Friday, 19 December 2014

My scientific conceptual breakthrough of this year...



Nicholas Fulford said...

She does wear a smug little smirk from time to time in the course of the interview, and that is revealing.

Where I will agree with Jones is in the problem of chaos that often occurs when man has no structure to define his limits and place. Most people do not respond well to a lack of boundaries and structure, and an external authority that defines the limits and boundaries provides that structure - whether that authority is real, or imagined and treated as real.

To put it another way, those parts of the brain which can act to inhibit the expression of primal drives seem to function poorly if there is no authority above the individual to whom there is accountability and hence some level of fear and governance of behaviour.

But there is another fear, and I suspect a greater one. That is the fear of spiralling out of control towards dissociated chaos with the ego losing its grip and running in terror from its fear of non-being.

Civility requires structure and authority, or people express the primitive drives with greater frequency and intensity. The difficulty lies in having authority vested in a man or men at the top of the authority pyramid, because they too are men, but with great power, and yet with the same need of authority to remain civil. Abstract authority does not have the same restraining ability as concrete authority, which leaves us with a conundrum because if concrete non-human authority exists it does not show itself authoritatively and hence for practical purposes does not exist; or it does not exist; or it is constrained.

For all practical purposes humans do not exist as under a non-human concrete authority, and modern man's awareness of that is the basis of our troubles.

Nicholas Fulford said...

Your argument pre-supposes something which is axiomatic or forms the basis or substrate upon which natural selection works.

I am not inherently averse to this idea, because a universe has intrinsic properties and constants that define what can be expressed within it.

Red Queen Natural Selection (RQNS) would appear to be the dominant mode, but a far less frequent one is where a beneficial mutation occurs, as in the Richard Lenski experiment where a pair of mutations resulted in E. coli being able to grow on the citrate substrate.

I don't we can ignore the role of beneficial mutation - leading to speciation.

Bill said...

I believe this was the earliest post this year towards this idea. Definitely felt like a breakthrough.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Bill - Thanks - I've added it.

@NF - There is no doubt that natural selection leads to modifications of species, and even sometimes to new species- but it has not been observed to lead to new forms of organism, or shift between the higher level classifications above species/ genus.

HofJude said...

Perhaps this conceptual breakthrough - as I understand it - might (by analogy) resolve the boring nature/nurture dispute over human childhood and childrearing? Just as natural selection acts not to improve the species, but merely to keep its head above water, mightn't the same be said about nurturing? Could it be that the effect of privilege, bourgeois, caring, attentive, parenthood tells only to the extent that it ensures that the child doesn't a) die, b) become so sick or so often sick that its adulthood is impaired, c) learns basic deployment of trust, suspicion, charm, cunning? And that everything else that parents think they are doing when they are nurturing - music lessons, 'imparting values,' math drills, etc. - have a completely random effect, or have an effect on individuals determined by a genetic absolute upon which neither parent nor child has the power to alter (or understand?). So it is not nature OR nurture, or nature PLUS nurture or AMENDED/IMPROVED by nurture, but nature - either impaired by defective nurture or not impaired by good-enough nuture. Obviously, nature alone without nurture = exposure on the Tarpeian Rock.

Bruce Charlton said...

@HoJ - A good point; which I don't recall haveing seen before.

HofJude said...

One could call my adoption of your concept the Heidi Hypothesis: that irritable, poor, uneducated, elderly Grossvater on his Alp can give Heidi (and, later, Klara Sesemann) the minimum nurture any child needs to survive and thrive, while the cultured + wealthy Sesemann household in Frankfurt, with all its music lessons and books and 24/7 maid service cannot improve Heidi's character, nor can Deutsches Kultur cure the physical and moral weakness that crippled little Klara Sesemann and prevents her from getting well.

Bruce Charlton said...

@HoJ - Sorry, I didn't realize you were (also) SS!

It is a long time (more than 45 years) since I saw Heidi on television in a dubbed kids version.