Re: Dennett article on post-modernism

From: Keith Henson (
Date: Mon 17 Mar 2003 - 06:14:06 GMT

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    At 07:26 PM 16/03/03 -0500, Scott wrote:


    >Remarkably simple or overly simplistic? This conjures up the image of
    >cavemen with clubs dragging their women around. Would there, thus, be
    >something fundamental to the feminine psyche that is geared towards being
    >subdued and captured.

    It pays at the level of the gene to put out a large effort defending self, children, and other tribe members. For the women as well as the men. It is also true however that if you *are* subdued and captured, it pays your genes to make the best you can of the situation--especially for women. Not as much now as it did for 99 plus percent of the time humans have lived on earth, but for most of that time it was just reality when living in waring tribes.

    >We're flirting with the simplistic sexist mode of evolutionary subjugation
    >of women here and the infamous naturalistic apologia for rape.

    Hardly my point, not to mention that if you knew anything about the strong women in my life, you would know this is not what I think.

    >Capture bonding itself (or the Stockholm syndrome), as something either
    >sex might be prone to in certain situations, might be an interesting
    >possibility to ponder, especially in light of the Hearst case and the
    >recent Smart case and your ideas about cults, but let's not get carried
    >away with focusing on women having psychological mechanisms that allow
    >them to adapt to being captured.

    Perhaps there is no sex linkage in susceptibility to capture-bonding. But it is extremely likely that *selection* for the psychological traits that are evoked in capture-bonding happened almost exclusively in females because males are generally just killed in situations where females are captured. Read the accounts in the bible to get a bit of perspective on this subject. If there *is* some sex linkage in these mechanisms, the mechanisms would be expected (from evolutionary arguments) to be stronger in females because the males don't profit (genetically) from having them.

    >Women obviously aren't fated by their genes to acquiesce to being
    >subjugated by men.

    Long run, and by this I mean in the next few decades, both men and women will be able to re-engineer themselves to whatever they want to be, completely ignoring genes if they wish.

    >Note the recent cultural emergence of feminism (in its reasonable versus
    >extremist variations) and the very recent destruction of a perfectly fine
    >snow phallus as commented on here recently.

    None the less, battered spouse is mostly battered females. I make a strong case that one reason (maybe the major one) these women don't get away for a long time is that the capture-bonding mental mechanism is evoked by beatings and abuse. This is not good, but knowing what lies behind such behavior could make a big difference in how society treats such cases. Treating the partners of battered wives with tiny amounts of oxytocin might be all that is needed.

    It is clear to me that *males* activate the same brain circuits in bonding rituals such as fraternity hazing and army basic training.

    Capture-bonding may be the origin of hard to explain sexual practices such as SM and dominance--which don't appeal to me at all.

    Keith Henson

    PS. one of the best stories I know about in relation to battered wives happened between this Apache (Native American) I knew and his Russian wife. (This was at least 40 years ago.) After they had been married a while, he beat her up just because it was traditional. She waited till he went to sleep and then banged him on the head with a cast iron frying pan and proceeded to bash him with the edge of the pan a good deal worse than he had beaten her. Next morning when he woke up--very painfully--she handed him the pan and told him it was his turn, but remember he had to sleep. Far as I know, he never hit her again. :-)

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