Cultural Evolution: More Intelligent Than “Darwinian”

A dangerously entitled paper in Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society (Series B, Biological Sciences). Here are the first 4 lines:

How Darwinian is cultural evolution? By Nicolas Claidière , Thomas C. Scott-Phillips , Dan Sperber (31 March 2014).

Darwin-inspired population thinking suggests approaching culture as a population…”

(My comment to Scientia Salon elevating the debate was censored.)

The supposedly proven idea that the scientific philosophy known as “Darwinism” rules humanity is exactly why we ended up with Hitler. Hitler and his friends were penetrated by “Darwinian” ideas. Explicitly. For the Nazis, Darwinism, the Selection of the Fittest, was “science”. Nearly a century later the most prestigious scientific society in Britain is still pushing the notion, with a devious title.

Peul Gentleman In Formal Attire.

Peul Gentleman In Formal Attire.

[There are 30 million Peuls, with their own languages, through 20 countries, in the Sahel and its neighborhood.]

The ideology of “Darwinism” as the end-all, be-all, is bad science, and bad philosophy. But of course an excellent mentality for vicious oligarchies. A century ago, it brought us Nazis, more recently it brought us Neo-Conservatism, and now “Austerity” and plutocracy.

Darwinism, A Philosophy Of Force, Chance, Heredity As Necessities:

At some point, around the 1960s, from some experience of Medawar on mice, some scientists thought that biological evolution was only driven by chance and selection. Thanks to haphazard variations in genetics, new organisms would differ from their ancestors. Among some of these new organisms, some would survive better, and thus (probably) reproduce better. That “adaptative” mechanism driven by chance was supposed to explain everything.

A philosophy of sorts evolved from that view of evolution, according to which everything evolved by chance, and survival determined worth. “Intelligent Design” was removed, not just from religion, and the view of the world, but from society itself.

This explanation and its philosophical extension, came to be known as “Darwinism”, or “Natural Selection”.

The Connection Between The Crisis Of The West And Neo-Darwinism:

If culture is due to chance and survival is what determines its value, why to try to make an intelligent, fair and moral society? Would not that be against nature? If we were led by genes, and genes were selfish, was not the Neo-Conservative model more natural?

In the 1960s and 1970s an argument was made that we were our “genes”, and that our genes were “selfish”. The ideas became ubiquitous in the Anglo-Saxon world, and were, truly a new philosophy, a sort of Jihadism without god.

Unsurprisingly that culture of chance, force and selfishness facilitated the not-so spontaneous creation of a new generation of selfish politicians and ideas promoting selfishness, force, and the chance heredity provides with (namely, if you inherited your position in society it was just because this is how nature is).

Societies of note tend to prefer cultural traits which they believe will promote their survival. A society not endowed with that meta-belief, and meta-practice, will not long survive.

Societies tend to be “Darwinian” in that sense. Beyond this, the notion that chance drives culture is of limited utility, because culture is anything but haphazard.

***

Natural Selection Is Not What Evolution Reduces To. Natural Selection Is Just One Of Three Evolutionary Mechanisms:

Unfortunately for the “Darwinists, they did not get their science right.

Selection was not really new. “Artificial Selection”, aka, selective breeding, was not just known, but long practiced. Aristotle relates that in “free” roaming cattle of Epirus, weak cows, or cows with traits viewed as undesirable, were culled to prevent them from breeding.

Beyond selection, artificial or natural, Lamarck, the scientist who first established evolution, suggested two new evolutionary mechanisms.

It turns out that modern quantum physics offers plausible mechanisms to check Lamarck’s suggestions. Experimental efforts are under way to check them (one grant proposal heading that way is $49 million!) Preliminary results are already in.

The bottom line is that Quantum Mechanics is intrinsically TELEOLOGICAL (it computes from the ends). This is why the Quantum is so baffling. It offers mechanisms for driving genetics from environmental influences directly (without going through the selection of the carrying organism).

Such mechanisms do not contradict natural selection. Far from it: they just accelerate it, while bending it towards more intelligent solutions. (Yes, the Quantum is clever: it was hinted since Fermat’s Principle of Least Time.)

Conclusion: Cultural Evolution Is Not Darwinian, It Is Much More Than That, And, First Of All, Teleologically Intelligent:

Culture is history, but much of that history was developed with ends in mind.

For example, a cultural trait such as executing Muslims who are deemed not to obey “Islam” has contributed to the survival of Islam. And it was, literally a clever strategy (it was established by a general, strategos). Islam started as an army at war. Quitting an army at war means execution.

Thus cultural evolution is teleologically driven. Cultural structures never seem to originate haphazardly. When we think that a cultural trait evolved haphazardly, further examination generally reveals that the trait evolved at a time and place when and where it made sense.

As I have argued in the past, inheritability does not reduce to “genes”: we are not our genes. Nor are our cultures just the survivors of selection. All and any of their bits and pieces were invented with some purposes in mind, which functioned as mental attractors.

Culture, and evolution are both smart. Intelligent Design has become an insult, so we are ending with increasingly stupid social organizations. Stupidity and oligarchy are two notions which go together well, supporting each other.

Patrice Ayme’

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30 Responses to “Cultural Evolution: More Intelligent Than “Darwinian””

  1. ianmillerblog Says:

    As I understand it, Darwinism is generally misunderstood anyway. I tis not “Survival of the fittest” but rather, “Survival of the adequate to reproduce in a niche.”

    Hey, well done to get involved in such big grant.

    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      Ooooppsss the grant thing was supposed to be removed. It was part of my internals fighting the SS censorship, and part of an extract of something I sent them. I will remove it…
      But the thing is not finalized yet, although the involvement is…
      Agreed about Darwinism.
      Lamarck will have the last laugh (and Darwin would have been the first to nod his approval)

      • ianmillerblog Says:

        Sorry if I put my foot in it again (the grant) – it was just that it was well worth congratulating.
        As for Lamarck, it is a pity you have to wait so long after death to get to laugh. It would be better if people could properly analyse what you are doing while you are alive.

        • Patrice Ayme Says:

          It’s the church, and its dog, Napoleon which hated Lamarck. Napoleon was extremely insulting to Lamarck, in person, telling him his book was full of lies, and, basically he would not punch him out, because of his white hair.

          The church could not attack Lamarck on Selection (everybody knew it was real, and obvious). So the church focused on the two new mechanisms Lamarck had suggested, and, in particular the acquisition of characteristics, even turning around the giraffe example of Lamarck (which leaded only for adaptability in the fullness of time).

          This was a long battle, nearly 30 years in Lamarck’s lifetime, and then it went on in Britain, where it was basically forbidden to teach Lamarck (as the universities were under church control). However a Scotsman did, in the 1820s, and from there, formed Lyell, Darwin, Wallace.

          There is no analysis now: look at the Multiverse (grotesque!). Or look at cosmology. Hmmm… Let me write another piece on that. I have even had similar objections in math: only finite math is acceptable to me (infinity should be viewed as Leibnitz’s infinitesimals. Actually, they are closely related: accepting one, or the other, is the same). That would change the direction of math entirely. Namely less infinity based stuff, and conversion to more practical things like non linear PDEs…

          Even the Darwin/Genes-are-everything thing is still ruling as we speak, when it’s now very clear that, well, there is much better out there.

          Great ideas, like great trees, tower when their creator is dead.
          PA

  2. gmax Says:

    SS was kind enough to allow your other comment. Thanks for reproducing their conclusion. Yes the paper in the Royal Society was confused and confusing. They crowed about Darwinism just to conclude it was all a crackpot, and the same with memes…

    Hope you get that grant

    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      I think all that censorship on SS does not help. For example they censored Coel (somebody who is and views himself as a big time scientist, and loudly so) a very valuable British commenter, and he seems to have disappeared…

  3. pshakkottai Says:

    Hi patrice:”Islam started as an army at war. Quitting an army at war means execution.”
    That means all people in Islam, men,women and children are regarded as soldiers and will be executed when they try to leave Islam. Women are treated as half a soldier etc. Makes sense in a bizarre way!
    Partha.

    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      Hi Partha! It does make sense. For example in France about 10% of the population is more or less of recent Muslim origin. However when a French MAN marries a recently emigrated, or emigrating Muslim woman, he discreetly converts. If he did not, she and he risks the death penalty. And the beauty of this Sharia, is that it’s enough if it is in the eyes of beholder!

      So Muslims are a justice onto themselves and others. At least in the main current of Suni Wahhabism (in Africa where I was raised, it was, THEN, traditional Sufism, which was completely different, and had local authorities).

      It is because Islam is militarism disguised as superstition, that it was so successful. Historic example, from Asia to Africa show adventurers who convert those they ruled to Islam, and immediately achieved great military success (the Turks are an example, Sekou in Guinea, another).
      PA

      • brodix Says:

        Isn’t what turned Christianity from an underground social movement, to a state religion was Constantine viewing the cross as a symbol to lead in battle?

        One of the points I keep trying to make is that civilization is based on the linear narrative and we since we treat space as three dimensional, which is really the xyz coordinate system, i.e., it really is just three linear directions, which is evident in that the measure of space actually used in General Relativity is only the single dimension of distance.

        Yet the overall reality is one of dichotomous feedback, i.e.. karma and when a force pushes too far in one direction, it eventually builds up substantial reaction. In fact a lot of the current momentum in Islam is a sort of medieval blowback to western colonial actions, as the more liberal aspects of their societies proved ineffectual in providing the level of secular stability and comfort seen in the west.

        As economies continue to break down, we will likely see more brutal aspects of societies becoming evident, whether criminal, state or religion.

        As with the discussion of culture at SS, these are evolutionary adaptations to environment realities, even though many are man made. We are free to do as we please, but not free of the consequences.

        If there is a lesson to be learned here and there are many, it is to accept we are part of this world and either we can become its nervous system and work within its processes, or we can become victims of our own hubris. Culture is the result of feedback from the environment and how we respond.

  4. EugenR Says:

    Dear Patrice. Very interesting your remark about cultural evolution. Never thought about it. It is obvious the genes have very little to do with cultural identity, still cultural identify at least with humans is at least as important for the human character as the genes. i wonder what has to say about it Daukins. I understand culture is a quiet widespread phenomena even among very primitive creatures not only primates.

    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      Hi Eugen: As I said here and there, the original authors of the Royal Society paper wanted to show Dawkins “Memetics” has no merit.But they treaded so carefully they gave the wrong impression, and barely corrected it with comments they made in Scientia Salon subsequent to mine (which supported them, although I pointed out their misleading semantics and syntax).

      I always thought “memes” was a terrible idea. Dawkins too, I suppose, as he sort of contradicts himself at the end of his famous “The Selfish Gene”…. When he mentions culture… But the “Selfish Gene” made him famous.

      It shortly preceded and justified Thatcherism. No less! If the “Selfish Gene” ruled, Thatcher may as well, it was according to nature! That was followed by Reagan…
      PA

  5. dominique deux Says:

    Evolution and its mechanism, natural selection, were at first furiously rejected by religious minds, who happened to rule the world.
    When they could no longer ignore the accumulating evidence, they embraced it with a vengeance, while still remaining religious minds. So they (a) peppered the notions with their own retarded views of morality and “nature”, and (b) harnessed them to their ongoing project of universal enslavement. So-called “social Darwinism” is the product of that process of non-thought. The idea that the less fit must die is completely contrary to natural evolution and selection, where intraspecific diversity is part and parcel of the process, and the weak of the day may give birth to tomorrow’s winners as the environment changes The vast majority of the “less fit” goes on living and contributing to the gene pool. But this daft and criminal idea perfectly fits the religious and the plutocratic minds, to whom extermination is just business as usual – see the recent push in some Republican states to deny the right to buy meat or fish (protein) with food stamps, sentencing the children of the poor to stunted growth and mental retardation.
    The idiocies that line of non-thought gave birth to are reason enough to dismiss it. The notion of egotistical, scheming genes is so daft it hurts to even contemplate, it gave us mating strategies in flatworms and other absurdities, to the wild applause of the usual bleaters.
    Cultural Darwinism is social Darwinism in Sunday clothes, with not a single neuron added. Don’t even grace it with a debate!

    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      The tongue-in-sinister-cheek “proposition” (“votation” en Suisse) in California has been advanced to well, propose, to KILL all gays. California political authorities are aghast, and have asked judges to intervene…

      One thing I mention recently is that we have now the proof that the food as fuel program, worldwide depended, to work, namely reducing CO2, upon lowering quality and quantity of food. So Nazi-like programs are/have been being implemented… Not to say plutocratic.

      More than 51% of new agricultural land in the last decade or so, was for FUEL, not food.

  6. brodix Says:

    Patrice,

    I’m not having any luck either. Here was the last version;

    “While culture is, centrally, a function of attraction, one of the problems with using the concept of “Darwinism” in a cultural context, is the negative cultural connotations associated with it. While Darwin was largely concerned with explaining how the diversity of life arose, the aspect which has been most ingrained in the public consciousness is the elimination of the unfortunate, not the continuation of the fortunate. Fear focuses the mind more effectively than hope.

    This has to do with biology and ultimately culture, being governed by the basic biological binary code of attraction to the beneficial and repulsion of the detrimental. Which the cultural basis of ethics and morality codify as good and bad. Now obviously, like binary computer code, enormous variety can develop from the multitude of relationships possible in binaries, but successful cultures gravitate to those aspects which further their existence and seek to punish or avoid those which might even serve to dilute it, let alone threaten it. Which further mitigates against using Darwin as a primary model, given his goal of explaining diversity.

    Yet contrary to claims of absolutism by various cultures and the consequent belief that the forces of righteousness and evil are fighting in the heavens, this is still a very much bottom up and relational dichotomy. To wit, what is good for the fox, is bad for the chicken. Thus what might seem good in one point of view, might not be universal or even harmful, if taken to extremes. Such as “go forth and multiply” was a good cultural dictum thousands of years ago, yet obviously needs to be moderated today. Thus multiple points of view and biological or cultural strategies.

    Meanwhile, today, we live in a cultural maelstrom, largely driven by the ever more efficient use and adoption of monetary systems to replace many of the basic social exchanges, contracts, desires, motivations, etc. Essentially money, in being treated as a commodity, rather than a contract, is commodified hope and as such acts like an emotional drug, in refining the essence of trust, hope and expectation to a quantified unit.

    While the benefit of this is to create a much broader economic network and the technology this mass of activity generates, the negative is that it atomizes society and reduces individuals to tools and units of labor in this system.

    To the moderators; While this is not much simpler than the original version, what I am trying to answer is the question put forth by the authors; “A general, formal statement of what cultural attraction leads to does not presently exist, and we see the development of such a statement as a major goal for future modelling work.”

    I do think it helps to be considered in those basic biological terms, but not necessarily in the particular framework put forth by Darwin, since his was another intent, than explaining forces of attraction, as applied to social functions.”

    Not worth the effort to try figuring out what passes and what doesn’t. I’m not sure some of those accepted were any more clear.

    • brodix Says:

      I broke down and tried again and was again censored:

      “Not having much luck with the censors, so I did go back and read the linked article and I’m still not impressed that it draws a useful connection between the evolution of species and cultural dynamics. Yes, there is considerable overlap, but that serves to obscure as much as it enlightens.

      While the details being used here as examples of culture do serve to distinguish its members, the core of any culture is its ethos. The foundation and framework on which all those details are mostly decoration. The details are important aesthetically and often we engage culture mostly at the aesthetic level, but to say their expression is the purpose of culture would like saying that the purpose of the walls of a house is to display pictures.

      One point I will try again to get through the filter is that much of our social and cultural connections are being eroded by increasingly monolithic and predatory monetary systems which seek to supplant the internal exchange and reciprocity within indigenous societies and cultures, in order to incorporate them into the broader economic fabric, for better and worse. So I would ask the authors, as well as the censors; Is your interest in receiving a paycheck statistically attractive, or functionally necessary for your continued participation within your particular culture?”

      • Patrice Ayme Says:

        Well, dear John, any insinuation that academics are first people who are paid to be culturally active, albeit all too often correct, will always be fiercely rejected. It was one of Socrates’ main objections, and the amnesty post-war was violated in his personal case, and only him, because authorities were not amused with such insolence. Don’t expect it to be any different today.

    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      Yes when some obviously valuable scientific and, or mathematical commenters such as Coel, or Schlafi get rejected… SS does not seem to realize commenting takes an effort…
      What I tried to explain is that the damage caused by Darwinism was real (Nazism, and some of the Homo Sovieticus)… and the worst part is that it is/was not even fully correct (by a long shot)… especially in, and when, applied to culture.

      As I explained in my two allowed comments, and the authors sort of confirmed, the aim of the Royal Society paper was actually rather anti-Darwinian, and certainly found no merit to “Memetics” for reasons that are obvious, and I talk about all the time (the brain is a creation, not a reproduction). So EJ Winner excused himself, but truly, it was the original original authors’ original mode of expression that led to confusion, especially for non-specialists, in their introduction.

      • brodix Says:

        Patrice,

        I realize I am pushing the envelope and can expect pushback, but that is part of the dynamic. I suspect the world in which we are currently living is on the edge of a precipice and so I may as well try to drill in a few basic points, whenever possible, rather than politely wait for the proper time to raise them.
        Since Massimo wishes to include the “Main Street” in this discussion, he will presumably have some patience with the more blunt expressions and when he runs out of patience and boots me off, hopefully I’ll find another form of entertainment, if not simply reading the news of the building tidal wave of financial, environmental, societal calamity.

        As such, I really wasn’t intending that as in insult, but simply pointing out that if one is to filter culture through Darwin, the actual factors determining who survives, i.e., who society provides for, should be part of the conversation, not just how one pronounces “data,” or if students should faithfully transcribe the professors notes, or correct them.

        He did write me, to say my use of the word “censor” was being rude and that I didn’t understand the meaning of the world “culture.” In less blunt terms of course.
        I pointed out that as a member of the main street side of the argument, my view of culture is more about what supports it, than the table manners and nights at the opera, that are its polished expression.

        It wasn’t a very clearly expressed essay in the first place. Like the student correcting the professor’s notes, we are likely to apply our own interpretations to what they seem to say.

    • EugenR Says:

      To my opinion there should be made differentiation between cultural phenomena that is not transformable to other group, because it has no universal tools of communication, and cultural phenomena that can out reach to other social groups by universal communication means.
      The first type of culture destributes itself only within the unique social group, and propogates by missionary persuasion, sometimes peacefull, but many times using force on individuals or social groups to join the group. The basic meme of this culture is usually faith. Such a culture, if it has higher propagation rate, tends to annihilate other cultures, and usually replaces them. It isusualy very intolerant to other cultures.
      The second type of cultural phenomena is rather supplementary cultural phenomena, that can live side by side of any cultural phenomena. It propogates by its own atractivnes, like junk food culture, clothing, generally pop culture. Usually this kind of cultural phenomena is harshly opposed by the first type of cultural phenomena, because it sees is as penetrative to its purified cultural values. (The Communistic opposition to jeans or western pop music )
      As to the money, it is a very unique and interesting cultural phenomena. It is on one side voluntarily adopted cultural value, but still it has the power to enforce itself upon the members of any cultural membership. Money has universal power of penetrating into any cultural type of social grouping.

      • Patrice Ayme Says:

        One aim of the Royal Society paper was to explain that “Memetics” had no standing. For reasons I explained in the past.
        So “Faith” can’t be a meme. Anyway, I don’t like “faith”. We all have faith to function.

        Islam, Christianity, are superstitions. Not a problem with the latter; it’s just a mask on Western Europe. Islam, though, claims to be everything. That’s a problem for the societies thus affected.

      • brodix Says:

        Eugen,

        There is top down and bottom up. Top down is naturally dictatorial and only seems not to be when it is providing purpose, direction and sustenance to the people, that the majority of them don’t feel oppressed by it.
        Meanwhile bottom up are those influences which garner support from large numbers of people naturally, though they then tend to become commercial items and strategies.
        Money is a collective promise and everyone likes to think everyone will support them. The problem is that it tends to displace more informal relations between people and then can be used to take value out of those relations. Think of it as the corner store, versus Walmart. Walmart might be cheaper and more efficient, but the larger strategy is to drain more value out than it puts back in, while the corner store tends to help keep more of the value in the community. Money is a communal contract and all communities will have some form. Colonialism functioned by moving in and replacing local currencies with the colonizers money. Remember the slogan that started the American Revolution; No taxation without representation. Of course we were an implanted culture, but in Africa, and the far east, native cultures were controlled by controlling their medium of exchange.

        Patrice,

        Islam is the most doctrinaire monotheism and it shows. Judaism is much more tribal and Christianity has strong pagan elements, most notably represented by the trinity and how it was used to mirror original belief systems, as it spread. Islam is much more focused on the singular nature of the theory of God, so there is little motivation to see two sides, or shades of grey, etc.

        They even blocked my attempt at a comment in this latest post, about walking;

        “I am fairly lucky in this regard. Having spent my life in the horse and farm side of the horse racing industry, when I’m not out walking or working around the farm, I’m riding horses around it.
        It is, as my sister likes to say, a good life, if you don’t tire. When I do tire, I’m more inclined to read, then socialize with other horse people, given I’m not much good at small talk and have an aversion to alcohol.
        With the internet, now I even get to opinionate on what I read.

        Walking is not just about balance, but motion as well. Plants are extremely balanced, but as they don’t move, have no need for a central nervous system to generate ever more complex feedback from the different environments that are encountered by moving.
        The problem of motion is that it generates reaction from the context and the more motion, the more reaction. Which is of course, another expression of balance! So, to a very real extent, this manifestation of thought we are all expressing, arises from instabilities. Perfect stability is a flatline.
        The question then is as to how we act in and react to our environment, both to propel it in presumably positive directions, as well as to counterbalance the more destructive actions of our fellow beings.
        Which might start to involve opinions not focused on the topic at hand, so I won’t go there.
        Though it is safe to say, reading the news of late, things appear to be getting more and more out of balance on a global scale and the resulting instability will both remove and generate options we can only guess at.”

        I’m suspecting I probably won’t be around there much more.

        • EugenR Says:

          Dear Brodix. There are many important issues in your response. So let me react one by one.
          Top – bottom management, is one way to look on culture. If to speak about monotheistic religions as cultural phenomena, to my understanding only the Catholic Church is top bottom managed. This is why it had historically made so many fathalic mistakes like inquisition, corrupted papacy, etc. The other monotheistic religions are less bottom down, that’s why probably frome personal faith point of view are more successful in the modern era of individualism. Still the Catholic church has many effective marketing tools. (Michelangelo, Raphael, st Peter square, you name the rest ). But as any marketing tool, it is just surface, without truth beneath.
          Money, is the new universal God to believe in. At 2007 this God almost failed. But the cardinals of the money reacted very swiftly and efficiently, and saved the idol. Yet this idol as any other is false. The todays economic system, I use to call “Capital-Market system “, necessarily has to be doomed, otherwise the humanity with all its good and bad culture will vanish. I am writing now a whole book about it, but here I will put just a small hints about it. The need of accumulated money to make more money, what is called in economic jargon yield and interest, forces to impose an economic policy of unrestrained and non selective economic growth, that has to bring eventually to a total collapse of humanity, you hinted also about in your response.
          Any religions, including the monotheistics have in their core a story you have to believe in. The stories from modern perspective are not very impressive, ( Shakespeare impresses me more ), scientifically are many times idiotic, even if occasionally right, ( like correctly describing some long forgotten historical events). Yet many people have a need to belong and believe in some force above them. Until this mental phenomena will not be explained and cured, you will have religious belief systems around, with all its devastating effect we see around us.
          As to small talk we are on the same boat.
          Central nervous system, as it appears is far from centrally managed. In contrary, the brain apears to be a perfectly harmonised collaboration system. I wish human societies could addopt some of its systems. Many historical catastrophes could have been prevented. But as it seems human societies have difficulty to act harmoniously if there is no central power above them. Patrice likes to mention in this issue the Swiss political system as example that could work. I think, unless most of the people will have deep understanding of the realities, as contrary to the understanding the world of marketing lies as the reality, no social harmony can be established.
          Your relation to horses is impressive. I have ” genetic inclination against animals”. But this is an other story.

  7. brodix Says:

    Eugen,

    I think that with lots of things, there is feedback between complex environments and basic processes feeding through them. When you have hundreds of millions of people interrelating, it’s as much physics, as politics. I think that since we exist in this physical environment and the primary dynamic describing it is thermodynamics, that if we consider human activity in such terms, it might explain a lot. The more notable features in thermodynamics are the vortices. Think about those Hadjis swirling around that rock in Mecca and pulling a quarter of the world around with them. Think of Switzerland as the eye of the storm that is Europe.
    Then there are lots of other behaviors. Waves. Bubbles. Heat and cold. Storm fronts.
    Then you get into how thermodynamics functions geologically and there are earthquakes, volcanos, mountain ranges, plains.
    Then think of how people move around, both pulled and pushed by forces larger than they. Heat building up. Energies building and dissipating. Fronts and storms.
    The poles of attraction and repulsion of hope and fear.
    Sometimes even nice days, where everything is calm and stable.
    We go through those periodic bouts of pushing each other around and after the energy dissipates, settle into boundaries and customs. Then the pressures start building again and the powers that be direct them as best as possible, eventually drawing the circles ever tighter and more and more are left outside. Then that pressure builds, breaking down more walls and soon a big storm comes along again.

    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      John: You sound like Descartes! 😉 Rene’ tried to explain everything with vortices… I think humans, however numerous, are intelligent agents, so system of ideas are where the forces are applied. Humans can rarely be thermodynamized (although sometimes they can)… Yet, all right maybe lots can be said in that direction… Like Europeans spilling across the Americas like locusts…

    • EugenR Says:

      Dear Brodix, thanks for the poetry of physics and social behavior you wrote as a response. I really enjoyed it. What i lack in your metaphoric poetry is intentionality of the social phenomena and the emerging properties of physical ones.
      The hadji is not just quarter of world population circling a black stone, it is also a social movement with a flag representing faith, with intentionality to enforce this faith on the other three quarters of the world population.
      The second law of thermodynamics means that in every dynamic process you have to pay more than you can gain out of the process. The emerging property of this law is that the accessible world resources are limited, and these limitation will be imposed on us either gradually or in one big lash.
      To my opinion the “Arab spring”, is an emerging phenomena out of the social networking. These emerging events are unpredictable, since they are by definition not part of the system itself that ignited these emerging states, but jump out of nowhere due to the system. Of course the best example of emerging states is consciousness, but also unexpected social-political events can be seen as unpredictable emerging states coming out of social systems, created with entirely different intention.

    • brodix Says:

      Patrice,

      While consciousness may not be(I don’t think) physically based, it necessarily has to be physically manifest in order to be anything more than the most nebulous sense and thus the laws of physics create the forms and forces we exist within.
      The source is that essence from which we rise, not an ideal form from which we fell.

      Eugen,

      According to an article I recently read, we have managed to raise the earth’s temperature less than two degrees in 200 years and if we were to burn all available sources of fossil fuels, we would raise it 16 degrees. Safe to say, we would fry ourselves first. Nature gives us enough rope to hang ourselves. What we need to learn is that nature is not fundamentally linear, but reciprocal.
      One of the points I keep making is that we look at time backwards. The fundamental reality isn’t a vector of events along which the point of the present moves, from past to future, but the processes by which events form and dissolve, thus going future to past. Tomorrow becomes yesterday because the earth turns.
      So it is not some vector from a determined past into a probabilistic future, but the action of the present creating events which recede into the past.
      This makes time an effect of action, similar to temperature. Time is to temperature, what frequency is to amplitude. Its just that we think as a sequence of events and so think of time as a single series, not lots of different activities occurring simultaneously. Which is that thermodynamic medium we exist in.
      The left, rational side of our brain is the linear, while the right, emotional, intuitional side is a scalar, so we feel emotion in terms of heat and pressure, while intuition and emotional attraction are all those inadvertent connections being made, outside that linear flow of consciousness that evolved out of our need to navigate. So we construct civilization out of the narratives we tell, from Genesis and the Big Bang, to Armageddon and the Big Crunch.
      Yet the actual dynamic is cyclical, of waves rising and falling and balancing each other out. Energy expanding out and structure coalescing in. Energy going from prior to succeeding forms, past to future, as the forms rise and fall, future to past.
      Just as individuals start in the future and eventually recede into the past, as the species moves onto future generations, shedding the old. Layers peeling away, as new ones take their place.
      So we need to learn that pain is the price we pay to feel in the first place and we can take our medicine in small doses, or all at once.

      • Patrice Ayme Says:

        John: I have written plenty about consciousness being material.
        Earth’s temp was risen .8 degree Celsius, so far. However, as I have thoroughly explained, the poles are the problem. In “2 degrees too much” I explained the poles will go before that.

      • brodix Says:

        Patrice,

        We are just on thin ice over the abyss.

        We tell ourselves stories to try and make sense of it, but in many ways they are no more real than the dreams we have at night, as the mind skips through the circuits of the brain, trying to tie them all together.

        Then after a while, we realize we are more the stories being told, than whatever it is telling them, that it will just keep telling stories long after we are gone.

  8. Cultural evolution | EugenR Lowy עוגן רודן Says:

    […] Says: April 15, 2015 at 2:11 am | […]

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