#41

toyotathon posted:

roseweird posted:

i don't think points like "bugs are matriarchal" and "even mold has slaves" are trivial either.

yah i don't either. but has there been any slam-dunk historical-material explanation, from any discipline, for human patriarchy esp post-class society? i've only read caliban, and the martha mies that swampman posted... maybe it's out there and i'm just ignorant. there's engels development of the gens and i've read scattershot anthro about bridewealth.

cookin up a post about the {other} class mammals, the two african naked mole rats. we and the mole rats are related equally to the insect eusocials like wasps and bees, sharing the same distant chordate ancestor.



If you havn't read Maria Mies' Patriarchy and Primitive Accumulation on a World Scale, that book has an interesting explanation for the origin of patriarchy. Originally men were dependent on women for subsistence since hunting couldn't produce consistent results. Thus the original society was matriarchal and most of its technology (agricultural implements, storage of surplus) was invented by women. It was only when men discovered domesticating animals that they became able to subsist independently, which eventually allowed them to enslave women and establish patriarchal civilization.

From this, though this isn't Mies' argument, one could extrapolate that patriarchy has been a process of domesticating humanity though an increasingly coercive breeding program. It seems this would apply to all humans though, I don't really see how it's possible that classes would become biological stratified except in some future nightmare cybernetic society.

#42
huh okay it shot up my reading list then, thank you. from swampman's posts the depth of research looked really awesome.

the human breeding stuff, if it comes out of this mountain of genetics we've got, would be one of the predictions of one theory about how eusociality forms. but yeah clearly it's not sufficient to explain how basically the whole of humanity's been proletarianized in like 200 years. genes and caste-differentiation appear to be the last stop on the eusocial train, locking it in, so, it's maybe a slow current that i stressed about, out of proportion. also we probably don't need to do caste-differentiation in our eusociality when we pass behavior culturally, through ideology, school-sorting and training- not that eugenics is dead yet.

Edited by toyotathon ()

#43
one animal adopted a social system which has halved the biomass of the planet's plants https://www.nature.com/articles/nature25138 and the animal isn't stopping there
#44

toyotathon posted:

we probably don't need to do caste-differentiation in our eusociality when we pass behavior culturally, through ideology, school-sorting and training



unnnmmmhhh keep going daddy, backtrack ur argument out of existence some more, im nearly there

#45
humans are turning into bitcoins
#46

this image now belongs in every thread
#47

littlegreenpills posted:

unnnmmmhhh keep going daddy, backtrack ur argument out of existence some more, im nearly there



our species has two means to pass down complex social systems, all the rest have one

two rivers combine because they were already flowing in the same direction

Edited by toyotathon ()

#48

toyotathon posted:

two rivers combine because they were already flowing in the same direction


*cranking out another extremely humourless post* evolution is not like a river, its a bad teleological metaphor

#49
wait you want science instead of teleological metaphors? in the sociobiology thread?!
#50
sorry it sounded like littlegreenpills wanted something deep
#51
feature request to self-crit / self-downvote

tears posted:

*cranking out another extremely humourless post* evolution is not like a river, its a bad teleological metaphor



*not learning any lessons, extreme pedant voice* nothing about rivers is teleological, each micro-volume of water responds to the immediate surrounding kinetics and pressures per N-S, and over time they whip and re-path and split and combine and stop and go

Edited by toyotathon ()

#52
#53

http://stephenjaygould.org/reviews/consilience.html posted:

Cornets and Consilience

by Niles Eldredge

The millennium draws nigh, and, predictably, the silly season has already begun. I am thinking, though, not of the "end is near" types, but rather of the prophecies of an increasingly strident group of gene-entranced evolutionary biologists who insist that everything human—our bodies, our behaviors, our cultural norms—devolves down to the competitive propensities of our genes to represent themselves in the coming generation.

So we find "evolutionary psychologists" like Stephen Pinker telling us that it matters not to the end result how parents rear their children—even though everyone who has ever been a kid knows otherwise. And Richard Dawkins, of "selfish gene" fame, recently appeared in a BBC Horizon film, Darwin's Legacy, telling his viewers that Hitler gave eugenics a bad name. (Though his face held the trace of a sly smile, Dawkins appeared to be serious.) These themes, of course, are not new. Evolutionary biologists have been looking anxiously over their shoulders since the '50s and '60s, when the triumphs of molecular biology began rapidly accumulating. Back then, the Nobel aura of DNA and RNA clearly threatened to take center stage away from the traditional and far less sexy field of population genetics, where mathematically trained geneticists had for decades been specifying the fates of genes in groups of organisms under various experimental, field, and purely theoretical conditions.

Thus evolutionary rhetoric—epitomized by Dawkins's selfish genes, but fashioned into a virtual academic industry with the rise of sociobiology in the 1970s—was forced to confront and somehow embrace the new genetic knowledge. Sociobiologists did so by inventing a brilliant, if skewed, theory that described the biological world as an epiphenomenon of a mad race between genes jockeying for position in the world.

The American playwright Robert Ardrey actually got the ball rolling in 1961, when, in his African Genesis, he reinterpreted paleoanthropologist Raymond Dart's analysis of the cultural and physical remains of the three-million-year-old species Australopithecus africanus as proof of our killer instincts: We murder and wage war, Ardrey believed, because our ancestors did—and such propensities live on in our genes. Likewise, we have been hearing for years that the male desire to rape and philander is purely a vestige of the ineluctable urge to leave as many offspring as possible to the next generation—an urge, of course, that itself reduces to our genes' desire to survive long after we ourselves are dead.

But the most recent hype has centered around the latest book by a man I generally admire very much: Edward O. Wilson. The "father" of sociobiology, Wilson has contributed much to such disparate fields as biogeography, systematics and ecology. My admiration for him stems especially from his diligent passion as a Paul Revere-like spokesman for the earth's vanishing ecosystems and species.

It is thus with something of a heavy heart I confront Wilson's "consilience." Wilson, of course, is well known for his ontological claim that in every conceivable sense and aspect of their being, humans are epiphenomena of the competitive behavior of their genes. What is new with his consilience is the epistemological claim that all ways of knowing the human condition—not just physiology and psychology, but philosophy (especially ethics), theology, economics… indeed, the entire gamut of what we traditionally call "social sciences" and "the humanities"—are in a real and formal sense inadequate insofar as they have not been "reduced"—distilled—to the deeper truths of the genetic shell game.

Consilience, Wilson tells us, means "jumping together"—and his ostensible task is to integrate biology with the humanities to form some grand new synthesis. But in several recent interviews I have seen, Wilson readily admits that what he really has in mind is something quite different: the "reduction" of the humanistic fields into the ontology of evolutionary genetics. The word "consilience" seems an odd choice—not least for its haunting similarity to a favorite word of one of Wilson's chief rivals at Harvard. Stephen Jay Gould uses "conflation" to mean the inappropriate juxtaposition of concepts. Conflation, in essence, means "confusion." So, to my mind, does Wilson's "consilience."

What to make of this word "reduce"? What does it really mean to "reduce" one area of human thought into another? Wilson, for example, claims that human ethical systems do not derive from philosophical first principles, but instead reflect the evolutionary status of human beings as social organisms who simply need sets of rules to get along—and to enable them to leave their genes behind before they die. That both the positive and the negative interactions among social organisms are in part heritable should come to none of us as a complete surprise. We humans have known seemingly forever that we are a form of animal life—albeit a peculiar form whose approach to the exigencies of life has become heavily shaped by something called "culture."

So what I find (so) disturbing about Wilson's thesis is not really the ontological claim that evolutionary biological history—as determined by our genes—has something to do with the human condition. Rape and philandering may indeed have less to do with making babies than with the expression of symbolic issues of power in males—but that simply means that nature does not completely override nurture. It does not follow, though, that there is no biological component at all to human behavior.

Rather, it is the epistemological side of Wilson's consilience gambit that strikes me as almost incomprehensibly silly. The philosopher Ernest Nagel was known for his formal analysis of "reduction" in the sciences. According to Nagel, any exercise in reduction must involve a formal translation of the language of one field into that of another: of chemistry, say, into physics. To reduce the description of a chemical reaction to pure physics would entail describing, say, the equation "2 H2 + O2 = 2 H2O" purely in terms of electrons, protons and neutrons. There's nothing wrong with this enterprise in principle—except that what we're left with doesn't tell us anything about either the quantitative or qualitative properties of water molecules. Moreover, why stop at electrons, protons and neutrons, since they themselves are composed of smaller bits of interactive matter?

Complex systems clearly do exist. They clearly have properties of their own—properties that intrinsically cannot be addressed by the reductionist enterprise no matter how clever. Richard Dawkins, for example, has claimed that ecosystems will ultimately be understood in terms of competition among genes. Ecologists, in contrast, seem distinctly underwhelmed by this prospect, preferring to describe such systems in terms of patterns of matter—energy flow among local populations of microbes, fungi, plants, animals—and in terms of their physical location. Sure, fungal species have evolved physiological adaptations for the adsorption of various forms of dead organic material. But the basic fact that there is an evolutionary history to all of an ecosystem's adaptations is of no direct, immediate relevance to the task of specifying what those internal dynamics are. It is only trivially true that information stored in the genes of each of an ecosystem's organisms underlies those organisms' anatomies and physiologies; there is simply no meaningful way to describe the ecosystem itself through a translation into the genetic "language" of its component organisms.

And so this business of "consilience"—Wilson's raid on the humanities. What, for example, can the evolutionary history of the human gene have to do with human culture? I am writing these thoughts in a room that is bedecked with the best examples from my extensive collection of Victorian and Edwardian cornets. I collect these horns for a variety of reasons, some deeply personal—every time I find one at a flea market, for example, I experience once again the thrill of getting my first horn in grammar school. Other reasons are more analytic: Cornets were invented, and their designs had "evolutionary" histories. They became virtually extinct when radios were invented—all but killing town bands—and when Louis Armstrong switched to the more brilliant sound of the trumpet. So, in my array of cornets I see intriguing parallels with my professional career as an evolutionary-minded paleontologist. My cornets can also be reduced to their value as investments. And then there is the rich emotional enjoyment of making music with my friends on these dear old things.

Am I, like every other organism on the face of the earth, leading an "economic" existence? Meaning, do I do the sorts of things required in our society to make a living, to provide bread for the table to sustain not only my own body but those of my immediate family as well? Sure. Is caring for my children going to help some of my genes make it to the next generation? Sure—possibly. But has the emotional and economic well- being that I can directly identify with my cornet-collecting mania become any the more explicable by acknowledging that I am a living primate mammal who eats and has already reproduced? I don't think so. Economics—an impenetrable maze to me—is the description and analysis of complex systems, subsets of our social organization. Do we compete in the marketplace because, at base, we are animals that need to eat? Sure. Is knowing something about genes going to help economists understand their systems? Wilson sure thinks so—yet in a recent issue of Structural Change and Economic Dynamics devoted to evolutionary models in economic theory, the point was repeatedly made that evolution's relation to economics depends very much on which version of evolutionary theory is chosen. Theories of evolution that try to get by with reducing the process simply to natural selection generation by generation ignore the nature and internal dynamics of large-scale biological systems. Indeed, such notions ignore the very existence of such systems. In contrast, I am of the firm opinion that the course of evolutionary history is changed only when ecosystems are disrupted by physical causes: The greater the destructive event—the global mass extinctions of the geological past, as when the dinosaurs and many other forms of life disappeared abruptly more than 65 million years ago, for example—the greater the eventual evolutionary response. No perturbation, no evolution.

My evolutionary worldview is thus very different from those of Wilson and Dawkins. I take seriously the existence of large-scale systems. Though smaller-scale systems with their own internal dynamics (like natural selection working within populations) do exist as component parts of larger-scale systems, the internal dynamics of the smaller-scale components never yield a usable description of the nature of the larger-scale systems. On the other hand, if we pursue this reductionistic bent, why stop at the level of the gene? Why not reduce all evolutionary biology to chemistry, and then down to physics? When we can describe ecosystems and species in terms of quarks and leptons, we will have the ultimate reductio ad absurdum!

I simply cannot take the epistemological side of consilience seriously at all. And I shudder when I hear Darwin's beautiful and simple idea of natural selection mangled when it is applied simplistically as a moral of how we do and should behave. I feel the same way when I read the gentlemanly E. O. Wilson admonishing us to recast our ethical systems in light of his version of evolutionary biology. He is really not so very far away from the darker side—as when Richard Dawkins tells us on television that Hitler gave eugenics a bad name.



Behead those who promote the gene as the unit of selection

#54
did everyone understand what me and toyotathon were arguing about? did anyone? does anyone care?

if you were struggling to play along at home you could do much worse than read mayr's Speciational Evolution or Punctuated Equilibria for an introduction to arguments in evolutionary biology

and Lewontin's lecture Biology as a Social Weapon (pdf)
#55
also im finally getting round to reading some soviet biology stuff, maybe i will report back itt
#56
#57
you: darwin came up with the idea of natural selection after painstaking study of the finches of the galapagos during his voyages on the hms beagle
me: *looking at you over glasses* acually he read a biography of adam smith and that mathus essay
#58

tears posted:

did everyone understand what me and toyotathon were arguing about? did anyone? does anyone care?



I care! My first girlfriend broke up with me over essentially the same debate lol. It's hard to love someone when they tell you that 'actually, you don't, that's just chemicals and genes deceiving you' . I wish she'd never taken that Evo psych class

#59
i got a half done (okay less than half) post on the mole-rats. the eusocial mole-rats are v interesting because their range, bordering non-eusocial cousins, demonstrates how large, defended stores of food (in their case, underground tubers >1000x their individual body weights) is the material driver to eusociality. where tubers are gigantic/scarce, we find eusocials, and where they taper to smaller/common tubers, the eusocial range ends and other mole rats thrive. for the eusocial molerats, big colony guards defend the food store, the 'queen' reproduces, smaller workers scout for more tubers.

eusociality for people tuning in is a rare animal social adaptation to large concentrations of value (meaning food, or shelters). the debate's over whether humans made the same adaptation when we developed the agricultural surplus, class society, and by what means.

Edited by toyotathon ()

#60

Belphegor posted:

It's hard to love someone when they tell you that 'actually, you don't, that's just chemicals and genes deceiving you'



it's so weird that people can take user-illusion reductionism this far and then never ponder what the "you" in that sentence might be

"actually you didn't just 'sink a sweet half-court three-pointer'; you spatially manipulated a concatenation of shaped rubber, fiber, and other composites, which themselves are just agglutinations of numerous particles..."

anyway, marxism rescued me from all that determinism navel-gazing crap, keep it handy on your next date IMO

#61

Constantignoble posted:

it's so weird that people can take user-illusion reductionism this far and then never ponder what the "you" in that sentence might be



Good point. I'll let you speak to her

#62

Belphegor posted:

tears posted:

did everyone understand what me and toyotathon were arguing about? did anyone? does anyone care?

I care! My first girlfriend broke up with me over essentially the same debate lol.


that was me

#63
*stands up, chair falling away* and me!
#64
*coughs horribly until a gob of phlegm tumbles out onto the ground* And me
#65

toyotathon posted:

the debate's over whether humans made the same adaptation when we developed the agricultural surplus, class society, and by what means.


its far more than that, we were arguing about the accepted paradigm of intra-species competition, biological and genetic determinism, biological teliology, naturisation in biology, the evolutionary origins of cooperation and the very nature and mechanism of evolution itself, in which tom huxley was played by you and kropotkin was played by me

#66
there is no reason at all that secondary sexual dimorphism in humans has to be adaptationist, the alternate explanation is that they are relict vestiges of a greater ancestral sexual dimorphism going back to pre-human ancestors, since humans sort of sit in the middle of the dimorphism-monomorphism spectrum. the speculative addition to such an observation would be that if such secondary dimorphism is vestigial of an ancestor with more pronounced dimorphism, then the general selection pressure has been from dimorphism towards monomorphism and that barring either a total extinction event or a partial event that shifted selection pressures drastically, in a few million years secondary characteristics in humans woulds converge, anyway i didnt know where to put this so i put it here
#67
im;gay
#68
having a real streak of bad posts

Edited by toyotathon ()

#69
full tilt posting
#70
On a whim I like to feed Google phrases I secretly hope are uniq. Just now I made a meager attempt with "the origin of instinct" because I was sincerely curious where Google would take me and I'm ignorant of any scientific information regarding this (if any). It brought up Darwin Origin of the Species and a Sociobiologists book Origin of Virtue.

Okay let me break here because I have to admit I'm probably erroneously recalling something itt about (was it bees?) the point where groups of organisms "social" organization crystalizes or becomes rigid? (yotathon I think u wrote the post)

So my question, if anyone itt can enlighten me, is how would you even define instinct if you were trying to make scientific observations of it? Like there is a spider on my arm its sensors tell it I'm alive and its biting me or whatever happens when spiders try "take me on" (probably unable to even perceive the scope of my size in relation). Is that "instinct"? Maybe I'm just a dimwit but I don't see how action/behaviour/thought can be isolated and determined to be "instinctual".

What's wrong with me?
#71

tears posted:

there is no reason at all that secondary sexual dimorphism in humans has to be adaptationist, the alternate explanation is that they are relict vestiges of a greater ancestral sexual dimorphism going back to pre-human ancestors, since humans sort of sit in the middle of the dimorphism-monomorphism spectrum. the speculative addition to such an observation would be that if such secondary dimorphism is vestigial of an ancestor with more pronounced dimorphism, then the general selection pressure has been from dimorphism towards monomorphism and that barring either a total extinction event or a partial event that shifted selection pressures drastically, in a few million years secondary characteristics in humans woulds converge, anyway i didnt know where to put this so i put it here


#72

levoydpage posted:

On a whim I like to feed Google phrases I secretly hope are uniq. Just now I made a meager attempt with "the origin of instinct" because I was sincerely curious where Google would take me and I'm ignorant of any scientific information regarding this (if any). It brought up Darwin Origin of the Species and a Sociobiologists book Origin of Virtue.

Okay let me break here because I have to admit I'm probably erroneously recalling something itt about (was it bees?) the point where groups of organisms "social" organization crystalizes or becomes rigid? (yotathon I think u wrote the post)

So my question, if anyone itt can enlighten me, is how would you even define instinct if you were trying to make scientific observations of it? Like there is a spider on my arm its sensors tell it I'm alive and its biting me or whatever happens when spiders try "take me on" (probably unable to even perceive the scope of my size in relation). Is that "instinct"? Maybe I'm just a dimwit but I don't see how action/behaviour/thought can be isolated and determined to be "instinctual".

What's wrong with me?


instinct as you're talking about it seems a little fuzzy, in biology it usually would refer to an innate 'preprogrammed' behaviour as opposed to a learned one. like beavers dont need to be taught how to built dams by their parents or anything, they'll just do it 'by instinct'. depending on what the behaviour is theres different ways you could test it. like if you hand raise an animal and it never has the opportunity to learn the behaviour from any other animals, and it still does it, that suggests its likely to be an innate behaviour. generally a biologist would probably be more precise than just saying that a behaviour is instinctual with no other elaboration though.

#73
Its not a stupid question at all. This is the textbook answer, so somewhere between correct and kindling,

Its a division based on how the behaviour is aquired. instinctive behaviour is, as a rule, behaviour that is determined by inheritence, while learned behaviour is either taught i.e. passed down culturally, or discovered through experimentation or accident and then assimilated into that organisms life. It's assumed as a "general rule" that the more complex an organism, the greater the proportion of learned behavior to instinctual behavior. to take that to its extreme, you could safely say that bacterial behavior is 100% instinctual, while humans demonstrate a wide variety of useful learned behaviors, like forums posting. It is important to note that whether a behaviour is instinctual or learned has no bearing in its relative complexity.

generally animal behaviour is stereotypic i.e. its done the same every time. different species of spider spin webs in differnt ways, but the members of each species tend to spin their webs in the same manner, and when confronted with obstacles to web building they are unable to modify their behavior to account for obstacles, instead making crappy webs. thats the textbook example of a highly complex inherited behaviour that is "instinctual", "innate" however you want to describe it. Certainly the spider does not learn to spin its web by observation or through being taught, it probably ate its mother as well

The two main schools in animal behaviiour are comparative psychologists, who like to train pigeons to peck buttons (Skinner) and torture dogs (Harlow), and ethologists, who like to crossbreed ducks, and rise high in the nazi party (Lorentz). Experimentally you can determine if behaviour is inherited i.e. instinct, or learned--seperate an animal from all external stimuli at birth, raise it in absolute isolation and observe what behaviours it exibits--these should be inherited behaviours, if you raise a spider in a box it will still spin a web. You can also crossbreed closely related species with distinctive behaviours (like ducks courtship displays) and observe the behaviour of the hybrid, which will demonstrate a mixture of behaviours from both parents even if it has no interaction with one of the parents

in many cases behaviour is a complex interaction between inheritence and learning--birdsong is the best example imo, songbirds will sing even if raised in isolation, but its crap, they just make noise, they need to hear the song of their parents and have it imprint to sing it later in life, and they tend to get better at singing as they get older.

as with most macrobiological subjects you tend to find the same handful of examples are repeated ad nauseam until theyre more like catechisms than scientific examples so expexct to see red dot pecking in gulls referenced a billion times as the example of instinct-learning interaction, just like industrial melanism in evolutionary biology

Edited by tears ()

#74
harlow: dog torturer
watson: child torturer
lorentz: chilling out in the office of racial policy
von Frisch: eugenicist
skinner: let me tell u about walden two


thnk im starting 2 see the patern here

Edited by tears ()

#75
So, instincts are only observable by means of torture (ie raising them in boxes)?
#76

levoydpage posted:

So, instincts are only observable by means of torture (ie raising them in boxes)?


what do your instincts tell you?

#77
the good news is that capital found a use for the weird kid from the village who tied up dogs, the bad news is that he receives grants to tie up more dogs, the good news is that there are a LOT of dogs, and people love dogs, the bad news is it's at the expense of planetary life, the good news is people don't mind, the
#78
life is torture... three dimensions is a box
#79
whats in the box!!! (Meme)
#80
hello, it's meme