Posts Tagged ‘Machiavellian Intelligence’

Advanced Machiavellian Insulting

January 17, 2017

Machiavellian Intelligence” is a recent scientific concept. However, Machiavellian Intelligence has been practiced by various animals for at least 400 million years. What is Machiavellian Intelligence? Any form of intelligence which uses a Theory of Mind to predict, and sometimes, as we will see below, dictate, the behavior of others (this is my definition, which generalizes the usual one, which is confined to large social groups).

Any animal with a sufficiently advanced intelligence acts, relative to other animals, with a Theory of what the Mind of the other is. For short, philosophers call that a Theory of Mind.

Elaborated originally when studying primates, the “Machiavellian intelligence hypothesis” (Byrne and Whiten 1988, 1997) is that the large brains of humans grew over the millennia because of intense social competition for reproduction (now of course, food is even more important than reproduction… and survival, more than food… So limiting to a social group, and sex, is silly.)

However, considered in my much more general sense, Machiavellian intelligence has existed probably since the first fishes ambled on land, if not before (such fishes nowadays, such as Mudskippers spend some time threatening and fighting each other for their piece of mud… It is of such animals and their ilk, we are talking about today).

Insults Depend Upon A Theory of the Mind of the Other. Insults Can Be Noble, Let Alone Well Deserved. However, They Are First A Way To Change Minds, Often For the Worst

Insults Depend Upon A Theory of the Mind of the Other. Insults Can Be Noble, Let Alone Well Deserved. However, They Are First A Way To Change Minds, Often For the Worst

For example the mother crocodile which charges or, actually, any animal making a mock charge, uses a Theory of Mind (they know they may scare away the enemy, because the enemy will be afraid; thus they know something about the mind of the enemy, and they conceive of fear ).  

In human beings, Machiavellian Intelligence can reach heights unsuspected by traditional scholarship.

Consider insults. The very principle of insulting depends upon having a Theory of Mind. Generally insults are viewed first as the mark of anger, the products of gross and primitive minds. But there is much more to it. Insults can be proffered to change the mind of the adversary in a very deep way.

I got severely insulted on the Internet in recent months. The perpetrators have TDS, Trump Derangement Syndrome, according to which whoever did not agree with what they were injected with, is most evil. The plutocratically owned Main Stream Media (including “public” outfits for sale, such as NPR and PBS) decreed that all heretics, those who dared exert some choices regarding the Main Stream Media’s contempt for Trump and all his views, were racist, homophobic, anti-Muslim, Lesbian, Transexual hater, “Alt-Right”, “red”, combative and generally atrocious. One did not have to be a supporter of Trump to attract a frenzy of insults. Being a simple supporter of the Truth, in any way, was deemed enough for a deluge of insults.

I must confess that I supported the Truth really a lot, partly in the hope of studying the flow of insulters, and also studying what it was the insulters hope to achieve. The more I supported Truth, the more enraged the insulters got. TDS went exponential. I found that sad, as a simple human being with simple feelings, for people I used to consider friendly, or, at least, decent, yet, the more I got insulted, the more very interesting I found the entire exercise, as a philosopher trending towards ever more sophistication..

Even people whom I have known face to face, accused me to be a “racist”, an “antisemite”, or a “racist troll”. Several of these people  knew that my family is multiracial, from three continents. That my parents and closest family fought the Nazis in uniform or in the resistance, taking huge risks, that they were even hunted by Gestapo. Some even knew that some members of my family has been tight with Obama for more than four decades (and they adulate Obama, whom they never met, as if he was the new Golden Calf).

In spite of evidence to the contrary, and without supporting sophisticated reasoning for hurling such infamy, the insults kept coming, and were widely advertized in “social networks”. Someone important explained to me that the insulters were mostly posing to reassure their allies, and employers (in the “liberal” media) that there was no way they knew a monster such as me.

But then I discovered this:

Something insulters want, and all too often get, is for their preys to become according to their insults.

Facebook friend John Michael Gartland agreed: That’s just what I was thinking. Others I exposed the idea to had an “eureka moment”.

So insults flow from a Theory of Mind. “Fighting words” (a legal notion) are there to incite coming to blows. It is a form of mental manipulation. But what I revealed above is a more subtle form.

Say you know somebody who is not a racist, not a xenophobe, not a liar. Still, suppose that person is insulted, and called, publicly, a “racist”, “xenophobe”, “liar”, and other derogatory terms, relentlessly. What to do to get out of it if denials only excite the insulters to further abuse? Paradoxically, the natural reaction is to scoff and embrace the deplorable condition which is unjustly conferred, the natural reaction is to embrace it: that immediately drops the charges of bad faith, covering-up (cowering-up?), and lying.

Thus accepting what was meant as an insult as a quality one possesses, diminishes the neurological workload of the one who is insulted. Embracing the insult, accepting to be mentally conformed to the insult, is, literally energy saving. Thus a strong motivator. It reduces the adversary’s capacity to annoy… thus the pain. 

(A famous example of proudly adopting insults as one’s own cocky characteristic was given by Gauls and Romans. The Romans called the Celts “cocks”, because, the Romans alleged, Celts liked too much colorful clothing, a flamboyant attitude, a domineering stance, and were too proud, noisy, and aggressive. The Celto-Germans turned all around these Roman insults, into characteristics they were proud of, and adopted the name “Gallia”, the birds by that name… As their own definition!)

Also, having received already the punishment, of being condemned as what insults define one as, why not enjoy its fruits? And if it irritates so much the insulters, why not to strike back at them with what infuriates them so much?

Such is one of the infernal loops which foster conflicts: insults confer behavioral characteristics, as soon as the object of the insults lower neurological stress by accepting them as a truth to be proud of, or live with. Thus, confronted to insults, replying with just “esprit”, tack to tack, as Voltaire (and many others) used to, is not always the wisest behavior. Insults are how the creeps transfer their inferiority to ourselves. Let’s go higher, with superior ideas, to crush the insulters, as the roaches they are.

To the violence haters and insulters propose, impose and live by, we have an alternative: intelligent, honest debate, going boldly where they can’t want to. Nothing infuriates them more.

Patrice Ayme’

 

What Do We Need Men For?

September 20, 2015

This is a philosophical question: I leave reproduction issues, those technical details, aside. The latter are in the process of being scientifically solved. We can imagine a society without men, so to ponder why we would need them is of the essence.

More urgently, the obverse problem has appeared: in many societies, boys are prefered to girls, and a vast gender gap of the most ominous type has surged.

However, in the self-doubting West, conflicts, for some reasons, is not as popular as it used to be, and men are supposed to be war-like and disruptive. Why not getting rid of them? (Whether this elimination has been proposed or not, is irrelevant. In the light of the campaign waged against many a virile personality trait, it is pretty obvious that the ideal of the Greek superhero of old, the hyper virile hoplite, is supposed to be extinguished.)

With Women Like That, Who Needs Men?

With Women Like That, Who Needs Men?

[Blue Mountains.]

I asked one of my friends, a mountain guide. She generally climbs, when not guiding, with two other very strong climbers, who happen to be women. As I contemplated them, I wondered, indeed, what we needed men for. Could not that trio prove that women could do all what men could?

The question is not new. In the 1950s, when the Himalaya was immensely dangerous, French women constituted an entirely feminine expedition to climb some unconquered summit. However, mother nature decided otherwise, and smashed the arrogant creatures’ base camp below thousands of tons of snow.

My friend the guide told me the most ferocious boss she ever had was female. Moreover, although she agreed that men were pretty useless, at first sight, and thus that women could do without men, there was nevertheless something good about having males around. Women were pushed to go further when men were around.

The reciprocal reasoning has long been made by the chivalry, and the nascent romantic tradition. The Sixteenth Century French poet Ronsard pointed out, by claiming that love for the other gender was most transcendental:

Et moi sans faire long séjour

Je m’en vais de nuit et de jour

Au lieu d’où plus on ne retourne”.

Si est-ce que je ne voudrois

Avoir été ni roc ni bois,

Antre, ni onde, pour défendre

Mon corps contre l’âge emplumé,

Car ainsi dur je n’eusse aimé

Toi qui m’as fait vieillir, Cassandre.

ODES, IV, 10

Trans PA.:

Without sojourning long,

I am going, night and day,

To this place one does not come back from,

Yet, I would not have wanted

To be neither rock nor wood,

Cave, or Wave, to defend

My Body against feathered age,

As thus hard I would not have loved

You who made me age, Cassandra.

In other words: love is what makes life worthy. We pay for love, with life. That sounds a bit crazy, thus having crazy relations with the other half of humanity may help. Courtly love, which was invented in “love courts” set by women around the Twelfth Century had made the most ethereal form of love the most valuable value to guide humanity with.

My friend the mountain guide made the same point pragmatically: inter-gender relationships are more stimulating than having them not.

What the two genders do, is that they force us out of our mental box, or more exactly, our logic.

Can we rephrase this more… logically? Yes! The (slightly) different neurohormonalities, and maybe even neurologies, of men and women give us different logics. Call them L1 and L2. So by having women we get L1 (say) and by having men we get L2. So, with two genders, we get two logics. At first sight, that’s already twice richer than just one logic.

Moreover, by making L1 and L2 interact, we get more than just one or the other. Actually we get more than the union of L1 with L2. What we get, at the very least is the smallest logic containing both L1 and L2. We get META(L1, L2), comprising the meta discourse of L1 on L2 and of L2 on L1.

This is the big argument for neurohormonal diversity. And it can be generalized: the main mental reason for having physical exercise, adventures, or simply dreams, or poetry is that they create different neurohormonal states, and thus different logics.

This general reasoning of neurohormonal diversity generating logical diversity extends also to hermaphrodites and so-called “transgender” creatures.

Some may object that I talked about “logic”, and not of what men and women differ the most about, emotion. But my notion of “logic” covers “emotion”. “Emotion” is what gives meaning to logic, by assigning “truth values”, which are defined by practice, to generalized semiotics (in particular generalized semantics).

But this is a subject for another time. Passions, the supreme emotions, propel reason beyond the reasonable, and in this progress, our ever more transcendental nature. We need men and women, because we need ever more, and never less. And maybe violence of men is part of these riches, and the softness of women what is needed to make the Dark Side sustainable.

If advanced animals can be characterized by their Machiavellian intelligence, nature’s wisdom can be even more so. To have two genders with different ways of looking at, processing the world, and even being with the world, gives us stereoscopic vision for the mind’s eye. The mind of our culture, our all encompassing world culture, which can even drive biological evolution itself (another subject for the future).

Vive les  différences!  

Patrice Ayme’