Wednesday, November 25, 2015

The Axis of Evol... ution

In response to my suggestion that "collective development is analogous to individual development, in that -- obviously -- the further back you go, the more primitive things get," a reader commented that "This begs the question [of] what collective development is like the further forward you go. Is there a collective analogue to the sage or saint? Or does the analogy break down?"

The short answers are "no" and "pretty much yes." First, perhaps I should have specified that I'm using the word "primitive" in the psychological/developmental sense (as in primary, or earlier in developmental time). It might be the first category with which one assesses a new patient, even if implicitly. In short, is this person psychotic, or personality disordered, or neurotic, or (more or less) "normal?"

Each of these categories in turn correlates with different defense mechanisms. More developmentally primitive people rely upon primitive defense mechanisms such as delusion, denial, splitting, and projective identification, while less primitive (and more mature) people rely upon such things as repression, sublimation, intellectualization, and humor.

The quality of one's relationships will likewise vary along the same axis. For more primitive types, their relationships will be clouded and contaminated by primitive needs and agendas.

My most influential teacher back in grad school expressed it well, commenting that in terms of relationships, the primitive person wants to go from a sense of twoness (i.e., of being frightened by separation) to a primitive fusion of oneness, while the mature person wants to go from oneness (a sense of wholeness and unity) to twoness (i.e., a genuine relationship to -- not fusion with -- another person who is equally real).

It was specifically because of these ideas that I rejected multiculturalism even before I admitted to myself that I was a conservative. By way of analogy, let's say that the ideal weight for a 5' 10" man is 160 lbs (or whatever). If the 5' 10" men of another culture weigh 300 lbs, you don't abandon your standards and say that morbid obesity is now the ideal. Rather, the same universal standard should apply regardless of the culture.

Well, it's the same with psychological development. If we find a culture in which delusion is the norm, we don't call it normal. And if you don't believe there are cultures -- and subcultures -- in which delusion is the norm, then you haven't been paying attention. And you certainly haven't attended college.

Consider the relationship vector. For a number of reasons I probably don't have time to get into, mature heterosexual monogamy is the developmental standard and telos. Note that there are any number of alternatives, including immature heterosexual monogamy, immature heterosexual polygamy, and even (relatively) mature homosexual monogamy.

Yes, it is possible for a relatively mature homosexual couple to be more developed than than an immature heterosexual couple (although the typical homosexual couple is going to be more immature; male homosexuals often compulsively seek anonymous sexual encounters, which is as immature as one can get, because there is no real relationship at all).

Note that it is specifically because male and female are so "other" that an enriched relationship becomes possible. Or better, they are similar and other in equal measures, such that relating is more rich and complex. Which is why so much of this beautiful richness is lost in the homosexual relationship (and in a contemporary culture that is simultaneously genderful and genderless).

By the way, anyone who imagines that anything I have said above makes me "homophobic" is in fact delusional, and only proves my point. If you want to see primitive and delusional, see a one of the pictorials at Zombietime. Or, maybe you think we should celebrate those beautiful reflections of multiculturalism. So let's just stipulate that one of us is delusional, without all the name-calling.

Now, I am not one of those infertile eggheads who unduly idealize the so-called Enlightenment. Nevertheless, wouldn't you agree that a scientific culture is going to have advantages over one that revolves around myth?

And before you say "Nazism" or "communism," note that that was their whole problem: that they were (and are) rooted in mythology, not science. While each of them had science, the science was completely in service to the myth -- just as the mullahs are using nuclear science in the service of their Islamist myth (or global warmists use a warped version of climate science to advance their religious agenda).

In the case of, say, Obama, the issue is not whether he is Muslim or Christian, but rather, how mature he is. For there can be mature Muslims, just as there can be immature Christians.

Again, the developmental axis is going to be a relatively independent variable -- although, at the same time, I do believe it is going to converge upon certain universal psycho-political realities such as natural rights, free markets, the rule of law, etc. Does this make me a whig or evolutionist? I don't think so.

When I read history, one of the things that always strikes me about the past is the unimaginable cruelty. I can see killing your enemy and being done with it, but why the extraordinary sadism? Let's say I am a Catholic and you are a Protestant. Can't we agree to disagree without one of us disemboweling the other in the presence of his children?

That's the type of thing that gives religion a bad name, but remember, just as with science, religiosity is going to be situated along that developmental axis.

And I think I'm going to stop with that, because maybe I should leave early for work and try to avoid the holiday traffic.


Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Oh, and thank you for the prayers. Everything seems to be fine, but then maybe that's the oxycodone talking.

11/25/2015 08:33:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

The university delusions begin in high school and before.

11/25/2015 08:35:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Read this piece on the the strongest retrograde force in the world with the axis of evolution in mind.

11/25/2015 08:39:00 AM  
Blogger John said...

Greg Cochran and Henry Harpending make a strong argument that the psychological categories are completely wrapped up in genetic development, which makes more and more sense to me, and makes the problem not one of individuals maturing, but of populations developing, over several generations. The left and the leftist-right (like Bush et al) believe that Islamists can be converted. They can't.
One finds more developed Muslims in Europe, not the Middle East, which also makes sense.

11/25/2015 09:22:00 AM  
Blogger John said...

On the interesting Kimball article you cite, while I completely agree, we have to also recognize that we are literally arming and funding these monsters. And have been since 1979. It's time to stop using jihadis to advance our foreign policy agenda, as well as ridding the planet of them. This will ultimately include Saudi Arabia, as well as Iran. Weirdly, no one ever mentions Saudi Arabia in these articles.

11/25/2015 09:26:00 AM  
Blogger Leslie Godwin said...

Left message under previous post thanking you for prayers. And I'm sure that God provided pain meds for situations like these. And neurosurgeons. :)
Blessings, Mrs. G

11/25/2015 09:36:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

The article about the high school students is quite the eye-opener. I'm reminded a bit of L'Engle's A Wrinkle in Time, where the main character goes to a world of perfect conformity. If memory serves, when one kid bounces his ball out of sync with everyone else, he gets taken in for correction.

Leslie, so glad to hear everything went well. I hope you heal quickly, and that you all have a lovely Thanksgiving!

11/25/2015 10:16:00 AM  
Blogger mushroom said...

Great post. Glad to hear all is well. Happy Thanksgiving!

11/25/2015 11:29:00 AM  
Anonymous DougieFranklin said...

Nevertheless, wouldn't you agree that a scientific culture is going to have advantages over one that revolves around myth?

Ah - but the culture of science has its own mythos - creation and fall have been replaced by the big bang and evolutionary psychology. The dying God of Christendom, has been replaced by the gapless God of naturalism/scientism. So culture still revolves around myths.

I get that you are saying we can have a non-delusional culture, whether mythic or not. But what does religion look like in the upper echelons of the developmental axis? Is there a mythless future world that is one giant monastery? This developmental axis business sounds very Ken Wilber-esque...

11/25/2015 09:39:00 PM  
Blogger John said...

Not so fast, Dougie. Evolution goes all the way-myths evolved; religion evolved; language evolved. So, for science to truly be science, it needs to accept that these universals must have an adaptive role, and therefore are as important as science itself. If not, it's a bit like an auto maker asking language not to exist.

11/26/2015 03:26:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

It occurred to me this morning the reason there could be no merely human version of collective development: at some point, in order to call a group properly evolved, as it were, every individual within the community would literally have to be a saint.

The only place I know of that meets that description is on the other side of the veil.

11/26/2015 05:07:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...


Complementarity, my boy. For the Raccoon it is rarely either/or, but both/and. Science and religion aren't only not at odds, but mutually illuminating.

11/26/2015 08:05:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

And no, there is no mythless future world, since myth articulates things that are over the subjective horizon and inaccessible to any other mode of contact or communication. With some exceptions, like God's energies -- grace -- which come from the same place.

11/26/2015 08:07:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Just as there can be no future human world without art, because without art we wouldn't be human. Art is like a personal myth while myth is like collective art.

11/26/2015 08:09:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

There are so many fruitful ways to look at this question. For example, thanks to science we know we have right and left cerebral hemispheres which process and experience the world in very different -- complementary -- ways. Furthermore, just as the right can never be contained by the left, religion can never be contained by science. Indeed, if anything, it is the other way around. Scientism does not "speak" to the right brain, so, to the extent that it does speak to this or that man, it's because that man is only half a man. Or less.

11/26/2015 08:17:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Note also that it is not either/or right or left brain. In reality they function stereoscopically, like the eyes, to engender a deeper experience reality. So we shouldn't look at the world scientifically or religiously, but religio-scientifically. One hemisphere's vision is grist for the other.

11/26/2015 08:20:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

It's like the quest has no external 'object,' but is reality itself becoming luminous for its movement from the ineffable, through the Cosmos, to the ineffable or something.

11/26/2015 08:22:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

In order to exist at all, everything must be deployed in time. That's where evolution comes from. It's just the order of time: nonlocal space temporalized or something. Maybe on earth space is temporalized, whereas in heaven time is spatialized. Isn't that one of the attractions of dreams, i.e., time spatialized? Same with painting, I suppose, whereas music is space temporalized.

11/26/2015 08:30:00 AM  
Anonymous Pinto said...

Can I buy some pot from you?

11/26/2015 08:31:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

I'm reminded of how frequently some bit of cosmic Wordplay is actually reflected in scientific discovery. For instance, how in the beginning was the Word, and how at the quantum level that's exactly what everything is: information, or rather, the Word.

11/26/2015 08:37:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Speaking of complementarity, Faith and Grace by the Staple Singers will definitely be in my top ten reissues of 2015. Music straight from where the soul of man never dies.

11/26/2015 08:37:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Yes, ultimate reality is not a thing but a relationship, a communication, a process.

11/26/2015 08:38:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Another phenomenal reissue is Northern Soul Odyssey, which contains 222 tracks of classic soul music. I've listened to seven of the eight CDs, and so far there is hardly a weak track. Which is amazing, because I thought I'd heard everything, and I'd heard none of these before. Unfortunately, it just goes to show the unbelievably prolific flowering of black genius before the left destroyed their culture and put them back on the plantation.

11/26/2015 08:49:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Seriously, in my opinion, black music in all its forms from 1925 to 1975 is America's greatest contribution to world art. So, what happened to cause all the subhuman music that's come out since then? It's like cultural genocide.

I suppose all culture has regressed. It's just that black culture is the leading edge of the deterioration.

11/26/2015 08:56:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

The fall from Mavis Staples to Beyonce or whoever is more or less infinite.

11/26/2015 08:57:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

But so too is the fall from Elvis or Jerry Lee to Justin Bieber.

11/26/2015 08:58:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Agreed. I have to think at least some of that is due to technological advances; what is popular depends less and less on musical ability, and more and more on the lowest common appeal. And behind it all, a skilled IT guy. Same is true for art.

11/26/2015 09:35:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Speaking of people with little talent engaging in digital artwork, God willing I'll have a book coming out on Amazon within the next few days, just as soon as my town allows that I can use my computer to make money from my living room.

Just in case anyone knows some young kids (say, ages 3 to 9) that might like a nice non-secular Christmas story...

11/26/2015 09:55:00 AM  
Blogger Leslie Godwin said...

Julie, that is fantastic! I'll buy the book for Tristan and a few friends. Congratulations!

11/26/2015 10:55:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Thanks! It's been a fun project, and I really hope people enjoy it. Never thought I'd learn so much about old Jerusalem and Herod the Great :)

11/26/2015 11:09:00 AM  
Blogger John said...

There is a ton of great music being made today, in spite of the wildly popular nonsense-The Wood Brothers, Sturgill Simpson, Gillian Welch, The Milk Carton Kids, Old Crow Medicine Show, Fred Eaglesmith, etc

11/26/2015 12:53:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Hey, I know the Milk Carton Kids. One of them since he was like seven years old.

11/26/2015 03:12:00 PM  
Blogger ted said...

I love Sturgill Simpson's Turtles All the Way Down.

11/29/2015 10:43:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Since this is the first Sunday of Advent, for Christmas music I really enjoy this album by Leigh Nash. She has such a sweet voice, and while I don't know a ton of her songs she's one of the few female singers today who comes across as neither jaded, bitter, nor skanky. Don't think she qualifies as bubblegum pop, but I find her delightful.

11/29/2015 12:45:00 PM  

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