Re: birthdays

From: Wade T. Smith (
Date: Tue 17 Jun 2003 - 23:49:02 GMT

  • Next message: Keith Henson: "Re: Science as Idea & Meme"

    On Tuesday, June 17, 2003, at 06:23 PM, Kenneth wrote:

    > I won 't be backsliding Wade, that 's for sure, but I keep on
    > wondering about the effects of the cultural venue upon the
    > matter how far you turn the clock back, ' we ' observe
    > as individuals each performance, each artifact differently, it may be
    > close, but not exact, it is not the same, not even self- same as you
    > did claim, but what we in the end observe is ours ! The mind is one of
    > the agents, yes...but the mind has its own uniqueness over and over
    > again, no perception of any per- formance if the self- same in any
    > observing, do we talk here about a " solipsistic " aspect or
    > not.....!? I am puzzled by this....

    (First, thanks, Kenneth- I'm not here to make friends, hell, I'm a crusty old fart, and I'm not anywhere to make friends, but, I am gratified to know that this model of performance is not lost to all, if only because I really do think it has something to it.)

    I would answer you by saying that, hey, culture did not come first before individualism. It did not come first before self-consciousness. It did not come first even before society. All these other things came first. Culture is an organizational and evolutionary product itself of the facts that humans had self-consciousness, and imitative behaviors, and society, and individual minds with unique experiences, and all of this very complex mix gathers in time and place as a culture, through all sorts of influences and mechanisms, from the need to urinate and eat and reproduce and sleep, to the desire for artistic expression and the liking for riding a bicycle fast and the need to regulate traffic. Culture is an environment, not an instinct. It is reacting at the same time as influencing. It is evolving.

    Yes, there are effects upon the individual from the venue- dire ones in the case of fundamental religions and other isolationist philosophies- and manipulative ones- but all cultures have to deal with the effects of the individual upon the venue- or they will perish. And, yes, venues have perished a million times for lack of adaptation to the individuals, (remember the Edsel), or lack of suitable environment,
    (remember Dukakis), just as species have. Any dead language is an example of an extinct cultural venue.

    Are there feedback loops within the venue between the venue and the individuals within it? Of course. And if they were all the same, these agents, and the venue, continually feeding back, there would be no evolution of that culture. Several societal cultures have been in existence for thousands of years, in forms coherent enough over time to be called by one name, such as most religions, and mercantilism, and prostitution, and philosophy, and science. It is through the agencies of the individuals within that culture that it evolves, and it has to deal with these mutational agencies. Some cultures can deal with mutational agencies from without, such as science, and that strange system that is the state-based representative government of the US. Some cannot, like aboriginal cultures or tribes. After all, even the french now eat Big Macs, but the Louvre does not have arches.

    There are constant feedback loops in genetic evolution, of course. This is generally what speciation is. Culture can be more adaptive than genetics to outside influences, and usually is. The Shakers are a very good example of a rigid non-adaptive culture, and, for the most part, it is gone entirely.

    Too much control is like too much structure- like the oak, it falls in the wind. Not enough control is like the grass, trampled with the slightest weight. Evolution keeps small species in small nooks of survival. Humans have the entire earth as their nook.

    - Wade

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