Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.

Our world

by kcurie Sun Aug 30th, 2009 at 09:05:52 AM EST

Given the recent article and diary related to human behaviour, brain functions and Enlightenment, I think it is time to remember what we are trying to do here in ET and the best way to get there using what we can do best: put ideas from different sources together and devise and action plan.

What we all want to do is to see on Earth the Star Trek mythology (Star trek: The Next Generation mostly). We want a human species having a sustainable economy where everyone is included and where every human being can differentiate itself through their personal or communal narratives (our own personal vision of the world). No wars, no famine, no uber-rich , no misery. A Western-Eastern world where we are valued by the narratives we generate independently of how forceful other try to make us fit a particular stereotype. An advanced technological world which understands any particular culture. Personal desires and wishes are dealt with according to cultural reference frames and proposals to change people's behaviour are done through ideas and not "facts on the ground" (like wars and violence).

The question is how to to get there... And to get there we must understand human behaviour. But basic human behaviour is basically fixed by structural narratives. At the same time particular human behaviour (my behaviour being different from yours) is related to personal accepted narratives. This diary is basically about explaining what this last paragraph means.

Excellent essay for a Sunday afternoon - Nomad


I guess we all know what human behaviour is. From talking to body language, from external actions to external feelings, all the way through internal/personal actions and feelings.

All these actions do not happen in a vacuum. They happen in a playing field. Our brain creates this playing field using the so-called structural narratives (or myths). The most basic tenets and definitions of what we are, where/how we live and understand and, more important to us in ET, how we behave. The basic aspect of how we give meaning to space, to status, to inter-personal structures (or "relationships"), to empathy,.. all encoded in structural narratives. Like our basic description of a feeling and how to "feel". These structural myths appear in all cultures, different cultures define the story-line differently and generate different playing fields where a human behaves and lives. This is why there are large differences in human behaviour in different cultures even at the most basic levels. In some particular cases biology and structural narratives have joined to create a human universal.. something all humans do. Fortunately or unfortunately, there are not many of them. Empathy, feelings, violence, status, magic have the same basic story-line.. but even they differentiate on the specifics. A friend of mine, anthropologist, once told me that the only structural narrative which is a universal copy and exists in all cultures is the narrative word-by-word of "fear of the snakes".

We all have status but we obtain it and lose it differently and for different reasons. We all distribute space but we do it according to different rules/roles and divisions giving different meanings and properties to them. We all have mythology about our-self, no-self or social reality. The same thing about our body and about feelings.. we all deal with our body and our feelings but the division of the body and the number and types of feelings differ from culture to culture (I guess you never tried to explain "morriña" to an american, a very common feeling in some parts of Spain. But probably you have heard that "falling in love" was an invention in the South of France almost one milenium ago.. yes, Romans never "fell in love" no matter what Hollywood says and some romantics say. Actually, if it were not for the genius of Shakespeare the details and actions of our feeling world would have changed more rapidly in the last centuries.. but Shakespeare was a freaking genius... which is a topic for another diary).

So, except for "fear of snakes", exactly the same construction, the same feeling/emotion and related to the same thing (snakes), not that much exists out there regarding universal human behaviour. Of course some cultures fear some insects and others eat them.. but "fear of snakes" is the only  structural narrative leading to (equals to) universal human behavior out there, according to my friend (did you know that the "fear" process have been completely mapped in our brain, yes without any other information but a t-scan I can know if any human being in the world has fear). Actually, I am not sure if my friend was correct...I have heard discussions about other universal human behaviour (happy/unhappiness dichotomy for similar things, some types of empathy for the same people, or universal magic behaviour/laws) but you get the idea that really universal human behaviour... not that many (ask or talk  to any urban western person working in a seemingly close-related "closed agricultural community" in South America nowadays, as I just did, to erase any doubt about this fact). The number of universal feelings (so-called limbic)is small and the way it can be structured and changed by culture at the frontal lobe level (some fancy words to show that I made research on neurobiology to gain some status is always useful) is enormous. On the other hand, universal topics, as I have described, quite a bunch of them. (For a similar take you can read a more global view about mythologies).

But not all structural narratives deal with a  subject which is universal. Some belong to a particular culture. For example in ancient Greece Gods by definition interacted with humans. It was a structural narrative or myth. Something which nobody doubted because it was self-evident (to them). Any structural myth is internalized very early in our development because all the physical and social world around functions according to the "grammar" fixed by this fundamental narrative. Since all structural myths have grammar we can try to translate them in words, although we do not learn most of them using verbal language.

A very important structural narrative in western urban civilization (some people say it defines us) is the enlightenment structural narrative

I still remember how in ET we tried to push strongly the idea that the first thing to get Enlightenment-based legislation was to buy media and push non-structural narratives/myths regarding any particular legislation. The american democrats got better at that and Bush failures did the rest. In the 80's the left did not know even the basic scientific facts that the right was using with Reagan to change the society. They did not know what a narrative was, even less a structural narrative. They did not even know the basic resulting behaviour in western societies learnt by experiments in psychology, sociology and anthropology.
Fortunately, they seem to be getting the idea now.

We have been repeating again and again that the Enlightenment structural myth is just that, a myth. A particular myth that was developed in western Europe a couple of centuries ago. It was a potent myth, but that was all: a structural myth.

So let me repeat again, myths does not mean (or is) false, a myth is just the opposite of false. A myth is an structural narrative which is by definition true and can not be questioned within itself. We consider the existence of our- "self" evident , even if research shows that this not an universal trait. It does not matter, we feel that it is true, We believe that it is true, we think we take decisions and nothing would make us believe otherwise (we may accept that they can be strongly influenced by other, but not that someone is making the decision for us). This is because we learn it as an structural myth when we are very young. I can assure you that a bororo indian member would not "feel" believe or contemplate what we think or feel as a possibility... in a bororo's brain everybody and every living entity thinks... and they feel that a tree is using one's (if its his at all) brain just as I think that this is impossible.

So again, brains need these basic structural myths. Some of them deal with issues present in all cultures. Obviously they can be solved differently. The narrative behind it can be different. Other myths are related with very particular issues and are present in a small set of cultures.. and they are absolutely true for those having it.

Our behaviour within the group is a case of a topic dealt in our cultures with a structural myth (we are social animals comes form this, all humans have behaviour mythology). All cultures have an structured mythology regarding empathy...and space distribution (left-right, public/private (or clan) space with strong codes of conduct... just try to shout out loud in church and tell me what happens), status. and personal/social decision making (some cultures focus on why we take decisions, other on who, others don't give a shit about who. Some are more individualistic, some are non-personal, some are relational, etc..funny enough all societies have status structural myths).

Enlightenment was a powerful and interesting myth because it dealt with decision making and the self-reference all in "one structure". It spread like fire in some members of our culture as a normal non-structural narrative and,  eventually, it became one. But this does not mean that this myth is self-evident. It must be completely shared by every single member of the society: And in some subgroups of our society it is indeed learnt and taken as an obvious truth. But the reality is that western human behavior is NOT ONLY shaped by the structural myth of independent-rational agent" who is "supposed" to grow and mature". But at the same time we have the "image myth" which makes us believe (remember with us being unaware of the fact) strongly in social reinforcing. The relevance of image, the image making process, the picture , the films as a way to explain relevant histories and tales makes the image mythology one of our structural mythologies. So our every day life reflects this. And both truths are self-evident to every single member of our society.. the problem is that a strong version of Enlightenment where "the image myth" is considered (how we the left ever came to that false conclusion?) irrelevant and "scientific decision making" used as a hierarchical structure to convey rational information" is not shared by everyone. So, the strong version of Enlightenment is NOT a structural myth. And not everyone (read religious right in the US) behaves according to it.

The conclusions and the behaviour described in the linked article of the introduction is indeed the most common behaviour around in the western hemisphere... but a dogon would be laughing loud at us... laughing if he/she would ever understand our framework.

I repeat, how the brain "works" regarding social interactions is the realm of structural mythology. Put a different structural mythology and you get different basic behaviour. We do not behave like "this" because the apes do it... there are a lot of cultures with similar "structural myths" regarding cooperative behaviour" because we used to need it like apes. Other don't. The great step of the brain is to differentiate between behaviour and structural myth and normal narratives. This makes the symbolic and action process very powerful (in the sense of maleable and robust).

Normal narratives are related to a basic framework of a small set structural myths. These narratives are multiple and contradictory. Groups of them are reinforcing each other, other groups of narratives oppose each other. A film is a normal narrative: a history about guy who happen to travel to Europe and see "socialized medicine for himself" is a narrative. "The car" and individual freedom is a narrative. (we have thousands of them at different layers and with different formats).. they are "normal" narratives. They allow us to be different from each other as long as there are a bunch of them. One of the reasons science came to exist is that we managed to expand the number of non-structural narratives. On the other hand structural narratives are very very tough to deal if you want to change it.

My position has always been: do not try to change the structural myth for short-term political purposes, it is impossible. Change the narratives attached to it, the technology and objects used by the culture.. and eventually you would be able to change the structural narratives. Otherwise, it is impossible.
So if we want our "world vision" to prevail (the idea of humans as a ecologically self-sustained species which can expand its narratives and personal will through knowledge and the enhancement of creative cooperative behaviour) we have to change slowly decade by decade the non-essential myths.. those stories that go mouth to mouth and propagate. To generate new narratives that synthesize ideas and get more powerful as they pass along members. To increase our reinforcing chamber (same idea form multiple sources with some variations which agree on the fundamentals). Yes, buy media.. or get blogs everywhere.

And stressing one final point along the lines of Migeru (we normally agree, after all, because we both watched the same TV and studied the same subjects). You need narratives in every single frame. A frame is a subset of narratives which reinforce each other. You need narratives which improve our goals in each and every one of them. This is not to mean we must not provide an alternative "atheist narrative bunch" or an "spiritual narrative group" or a "formal-religious and science magnificient division narrative" as Kant and Gould proposed so that some people in the US religious right can have a "conversion" to the standard European Catholic or Protestant frame (a very interesting anthropological and psychological topic, how an individual gets attached to a  particular set of non-structural narratives and how it can change them). But providing only these "external frames" is not going to work...Migeru is right...

And probably, we are witnessing how a set of right-wing histories and narratives is becoming so entrenched that it could become a structural narrative for a certain subgroup of people. Just like the religious right in the US has a different structural narrative regarding facts and science than we do.

Luckily, value models considered positive in TV are still cooperative in nature... things there have not changed that much since Migeru and myself watched  Espinete.  The problem is there are other narratives out there. We'd better fight them... otherwise.. well, according to our own mythology, the earth will take care of us as a virus infection.

UPDATE: thanks to Fran and Migeru for pointing out misleading sentences

Display:
As one Tellurian parasite communicating with another...Thanks! ;-)

This is an excellent and needed diary.

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Thu Aug 27th, 2009 at 12:52:40 PM EST
Actually, thanks to Colman and Migeru for pointing out this topic and asking me to develope and clarify the ideas.

I promise the next diary will be completely foggy and unclear about a topic I do not know enough/nothing about... like economics or the creation of spatial myhtology.
:)

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Thu Aug 27th, 2009 at 01:15:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Remember to turn back on the idiosyncratic kcurie spellcheck applet before you do it... ;-)

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Thu Aug 27th, 2009 at 02:10:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I was not feeling myself correcting all the misspelling before posting the diary....and still I did.

I promise that the foggy one will also be spellingly foggy unless the gnomes order me otehrwise :)

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Thu Aug 27th, 2009 at 02:34:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Would you consider

European Tribune - Comments - Our world

structural myth

the same thing as the 'map of reality'?

by Fran on Thu Aug 27th, 2009 at 01:38:59 PM EST
A map of reality with grammar. Excellent way to look at it :)

Animals have maps of reality but no grammar (well at least complex grammar, with the recent advances in etology one never knows).

The grammar coming from the interaction of the brain with the surroundings/soceity/people, of course.

However I wanted to emaphazise that  this map is changed by changes in technology or in personal narratives or with a brilliant fraeaking guy (or groups of guys) coming with a brilliant history to tell (Shakespeare, Rosseau) which spread like fire. But they need a lot of time to take hold.

Keynnes and Friedman economic theories can soon become structural mappings of the world for different groups of people but they are still not. Friedman was an almost structural mythlogy in Washington and the rich elite for quite some decades (a certain subgroup of our culture like the punks, so it was a very high in the heirarchy of mappings for some people) but it was not universal and encompassing enough. So, hopefully we still have tiem to reverse it... given that in Europe it never took hold until very late and only as an alterantive narrative to the common social european consensus.

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Thu Aug 27th, 2009 at 01:50:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
If you agree with me that a map of reality and a structural myth are the same the I do not agree with this:

European Tribune - Our world

My position has always been: do not try to change the structural myth, it is impossible.

I postulate that a structural myth can be changed. :-)

by Fran on Thu Aug 27th, 2009 at 01:53:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Continue reading... I say that do no try to change it for short political purposes...

As I say later it can indeed be changed by global changes in personal narratives, technology and brilliant new approaches which encompass diffeent narratives and spread like fire and become globally self-evident (Enlightenment, shakespeare feeling structure)..

So we agree :)

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Thu Aug 27th, 2009 at 01:57:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Not quite - as I also believe you can change your mind of reality from inside out, by working with your own map of reality. :-)
by Fran on Thu Aug 27th, 2009 at 02:10:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
One example was Gandhi, who changed his myth from the inside out and then changed the narrative for the larger environment.
by Fran on Thu Aug 27th, 2009 at 02:12:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
He did not change his myth - the myth changed him.

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Thu Aug 27th, 2009 at 02:14:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Thats not how I understood what he wrote - he went through a process of looking at himself and the world around him and that changed his myth. Because after it was not the same myth as he had before.
by Fran on Thu Aug 27th, 2009 at 02:16:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm going to get myself into hot water here, but.....

There are Ghandis - and Hitlers - everywhere. Sometimes the wandering strange attractor of mythology locates itself on top of one of these leaders-in-waiting and transforms them. And thus the mythology renews itself. This renewal process has been happening since the dawn of humanity.

The reason I think individual  'will' is not involved, is because any mythological set is contributed to by all its believers, not just one. That leader has to be wanted, needed, desired and created by all those believers - even if it is change that is the aim, rather than a specific leader. The individual will is ridiculously weak in comparison.

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Thu Aug 27th, 2009 at 02:36:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I would say it is not so much a question of will as know how to change the myth. But I do not say it is easy and I guess it does require some will, but it is not the primary incredience for change.
by Fran on Thu Aug 27th, 2009 at 02:41:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Great take.. but there is still some creation..some ability to generate the rigth story,at the right time... its like a theory in physics.. that's the metaphore I would use. You need the experiemtns, you need the frame in the heads of your fellow scientists but you also need creativity and stroy-telling... and the idea of making the experiments, of course.

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Thu Aug 27th, 2009 at 02:46:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
kcurie also talks about the grammar of the myth - for me it has the following ingredients:

  • Language
  • Memories
  • Decisions
  • Beliefs
  • Values
  • Attitudes
  • Ways of sorting information
  • Strategies

Each of them can be influenced and changed.
by Fran on Thu Aug 27th, 2009 at 02:47:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I woudl say mostly right.. but some structural myths are not verbal. they need some kind of language but not really verbal-conscisou language per se. They need symbolic language of course but not verbal or conscious language.

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Thu Aug 27th, 2009 at 02:54:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, I agree but language is also symbolistic not only verbal.

Memories are usually symbolistic (visual) and kinesthetic and can have aspects of verbal language.

by Fran on Thu Aug 27th, 2009 at 02:57:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
One of the big structural myths involves maintenance of self esteem.  It involves experienced basic human emotions, what we have internalized from our culture of origin and how we relate to society at large and more.  People will and do go to great lengths to feel good about themselves.  My guess would be that a problem in this area is usually a component for one who seeks help from a professional.  

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Thu Aug 27th, 2009 at 04:21:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
People will go to great lengths to believe positive things about themselves. That's not quite the same as feeling inherently positive.

One of the biggest problems with Enlightenment mythology is that positive feelings rely on external states and external events.

People have tried to create inherently positive mythologies - a Christian called Matthew Fox tried to promote something he called original blessing, as an antidote to the concept of original sin - but they're rarely sticky.

In fact one of the many ironies of the Enlightenment is that structural mythologies are terror-based, and rooted in the immiment fear of pain, death and annihilation.

Aside from a brief outburst of optimism in the 60s, which created Star Trek and some other positive ideologies, most Western mythology is surprisingly gloomy and desperate. ('In the long run we're all dead.')

There's a permanent opposition between a slightly strained cult of personal sovereignty, and Everything Else, which is either indifferent or hostile.

The Enlightenment never really outgrew Christianity's fear of apocalypse. And aside from fear of snakes, mythologies of doom and apocalypse have always been one of the paradoxically unconscious drivers of Enlightenment values.

Unsurprisingly, it's not easy to feel inherently positive in that kind of background atmosphere.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Thu Aug 27th, 2009 at 04:47:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
One day, we will meet.
I had never realized the star-trek, 60's optimism connection... it is self-evident now....

I formally attach to it :)

And regarding Enlightenment fight with Apocalypse  mythologies.. wow... wow...now  you will have me at least week thinking about it.

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Thu Aug 27th, 2009 at 05:01:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I used to think of Star Trek as silly space opera. But you're not the only person close to me who sees it as a desirable utopia.

Did I say Space Opera?

In Scientology, founder L. Ron Hubbard used the science fiction term space opera to describe what he said were actual extraterrestrial civilizations and alien interventions in past lives. Upon Hubbard's death in 1986, the Church of Scientology announced that he had discarded his physical body and was now "on a planet a galaxy away."


En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Aug 27th, 2009 at 05:08:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Not "the new generation series" which uses the 60's optimism and merges it with the ecological nascient movement... a must-see.

You mightlike thsi as an introduction http://www.pointofinquiry.org/susan_sackett_the_secular_humanism_of_star_trek/

but write star trek the new generation and humanism in google..and you will see.

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Thu Aug 27th, 2009 at 05:11:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
In fact one of the many ironies of the Enlightenment is that structural mythologies are terror-based, and rooted in the immiment fear of pain, death and annihilation.

Surely you mean that these terror based mythologies are what the Enlightenment inherited.  They went to great lengths to discredit the Christian narrative and largely succeeded among the educated elites.  And for the Day of Judgement they substituted "The Judgment of Posterity."  The whole Enlightenment Project consisted of replacing concepts of divine guidance with concepts of human direction and values.

More than anything they overestimated the power of reason.  The Jacobins thought they could replace Christianity with a Cult of Reason, but that only lasted so long as the Terror endured. The Enlightenment was never more than a veneer over a much more tumultuous, emotional and religious society.  So long as educated elites ran things, Enlightenment values endured.  But with the broadening of the voter franchise and the incorporation of the merely literate, as opposed to the broadly educated, into the political process the Christian world view increasingly intruded upon and then challenged Enlightenment values.

Reason cannot compete with the power of the mythic frame of Christianity in the minds of those who have never really been able to see the power of reason, which is so often found in subtlety.  In a very real sense the founders of the Enlightenment, especially in France, never had the opportunity, especially in the ancien regime, to see just how weak the appeal of reason was.  Adam Smith was closer to the mark in seeing that the requirements of commerce could produce a more refined population, but even there, that refinement did not extend to causing the masses to prefer reason to religion.

Our modern world was built by elites with Enlightenment values and the process was conceived as The Enlightenment Process.  But, in the USA, in order for some of those elites to retain power and to continue their own self-aggrandizement, they formed an alliance with a numerically superior group who fundamentally rejected the entire Enlightenment Project and values.  Having sown the wind we all are now reaping the whirlwind.

Fortunately, the fundamentalist true believers are not, by themselves, a true governing majority, and, in the USA, those to whom they supplied critical support, when elected to government, have discredited themselves in the eyes of a majority--for now.  But they may form a blocking minority.  Time will tell and the game is still afoot.  One thing is clear.  Those who still hold Enlightenment values, such as the universal rights of man and the rights of minorities, need to learn how to frame and narrate their agenda in terms more appealing than those used by their opponents.  The current US Administration has not distinguished themselves in this regard.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Thu Aug 27th, 2009 at 11:03:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I really really think that you should diary this...

It is brilliant.

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Fri Aug 28th, 2009 at 06:03:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
How human beings come to think in new narratives is a wonderful topic. As much as how people attach to some frame or some narrative.

I have more or less an idea about how people attach and dettach, accpet and reject frames...about how each one constructs his own personal narrative but there are only partial rules. Each person is a different world engaged inthsoe rules. And I deeply believe that the process is chaotic and deterministic with not that much random noise (I have no proof wahtsoever but I will bet that most physicist agree with me, when we are explained cahotic system with noise we all come to the same conclusion.. this is how I came to be). We do have some indication coming from the excellent predictions socioologists and antrhopologists do predicting human behaviour in a lot of circumstances at short-term scales

But regarding how human beigns develop personal and different narratives, some of them as powerfull as gandhi, well it is a biological and cultural aptitude, like maths. You develop them by training, and the more you train the more you develop teh aptittue.. and may be you may need some brain structure working very well (thanks to some biological properties.. ei maybe encoding genes and proteins may have a small role in it by a cascade effect). It might involve reflexion, stroy-telling and other brain enhanced activities (self-inspection and so on), who really knows je jej certianly I do not know. Add probably it can not be known scientifically... I guess  the answer must go to the wonderful magic box for now :)

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Thu Aug 27th, 2009 at 02:44:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
kcurie:
the process is chaotic and deterministic

this can be, but does not have to be and I am talking of over twenty years of experience working with clients and helping them to change their map of reality, in way that is more fulfilling and open, then their previous one. Sometimes it can be very easy and fast and at times it can be slow and take some effort. But it is always amazing and gratifying what can happen to someone when they are able to shift their map of reality.

by Fran on Thu Aug 27th, 2009 at 02:55:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I think this does not contradict my point. Interactions are detereministic, but the trajectory is cahotic precisely because meeting someone , or a owrd, at the proper time, or somehting minimal can have huge change.

So the trajectories change completely...So in a snese, working with people is one of the multiple things that maek the system chaortic.. but I would say that you try to use techniques that have been proven to be effective in your everyday life. So in this sense you want them to be deterministic.. to ahve effect.. the problem is that you can not know the exact effect because the system is chaotic...

And I did not even talked about random noise (like bumping into someone).

So I agree with you, but also with Migeru, do not misunderstimate the influence of the narratives we explain to ourselves constantly.... if someone is not in the frame/history/map to cahnge, he/she will not change, no matter what.

A pleasur

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Thu Aug 27th, 2009 at 04:53:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Oh, I agree with you - all I wanted to say is the structural myth can be changed, and I agree you can not always determine the exact way the myth will change in the process, but that was not my point. Now if we want to change it, either consciously or unconsciously, is another question.
by Fran on Thu Aug 27th, 2009 at 05:01:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I mostly agree with you, a lot of very relevant structural myths can be changed...

but somehow I think some are too powerful and too integrated in oneself.

Maybe through strong meditation and learning I could stop feeling obvious that "myself" exist...at most I couls try to understand and take the buddhism philosophy.. but frankly how on earth I am going to think that a tree is thinking in my brain? I think I should have learnt that when I was child... now it is no longer possible.

the same goes for the misterous spatial mythologies.. I am not sure you can change them because, frankly, the only thing I know is that they are very powerful but I do not even understand them even at the basic level.

I am with you there is a lot of fundamental structures that one can change in adulthood.. but I am not sure all of them can be changed.

Still, I am an optimistic kind of guy.. one can change the relevant ones..but this is a stroy a tell to myself :)

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Thu Aug 27th, 2009 at 05:08:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I agree with you that meditation would be one way to become aware of the deeper myths - if you can become the observer you can learn to observe the stories you tell yourself.

And I did not say it was always easy. :-)

by Fran on Thu Aug 27th, 2009 at 05:13:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
you can learn to observe the stories you tell yourself

But you don't need meditation for that. You can just read a lot of Anthropology.

En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Aug 27th, 2009 at 05:16:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I disagree - it is not the same reading the myths in books and observing them in yourself. From my experience intellect alone is not enough for change, though it can be useful.
by Fran on Thu Aug 27th, 2009 at 05:18:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I disagree with you.. for some people reading is more vital than observing a "myself" deeply intoxicated with Monty Python ideas as soem of us here.

Both are useful to different people.

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Thu Aug 27th, 2009 at 05:20:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Or you could be observing by performing a test.

Implicit Association Test

It is well known that people don't always 'speak their minds', and it is suspected that people don't always 'know their minds'. Understanding such divergences is important to scientific psychology.

This web site presents a method that demonstrates the conscious-unconscious divergences much more convincingly than has been possible with previous methods. This new method is called the Implicit Association Test, or IAT for short.

In addition, this site contains various related information. The value of this information may be greatest if you try at least one test first...

This one showed me a lot of the beliefs I held at the time.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Fri Aug 28th, 2009 at 09:01:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
kcurie:
deeply intoxicated with Monty Python ideas

???

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Sun Aug 30th, 2009 at 08:35:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Different ways.... je jeje

Now Migeru can start with meditation and Fran with anthropology.. deal?

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Thu Aug 27th, 2009 at 05:18:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
you should become a mediator! :-)
by Fran on Thu Aug 27th, 2009 at 05:20:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
My favourite off-time work... well at least my friends always say I am trying to mediate... You know the stuff, put yourself in the other shoes..look at this this in this other way, "what about those goodpeople there who see it different than you", this doe snto necessarily mena that XXX, it cudl mean that XXXX..

Well you know... the stuff.. but somehow I think it should be "artesania" not a full-time organized job :)

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Thu Aug 27th, 2009 at 05:28:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I was talking about you when I said 'reading Anthropology'.

I don't pretend to have the level of narrative self-awareness of yours or Fran's...

En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Aug 27th, 2009 at 05:34:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
This discussion touches on individual transformative experiences and potentials.  Ghandi, IMO, transcended the mythic frames of his origin and education and served as a guide to many of his followers in so doing for themselves.  In this manner he influenced M.L.King and Nelson Mandela and thereby the whole world, even though his transformed frame has yet to become widely normative.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Thu Aug 27th, 2009 at 02:46:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I coudl nto agree more.

there is indeed a creative aspect. You need to know a lot of stuff.. and it might come naturally.

The more you trainethe more easy it seems to develop and project transformative experiences.

I think you would probably write a better diary than myself regarding how people attach and dettach of narratives, how they create some, how they read (semi-accept) some, how they rreject most and how personality and the internal and external bahvioural world develops.

Transformative experiences, awakenings (also named revelations) and strong cognitive dissonances are the main ingredient of personal psychology (or anthropology at the individual level).

As you indicate both creation and attachment are strongly related... a very impressive mythology  if it spreads must create one of the above-mentioned three. Agreed

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Thu Aug 27th, 2009 at 02:52:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
But none of us choose or control our own history, even if we happen to produce more serotonin in response to certain stimulii - for genetic reasons.

The point at which 'willpower' (whatever that is - but I suspect it is a Learned Behaviour Disorder) is exercised, is preceded by a chaotic personal history. 'Willpower' has to be seen in that context. It is not something plucked out of thin air or applied by a secret switch.

One can change one's life, but only if that life is ready to be changed - like the psychologists lightbulb.

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Thu Aug 27th, 2009 at 04:10:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Oh, but that's a particular form of willpower used in some therapeutic context.

I think some people refer to willpower when they talk about the human ability to realize that something was different that he expected and act accordingly.

Maybe others have different definitions of willpower.

But willpower in the sense you use it is a very particular word used in some particular context in western treatments of the self (which we all know is our main characteristic, to develop hundred of concepts and ideas about the self).

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Thu Aug 27th, 2009 at 04:17:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
But you can control or change your response to your history.

Changing ones life includes changing the narrativ or even the myth - but I do agree, you have to be ready. For most people it is a dissatisfaction with their current lifes that makes them look for change. But it is not solely a thing of willpower or thinking - that does not work, it has to go deeper into what kcurie calles the symbolic.

by Fran on Thu Aug 27th, 2009 at 04:23:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It is easy to misunderestimate the importance of the stories we tell ourselves, individually and collectively.

En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Aug 27th, 2009 at 04:41:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I am not sure what you mean by misunderestimate the importance.... - the stories are part of how we define and see ourselves - so they are important.
by Fran on Thu Aug 27th, 2009 at 04:56:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
the stories are part of how we define and see ourselves

That is a story you tell yourself. :-)

En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Aug 27th, 2009 at 04:58:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Did I tell you you make a lovely couple?
:)

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Thu Aug 27th, 2009 at 04:59:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
A lovely couple of times?

En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Aug 27th, 2009 at 04:59:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
LOL, yep!
by Fran on Thu Aug 27th, 2009 at 05:04:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Fran
For most people it is a dissatisfaction with their current lifes that makes them look for change. But it is not solely a thing of willpower or thinking - that does not work, it has to go deeper into what kcurie calles the symbolic.

This is almost always true.  The power of the frame and the myth is such that the only reliable motivation for one to change that frame and myth is that it does not work and instead produces psychic pain. Such a person feels adrift and lost and usually is missing several understandings, experiences and insights.  I have been that person.

The mystics can be a guide here, but only if one is at the proper point in their life.  When I was in grad school I took a Western Intellectual History course taught by, my luck, a self professed Thomist, his belief system was far from the only thing this professor liked to be outrageous about.  One of the assignments was Juan de la Cruz's Dark Night of the Soul!  I was a 21 year old atheist and thought that having to read and attempt to understand this drivel work was my own dark night of the soul. I read the work and tried to understand it but I had no basis for so doing. I got my A by not having to deal with Juan.  A few years later, after some relevant personal experience, no problem!  I clearly understood what Juan had been talking about, even though the way out that I found would have been alien to him. (Unless, perhaps, some of Juan's experiences were triggered by ergot, but even then...)

One thing though is clear: utter and abject misery is a wonderful motivator to cause one to consider that perhaps there are errors or omissions in one's understanding of one's self and the world, although it is far from sufficient. Subsequently I have often seen that a similar situation is the motivating force for others to reevaluate themselves and their lives.  One can arrive at a similar conclusion on a purely abstract and intellectual basis, but the understanding thus achieved usually lacks the emotional force and motivating power to cause them to be willing to undertake the difficult inner work needed for change.

 

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Thu Aug 27th, 2009 at 10:02:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
My wrap up diary on the round-the-world trip will touch primarily on this subject.

On a completely related note, I hope to get some face time with Guru Fran in Paris.

you are the media you consume.

by MillMan (millguy at gmail) on Fri Aug 28th, 2009 at 02:37:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Looking forward to it and I would love to meet you.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Fri Aug 28th, 2009 at 05:35:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I am looking forward to your diary and also to meeting you in Paris. :-)
by Fran on Mon Aug 31st, 2009 at 10:02:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
ARGeezer:
One thing though is clear: utter and abject misery is a wonderful motivator to cause one to consider that perhaps there are errors or omissions in one's understanding of one's self and the world, although it is far from sufficient.

This also works for countries.

And perhaps for civilisations (but not quite so much.)

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Fri Aug 28th, 2009 at 05:16:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
But not always well, as Germany in the '30s demonstrated.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Fri Aug 28th, 2009 at 05:36:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
But none of us choose or control our own history

What was Marx's quip about 'making history, but not just as we wish'?

We certainly do not choose the circumstances into which we are born.  Worse, the development of our brains is guided for years by our parents, who are, after all, only doing the best they can. But at a certain point we can become aware of these factors and then we have the ability to choose how we react and respond to that situation.  Therein lies our own opportunity and responsibility.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Thu Aug 27th, 2009 at 04:48:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I think you would probably write a better diary than myself regarding how people attach and dettach of narratives, how they create some, how they read (semi-accept) some, how they rreject most and how personality and the internal and external bahvioural world develops.

I would not want to try to improve on what you have accomplished here.  Had I attempted this diary it would likely have gone in directions that would have produced a chorus of "OH NOES!"

But I strongly agree that a mythology that is strongly integrative of all aspects of our psyches, that enables us to see and understand the constraints under which we labor and to visualize how our world could better be organized and that enables people to feel that they are doing vital and necessary work to provide a better future that might include ponies for all could become viral and overwhelm weaker frames.  Christianity did this some 1700 years ago, but, IMO, did so by winning the promising and lying contest with other religions.  How about a mythology wherein it is not necessary to die to reach heaven?

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Thu Aug 27th, 2009 at 04:37:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
ARGeezer:
How about a mythology wherein it is not necessary to die to reach heaven?

now you're talking!

'heaven is in your mind' (winwood/capaldi)

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Sun Aug 30th, 2009 at 08:40:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That is not very different from any philosopher claiming to have had a key insight after introspection (or study of the external world, or both) and developed a new philosophical system.

But not everybody is a philosopher.

En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Aug 27th, 2009 at 04:06:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I agree, but one does not have to be a philosopher to change your myth. I assume the philosophers are the ones we hear about or read from - but there are more people out there who have been able to change their narrativ.
by Fran on Thu Aug 27th, 2009 at 04:19:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I think you tend to hear from people who change their structural narrative because it results in such a fundamental change to the self and so it is perceived by them as an event worthy of being communicated to others.

Think of all the born-again Christians who can't stop trying to save others by convincing them to accept Jesus Christ as their personal saviour.

En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Aug 27th, 2009 at 04:22:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Some, but I know quite a few who have no desire to try to convince others to of their new structural narrativ.

And not everyone who changes their narrative become a born again Christian. :-)

by Fran on Thu Aug 27th, 2009 at 04:25:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And not everyone who changes their narrative become a born again Christian. :-)

That's not what I said, I said that everyone who is a born-again Christian has changed their narrative.

En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Aug 27th, 2009 at 04:28:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Sorry, my heavy-handed way of teasing you.
by Fran on Thu Aug 27th, 2009 at 04:29:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Tsk, tsk.

En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Aug 27th, 2009 at 04:30:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You make a lovely couple... :)

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Thu Aug 27th, 2009 at 04:36:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And not everyone who changes their narrative become a born again Christian. :-)

Thankfully.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Thu Aug 27th, 2009 at 04:40:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Fran:
not everyone who changes their narrative become a born again Christian
Here's a conceptual metaphor for you: "falling off the horse on the way to Damascus".

En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Aug 28th, 2009 at 04:34:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
not everybody is a philosopher.

yet!

everybody lives by some kind of philosophy, consciously or not.

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Sun Aug 30th, 2009 at 08:41:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
maybe that's a definition of 'mythic', that the change goes both ways...

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty
by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Thu Aug 27th, 2009 at 03:03:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I agree with everybody's comments here and see no real opposition in any of it. Everything (and every act) is a cause and an effect.

paul spencer
by paul spencer (spencerinthegorge AT yahoo DOT com) on Thu Aug 27th, 2009 at 08:06:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I will reword it so that the sentence makes sense in isolation..

I will introduce for short-term political purposes.

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Thu Aug 27th, 2009 at 01:58:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Can we say that the significance of structural myths is not information ("the truth") that they presumably provide, but that they instruct us how to act or behave? Behavioral output could be very adequate (even on a massive scale) even if the myth is completely bonkers.

Myths also provide experience (emotions, visions, feelings), which is a big advantage over cold "rational" communication. That makes it easy to remember and appreciate myths, and probably a person himself appreciates it more if many parts of the brain are embraced with a myth.

Myths can certainly change, and they compete somewhat as Dawkinsian memes, though the competition rules are not simple at all - you have to take into account childhood imprinting, culture, human egos, fashion drifts... The neo-liberal (but "conservative") understanding of society and economics is actually a very young structural myth. Its vigorous aadvancement suggests that... the "sure" economic imperatives of self-interest and financial profit are viruses among the fellow myths. That kind of memes were there before, gripped whole societies swiftly, but somehow they must had subsided so that the humanity could have more "naive" mind ecologies a century or few ago.

Dawkins himself gives religion as a foremost example of a viral meme. I disagree - viruses would not be so stable through centuries. I suspect greed and violence as more vivid examples of viral memes - they are certainly contagious, able to spread fast, and have disastrous potential. It is different to look otherwise from our modern mythology of high financial, political and military interests, but are people necessarily so universally obsessed with power and wealth at all times? If greed and social dangers are growing more and more wild, what did we have before? Don't we see most people being remarkably submissive towards their financial fate, limited choices, toxic status quo?

by das monde on Fri Aug 28th, 2009 at 03:53:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think information in myths is indeed a side-effect... it's all about the rules and the field... in a way it instructs us to behave within some boundaries.. the boundaries of the things we can imagine....

Two small points. I am trying to say that the idea of "rational" communication is a myth. This does not mean it is false.. it is just a structural narrative... like all the things we nomrmally call myths because they are false to us.

And one final note about magic/religion and violence/greed. Magic and religion are universal topics.. all societies have structural myths about them...so it is certainly not a meme.. it is a structure.

Regarding violence and greed.. they are certainly quite widespreed but no universal. Some structural narratives have wiped out both... people in these societies can not even understand the concepts.

It is true that in the case of violence it is only two among thousands (inuit and a group in the pacific islands) while the absence of greed is much more widespread among cultures. This may tell us that biological effects are very low regarding greed. Violence is different.. violence has a vital language component: it is a way to communicate with others.. and communication is really one of the human keys, so violent behviour do spread like memes, because they are exactly that: a way to communciate something to another person (that you ahte him, that you do not want them there, etc...) displayed in vivid grammar.

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Fri Aug 28th, 2009 at 11:37:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
kcurie:
the boundaries of the things we can imagine
Ludwig Wittgenstein - Wikiquote
The limits of my language mean the limits of my world.
violence has a vital language component: it is a way to communicate with others.. and communication is really one of the human keys, so violent behviour do spread like memes, because they are exactly that: a way to communciate something to another person (that you ahte him, that you do not want them there, etc...) displayed in vivid grammar
Metaphors We Live By, Lakoff and Johnson
It is important to see that we don't just talk about arguments in terms of war. We can actually win or lose arguments. We see the person we are arguing with as an opponent. We attack his positions and we defend our own. We gain and lose ground. We plan and use strategies. If we find a position indefensible, we can abandon it and take a new line of attack. Many of the things we do in arguing are partially structured by the concept of war. Though there is no physical battle, there is a verbal battle, and the structure of an argument--attack, defense, counter-attack, etc.---reflects this. It is in this sense that the ARGUMENT IS WAR metaphor is one that we live by in this culture; its structures the actions we perform in arguing. Try to imagine a culture where arguments are not viewed in terms of war, where no one wins or loses, where there is no sense of attacking or defending, gaining or losing ground. Imagine a culture where an argument is viewed as a dance, the participants are seen as performers, and the goal is to perform in a balanced and aesthetically pleasing way. In such a culture, people would view arguments differently, experience them differently, carry them out differently, and talk about them differently. But we would probably not view them as arguing at all: they would simply be doing something different. It would seem strange even to call what they were doing "arguing." In perhaps the most neutral way of describing this difference between their culture and ours would be to say that we have a discourse form structured in terms of battle and they have one structured in terms of dance. This is an example of what it means for a metaphorical concept, namely, ARGUMENT IS WAR, to structure (at least in part) what we do and how we understand what we are doing when we argue. The essence of metaphor is understanding and experiencing one kind of thing in terms of another.. It is not that arguments are a subspecies of war. Arguments and wars are different kinds of things--verbal discourse and armed conflict--and the actions performed are different kinds of actions. But ARGUMENT is partially structured, understood, performed, and talked about in terms of WAR. The concept is metaphorically structured, the activity is metaphorically structured, and, consequently, the language is metaphorically structured.


En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Aug 28th, 2009 at 12:24:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Lakoff:
Arguments and wars are different kinds of things--verbal discourse and armed conflict--and the actions performed are different kinds of actions. But ARGUMENT is partially structured, understood, performed, and talked about in terms of WAR. The concept is metaphorically structured, the activity is metaphorically structured, and, consequently, the language is metaphorically structured.

But really they're not, because they both share the metaphor of territoriality and domination.

Semantic territory and dominance are as important as physical territory and dominance. In fact you can't hope to win or own physical territory unless you have semantic and intellectual dominance over a significant population - who are then magically persuaded to wage a physical war for you.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Fri Aug 28th, 2009 at 05:19:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
who are then magically persuaded to wage a physical war for you.

Or who are thereby marginalized and rendered manipulable or disposable by you.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Fri Aug 28th, 2009 at 05:41:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
or, strangest of all, both!

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty
by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Sun Aug 30th, 2009 at 08:45:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It seems they are more related than by metaphore... read propaganda and discussion of economic ideals...

the best way toc onquer terrirtry if , for example, you are a big company aiming for a particular oil field in the middle of Nigeria is to win the argument about the dangerous rebels who attack your facilities.. in front of the argument about peasants trying to defend their land from contamination..

At the end.. it is all a war... even in cases of physical and teritorial disputes... at the end it is about winning the war.. symbolically, of course...

Only after winning the argument you can do whatever you want with no fear of cosnequences..

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Fri Aug 28th, 2009 at 07:51:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Try to imagine a culture where arguments are not viewed in terms of war, where no one wins or loses, where there is no sense of attacking or defending, gaining or losing ground. Imagine a culture where an argument is viewed as a dance, the participants are seen as performers, and the goal is to perform in a balanced and aesthetically pleasing way. In such a culture, people would view arguments differently, experience them differently, carry them out differently, and talk about them differently.

I suppose that's the way we would like argument on ET to be.

When it becomes a war everyone ends up as frazzled as when a fistfight erupts in a dance hall.

En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Aug 29th, 2009 at 04:01:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
As far as discovering the (more or less) real world or valuable stories is concerned, all is needed is to exclude bullshit arguments from the discussion. But tha would be called "fascism" by Bill O'Reilys.
by das monde on Mon Aug 31st, 2009 at 01:06:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Two small points. I am trying to say that the idea of "rational" communication is a myth. This does not mean it is false.. it is just a structural narrative... like all the things we nomrmally call myths because they are false to us.

Joseph Campbell famously defined myths as "other people's religions."

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sat Aug 29th, 2009 at 12:03:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Joseph cmapbell is the one who said that if youw anted to change the world you had to change the metaphors...

The deepest way to change the world is changing the mythology.. but that's not somehting I advocate to do from scratch... change and push our narrative... unless some incredible guy is smart enough to generate a new mythology and roll it...

Even the Aericna right did not change the basic mythology in the whole society...just the narrative for the important subgroup

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Sun Aug 30th, 2009 at 12:18:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I think an important part when thinking about narratives is to notice that a great narrative was the one Marx more or less put together, it fueled the left for over a century. Its basics where:

  • There is a group called workers that have a common identity and is defined by the wage-labor.

  • Workers are oppressed by another group called capitalists.

  • But in the long run workers will prevail and reach a society where equality rules. (And possibly ponies for everyone.)


Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se
by A swedish kind of death on Thu Aug 27th, 2009 at 01:39:03 PM EST
what a freaking brilliant summary.

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Thu Aug 27th, 2009 at 01:42:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
But aside from the point about ponies, none of those elements made Marxism interesting or 'sticky.' For me the important points are:

  1. The struggle is archetypal and mythological.

  2. It will create heaven on earth.

  3. If you are one of the workers, you are one of the blessed. If you are one of the bosses, you are one of the damned.

  4. You belong to the struggle. The struggle belongs to you. You are part of the struggle. The struggle is part of you.

  5. Therefore the struggle is worth almost any personal sacrifice.

It turns out that capitalists and aristocrats have their own mirror version, which goes something like this:

  1. Your desires and needs are archetypal and mythological.

  2. Creating heaven for yourself is a sacred duty.

  3. If you are one of the chosen, you are blessed. If you are not, you are cursed, invisible, despicable and disposable.

  4. Everything around you belongs to you.

  5. Your desires demand everyone else's sacrifice.

These are not particularly rational frames, but I think it's impossible to understand the lasting influence of Marxism or Capitalism without them.

What's absolutely key is that both frames are something you live, rather than something you think.

(Should I leave the equivalent frame for European social democracy as an exercise for the reader?)

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Thu Aug 27th, 2009 at 05:00:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Should I leave the equivalent frame for European social democracy as an exercise for the reader?

No?

Now seriously, this is scarily postmodern.

En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Aug 27th, 2009 at 05:03:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Agreed.. I couldaahve made the capitalism one with some minor changes.. but not the marxist one .. so I guess I can not do the middle of the road Social Democaracy one :)

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Thu Aug 27th, 2009 at 05:14:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
this is scarily postmodern.

Is it not possible to accept postmodern tools, such as deconstruction, and even to accept that values are cultural phenomena and therefore many existing vales are cultural artifacts without accepting that all values are inherently arbitrary?

Surely universal human rights are superior to rights that only pertain to a specific ethnicity and that superiority can be maintained even while allowing the perception and implementation to be critiqued on the grounds of relativism.  I think much of the problem is that people look for given rather than being willing to accept responsibility for created values.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sat Aug 29th, 2009 at 12:13:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
ARGeezer:
Is it not possible to accept postmodern tools, such as deconstruction

possible? i'd say essential...

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Sun Aug 30th, 2009 at 08:47:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The Marxist description is Fundamentalism, and the Capitalist one is the Calvinist heresy.

Or is the Christian mythology archetypal?

paul spencer

by paul spencer (spencerinthegorge AT yahoo DOT com) on Thu Aug 27th, 2009 at 08:14:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
All are competing archetypes.  But I would say that Marxism is secularized judeo-christian fundamentalism.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Thu Aug 27th, 2009 at 10:10:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
if you've seen 'Zeitgeist- the movie', you might think so.

maybe if you boil christianity down to its essence, sans effluvia, it comes down to a bouillon of two basic ingredients:

  1. if you're too nice to people, and stand up for the rights of the individual when they're in conflict with those rights appropriated by the power of the state, the state will kill you.

  2. unselfishness taken to the point of total self-sacrifice is so rare that the narrative created by such acts (real or imaginary), sends a wave of novelty across the waters of history that can last millennia, and inspire people, when they are in the darkest hours of their lives, to acknowledge that not all men are brutes, and their intentions not always venal.

so as myths go, it encodes a warning about human nature at its worst and best, like a myth should!

whether it cannot be superceded... i suspect so, it's the how that is the puzzle.

but were that impulse unsuccessful, at least the old tried and true one was noble, if overchallenging for most, (therefore alienating). buddha's road is better tailored to the average human's scale and range of attainability.

the theory is fine, it's the execution that's the problem... the numbers need onside to make ahimsa effective are a quantum magnitude greater that what is muster-able now.

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Sun Aug 30th, 2009 at 02:09:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Karl Marx, meet Ayn Rand.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Thu Aug 27th, 2009 at 10:14:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
No argument here.

An additional point that fits in many (including these two) is that wise men once wrote big books that proved this once and for all. Thus there is really no need to actually read the books.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Fri Aug 28th, 2009 at 09:14:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
A few remarks:

First, referring to the Guardian's paper: I am really fed up with these failed economists (like Thaler and Sunstein) who try to reposition themselves by recycling their poor thinking as bogus psychosociology. What particularly angers me is the fact that politicians and journalists don't even notice the paucity of their production (I would never call this crap a theory). That tells a lot about the said politicians and journalists level of education/knowledge (Only a handful of them, like Gillian Tett seem to be way above the lot). Hellooo! Never heard of Herbert Simon and the bounded rationality theory? Never heard of James March and the Garbage Can Model of decision-making? Never heard of Pierre Bourdieu's concept of habitus? Let alone Korzybski's General semantics...

I agree with most of what you're saying, however I think that most of what is said today (not especially by you) about the Enligthenment comes from a very narrow representation of what it was and produced.

What I would add is that, together with a structural narrative, a society is structured by institutions (in the wider definition of institutions used in socio-economics; i.e. money is an institution, markets are, too...). In this sense, I think the relevant concept is the concept of paradigm. It was first proposed by Thomas Kuhn for the scientific domain: a paradigm is a vision of the world which includes a set of definitions (what is to be thought), objects (what is to be perceived/researched: we could call this a map of reality), problems (what questions ought to be posed), methods (how research should be conducted/ knowledge must be produced) and ways to evaluate the results.

Outside the scientific world, it was further developed by Edgar Morin in "La Methode" (and by Michel Foucault with his concept of episteme): together with definitions, objects, problems and methods, a paradigm includes beliefs (often unconscious), rules (how we should behave), institutions and the relationships between individuals, groups and institutions.

Years ago, I wrote my DEA mémoire on change within organisations. In that research, based on Edgar Morin, Kuhn and Gaston Bachelard's epistemology, I proposed that significant change in organisations (it could be applied to larger collective structures like societies) follow the same pattern/process as the paradigm change process identified by Kuhn in The Structure of Scientific Revolutions:

  • the dominant paradigm has to be seen/felt as failing by a significant part of the community
  • there must be a new, robust "candidate" paradigm which seems to bring better answers/solutions to the problems encountered
  • given the new paradigm has yet to be put to work, it cannot show results, so the process by which it can be able to replace the old one is not demonstration , but seduction: the new paradigm (and those who promote it) must attract/seduce a significant group of people in order for the new paradigm to be implemented and tested against reality
  • the institutions and people who are part of (or play a central role in) the old paradigm (serious people?) are at great risk to lose their power/status (even if some of them can shift to the new one), so they are very likely to oppose change. Therefore creating new institutions and making new actors emerge is a necessary way to induce change.
  • the change process is not linear: internal and external events, as well as collective dynamics can accelerate (or slow down) the process.

Therefore, I agree with what you say, you don't change structural narratives (and paradigms) just by proposing an alternative one, because most people cling to it for cultural, psychological, sociological and economical reasons.  However, the big difference between organizations and (open) societies is that, usually, in the latter, several paradigms coexist, even if there is a dominant one.

There are many examples of change in institutions leading to a paradigm change (apart from the obvious case of revolutions): for example, the The 1905 French law on the Separation of the Churches and State triggered a major change in the French structural narrative.
More recently, the genius of the European Union founding fathers was to start the process by creating new institutions (the ECSC, the Common Market, Euratom) to induce change in the structural narrative of nation-states. Given the tremendous symbolic and economic  importance of money, the introduction of the Euro is a major step in the creation of a new European paradigm.

"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet

by Melanchthon on Sat Aug 29th, 2009 at 11:58:02 AM EST
I read Kuhn in '64, I believe, and Korzybski around '70 and both remain very relevant.  Unfortunately, an understanding of these concepts remains confined to the same elite which for 200 years has been the carrier of Enlightenment values and the exponent of the Enlightenment project of universalizing those values.  That process seems to have hit a wall and seems to be in retreat.

Lakoff was correct about elites needing to update their understanding of how our minds work and how the general population views things.  My own view is that the goal is not to abandon the values but to become more effective exponents of sustainable democratic value creation. This is hard to keep in mind when the crown is baying for action according to "that old time religion", but is non-the-less imperative.

It is far preferable to accept, while heritage values can be vulnerable to criticism on grounds of cultural relativism and cultural domination, that it is still possible to create universal values, even though the process may be an ongoing one.  The alternative is to accept a long "war of cultures" which the Chinese may well win through sheer weight.  Does weight = rationality?  

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sat Aug 29th, 2009 at 12:34:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
ARGeezer:
Does weight = rationality?

weight of agreement creates consensus rationality.

perfect rationality may be a distant goal, (in your terms: universal values), that even recedes as one approaches, but the journey there, slaloming through the various '-isms' and '-ologies', knocking down a few!

as clever people with hidden agendas side-track us continually, it has been 2 steps forward, 1 back since time began towards some holy grail of simply being able to live side by side with ones' neighbours and mutually profit from the proximity, but i do sense a magnetic pull, created by the wishes and prayers of millions of 'little people' with common sense, whose names will never be famous, towards this shimmering mirage.

those 'clever people', unfortunately, have often squirrelled themselves into powerful positions as our 'leaders'.

so we have to work around that somehow, and i have faith that we can and are...

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Sun Aug 30th, 2009 at 01:44:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I try to differentiate organtization from technology from mythology.

The three of them define one's society but organization changes along technology and mythology.
In the Kuhm paradigm "paradigm", scientific revolutions have to do with cahnges of a whole set of scientific narratives.. this same thing happens when there is a change in one or more structural marratives or mythologies.

However, institutions can be reformed or adapted to new structural narratives as you say. So my focus was on narratives.
I do not mean to downplay the importance of instutional effect in our present paradigm. But their main effect is to slow down change outside it, following the changes within it (change everythign so that everything can remain the same).

Furthermore, the proper narrative  (even the non-structural) can generate new institutions more often than the other way around.

I see the introduction of the euro as an institution created by a narrative to fortify and try to make this narrative structural.

So, although my focus is somehow different let me repeat Brit's sentence and eco your feeling.. buy media...or create media or create instituion to spread or to fix those narrative..

Other than that, the only point I would disagree with you is about the idea that normally changes in narrative or institutions appear because the  previous one is seem as "failing"...

Here I do not agree, in some cases yes in others not (it probably depends on the topic).. I do not see how the pre-Shakespeare elite "feeling" mythology could be seen as failing in any sense. Actually, it was working pretty well..Of course Shakespeare was amazing compared to previous mythology, but I would not say that the previous one was seen as failing before the new paradigm of "feelings" came in.

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Sun Aug 30th, 2009 at 12:34:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
A few remarks:

Is this an example of French understatement?  I will be a while longer chewing on this comment!

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sun Aug 30th, 2009 at 04:15:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The details have escaped my mind but I thought it was shown some time back that apes have an inherent fear of spiders (and perhaps snakes as well?). Perhaps some apes that were startled even killed the spiders purposefully - not sure on that one.

As part of evolution all of this makes perfect sense - but what fascinates me is that certain aspects of -fright- can get encoded into the brain and become part of the genetic package.

by Nomad on Sun Aug 30th, 2009 at 08:50:40 AM EST
On that theme I came across the theory that Dinofelis had our ancestors as standard food and would be the primeval night-stalker we see in the darkness when we can not sleep.

Several fossils sites from South Africa seem to show that Dinofelis may have hunted and killed Australopithecus afarensis since they harbored fossilized remains of Dinofelis, hominids, and other large contemporary animals of the period.

The theory was more or less unsupported but I found it fascinating.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Sun Aug 30th, 2009 at 10:30:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It is a fascianting topic.

Right now I would doubt is encoded in a group of genes. I think there is some eveidence of some network of genes and proteins.. but it is certainly seems in the biological package pre-package. Gens and proteins only set the general structure in very lousy terms.. it just seems that the general structure is fine-tuned to get fear of snakes in a specific part of the limbic system.

Probably hormones, otehr carriers, fatty acids and other biological aspects of development play a greater role here than genes...But we will know in the future for sure. we know where it is (fear), what to analyze and what to look for. In some decades we will get an idea.

Byt he way, right now I would bet that it is more encoded in fatty acids activity due to a particular structure organized by a gradient generator (whcih is generated by a proteic network).. but it is just a bet :)

Regarding monkeys and apes and spiders. Monkeys do not fear spiders. In my town no older person fears spiders (neither do I).. adders on the other hand...

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Sun Aug 30th, 2009 at 12:45:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I have looked for apes and spiders and it is not so easy to find something as  with monkeys...

so the topic remains open

A pleasures

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Sun Aug 30th, 2009 at 12:46:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I wonder whether the goal should be to argue how to move towards a theoretical utopia or to work out how to deal with our pending and very practical apocalypse.

My view is that the Enlightenment was and is an experiment, and most likely will prove to be a failed experiment. While I wish it were not so, the majority of people are happy with regular meals, some crude shelter, and a combination of football and beer, and family and gossip. The more motivated capitalize upon this broad lack of interest in politics and science, and set up power structures they can control. The result, and by far the most enduring power structure, is the monarchical dictatorship. Since most people have very limited intellectual curiosity, a religion that supports the monarchy is welcomed by both the masses and the powerful. This is the enduring political system.

And we have such massive global overpopulation that a strictly fair economic system will push everyone to a low living standard instead of raising the poor to a western living standard. Achieving fairness cannot happen under such circumstances, because the people who live in climates where heat is needed in the winter will fight ferociously to obtain the required energy, even if it involves further beggaring the third world.

So, I believe, we are doomed to regress to the situation before the Enlightenment experiment, and we are doomed to suffer the fallout of overpopulation. The only way out is to first significantly reduce the population (probably by disease) and then secondly figure out how to find a sort of human who will actually support over the long haul a utopian system.

[asdf's Crystal Ball of Doom™ Technology]

by asdf on Sun Aug 30th, 2009 at 09:33:34 AM EST
..Personal desires and wishes are dealt with according to cultural reference frames and proposals to change people's behaviour are done through ideas and not "facts on the ground" (like wars and violence).

Ideas cannot battle against "facts on the ground". If the facts on the ground give welfare to the thieves, it is not easy to tell people to be honest. If stealing is accepted by society, people steal more. You must change the facts on the ground, to not reward bad behaviour.

The question is how to to get there... And to get there we must understand human behaviour

Is there really a big "mystery" here about understanding human behaviour? Not all people are crooks, but there are a lot of them. By creating laws that don't reward crooks and thieves, we can create better societies to live. Whatever "being a human" in the end means or "what man wants?" are not questions that need to be answered. Only simple basic normal things. Give people liberty and reward from their labour, punish crooks and thieves etc.

by kjr63 on Sun Aug 30th, 2009 at 04:54:59 PM EST
Giving people liberty is about defining what is liberty. Is it moving aroudn freely , or not being listened to..

Is liberty from Wall Street investors (a liberty I cheer the most) a fundamental value of, say the dogon people in Africa?

And what about labour.. what happens in societies where the land is equally divided and clans rotate to fulfill a group endevour... there is no reward for personal labour.. people can just help the other for structural reason without any reward whatsoever. Not even status, jsut by role playing.

I am afraid the things you see so obvious are not obvious at all.. and do not work almost anywhere. Not even in western urban societies.

The arguments you proposed belong to a very particualr narrative about the relevance of reward and crooks..
In a society where no self and no-personal belongings exist, tehre are no crooks....

In a society where the relevant thing is the position wihtin the society , the "crooks" are those deviating fro the position (they do not staeal anything, they just do not their part).

If you talk about rewaring status to specific behavior, then we agree, rewarding status is vital for human behavior but diffeent societies give status according to different resason. Being a crook in WS is rewarded with high status because they do not perceive themselves as crooks (they think they perform a wonderful mission of stealing/transfering capital, actually most of them only bet).

In a word, stuff is more compliated than that.

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Mon Aug 31st, 2009 at 09:02:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]


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