Although humans are part of nature, human activity is often understood as a separate category from other natural phenomena. Why is this?


There are a couple of reasons that come readily to mind. The first is that humans - as a species - have a tendency to be arrogant, myopic, self-referential, xenophobic, acquisitive and obsessed with controlling everything around us. The second is that, at least for the more recent span of human history, our activities have been wantonly and overwhelmingly destructive to the natural environments we inhabit. So, from a psychological standpoint, we pretty much have to self-justify these attitudes, proclivities and behaviors by placing ourselves “apart” from everything around us. In a way our species acts a lot like a narcissistic psychopath - believing we are special or better than everything around us, and acting quite hostilely towards all we perceive to be “other” as we manipulate it towards our preferred ends. Of course, humans also have great capacity for empathy, compassion, moral conscience, self-awareness, and a sense of connection with others and the world around us. These more prosocial characteristics allow us to feel awe and reverence for Nature, to accept a more equivalent importance for our species among its functions and process, to see other conscious critters as independent family rather than just facilitators of our self-centered needs, to care about all of the Earth, and to seek harmonious coexistence with our natural birthplace. Unfortunately, as these human qualities are usually at odds with our more psychopathological ones, they have often been suppressed, rejected, belittled or - if they rise up in too great of a concentration or disruption individually or collectively - murdered and enslaved. Thankfully, sometimes our better nature percolates up through a particular zeitgeist, culture or timespan, so that it effectively reins in our pathology. And I think we have potential to continue to blossom our more prosocial selves into prominence over time, so that we become less destructive, and less “apart” in our self-conceptions. But these two facets of human interiority have been battling with each other throughout all of recorded history, and continue to do battle in our current times. The tension never seems to abate for long. One could even say these internal forces are the basis for conceptions of Light and Dark - or good and evil - in many traditions. So the question then becomes: which path will we choose; which wolf will we feed (see Cherokee Legend - Two Wolves)?

My 2 cents.

From Quora post: https://www.quora.com/Although-humans-are-part-of-nature-human-activity-is-often-understood-as-a-separate-category-from-other-natural-phenomena-Why-is-this/answer/T-Collins-Logan

Post-Postmodernity's Problem with Knowledge

Sell Sell Sell


This may actually be a pretty straightforward problem, with a challenging but nevertheless obvious solution. Here's my take....

I would propose there are nine primary forces at work in present-day knowledge generation, dissemination, evaluation and integration, which I would sketch out as the following inverted values hierarchy:

A. Titillation to entertain or make money.
B. Arrogant ideological agendas.
C. Tribalism and groupthink.
D. Extreme, self-protective specialization of informational domains and language.
E. Democratization and diffusion of knowledge.
F. Appreciation of an ever-increasing complexity and interdependence of all human understanding.
G. An understandable fluidity of exact knowledge.
H. Critical self-awareness.
I. The humbly inquisitive ongoing search for truth.


What seems immediately evident when looking these over is that personal and collective values have tremendous influence on the efficacy of a given approach to knowledge - and, perhaps most importantly, this influence can and does defy any institutions created to sustain a more diverse or fruitful values system. For example:

1. If the profit motive reigns supreme, then titillation to entertain or make money will trump all other variables. This has clearly had a role in news media, where entertainment and sensationalism have far outpaced accuracy or depth. More subtly, this has also had an impact on scientific research, where competition for grant money has distorted methodology and data in order to attract sufficient funding.

2. If a particular belief system is venerated above everything else, then arrogant ideological agendas destroy truth in favor of persuasive propaganda - especially when combined with tribalism and groupthink. We see this with religious indoctrination and exclusionary bias (i.e. denial of empirical evidence), with conservative news media that promote neoliberal political and economic agendas, and with the refusal of institutions of higher learning to allow truly diverse or controversial perspectives among their events and curricula.

3. When democratization and diffusion of knowledge is prioritized above every other value, then we end up with the armchair Dunning-Kruger effect, where folks believe they have mastered a complex discipline after reading a few Internet articles, and are then able to confidently refute (in their own estimation) the assessments of more educated and experienced practitioners in that field. Social media seems to provide considerable reinforcement of such knowledge-distorting self-importance - as do participatory systems and institutional dialogues that refuse to qualify or evaluate sources of information or their veracity, and give all input equal weight.

4. With extreme self-protective specialization, we end up with isolated islands of understanding that do not fully comprehend or appreciate each other - and in fact often can't function harmoniously together in society. One consequence of this are graduates of universities who are preoccupied with scholastic performance at the expense of actual learning, or who cannot understand their field in a way that actually adds value to its execution in the real world. In other words, an education system that rewards one narrow flavor of performance, while devaluing creative productivity in order to generate compliant specialists.

There are also some nasty values combinations in the post-postmodern era that seem increasingly pernicious in the destruction of knowledge, mainly because they deliberately exclude F, G, H & I - that is, the humbly inquisitive ongoing search for truth, fluidity of exact knowledge, critical self-awareness, and appreciation of ever-increasing complexity and interdependence. Really, whenever these four characteristics are deprioritized or absent, insight and understanding tends to be thoroughly crippled. But let's briefly take a closer look at each of these fundamentals....

What is "critical self-awareness?" I think it could be summarized many ways, such as taking one's own opinion with a grain of salt, or having a healthy sense of humor about one's own understanding, or being able to effectively argue against one's own position and appreciate its flaws - i.e. some of the central themes of postmodern thought. The "humbly inquisitive ongoing search" is certainly a kindred spirit here, but also implies that our journey towards the truth is never-ending; it's not just humility about conclusions, but about the process of seeking itself. Appreciating the "fluidity of exact knowledge" is an additional variable to balance out other, less rigorous impulses. It means there will be few black-and-white conclusions that are accurate; that ambiguity and imprecision are inevitable; that assertions should be tested in small arenas for limited periods, rather than as sweeping revisions; and so on. This fluidity does not, however, insist on a nihilistic or dismissive orientation to qualitative truth; on the contrary, it can recognize and integrate absolutes while remaining keenly aware of context. And, finally, "complexity and interdependence" means that we will of necessity be synthesizing a collective understanding together - there isn't much opportunity for elitist leadership or vanguardism, except perhaps in a few highly abstracted or technical areas. In other words, functional truth is perpetually intersubjective. At the same time - again as a balancing factor to the diffusion and democratization of knowledge - we will also need to appropriately weight the insights of experiential "experts" to help us navigate complexity.

These four characteristics can be viewed as attitudes, character traits, virtues, priorities, beliefs, operating assumptions, etc. The point is that if we prioritize these four above all considerations - subordinating our other beliefs, reflexes and desires to them - we can begin to formulate a healthy, fruitful relationship with knowledge, both culturally and interpersonally. If we don't prioritize these characteristics...well, then I suspect we'll keep making the same kinds of errors that have led us into our current state of apoplectic befuddledom. We simply can't afford to constrain the four essential qualities of truth-navigation in a straight jacket of what really should be extraneous and subordinated values and habits. And thus we arrive at a proposed values hierarchy that maximizes the utility of any approach to true and useful knowledge:

A. The humbly inquisitive ongoing search for truth.
B. Critical self-awareness.
C. An understandable fluidity of exact knowledge.
D. Appreciation of an ever-increasing complexity and interdependence of all human understanding.

E. Democratization and diffusion of knowledge.
F. Extreme, self-protective specialization of informational domains and language.
G. Tribalism and groupthink.
H. Arrogant ideological agendas.
I. Titillation to entertain or make money.

As you can see, this is simply an inverted version of the current status quo. Okay...if we can entertain this thesis, how do we get from here to there? Well I think education about this issue will help, but really we need to evaluate what is generating the memetic force of competing values hierarchies, and disable or de-energize that force wherever possible. How is it that titillation to entertain or make money has gained such prominence? Or that arrogant ideological agendas or tribalism and groupthink have usurped both the scientific method and common sense? Why has extreme, self-protective specialization so often shattered collaborative, interdisciplinary exchanges and synthesis? And how has the democratization and diffusion of knowledge rallied itself into such a farcical exaggeration...? Is there a common denominator for all of these trends...?

Well I think the answer is pretty straightforward, and I along with many others have been writing about it for a long time - it was Aristotle, I believe, who most clearly identified the same core issues we face today. The central problem is our highly corrosive form of capitalism. But perhaps I should forsake my own confidence for a moment and - applying the very virtues I've exalted here - humbly offer that a culture of acquisitiveness, infantilizing consumerism, competitive egotism and blindly irrational faith will likely not facilitate the four essential qualities humanity requires for thriving and productive knowledge. And I do believe this is a cultural decision - one in which we have all become complicit, and have all reinforced through tacit acceptance of the status quo. To break free of our shackles, we will need to let go of some of the habits and appetites we most covet and adore. But I could be wrong. Perhaps we can achieve equilibrium through our continued bluff and bluster, through ever-greater fabrications, self-deceptions and carelessly conspicuous consumption. That seems a risky bet to me...but again, I might be mistaken.

The Problem of Feminine Power: Testosterone, Cultural Evolution & the 2016 U.S. Elections

Western culture has a problem with empowered women. From a historical perspective this is easy to observe – and we’ll cover some of that briefly – but the more interesting and relevant question is: why? Why have women been so persistently held back, oppressed, dismissed, denigrated, ridiculed, shamed and abused both institutionally and culturally in so many Western societies? Why, in a country like the U.S.A. where liberty and opportunity are so highly prized, have women been subject to these same prejudices? And lastly, it seems obvious that any cultural currents underlying the denigration of women are particularly relevant in the 2016 U.S. election – but what is really going on here?

About the history. Some potent reminders of the subjugation of the feminine:

• Around 85% of the witches executed in Europe and the American Colonies during the witch hunts of the 15th through 17th centuries were women.

• In medieval Europe, women who spoke their minds in public – or challenged their husband’s authority – could be subjected to public shaming via iron masks that they wore for a day or longer.

• It wasn’t until the mid-1800s that women began to receive substantive rights to their own property in the U.S., Britain and Europe; before that, husbands and fathers controlled their property.

• The post-enlightenment awakening to the importance of higher education for women resulted in the first all-women colleges in the mid-1800s and a growing concern for primary school education for girls all around the globe. Up until this time, however, it was mainly men who were encouraged to pursue education (other than in a religious context, such as Catholic convents). In many Muslim countries, however, female education has trended in the opposite direction in recent decades.

• Women’s suffrage around the globe is a particularly glaring indication of female disenfranchisement: it wasn’t until 1920 that women had the right to vote in the U.S.; 1928 in the United Kingdom; 1944 in France; 1946 in Italy; 1952 in Greece; 1954 in Columbia; 1955 in Cambodia; 1990 in Samoa; 2015 in Saudi Arabia.

• In terms of basic human rights, 189 members of the UN felt it imperative to ratify the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women in 1981. As of this writing, Somalia, Sudan, Tonga, Iran, the Holy See and the United States have refused to sign on.

• Considering that women in many parts of the United States – and many parts of the rest of the world – still have challenges asserting both their reproductive rights and their right to equal pay, we can see that the double-standards regarding female empowerment persist into modern times.


Shaming Masks - Photo Credit Craige Moore, Creative Commons License 2.0


Is this longstanding prejudice in the Western world a consequence of religion? No. The mistrust and disempowerment of the feminine has nothing at all to do with religion – though religious institutions have happily taken up female oppression and regressive conservatism in service to their parent cultures. As Christianity has been the dominant religious institution in the West, we can explore it as an example. In the New Testament, Jesus is a radical feminist for his time. He elevated women’s positions above cultural norms, honored female disciple’s behaviors and attitudes above his male disciples, responded to women’s requests and admonishments even as he chastised men's, ignored cultural prejudices around female sexuality and physiology, and forgave women of their most culturally despised sins. And, for a time, this liberation of the feminine endured; in the early Church, women held positions of authority, influence and honor. In fact, there are only two short Paulian verses in all of the New Testament that place women in subjection to men, and there is a high likelihood that those were introduced (“interpolated”) into the scriptural canon long after the earliest Christian texts were written. (For more on this topic, see this excerpt from A Progressive's Guide to the New Testament.)

So what happened? Pre-existing culture happened. Everywhere we look in those first few centuries of spreading Christianity, the surrounding cultures were astoundingly oppressive toward women: beginning with North African culture, Jewish culture, and Roman culture…and eventually arriving in Northern Europe. These were societies where women were treated as slaves, traded like chattel, and sometimes killed (“exposed”) at birth because they were less desirable than male offspring. And as Christianity gradually gained institutional authority in these regions of the world, it also gradually adopted the dominant memes of those cultures. Jesus’ example and the practices of the early Church regarding women were almost completely abandoned. So what began as a seemingly deliberate attempt to liberate women was often turned on its head in favor of existing cultural traditions.

Now Northern European cultures are an interesting, diverse and complex study in themselves – so can we really generalize about “anti-feminine” sentiments in this way? I think we can, mainly because of the historical evidence. We know of only one European culture that had hints of strong matriarchal traditions, and that was the Picts, whose culture and language had been diluted, assimilated or erased by the end of the first millennium. But, as alluded to, the West isn’t the only place where women are second class citizens. Many North African cultures have a problem with empowered women as well. And here again it has nothing to do with religion, colonization by Northern Europeans, or any of the other lazy explanations that are frequently invoked. Take for example female genital mutilation and child brides – these traditions predate the arrival of Islam, Christianity and the northern invaders by centuries, and persist equally across these cultures regardless of the dominant ethnic, religious, economic and political orientations. For example, Ethiopia is a predominantly Christian country with completely different geography, ethnic groups and politics than Mali, a predominantly Muslim country; but they both practice FGM to an astonishing degree (74% and 89% respectively), and child brides are bartered off at about the same rate in both places (41-60%). Here again, cultural traditions seem to be the dominating factor, far outweighing any other influences.

But we must return to the why. Why are women so habitually denigrated? One theory that has been advanced by anthropologists and other researchers is that the cultural value of women was higher in peaceful and resource-abundant regions of the world than where resources were scarce or there was more competition with other inhabitants (see Hayden, Deal, Cannon and Casey). As the theory goes, because men had the physical advantages to become successful hunters and warriors, men gained prestige and authority in environments where those traits were important, and women’s roles became more supportive or subservient. Another theory posits that the introduction of writing and literacy pushed institutions and cultural authority away from the holistic and concrete oral traditions perpetuated by women, and into a linear, abstract and reductionist realm dominated by men (see Shlain). Another theory promotes the idea that the advent of privately owned land, agriculture and animal husbandry introduced the idea of reproductive ownership and control of resources through inheritance, where provable lineage and female reproductive capacity became essential mechanisms of patriarchal power that men felt compelled to control (see Ryan and Jethá). Yet another theory is that male-centric, warlike tribes steeped in cultural habits of domination invaded more egalitarian, cooperative and peaceful regions where women participated as equal partners, and proceeded to subjugate those cultures to the warlike-masculine-dominating archetype (see Eisler).

Although all of these theories have interesting evidence and merit, I don’t think any of them adequately explain female oppression. There is simply something missing – something more fundamental, more persistent, more universal…and more inherent. What is it? Well I think the underlying issue centers around the relationship between testosterone and similar dietary, cultural and physical habits that have arisen independently around the globe. Yes…you heard me: testosterone and dietary, cultural and physical habits. Bear with me here, as I think this will all come together nicely. To appreciate how this synthesizes, we need to understand something about human physiology: specifically, we need to appreciate the effects of testosterone on human behavior and development. Here are some of those well-documented correlations. Testosterone:


1. Beginning in the eighth week after conception, testosterone stimulates fetal differentiation to become male.

2. Strongly influences development of muscle mass and strength (and retention of these over time).

3. Has tremendous impact on sexual desire and impulses.

4. Increases feelings and expression of vitality, aggression and confidence.

5. Strongly correlates (and changes) with position of social dominance (higher testosterone reflects a higher position of dominance) and a desire to compete.

6. Seems to correlate with increased objectification of sex partner as a means to gratification (higher testosterone = higher objectification; interestingly, there is evidence that estrogen has a similar effect).

7. Offers strong correlations with violent criminality (higher testosterone levels in the most violent criminals).

8. May contribute to impatient, impulsive, risk-taking personality traits.


We should note that there are genetic predispositions, socialization, learned behaviors and other factors in play as well in all of this – and that correlations between certain behaviors and testosterone may indicate more of cofactor relationship than direct causality – but for now the details of those discussions will remain outside of our scope. Also, we should appreciate that many of these correlations are equally true for both women and men. What, then, in the most simplified terms, stimulates or sustains testosterone production as people age? Here are some broadly held conclusions regarding that:



1. Intense exercise, especially in bursts of activity and using the largest muscle groups.

2. Intermittent periods of fasting.

3. Having lots of sex, and lots of thoughts about sex.

4. Low carb, low sugar, low grain, high protein diet that includes healthy fats.

5. Receiving regular doses of Zinc (oysters, crab, other shellfish, beef, chicken, pork, beans, garlic, mushrooms, spinach, whole grains).

6. Receiving regular doses of Vitamin D (seafood, egg yolks, beef liver, beans, mushrooms, cheese).

7. Maintaining low levels of body fat.

8. Consuming foods with BCAAs (like cheese and cottage cheese).

9. Engaging in aggressive, risk-taking or violent activities.

10. Maintaining a competitive, dominance-oriented worldview and behaviors.



Can you surmise which cultures – historically – have promoted nearly all of these testosterone-enhancing components of diet, cultural values and physical habit as part of their societal norms…? Quite interestingly, most of them happen to be the very same cultures that have dominated the globe for centuries. Speaking specifically to pre-industrial proclivities of British, European and (post-colonization) North American cultures: what were the dominant features of day-to-day living in terms of diet, social mores and activities? Consider the habits, attitudes and appetites of explorers, the colonizers and imperialists, warmongers and revolutionaries…all those dominators who reveled in engineering competition and subjugating others in every aspect of life? Certainly we could have a chicken-and-egg debate around which came first – high testosterone levels or the conditions that helped to maintain them – but the historically prevalent power brokers and change agents in these cultures seem to be poster children for testosterone-enhancing lifestyles.

We can then even piggyback onto Jared Diamond’s hypothesis in Guns, Germs and Steel, asserting that perhaps testosterone has been one more actor that helped facilitate the Eurasian hegemony. And inherent to that testosterone-reinforced dominance (or at least thematically and biologically consistent with it) is patriarchy, male chauvinism, and general devaluation of the feminine. Even when women are themselves “masculinized” by testosterone and testosterone-enhancing activities, they likewise become aggressive, competitive, dominating, risk-taking and violent – establishing their primacy over everyone else who is “weaker.” Thus a primary feature of testosterone-reinforcing diets, culture and physical habits could at once be both the subjugation of other cultures, and the principle of “masculine” dominance, objectification and commoditization of others – from slaves to sex workers to sheeple...and most certainly "the weaker sex."


Testosterone-Dependent Dominance Systems

Now when we take a moment to step back and think about this hypothesis, one thing that rapidly becomes clear is that much of modern Western society is no longer conforming to its historical testosterone-producing advantages – at least not in many substantive ways. Habit-wise we have become much more sedentary, are consuming a lot more sugar and carbs, are gaining a lot of weight, and are generally amplifying the preconditions for Type II Diabetes in several ways. We are also exposed to a host of industrially produced antiandrogens (pesticides, insecticides, phthalates in plastics, and parabens in soaps and pharmaceuticals) that disrupt testosterone expression. Which begs the question: is the same level of testosterone-induced behavior still in play? Well I think it is…but only for those who succeed within the vestigial socioeconomic systems, traditions and institutions preserved from earlier eras. Remember the correlation between social position and testosterone? Well when human beings deliberately operate within a system that encourages and rewards aggressive competition, dominating tactics, oppression of anyone perceived as “weaker,” physical and sexual prowess, and patriarchy, the primacy of testosterone and its ongoing production is also encouraged in those who dominate. And that symbiosis amplifies itself over time, as testosterone in turn reinforces the attitudes and behaviors that produce it. It is a classic “The Wolf You Feed” dynamic where the testosterone-rich dominate the testosterone-poor.

Which is certainly one reason why – in our competitively capitalistic, hierarchically corporatist, domineeringly commercialized culture – men receive more pay than women, owner-shareholders lord it over worker-consumers, law enforcement perpetrates violence against citizenry, girls are sexually objectified at a young age, nearly half of all women experience sexual assault, the Stanford Prison Experiment had such predictable results, and nearly half the electorate fears allowing an empowered and experienced woman to become POTUS. It all fits hand-in-glove. And it doesn’t seem to matter how cooperative, genteel, educated, mutually supportive, peaceful or egalitarian a society becomes – the tyranny of testosterone can still undermine all such progress and reverse cultural evolution toward fascist sentiments and masculine-authoritarian leadership styles. More than just promoting a “Strong Father-Ruler” archetype to quash any spark of matriarchy, the tyranny of testosterone becomes a biological imperative to perpetuate reproductive primacy and control. In a pervasive – perhaps even global – societal reflex to stave of cultural male menopause, the fear of feminine power has become a sort of mass hysteria; irrational to its core, but also grounded in the physiological realities of the developed world that explicitly or implicitly erode testosterone-dependent dominance systems. One has to wonder whether the rise of Islamist fundamentalism in the developing world isn’t at least in part another indicator of this same hysteria: men seeking to reassert masculine power as they see it being eroded around them.

Thus feminine power is not merely about a woman having positional influence, it’s about a woman exercising power dynamics that are alternative and contrasting to testosterone-related, "traditionally masculine" ones. It’s about a different mode of social organization, a different flavor of collaboration, a different pattern of interaction and communication, indeed a radically alternative political economy. Is it time to let go…? To elevate and embrace feminine power, and attenuate the masculine? I think it probably has been for some time, but even as the collective balls of society continue to shrink, the more conservative and fearful elements of our culture thrash against the inevitable, hoping through their frantic, last-ditch efforts to secure just a little more time for testosterone’s rein. And so we arrive at the 2016 election, where the archetype of feminine power has at least partially been embodied in Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton. Donald Trump, by contrast, has clearly expressed himself to be shaped by traditional masculine power, with no hint of the feminine and a clear discomfort with anything resembling feminine power. And now Hillary, as the Democratic nominee for U.S. President, has become the sole locus for cultural male menopause hysteria, with all its attendant fears and worries around demasculinization. But it is not because Hillary is a woman and Donald is a man that this archetypal tension runs so deep – it is because they each represent such different orientations to power…and to testosterone.

Before concluding, I think it responsible to at least give a nod to men’s movement. I actually think that issue of oppressive gender roles applies equally to men, in that men often feel trapped in the same cultural expectations that should concern all equal rights activism. In terms to causality or blame, it doesn’t really matter that the mechanisms that brought, for example, male dominance of civic institutions into being were “patriarchal” or “misogynistic” by nature, if the roles and responsibilities regarding men that are championed or imposed by those institutions are subjectively oppressive for men. For example, the gender inequality we find in military service, or high-risk jobs, or how custody and child support are awarded, or the imposition of a breadwinner role, or indeed differences in suicide rates and criminal sentencing. In these areas, the men are definitely at a disadvantage, and any remedies we seek to enable greater equality should take such disadvantages into account. In this context, I think we should be aiming for a clearer demarcation between what I have described as testosterone-driven attitudes, proclivities and behaviors, and what “should” define masculinity. In fact I think we can point to testosterone as a central actor in the systemic oppression of everyone - both women and men. That said, I realize that I have probably reinforced a dualistic gender bias by referring to masculine and feminine power…so perhaps we need to come up with a more gender-neutral, multidimensional language in such discussions. In this sense, it appears I still need to escape the cultural conditioning of my own language, as I have admittedly been immersed in some fairly radical feminism from a very young age.

To wrap things up, there are currently a few contrasting theories about the impact of testosterone on human cultural development. One indicates that lowering levels of testosterone in humans around 50,000 years ago facilitated more prosocial behaviors, and therefore stimulated the first art, technology and blossoming of culture (see Cieri). Another goes to the opposite extreme by asserting that testosterone is responsible for critical masculine functions and advances in human civilization (see Barzilai). Another hypothesis elevates the role of cultural conditioning in how much testosterone is generated in certain situations, indicating that biology itself is shaped by culture and reinforces that culture (see Nisbett & Cohen, and Richerson & Boyd). It is this last theory that I think is the most interesting, because it indicates a more nuanced relationship between the internalized beliefs that result from cultural conditioning, and how our bodies respond and adapt to culture according to those beliefs. The implication is that our choices and experiences over time will shape both our individual psychology and collective cultural evolution – not just in how we consciously shape our institutions, but in how our internal hormonal cocktail conforms to, and facilitates, those societal expectations.


For further reading:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Women%27s_rights

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Women%27s_suffrage

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Testosterone

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sexual_motivation_and_hormones

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antiandrogen

http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/feminism-objectification/

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/evolution-the-self/200905/the-testosterone-curse-part-2

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/evolution-the-self/201205/the-triggers-sexual-desire-men-vs-women

http://fitness.mercola.com/sites/fitness/archive/2012/07/27/increase-testosterone-levels.aspx

http://www.webmd.com/men/features/can-you-boost-testosterone-naturally#1

http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/sexual-health/in-depth/testosterone-therapy/art-20045728

http://www.medicaldaily.com/chopping-trees-increases-testosterone-levels-more-sports-plus-natural-ways-men-boost-hormone-253849

http://www.catie.ca/en/treatmentupdate/treatmentupdate-185/nutrition/can-vitamin-increase-testosterone-concentrations-men

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/260793461_Hormonal_contraceptive_use_and_the_objectification_of_women_and_men

https://today.duke.edu/2014/08/feminization

http://www.press.uchicago.edu/Misc/Chicago/712842.html



What overview books on theory and history of mass society would you recommend?

Thanks for the A2A Nelud. I think one could approach this concept from a number of different angles….

First here is an overview that leans toward discrediting the viability of mass society theory, but nevertheless offers good references for further research:

The Wiley-Blackwell Encyclopedia of Social and Political Movements

I would also recommend reading up on the concept of alienation; a decent overview with references is here:

Social alienation

You could then expand your appreciation of alienation (and its relationship to mass society) through reading up on existentialist philosophy, and Sartre in particular.

Taking a different approach, you could research some of the interconnections I reference here:

T Collins Logan's answer to Does the term "the evil elite" have any true grounds, or otherwise, we blame others for our misguided actions?

Lastly, here is some additional reading (again offering different perspectives on mass phenomena) I suspect might be helpful:

- Guy Debord’s The Society of the Spectacle

- Herman and Chomsky’s Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media

- E.O. Wilson’s The Social Conquest of Earth

- Stanisław Lem’s The Futurological Congress

My 2 cents.

(From Quora question: https://www.quora.com/What-overview-books-on-theory-and-history-of-mass-society-would-you-recommend)

What is the most profound piece of knowledge that you've come across?

In answer to Quora question "What is the most profound piece of knowledge that you've come across?"

Thank you for the A2A Alice.

I would break this down into two areas: knowledge about human beings, and knowledge about the Universe.

Regarding knowledge about humans, I think it is precisely what you have already identified: our capacity and our choice to encounter, apprehend and grok "profound knowledge" - this is itself a most astounding condition, in that we continue to learn and grow. What a gift! Further, that humans can perceive and process such knowledge on many different levels - intellectually, emotionally, somatically, spiritually, socially, etc. - adds so much depth and dimensionality to this process. And finally, that we have the creative power to operationalize/reify what we learn; we can build really complex gadgets, engage in a dialectical synthesis of abstract ideas into insight and wisdom, construct civil society within various ethical and ideological frameworks, write novels and compose symphonies...it's all pretty darn nifty.

Regarding knowledge about the Universe, I think that's what floors me: knowledge about the Universe. It's an infinitely expanding realm of multidimensional understanding, profound in its complexity, interdependence, sophistication and wonder. And appreciating the fact that, even with everything humanity has grasped through science, philosophy, introspection and mystical ahas, we still have a virtually unlimited amount of knowledge yet to discover...well, that is both profound and humbling.

My 2 cents.

Is this world really just an animal kingdom based on competition?

In answer to Quora question "Is this world really just an animal kingdom based on competition?"

Thanks for the A2A Anna.

There are a number of ways to come at this question, depending on one's beliefs, but IMO they can all arrive at similar conclusions if one proceeds carefully and thoughtfully enough. Some examples....

- A materialist or empiricist might observe that there is both competition and cooperation within and between different species, and in fact that prosocial traits evolved within humans and other species via group selection, so that they come to have a genetic predisposition to be cooperative, mutually supportive, generous, caring and kind.

- A panpsychist, systems theorist or constructive integralist might say that energy exchanges - and indeed consciousness - are constantly interacting and morphing in all forms of life, so that what we perceive as competition is just a thin veneer of temporary, situational opportunism on top of a much deeper continuity of interdependence and dialectical synthesis.

- A mystic might conclude that all of existence - and all forms of life - are an emergent expression of the immanent and ultimately unitive creative impulse: the unmanifest essence of being cascading forth in multifaceted wonder. In this context, what we perceive as "competition" is just the natural tension between different facets of that essence attempting to differentiate from each other, when really that difference is just an illusion, a construct with impermanent utility that dissolves within an egoless spiritual perception-cognition.

On the other hand, there are other approaches (reductionism, objectivism, nihilism, atomistic individualism, etc.) that prefer to see the world as "just an animal kingdom based on competition," and so they shy away from deeper structures of existence and being. Just like a stone skipping along the surface of the ocean, all they tend to see are the waves flowing or colliding with each other. But when we delve beneath the surface, the waves become irrelevant, and there is only one, seemingly infinite body of ocean. This shift in perspective requires courage to initiate, and often demands letting go of comforting coping mechanisms and defensive reflexes, and for these reasons fear and insecurity can present challenging barriers. But with patience, effort, time, focus and self-discipline, it is possible to move beyond the self-referential view that limits our understanding to a primarily competitive framework.

My 2 cents.


How does philosophy of mind affect cognitive science?

In answer to Quora question "How does philosophy of mind affect cognitive science?"

An interesting question and I think you could approach this from two distinct angles. First I would say philosophy of mind has a substantial impact on the fundamental assumptions in cognitive research - whether it is consciously recognized or not, the researcher will, as one example, be operating on a conviction that mind is exclusively a product of physiology, that cognitive processes are introduced and influenced by this or that set of specific biological structures, and so on. Or they will be operating on some other set of assumptions that relate equally to an adopted or presumed philosophy of mind. So that is one angle, and it is an important one, because if nearly all research is dominated by "physicalism," then the parameters and metrics involved in all experimentation will conform to that bias and affirm it to varying degrees. In other words, if all I am measuring in a half-cup of water is the water (and not the air, suspended particles, etc.), then my focus will confirm the presence of water and conceive of the cup as "half full" of water and be effectively blind to anything else. Unfortunately that is the state of affairs in empirical research right now, and why, for example, a neuroscientist might confidently assert that the "philosophy of mind" question has been answered, and there is nothing more to philosophize about. I've actually heard a prominent neurobiologist confidently and publicly make this assertion, and I think that's pretty sad. It's certainly not scientific to reflexively exclude everything we cannot understand or, as yet, empirically validate.

The second angle is a bit subtler but, I think, equally important. I approach the question of mind from an entirely different perspective than a cognitive researcher, because my central concern is about applying and testing a theory in pragmatic ways (i.e. that are beneficial to my clients). Yes, I do enjoy philosophizing and theorizing too, but the rubber hits the road when a genuine, enduring positive wellness outcome is paramount. And so my own development of theories about memory, for example (see Memory Self : T.Collins Logan : Free Download & Streaming : Internet Archive) grew out of such real-world applications, and continue to be tested and revised in that light. This would also be true of other applied cognitive science, such as learning and cognitive development, predictive behavioral calculations and decision matrixes, stress relief and so on. And yet these may represent very different philosophies of mind in their conception and application. What we begin to realize, then, is that any specific philosophy of mind becomes increasingly irrelevant in its real-world applications - all that matters, really, are outcomes. And what we almost always find is that outcomes are much more dependent on things like the relationship between the clinician and the client, or the client's belief in the methodology, or plain old placebo effect. And this departure from the criticality of framing applies to impersonal metrics as well - for example increased sales resulting from campaigns informed by behavioral economics. There may be the illusion of causality in correlations between results and theory...but there are far too many variables in play to nail down actual causality.

So on the one hand philosophy of mind has a substantive impact on research and the projected viability of a given theory for real-world applications, and on the other you have an almost delusional reification of that theory when it is actually applied (a la partial reinforcement and confirmation bias). Which suggests, to me at least, that we need to account for the air in the glass, the surface tension on the water, suspended particles, temperature and a host of other as yet unidentified variables to truly comprehend cognition, emotion, behavior, free will and so on, and to derive the most nuanced understanding of that complexity. This approach is part of what I call multidialectical synthesis or "constructive integralism."

My 2 cents.

How does postmodernism affect science?

In response to Quora question: "How does postmodernism affect science?"

Thanks for the A2A.

If postmodern thought has had any impact on attitudes about science in current culture (and there is a debate over whether this has actually occurred), it would be that even "scientific" studies and conclusions are relativistic, context-dependent and fundamentally flawed in terms of any absolute grasp on the truth. In other words, public confidence in the conclusions of a given study (i.e. the interpretations of collected data) has been eroded by the postmodern challenge. Among scientists, researchers and academics who focus on hard science, I suspect postmodernism hasn't really changed the fundamental critical thinking skills that are required in those disciplines to apply a scientific method. It has, however, likely diluted many theoretical trajectories in these fields that might have otherwise been entertained by the folks who fund such research. In the "soft" sciences (cultural anthropology, psychology, philosophy, history, sociology, etc.) the postmodern meme has, I think, undermined the conclusivity and acceptance of any thesis in these fields, no matter how carefully a thesis is argued. In a sense we could say that, as just one example, neuroscience is usurping the domain that clinical psychology once occupied, and that this is a consequence of postmodern skepticism. But again, even how data from neuroscience experiments is interpreted - and the ultimate veracity of any interpretation's conclusions - is also increasingly tenuous because of data from other fields, constantly revised understanding of brain function, increased technological facility for measurement, new methods to evaluate data, appreciation of research bias, and so on. In other words...well, I suppose we could sum it up by reiterating that there is a lot less confidence in the power of the human mind and its inventions to answer the fundamental questions about physical reality in any absolute way. If there is any enduring postmodern affect, it would be this.

My 2 cents.

What is the earliest form of religion?

In answer to Quora question: "What is the earliest form of religion?"

Thanks for the A2A. Of course we don't really know the answer to your question...we just have some modern projection onto selective archeological evidence. Ruud Schmitz's answer is a very good example of just this kind of projection, and although much of what he says is not widely accepted among cultural anthropologists today, it has been popular among feminist archeologists and some neopagan groups. In contrast, here are some more widely accepted views:

Paleolithic - There are lots of drawings of animals on the walls where humans lived. That's pretty much all we know. Humans also began burying each other, including some grave goods with the body. Again, that's all we know. There have been plentiful assumptions about these practices (animal cults, totem worship, belief in afterlife, etc.) but THEY ARE ALL PROJECTIONS of our modern culture onto prehistoric archeological evidence. There are many, many other possible explanations (for example, instead of concern about an afterlife, perhaps humans buried each other and each others' stuff to protect themselves from whatever ended the dead person's existence...a ritual resulting from a simple fear of death.)

Neolithic - Here we start seeing structures that were clearly built with lunar and solar movements in mind (megaliths), but again, we have NO IDEA what these were used for. We also find more animal drawings and figurines. And we also find some figurines of the female form. We have NO IDEA what any of these were used for. We also find burial mounds with lots of grave goods. Again...NO IDEA what these burial practices actually meant. There is also some evidence of human sacrifice at some sites. Why were humans sacrificed? No idea. Lots and lots and lots of modern projections onto those primitive cultures, but no real idea at all because there is no written record from these periods of the whys and wherefores. Was there totem worship? Possibly. Was there worship that involved the sun, moon and the annual cycles of the heavens? Possibly. Was there goddess worship (or, perhaps more likely, fertility worship)? Possibly. If you believe all of the fiction and stories created in modern times about this period (and the Bronze Age in particular), you might well assume that these possibilities are fact. But they are not. They are inventions of the modern mind as it tries to explain the past.

In more recent history, we have mainly polytheistic religions (Ancient Egypt, Babylonia, India and so on). These are really the only religions for which we have sufficient historical evidence to support a clear understanding of early beliefs and practices. Of these, Hinduism is the only one still widely practiced today.

Regarding Çatalhöyük, which was utilized from 6500-5500 BC (not 17,000 years ago!), there are hundreds of stone and clay figurines - many of the female form, but also many of animals, and I believe even some men with erect penises, etc. We have ABSOLUTELY NO IDEA what these figurines were used for. None. Nada. More recent examinations have suggested many non-religious uses for these items, and point out that all of them were recovered from the utilitarian rooms at the site, not the areas presumed to be shrines. I only bring this up to highlight how popular lay interpretations of partial archeological data may have little correlation with other data or more thoughtful assumptions.

My 2 cents.


Comment by Ruud Schmitz: Hello Mr. Collins. Thank you for your 2 cents. I suppose your are an historian and there for your two cents are a lot more valuable than mine in this case. The information I gave I got from a recent documentary. Where the number of 17000 years was given in relation to the earliest findings of the woman like statues and a temple like building in the region, in the deepest players of an excavation site. Not the excavation of the old village, that dates back from 6500 BC. The remarkable thing about this temple like structure actually was that it was NOT located in a developed area. I remember the narrator saying something like 'society did not create religion, but religion created society' .


I think you may be referring to Göbekli Tepe, an 11,500 year-old site in Southeastern Turkey. Çatalhöyük is in Southwestern Turkey, about 700km away. Yes, Göbekli Tepe is an extremely interesting place that raises many questions, but I do not believe there were any female figurines or statues discovered there, just animal carvings in the stones of the megaliths.