IN RE: HUMAN BEINGS–A DIFFICULT SUBJECT

Ron Toczek said, “‘The politics of governing a body of human beings is made difficult because each human sees HIS own drives and wants differently from any other human and also prioritizes those drives and wants differently from other humans and also thinks that HIS drives, wants and prioritizations are more important than all the other humans living within the same governing sphere.'”

Abraham Maslow created a visual aid in the shape of a pyramid depicting the levels of human needs, psychological and physical. Now, whether his theories should be taken seriously or not in this age I don’t know. But I have noticed text books still introduce students to “Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs” in management and marketing segments of business courses.

The point is, when you know all the factors that contribute causally to the weather then the weather can be predicted. Likewise, when you know all the factors that contribute causally to particular human behavior, then the behavior can be predicted. Now when one gets angry at certain predictable behavior, then that too is predictable, because we humans are animals and feel the need to bite back. But we humans are also hypocrites, which Richard Dawkins calls, “inconsistent.” He probably uses the better term.

Ron Toczek said, “‘It appears that a human’s governing sphere can exist in various sizes from some type of small family organization to that of a large empire and some humans seem to be advocating some sort of global governing sphere.'”

Humans cluster into packs/herds/flocks/troops/groups/gangs/congregations for a reason. The behavior is instinctive. But such clustering also necessitates a leader to follow and a pecking order (peer hierarchy).

The world has pretty much always had a “One World Government,” in the sense that throughout history the “known world” was conquered and subjugated to the authority of some individual or central governing body. I see no reason to assume history will not repeat itself. A “one world government” is just as inevitable as hurricane activity is in the future. The masses are ruled because it is in their nature to be ruled.

Ron Toczek said, “‘The drives and wants and prioritizations of individuals are all determined by the emotional state of the individual but with the realization that many of these needs depend upon the cooperation of the other humans, Human beings also have the good fortune to possess a rational faculty which enabled them to compromise their needs for the good of all within a select group.'”

Philosophers are trained to rationalize. They are supposed to be the best rationalizers in the world. However, in many instances they vehemently disagree amongst themselves. I suspect when some individuals “compromise their needs for the good of all within a select group,” the compromise has less to do with a “rational faculty” than Ron Toczek evidently presumes. In fact, the “rationale” could be inventing rhetorical excuses for unconscious processes that led to the compromise–excuses which are functionally smoke screens that conceal the actual causal factors involved. The same can be said about the “rationale” of “‘The disgruntled ones [who] either stayed and mildly complained or left to form a different group.'” (brackets mine)

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2 thoughts on “IN RE: HUMAN BEINGS–A DIFFICULT SUBJECT

  1. Note of introduction from Unseenstrings:

    I replied to the comment below made by Ron Toczek. And he deleted my comment. Now I know I’m and old retired blue-collar worker and therefore have the “crudeness” of the general public (which means I’m not a silver-tongued politician nor public relations man), but I cannot imagine what I said that would make him want to delete my reply. Anyway, I copied and pasted his comment over here (immediately below this note) and placed my original response immediately below that. Read them over and tell me what you think. And tell me how someone can expect to “govern” a people when he says modern science–which includes social psychology, anthropology, and other sciences pertinent to understanding people–is nothing but a “conspiracy.”

    Comment by Ron Toczek — February 20, 2012 @ 4:14 pm

    First off, I need to apologize for getting your user id wrong in my first reply and for delaying this response. Sometimes there seems to be not enough hours in the day to do all the things I strive to accomplish.

    Before tackling any specific topics, I gather from your comments that you are a Darwinist and biological evolutionist and put a lot of faith into the pronouncements of scientists, something I was guilty of too. I suggest you read my post on epistemology to realize that scientific pronouncements will probably not convince me of anything, especially in the realms of biology and cosmology. Science, today, represents the extreme example of what I classify as conspiracy theory. Most such theories are considerably shallow and popular ones usually fade out only to be replaced by different ones. Scientific theories seem to be so less preposterous that they attain a sense of high believability but they, too, change due to new observations, sometimes imperceptibly but every once in a while, drastically (Newtonian mechanics to Einstein’s general relativity). No more on this topic since I expect to write a separate post.

    I have read, reread and reread again all your comments and have come to the conclusion that a generalized discussion about instincts and drives of human consciences, though interesting, goes well beyond the political aspects of the original post. The quote really assumes the uniqueness of human consciences and points to other aspects which can be used to govern these ‘difficult subjects’. In saying this, I am advising unseenstrings that I will no longer accept his comments to this post unless they deal more directly with the subject alluded to in the post.

    My feeling is that you have fixated on a supposed drive of acceptance as a most basic instinct of all human consciences. This I most heartily disagree with. Human babies are born into an acceptance group and usually the pleasures of being within the group induce a pattern of life that leads to a sense of group belongingness throughout that life. Additional learning experiences teach that conscience that groups are a diverse lot–acceptance is not always available and sometimes it might even be inimical, unhealthy or unwise. What makes the drive for acceptance not a basic instinct is the lack of a reflex action corresponding to the denial of gratification of the drive. Most human motivations stem from just this sort of innate-environmental interaction with lots of feedback refining the outcome. As a human motivation, I would place curiosity as being more important than acceptance. After reading your last comment, It seems that you are more interested in psychology, a more generalized subject, than political governance. I also get the impression that coupled with your fixation on acceptance as a major human drive it can be used to explain the vast number of ‘wants’ exhibited by human beings. Human consciences are much more complicated; in fact, each is unique.

    Some specifics:

    Unseenstrings said, “Adaptation is not the organism adapting itself to a particular environment, but instead the environment changing preexisting structure and/or state.”

    –I’m not sure where you found that definition of adaption since it has no reference to an organism. An organism by definition is a self-motivated entity that has the power within itself to alter its state or structure. The environment of an organism is all that the organism interacts with and reacts to. Biological environment always pertains to the organism or group of organisms under discussion and ‘environment’ by itself is just as meaningless as the term ‘reality’ due to the uniqueness of individual humans. Since the power to change an organism’s structure or state resides wholly within the organism, it is impossible for the environment to do any changing; it may be the cause of an organism changing but that is all. (For this discussion we can ignore those scientists which deny all causation.)

    Unseenstrings said, “I assume the difference in our opinion is that you look upon instinct as an unchangeable mechanism.”

    –I have never defined the word ‘instinct’ and have loosely associated that word with the word ‘drive’ and intimated in this comment that both of those words are loosely associated with ‘motivation’. All three of these words come with an awful lot of baggage concerning all past experience of the referred human conscience, so it escapes my comprehension that instinct is an unchangable mechanism; I’m not sure it could be even classed as a mechanism.

    Unseenstrngs said, “I look upon instinct as a basic starting point that environmental forces change according to circumstance (providing the change is within the “adaptive” limitations of the instinct).”

    –Clearly, this statement is consistent with your definition of adaptation but it leaves out the will of the organism. Whatever the environmental force, the organism’s reaction will not always be the same. You may develope some statistics as to the probability of a given reaction but never certainty.

    From your first comment, “…the drive to establish one’s self within the “pecking order,” and to maintain that position or elevate whenever possible.”

    –I know many people who do not even think in terms of ‘pecking order” and many of those do not grade their lives on a vaguer concept of ‘status’. But yes, there are some; however, you cannot claim that this is a major instinct of humans. Many humans need other humans whose traits/accomplishments seem less worthy than their own but there are traits/accomplishments with which that worthiness can go both ways. Take a rich person who will look down at a person because that person is not as rich; the not-as-rich person can look down at the rich person being glad that he does not grub for wealth. This ‘pecking order’ drive is just another learned tendency and not instinctual and not overly common. Personally, I don’t recognize a ‘pecking order’ behavior comparable to that of chickens in any human conscience that I know. I do know that groups have a tendency to attract leaders who try to be petty tyrants; they firmly believe that they are the top of a pecking order. Unfortunately, their concept of a pecking order is general obliviousness to others in the group. The rest of the group will tolerate these petty tyrants only so long as it doesn’t interfere with the group’s overall objective from their individual viewpoints. On the other hand, there are people who want to ‘rise’ in an organization and organizations which pander to these people–political parties and many NGO’S come to mind, but we are not talking about a huge number of people and, anyway, many of the people belonging to these organizations are not motivated by a pecking order mentality–just the higher-ups.

    Unseenstrings said, “The laws regarding whether individuals have a “right” to satisfy particular WANTS are not as important to me as the factors that stimulate the WANT into existence.”, and “A person is a Republican or a Democrat (or whatever), because he WANTS to be one more than he doesn’t WANT to be one. The choice to be one or the other is not free from the individual’s genetic predisposition, which itself is not free from the influence of personal learning experiences (and other environmental circumstances).

    –These two sentences epitomize your specific interest in psychology, i.e., to answer the question, “why do people want to do whatever they do do?” I wish you well in your endeavor but I fear that there is no certainty in psychology when it comes to predicting human behavior of an individual since each human conscience is unique and no one, even the individual himself can explain why even if they believe they can. To use your viewpoint, there is no train of reasoning which will take one from the totality of an individual to a specific action by that individual, so I imagine you will either have to frame your quest in statistical terms or go to a different endeavor.

  2. Ron Toczek said, “I gather from your comments that you are a Darwinist and biological evolutionist and put a lot of faith into the pronouncements of scientists.”

    Isn’t “Darwinist and biological evolutionist” a somewhat redundant term? And yes, we all are guilty of accepting the claims of others on “faith” when we assume the claim is true but personally haven’t accumulated the evidence to support our belief. I may have faith that pure water will freeze at 32° F at sea level, even though I have never set down outside in the cold with a barometer and thermometer to test the claim. I may take on faith the paradoxical scientific claim that clouds consisting of supercooled water droplets (-40°) really exist.

    Oh, and BTW, I don’t have faith in the claims of individual scientists, because, firstly, scientists are mere humans and therefore possess some of the same cognitive and confirmation biases as everyone else; and secondly, because scientists are members of culture and tend to hold some of the same misconceptions held in common by other members of that culture. Nevertheless, when the claims of individual scientists are subjected to the scrutiny of peers and the scientific method, some practical knowledge might be found.

    Ron Toczek said, “I suggest you read my post on epistemology…”

    Yes, I read your October 2, 2010 post titled, “From Perceptions to Truth,” which I assume is the post you are referring to. However, I found the article a bit confusing because you didn’t provide precise definition for some of the terms you used. For example, the term “conscience” seems to refer to people who have the ability to think a thought such as, “I am hungry.” Well, what about the people who have never been taught language (such as feral children who reached adulthood)? They do not have the learning necessary to think with words. Would you also refer to them as consciences?

    In the aforementioned post Ron Toczek also said, “As in all topics of philosophy there will never be ‘the last word…'”

    True, philosophy is sort of like a cat chasing its tail. Philosophy is where “ism’s,” come from. And ism’s are sort of hyper-beliefs resulting from the disciplined use of language (philosophy) in an attempt to formulate knowledge from the comfort of an armchair. The “chasing its tail” comes into play when the hyper-belief of one philosopher is critically examined by another. And the critical philosopher will always find some fault in the treatise of the other, because language ain’t math (which is a scientific discipline, BTW).

    Ron Toczek said, “Science, today, represents the extreme example of what I classify as conspiracy theory.”

    Well Ron, I would laugh if it wasn’t for the fact that laughter (in some instances) is an underhanded tactic used by the Major Media (and others) to have an idea rejected without due consideration. The newscaster who displays an air of disdain while saying “Oh, another conspiracy theory” is not providing evidence or logical argument for rejecting the idea. But the portrayal may be effective for having the audience reject the idea anyway.

    Ron Toczek said, “Scientific theories seem to be so less preposterous that they attain a sense of high believability but they, too, change due to new observations…”

    But Ron, that is the beauty of the discipline. No unquestionable “truth” exist in science; no “Word of God.” Theories must be falsifiable in order to qualify as scientific. When new discoveries are made, and the theory didn’t accurately predict the discovery, then the theory must be revised or cast aside for another more suitable theory.

    Bill Bryson, in his book, “A Short History of Nearly Everything,” points out some of the past mistakes of scientists. But it was scientists themselves that discovered the mistakes and made the necessary (and occasionally reluctant) changes.

    Ron Toczek said, “I have read, reread and reread again all your comments and have come to the conclusion that a generalized discussion about instincts and drives of human consciences, though interesting, goes well beyond the political aspects of the original post. The quote really assumes the uniqueness of human consciences…”

    But Ron, the inspiration for my response was that the quote seemed to assume too much in regard to the uniqueness of human consciences (not to be confused with the term “consciences” which you use to refer to people who have learned to use language). It works like this:

    In order for a person to have the construct called “conscience,” the person must grow to the necessary structure and state required for “conscience” to exist. Now, how that conscience would turn out was beyond the conscious control of said conscience. That is, once a person (called by you a conscience providing he/she had learned language) reaches the developmental stage necessary to function as an “independent agent,” he/she could not be logically held morally responsible for who he/she was at that instant. Then when a conscience (which I call person) WANTS to be different than it is, that WANT (and the underlying factors that support it) had to develop within that conscience before it became aware of the WANT, which means that no individual will ever have conscious control into who they WANT to be. Remember, the WANT to change one’s self is not free from the influence of previous personal learning experiences (and other developmental factors). You can do what you WANT, but you cannot will a WANT into existence without first experiencing a WANT to do so.

    Who you WANT to be is always trying to catch up with who you have actually developed into (as a result of influences beyond your conscious control). It is a cat chasing its tail.

    Ron Toczek said, “It seems that you are more interested in psychology, a more generalized subject, than political governance.”

    I was once interested in psychology. But it is a subject with many schools of occasionally conflicting ideas. After much reading, I come to feel that the most scientific schools of “psychology” were behaviorism (which itself has more than one school of thought) and neurology. Now I feel an interdisciplinary approach to human psychology may hold the key to understanding. However, I am a bit skeptical about the claims of all humans, even if one holds a “scientific” degree. For instance, no doubt CAT scans and/or MRI can be used to locate a more active section of the brain for left-handed people. This does not prove the section of the brain developed independently of environmental factors, nor does it mean that left-handedness is a “disease.” (Some scientist are affected in judgement by the prejudices they’d learned from social misconception (and deceptions)).

    Ron Toczek said, “What makes the drive for acceptance not a basic instinct is the lack of a reflex action corresponding to the denial of gratification of the drive.”

    Your use of the term “reflex” has me confused. When the doctor strikes the patient’s knee with the hammer, the leg movement isn’t processed and activated by the brain. The stimulation of the nerve (hammer strike) through the receptor, is transmitted usually through a nerve center to an efferent motor nerve, resulting in action of the muscle. On the other hand, lots of brain activity is required to satisfy instinct. Besides, suicide is not unusual for individuals who have been completely socially ostracised. Bear in mind, ostracism results in more than mere banishment. The treatment also usually involves disrepute and treating the person hatefully.

    Ron Toczek said, “I would place curiosity as being more important than acceptance.”

    I’ll agree that curiosity is a powerful motivating force. But I’m not so sure that it is more powerful than the herd instinct. Natives in South Africa have been known to spend over a month’s pay for a hat. They needed shoes, they needed to replace the tattered shirt and shorts they had on. But they chose instead to spend all their hard-earned funds on a derby. Why? Well, by observing the native you could get an idea as to why. The native would put on the derby and strut out of the store as if wearing a crown of gold. He instantly got status and attention from peers. Bingo!

    Do you really think the businessman needs the $500 suit? Well, yes, he does for the sake of status. Does the couple who own the 10,000 sq ft mansion need such a home? Well, yes you can see they do when you recognize the home helps them achieve and/or maintain the status that they desire. Does the redneck really need the monstrous 4-wheel drive pickup truck? Well, like the others just mentioned, he may not consciously realize the desire is the result of striving to achieve and/or maintain status with peers. But that is the driving force behind the WANT that he experiences.

    Ron Toczek said, “Human consciences are much more complicated; in fact, each is unique.”

    If you used consciences to refer to people (who have learned language), then isn’t “human consciences” the same as saying human people? Your terminology can be a bit confusing.

    Why not say that every brain on the face of the earth, whether human or nonhuman, is as unique as a snowflake? And like the snowflake, they each developed according to natural laws of cause and effect.

    Ron Toczek said, “Since the power to change an organism’s structure or state resides wholly within the organism, it is impossible for the environment to do any changing”

    Okay, so when a person is shot in the belly by a 44-magnum, you can say the organism chose to move tissue, bone, and muscle out of the way to adapt a path for the bullet. Yet, I will say the environmental circumstances, in this case a bullet, adapted tissue, bone, and muscle in such a way to make a path. In fact, as a general theory of biological relativity, I will propose that the state and structure of the organism is relative to the past and current environmental circumstances to which it has been exposed as an individual.

    Ron Toczek said, “Whatever the environmental force, the organism’s reaction will not always be the same.”

    Gee Ron, that statement is so vague that it would be hard to decipher precisely what you meant. Do you mean that if a person accidentally shocks himself while wiring the house, the reaction will not be the same should it happen again? Do you mean that if a person has little money, but happens to like the dollar menu at Wendy’s, then you will never be able to predict what he will likely purchase? Do you mean that soldiers under the stress of wartime situations will never act in predictable ways? Do you mean that the billions of dollars spent by corporations for advertising is a waste of money, because consumer behavior is totally unpredictable?

    When meteorologists are confronted with unpredictable weather patterns, should the unpredictability be attributed to the “will” of the weather? To attribute the unpredictability of the weather or the human to some uncaused factor is a form of superstitiousness we inherited from our ignorant ancestors. The name commonly given to that silly superstitious belief is, “free will.”

    Ron Toczek said, “I know many people who do not even think in terms of ‘pecking order’ and many of those do not grade their lives on a vaguer concept of ‘status’.”

    Of course, I just pointed out that most people are unaware of the root cause of their striving to “keep up with the Joneses” or do a bit better. An adolescent is probably wholly ignorant of why she would rather die than be seen wearing clothing or shoes that peers may laugh at. She is most likely wholly ignorant as to why she had rather die than have peers see her riding to school in her grandfather’s raggedy old car. Status! In fact, when I watched the documentary “Zeitgeist: Moving Forward” (2011), it got me to wondering. If we all had the same type of house, the same type of car, the same type of clothing, and all our basic needs were met, how could such a society satisfy the human need to establish one’s self in the “pecking order” (peer hierarchy) and to strive for social status? You tell me that such is not necessary. But I would have to see it to believe it.

    Ron Toczek said, “…I fear that there is no certainty in psychology when it comes to predicting human behavior of an individual since each human conscience is unique and no one, even the individual himself can explain why even if they believe they can.”

    I concur. And that also is the reason why many people “do not even think in terms of ‘pecking order.'” Still, what you call conscience I call “mind-set” or brain. And, as mentioned, I suspect the different schools of thought and conflicting theories of mind in psychology means that it is not yet a “mature” science.

    A thought experiment given a few days ago to my youngest (13 yo) grandson now comes to mind. He was told to imagine that science and technology had advanced enough that an actual “transporter” (like the ones he had seen on science fiction programs) was invented. I told him to imagine that he was accepted as a foreign exchange student in Germany. I told him to imagine that he was set to be transported to Germany but instead was duplicated and one stayed here while one was sent to Germany. Then I told him to imagine that over the next few years letters and calls to home from the one of him in Germany were intercepted and answered so that he wouldn’t become suspicious that he was part of an experiment. Then after my grandson dwelt on the thought-experiment for awhile, I asked him if the two of him would be exactly the same after a few years. He answered rightfully, “no.” And I proceeded to explain that the human is a dynamic system. The two of him would have been exposed to different environments, and thus the two would have developed differently because of the difference in those environmental circumstances.

    The human brain is just as much the result of causality as the brain of any other organism, or even a snowflake for that matter. Naturally, I realize the behavior outcome of complex weather patterns and humans are sometimes hard to predict. But no reason exist for me to assume that human behavior is driven by an uncaused force while the weather is fully caused. I see no difference. And the wording you chose for your post made me feel it might be keeping that silly old superstition (“free will”) alive in the reader’s mind.

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