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« The Situation Now | Main | Is It Time For Action? »

June 09, 2010

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Florifulgurator

Regarding the lack of sapience in very clever people, me often thinks a major obstacle is the ego.

Cleverness at the hand of the ego becomes mind poison. I'm quite sure this obstacle can be surmounted (e.g. by practicing mindfulness towards reality outside the head) - yet get disappointed again and again. (Recently I've witnessed a once admired Zen Buddhist go on a trip of ego deluded "reasoning".)

One might think to remedy the ego problem is a task of religion. But more often than not religion makes the problem worse. (Ludwig Feuerbach observed 2 centuries ago that gods are mirrors of the collective ego. Religious practice, even by those worshipping nature and even by Buddhists often amounts to ego masturbation by bigotry.)

'There are no limits to the carrying capacity of Earth' -- Lawrence Summers in 1990 as president of the World Bank.

It is said economist Summers carries a huge ego. He will have difficulties changing his mind and admit Earth is not flat. What makes things worse,

mainstream economics is in fact a religion:
1) They can't even consistently explain what money is. (Cf. e.g. the 1000p treatise by K.-H. Brodbeck, "Die Herrschaft des Geldes" 2009). Money even requires belief (fiat money).
2) They can't tell the time: In physics, clocks work within the theoretical framework (e.g. mechanical clocks in Newtonian mechanics, photon clocks in relativity theory). But where's the economist's clock? (Perhaps in the utopian equilibrium state when asynchronous things like innovation or black swans are ruled out?). So, a comparison with astrology is quite apt: Divination based on the clockwork of the planets.

So, no wonder no much sapience found with economists...

George Mobus

Flor,

Regarding the lack of sapience in very clever people, me often thinks a major obstacle is the ego.

Ah yes. But what is cause and what is effect? Perhaps we have such dominating egos because we are not biologically sapient enough!

I would say that your observation about religion here provides a strong argument for the idea that we sapiens are simply not biologically evolved sufficiently in the region of our prefrontal cortices.

Of course I also suspect that there is a positive feedback loop working between the brain stem where ego is mediated, to the prefrontal cortex where superego is mediated. I can imagine that any slight inhibition to the latter as a result of our cultural milieu will allow the former to gain the upper hand, further subduing the latter. I do believe that our culture has demoted wisdom in favor of me-first attitudes. But, I still think the culture evolved that way because sapience was not strong enough to resist the temptations of materialism in the first place.

Solution: break out of the feedback loop with the evolution of higher sapience!

George

Florifulgurator

Yeah. Ego, chicken, egg.
Me know nothing much about psychology and brain. Still I have this hope that before evolution can help we could help ourselves overcome a bit of our antisapience with developing some "new" culture.

Can you tell anything about sapience in tribal cultures?

Martin

George Mobus

Flor,

Can you tell anything about sapience in tribal cultures?

From my readings of social anthropology, there are a number of so-called primitive cultures still around (though fading fast) where wisdom of how to live on the land and cooperate with one another are in evidence. All such tribes are mostly hunter-gatherers or mixed h-g and herders. A few rare instances of farmers such as described by Jared Diamond on Papua New Guinea.

My general sense is that humans are fine in small groups living on solar income, but become antisapient when the groups get large and tied to over-complex cultural systems. The latter are not necessarily aberrations as much as simply a new selective force in the evolution of Homo.

George

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