World Transformation Movement (Introduction)

by George Jelliss ⌂ @, Crewe, Monday, October 26, 2020, 23:32 (34 days ago)

Hallo again. Glad to see you are both still active.

I've come here because I'd like your opinion on this
"World Transformation Movement" that I encountered on twitter:

https://www.humancondition.com/

It has elements that attract me, such as its emphasis
that human nature is essentially Good,
and the importance of Reason (or Intellect).

But on the other it has hints of Spirituality
and cites people like Laurens Van Der Post
whose ideas I have been dubious of in the past.

What do you think?

--
GPJ

World Transformation Movement

by dhw, Tuesday, October 27, 2020, 09:26 (33 days ago) @ George Jelliss

GEORGE: Hallo again. Glad to see you are both still active.
I've come here because I'd like your opinion on this
"World Transformation Movement" that I encountered on twitter:

https://www.humancondition.com/
It has elements that attract me, such as its emphasis
that human nature is essentially Good,
and the importance of Reason (or Intellect).
But on the other it has hints of Spirituality
and cites people like Laurens Van Der Post
whose ideas I have been dubious of in the past.
What do you think?

Two very happy days, in which we welcome back old friends! Great to hear from you, George! I’m short of time today, but will watch the interview and get back to you tomorrow.

World Transformation Movement

by dhw, Wednesday, October 28, 2020, 09:00 (32 days ago) @ George Jelliss

I've come here because I'd like your opinion on this
"World Transformation Movement" that I encountered on twitter:

https://www.humancondition.com/

It has elements that attract me, such as its emphasis
that human nature is essentially Good,
and the importance of Reason (or Intellect).
But on the other it has hints of Spirituality
and cites people like Laurens Van Der Post
whose ideas I have been dubious of in the past.
What do you think?

I’m afraid I struggled through this with increasing frustration. The main thesis is that humans are good, our acquisition of consciousness has created mass psychosis because it has caused conflict with our good instincts, and all we have to do is realize that we are good and not bad and that will solve all the world’s problems. Bonobos are apparently all good and loving and cooperative, and they are our nearest relatives, and humans were all good and loving and cooperative too until we started our conscious thinking. I have no idea how he knows that prehistoric humans lived in nothing but love and cooperation – his only reference seems to be the metaphor of the Garden of Eden. Even primitive humans had weapons, and incidentally bonobos are capable of their own fair share of aggression. He says we are all “boiling with rage” below the surface. Are we? If so, what makes us boil? Is it really that we think we are bad when in fact we are good? I must be honest here: I don’t think I am bad, and I am not boiling underneath. If I boil, it is when I see other people’s instinctive badness violating their fellow humans’ instinctive goodness. As for “saving the world”, the message seems to be that if only all the world’s dictators, murderers, thieves, rapists, paedophiles etc. would read his book, they would realize that they are good and not bad, and then we shall be back in the Garden of Eden.

I have a counter proposal. Our animal ancestors exhibit the same dual nature as ourselves. They are full of love (nurturing their young) and cooperativeness (working as a group), but they are equally full of aggression (meat-eating, claiming territory, fighting for mates or for leadership) and selfishness (an essential tool for survival). We are descended from them, and share the same instincts. Our consciousness enables us to analyse and philosophize and even partially control these instincts, but the selfishness that is essential for survival will always expand into the selfishness that leads to most of society’s problems, other than those caused by Nature. There never was a Garden of Eden. And getting humans to believe they are good and not bad is not going to create one.

I agree with you, George, in that I think human nature is essentially (but far from totally) good, and certainly reason is essential if we are to achieve some kind of balance between instinct and intellect. But as for the diagnosis of and cure for the “human condition”, I’m surprised that anyone can take this seriously.

World Transformation Movement

by George Jelliss ⌂ @, Crewe, Wednesday, October 28, 2020, 10:17 (32 days ago) @ dhw

Thanks for your thoughts. I agree with your counter proposals.

The whole of their site reminds me of others that advertise ways to get rich quick,
but never actually get round to telling you how, until you invest or buy their book.
It also resembles other cults that claim to tell you how to live.

I was attracted to it in part because he uses the phrase 'Good Reason' which I use
for a section of my website and am still trying to put into book form.

I really do think that Reason is a good guide to living and solving problems,
so long as it takes account of empirical facts and is not the old-fashioned
arm-chair 'Rationalism' that philosophers seem to favour.

--
GPJ

World Transformation Movement

by David Turell @, Wednesday, October 28, 2020, 18:15 (32 days ago) @ George Jelliss

George: Thanks for your thoughts. I agree with your counter proposals.

The whole of their site reminds me of others that advertise ways to get rich quick,
but never actually get round to telling you how, until you invest or buy their book.
It also resembles other cults that claim to tell you how to live.

I was attracted to it in part because he uses the phrase 'Good Reason' which I use
for a section of my website and am still trying to put into book form.

I really do think that Reason is a good guide to living and solving problems,
so long as it takes account of empirical facts and is not the old-fashioned
arm-chair 'Rationalism' that philosophers seem to favour.

I've read dhw. I had a brief look at the website. Pure bunko.

World Transformation Movement

by George Jelliss ⌂ @, Crewe, Thursday, October 29, 2020, 08:45 (31 days ago) @ David Turell

Well, that's a forthright view! Thanks.

I've been looking through other threads on the site.
Those about Near Death Experiences I have commented on in the past,
and my view that they are based on inadequate anecdotal evidence,
often embroidered by later writers, still stands.
Most of the items, like Nature's Wonders, about biology or evolution
are too specialised for me to have an opinion, except that they
have natural explanations and do not support Intelligent Design.
The rest are mainly on theology which is a completely vacuous subject.

So I'm afraid I don't have much new to contribute at present.
But I may be back with some different topics if that is OK.

--
GPJ

World Transformation Movement

by dhw, Thursday, October 29, 2020, 09:30 (31 days ago) @ George Jelliss

GEORGE: Well, that's a forthright view! Thanks.

I've been looking through other threads on the site.
Those about Near Death Experiences I have commented on in the past,
and my view that they are based on inadequate anecdotal evidence,
often embroidered by later writers, still stands.
Most of the items, like Nature's Wonders, about biology or evolution
are too specialised for me to have an opinion, except that they
have natural explanations and do not support Intelligent Design.
The rest are mainly on theology which is a completely vacuous subject.

So I'm afraid I don't have much new to contribute at present.
But I may be back with some different topics if that is OK.


More than OK, George. You were one of our very first contributors, and have always enlivened and illuminated our discussions!

You will have gathered that there is one burning topic which has occupied us for years and is tied in with your comment about intelligent design. (I prefer lower case, in order to distinguish it from the divine variety.) While I am not 100% committed to the theory, I am hugely impressed by the conclusion of several renowned scientists that single cells (including bacteria) are intelligent, sentient, decision-making beings. No one will deny that living organisms are hugely complex, and James A. Shapiro proposes that these complexities have been designed by the cells themselves (he calls it "natural genetic engineering"), as they cooperate with one another in order to adapt to or exploit ever changing environmental conditions. This is very different from Darwin's reliance on chance mutations causing speciation. You don't have be a biologist to recognize the amazing complexity of the cell itself, let alone the complexities of the cell communities of which our organs and whole bodies are composed. Cellular intelligence provides an explanation for speciation, and so it would be interesting to hear your reaction to this theory. No obligation of course! We'll welcome your contributions on any subjects you choose.

World Transformation Movement

by David Turell @, Thursday, October 29, 2020, 14:30 (31 days ago) @ dhw

GEORGE: Well, that's a forthright view! Thanks.

I've been looking through other threads on the site.
Those about Near Death Experiences I have commented on in the past,
and my view that they are based on inadequate anecdotal evidence,
often embroidered by later writers, still stands.
Most of the items, like Nature's Wonders, about biology or evolution
are too specialised for me to have an opinion, except that they
have natural explanations and do not support Intelligent Design.
The rest are mainly on theology which is a completely vacuous subject.

So I'm afraid I don't have much new to contribute at present.
But I may be back with some different topics if that is OK.

dhw: More than OK, George. You were one of our very first contributors, and have always enlivened and illuminated our discussions!

You will have gathered that there is one burning topic which has occupied us for years and is tied in with your comment about intelligent design. (I prefer lower case, in order to distinguish it from the divine variety.) While I am not 100% committed to the theory, I am hugely impressed by the conclusion of several renowned scientists that single cells (including bacteria) are intelligent, sentient, decision-making beings. No one will deny that living organisms are hugely complex, and James A. Shapiro proposes that these complexities have been designed by the cells themselves (he calls it "natural genetic engineering"), as they cooperate with one another in order to adapt to or exploit ever changing environmental conditions. This is very different from Darwin's reliance on chance mutations causing speciation. You don't have be a biologist to recognize the amazing complexity of the cell itself, let alone the complexities of the cell communities of which our organs and whole bodies are composed. Cellular intelligence provides an explanation for speciation, and so it would be interesting to hear your reaction to this theory. No obligation of course! We'll welcome your contributions on any subjects you choose.

I would also.

World Transformation Movement

by David Turell @, Thursday, October 29, 2020, 17:56 (31 days ago) @ George Jelliss

George: Well, that's a forthright view! Thanks.

I've been looking through other threads on the site.
Those about Near Death Experiences I have commented on in the past,
and my view that they are based on inadequate anecdotal evidence,
often embroidered by later writers, still stands.
Most of the items, like Nature's Wonders, about biology or evolution
are too specialised for me to have an opinion, except that they
have natural explanations and do not support Intelligent Design.
The rest are mainly on theology which is a completely vacuous subject.

So I'm afraid I don't have much new to contribute at present.
But I may be back with some different topics if that is OK.

You are welcome here always.

" I have no idea how he knows tWorld Transformation Movement

by xeno6696 @, Sonoran Desert, Sunday, November 01, 2020, 20:56 (28 days ago) @ dhw

" I have no idea how he knows that prehistoric humans lived in nothing but love and cooperation – his only reference seems to be the metaphor of the Garden of Eden."

Any cursory study of current non-state or pre-state societies, or even societies that evolved when state power declined has turned up more evidence that cooperation and mutualism tend to be our default mechanism. It's maybe 3rd on my list but I'm about to read "Against the Grain" which is an in-depth study of archaeological and paleontological evidence suggesting that the advent of agriculture and eventually state-based societies created the structural foundation to create empires, strongly suggesting that the majority of what we've viewed as "western progress" owes quite a bit more to self-imposed impulses to competition and domination. Apparently the majority of non-state societies tended to peaceful cooperation and it was the advent of states that made our world more violent.

Off the cuff, it's quite a bit older but Peter Kropotkin's "On the Conquest of Bread" offers some more contemporary examples, albeit from a more critical perspective on capitalism. It's difficult to discuss non-state societies without bringing up the spectre of Socialism, but the idea of human beings as somehow inherently brutish and 'evil' is an ancient trope that goes all the way back to the beginnings of recorded history. The fact is we couldn't build cities without mutual aid being an innate characteristic.

I'm sort of walking up to that line of politics here, but since the site in question is talking about "saving the world," there's no way to do that without at least broaching the subject.

--
\"Why is it, Master, that ascetics fight with ascetics?\"

\"It is, brahmin, because of attachment to views, adherence to views, fixation on views, addiction to views, obsession with views, holding firmly to views that ascetics fight with ascetics.\"

The World Transformation Movement

by dhw, Monday, November 02, 2020, 14:12 (27 days ago) @ xeno6696

dhw: " I have no idea how he knows that prehistoric humans lived in nothing but love and cooperation – his only reference seems to be the metaphor of the Garden of Eden."

xeno: Any cursory study of current non-state or pre-state societies, or even societies that evolved when state power declined has turned up more evidence that cooperation and mutualism tend to be our default mechanism. It's maybe 3rd on my list but I'm about to read "Against the Grain" which is an in-depth study of archaeological and paleontological evidence suggesting that the advent of agriculture and eventually state-based societies created the structural foundation to create empires, strongly suggesting that the majority of what we've viewed as "western progress" owes quite a bit more to self-imposed impulses to competition and domination. Apparently the majority of non-state societies tended to peaceful cooperation and it was the advent of states that made our world more violent.

I’m not sure where you get this from. Tribal warfare (i.e. conflict between groups of humans) goes as far back into human history as we can go. But yes, there is also love and cooperation, and I would suggest that our default mechanism is a mixture: we must have love and cooperation in order for society to work. But as with our fellow animals, we also need the selfish (but healthy) instinct for survival, and I believe that selfishness (when it expands beyond the instinct for survival) lies at the heart of all the nasty things we get up to. Our innate curiosity allied to advanced technology enabled us to explore far beyond our own territory, and so inevitably enlarged the scale of conflict (e.g. war) as well as that of cooperation (e.g. trade). (Think of animal leaders of the herd and territorialism as a forerunner of human "competition and domination".) For me, the “default mechanism” is the very same mixture of love and cooperation on the one hand, and selfishness on the other, that we find in our fellow animals.

As far as the World Transformation Movement is concerned, I have already explained my objections!

The World Transformation Movement

by David Turell @, Monday, November 02, 2020, 15:20 (27 days ago) @ dhw

dhw: " I have no idea how he knows that prehistoric humans lived in nothing but love and cooperation – his only reference seems to be the metaphor of the Garden of Eden."

xeno: Any cursory study of current non-state or pre-state societies, or even societies that evolved when state power declined has turned up more evidence that cooperation and mutualism tend to be our default mechanism. It's maybe 3rd on my list but I'm about to read "Against the Grain" which is an in-depth study of archaeological and paleontological evidence suggesting that the advent of agriculture and eventually state-based societies created the structural foundation to create empires, strongly suggesting that the majority of what we've viewed as "western progress" owes quite a bit more to self-imposed impulses to competition and domination. Apparently the majority of non-state societies tended to peaceful cooperation and it was the advent of states that made our world more violent.

dhw: I’m not sure where you get this from. Tribal warfare (i.e. conflict between groups of humans) goes as far back into human history as we can go. But yes, there is also love and cooperation, and I would suggest that our default mechanism is a mixture: we must have love and cooperation in order for society to work. But as with our fellow animals, we also need the selfish (but healthy) instinct for survival, and I believe that selfishness (when it expands beyond the instinct for survival) lies at the heart of all the nasty things we get up to. Our innate curiosity allied to advanced technology enabled us to explore far beyond our own territory, and so inevitably enlarged the scale of conflict (e.g. war) as well as that of cooperation (e.g. trade). (Think of animal leaders of the herd and territorialism as a forerunner of human "competition and domination".) For me, the “default mechanism” is the very same mixture of love and cooperation on the one hand, and selfishness on the other, that we find in our fellow animals.

As far as the World Transformation Movement is concerned, I have already explained my objections!

Well stated. Cooperation undoubtedly started in early hunter-gatherer small groups in which only by working together in group interest could they survive. Those groups may have fought off other groups if necessary. Which means we learned to blend in self-interest with group interest. Larger group states a few thousand years ago led to important considerations of moral and ethical principals as evidenced by the appearance of religious groups, both Eastern and Western thought

The World Transformation Movement

by xeno6696 @, Sonoran Desert, Tuesday, November 03, 2020, 18:52 (26 days ago) @ David Turell

dhw: " I have no idea how he knows that prehistoric humans lived in nothing but love and cooperation – his only reference seems to be the metaphor of the Garden of Eden."

xeno: Any cursory study of current non-state or pre-state societies, or even societies that evolved when state power declined has turned up more evidence that cooperation and mutualism tend to be our default mechanism. It's maybe 3rd on my list but I'm about to read "Against the Grain" which is an in-depth study of archaeological and paleontological evidence suggesting that the advent of agriculture and eventually state-based societies created the structural foundation to create empires, strongly suggesting that the majority of what we've viewed as "western progress" owes quite a bit more to self-imposed impulses to competition and domination. Apparently the majority of non-state societies tended to peaceful cooperation and it was the advent of states that made our world more violent.

dhw: I’m not sure where you get this from. Tribal warfare (i.e. conflict between groups of humans) goes as far back into human history as we can go. But yes, there is also love and cooperation, and I would suggest that our default mechanism is a mixture: we must have love and cooperation in order for society to work. But as with our fellow animals, we also need the selfish (but healthy) instinct for survival, and I believe that selfishness (when it expands beyond the instinct for survival) lies at the heart of all the nasty things we get up to. Our innate curiosity allied to advanced technology enabled us to explore far beyond our own territory, and so inevitably enlarged the scale of conflict (e.g. war) as well as that of cooperation (e.g. trade). (Think of animal leaders of the herd and territorialism as a forerunner of human "competition and domination".) For me, the “default mechanism” is the very same mixture of love and cooperation on the one hand, and selfishness on the other, that we find in our fellow animals.

As far as the World Transformation Movement is concerned, I have already explained my objections!


Well stated. Cooperation undoubtedly started in early hunter-gatherer small groups in which only by working together in group interest could they survive. Those groups may have fought off other groups if necessary. Which means we learned to blend in self-interest with group interest. Larger group states a few thousand years ago led to important considerations of moral and ethical principals as evidenced by the appearance of religious groups, both Eastern and Western thought

I would say cooperation started even earlier than hunter-gathering as it's fundamental to several of our relatives, Bonobos being one example.

--
\"Why is it, Master, that ascetics fight with ascetics?\"

\"It is, brahmin, because of attachment to views, adherence to views, fixation on views, addiction to views, obsession with views, holding firmly to views that ascetics fight with ascetics.\"

The World Transformation Movement

by David Turell @, Tuesday, November 03, 2020, 21:11 (26 days ago) @ xeno6696

dhw: " I have no idea how he knows that prehistoric humans lived in nothing but love and cooperation – his only reference seems to be the metaphor of the Garden of Eden."

xeno: Any cursory study of current non-state or pre-state societies, or even societies that evolved when state power declined has turned up more evidence that cooperation and mutualism tend to be our default mechanism. It's maybe 3rd on my list but I'm about to read "Against the Grain" which is an in-depth study of archaeological and paleontological evidence suggesting that the advent of agriculture and eventually state-based societies created the structural foundation to create empires, strongly suggesting that the majority of what we've viewed as "western progress" owes quite a bit more to self-imposed impulses to competition and domination. Apparently the majority of non-state societies tended to peaceful cooperation and it was the advent of states that made our world more violent.

dhw: I’m not sure where you get this from. Tribal warfare (i.e. conflict between groups of humans) goes as far back into human history as we can go. But yes, there is also love and cooperation, and I would suggest that our default mechanism is a mixture: we must have love and cooperation in order for society to work. But as with our fellow animals, we also need the selfish (but healthy) instinct for survival, and I believe that selfishness (when it expands beyond the instinct for survival) lies at the heart of all the nasty things we get up to. Our innate curiosity allied to advanced technology enabled us to explore far beyond our own territory, and so inevitably enlarged the scale of conflict (e.g. war) as well as that of cooperation (e.g. trade). (Think of animal leaders of the herd and territorialism as a forerunner of human "competition and domination".) For me, the “default mechanism” is the very same mixture of love and cooperation on the one hand, and selfishness on the other, that we find in our fellow animals.

As far as the World Transformation Movement is concerned, I have already explained my objections!


David: Well stated. Cooperation undoubtedly started in early hunter-gatherer small groups in which only by working together in group interest could they survive. Those groups may have fought off other groups if necessary. Which means we learned to blend in self-interest with group interest. Larger group states a few thousand years ago led to important considerations of moral and ethical principals as evidenced by the appearance of religious groups, both Eastern and Western thought


Matt: I would say cooperation started even earlier than hunter-gathering as it's fundamental to several of our relatives, Bonobos being one example.

Very true. But I can't say the bonobos epigenetically taught us about cooperation in small groups. humans had to learn it on their own.

The World Transformation Movement

by xeno6696 @, Sonoran Desert, Wednesday, November 04, 2020, 00:37 (26 days ago) @ David Turell

David: Well stated. Cooperation undoubtedly started in early hunter-gatherer small groups in which only by working together in group interest could they survive. Those groups may have fought off other groups if necessary. Which means we learned to blend in self-interest with group interest. Larger group states a few thousand years ago led to important considerations of moral and ethical principals as evidenced by the appearance of religious groups, both Eastern and Western thought


Matt: I would say cooperation started even earlier than hunter-gathering as it's fundamental to several of our relatives, Bonobos being one example.


Very true. But I can't say the bonobos epigenetically taught us about cooperation in small groups. humans had to learn it on their own.

And this I think is where we diverge: I don't think we had to 'learn' it as a part of culture that we then pass down. We have natural instincts and emotions that conspire to push us together into groups like this. If you'll allow me a digression:

In the Tibetan Buddhist tradition there is a meditation they teach called "Tonglen." The theme of the meditation is to absorb the negative emotions in various circumstances of the world and send that energy back out in a sense of loving-kindness and compassion. In Buddhist psychology practices like this are important as with human beings, we tend to amplify whatever we tend to ingest cognitively and emotionally. one of the common themes that comes up is wishing compassion to oppressors as well as the oppressed. Well alright, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said the same thing in different language. But why the oppressed? King also had an answer if you've ever heard his speech about when he worked to "convert" the county jailers. The answer struck me when watching my own daughters: 'Oppressive' behavior doesn't exist. You might get some teasing, but you're not going to get the kind of behavior from children like you saw in North Carolina with that White Supremacist rally back in 2017.

There's three cases where I can imagine someone willfully engaging in oppression.
1.) They are more afraid of someone else that is somehow coercing that behavior. (Warlord/Organized Crime)
2.) The societal system that encourages oppression due to some sort of scapegoating (Hitler's Germany, The Spanish Inquisition) or even through institutional habit. (slavery itself)
3.) The level of Greed or Lust in that individual is strong enough to give them the emotional capability of comitting oppression. (Medieval Crusaders, Human traffickers, Slavers)

Of course there's plenty of room for all three of these to meld and blend with each other, but my thinking has found these three as the loci for what's necessary to foster oppressive behaviors.

So we wish compassion for the oppressors because if they had their legitimate spiritual needs met, there would be no need for oppression. And... in short that's the primary goal of Buddhism in all its forms.

As a final note, and this is where the raw strength of my belief on the innate 'goodness' of human beings lies: ethics, language, and morality mean absolutely nothing from the perspective of a solitary individual. It IS true that these systems began with a tribal nature and I'm not denying that there isn't a tribal impulse in us that pushes back against 'the other,' but that impulse isn't as strong in all places and amongst all peoples. Genesis 18 and 19 both demonstrate this in pre-Moses culture, and it is still practiced today in Bedouin cultures. I know you're not necessarily a big Bible guy David, but I think it speaks volumes that the Hospitality culture of the ancient pre-Israelites encapsulates a value towards 'the other' transcending tribe LONG before Moses and Solomon. There's hints of this everywhere where some sort of surviving record still exists. My own Viking ancestors also had a grand tradition of hospitality that also predated Christianity.

--
\"Why is it, Master, that ascetics fight with ascetics?\"

\"It is, brahmin, because of attachment to views, adherence to views, fixation on views, addiction to views, obsession with views, holding firmly to views that ascetics fight with ascetics.\"

The World Transformation Movement

by dhw, Wednesday, November 04, 2020, 11:32 (25 days ago) @ xeno6696

dhw: For me, the “default mechanism” is the very same mixture of love and cooperation on the one hand, and selfishness on the other, that we find in our fellow animals.

Xeno: I wasn't trying to suggest that tribal warfare was nonexistent. Where I'm coming from isn't romanticism either: when you study hunter-gatherer tribes, where are the armies or police forces? They don't exist.

They would have had their own means of keeping order in the event of disputes or “crimes”, and they would have fought their enemies with their weapons even if they didn’t wear a uniform and give one another ranks.

Xeno: The same goes with nomadic groups. Inuit society for example, to combat greed followed a system where if one member accrued too much, they would be forced to share it with the community.

See what I mean? Greed existed!

Xeno:This tells us as well that greed in general was recognized as bad for the community, and that we also acknowledge that while we DO have tendencies that can lead towards murder, we have other tendencies that lead us to keep the peace.

Yes, society can’t function otherwise. Greed, murder, lust, desire for power all exist and existed. We are and always were a mixture, and this mixture of self-interest and of cooperativeness is apparent in the animal world from which we are descended!

DAVID: Cooperation undoubtedly started in early hunter-gatherer small groups in which only by working together in group interest could they survive. Those groups may have fought off other groups if necessary. Which means we learned to blend in self-interest with group interest. Larger group states a few thousand years ago led to important considerations of moral and ethical principals as evidenced by the appearance of religious groups, both Eastern and Western thought

Xeno: I would say cooperation started even earlier than hunter-gathering as it's fundamental to several of our relatives, Bonobos being one example.

David: Very true. But I can't say the bonobos epigenetically taught us about cooperation in small groups. humans had to learn it on their own.

Xeno: And this I think is where we diverge: I don't think we had to 'learn' it as a part of culture that we then pass down. We have natural instincts and emotions that conspire to push us together into groups like this.

Bonobos are also aggressive. Once again, the mixture is apparent in the animal kingdom. Think of ants – always my favourite illustration. Exemplary cooperation, willing even to sacrifice themselves for the good of their community – but also massively aggressive, just as ready to attack as they are to defend. I agree with both of you. First comes the instinct for survival. Secind comes the process of learning how to survive – which depends on the conditions that threaten survival. Even bacteria form cooperative communities to improve their chances of survival.

Xeno: If you'll allow me a digression:
In the Tibetan Buddhist tradition there is a meditation they teach called "Tonglen." The theme of the meditation is to absorb the negative emotions in various circumstances of the world and send that energy back out in a sense of loving-kindness and compassion.

Admirable. Sadly there is an appalling conflict in Myanmar, involving the Buddhists and the Rohingya. The existence of a meditation is no guarantee that humans will or ever have overcome the innate self-interest which conflicts with their innate sense of loving-kindness.

Xeno: There's three cases where I can imagine someone willfully engaging in oppression.
1.) They are more afraid of someone else that is somehow coercing that behavior. (Warlord/Organized Crime)
2.) The societal system that encourages oppression due to some sort of scapegoating (Hitler's Germany, The Spanish Inquisition) or even through institutional habit. (slavery itself)
3.) The level of Greed or Lust in that individual is strong enough to give them the emotional capability of committing oppression. (Medieval Crusaders, Human traffickers, Slavers)
So what exactly are you telling us? That none of these “cases” are the result of human nature?

So we wish compassion for the oppressors because if they had their legitimate spiritual needs met, there would be no need for oppression. And... in short that's the primary goal of Buddhism in all its forms.

The primary goal of most religions (though I’m not sure we can call Buddhism a religion) is to achieve some sort of perfect society. But we were discussing the question of whether human nature is intrinsically good or bad and the belief that earlier societies were full of good and devoid of bad. The examples you go on to give us (biblical and Viking hospitality) omit the fact that the biblical tribes and the Vikings were all constantly at war!

The World Transformation Movement

by xeno6696 @, Sonoran Desert, Wednesday, November 04, 2020, 19:54 (25 days ago) @ dhw

dhw: For me, the “default mechanism” is the very same mixture of love and cooperation on the one hand, and selfishness on the other, that we find in our fellow animals.

Xeno: I wasn't trying to suggest that tribal warfare was nonexistent. Where I'm coming from isn't romanticism either: when you study hunter-gatherer tribes, where are the armies or police forces? They don't exist.

They would have had their own means of keeping order in the event of disputes or “crimes”, and they would have fought their enemies with their weapons even if they didn’t wear a uniform and give one another ranks.

Xeno: The same goes with nomadic groups. Inuit society for example, to combat greed followed a system where if one member accrued too much, they would be forced to share it with the community.

See what I mean? Greed existed!

So here's where we need to pause. I never said Greed didn't exist.

What I'm very carefully trying to point out here is that by default, even though we're born with a mix of different drives, some more destructive than others, we're born social, with a predilection towards group survival. The evolution of human children being born as early in development as they are probably predates our common primate ancestor.

To have a predilection towards sociality means that we have instincts that drive us to glom into groups. Groups and tribes are the point I'm trying to make here, not that we're somehow born altruistic to all things great and small.

--
\"Why is it, Master, that ascetics fight with ascetics?\"

\"It is, brahmin, because of attachment to views, adherence to views, fixation on views, addiction to views, obsession with views, holding firmly to views that ascetics fight with ascetics.\"

The World Transformation Movement

by dhw, Thursday, November 05, 2020, 10:49 (24 days ago) @ xeno6696

Xeno: I wasn't trying to suggest that tribal warfare was nonexistent. Where I'm coming from isn't romanticism either: when you study hunter-gatherer tribes, where are the armies or police forces? They don't exist.

dhw: They would have had their own means of keeping order in the event of disputes or “crimes”, and they would have fought their enemies with their weapons even if they didn’t wear a uniform and give one another ranks.

Xeno: The same goes with nomadic groups. Inuit society for example, to combat greed followed a system where if one member accrued too much, they would be forced to share it with the community.

dhw: See what I mean? Greed existed!

Xeno: So here's where we need to pause. I never said Greed didn't exist.

You wrote that “Any cursory study of current non-state or pre-state societies, or even societies that evolved when state power declined has turned up more evidence that cooperation and mutualism tend to be our default mechanism.[/b]” And you pointed out that no police or armies were required. My own proposal was that our default position was “the same mixture of love and cooperation on the one hand, and selfishness on the other, that we find in our fellow animals[/i]”.

Xeno: What I'm very carefully trying to point out here is that by default, even though we're born with a mix of different drives, some more destructive than others, we're born social, with a predilection towards group survival. To have a predilection towards sociality means that we have instincts that drive us to glom into groups. Groups and tribes are the point I'm trying to make here, not that we're somehow born altruistic to all things great and small.

That is very different from saying that cooperation and mutualism tend to be our default mechanism (bolded above). I don’t think anybody would deny that we are social animals, but we are also individuals, and there is an individual default position for survival which can become a default position for all the destructive (i.e. non-cooperative) as well as all the cooperative elements of our nature. Basically, I was arguing against what I understood to be your belief, shared with the World Transformation Movement, that we are all naturally good. But if this was a misunderstanding, then please accept my apologies. My own view is that most people ARE essentially good, but that is NOT the default position, and the bad is just as natural.

I echo David's pleasure at the fact that you are adding new dimensions to our discussions, which are extremely welcome. And my thanks to George too, for starting us off on a new track!

The World Transformation Movement

by David Turell @, Wednesday, November 04, 2020, 15:52 (25 days ago) @ xeno6696

Matt: I would say cooperation started even earlier than hunter-gathering as it's fundamental to several of our relatives, Bonobos being one example.


David: Very true. But I can't say the bonobos epigenetically taught us about cooperation in small groups. humans had to learn it on their own.


And this I think is where we diverge: I don't think we had to 'learn' it as a part of culture that we then pass down. We have natural instincts and emotions that conspire to push us together into groups like this. If you'll allow me a digression:

In the Tibetan Buddhist tradition there is a meditation they teach called "Tonglen." The theme of the meditation is to absorb the negative emotions in various circumstances of the world and send that energy back out in a sense of loving-kindness and compassion. In Buddhist psychology practices like this are important as with human beings, we tend to amplify whatever we tend to ingest cognitively and emotionally. one of the common themes that comes up is wishing compassion to oppressors as well as the oppressed. Well alright, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said the same thing in different language. But why the oppressed? King also had an answer if you've ever heard his speech about when he worked to "convert" the county jailers. The answer struck me when watching my own daughters: 'Oppressive' behavior doesn't exist. You might get some teasing, but you're not going to get the kind of behavior from children like you saw in North Carolina with that White Supremacist rally back in 2017.

There's three cases where I can imagine someone willfully engaging in oppression.
1.) They are more afraid of someone else that is somehow coercing that behavior. (Warlord/Organized Crime)
2.) The societal system that encourages oppression due to some sort of scapegoating (Hitler's Germany, The Spanish Inquisition) or even through institutional habit. (slavery itself)
3.) The level of Greed or Lust in that individual is strong enough to give them the emotional capability of committing oppression. (Medieval Crusaders, Human traffickers, Slavers)

Of course there's plenty of room for all three of these to meld and blend with each other, but my thinking has found these three as the loci for what's necessary to foster oppressive behaviors.

So we wish compassion for the oppressors because if they had their legitimate spiritual needs met, there would be no need for oppression. And... in short that's the primary goal of Buddhism in all its forms.

As a final note, and this is where the raw strength of my belief on the innate 'goodness' of human beings lies: ethics, language, and morality mean absolutely nothing from the perspective of a solitary individual. It IS true that these systems began with a tribal nature and I'm not denying that there isn't a tribal impulse in us that pushes back against 'the other,' but that impulse isn't as strong in all places and amongst all peoples. Genesis 18 and 19 both demonstrate this in pre-Moses culture, and it is still practiced today in Bedouin cultures. I know you're not necessarily a big Bible guy David, but I think it speaks volumes that the Hospitality culture of the ancient pre-Israelites encapsulates a value towards 'the other' transcending tribe LONG before Moses and Solomon. There's hints of this everywhere where some sort of surviving record still exists. My own Viking ancestors also had a grand tradition of hospitality that also predated Christianity.

First, thank you for the education in Eastern thought. at my age I can still continue to learn. Yes we all have an innate goodness, empathy and sympathy as shown in your first sentence. I once knew Genesis 18,19 and you've recalled it for me.

The World Transformation Movement

by xeno6696 @, Sonoran Desert, Tuesday, November 03, 2020, 18:46 (26 days ago) @ dhw

dhw: " I have no idea how he knows that prehistoric humans lived in nothing but love and cooperation – his only reference seems to be the metaphor of the Garden of Eden."

xeno: Any cursory study of current non-state or pre-state societies, or even societies that evolved when state power declined has turned up more evidence that cooperation and mutualism tend to be our default mechanism. It's maybe 3rd on my list but I'm about to read "Against the Grain" which is an in-depth study of archaeological and paleontological evidence suggesting that the advent of agriculture and eventually state-based societies created the structural foundation to create empires, strongly suggesting that the majority of what we've viewed as "western progress" owes quite a bit more to self-imposed impulses to competition and domination. Apparently the majority of non-state societies tended to peaceful cooperation and it was the advent of states that made our world more violent.

I’m not sure where you get this from. Tribal warfare (i.e. conflict between groups of humans) goes as far back into human history as we can go. But yes, there is also love and cooperation, and I would suggest that our default mechanism is a mixture: we must have love and cooperation in order for society to work. But as with our fellow animals, we also need the selfish (but healthy) instinct for survival, and I believe that selfishness (when it expands beyond the instinct for survival) lies at the heart of all the nasty things we get up to. Our innate curiosity allied to advanced technology enabled us to explore far beyond our own territory, and so inevitably enlarged the scale of conflict (e.g. war) as well as that of cooperation (e.g. trade). (Think of animal leaders of the herd and territorialism as a forerunner of human "competition and domination".) For me, the “default mechanism” is the very same mixture of love and cooperation on the one hand, and selfishness on the other, that we find in our fellow animals.

I wasn't trying to suggest that tribal warfare was nonexistent. Where I'm coming from isn't romanticism either: when you study hunter-gatherer tribes, where are the armies or police forces? They don't exist. The same goes with nomadic groups. Inuit society for example, to combat greed followed a system where if one member accrued too much, they would be forced to share it with the community. This tells us as well that greed in general was recognized as bad for the community, and that we also acknowledge that while we DO have tendencies that can lead towards murder, we have other tendencies that lead us to keep the peace. For a rather odd but powerful example, in pre-state mesoamerican culture, combat between tribes was ritualized to the point where killing on the battlefield simply wasn't the custom. Why is that? Yes, the religions were bloody and winners were as likely as losers to be sacrificed to the Gods, but that's besides the point: Why the tendency to develop a nonviolent replacement for warfare? As a final point to just ponder: While everyone agrees that a society *could* exist where all members were *solely* devoted to short-term self-interest, why have we not actually seen this happen? If it *could* happen and it doesn't, this suggests something "more kind" about our natures and this leads me to conclude on the surface that I don't buy the typical answer of the necessity of a state to maintain law and order. I'm not buying Leviathan at face value.

The suggestion I believe is made in "Against the Grain" is that the evidence will show that more technically advanced societies historically enslave or conquer (or both) less "advanced" rivals, and that the history of states in general isn't necessarily one where the pursuit of liberty was the romantic goal. In other words, the Siege of Melos, which I've brought up here before is a more typical example in history in regards to the history of states.

--
\"Why is it, Master, that ascetics fight with ascetics?\"

\"It is, brahmin, because of attachment to views, adherence to views, fixation on views, addiction to views, obsession with views, holding firmly to views that ascetics fight with ascetics.\"

The World Transformation Movement

by David Turell @, Tuesday, November 03, 2020, 21:18 (26 days ago) @ xeno6696

dhw: " I have no idea how he knows that prehistoric humans lived in nothing but love and cooperation – his only reference seems to be the metaphor of the Garden of Eden."

xeno: Any cursory study of current non-state or pre-state societies, or even societies that evolved when state power declined has turned up more evidence that cooperation and mutualism tend to be our default mechanism. It's maybe 3rd on my list but I'm about to read "Against the Grain" which is an in-depth study of archaeological and paleontological evidence suggesting that the advent of agriculture and eventually state-based societies created the structural foundation to create empires, strongly suggesting that the majority of what we've viewed as "western progress" owes quite a bit more to self-imposed impulses to competition and domination. Apparently the majority of non-state societies tended to peaceful cooperation and it was the advent of states that made our world more violent.

I’m not sure where you get this from. Tribal warfare (i.e. conflict between groups of humans) goes as far back into human history as we can go. But yes, there is also love and cooperation, and I would suggest that our default mechanism is a mixture: we must have love and cooperation in order for society to work. But as with our fellow animals, we also need the selfish (but healthy) instinct for survival, and I believe that selfishness (when it expands beyond the instinct for survival) lies at the heart of all the nasty things we get up to. Our innate curiosity allied to advanced technology enabled us to explore far beyond our own territory, and so inevitably enlarged the scale of conflict (e.g. war) as well as that of cooperation (e.g. trade). (Think of animal leaders of the herd and territorialism as a forerunner of human "competition and domination".) For me, the “default mechanism” is the very same mixture of love and cooperation on the one hand, and selfishness on the other, that we find in our fellow animals.


I wasn't trying to suggest that tribal warfare was nonexistent. Where I'm coming from isn't romanticism either: when you study hunter-gatherer tribes, where are the armies or police forces? They don't exist. The same goes with nomadic groups. Inuit society for example, to combat greed followed a system where if one member accrued too much, they would be forced to share it with the community. This tells us as well that greed in general was recognized as bad for the community, and that we also acknowledge that while we DO have tendencies that can lead towards murder, we have other tendencies that lead us to keep the peace. For a rather odd but powerful example, in pre-state mesoamerican culture, combat between tribes was ritualized to the point where killing on the battlefield simply wasn't the custom. Why is that? Yes, the religions were bloody and winners were as likely as losers to be sacrificed to the Gods, but that's besides the point: Why the tendency to develop a nonviolent replacement for warfare? As a final point to just ponder: While everyone agrees that a society *could* exist where all members were *solely* devoted to short-term self-interest, why have we not actually seen this happen? If it *could* happen and it doesn't, this suggests something "more kind" about our natures and this leads me to conclude on the surface that I don't buy the typical answer of the necessity of a state to maintain law and order. I'm not buying Leviathan at face value.

The suggestion I believe is made in "Against the Grain" is that the evidence will show that more technically advanced societies historically enslave or conquer (or both) less "advanced" rivals, and that the history of states in general isn't necessarily one where the pursuit of liberty was the romantic goal. In other words, the Siege of Melos, which I've brought up here before is a more typical example in history in regards to the history of states.

As I noted earlier the America natives were stone age until recently, but the six tribes of the Iroquois nation cooperated while other tribes had fierce battles. Certainly learned cooperation where it existed, and fierce worriers for the sake of warfare in the more western tribes.

World Transformation Movement

by xeno6696 @, Sonoran Desert, Sunday, November 01, 2020, 20:41 (28 days ago) @ George Jelliss

Hallo again. Glad to see you are both still active.

I've come here because I'd like your opinion on this
"World Transformation Movement" that I encountered on twitter:

https://www.humancondition.com/

It has elements that attract me, such as its emphasis
that human nature is essentially Good,
and the importance of Reason (or Intellect).

But on the other it has hints of Spirituality
and cites people like Laurens Van Der Post
whose ideas I have been dubious of in the past.

What do you think?

Great to see you again George!

I'm not sure I like how the page is sort of organized commercially.

"This is the book we have been waiting for, it is the book that saves the world."

I'm immediately suspicious, but perhaps for different reasons.

"Only the redeeming, reconciling and transforming biological understanding of the human condition can save us, and it is precisely that insight that is presented in biologist Jeremy Griffith’s book FREEDOM."

Off the cuff, I don't know what Griffith is offering that hasn't already been offered thousands of times over. The words "redeeming, reconciling, and transforming" are typically signal words to evangelical protestants. But that minor detail aside, the transformation of the human condition isn't biological, unless of course we're making appeals that 'saving the world' is something that requires collective action... and again we're just restating the obvious. [By 'isn't biological' I'm meaning that the humanities and philosophy overall have more to offer us.]

I'm not against reading what he's got to offer, but it'll be some time before I'd get around to it.

--
\"Why is it, Master, that ascetics fight with ascetics?\"

\"It is, brahmin, because of attachment to views, adherence to views, fixation on views, addiction to views, obsession with views, holding firmly to views that ascetics fight with ascetics.\"

World Transformation Movement

by George Jelliss ⌂ @, Crewe, Monday, November 02, 2020, 21:23 (27 days ago) @ xeno6696

Yes I concluded they were just trying to sell the book,
which looks pretty thick and is probably pricy.

The illustrations used also remind me of JW literature,
which also postulates a Garden of Eden, past or future.

Does anyone still defend the idea of a matriarchal society in the past,
such as was set out by Robert Graves in his book The White Goddess?
Which I suspect is more poetry and fantasy than based on reality.

--
GPJ

World Transformation Movement

by David Turell @, Monday, November 02, 2020, 23:24 (27 days ago) @ George Jelliss

George: Yes I concluded they were just trying to sell the book,
which looks pretty thick and is probably pricy.

The illustrations used also remind me of JW literature,
which also postulates a Garden of Eden, past or future.

Does anyone still defend the idea of a matriarchal society in the past,
such as was set out by Robert Graves in his book The White Goddess?
Which I suspect is more poetry and fantasy than based on reality.

I don't think so from my readings. Using the example of American natives, called Indians mistakenly, they were stone age and patriarchal, and were in North America from almost 18-20,000 years ago.

World Transformation Movement

by dhw, Tuesday, November 03, 2020, 08:19 (26 days ago) @ David Turell

GEORGE: Yes I concluded they were just trying to sell the book,
which looks pretty thick and is probably pricy.
The illustrations used also remind me of JW literature,
which also postulates a Garden of Eden, past or future.
Does anyone still defend the idea of a matriarchal society in the past,
such as was set out by Robert Graves in his book The White Goddess?
Which I suspect is more poetry and fantasy than based on reality.

DAVID: I don't think so from my readings. Using the example of American natives, called Indians mistakenly, they were stone age and patriarchal, and were in North America from almost 18-20,000 years ago.

I don’t know Robert Graves’s book, and I don’t have time to do any research on this, but I’m pretty sure there were matriarchal societies in parts of Africa. And apparently there is compelling evidence that the Amazons were real, not mythical!

World Transformation Movement

by David Turell @, Tuesday, November 03, 2020, 14:45 (26 days ago) @ dhw

GEORGE: Yes I concluded they were just trying to sell the book,
which looks pretty thick and is probably pricy.
The illustrations used also remind me of JW literature,
which also postulates a Garden of Eden, past or future.
Does anyone still defend the idea of a matriarchal society in the past,
such as was set out by Robert Graves in his book The White Goddess?
Which I suspect is more poetry and fantasy than based on reality.

DAVID: I don't think so from my readings. Using the example of American natives, called Indians mistakenly, they were stone age and patriarchal, and were in North America from almost 18-20,000 years ago.

dhw: I don’t know Robert Graves’s book, and I don’t have time to do any research on this, but I’m pretty sure there were matriarchal societies in parts of Africa. And apparently there is compelling evidence that the Amazons were real, not mythical!

Wikipedia supports dhw's entry :

https://www.mydomaine.com/matriarchal-societies

There are five more entries below that one

World Transformation Movement

by George Jelliss ⌂ @, Crewe, Tuesday, November 03, 2020, 19:15 (26 days ago) @ dhw

Since no-one seems to know the book I give a taste of it here:

Extract from Robert Graves, The White Goddess,
Appendix II - A talk about the book given in 1957.

<<The most important single fact in the early history of Western religion
and sociology was undoubtedly the gradual suppression of the Lunar
Mother-goddess's inspiratory cult, and its supersession /// by the
busy, rational cult of the Solar God Apollo, who rejected the Orphic
tree-alphabet in favour of the commercial Phoenician alphabet - the
familiar ABC - and initiated European literature and science. It is
no secret that, towards the end of the second millennium BC Apollo's
people captured the Moon-goddess's most revered shrines and oracles,
including Tempe, Delphi and Delos, and so limited her worship that
the great raging Ninefold mountain-mother of Parnassus was at last
converted into a choir, or ballet, or troupe of nine tame little
Nymphs, 'the Muses', with Apollo as their art-director and manager.
Apollo also triumphed over the Italian Goddesses Minerva and Carmenta,
when the Romans went all Greek under the late Republic.>>

--
GPJ

World Transformation Movement

by dhw, Wednesday, November 04, 2020, 11:37 (25 days ago) @ George Jelliss

George: Since no-one seems to know the book I give a taste of it here:
Extract from Robert Graves, The White Goddess,
Appendix II - A talk about the book given in 1957.

<<The most important single fact in the early history of Western religion
and sociology was undoubtedly the gradual suppression of the Lunar
Mother-goddess's inspiratory cult, and its supersession /// by the
busy, rational cult of the Solar God Apollo, who rejected the Orphic
tree-alphabet in favour of the commercial Phoenician alphabet - the
familiar ABC - and initiated European literature and science. It is
no secret that, towards the end of the second millennium BC Apollo's
people captured the Moon-goddess's most revered shrines and oracles,
including Tempe, Delphi and Delos, and so limited her worship that
the great raging Ninefold mountain-mother of Parnassus was at last
converted into a choir, or ballet, or troupe of nine tame little
Nymphs, 'the Muses', with Apollo as their art-director and manager.
Apollo also triumphed over the Italian Goddesses Minerva and Carmenta,
when the Romans went all Greek under the late Republic.
>>

Thank you for this, George. You opened this part of the thread by asking:

Does anyone still defend the idea of a matriarchal society in the past,
such as was set out by Robert Graves in his book The White Goddess?
Which I suspect is more poetry and fantasy than based on reality.

Speaking for myself, I do not believe any of the above gods and goddesses were real, but David has confirmed that there were several matriarchal societies in Africa, and I also mentioned the Amazons. I'm not quite sure how this ties in with the World Transformation Movement, unless the suggestion is that a matriarchal society would solve all our problems.
It could hardly do worse than our patriarchal societies!

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