in spite of the continuities that also exist)." Thus, primatologists Wrangham and Wilson write an article entitle "Collective Violence: Comparison Between Youths and Chimpanzees," but caution the reader that "cultural and biological approaches provide complementary rather than alternative perspectives in the analysis of human behavior."(p. 234) Wrangham and Wilson observe an interesting similarity, even an isomorphism, between forms of primate behavior and the behavior of well-defined subsets of humans--in this case lower class youth gangs. (He could just as well have included fascist gangs and tea party gatherings--see I want my country back.)
This is our first genetic ontology, as outlined by Methen and Poehler in their reviews of Kent Flannery and Joyce Marcus, The Creation of Inequality: How Our Prehistoric Ancestors Set the Stage for Monarchy, Slavery, and Empire. The leap from primate to language-using paleolithic humans brings us to the second genetic ontology, which I have called the paleolithic. Methen and Poehler draw our attention precisely to this ontological leap from primate to paleolithic. And Whiten, less influenced by the field effect (Bourdieu--see link), notes the dynamic egalitarianism of this first emergence within the context of language. It is well to bear this in mind, inasmuch as there is a regular cottage industry of scribes who attempt to naturalize current social and political arrrangements by proving that it is in our nature; red in tooth and claw, violent, power-hungry, and greedy--it's in our genes! (See reviews of racist book) It is not that there are not continuities--that the primate within is not available for mobilization into new patterns of action, but that the emergence of human culture radically alters the game, a game which now merely includes the primate genetic ontology (and by genetic I mean the term as used by Jean Piaget in his Genetic Epistemology).
from Philip G. Chase, The Emergence of Culture. The Evolution of a Uniquely Human Way of Life (Springer, 2006)
Human behavior and ape behavior, like that of all mammals, is guided in part by ideas, concepts, beliefs, etc. that are learned in a social context from other individuals of the same species. Among humans, however, some of these are not just learned socially but are also created socially, through the interactions of multiple individuals. . . . Culture cannot be understood at the level of the individual alone. Knowing the motivations and mental constructs of the individuals involved may be necessary to understand cultural creations or cultural changes, but it is not sufficient. It is also necessary to analyze the interactions of those involved. In this sense, human culture is an emergent phenomenon in a way that nonhuman "culture" is not. As Mihata (1997:36) put it,
what we describe most often as culture is an emergent pattern existing on a separate level of organization and abstraction from the individuals, organizations, beliefs, practices or cultural objects that constitute it. Culture emerges from the simultaneous interaction of subunits creting meaning (individuals, organizations, etc.)
This emergent property of human culture has important implications. It makes the nature of human social life different in fundamental ways from that of all other species (in spite of the continuities that also exist). It makes it possible for groups of humans to coordinate their behavior in ways that are impossible for nonhumans. It changes the relationship of the individual to the social group. Because culture provides motivations for the behavior of the individual, it gives the group a means of controlling the individual that is absent among other primates. Among all living humans, culture provides a (uniquely human) mental or intellectual context for almost everything the individual thinks or does.
The Cassirer Rule
The table QHD-5: Sources, on which this page is a commentary, is the result of applying the Cassirer rule, itself a further development of Hegel's concept of the Absolute. The rule that governs the construction of this site is simple: survey the current state of knowledge and get with the program so to speak. Thus, Allan Mazur, Christopher Boesch, Franz de Waal, Richard W. Wrangham, Michael L. Wilson, Andrew Whiten, Robert A. Hinde, Christopher B. Stringer, Kevin Laland, Philip G. Chase, etc., for QHD-1 and QHD-2 (primate and paleolithic).
What I am looking for are the principles of production of practices, with the intent of decoding historically significant human practices. I did not begin with QHD-1 and QHD-2. My original concern was with understanding what is presented in the Stupid Party (QHD-3: ressentiment and the mechanisms of defense--fascism according to Paxton), and with understanding the modern (not populist) Left (QHD-4: Bildung and the Will to Power). Narcissism and the Literary Libido, and Mozart and Enlightenment Semiotics are especially valuable. Nihilism (QHD-5) as entropy (see Bernard Stiegler, The re-enchantment of the world : the value of spirit against industrial populism, Bloomsbury Academic, 2014) uncannily forseen by Nietzsche. Entropy at the level of the socio-cultural formation of "Mind" is the primary sense of nihilism in Nietzsche's work. See Nihilism.
The Cassirer Rule
from Ernst Cassirer, The Philosophy of the Enlightenment
For we see again and again that the divergence of the paths followed by the intellect in its attempt to encompass all of reality is merely apparent. If these paths viewed objectively seem to diverge, their divergence is, nevertheless, no mere dispersion. All the various energies of the mind are, rather, held together in a common center of force. Variety and diversity of shapes are simply the full unfolding of an essentially homogeneous formative power. When the eighteenth century wants to characterize this power in a single word, it calls it “reason.
It is common to equate Fascism with Stalinism (Winkler). This can only be done by stripping away all historical and ontological considerations, and instead developing a typology (totalitarianism) which presuposes a timerless political formation as an ideal type, defined by brutality and repression. This is the field effect of anti-Communism, and cannot for a moment be seriously entertained. Fascism was fundamentally anti-cosmopolitan, anti-enlightenment, and racist. Marxism, cosmopolitian, the enlightenment further developed, and anti-racist. Fascism proposed as the fundamental ontology the mythic community of the Volk; Marxism the rationality of class--a formation entirely produced as a contingency of development, and utterly incompatable with any notion of blood line or folk community.
That the Russian revoltion ended being butchered in the Great purges of the 1930s was itself an effect of the persitence of the genetic ontology also central to fascism--Miranov-- (RMD), as Getty makes clear in his book Practicing Stalinism.
Orders of Complexity
life before culture
homo sapiens (1st order of culture)
bildung (2nd order of culture)
anti-bildung: the great reversal
into the future?
Kent Flannery and Joyce Marcus, The Creation of Inequality: How Our Prehistoric Ancestors Set the Stage for Monarchy, Slavery, and Empire (Harvard, 2012): two reviews
from review by Steven Mithen, London Review of Books
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.
from review by Eric Poehler in American Journal of Archeology
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.
the State as an emergent phenomenon: Power: cognitive advance/biological retreat: ressentiment
This represnts a reversasl of the trend toward specializtion (Luria-Vygotsky)
2nd reversal: mind cannot develo in isolation from the people, lest it become simply the tool of axiomatic powers and ancient regimes.
democracy and the cartesian metaphysic
Nihilism: vacine epidemic re. flaky liberals (Carlos Strenger)
5 Genetic Ontologies (primary ontologies/emergents)
Secondary Emergents (FOOD; education complex--Calvinthe historical trajectory of the Enlightement to the New Deal (E⇒ND)the historical trajectory of the Enlightement to the New Deal (E⇒ND)the historical trajectory of the Enlightement to the New Deal (E⇒ND)the historical trajectory of the Enlightement to the New Deal (E⇒ND)
But after reading Merlin Donald and Franz de Waal it became apparent that it was impossible to understand the present without taking into account the work of these communities of scholars. Since my area of research is the New Deal and the UAW, and since I now know that decoding the events, patterns of activity, discursive processes, inter-pesonal relationships, praxiological contexts (the larger than life figure of FDR), and so on, required a much deeper look into the past five to ten million years (at least--Keller on life, emergence, will to power . . . ), what choice did I have?
|two plus three
the three GOs linked to the rise of the state--RMD, BWP, and Nihilism--are easily applied to historical-cultural phenomena (Lears, manhood). G. Zimmerman, Ferguson, Inkster, NYC (Blumenthal)
consilience (Cassirer rule): from WIKI:
Consilience has also been discussed in reference to Holocaust denial.
"We [have now discussed] eighteen proofs all converging on one conclusion...the deniers shift the burden of proof to historians by demanding that each piece of evidence, independently and without corroboration between them, prove the Holocaust. Yet no historian has ever claimed that one piece of evidence proves the Holocaust. We must examine the collective whole."
That is, individually the evidence may underdetermine the conclusion, but together they overdetermine it. A similar way to state this is that to ask for one particular piece of evidence in favor of a conclusion is a flawed question.
This is the technique used by climate deniers, racists, etc. (Jury deliberations: LA police beating, Zimm. trial jurors explanations. It should not be taken seriously; it is a rhetorical maneuver characteristic of and expressive of that which it is attempting to deny: the lady doth protest too much, and alwways in the same way.
Consider Wrangham on "Collective Violence: Comparison Between Youths and Chimpanzees": the question is not whether there are biological roots to collective violence (see Also Donald) and similar patterns in expressions of same, but rather, are there new, cultural-historical sources of collective violence that coexist with primate-based violence, but are uniquely human. That is, was Nietzsche right: ultranationalism, fascism, lower-key institutionalized fascism (Ferguson, Inkster), manly viiolence (Lears)--are these all expressions of the ssame fundmental exiseteitial catastrophe that modern disciplnary power engenders?
Jenkins interview re. Arkansas social formation; Ferguson photo: how much is primate, how much paleolithic? (Born on the Fourth of July)
Also, re Whiten on late Pleistocene
the individual as an emergent phenomenon (QHD-4)
Bildung & Will to Power is the most problematic and the most interesting.
Larry Siedentop, Inventing the Individual: The Origins of Western Liberalism 2014
by Brad S Gregory, The Unintended Reformation: How a Religious Revolution Secularized Society (Harvard University Press, )
Individualism vs. individuation
Saul Wellman, Robert Thomson, and David Doran at Fuentes de Ebro during the Spanish Civil War
nihilism as an emergent phenomenon
ontology as one of its constituent elements.
By genetic ontology I mean principles of production of practices, generative matrix, inner logic, etc. See Semiotic Regimes: the Two-Party System.
Until the rise of states, therefore, one could say that homo sapiens' behavior was generated by these two genetic ontologies, the primate and the paleolithic, with the paleolithic globally hegemonic. With the rise of the state, and of despotic regimes (Deleuze and Guatarri), we are in the land of the human response to this new situation, a response whose poet is Friederich Nietzsche. That response is r3esentiment, the third genetic ontology. This now brings us into modern times,
"Human cumulative culture: a comparative perspective," Lewis G. Dean,
Gill L. Vale,
Kevin N. Laland,
Rachel L. Kendal
Biological Reviews 89 2
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)
from 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).