Category Archives: history

Tying It All Together?

I am sometimes asked why I pay attention to astrology. Actually, I don’t pay much attention to it, but, for some, any attention paid to astrology begs the question of why a so-called pseudoscience could attract someone’s, or my own, attention.

If I sense that this question is hiding the questioner’s desire to hold me to some rational account, I have a tried-and-true response.

You do understand that as matter of a priori development with respect to Baconian science and its successors that astrology is demonstrably necessary to the later development of astronomy and cosmology?

The history of the development of stuff presents a chain of primitive precedents, and, over the span of a future, our current knwoledge might well be someday viewed as being itself primitive. This goes along with what I call my favorite bias, you know the one that captures the brute fact that as one figuratively steps backward in time, all precedents of any sort disappear.

(The epistemic value or utility of astrology in any of its useful forms is determined as a matter of a psychology of practical heuristics. As I have previously written, the astrological chart captures a projection of psyche inasmuch as dealing with its information invokes learning about the Self.)

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Homo Non Intelligit

Aquinas Triumphant

Saint Thomas Aquinas, Triumphant

I.

I forget when the following happen, yet it happened sometime during the time I was an elementary school student. This event occurred at some point during third, fourth, fifth, or sixth grade. Although both my twin brother also went to the same school, we rarely walked together. He much enjoyed taking shortcuts and running to school. Whereas I preferred to take the sidewalk to the light, turn left, and make my way the third of a mile to the school itself. As it turns out one day I could have used his protection.

Everyday, coming in the opposite direction and headed toward the large Catholic school located three quarters of a mile in the opposite direction, were its denizens. One day, walking alone to school, I was jumped by two boys, tackled to the ground, and roughed up a bit. I ended up with one of the boys sitting on my chest, with my upper arms pinned to the ground. He looked into my face, spat in my eyes, and told me,

You know you’re going to hell!?

It was shouted in a combination of mockery, exhortation, and, at the same time, it retained its questioning facet. I have no idea if I answered, and tend to think almost fifty years after the fact that I likely did not answer affirmatively. I didn’t understood what my brusque antagonist was even speaking about.

Although my family wasn’t the least bit religious, I do recall asking my parents about what the question meant. Most of the time, questions like that caused both my dad and mom to send me back to the 1960 World Book Encyclopedia, (whose many volumes served as my closest early confidant, in a autodidactiv sense–ever since I had skimmed/read my way through each volume.) I read about the Catholic Religion, the Holy Roman Church, The Bible; who knows–maybe this is why religion came to interest me so much.

Scroll ahead thirty years or so and its the nineties and I’m in my forties. By this time I have a fairly modest, and nevertheless, informed, grasp of the situation of Christianity as a world religion. My principal fascination was with religious experience and, what I came to term, artifactual religion. My curiosity was fulfilled by my learning a bit about how the different religions came to be constituted into their multi-various forms from, as-it-were, scratch.

 

As a matter of my own arm chair interests, this anthropological frame is for me the central primary feature of religion in historical context. Religions arise from their historical-sociological antecedents. So, for example, if one scrolls backward in time from the arrival of the Summa Theologica (1274 CE) of Saint Thomas Aquinas in the overall scheme of worldly time, one scrolls back before the time of the eventuation of the Old Testament, and, soon enough one scrolls back through those antecedents. Up to a point such antecedents would be specific to the historical development of the Abrahamic religions in a particular location and at a specific time, and then past this point, older antecedents would seem to a knowledgeable traveler (gone back in time, or, simply competent with the evidence,) to become more primitive and increasingly unhinged from what are the recognizable domains of (what strike we contemporaries,) to civilized religions and sophisticated religiosity.

Then, around (very roughly) 500,000 years ago BC, the evidence, so far, for anything resembling symbolic behavior disappears. However, 4.5 billion years of planetary history, prior to this disappearance, remain unscathed by symbolic or religious behavior.

Stephen Calhoun artist

II.

Related to the anthropological perspective is religion’s manifestation as a consequence of human behavior, cognition and experience, for which the frame expands to encompass psychology and sociology. Although I became interested in the work of the psychologists William James and Carl Jung for reasons unrelated to my interest in religion, each in their distinctive ways came to deeply influence my working through to a modest extent the constitution of religion as an intentional individual and social phenomena.

Then, moving to the next viewpoint, the historical, the careful investigator inspects the timeline for religiosity as it unfolds locally over thousands of years in manifestations so brilliantly diverse that it would be ridiculous to then groan that the constituent religions are ‘at odds with one another.’

The fact of the usefulness of first and second order religious behavior is apparent, and at the same time, the investigator’s  second order framing and third order analysis is off the side, removed from the local social phenomena. However, to note that a social behavior with a religious motive or objective constitues a “ritual,” “tradition,” or, going farther, reflects the structuring of human purpose in accordance with a priori “propositions, “principles,” or “laws,” is to choose from some menu given by a third order framework.

This is crucial to teasing out the differentiation between the local phenomena of pragmatic mythologizing, and, the properties of “Mythology” as a category of human culture and its intentional artifactual life.

The blunt ramification is simply derived from the basic understanding: as one goes back in time, very soon, the idea and representation of God, or of Gods, of of the sacred, or of the divine, goes “poof!”

 

 

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Pragmatic Turning

On February 13, 2013, Richard J. Bernstein, the 2013 Selzer Visiting Philosopher gave this lecture at Beloit College. Dr. Bernstein is the Vera List Professor of Philosophy at The New School for Social Research.

The standard philosophical conventions that divide philosophy into such “schools” as pragmatism, analytic philosophy and Continental philosophy obscures [their] common pragmatic themes. Once these ideological blinders are removed, the philosophical investigations of the classical pragmatists, Heidegger, and Wittgenstein take on a fresh and more
exciting character. If we bracket the standard and misleading philosophical classification and look at what these philosophers are actually saying and doing, then a very different panorama emerges. We discover commonalities in what pragmatists, Wittgenstein and Heidegger are all reacting against, in their critique of traditional epistemology and metaphysics, and especially in the sea change in philosophical orientation that they seek to bring out. The Pragmatic Turn, 2010

Richard Rorty: RR: [There have been in our century] three conceptions of the aim of philosophizing. They are the Husserlian (or ‘scientistic’) answer, the Heideggerian (or ‘poetic’) answer, and the pragmatist (or ‘political’) answer.

In the comments section attached to this video is a fundamentalist’s view: I just to want to know “Did our Prophet and his companion ever dance like this way to call almighty Allah” If yes, what is the proof?. If not, this is an innovation. Prophet (PBUH) said, every innovation is misguidance , and every misguidance leads to Jahannam / hell fire.” ?

As Bernstein argues in his book, Violence: Thinking Without Banisters, religious certainty is naturally violent.

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Teaching Cartoon, Cave Man

teaching cartoon

Caveman
A caveman seeks revenge on a much larger competitor for the hand of a beautiful cavewoman.
Directed by Carl Gottlieb. Starring Ringo Starr, Dennis Quaid and Shelley Long.

Dr. Puck’s Prejudicial Proposition Number One:

If you step backward in time step by step, eventually every bright idea and every idea falls away.

Azerbaycan Rock Art

Azerbaycan Rock Art

(Genealogy Of Religion) Aside from the usual concerns about over interpretation, some wondered whether there was any justification for assuming that Paleolithic people had an essentially modern aesthetic category which might be called “art.” If they didn’t, it would follow that artistic interpretations of the cave paintings were just that and shed little light on Paleolithic minds.

Frustrated by the sense that we weren’t getting any closer to understanding Paleolithic symbols, some began searching for alternatives. One of the more compelling came from cognitive archaeologist David Lewis-Williams. Having studied rock art around the world, Lewis-Williams noticed that certain kinds of symbols regularly appeared across time and space. This was an enigma, given that the peoples producing these recurring symbols had not been in contact with one another. These symbols were not, in other words, the result of cultural diffusion. Lewis-Williams calls these symbols “entoptic forms”:

entoptic

 

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Hebrew Pairs & Opening Trunks

Hebrew_Alphabet

 

Excerpt from Opening Trunks, The Chuang Tzu, Chuangtse
Translated by Yutang Lin [source]

But nowadays any one can make the people strain their necks and stand on tiptoes by saying, “In such and such a place there is a Sage.” Immediately they put together a few provisions and hurry off, neglecting their parents at home and their masters’ business abroad, going on foot through the territories of the Princes, and riding to hundreds of miles away. Such is the evil effect of the rulers’ desire for knowledge When the rulers desire knowledge and neglect Tao, the empire is overwhelmed with confusion.

How can this be shown? When the knowledge of bows and cross-bows and hand-nets and tailed arrows increases, then they carry confusion among the birds of the air. When the knowledge of hooks and bait and nets and traps increases, then they carry confusion among the fishes of the deep. When the knowledge of fences and nets and snares increases, then they carry confusion among the beasts of the field. When cunning and deceit and flippancy and the sophistries of the “hard” and white’ and identities and differences increase in number and variety, then they overwhelm the world with logic.

Therefore it is that there is often chaos in the world, and the love of knowledge is ever at the bottom of it. For all men strive to grasp what they do not know, while none strive to grasp what they already know; and all strive to discredit what they do not excel in, while none strive to discredit what they do excel in. That is why there is chaos. Thus, above, the splendor of the heavenly bodies is dimmed; below, the power of land and water is burned up, while in between the influence of the four seasons is upset. There is not one tiny worm that moves on earth or insect that flies in the air but has lost its original nature. Such indeed is the world chaos caused by the desire for knowledge! Ever since the time of the Three Dynasties downwards, it has been like this. The simple and the guileless have been set aside; the specious and the cunning have been exalted. Tranquil inaction has given place to love of disputation; and disputation alone is enough to bring chaos upon the world.

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A Round, A Hole

Nominalism868

Some years ago, being with a camping party in the mountains, I returned from a solitary ramble to find everyone engaged in a ferocious metaphysical dispute, The corpus of the dispute was a squirrel -a live squirrel supposed to be clinging to one side of a tree-trunk; while over against the tree’s opposite side a human being was imagined to stand. This human witness tries to get sight of the squirrel by moving rapidly round the tree, but no matter how fast he goes, the squirrel moves as fast in the opposite direction, and always keeps the tree between himself and the man, so that never a glimpse of him is caught. The resultant metaphysical problem now is this: Does the man go round the squirrel or not? He goes round the tree, sure enough, and the squirrel is on the tree; but does he go round the squirrel?

In the unlimited leisure of the wilderness, discussion had been worn threadbare. Everyone had taken sides, and was obstinate; and the numbers on both sides were even. Each side, when I appeared, therefore appealed to me to make it a majority. Mindful of the scholastic adage that whenever you meet a contradiction you must make a distinction, I immediately sought and found one, as follows: “Which party is right,” I said, “depends on what you practically mean by ‘going round’ the squirrel. If you mean passing from the north of him to the east, then to the south, then to the west, and then to the north of him again, obviously the man does go round him, for he occupies these successive positions. But if on the contrary you mean being first in front of him, then on the right of him then behind him, then on his left, and finally in front again, it is quite as obvious that the man fails to go round him, for by the compensating movements the squirrel makes, he keeps his belly turned towards the man all the time, and his back turned away. Make the distinction, and there is no occasion for any farther dispute. You are both right and both wrong according as you conceive the verb ‘to go round’ in one practical fashion or the other.”
William James, excerpt from What Pragmatism Means, hat tip to the Mead Project

James&Royce

source: www.uky.edu/~eushe2/Pajares/JamesRoyce2.html

 

The really vital question for us all is, What is this world going to be? What is life eventually to make of itself? [src]

Our intelligence cannot wall itself up alive, like a pupa in its chrysalis. It must at any cost keep on speaking terms with the universe that engendered it. William James

I. Radical Empiricism – William James

I give the name of radical empiricism to my Weltanschauung. Empiricism is known as the opposite of rationalism. Rationalism tends to emphasize universals and to make wholes prior to parts in the order of logic as well as in that of being. Empiricism, on the contrary, lays the explanatory stress upon the part, the element, the individual, and treats the whole as a collection and the universal as an abstraction. My description of things, accordingly, starts with the parts and makes of the whole a being of the second order. It is essentially a mosaic philosophy, a philosophy of plural facts, like that of Hume and his descendants, who refer these facts neither to Substances in which they inhere nor to an Absolute Mind that creates them as its objects. But it differs from the Humian type of empiricism in one particular which makes me add the epithet radical.

To be radical, an empiricism must neither admit into its constructions any element that is not directly experienced, nor exclude from them any element that is directly experienced. For such a philosophy, the relations that connect experiences must themselves be experienced relations, and any kind of relation experienced must be accounted as real as anything else in the system. Elements may indeed be redistributed, the original placing of things getting corrected, but a real place must be found for every kind of thing experienced, whether term or relation, in the final philosophic arrangement.

Now, ordinary empiricism, in spite of the fact that conjunctive and disjunctive relations present themselves as being fully co-ordinate parts of experience, has always shown a tendency to do away with the connections of things, and to insist most on the disjunctions. Berkeley’s nominalism, Hume’s statement that whatever things we distinguish are as loose and separate as if they had no manner of connection. James Mill’s denial that similars have anything really in common, the resolution of the causal tie into habitual sequence, John Mill’s account of both physical things and selves as composed of discontinuous possibilities, and the general pulverization of all Experience by association and the mind-dust theory, are examples of what I mean.

The natural result of such a world-picture has been the efforts of rationalism to correct its incoherencies by the addition of trans- experiential agents of unification, substances, intellectual categories and powers, or Selves; whereas, if empiricism had only been radical and taken everything that comes without disfavor, conjunction as well as separation, each at its face value, the results would have called for no such artificial correction. Radical empiricism, as I understand it, does full justice to conjunctive relations, without, however, treating them as rationalism always tends to treat them, as being true in some supernal way, as if the unity of things and their variety belonged to different orders of truth and vitality altogether.

IMG_0892

William James Studies.org

Pluralism, Pragmatism, and Instrumental Truth – William James

James’s Application of Peirce (N.W. Williams)

 

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Illich On Water

Ray Winslow: Illich was deeply opposed to being recorded, on audio tape or film. “Modern-day pornography,” he called it. But yes, we are lucky to have this short clip of such an extraordinary thinker and human being.

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Crown of Creation

The Upsetter from Encyclopedia Pictura on Vimeo.

GodIsWatching

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Being a Hippie Changes Something

Moby Grape

Moby Grape – my first rock and roll record purchase

Action Schema

This schema comes from a Tumblr blog. I discovered it via a Google image search.

hippie-thoughts-o

I discovered this graphic via Google image search.

Hippie Action Schema

I put them together.

There is no reason to take a schema seriously if its context is a Google image search. I know because of my skillfulness in psychology that color used as a verb won’t cut it as an apt description of the psychological process that underlies intentional action. But, heck, I like the way the hippie graphic can be plugged in to the schema.

So, as hippies sometimes do, I just plug it in.

Old-Hippies

Damn, I am mostly bald forty-seven years after the Summer of Love.

I sometimes answer the question, What is your background? this way:

Being a hippie, and, music.

Many times this response compels a questioner of my age cohort to lean forward and in a near whisper reply:

I used to be a hippie.

Hippies were made fun of back in their heyday, and, old hippies remain low hanging targets. In the late nineties ‘hippie’ became the term on the internet for lumping liberals with progressives. This eventually led to concise formulas such as: Obama becoming President is all the fault of the hippies.

hoon

Hoon and pal Catherine at the Richmond Vermont commune, 1974


Although I moved to Vermont at 19 and spent formative years as a hippie in that most hippie-flavored state, its political blueness is the exception to the longstanding geography that demonstrates clearly that contemporary hippiedom is, quantitatively speaking, almost entirely a cosmopolitan phenomena.

For me, the essential character of my core hippie lesson is: experiment and retain negative capability against the pressure supplied by opportunities for belief.

Or, as John Lilly put it:

My beliefs are unbelievable.

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You’ve Been Warned

problemofthefeminine

Kali

Kali was first manifested when the Goddess Parvati knitted her brows in fury when the demon, Daruka, threatened the Gods. It was then that the three-eyed Kali first sprang forth from Parvati, fully armed, and immediately putting an end to Daruka. It is for this reason that Kali is considered an aspect of Parvati.

Other stories tell of how Kali fought and killed two demons. It was then, celebrating Her victory, that She drained the blood from their bodies and, drunk from the slaughter, She began to dance. Kali became overjoyed with the feel of their dead flesh under Her feet, and She continued to keep dancing, more and more wildly, until She finally realized that Her husband, Shiva, was underneath Her, and that She was dancing him to death.

Realizing this, Kali’s wildness did slow down, but only for a short while; it is believed that She will eventually continue Her dance and that when she does, it will bring an end to the world. Yet, her followers still believe that once faced and understood, Kali has the ability to free Her worshippers from all their fears. Once this occurs, then Kali metamorphasizes into another aspect, that of a loving and comforting Mother.

There is yet another version of Kali’s manifestation. The Gods were not able to kill the demon, Raktabija. Each drop of his blood that touched the ground turned into another Raktabija. Thus, every time he was struck, millions of his duplicates appeared all over the battlefield.

At this point the Gods were totally desperate, and they then turned to Shiva for help. Shiva, though, was so deep in meditation that he could not be reached. The Gods then turned to Shiva’s consort Parvati for help. The Goddess Parvati immediately set out to do battle with the demon, and it was then that She took the form of Kali.

Kali then appeared, with Her red eyes, dark complexion, gaunt features, hair unbound, and Her teeth as sharp as fangs. She rode into the midst of the battle on a lion, and it was only then that the demon Raktabija first began to experience fear.

Kali then ordered the Gods to attack Raktabija, while She spread Her tongue over the battlefield, covering it completely, and preventing even one drop of the demon’s blood from falling. In doing this, Kali prevented Raktabija from reproducing himself again, and the Gods were then victorious. Dolls of India

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The Other English Revolution

History of English Language

“When a man hath eat, and drink, and clothes, he hath enough. And all shall cheerfully put to their hands to make these things that are needful, one helping another. There shall be none lords over others, but everyone shall be a lord of himself, subject to the law of righteousness, reason and equity, which shall dwell and rule in him, which is the Lord.” Gerrard Winstanley

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Anti-Hayek

No man is an Iland, intire of itselfe; every man is a peece of the continent, a part of the maine; if a Clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the lesse, as well as if a Promontorie were, as well as if a Mannor of thy friends or of thine own were; any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in Mankind; and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.

Devotions upon Emergent Occasions John Donne (1624), No. XVII

h/t Jerry Swatez

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Awesome Photos from the Library of Congress on Flickr

Richard-Special

Time Machine

LOC-HOE-FLICKR

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Sweet Fern’s Evolution

Sweet Fern Productions | see also their Whale Fall

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Nelson Mandela

Nelson-Mandela-89bday

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Blues for a Hip King – Abdullah Ibrahim & Ekaya 1985

Any man that tries to rob me of my dignity will lose.
-Nelson Mandela

Something a martial artist would say. And, so he was, and Mandela was a man with a singular sense of time and an African sense of will.

Nelson Mandela 1918-2013 Sowetan.live.co.za

Mandela was for me, the greatest human of our time.

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Africa, the Original Home of Every Single Racist

Babel

Gotcha:

We saw 12 Years a Slave last night. Powerful.

Funny thread

I was interested to learn that a currently fashionable notion of Christian fundamentalists holds that Adam, being a farmer, had to be from the vicinity of modern day Turkey. Adam was the first man by virtue of having genes which allowed him to be an agriculturist right from the git-go. So, the other older ‘out of Africa’ humans were actually not humans like Adam was a human because their more primitive genes only allowed them to be hunter/gatherers. Oh, and Adam being the first human and created by God, lived to be 930 years old too.

Was the world populated through incest or did God create others besides Adam and Eve? (via Bible.org)

While some understand the reference to Adam in Genesis to be a general reference to mankind as a whole or the creation of more than one couple, most conservative scholars reject such a view and understand the Genesis account to refer to the creation of a literal Adam and Eve as a single couple. This is further supported by the NT. For instance Paul understood the OT to refer to a literal Adam and Eve (see Rom. 5:14; 2 Cor. 11:3; 1 Tim. 2:12-13). He clearly understood the reference to Adam and Eve to the first man and woman.
As to incest, it was not considered a sin and was not prohibited for Adam and early man. If the race was to populate and fulfill the command of Gen. 1:28, there is little doubt that Adam’s sons and daughters had to have married their own sisters and brothers if the race was to populate the earth, but due to the purity of the race as evidenced also by the long length of life, there were no adverse effects as we see happening today. Gradually, as the effects of sin took its toll on the human race, marrying one’s own sister, etc., began to create hereditary problems.

Here is Ryrie’s comment on this issue from his book Basic Theology (1986 ed) which I would highly recommend.
Though by many inerrantists the question of where Cain got his wife would not be considered a problem at all, this question is often used by those who try to demonstrate that the Bible is unreliable in what it claims. How could it claim that Adam and Eve were the first human beings who had two sons, one of whom murdered the other, and yet who produced a large race of people? Clearly, the Bible does teach that Adam and Eve were the first created human beings. The Lord affirmed this in Matthew 19:3-9. The genealogy of Christ is traced back to Adam (Luke 3:38). Jude 14 identifies Enoch as the seventh from Adam. This could hardly mean the seventh from “mankind,” an interpretation that would be necessary if Adam were not an individual as some claim. Clearly, Cain murdered Abel and yet many people were born. Where did Cain get his wife?

We know that Adam and Eve had other sons and daughters in addition to Abel, Cain, and Seth (Gen. 5:4), and if there was only one original family, then the first marriages had to be between brothers and sisters. Such marriages in the beginning were not harmful. Incest is dangerous because inherited mutant genes that produce deformed, sickly, or moronic children are more likely to find expression in children if those genes are carried by both parents. Certainly, Adam and Eve, coming from the creative hand of God, had no such mutant genes. Therefore, marriages between brothers and sisters, or nieces and nephews in the first and second generations following Adam and Eve would not have been dangerous.

Many, many generations later, by the time of Moses, incest was then prohibited in the Mosaic laws undoubtedly for two reasons: first, such mutations that caused deformity had accumulated to the point where such unions were genetically dangerous, and second, it was forbidden because of the licentious practices of the Egyptians and Canaanites and as a general protection against such in society. It should also be noted that in addition to the Bible most other legal codes refuse to sanction marriages of close relatives.
But here is another issue to consider. If one accepts the evolutionary hypothesis as to the origin of the human race, has that really relieved the issue of incest? Not unless you also propound the idea of the evolution of many pairs of beings, pre-human or whatever, at the same time. No matter what theory of the origin of the human race one may take, are we not driven to the conclusion that in the early history of the race, there was the need for intermarriage of the children of the same pair?

excerpted from The Search for Adam and Eve|John Tierney|Newsweek (1992)

To find Eve, Cann first had to persuade 147 pregnant women to donate their babies’ placentas to science. The placentas were the easiest way to get large samples of body tissue. Working with Wilson and a Berkeley biologist, Mark Stoneking, Cann selected women in America with ancestors from Africa, Europe, the Middle East and Asia. Her collaborators in New Guinea and Australia found Aboriginal women there. The babies were born, the placentas were gathered and frozen, and the tissue analysis began at Wilson’s lab in Berkeley. The tissues were ground in a souped-up Waring blender, spun in a centrifuge, mixed with a cell-breaking detergent, dyed flourescent and spun in a centrifuge again. The result was a clear liquid containing pure DNA.
This was not the DNA in the nucleus of the babies’ cells — the genes that determine most physical traits. This DNA came from outside the nucleus, in a compartment of the cell called the mitochondrion, which produces nearly all the energy to keep the cell alive. Scientists didn’t learn that the mitochondrion contained any genes until the 1960s. Then in the late 1970s they discovered that mitochondrial DNA was useful for tracing family trees because it’s inherited only from the mother. It’s not a mixture of both parents’ genes, like nuclear DNA, so it preserves a family record that isn’t scrambled every generation. It’s altered only by mutations — random, isolated mistakes in copying the genetic code, which are then passed on to the next generation. Each random mutation produces a new type of DNA as distinctive as a fingerprint. (The odds against two identical mitochondrial DNA’s appearing by chance are astronomical because there are so many ways to rearrange the units of the genetic code.)

To study these mutations, the Berkeley researchers cut each sample of DNA into segments that could be compared with the DNA of other babies. The differences were clear but surprisingly small. There weren’t even telltale distinctions between races. “We’re a young species, and there are really very few genetic differences among cultures,” Stoneking says. “In terms of our mitochondrial DNA, we’re much more closely related than almost any other vertebrate or mammalian species. You find New Guineans whose DNA is closer to other Asians’ than to other New Guineans’.” This may seem odd, given obvious racial differences. In fact, though, many differences represent trivial changes. Skin color, for instance, is a minor adaptation to climate — black in Africa for protection from the sun, white in Europe to absorb ultraviolet radiation that helps produce vitamin D. It takes only a few thousand years of evolution for skin color to change. The important changes — in brain size, for instance — can take hundreds of thousands of years.

The babies’ DNA seemed to form a family tree rooted in Africa. The DNA fell into two general categories, one found only in some babies of recent African descent, and a second found in everyone else and the other Africans. There was more diversity among the exclusively African group’s DNA, suggesting that it had accumulated more mutations because it had been around longer — and thus was the longest branch of the family tree. Apparently the DNA tree began in Africa, and then at some point a group of Africans emigrated, splitting off to form a second branch of DNA and carrying it to the rest of the world.
All the babies’ DNA could be traced back, ultimately, to one woman. In itself that wasn’t surprising, at least not to statisticians familiar with the quirks of genetic inheritance. “There must be one lucky mother,” Wilson says. “I worry about the term ‘Eve’ a little bit because of the implication that in her generation there were only two people. We are not saying that. We’re saying that in her generation there was some unknown number of men and women, probably a fairly large number, maybe a few thousand.” Many of these other women presumably are also our ancestors, because their nuclear genes would have been passed along to sons and daughters and eventually would have reached us. But at some point these other women’s mitochondrial genes disappeared because their descendants failed to have daughters, and so the mitochondrial DNA wasn’t passed along. At first glance it may seem inconceivable that the source of all mitochondrial DNA was a single woman, but it’s a well-established outcome of the laws of probability.

You can get a feel for the mathematics by considering a similar phenomenon: the disappearance of family names. Like mitochondrial DNA, these are generally passed along by only one sex — in this case, male. If a son marries and has two children, there’s a one-in-four chance that he’ll have two daughters. There’s also a chance that he won’t have any children. Eventually the odds catch up and a generation passes without a male heir, and the name disappears. “It’s an inevitable consequence of reproduction,” says John Avise, a geneticist at the University of Georgia. “Lineages will be going extinct all the time.” After 20 generations, for instance, it’s statistically likely that only 90 out of 100 original surnames will disappear. Avise cites the history of Pitcairn Island in the Pacific, which was settled in 1790 by 13 Tahitian women and six British sailors who had mutinied on the Bounty. After just seven generations, half of the original names have disappeared. If the island remained isolated, eventually everyone would have the same last name. At that point a visitor could conclude that every inhabitant descended from one man — call him the Pitcairn Adam.

So thus there must be a mitochondrial Eve, and even traditional anthopologists can’t really argue against her existence. What shocked them about Mitochondrial Mom was her birthday, which the Berkeley researchers calculated by counting the mutations that have occurred to her DNA. They looked at the most distant branches of the family tree — the DNA types most different from one another — and worked backward to figure out how many steps it would have taken for Eve’s original DNA to mutate into these different types. They assumed that these mutations occurred at a regular rate — a controversial assumption that might be wrong, but which has been supported by some studies of humans and animals. Over the course of a million years, it appears that 2 to 4 percent of the mitochondrial DNA components will mutate. By this molecular calculus, Eve must have lived about 200,000 years ago (the range is between 140,000 and 290,000 years). This date, published this past January by the Berkeley group, agrees with the estimate of a team of geneticists led by Douglas Wallace of Emory University.

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to “flee” the world is to construct one in which flight is possible

“One of the Worst Things About Being a Hippie Was Lunch”

Radical perspectives

Poet and Critic Stephen Ellis. [speaking of a different subject]: Keeping in mind that the tail of any potentially destructive comet equally provides the instant of light by which we may read Genesis, the course of the imagination of its traverse constitutes the writing on the wall that makes from sheer somatic desire the political heat of inter-relation expressed in terms of a musically comedic persona dramatis of Amritamanthanean dimension, ie., “Let’s burn down the cornfield”. One can be martyred by possible ends only by neglecting to imagine their effects in the present; the fear of death is generative, of bright desire, which defines the literal edge one must occupy in order to gratefully receive any “cosmic collision.” To imagine from this perspective that objects, events and persons have a lifetime, limits and an end, might be sufficient to imagining, clarifying and “believing” (acting upon) what those limits most actually are; the world is made of made passes, and to put one in receivership of same includes the possibility of being hit on the head by the selfsame comet, the tail of whose brilliant passage one’s used to illuminate the selfsame fear out of which one had spoken (and hoped to escape), and from (within) which one continues now to speak (flee). Escape entails utter confrontation; to “flee” the world is to construct one in which flight is possible. (JFK’s Head Blown Out from a Cosmic Inflationary Spiral: Stephen Ellis on Poetry, Jack Clarke, Palestine, Position-Taking, the End of the World, and Cyberpoetry; in Volume 5, Jack Magazine)

Hippies

The Source Family (Trailer) from Eternal Now on Vimeo.

Why do hippies wave their arms when they dance?

To keep the music out of their eyes.

Director/Writer: Marcus Robbin. Broadcast 2002.

I have spoken of a possible crisis, of the eventuality of a crisis of the system. The forces that contribute to such a crisis would have to be discussed in great detail. I believe that we must see this crisis as the confluence of very disparate subjective and objective tendencies of an economic, political, and moral nature, in the East as well as the West. These forces are not yet organized on a basis of solidarity. They have no mass basis in the developed countries of advanced capitalism. Even the ghettos in the United States are in the initial stage of attempted politicization. And under these conditions it seems to me that the task of the opposition is first the liberation of consciousness outside of our own social group. For in fact the life of everyone is at stake, and today everyone is part of what Veblen called the “underlying population,” namely the dominated. They must become conscious of the horrible policy of a system whose power and pressure grow with the threat of total annihilation. They must learn that the available productive forces are used for the reproduction of exploitation and oppression and that the so-called free world equips itself with military and police dictatorships in order to protect its surplus. This policy can in no way justify the totalitarianism of the other side, against which much can and must be said. But this totalitarianism is not expansive or aggressive and is still dictated by scarcity and poverty. This does not change the fact that it must be fought – but from the left.

Now the liberation of consciousness of which I spoke means more than discussion. It means, and in the current situation must mean, demonstrations, in the literal sense. The whole person must demonstrate his participation and his will to live, that is, his will to live in a pacified, human world. The established order is mobilized against this real possibility. And, if it harms us to have illusions, it is just as harmful, perhaps more harmful, to preach defeatism and quietism, which can only play into the hands of those that run the system. The fact is, that we find ourselves up against a system that from the beginning of the fascist period to the present has disavowed through its acts the idea of historical progress, a system whose internal contradictions repeatedly manifest themselves in inhuman and unnecessary wars and whose growing productivity is growing destruction and growing waste. Such a system is not immune. It is already defending itself against opposition, even that of intellectuals, in all corners of the world. And even if we see no transformation, we must fight on. We must resist if we still want to live as human beings, to work and be happy. In alliance with the system we can no longer do so. – Herbert Marcuse, conclusion The Problem of Violence and the Radical Opposition

Also: Liberation From An Affluent Society 1967

laborchain

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The Art of Discovery

h/t shortoftheweek

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And, we do the math for you too

time comparison

4 divided by 2,789 = 0.0014342058 (via cracked.com’s iPad app)

Permanently attached to the sidebar of the explorations blog is a link to Cary Huang’s interactive graphic about the scale of the universe. It captures another, humbling, dimension and is described by your curator as essential for a reason–well worth a visit.

 

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Psychology einhundertein

Wonders of Your Head

Why Freud Still Matters, When He Was Wrong About Almost Everything io9

George Dvorsky does a good job in his short article aiming to review Freud’s contribution to psychology. Some of the comments are interesting too.

Sigmund Freud Speaks: The Only Known Recording of His Voice, 1938

I lean more toward the structuralism of C.G. Jung than that of Freud, yet, personally, because Freud is the necessary precedent to the ongoing provocations of the post-Freudians, Freud’s contribution remains lively. Also, I’m always reminded the introspective field of the proto-depth ‘psychologies’ suppose such intuitions, elaborations and formulations to be typically phenomenological; and this in turn, has given ordinary folk psychologists–everybody to lesser or greater extent–a vocabulary for talking about our development. Face it, to simulate other minds or intuit other mind’s models, seems yo require something like a set of normative behavioral categories, right?

Is psychoanalysis psychology or poetics?

I came to the article by way of 9 Quarks Daily, and in the comments there was a link to Freudian and Post-Freudian Psychology: A Bibliography Patrick S. O’Donnell. From his excellent essay:

Introduction & Apologia

A New York Times piece by Patricia Cohen, “Freud Is Widely Taught at Universities, Except in the Psychology Department,” summarizes a recent study in The Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association:

“Psychoanalysis and its ideas about the unconscious mind have spread to every nook and cranny of the culture from Salinger to ‘South Park,’ from Fellini to foreign policy. Yet if you want to learn about psychoanalysis at the nation’s top universities, one of the last places to look may be the psychology department. A new report by the American Psychoanalytic Association has found that while psychoanalysis—or what purports to be psychoanalysis—is alive and well in literature, film, history and just about every other subject in the humanities, psychology departments and textbooks treat it as ‘desiccated and dead,’ a historical artifact instead of ‘an ongoing movement and a living, evolving process.’”

One reason that looms large in accounting for this state of affairs is the extent to which academic psychology in this country conceives itself as a “scientific” enterprise. And inasmuch as this putative psychological science is linked to an experimental and clinical science of health care, it fancies itself grounded in “empirical rigor and testing,” beholden, that is, to what falls under the allegedly rigorous rubric of “evidence-based medicine” (EBM). This conception strives to place psychology on par with other natural sciences and further explains the recent overweening infatuation with neuroscience and the extravagant claims often made on behalf of evolutionary psychology.[1] An ancillary reason involves sceptical disenchantment with the so-called folk theory of mind or folk psychology from not a few quarters in the philosophy of mind (e.g., eliminative materialism).[2]

This is not to insinuate that this folk theory is immune to philosophical revision or extension, but only that any plausible psychological model has compelling reasons for assuming at least some of the key premises that animate this model. Nor is this to imply that psychology can or should ignore science, rather, it may be the case that psychology, insofar as it deals with (a narrative sense of) “the self” and with the nature of mental life, may be better construed as a “science of subjectivity,” wherein science is best understood in an analogical or metaphorical sense, or used simply to refer to a systematic and thus coherent system of inquiry and knowledge (cf. the ‘Islamic sciences’) rather than simply or solely as an objectivist and naturalistic—and frequently positivist—endeavor. Freudian psychology in general and psychoanalysis in particular resist the post-positivist (hence scientistic) “penchant for quantities” and the “fetish for measurement” that infect the natural and social sciences, symptomatic evidence for which is seen in the inordinate fondness for and explanatory and normative privilege accorded to, game theory, cost-benefit calculations, and Bayesian probability estimates (its paradigm of statistical inference serving as the epitome of empirical argument), for example (in saying this, I am not being dismissive of such tools).

In other words, and in the end, Freudian psychology shares with Pragmatism broadly conceived what Hilary Putnam calls the “revolt against formalism:” “This revolt against formalism is not a denial of the utility of formal models in certain contexts; but it manifests itself in a sustained critique of the idea that formal models, in particular, systems of symbolic logic, rule books of inductive logic, formalizations of scientific theories, etc.—describe a condition to which rational thought can or should aspire.” In this case, a condition to which our psychology can or should aspire. To paraphrase and quote again from Putnam, our conceptions of rationality cast a net far wider than all that can be scientized, logicized, mathematized, in short, formalized: “The horror of what cannot be methodized is nothing but method fetishism.”

As for modern scientific psychology, it isn’t very capacious given the total ecology of mental functioning, intentionality, and agency. Nor is it likely ever to be so with respect to being able to, for example, predict everyday behavior. What will Subject A put in their shopping cart?

Elsewhere our groping for understanding remains informed by the remaining, roughly accurate, categories and concepts of depth psychology. These conceptions, etc.. are also revisable.

Poetics?

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