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This all has to do with that little bit I wrote about shared human consciousness last week a few weeks ago. Think this has been in draft long?. If you don't have a particular care for the subject, feel free to skip it. I actually had a couple of inquiries on the last post on the subject, which I owe responses to. Rather than write out the same thing in a half-dozen ways, I figured I'd encapsulate them in one larger post. I am disclaiming my heavy use of Wikipedia here. I am using it because I feel it is the best tool for the job, not because everything I have read about the subject is contained therein.


Theories, Definitions, and Logic
Jung had a lot to do with the formulation of this nonsense with his Collective Unconscious. Even before him though, you have creation stories tying us to shared origins. Think about this for a minute. Take any subway car you are sitting on. There is strong evidence showing we all share mitochondrial dna enough to prove we all descend from one common ancestor. That means, if you rewind the tape enough, we all have common ancestors. That is hard to swallow now, with the scientific evidence to prove it. How did this story, surviving against common sense, make it all the way to the present to be examined?

My interests in Epigenetic inheritance largely lie in this human condition we live in. While I do not propose something on the order of Orthogenesis (because, indeed, I do not believe in prime motivators or directions), I do think that there is room for Epigenetics to cross into Modern Evolutionary Synthesis in much the same way that modern synthesis made a hybrid of Darwin's natural selection and Mendel's inherited genetics. Many serious geneticists I have engaged on this see my theories as a radical form of the theories behind the Baldwin effect.

There are plenty of geneticists out there that subscribe to the theory that acquired traits have no effect on the human genome, which is the only thing passed to offspring. I cannot agree with this stance. To say that the genome is the foundation of genetic potentiality in offspring is apt; to say that it is the only factor is myopic.

So what does all this have to do with consciousness and genetic memory?

We have inherited many things from our ancestor ranging from immunobiology and metabolism along with other phenotype-related traits (hair, eye, skin color). There is some evidence (used mostly in supporting the Baldwin effect) to suggest genetic plasticity, but I suppose the potentiality goes a step further.

Applying Above to History

One of the things that sets us apart from many other species on the planet is our ratio of body-brain, and the way it is utilized. Physiological differences aside, most of our societal as well as individual advantages over most other life forms in terms of environmental survival relates to our brains, and our abilities to use them. Learning, memory, and sense of self (and others) are all key in this process.

There is a majority opinion which states that evolution operates for the middle. In times of drastic environmental change, the "middle" of a species is defined by who survives to procreate. This leads to trends in phenotypes amongst the offspring. If the environment changes again so that something which was a survival need in previous generations becomes a liability in future generations, selection as well as genetics eventually normalize those previously desirable traits.

Take this chunk from Onelife.com:

"The long term result of evolution is bare survival. If the organism is in distress, the higher death rate removes survival impediments rapidly. An organism suffering a high mortality rate tends to become stronger to match its environment. If the organism is better than required, evolution will degrade it, again matching the organism with the environment. A comfortable organism has a lower death rate and so does not weed out detrimental characteristics as quickly. The result is a gradual degradation of function until the comfort is removed."


That sums it up nicely. If our preceding ancestors, had access to genetic memories, it is very likely that they would have become phased out as our species evolved. Biological evolution tells us that there is very little different between a modern person and someone walking around two hundred thousand years ago. Biologically, this may be apt on major phenotypes, but from a social and neurological perspective, I wonder how true this is. Of course, the rub is, the mental factors are not clearly marked in the archaeological record, and are devilishly hard to pin down, even with artifacts of art, culture, and social structure to support theories.

Going back to cars as an analogy, the definition of an automobile has not changed much since Ford started mass producing them. However, subcategories, features, enhancements and changes have abounded in that same shortened time period. True, there are plenty of external changes to point to these refinements, but the central image is still apt - when do cars stop being cars, and start becoming something else? When do humans?

The things that link us all lie within us, in our "instincts", in our predispositions to one thing over another, on levels which biochemically are beyond our notice, but phenominologically are beyond our ability to ignore. It is my supposition that this shared pool of consciousness and experience, inherited and altered after generations of diversity, are what lead to the common roots of cultures, religions, and our collective understanding of the world around us. This touches all levels of thought and capability to think, and, therefore, affects everything we, as a species, have accomplished thus far.

Starting At the End to Find the Beginning

Consider the prevalence of common themes in many Eastern and Western mythologies and early theologies. How different is Mictlantecuhtli from Hades, or Lei Kun from Ares? Many great minds have hit upon the commonalities of early cultural mythos from a great many angles. From Freud and Jung with psychological Image creation, to Sir James George Frazer and "The Golden Bough" from a mythological/sociological/historical standpoint, there have been countless explanations and theorizations of "how and why".

Think of all the commonalities to cultures, despite hugely different sociological, anthropological, and environmental differences. Many Cultures have their own version of the "Cinderella" story. In many cases, this is simply a story traveling from one culture to another. However, when you look at the body of work available to study, it seems that the story arose in several cultures at different times, independent of contact with each other.

The first flirtation I had with "ancestral memory" was in Jean Auel's "Clan of the Cave Bear", which I read at a pretty young age.

Auel's supposition is that our evolutionary predecessors maintained genetic memory. There is no evidence for this, but there is evidence for it in some other primate relatives we can observe. While information there is conflicting, there are certainly lower life forms (zebrafish and African nest weavers) which show some fairly clear signs of behavior consistent with genetic memory. Why is it that we should be exempt from this game?

I know way more about this now, both form a meta scientific and scientific perspective than I did when I started looking into this seemingly odd idea years ago. I have been following it for years, honing my thoughts on it, reading up on it, running into intellectual dead ends, academic cul-de-sacs and opening avenues of thought I had previously thought closed. What I have realized is that there is a good chance I will die before finding biological proof. So, I am going at it like a paleontologist or archaeologist might. Look at the roots of what is available in terms of common human culture, and try to find the patterns and formulas that spring up. Literature, culture, linguistics. These are the broken bones and flint arrowheads of the passage of our species. Why do some people have past life syndromes and others don't? How is it that some people "know" how to do things, sometimes after being shown once, occasionally not being shown at all, yet others do not, even with professional training? How do savants happen, and why can't anyone "become" one? What, if any parts of who we are are inherited, and what parts are a byproduct of our environments?

My theory is that the roots of shared biological memory lies within all of us, within our DNA and our physical forms, passed down to us through our common ancestry. Through copious sociological change, the need to depend on, or even use this potential has become infinitesimal compared to our need to use many other higher brain functions, which were getting nowhere near as much of a workout two hundred, or even one hundred thousand years ago. They still pop up in savants, or during dreams, or when those other brain functions are sublimated. They tend to be viewed as "side effects" as opposed to phenomena in their own right. I believe the amount and level of this potentiality varies greatly, and is affected by countless other factors and, to a certain extent is a plastic inheritable trait. All of this adds up to a list of questions which are quite a challenge to qualify, much less quantify, particularly since we are still unlocking vast stores of knowledge on both the neurobiological mechanics of the brain, and DNA/RNA and how it relates to measurable inherited traits.

I am sure you can guess that this will never get "an answer" in my head. However, it does lead down some fascinating roads of knowledge (and useless trivia).


If you managed to read all, or part of that, and have any knee jerks, respond. I'd love to know what you think.

Comments

( 21 comments — Leave a comment )
idchild
Apr. 26th, 2006 10:27 pm (UTC)
Jeez. This was longer than I thought
Knee jerks:
From my understanding, and let me preface that my own investigation of a thought along this line was far more cursory than yours, as it isn't something I have delved deeply into, there have been several mitochondrial eves. The article I am recalling, albeit vaguely, stated something along the line that a mitochondrial prime would develop in a backwards way, die offs and so on eventually leading one path of mitochondrial dna to supremacy, and that, as time went on, eventually there would be a shift, and a newer mitochondrial eve would arise, albeit as a splitoff of the the elder one, and so on and so forth. I am not sure that effects your argument at all, but at the very least, the antics of NYPD chief Aya Brea have told us that the DNA of Mitochondria may not be as innocent as we think. (The last sentence is clearly a joke.

I would say a car stops being a car when it stops having 4 wheels and moving with an engine that drives those wheels. Which is a simple was of saying that when the phenotype drastically deviates from the norm. I imagine most folks would agree. No matter how many bells and whistles you attach to a beamer, it is still a car. If it only had 2 wheels, it would be something else. Likewise, I would say that a human, even with telepathy, or any number of higher mental faculties or connections to a collective is still a human. A human with 3 eyes, or a different arm/leg ratio though may indeed be something else. Again, Just a response to what you wrote.

Now, to the meat. After this presentation of the idea, I find myself agreeing with it on some levels, and not so much on others. It jibes a lot with my thoughts on ideas concepts as a perpetual form of energy, but with the information encoded into all of us, instead of through my route, of our being able to access a pool that is already there. I feel as though this could be an excellent conversation over some scotch the next time I am down.

delascabezas
Apr. 28th, 2006 04:36 pm (UTC)
yeah well, I am nothing if not verbose!!
Last things first, this is totally bottle of scotch convo.

Mitocondrial DNA is a dicey bit of scientific evidence to base things on, simply because there are still gaps in knowledge, undertanding, and proof. I still tend towards the belief that the host species' behavior and survival has a lot more to do with mainline streams than the activites or characteristics of sub-cellular organizms, but, as you say, the difference doesn't truly change my stance on the bigger issue.

So if a car is four wheels and an engine driving the wheels, would you classify a model t next to a new beamer as equal cars? They both meet the fundamental definition, but are vastly different in function and potential. My argument is that biological science (for many good reasons, I admit) has said we are pretty much the same deal on this end of the spectrum as we were 200,000+ years ago. That definition stands based on the "4 wheels engine" model, but it doesn't, I think, based on the diversity of innovation on that foundation which ahs come to pass since.
idchild
Apr. 28th, 2006 04:48 pm (UTC)
Re: yeah well, I am nothing if not verbose!!
Then we are coming down to definition disagreement, it seems.

While the beamer does bitch the model t in cosmeticas, and speed, they are, at the base of it all, the same thing. the beamer has been tinkered with, and had its potential maximized, but it remains a car.

Homo sapiens has tweaked and edeveloped its mental faculties over the years, but remains still homo sapiens.

The amount of innovation produced since our original development is prodigious, but i think what would be an excellent acid test would be to raise a child from 200,000 years ago today and see what happened.

I believe it would develop more or less as a normal child, the potential always being there, but developed slowy as civilization built up.

Correct me if I am wrong, but do you think that it would not develop the same and acclimate to a modern society?

This is slightly flawed as a thought experiment, but it may help me get where you are coming from a bit more. I think I may be misunderstanding something.
delascabezas
Apr. 28th, 2006 05:02 pm (UTC)
measuring potential
what i am seeking is a break point. you talk about "maximized potential" in the same way as you talk about power doors. the fuel a model t used wouldn't run a car today (though, with ethanol all over the media, that may not be true in a few years). the engines were made of different materials, with vastly different engineering behind their manufacture.

what i am saying is that you need to subdivide the concept of "car" into epochs, based on the creation and refinement of subsystems which have greatly innovated them past the potential of their parents turn signals, running lights, seat belts, ABS, air bags). they do remain a car, but they deserve a sub-clasification, which makes them stand apart from other entities which meet the main criteria (four wheels and goes) but not the others (cannot be used at night, or does not allow driver to survive impact).

i agree with your acid test being a flawed, but good mental exercise. it is interesting to consider the differences in life, and the number of variables that would come into play in such an experiement. i disagree, however, with your assessment. i think the child would probably have heightened physical attributes(sharper sense of smell, more body odor, higher testosterone levels, denser musle/bone ratio), and capped mental capacity in some areas, perhaps as a direct corralative to the physical sharpness, perhaos not (i am loathe to make a 1-1 connection).

there are many aspects of our culural existance that have become so ingrained in our species (gloves, for instance) that we don't even consider them thougtworthy, but, to someone who has never experienced them, they are miraculous. i agree that if you take a bushman and put them in manhattan, they eventually learn to jaywalk, but, i think that there is a variance in potential, via biological propensity, which will never meet even with a 200,000 year gap in genetics.

i think the child would acclimate, i think it would find a way to assimilate, but i think that regardless of the nurture, there would be some capacities it excelled in and others it did not, by virtue of nurobiological/psychological/genetic potentiality that are NOT firmly rooted in the physicality of two eyes, two arms, legs, and 10 fingers and toes.
idchild
Apr. 28th, 2006 05:14 pm (UTC)
Re: measuring potential
It's a bloody shame, ethically and realistically that cannot be tested more. I would be very very interested in how it turned out.

I have to stand by my thought that a member of Homo Sapiens regardless of time from present taken, if raised from birth in modern times, would acclimate as though they belonged here. Of course, that is assuming the microbes and germs did not smoke them like a Z of hydro in a frat boys living room.

However, i have no means of proving it, and the argument on the whole does smack of nature versus nurture.

As for the car analogy, i understand now hat you are saying, and how it relates to the breakpoint you are looking for.

It's just kind of dicey to try so split off into different epochs different ways of though, or ways of training our mind, at least, I think.
lengjade
Apr. 27th, 2006 01:55 pm (UTC)
i could be wrong, but i think that most of our DNA matches with one another's, and when doing DNA analysis, for example, the lab rats only examine a small portion of the DNA.
thecurlyboy
Apr. 27th, 2006 05:33 pm (UTC)
Basically. 96% of our DNA is similar to monkeys, chimps, and apes ... I forget the exact number, but between humans, 98%-99% of our DNA is similar.

As for lab monkeys, various forensic DNA analyses tend to look only at certain regions for quickly filtering out subjects. One of the methods I'm more familiar with -- and the one that I think is still used the most -- is looking at the STR (Short Tandem Repeats) ... there are certain areas where you tend to see such repeats -- the US has identified 13 of 'em that they use for storing criminal identities in CODIS. Basically, you usually look for 3-6 repeating base-pairs (you'll see something like GCAA GCAA GCAA GCAA) in those regions, and scarily enough, just by looking at those 13 areas, the odds of having 2 individuals with those same patterns is somewhere between 1 in 100 million to 1 in a billion.

However, it is possible to do far, far more than that. But it's costly. And it takes a while. And probably more importantly, most are not going to be able to afford it.
delascabezas
Apr. 28th, 2006 04:37 pm (UTC)
exactly
even on a micriobiological scale, we are still using broad sweeps and buckets to perform analysis and theory development. all of the major innovations i have seen out of geonome projects ahve come from dealing with one of the braoder areas on a micro level, and trying to tie that to pheno/genotype issues.
touchfaith
Apr. 28th, 2006 08:37 am (UTC)
All right, I've finished reading. You obviously put a great deal of work into this, so it deserves a lengthy response. Livejournal won't let me respond in one post, so I'm going to separate my disorganized comments into two. I should let you know beforehand that a great deal of my skepticism/concern about what you write stems from the following:

Levi-Strauss found that a number of cultures also had stories similar to the Oedipus narrative. Interesting enough. I have to say that I find a little bit problematic the spaces that you're looking to for this research. Why, for example, does the idea of collective unconscious have to be proven by way of biology? The reason I ask is that biology/anatomy can only describe the inner workings of the individual from the basis of its own laws, from its own system of general (and by no means universal) equivalents. I say this, of course, being completely aware of my biological bias, but also being a person who takes note of how biology is upheld as the supreme science of humanity (with anthro/sociology functioning as the surpeme human/social sciences), and also as a subject residing currently in a number of social formations wherein "biology" has a rather fraught history, I think my skepticism is, if not warranted, at least sociohistorically grounded.

Many cultures share the Oedipus and Cinderella narratives, yes, however, why do you conclude that "[i]n many cases, this is simply a story traveling from one culture to another"? What is so simple about a story traveling? The way in which words and languages travel, conflict, erupt, and mutate is anything but simple." And while, yes, cultures do have a number of commonalities, they also have a number of differences. Darwin's studies in The Origin of Species likewise identify differentiation/difference (writ large) as a precept for the theory of evolution.

I am of the opinion that "creation stories that tie us to shared origins" are extremely dangerous. Benedict Anderson's Imagined Communities explains how those narratives come to the forefront in the creation of nation/state identities. V. Propp's Morphology of the Folktale does so on a different register. What I am concerned with, more specifically, is this question: why do we have such a compulsion to seek out a biological interpretation, as though we can find in biology secrets that tell us more about ourselves? Henry Louis Gates just recently had his DNA tested and learned that he most likely had white ancestors. Why is it that biology is entrusted as that which will prove that, deep down, we are all in some way the same? What would a proof of common origin indicate?

I think that it might do you well to read some Freud and Laplanche, not to mention Lacan. Jung is cool and all, but he forecloses completely the influence that sexuality tends to have on human life. Laplanche's theory of primal seduction, I think, would help to derail what I identify as a fort-da game with the question of inheritance that is sidestepping sexuality. When Freud and Jung spilit in the 1910s, it was mostly over the question of sexuality. Freud himself was uncomfortable with it, but Laplanche's reworking of Freud's early stuff is quite compelling, ESPECIALLY what he did with Freud's notion of the death drive, which gets frighteningly close to biologism (Freud's death drive, that is). Also, Bordieu's notion of habitus, or "embodied history, internalized as nature and so forgotten as history," is quite relevant here.
thecurlyboy
Apr. 28th, 2006 01:04 pm (UTC)
What I am concerned with, more specifically, is this question: why do we have such a compulsion to seek out a biological interpretation, as though we can find in biology secrets that tell us more about ourselves?

Because the hard sciences have tangible evidence, and people tend to believe things they can see, touch, taste, or smell far more than things that they cannot.

Also, because psychologists and sociologists can help tell us how we change from the moment of birth until we die. Biologists offer a way to look back into the past and see how things that prefaced our birth influenced who we are. When people are looking to learn more about themselves, they've already learned (or think they have) what psychologists and sociologists could tell them. So the easiest or only avenue they see for more information is through biology.

On a slightly different topic, can the psychologists / sociologists you mentioned (Freud, Laplanche, and Bourdieu) explain idiot-savants? That's a serious question, by the way, I don't know the answer. I doubt it, though -- I was under the impression that each of those three dealt with behaviors as a result of interactions with the environment and life, not knowledge or abilities that arise out of nowhere. Now, science can't explain it either, but there's at least 2 theories out there still unproven, but at least semi-intelligent. One is based on biological abnormalities, another is based on quantum physics. I just don't know of any sociology or psychology theories that could explain it.
touchfaith
Apr. 28th, 2006 03:50 pm (UTC)
"Because the hard sciences have tangible evidence, and people tend to believe things they can see, touch, taste, or smell far more than things that they cannot."

I don't think that's true. At all. If it were true, the US Governement wouldn't be able to get away with half the stuff they do.

The thing about psychoanalysis, and this is the one of the things that separates it from psychology, is that it tends to avoid making archetypes. It treats each case as a unique one and tries to avoid generalizing unless it discovers something that is nearly universally present. With that said, I could violate its form and say that an autistic (i'm not so big on the word 'idiot') savant would most likely be someone whose physical impediment allows for an extremely limited, but extrmely powerful ability of sublimation.

But I've never analyzed a person with those abilities, and again, unlike psychology (and biology, historically), I'm pretty averse to taking behavioral evidence from as a sweeping statement about a group of people. Also, I doubt that autistic savants' abilities come from nowhere. Psychoanalysis indicates that the unconscious leaves traces of everything that one experiences, whether it is directly noticed or not. The ability to reconstruct that which is a function of memory is no easy matter, and might indicate that a person draws on memory within a different symbolic economy, which might translate in the external world and might not.

Also, the habitus stuff Bordieu is talking about would probably have a great deal to say about savants. But I'm just speculating on a topic about which I do not know a great deal.
delascabezas
Apr. 28th, 2006 05:46 pm (UTC)
savants and psychoanalysis
not all savants are autistic, just to get that out there. i use idiot as the bigger umbrella, but you are right, there is probably a better term i should look in to.

what you are saying about "symbolic economy" is more or less right on with what i am trying to hit on. what i am suggesting, however, is that the currency IN that economy passes beyond the bounds of the individual's experience starting in the womb , and taps nto encoded experience which lies in our cells.

it is why i agree with you from a psychoanalysis that each individual has signifigant symbols and archetypes, but not ones that are neccisarily universal, until they become SO apparently universal that the archetype must be applied. psychoanalysis views the root of those archetypes as the columns of the human condition, through nature/nurture and neurobiology. i argue that all three factors are important as well, but i see the roots of the archetypes transcending generations, which is what leads to their universality, rather than nearly all individuals arriving to the same idea on their own.
thecurlyboy
Apr. 28th, 2006 06:30 pm (UTC)
I don't think that's true. At all. If it were true, the US Government wouldn't be able to get away with half the stuff they do.

I ... think you're comparing apples and oranges. You were asking about why people who are looking to learn more about themselves choose a biological approach. When talking about people who are actively seeking answers to a problem or issue, I think I answered that pretty accurately.

When you bring up the things the US Government "gets away with", it's an entirely different set of circumstances. Most citizens don't actively persue or question what is going on in their government. They are not actively searching for answers to a problem or issue. The people I see just want to be left alone and allowed to pursue their dreams of freedom, happiness, and/or financial success. It's only when the government intrudes on one of those three things that people care what's going on. Keeping his or her constituents "Fat, Dumb, and Happy" is the golden rule for a successful politician.

It's been brought up before, but things like a $300,000,000 bridge to replace a 7-minute ferry ride for the 50 people living there are absolutely insane (and it even passed an attempt to change it, 85-12!), and yet, since it doesn't impact most people how their taxes are spent (so long as their taxes don't go up), nobody puts up a fuss.

Sorry, got off on a tangent. To summarize ... um ... I'm not sure the US government is a good analogy for your original question.

Also, I doubt that autistic savants' abilities come from nowhere.

You're right -- it has to come from somewhere. However, I'm hard pressed to understand how a man who was essentially unteachable can suddenly produce accurate scale models of anything he has seen once. It obviously isn't something he was taught to do. I don't have problems with the memory portion of the argument -- I actually feel that experiments with rTMS are eventually going to lead to yield some solid, valid results for how savant's memory and artistic skills tend to occur. What I do have problems with is the "building accurate scale models" part. If they're unteachable, how the $#@$# did they learn how to build models?

As far as the rest goes -- I can't argue with you. When it comes to the soft sciences, I'm a hack at best, and know enough to be dangerous, but that's about it. *grin*
delascabezas
Apr. 28th, 2006 06:55 pm (UTC)
bravo
"When it comes to the soft sciences, I'm a hack at best, and know enough to be dangerous, but that's about it."

there are so many times in life that i wish i had had this phrase at my command, rather than the overlong synopsis of my experience i usually supplant in it's place. while i have some areas i have gone pretty deep in, there are others that i missed out on, largely because i don't have anyone teaching me, i'm going about it mumbly peg and footnote/appendix style. bibliographies are my teachers, and, i have to say, they can be some pretty frustrating bastards sometimes.
delascabezas
Apr. 28th, 2006 05:20 pm (UTC)
i am definteily going to look in to some of your reading suggestions
i definteily agree that sexuality trends have a big place in individual existance, but, that potentiality is largely mitigated by the culture one lives in. if that culture is a byproduct of external environmental factors, and controlling aspects of the society which is surviving in that environment, it is one of many items to take into account.

proof of comon origin indicates nothing relevant to an individual in a life-altering sense. Henry Louis Gates is still the man he did, with the lsit of accomplishements behind him, for a movement of racial equality and understanding, regardless of who his ancestors were. However, if many of his opponents across the years had an in-depth understanding of origins, and how they contribute not just the individual's path in the day-to-day but the overall formation of cultural quiltwork, one might argue that things would be very different.

chris spke well below as to many of my reasons why i look to biology as a fundamental foundation for workings. i truly do believe that mechanically, we are all the same on major criteria, but, that on a micro level, our differences are astounding, but none of them are unique, as they are all remainders or products of all the variables which made up our formulas. if people are walking equations, wandering through a world of mathematical reality, than the numbers (real or variable) that make us up lie rooted in our biology. mathematics alone cannot express the human condtion, but it can define the bounds by which we all build from a baseline, and show that "human sprit" is something mighty indeed.

story travel was much easier before literacy was widespread. changing names, places, faces, to make an audience like a story is something all good storytellers do, particularly when they have a good story to tell. cambell speaks to this with his hero of a thousand faces, but, more specifically, stories are often a means by which cultures can find resonance with each other, despite all the differences. i do not mean to marganlize the process of story migration, but if you are trying to establish multiple spontaneous instances of the same conceptual tale, it becomes imortant to notice the similaraties beyond plot, which show clear inheritance of one story to another. that is the harder part than showing when one culture leaned on another.

i defintely want to speak more to the bilogy as the root thing, but i am totally out of time. i will try to hit this back up over the weekend. thanks for taking the time to respond man, your thoughtfulness has definteily opened a few elements of my ideas up to some more vigorous cross examination.

touchfaith
Apr. 28th, 2006 08:38 am (UTC)
All this is to say that 1) Having a decent background in psychoanalysis, I have a healthy sense of skepticism when anything comes not only to look at what is being said, but also to ask "why is this being formulated right now?" But at the same time, I hope that you can exercise a similar skepticism about biology as I do about psychoanalytic claims to universality. 2) Common ancestry appears to be one of those things that we cannot not want, especially in times of change, but any survey of the past hundred years of world history might indicate that it is a notion of which we might want to try and take leave. 3) I understand that this is working toward a theory of inheritance, but think about what you're holding up and comparing and claiming to be similar, because in the differences and ruptures might be located a radically different space of meaning-making, a wholly different logic/illogic that may or may not be open to interpretation. Oh, and 4) Wikipedia is a notoriously sketchy source to draw upon, which I'm sure you know.

In any case, I think you've come with some rather provocative ideas here, I would just ask you to reconsider what those conceptions rest upon and why. Thanks for posting this.
delascabezas
Apr. 28th, 2006 04:51 pm (UTC)
thanks for the verbose response, i know you have other shit to do
i did not blend much philosophy, or many of my personal ethical beliefs into this description, because i was trying to lay the scientific base work without muddying the waters. personally, i think that any individual has the power to exceed genetic potential, if there even is such a thing. i am very skeptical of biological findings, particularly, as i said above, because they tend to double back and disprove over time. Ultimately, I do not contend that the existence of a pool of potential genetic memory has any larger effect on our day-to-day, it simply means there is a potential for a greater symmetry than many people allow for, if they were able to realize it, tap into it, or simply maintain an awareness of it. Most of my confounding frustrations in trying to establish this in a broad-spectrum is the issue of universal aesthetic, which I have been fighting about since I was 12. It is the true stone-in-the-shoe of my theory.

my recent readings on globalization, combined with past studies in cultural synthesis leading to homogeneity is part of why i am interested in a biological precedent for universal potential. Proof of common ancestry in the context of modern times is meaningless, there are too many divisions that have been festering and fostered for generations for a biological proof to wash them away. If the gradual erosion of cultural walls continues without someone turning our mostly-water planet into mostly-irradiated water vapor, I think that establishing a link to the past will be important to maintaining a balance to the future.

I know better than to say apples and oranges are the same because they are both in the same section of the grocery store. I do appreciate your warning on what I am using for comparison. In anthropology, the issue of nailing down the spread of innovation (fire, tool use, animal husbandry) is central to establishing the origins of our species. There is still contention over where and when certain things happened, and how. This amazes me. I think that similar evidence may be out there in the non-physical artifacts we have available, the tricky part is weeding apart, as you say, the items that seem the same, but come from totally different places. Despite the fact that my entire theory doesn’t hold up well to occam’s razor, I always try to apply that to whatever evidence I use as I build, which tends to prevent begging the question, or skewing fact to meet the desired result pol.

I know wikipedia is notoriously sketchy, but, as far as the information contained in the links I posted are concerned, most of it (on review) held up to the balance rule of the information I had in my head, and it was far less arduous than trying to type it all out. I figure anyone who truly does have an interest in engaging this idea will do their own homework.
touchfaith
Apr. 28th, 2006 06:02 pm (UTC)
Re: thanks for the verbose response, i know you have other shit to do
"i did not blend much philosophy, or many of my personal ethical beliefs into this description, because i was trying to lay the scientific base work without muddying the waters."

Yes, but that is a philosophy in itself. Again, biology being my whipping boy, one has to udnerstand that the life sciences' claim to objectivity is very sketchy. In a given moment, a philosophy/science is only as good as its social and historical grounding will allow it to be. This is not to say that all science is philosophy, but that in all science there is is philosophy, and the bind in which those two exist is not one that can be dissolved, nor could we wish it to be dissolved, lest we risk falling into scientia gratia scientis.

Biology, as we know it today, is a science that was developed alongside colonialism, racism, free-market economics. Certain biological tendencies and tenets cannot be distinguished from their imperial leanings. This is not to say that they are not important, or useful. That would be absurd. It's instead to say that biology, as a science, was and still is absolutely integral to the ordering of knowledge that allows massive amounts of violence. Science cannot be de-politicized. It is always already in politics.

Also, I should clarify that the way that I'm using "sexuality" here is in the psychoanalytic sense wherein sexuality becomes the driving force that coexists with vital needs. Sexuality has nothing to do with the genital, but is the representation of a desiring and wishing subject. What I appreciate about this contribution of psychoanalysis is that it rigorously undoes, once and for all, any firm distinction between nature and culture when it comes to human activity. But psychoanalysis cannot explain everything.

Regarding your most recent post on symbolic economies -- again, you should really really really read Freud, Lacan, and Laplanche. I could really crudely sum up Laplanche's arguments in Life and Death in Psychoanalysis but it would be completely inappropriate, because they are so dense, and the draw on so much prereq Freud. But let's just say that if you get around to it, you should look out for the idea of "unconscious fantasy" and "perverse implantation." I think what you're working toward is moving in that direction.
timaeusdaspirge
Apr. 28th, 2006 01:59 pm (UTC)
ok, i'm going to have to begin the reply before i finish the entry, because i simply have too much to comment on, and my original process of writing stickynotes as i went along left my desk looking like something out of office space. so here goes,
you say that 'comfortable organisms' will basically degrade to the point where the comfort is removed. what if it goes at it from the other direction, tho? like, for most species, comfort=survival, yesno? so with humans, to whom survival presented less and less of a challenge as time went on, it's not that we degraded into something that needed to fight for existance but that our standards were instead raised to the point where simple survival wasn't enough. it serves the same purpose - the comfort is removed inasmuch as there's still something to strive for, and the species can continue growing. basically, it's just be changing the comfort=survival equasion to comfort=prosperity, comfort=power, and finally to it's ultimate form, comfort=buying the leadership of the most powerful nation of the world :-p
you put the body/brain ratio as the primary mitigating factor moving us above and beyond the rest of the animals. i still think it was the opposable thumbs.
i really dont buy the whole 'mythos as proof of interconnectability' theory. basically, just about every dietific creation out there is an antropromorphic personification of basic human traints. people fight, there are war leaders, there must be a god of war. people die, there must be a god of the dead. and of beauty, and the sun, and small rivers and backed-up sinks. it's not some great interconnected weave that makes us come up with similar fairy tales, it's the fact that people are pretty much people wherever you go.
so what is it, precisely, that you point to as proof of ancestral memory that can't be attributed to parenting of some sort? you remember the great story about how you begin a tradition with the fish and the ten cats and the hoses? basically, the only way i see it that you could prove something like that happens completely independent of the influence of others is to remove all others from the equasion - the whole mowgli aspect. raise a mouse devoid of all mousy contact that can still find the cheese in the center and i'll start believing.
as for your questioning of savants and proclivities towards specialized fields and whatnot, i'm about as far from scientifically trained as one can get, and i know the human organism is an incredibly complex conglomeration. you don't expect some deviation from the norm in the great genetic stew that is dna? some wierd side effects that mean someone can barely speak but can play the piano without even knowing how? i think this kind of thing happens all the time - just imagine what it was like for the caveman that found he had a natural ability towards computer programming :-p
delascabezas
Apr. 28th, 2006 05:40 pm (UTC)
response to knee jerks
'comfortable organisms' are the center of a species which moves towards the msot efficient means to survival and reproduction, in relation to the environment they live in. while i agree that human culure certainly shows proclivities towards creating challenges for itself to supplant the challenges it once faced overall (although, there are still plenty of plaecs in the world where the main population still faces yesteryears challenges, rather than the ones we make for ourselves), the fact remains that our physiologies have altered to meet the times and environments we live in. we are saying some of the same things, honestly. my belief that ancestrl memory was sublimated as our survival ratio got better, and our fight to survive decreased. the increase in sophistication of thought, communications, tool use, and day-to-day brain use supplanted the need for the original firmware that kept kids alive even if their food-providing parents died in the jaws of a giant tiger prior to them being able to impart the dangers of all the poisionous plants, or smells of potential predators on the wind.

oposable thumbas are an advantage, but only because of tool use. that came in on a level where thumbs were a lesser part of the picture. our digits have changed to meet our habits as a species. if you don't beleive that, read about hair on knuckles and the ultimate fate of pinkies.

when you look at the differences in cultures, gender roles, and climate/ecologies of the various places around the world where humans started civilizations, the idea that the same images and stories came to life is definteily more than coincidence. dragons, for example, are key in this issue of image formation i have reasearched (and why and what they are). not everyone has the same pallete to work with, yet the same pictures get painted. that is more than someone passing stories from one to the other, particularly whne you ahve evidence of the same story in different places with the same core elements, but very different spins. yeah, since the printing press, a lot of this is meaningless, it is the stuff before that where things are key.

"people ar epeople wherever you go" - that is, in effect what the root of epigenetics tries to show, on an elemental level. there is no logical reason that eskimos and bushmen should have anything in common, yet they do. i subscribe this to a root in biology.

nurture cannot foster these similarites across the miasma of our species sprawled across the planet. several of the points of evidence i am talking about support just what your mouse supposition is talking about. there are birds in africa which weave very interesting and complex nests. if you remove eggs from these nests, and raise them in captivity, deprive them of the materials, or any means to build nests, breed them, then place their eggs in an environment where they have access to the materials, they build nests like their grandparents.

zebrafish are very impressionable, and good learners. there is much ontention over several resarch avenues which suggest that this impressionability exceeds potential plasticity, and has crossed over into genetically encoded memory - same as archerfish, btw. i have an inkling that octopi may fall into this category as well.

you use the computer programming analogy, which i try to avoid, because it cuts many corners in imagery, but, in programming, as well as compute rhardware, think about what you are saying.

somehow, you introduce some random characters into a program and it doesn't do 9/10ths of what it is supposed to, but it does one thing really well? is there any piece of hardware you could add to a motherbaord which would allow for it to increase it's bus speed 10 fold, but not allow any I/O from the board? if you beleive that stuff does just happen,at random, to create savants, how do you explain the patterning in their behavior, and similarities in some of thier talents, despite huge differences in racial background, environment, nurture, and proclivites (ie a musical savant vs a mathematical savant vs a linguistic savant vs an artistic savant)?
delascabezas
Apr. 28th, 2006 05:40 pm (UTC)
also
your caveman programmer ties in to wht johnny and i were talking about above. i think that you could teach a caveman to be a programmer, and a good one at that, if you transplanted them as a youth, but they would never meet or exceed the capacity of someone who showed savant proclivites of a mathematics-computer using modern culture.
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The Son of the last of a long line of thinkers.
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