Thursday, May 22, 2014

How Transcendent Truth Conditions Natural Selection

When we review a book, it is not for the usual purposes of evaluating its merits or ridiculing its author.

Rather, it is to help expand our cosmic horizons (either vertically or horizontally, intensively or extensively) so as to lend support to certain otherwise *speculative* ideas, and to assist us in assimilating its message -- at least the important, world-stretching bits.

I don't really see any point in reading if it doesn't further these ends. I don't read for "pleasure" except for the pleasure of time-dilation, slack retrieval, and pneuma-cosmic expansion.

So it is in this spirit that I am reviewing A Troublesome Inheritance. Sometimes -- if not most of the time -- evolutionary psychology begins and ends by narrowing our cosmic horizon, for which reason religious people rightly recoil from it.

But any science that renders man less than human is for me a non-starter. Personhood cannot be reduced to something less than it is without doing grave and unforgivable damage to humans. Science must always be subordinate to the "humanities," in the sense that it mustn't be used as a pretext to dehumanize man.

This does not mean that we need to limit scientific exploration, only that we need to keep it in perspective and to situate it in a wider context. Science alone cannot provide its own context, only content. It is up to us to place the its content in a wider anthropo-cosmic context. If we don't, then we will end up placing ourselves in a wholly scientistic, which is to say, infrahuman, context.

So, as I said: not only should we not resist any genuine scientific finding, but we should be its most enthusiastic supporters. Natural selection? Bring it on! But reduce man to a random configuration of genetic mutations? Get real. Nothing is that simple and shallow, let alone the most complex, profound, and mysterious subject-object in all of creation.

If such a dank subterrestrial hole of reduction is sufficient to satisfy your own meager curiosity, then gopher it. But just don't imagine the rest of us will dig your tunnel vision, or that such a cramped pneumopathology is normative. If it were, then man would never have embarked upon the scientific adventure to begin with -- this latter being a subset of the grand Adventure of Consciousness.

This adventure is progressive, not just horizontal or lateral, let alone static. Stark discusses this in his thus far enjoyable How the West Won: The Neglected Story of the Triumph of Modernity. Short answer: it was won by progressing.

Ah, but what is the source of progress, or the key that unlocks its activation? Favorable geography? Guns and steel? Greed? Technology? Genes? Racial quotas? Homosexual marriage? Transcendent truth, AKA God and metaphysics?

Ultimately it must be the latter, because if your fundamental picture of reality is wrong, then it is difficult if not impossible to progress further. Stark demonstrates exactly how this works -- or fails to work -- in practice. I don't know if I want to get into details, as this is something we have discussed the past, and you can read all about it in the book.

For example, if you believe that appearances are fundamentally deceptive and that truth is found only in a transcendent world of a priori ideas, then there is no reason to explore the world.

Likewise, if you believe that every event is directly caused by the will of Allah or by Martin Luther's God of predestination (which amount to the same thing), then you will have no interest in the material and efficient causes -- let alone felicitous accidents -- that bring things about. If you believe that time is cyclical or degenerative, then progress itself will be a non-concept, an impossibility. Etc.

Is science -- scientism rather -- bringing about conditions that impede its own progress? Absolutely, and that is one of the purposes of Wade's book: to help science escape from its own self-imposed political agenda. It is not religion that is holding evolutionary science back, but rather, the left. If God works through evolution, who are we to argue?

But so long as time and eternity are distinct, then evolution must be the law of the cosmos, so we are condemned to eternal progress (that is, if we choose to accept God's offer and participate in it -- you can't force a man to be free).

It is clear to me -- although I've never heard anyone put it exactly this way -- that truth directly conditions the genome, somewhat like transcendent yeast in the genetic dough. How? In a number of ways. For example, the acquisition of speech gave man access to a whole new nonlocal realm of truth (and other transcendentals) that in turn fed back into evolution.

Indeed, this is one of the open secrets of Jewish progress and success, in that "as late as 1500, only 10% of the population of most European countries was literate, whereas almost all Jews were" -- including, most importantly, women, who serve as the initial membrane between reality and the neurologically incomplete infant: more literate and intelligent mothers = more abstract and interiorizing children, the hinge of human evolution.

Going back even further, universal male literacy among Pharisees was attained between 200 and 600 AD, and there was an element of sexual selection here, as Jewish fathers were "advised on no account to let their daughters marry the untutored sons" of the rude country folk who devalued education. Smart guys got the babes, and you know the rest.

So in this way, evolution becomes explicitly teleological, with the mind converging on a nonlocal truth that in turn feeds back into the genome via worldly and reproductive success. As man's thinking in general became more literate, more intelligent, and more abstract,

"the social and genetic variance of society was greatly increased," and "a person with social skills and intelligence had a reasonable chance of getting richer, something that was seldom possible in a hunter-gatherer society where there were no disparities and no wealth to speak of" (Wade).

In this way, we can see that the great evil of income inequality is related to cognitive inequality.

In fact, this is precisely Murray's argument in Coming Apart. More than at any previous time in history (or prehistory, so 200,000 years!), our modern economy is ruthlessly sorting people by intelligence, and intelligent people tend to marry each other, making for more intelligent children and so on. This wasn't such an issue in an agricultural or industrial economy, but it certainly is in a knowledge/information economy.

Which is why leftists must practice racial and ethnic discrimination in order to shut Asians and Jews out of higher education. In other words, the anti-science left directly disrupts that which furthers progress. It helps no one to consign some future Neils Bohr, Jonas Salk, or Paul Desmond to some third rate cow college because we need to make space for more mediocrities and dullards, irrespective of their race or gender or ethnicity.

UC Berkeley could be all Asian or Jew for all I care, so long as a few of them are working on a cure for diabetes or on new antibiotics and none of them are wasting their time and our money on gender studies or queer theory or black history.

Then, if you still wanted left wing diversity in your indoctrination, you could always attend a state or junior college, where you would be exposed to every kind of florid idiot instead of allowing elite universities to hog them all. Problem solved.

To be continued...

12 Comments:

Blogger JP said...

"When we review a book, it is not for the usual purposes of evaluating its merits or ridiculing its author.

Rather, it is to help expand our cosmic horizons (either vertically or horizontally, intensively or extensively) so as to lend support to certain otherwise *speculative* ideas, and to assist us in assimilating its message -- at least the important, world-stretching bits."

Yep.

And it's very useful book club.

5/22/2014 09:40:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Speaking of truth and the evolution, you don't even have to put it in terms of sin, but rather, health and common sense. Male homosexuals live much shorter and unhappier lives on average.

5/22/2014 09:56:00 AM  
Blogger Van Harvey said...

"...Likewise, if you believe that every event is directly caused by the will of Allah or by Martin Luther's God of predestination (which amount to the same thing), then you will have no interest in the material and efficient causes -- ..."

Good shot, I could hear the yelps from here.

5/22/2014 10:07:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

I think I saved the best Yelp for last.

5/22/2014 10:09:00 AM  
Blogger Van Harvey said...

"Indeed, this is one of the open secrets of Jewish progress and success, in that "as late as 1500, only 10% of the population of most European countries was literate, whereas almost all Jews were" -- including, most importantly, women, who serve as the initial membrane between reality and the neurologically incomplete infant: more literate and intelligent mothers = more abstract and interiorizing children, the hinge of human evolution."

How that isn't crystal clear... to anyone with even a moments reflection, is hard to imagine.

5/22/2014 10:11:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

If you just look at how women are treated in the Muslim world, it's not hard to figure out why they bottom out the evolutionary scale.

5/22/2014 10:14:00 AM  
Blogger Van Harvey said...

Gagdad said "I think I saved the best Yelp for last."

---WHAM!---

Yep!

5/22/2014 10:23:00 AM  
Blogger Van Harvey said...

Gagdad said "... how women are treated in the Muslim world, it's not hard to figure out why they bottom out the evolutionary scale."

Yep. And I couldn't help thinking something similar the week before during the discussion of the sobbing batters and the whining parents, as opposed to the Gagboy's self control.

What's the stereotype for some sort of crowd scene - accident or attack - in the Muslim world? Overwrought lamentation & tears from the men, along with boastful threats.

Certainly not raised in the same homes that the John Wayne stereotype came from.

Selections have consequences....

5/22/2014 10:34:00 AM  
Blogger mushroom said...

For example, the acquisition of speech gave man access to a whole new nonlocal realm of truth (and other transcendentals) that in turn fed back into evolution.

That's good. The feedback loop is usually what's left out when you end up with unintended consequences. Any creature that evolves in an environment changes the environment. Adaptation goes both ways. With us, we know it happens on multiple levels.

5/22/2014 11:03:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Or, consider how Christianity locks in monogamy which in turn has profoundly progressive consequences, as per Tucker's Monogamy and Civilization.

5/22/2014 11:06:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Likewise, not only is homosexual marriage by definition a genetic dead end, but it will have profoundly damaging consequences for children who grow up in such an intrinsically pretend world.

5/22/2014 11:10:00 AM  
Blogger Gandalin said...

Hi Bob,

This is quite an important insight, not usually appreciated:

"Which is why leftists must practice racial and ethnic discrimination in order to shut Asians and Jews out of higher education."

And you are dead on here, too:

"UC Berkeley could be all Asian or Jew for all I care, so long as a few of them are working on a cure for diabetes or on new antibiotics and none of them are wasting their time and our money on gender studies or queer theory or black history."

Truth will prevail, but many people will suffer from the effects of falsehood before it does.

G.

5/22/2014 01:53:00 PM  

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