I come for the zen proxy experience of creating tools & end up learning lots about critters. You're fun reading!

Expand full comment
May 13Liked by Doctor Hammer

Another good, entertaining and thought provoking installment.

I am left with two thoughts, or questions.

I have viewed evolutionary processes not as some ordered process, a plan or even a selection. To me it has always been mischaracterized as improvements towards a higher goal. But from my perspective it has always been random changes at random times, allowing some random solitary member of a species to do just a bit better and allowing that individual the opportunity to have and make more, of themselves. The amazing thing to me is when we sit back and realize the enormity of for how long and for how often this has to be repeated for "change" to go from solitary event, to standardized situation.

Secondly, I was amused by my own thought drifting off about pill bugs. Will they become the lobster for the "you vill eat zee bugs" cult?

I will go and read Harrison's posts, when I have the distraction-less time available. That's my only quibble with his writing, it requires a substantial amount of concentration and patience. All good, just super heavy. I've read, picked up, put down, picked back up again, put back down again .... his book on ponerology several times and have yet to finish it.

Expand full comment

Thanks for bringing up the evolutionary angle. I have a couple preliminary thoughts on this. First, that biological evolution (however conceived) provides us with our basic 'survival template'. So as you write, each species will have a different range of motion, so to speak - different limits in which to act. But as a thorough-going speciesist and anthroposupremacist, I think humans are more than *just* another species. We have purposes on top of survival, but which in general must be consistent with survival. Our ultimate goals won't be consistent with extinction, for instance, but they may be consistent with a personal sacrifice. And there is more than one type of survival. In the schema I included in my piece, with higher and lower levels, sometimes the survival of one's personal integrity trumps the survival of their body.

So the way I see it, morality must be largely consistent with biological survival, but shouldn't necessarily be reduced or equated to it.

If I remember correctly, McConkey has some interesting things to say about the evolutionary nature of things like the common law in "Darwinian Liberalism."

//Sometimes cultures get sick, but sometimes they simply evolved for a different set of circumstances and have stopped being even “good enough” and are on their way out. //

Good distinction. In the terms of my piece, the latter would be a temporal mismatch.

//Typically applying the rules of the military to civilian institutions quickly makes them deranged, just as the military quickly becomes deranged when treated like a regular 9-5 job.//

And I think this is a good example of what I had in mind re: sick cultures. Sometimes bad rules may get adopted that don't necessarily spell destruction, but which can't said to be fitting for the context in which they've taken root.

Expand full comment
May 13Liked by Doctor Hammer

Or how about this? We are living in a simulation in which life was created in very general forms, but with huge amounts of genetic information that they could lose as they no longer needed it. If two people are stranded on an island, the one with a backpack full of tools has a better chance a of survival. But once it's determined what tools are useful, it would retard survival to be forced to carry the entire backpack of tools non stop everywhere you went. Once genetic info is gone, it's gone, and new information is basically impossible to add. When the environment changes rapidly and your genetic information has been whittled away, you die. Basically the theory of evolution in reverse. The fossil record would look the same, with "primitive" forms actually being those who have not yet lost enough info to be specialized for their environment. Highly evolved would actually be highly devolved, highly specialized, with little room for genetic variation. The Cambrian explosion would be easy to explain- lots of genetic information with explosive variation in offspring, each then finding their own niche.

Ahh, you know, nothing to take seriously, just thinking outside the box. 😁

Expand full comment

A couple of things:

1. A major difference between biological and cultural/moral evolution is that biological evolution doesn't forget. Once the change has happened it is in the genes and will stay there as long as that design continues to be successful in replicating. But social changes can be forgotten (at least by enough people). You mention communism as an obviously terrible (I agree) but a lot of people would still be in favour.

2. I feel these arguments fit well with a typical political distinction of conservatives Vs radicals. Conservatives see value in, and wish to defend the morals/culture developed in the past, the old ways. Radicals (of whatever type found at the particular time and place) want to build anew and from the ground up as you put it. The tension between the two determines most political battles.

Expand full comment

Great points. I suppose one question that arises is, how do you make a "multicultural" society work, when the different people of each subculture are trying to impose their cultural values on the rest of the society? Some of these values overlap or are at least consistent, but others really aren't. Usually these subcultures occur along ethnic or religious lines, but your example of military vs civilian cultures is a good example. You almost need a sovereign who is above it all, somehow, to arbitrate these clashes; otherwise it turns into a contest of whoever can dupe a majority of voters (or hijack the institutions) gets to impose their values on everyone else. But such sovereigns are rarely trustworthy and are usually partisan to a particular subculture. It's been making me wonder if multiculturalism is actually sustainable long term. I enjoy many aspects of it, but it does seem to have that fatal flaw. And with today's culture wars, it would be as if the pandas took over a zoo and tried to make the other animals balance their diets with bamboo. (Maybe the solution is to make society more like Nature and less like a zoo.)

Expand full comment