Monday, 29 February 2016

Evolution cares little for intelligence but insists upon purpose

In biology, strategic, long-term purpose is mandatory - intelligence is useful in some situations, but is subordinate to purpose and coherence. Therefore a society or person lacking purpose is en route to extinction.

Short-term motivation turns-out to be dependent upon long-term strategic purpose. In other words, where purpose is lacking, motivation is headed for collapse as well.

This happens because without purpose there is no cohesion - because there is nothing to cohere-around.

And without cohesion then short-term, tactical motivations (including basic ones like hunger, safety, sex) dissociate and start to erode by some mixture of 'entropy' (the natural tendency of complex things to accumulate damage) plus mutual conflict, encouraged by natural selection operating faster and more powerfully on components than on wholes.

In sum, lack of high-level organizing purpose both passively allows and actively imposes the destruction of all forms of lower-level motivation.

Therefore, when a human society loses strategic purpose, it will fall to pieces. Purpose just is essential. Some people suppose that society can get-by or at least continue without an overall purpose on the basis of smaller scale, individual motivations - for example that when the purpose deriving from religion has gone, then the smaller scale motivations of smaller scale units such as government, law, the educational system and heal services will continue; there is also the assumption that when 'top-down' religion is removed then individual spirituality will take-over.

Not so - except as a very temporary lag-phase phenomenon: all these lower level forms of motivation will begin to self-destruct as soon as overall purpose is missing.

So what provides overall purpose? The answer is religion - or, in the immediate aftermath of loss of religion some societies found a temporary purpose in nationalism, although nationalistic fervour has never lasted with sufficient strength for more than a generation...

So: religion is needed for purpose - and without purpose there will be extinction.

Plus - not all religions do, in practice, provide national purpose - so the choice is limited.

But the fact is that if The West does not find religion - and thereby by, and by no other means, recover purpose - it will become extinct.

One way or another.


Note: 'Extinction' for The West includes being taken-over by another society which has an effectively purpose-giving religion; hence involving a purpose being imposed on The West group by another group, from externally. Indeed, all genuine purpose must, in practice, be external; in order to be effective and sustainable. Presumably, The West will continue to collapse/ destroy itself (due to lack of religion/ purpose) until this happens either overall, or by piecemeal conquest/ colonization. On present trends, this seems like the most probable scenario.

11 comments:

Giovanni Dannato said...

I've arrived at the same conclusion you have about the necessity of purpose and meaning in all affairs and have observed how the excesses of the Enlightenment stripped away this vital force.
But I guess I see it as something like a law of physics, self-evident in the structure of the universe. If religious, perhaps only in a broad Spinozan sense.

Bruce Charlton said...

@GD - The trouble is that Spinozan-type abstract 'religion' is ineffective in giving purpose for whole societies - it seems to be restricted to a tiny minority of intellectuals.

Different T said...

But the fact is that if The West does not find religion - and thereby by, and by no other means, recover purpose - it will become extinct.

The West already found its "religion," the market. Its purpose is economic efficiency, though its "in itself" is utterly subterranean and cryptic.

Bruce Charlton said...

@DT - I would have to disagree on two counts - Firstly that 'the market' is only 'a religion' (i.e. a primary motivator) among a tiny and powerless minority of intellectual libertarians. Whereas mainstream conservatives/ republicans/ business interests are keen on regulations, subsidies, special status and deals, controls, cartels and all manner of 'mercantilist' fixes - in practice these are highly compatible with socialism.

For example the most profitable corporations are big pharmaceutical companies, which constitute and enormous cartel that works hand-in-glove with government officials ('regulators') and funders, medical statisticians and scientists, the medical profession, scientific publishing and marketing, supra-national government etc to ensure large, long-term, guaranteed high profits.

Secondly that the market ideology is not a religion, because it offers no overall organizing and cohesive purpose for human life. Indeed, so far as it exists - which is not far; it is a kind of parasitic anti-religion.

Different T said...

Firstly that 'the market' is only 'a religion' (i.e. a primary motivator) among a tiny and powerless minority of intellectual libertarians.

If considering it as "official religion," I agree. However, the market (which as you describe is not the "free market" and the reason "free" was not included) is the de facto religion that is enforced at every opportunity. It still has enemies in the form of religion and other conceptions like family, race, and nations; but the market has been steadily weakening all of its competitors.

Secondly that the market ideology is not a religion, because it offers no overall organizing and cohesive purpose for human life.

Completely disagree. The crypto-talk for what it offers is economic efficiency and the satisfaction of economic desires.

The market surely offered an "overall organizing and cohesive purpose" for livestock, agree?

Bruce Charlton said...

@DT - My stance is that the dominating religion - dominating each and every one of the major social institutions in The West - is very obviously and clearly Secular Leftism/ Socialism/ the New Left/ Political Correctness - the ideology of Social Justice Warriors...

I explain and defend this here:

http://thoughtprison-pc.blogspot.co.uk

Different T said...

@ Bruce

Understood. My perspective is that the SJW ideology and the SJWs are the markets "shock troops" against the aforementioned enemies of the market: religion and other conceptions like family, race, and nations.

Nathaniel said...

One of your previous posts bothered me. Though you didn't post the details of the crime, it was enough to be thoroughly repulsed and disgusted! That society has fallen so far as to implicitly permit such things is enough to pull ones hair out. I can't help connecting it to something Peter Kreeft said regarding the necessary response justice calls for with regard to such things.

"If the God of life does not respond to this culture of death with judgment, God is not God. If God does not honor the blood of the hundreds of millions of innocent victims then the God of the Bible, the God of Israel, the God of orphans and widows, the Defender of the defenseless, is a man-made myth, a fairy tale."

For people who want to save Western Civilization, we must admit there becomes less and less to be saved - so much is already destroyed, lost, and deserving of full condemnation. It seems we are, in many ways, left only with seeking our salvation as Christians and that of our neighbors, or close community, or church as far as it goes.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Nathaniel. Yes. There is much to be saved - especially from earlier generations - but there are few who value it and ever more who want to destroy that which deserves to be saved. Think of anything good - Tolkien for example. The standard view among those who dominate culure is that Tolkien is disgusting. If anything good is praised by such people - it is praised for the wrong reasons - as when Tolkien is praised for being a 'modernist' or a proto-environmentalist. In other words, it is subverted, twisted.

Great institutions have become a really horrible inversion/ betrayal of themselves - like The Royal Society, or Oxford University, or the profession of Medicine, or the Church of England - uniformly led by Mouths of Sauron, Saurumans or Umbrages (when they are not led by actual Saurons, Voldemorts or White Witches).

And there are few and ever fewer people remaining who can perceive this - so there is no possibility of building a alliance for counter revolution.

Okay - so we must reject the mundane, and build up spiritual strength and goodness instead, and work by means and channels invisible to and denied by these nihilistic, hedonistic spite-crazed materialists.

It can be done - and it should be done.

Anonymous said...

"The standard view among those who dominate culure is that Tolkien is disgusting."

Really! Why?

Do you mean book critics - the clever, arch, smug, superior people - the ones who can't write a decent book themselves so spend their lives ripping into other people's?

Certainly, the response of ordinary people is one of unfeigned delight when they either read Tolkien or watch the film versions of LOTR and TH. They are taken off into the much loved realms of the fantastic and the magical.

I remember as a child reading CS Lewis' Narnia novels one after another. Then Tolkien's H and then his LOTR, and then any fantasy/magic novel I could get my hands on. I read them through the night if I could get away with it. It was like permission to believe in Santa Claus had been extended for years, and for every day. My Father made up stories too. My brother and I sat on his knee listening for a good hour every day whilst he told stories of high adventure and magic. Each story would last weeks, and as the saga unfolded we sat slack-jawed and amazed listening with total attention. I would not give up those memories for anything.

Seeker

Anonymous said...

Dr Charlton: 'Okay - so we must reject the mundane, and build up spiritual strength and goodness instead, and work by means and channels invisible to and denied by these nihilistic, hedonistic spite-crazed materialists.'

When you refer to 'work by means and channels invisible', I assume you mean use the mystical path that has been known by religion all over the world for thousands of years.

Certain techniques allow us to see in a clear, real way. They are available everywhere to the person who wants to access them - internet and books. It isn't easy work though, in fact it can mean many boring hours with no apparent result. Don't I know it. But I cannot dismiss the witness of many remarkable people from the past who all claim to have succeeded. They cannot all be lying.

It also seems to me that achieving success in contacting the inner self/Holy Spirit/Higher Consciousness, or whatever you choose to call it, probably means that you are tapping in to a connection with all like minds who have also succeeded. I hope so.

From reading your governing entities theory, it seems to me that governing entities are aspects or part of the Holy Spirit, or the consciousness of God? If so, surely a person who succeeds in accessing the mystical realm is suddenly talking to the long string of governing entities going back through time to the beginning. The beginning would be when God began to emanate his consciousness into matter using the tool of evolution, correcting it as necessary to achieve His aim of spreading consciousness and life to everything.

Seeker