Iowa As a Shining Beacon of Nihilism

What does America mean as a philosophical event? What is the place of America in philosophical discourse? Here is one possible suggestion.

What?  Enhancing agriculture—the foundation of civilization—is a shining beacon of nihilism?

See the explanation below the fold.

W. D. Hamilton in “Innate Social Aptitudes of Man”:

The incursions of barbaric pastoralists seem to do civilizations less harm in the long run than one might expect. Indeed, two dark ages and renaissances in Europe suggest a recurring pattern in which a renaissance follows an incursion by about 800 years. It may even be suggested that certain genes or traditions of pastoralists revitalize the conquered people with an ingredient of progress which tends to die out in a large panmictic population for the reasons already discussed. I have in mind altruism itself, or the part of the altruism which is perhaps better described as self-sacrificial daring. By the time of the renaissance it may be that the mixing of genes and cultures (or of cultures alone if these are the only vehicles, which I doubt) has continued long enough to bring the old mercantile thoughtfulness and the infused daring into conjunction in a few individuals who then find courage for all kinds of inventive innovation against the resistance of established thought and practice. Often, however, the cost in fitness of such altruism and sublimated pugnacity to the individuals concerned is by no means metaphorical, and the benefits to fitness, such as they are, go to a mass of individuals whose genetic correlation with the innovator must be slight indeed. Thus

civilization

probably slowly reduces its altruism of all kinds, including the kinds needed for cultural creativity (see also Eshel 1972).

But lest I be accused of merely appealing to W. D. Hamilton’s authority, let me argue as follows:

Civilization is nihilistic because it regresses creation from man the sexually moral animal to mere “eat or be eaten” evolution.  Agreed, we cannot say all purpose is annihilated by this since, clearly, eat-or-be-eaten was a stage of creation founding later stages of creation.  However, the annihilation of the very capacity for morality plus the annihilation of sexuality should suffice for the “purposes” of even the most committed nihilist.

Posted by James Bowery on Monday, January 28, 2013 at 07:11 PM in
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Comments:

1

Posted by Zeke on January 29, 2013, 11:50 PM | #

Is it civilization or panmixia that is nihilistic?

In the following exchange, many moons ago, Angry Wasp suggested that

“[T]he Italian Renaissance is seen clearly as a renewed flow of Nordic blood into the life of a people and its soul.”

Caballaria responds that the

“assertion that the greatest Italians are from district settled by Germans, is simply false. I pointed it out myself - the greatest Italians are from Venetia and Tuscany, which were not settled by Germans.

I suspect that Guenther is saying this because he confuses the relatively brief period of Lombard political rule over the northern half of Italy, with actual Lombardic replacement of the local population. This is like saying that Wales is English because it was ruled by the English. Or that the Netherlands are Spanish”.

Of course Wales, especially South Wales is English not because of English rule but because of the mass migration of English to Wales during the industrial revolution. And per Thomas et al England is not genetically Welsh because of an apartheid practised by the Anglo-Saxons. And yet, despite the migration of English genes into Wales, the province does not register upon Murray’s map of human accomplishment. Granted it has not been 800 years however the industrial revolution was quite a renaissance for South Wales. It is reasonable to conclude that the limited accomplishment of Wales is at least in part a result of the panmixia that occurred. Portugal is another example where civilizing forces did not lead to decline. It was tha advent of panmixia. Similarly, the mass migration of eastern and southern Europeans and the exodus and intermarriage of founding Americans in New England brought rapid decline.

Thus if Hamilton is correct the Neuordnung Europas, the colonization of Slavic lands by Nordic peoples would have brought a great renaissance for the ‘White’ race, even more so if the Nordic population did not intermarry.  wink

http://majorityrights.com/weblog/comments/more_on_ancient_europeans#c86510

2

Posted by DanielS. on January 30, 2013, 06:24 AM | #

As I have said before, I believe modernity is more the culprit than civilization, and I believe that the misunderstanding has been set forth by E.O.Wilson’s and kindred scientistic definitions of civilization.

Norman Borlaug perfectly characterizes some of the personalities that one might wish to highlight when Europeans mock Americans (Norwegian Americans, lest I am policed on that specifically). The kindness, the generosity, good will and some geniuses who the world might indeed, be grateful to rather than disparaging of.

Is what Borlaug has done a matter of civilization extending itself to the detriment of our best and own interests, or is it, rather, evangelical modernity which is doing that?

Hardly vulgar and incompetent, he is clearly a person who cares about the world beyond America and millions should be grateful.  From a liberal position, anyway, people ought to be humbled and not harshly critical. His heart, intelligence and accomplishments are cause for some optimism for our side, whatever end of the political spectrum.

There is the obvious non-liberal refrain, however – which is probably connected to America’s evangelizing modernity: He is feeding third world populations, aiding and abetting their cataclysmic population explosion.

While he has a good heart and brilliant logic, it may be a case of the technology of superior logic superseding the ecological requirements of judgment – not only promoting “monoculture” in crops, but perhaps in human ecologies as well.

If Jimmy Carter looks upon him as his hero, that’s a bad sign.

Wikipedia:

“The SAA is a research and extension organization that aims to increase food production in African countries that are struggling with food shortages. “I assumed we’d do a few years of research first,” Borlaug later recalled, “but after I saw the terrible circumstances there, I said, ‘Let’s just start growing’.”[23] Soon, Borlaug and the SAA had projects in seven countries. Yields of maize and sorghum in developed African countries doubled between 1983 and 1985.[not in citation given][33] Yields of wheat, cassava, and cowpeas also increased in these countries.[citation needed] At present, program activities are under way in Benin, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guinea, Mali, Malawi, Mozambique, Nigeria, Tanzania, and Uganda.

From 1986 to 2009, Borlaug was the President of the SAA. That year, a joint venture between The Carter Center and SAA was launched called Sasakawa-Global 2000 (SG 2000).[34] The program focuses on food, population and agricultural policy.[35] Since then, more than 8 million African, small-scale farmers in 15 countries have been trained in SAA farming techniques, which have helped them to double or triple grain production.[36] Those elements that allowed Borlaug’s projects to succeed in India and Pakistan, such as well-organized economies and transportation and irrigation systems, are severely lacking throughout Africa, posing additional obstacles to increasing yields. Because of this, Borlaug’s initial projects were restricted to developed regions of the continent.

Despite these setbacks, Borlaug found encouragement. Visiting Ethiopia in 1994, Jimmy Carter won Prime Minister Meles Zenawi’s support for a campaign seeking to aid farmers, using the fertilizer diammonium phosphate and Borlaug’s methods. The following season, Ethiopia recorded the largest harvests of major crops in history, with a 32% increase in production, and a 15% increase in average yield over the previous season. For Borlaug, the rapid increase in yields suggests that there is still hope for higher food production throughout sub-Saharan Africa.”

3

Posted by Wandrin on January 30, 2013, 01:31 PM | #

“The incursions of barbaric pastoralists seem to do civilizations less harm in the long run than one might expect”

I think pastoralists are more violent in most cases and a lot of the traits (but not all) associated with violence are useful so i think he’s half-right

...but only if the pastoralists are also at least as smart as the conquered.

So getting invaded by pastoralists from the north is not the same as getting invaded by pastoralists from closer to the tropics.

I think the northern invasions in europe added aggression and at the least didn’t reduce potential IQ and may even have increased it.

I think the Arab conquest was maybe detrimental in that regard or maybe neutral.

I think the Bantu expansion was probably a backward step.

I think the Mongols were too few in China to make a difference either way.

4

Posted by Wandrin on January 30, 2013, 01:46 PM | #

Of course Wales, especially South Wales is English not because of English rule but because of the mass migration of English to Wales during the industrial revolution…And yet, despite the migration of English genes into Wales, the province does not register upon Murray’s map of human accomplishment.

Most of that was to work in the coal mines so not exactly a broad cross-section of the population.

And per Thomas et al England is not genetically Welsh because of an apartheid practised by the Anglo-Saxons.

A lot of this kind of thing seems to be based on the proportion of I in British DNA and the idea that R1b is Celtic and I is Germanic. However as Denmark is roughly 50/50 R1b and I then half the anglo-saxons and half the danes would have been R1b also so there’s no need for any apartheid as the anglo-saxon percentage would have been much higher than the I percentage.

5

Posted by Euro on January 30, 2013, 04:02 PM | #

Zeke,

Angry Wasp is an angry idiot. I wonder; could he be related to Dumb Desmond?

6

Posted by daniels. on January 31, 2013, 04:23 AM | #

Let me re-trace an essential line of what seems to be the civilization as the crux of the problem line of reasoning, so that I do not appear to be merely setting aside a plausible hazard while suggesting that civilization may not be quite so lineal or pejorative in its unfolding:

Around the primordial campfire divisions of labor began to develop in people; thereupon specializations in people evolve which more and more take on eusocial characteristics through time. This creates a situation wherein individuals are overly contingent upon the social and therefore ripe for control by a centralizing parasitic organism which mimics the role of a queen-bee, turning the eusocial creatures into extended phenotypes of its (foreign) genetic interests.

7

Posted by daniels. on January 31, 2013, 04:31 AM | #

....whereas modernity, by definition, would tend to be quite that lineal in its unfolding and destruction of qualitative differences in its path. We’ve been through this before, but its important to be careful not to appear as if summarily dismissing carefully considered arguments.

8

Posted by James Bowery on January 31, 2013, 03:45 PM | #

DandielS, the “lineal” descent into modernity’s nihilism is clearly described by the Price equations and summed up in the last sentence of W. D. Hamilton’s presentation of them in “Innate Social Aptitudes of Man”:

A healthy society should feel sea-sick when confronted with the endless internal instabilities of the ‘solutions’, ‘coalition sets’, etc., which the theory of many-person games has had to describe. One hears that game theorists, trying to persuade people to play even two-person games like ‘Prisoner’s Dilemma’, often encounter exasperated remarks like: ‘There ought to be a law against such games!’ Some of the main points of this paper can be summarized as an answer to this comment: that often, in real life, there is a law, and we can see why, and that sadly we also see the protean nature of this Dilemma, which, when suppressed at one level, gathers its strength at another.

Another way of stating this is the inverse of the Bedoin saying:

“I against my brother, my brothers and I against my cousins, then my cousins and I against strangers”

to wit:

As civilized man, I join with my brother, my brothers and I join with our cousins, my cousins and I join with our nation, my nation and I join with our race, my race and I join with our species.

This is lineal and it begins at least as far back as the campfire.

The emergence of Nowak et al’s extended phenotypic exploitation of such “progress” is coevolved with the “progress”.  In other words, the extended phenotypic parasite is not indispensable to the “progress”, as Nowak et al would have us believe—although in the case of social insects it seems to be the stable end point.  Humans, on the other hand, appear bound for something far worse even than a small population of real humans controlling vast hoards of their zombie extended phenotypes.

Price’s original motivation was scientific understanding of war so as to terminate it.

He died alone and impoverished as a result of the fact that the only way to end war is to end human eusociality—and he simply did not have the ontology required to make that leap.

9

Posted by Graham_Lister on January 31, 2013, 05:21 PM | #

Only the dead have seen the end of war.

Violence and conflict will always be a possibility in human affairs. Here’s two universals of any realist philosophical anthropology – the inevitability of in-group/out-group formulations (ranging from the trivial to the deadly serious) and the existence of political power which primary exists as a serious of antagonism between groups (again ranging from the more or less trivial to the deadly serious).

Mr. Bowery with his Lockean ontology of the individual as voluntary contract is rather the pie eyed optimist if he thinks such arrangements will see the ‘end of war’ let alone retard the dynamics of hierarchical selection (Darwinian social evolution as such, including inclusive fitness theory – don’t believe me, read Steve Frank’s “Foundations of Social Evolution” for an introduction).

As to why Price ended up alone and without a penny upon his somewhat premature death, well our ‘old friend’ Christianity has a rather major role to play in the story (but I will leave that for now).

But the ‘end of war’ by the mechanism of mere voluntary contracts? Is this a wind-up, a joke we have all fallen for, the troll to end all trolling? This is utopianism of the very worst sort with a ‘realist’ alibi. Someone desperately needs to read some Schmitt.

Other’s can decide if Mr. Jimmy B. Locke’s hair-brained ‘ontology’ is worthy of serious engagement. Hopefully everyone with a functioning intellect will quickly see just how completely superficial, in every possible way, it actually is.

But is the idea of an arcadian utopia based on a radical Lockean reading of human nature really the stuff of serious meta-politics? Should it actually detain the serious-minded for one nano-second?

10

Posted by Desmond Jones on January 31, 2013, 05:52 PM | #

The difference being that bees, unlike humans, will never be concerned with the well being of their species. They will only ever be concerned with the well being of their colony and not with any macro threat that may threaten their species.

It is evident in the first place, that with mankind the
instinctive impulses have different degrees of strength; a savage will
risk his own life to save that of a member of the same community,
but will be wholly indifferent about a stranger: a young and timid
mother urged by the maternal instinct will, without a moment’s
hesitation, run the greatest danger for her own infant, but not for
a mere fellow-creature. Nevertheless many a civilized man, or even
boy, who never before risked his life for another, but full of courage
and sympathy, has disregarded the instinct of self-preservation, and
plunged at once into a torrent to save a drowning man, though a
stranger.

http://www.infidels.org/library/historical/charles_darwin/descent_of_man/chapter_04.html

It appears then that the broader form of sympathy for nation and species is not an innate but acquired trait. How then does it arise?

It is clear that, for Huxley, the only viable societal mechanism that could perform this task of suppressing human self-assertion was the socialization of children based on shame – emotionally wrenching and physiologically manifested shame.

http://www.theoccidentalobserver.net/2013/01/thomas-huxley-on-group-competition-and-ethics-part-1/

There is no eusocial animal, except man, that extends its altruism to species and in fact any sentient being.

11

Posted by James Bowery on January 31, 2013, 06:19 PM | #

Yeah its crazy the way Locke was always going on about natural law justifying the killing, by anyone by any means, of any man who shrinks from a challenge to natural duel.  But, being a mere minion of Satan, er, Locke, how can I but echo his blasphemy?

12

Posted by Firepower on January 31, 2013, 07:02 PM | #

Barbaric pastoralists like the Huns made Hungary.  I see no Hun architecture - but I see Roman.

Borlaug?  Well, Germans are notorious for coming up with spiffy ideas like besieging Stalingrad.

13

Posted by Graham_Lister on January 31, 2013, 08:01 PM | #

I know Mr. Bowery is fond of his own particular and fairly peculiar stipulative definitions of ‘war’, ‘civilisation’, ‘eusociality’, ‘individual sovereignty’ and it seems now ‘nihilism’.

But really can serious discussion be conducted with someone that seems intent on parroting the ‘ideas’ of the obscure and decidedly wacky ‘Sovereign Press’?

See - http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Sovereign_Press for more details.

Those ideas incidentally bare something of a resemblance to the central premise of the 2004 M. Night Shyamalan movie “The Village” at least in tone.

It seems we are, in the person of Mr. Bowery, in the territory of the very kooky – to say the least – such that these ‘ideas’ would test the patience of a saint (and I’m certainly no saint). Just like those of the ‘conspiracy’ school of history, I sense that it would be wasting one’s time to go through this particular conceptual quagmire with a fine tooth comb, as I doubt that the person concerned could ever be convinced of any error on their own part.

Infallablism does not make for productive discussion and some paradigms really are incommensurate. Therefore, under such circumstances, one can only stop participating in the conversation as it can only be an exercise in futility, let alone expensive in terms of opportunity costs!

14

Posted by James Bowery on January 31, 2013, 08:20 PM | #

Rational Wiki.  What a resource!  Makes Wikipedia look like Encyclopedia Britannica!

http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Racism#History

http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Racialism

http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Immigration

http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Holocaust_envy

http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/British_National_Party

http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Xenophobic

http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Friend_argument

etc.

One would hope that Graham Lister will contribute his encyclopedic breadth and philosophical dept to further edify RationalWiki’s already shining beacon of light unto the nations.  He’s got the style…

15

Posted by ben tillman on January 31, 2013, 11:22 PM | #

Civilization amounts to centralization.  As E.O. Wilson wrote,

Endowed with the advantages of colonial life, the social insects have managed to displace solitary insects, such as cockroaches, grasshoppers, and beetles, from the most favored nest sites and defensible foraging ranges. In the most general terms, social insects control the center of the land environment, while solitary insects predominate in the margins.

Like the social insects, Jews use their group cohesion (developed in their EEA at the junction of three continents) to occupy the most valuable ecological niches within our society.  Civilization means centralization, which in turn means fabulously rich ecological niches that those with apolitical genes can never hope to hold.

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