Patriarchy Arises from Ownership

My two recent essays in this space, here and here, contemplated the idea of ownership. I’d be hard pressed to find a worse idea than ownership, an idea that lies at the root of our myriad predicaments. In this brief essay, I follow ownership to its logical conclusion: human behavior.

I can already hear the cries of protest. Please, bear with me. Try to listen beyond the frantic, self-indulgent voices of relatively wealthy, heterosexual, Caucasian men.

Once we accept the slippery slope of ownership, boundaries cease to exist. We ignore, hate, and enslave those we view as “other.” And we’re easily manipulated into seeing the “other” beyond our own self-identified selves. Witness the Great Lie known as American exceptionalism.

Nearly everybody readily capitulates to a system that provides enormous benefits to a few, ample benefits to many, a few benefits to the majority, and horrifying conditions for the remainder. The system has embedded within it a monetary system designed by the few to benefit the same few at the apex of the system. These few are called patriarchs. The system is called patriarchy.

Contrary to prevailing opinion, it is not men who make up patriarchy. Not all men rule, and most men are exploited. Patri- (from pater) means “father” in Latin and Greek and can be traced to the Indo-European languages where it first appeared with the emergence of patriarchy, about 7,000 years ago.

In pre-patriarchal societies the word father did not exist separate from “mother” (one of the oldest words in all regions of the world). From the time “father” was separated from “mother,” the former word represented the image of ruler-ship, consistent with its current meaning.

The current meaning of father (aka, ruler) is normal only in the sense that civilization is normal. Of course it’s all we’ve ever known, and it’s the source of the written record of humans. But to claim civilization is normal is to deny the initial couple million years of the human experience (more than 99.7% of our existence).

Accepting patriarchy as “normal” allows us to accept the horrors of civilization as normal. These horrors include destruction, violence, and oppression. For the most part, we turn away, thus becoming willing participants in the horrors of imperialism.

And why not? To accept responsibility implies alternative action. Accepting responsibility is painful. Acting on that responsibility is tortuous, for the willing few.

Accepting reality leads to difficult introspection and, in some cases, even more difficult personal choices. It also might lead to counter-cultural acts. Acting beyond the dominant paradigm, which those in the dominant culture claim to support but actually punish, could lead — and has led — to incarceration, torture, and early death. Supporting the dominant paradigm supports destruction, violence, and oppression. For most people, the decision to support the dominant paradigm is easy.

At this late date in the history of Homo sapiens, patriarchy is the only game in the “civilized” world. It dominants every aspect of life on Earth, including our private, personal lives. Consider, for example, our closest relationships.

During my early days of teaching college classes, I had a student proudly proclaim that homosexuality was a horrible act, conducted by horrible people. Whether you believe in god or evolution, he said, you have to believe there is no purpose to homosexuality. Ergo, it is wrong.

The student was adamantly expressing his entrenched understanding of the dominant culture. Heterosexual monogamy is good. Every other sexual act is bad. Indeed, every other type of relationship is bad.

Much later, when I was teaching at a small, state-funded university in southern Utah, I stumbled across a similar tragedy. When asked for three sources to support their written perspectives in scientific analyses, students routinely cited the Christian bible and their fathers as two of the three sources. Patriarchy rocks, dude.

There is expansive evidence for homosexuality in non-human species. There is no evidence of purpose in the entire universe beyond the purposes we assign to our own insignificant lives. The entire concept of divinity is rife with assumptions unsupported by evidence. The assignation of evil to human acts beyond imperialism is ludicrous.

The marriage-industrial complex is a product of civilization. It has become embedded within dominant religions, which are uniformly characterized by the “golden rule.” Marriage, like gold and the associated rule, is part and parcel of imperialism. Men own their women, and also their children. Non-monogamous relationships are weird to the point of being dangerous.

The bottom line, as always: There is only one proper way to live. Attempting to live differently warrants punishment.


My work is mentioned frequently and favorably in an essay published 16 January 2015 at The Daily Impact. It’s titled, “Scientists to Earth: Prepare to Abandon Planet,” and it’s linked here.

Comments 101

  • oh quick, distraction, distraction, disinformation, denial –

    Oops! NASA only 38% sure 2014 was ‘warmest on record’

    NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies claimed its analysis of world temperatures showed ‘2014 was the warmest year on record’
    But it emerged that GISS’s analysis is subject to a margin of error
    NASA admits this means it is far from certain that 2014 set a record at all The NASA climate scientists who claimed 2014 set a new record for global warmth last night admitted they were only 38 per cent sure this was true.

    In a press release on Friday, NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) claimed its analysis of world temperatures showed ‘2014 was the warmest year on record’.

    The claim made headlines around the world, but yesterday it emerged that GISS’s analysis – based on readings from more than 3,000 measuring stations worldwide – is subject to a margin of error. NASA admits this means it is far from certain that 2014 set a record at all.

    Yet the NASA press release failed to mention this, as well as the fact that the alleged ‘record’ amounted to an increase over 2010, the previous ‘warmest year’, of just two-hundredths of a degree – or 0.02C. The margin of error is said by scientists to be approximately 0.1C – several times as much.

    As a result, GISS’s director Gavin Schmidt has now admitted NASA thinks the likelihood that 2014 was the warmest year since 1880 is just 38 per cent. [there’s more]

    [in robotic voice: “can’t . . take .. .reality!”]

  • Hey – Marge Innovera was the head statistician for Klick and Klack!

  • Thank you Guy.

    It is striking that you are one of the infinitesimal cohorts that get it correct time after time.

  • As I noted in ‘The Easy Way’, the concept of ownership is linked to the manufacture of tools by pre-sapiens ancestors. To deliberately collect stones and spend time shaping them for specific tasks -scraping, puncturing etc.- leads to the idea that a particular tool is owned by a particular person. That would be especially true if a great deal of effort was required to obtain and shape a particular type of stone. The concept of ownership would be even more established once humans developed spear and bows and arrows. We can imagine a hunting scene in which an individual recovers the spear he manufactures from the body of a dead animal and reuses it.

    The concept of ownership would undoubtedly have extended to the occupation of caves: living in a secure cave that provided shelter and a relatively stable temperature would have provided an individual or a group with a biological advantage; the individual or group would have undoubtedly defended ‘its cave’ against intruders.

    Although I agree with your discussion of the horrific consequences of the continuing operation of industrial civilisation, I think you are making unfounded assertions which actually do not make any sense, Guy.

    I did try to put you on the ‘right track’ when you last went down this track, but to no avail, it seems.

    This is not actually about anybody being proven right as such but about examining the evidence and coming to logical conclusions, of course.

    Owning weapons or tools provided the owner with reproductive advantage, so ownership became firmly established as a human trait.

    As I see it, the predicament we are now in emanates from abandoning hunter-gatherer lifestyles and adopting agriculture. As I pointed out in TEW, once you have a crop you have to defend it from nature and from potential thieves, which exacerbates the need for weapons and violence.

    In all cases, individual organisms are seeking a supply of nutrients, and the requirement to eat overrides almost everything else: hence the monkey trap, whereby the monkey will not let go of the food item, even though doing so puts the monkey into severe jeopardy.

    Like George Carlin, I have ‘given up on my country and my species’ (well most of them). The great division between the few who have any idea and the masses who have no idea is accelerating. It seems certain that ignorance, stupidity and stubbornness will rule till the end of time. Indeed, it seems that ignorance, stupidity and stubbornness are increasing rather than declining. I guess it has to be that way when the industrial system has eliminated (albeit in the short term) the need to think or be physically active.

  • Bud writes: Now, will you kindly respond to the questions in a direct manner? To me, at least, they seem relevant and important. Please explain how some alleged non-physical ghost, spirit, consciousness, god, energy, or other supposed non-physical entity or process that presumably exists in some “other, non-physical realm” can influence or have an effect on physical processes while not having a physical nature. How could any physical human ever conceivably come by any knowledge at all of such alleged non-physical spirits, entities, forces, energies, or consciousness, as Jeff S. and others have suggested, much less reliable, confirmable knowledge about these things? Please describe the alleged process or processes by which this presumably can happen and how we might construct our knowledge about them.


    That IS a hard problem. I wonder why no one ever thought about it before?

    It is a great service to humanity that you are articulating it so artfully before the lights go out on our little blue ball.

    Clearly you’re a deep thinker. Have you ever thought about writing a book?


    (From the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy)

    The Hard Problem of Consciousness

    The hard problem of consciousness is the problem of explaining why any physical state is conscious rather than nonconscious. It is the problem of explaining why there is “something it is like” for a subject in conscious experience, why conscious mental states “light up” and directly appear to the subject. The usual methods of science involve explanation of functional, dynamical, and structural properties—explanation of what a thing does, how it changes over time, and how it is put together. But even after we have explained the functional, dynamical, and structural properties of the conscious mind, we can still meaningfully ask the question, Why is it conscious? This suggests that an explanation of consciousness will have to go beyond the usual methods of science. Consciousness therefore presents a hard problem for science, or perhaps it marks the limits of what science can explain. Explaining why consciousness occurs at all can be contrasted with so-called “easy problems” of consciousness: the problems of explaining the function, dynamics, and structure of consciousness. These features can be explained using the usual methods of science. But that leaves the question of why there is something it is like for the subject when these functions, dynamics, and structures are present. This is the hard problem.

    In more detail, the challenge arises because it does not seem that the qualitative and subjective aspects of conscious experience—how consciousness “feels” and the fact that it is directly “for me”—fit into a physicalist ontology, one consisting of just the basic elements of physics plus structural, dynamical, and functional combinations of those basic elements. It appears that even a complete specification of a creature in physical terms leaves unanswered the question of whether or not the creature is conscious. And it seems that we can easily conceive of creatures just like us physically and functionally that nonetheless lack consciousness. This indicates that a physical explanation of consciousness is fundamentally incomplete: it leaves out what it is like to be the subject, for the subject. There seems to be an unbridgeable explanatory gap between the physical world and consciousness. All these factors make the hard problem hard.

    The hard problem was so-named by David Chalmers in 1995. The problem is a major focus of research in contemporary philosophy of mind, and there is a considerable body of empirical research in psychology, neuroscience, and even quantum physics. The problem touches on issues in ontology, on the nature and limits of scientific explanation, and on the accuracy and scope of introspection and first-person knowledge, to name but a few. Reactions to the hard problem range from an outright denial of the issue to naturalistic reduction to panpsychism (the claim that everything is conscious to some degree) to full-blown mind-body dualism.


    Full article link

  • Bob S.,

    Nope. Gravity exists as one of the four fundamental PHYSICAL forces in the universe. Though paradoxically the weakest force by far, as a long-range force it proves critically important, accounting for the formation of stars, among other things. (The other three fundamental forces include the electromagnetic, weak, and strong nuclear forces.)


    Thanks again. Mayr’s views support the observations of anthropologist Steven LeBlanc, and others, related to human intelligence allowing us to create killing tools vastly more efficient that those created by other hominids, which contributed strongly to the population growth-based exploit-expand-move cycle now almost certainly in its final, global-scale iteration.

    On the other hand, I think that one might reasonably argue, in opposition to Mayr, that even though perhaps more often than not intelligence does lead to fatal outcomes, it does not NECESSARILY produce lethal results. For example, as John Gottman learned in developing his love relationship equations (non-linear differential equations; see Principia Amoris or The Mathematics of Marriage), the equations much more accurately modeled the observational data after they added repair and damping parameters. Evolutionary processes certainly may have added “repair” and “damping” parameters that counterbalance the fatal tendencies of intelligence in some places in the universe, thus avoiding our rapid, fatal outcome.

    In my comment that “I consider it completely natural for biotic life to go extinct” I did not mean to suggest that ALL biotic life will naturally go extinct. I only meant that it seems natural to me that in some times and places extinction happens—whether humans like it, or not. I would not feel surprised if we learned that abiotic life also can experience extinction in some times and places. For example, I think it safe to assume that no life, biotic or abiotic, lives on stars.

  • I’m going to go back to a work I’ve cited before here: John Gray’s “Straw Dogs”. Quoting Alexander Herzen, who writes, “Why does everything else exist as it ought to exist, whereas with man, it is the opposite?”

    Alpha males of many mammalian species have procreational success when they ‘own’/control a number of females. Humans culturally codified this further when property became a “thing” because men understandably didn’t want to work, fight and die in order to benefit another man’s offspring.

    All the things that we do, we do because these strategies HAVE led to procreational success, in general. Looking at human population figures this would be impossible to argue. (That *has* led to success is not necessarily what *will* lead to future success is also pretty obvious.)

    Why property arose in the first place was, as far as I am aware, due to scarcity in the natural world… leading to agricultural practices as a response on the part of most cultures, this again a symptom of our “success” as a species.

    I know Guy has strong feelings on this subject, but he’s lost sight of the overall picture, which is deterministic and not reversible. There’s a disconnect when he says “there is no evidence of purpose” and yet he sets aside “imperialism” as an “evil” act outside the scope of nature. If a giant termite mound took over a plot of land, would it be scientifically rational to label it a termite “empire” and assign a morally negative view of it? In the wars between ant colonies, do we editorialize about whether they are “just” wars, pick out who is the good guy or the bad guy ant?

    Most animals, that I know of, have pecking orders.. hierarchies. Humans just have a massively overbearing and complex external hierarchical structure because we ever more cleverly tap into energy surpluses to maintain that. It seems violent, but the greater violence would actually be to have populations brutally controlled by disease, famine and war, which they are currently not to any important extent.

    See this interesting article, about the world’s largest ant colony:

    I think where Guy sees injustice and patriarchy, he’s overlooking the much vaster—the inconceivably vast—amount of tolerance and co-operation it takes to make IndCiv run, injustices notwithstanding. In what other era would it be normal to trade in an utterly streamlined fashion with anyone on the planet with access to electricity, a phone connection and a computer? Our “problem”, paradoxically, isn’t that we fight too much, it’s that we don’t fight enough!

    When the surplus energy disappears, though, if anyone is still around, then we’ll revert to alternate forms of communicating dominance and social position, as all animals do. But Guy, perhaps you know more than I do and can point to animals who live in a completely egalitarian fashion? Still, even if there were such an animal, that doesn’t mean WE CAN BE THAT, anymore than we can fly unaided just because there are flying squirrels.

    The only ways we are different from other animals as far as I can see is that 1.) we have been *the* most successful species, apparently, in eradicating predators who would keep our numbers in check and 2.) we have the capacity to be dimly aware of this evolved advantage having been a double-edged sword.

    Most human philosophizing has been anguished, driven of a seeming necessity to explain ourselves to ourselves, imperative in wanting to find “solutions” to the human condition. Which requires (an assumption my opening citation challenges) that the human condition is and has been an ongoing “problem”.. and that the human race is intrinsically damaged goods. Which ushers in the whole kit and kaboodle of theologies and teleologies from time immemorial: culturally rich and entertaining they may be (see ulvfugl’s threads on the forum) but pointless in explaining who were are and who we are “supposed” to be.

    According to most, we are supposed to be something we are not, with the goal of “betterment” always on the horizon like a mirage. Yet we don’t talk about lions or dung beetles needing to be “better” lions or “better” dung beetles. Their behavior is accepted as.. their behavior.

  • Once we accept the slippery slope of ownership, boundaries cease to exist.

    As in the “Ownership” often claimed by females of the species in regards to their Offspring? Or, the increase of their wombs?

    AS in that females claim that their “Offspring” now belongs to collective Humanity – which thus leads to a collective Human debt to raise, educate and provide for that increase?

    Where is MY vote?

    Where is MY voice?

    I voted for ABORTION.

    But my vote was overridden.

    And now – I am now forced to pay – under the threat of violence and confiscation from the State – for a Being whose very existence I vetoed and had no participation in it’s Creation?

    Why am I owned by those who have done what I haven’t – procreated – and those who have denied my request to not pro-create?

  • OOps, sorry, It wasn’t “Straw Dogs”; it was “The Silence of Animals”. Really a wonderful book. Can we deanthropomorphize ourselves?

  • Tim, yeah, well that’s the very stuff I’m talking about. All of this “Ownership” actually is a vector to further the survival of the species. There are more people now after property enclosure than could have ever lived as hunter-gatherers, and there are more babies now than could ever have survived the neglectful ministrations of the pious Magdalene Laundry crew. We just keep getting better and better at turning resources into human flesh. Better and better! Yay!

    The tide will turn once the surplus goes away. Human morality is not a fixed thing, but a product of circumstances.

    P.S. It’s not a “claim” of females that their offspring belong to humanity, it’s just a fact.

  • Lidia – When I commented, your comment wasn’t yet posted. I agree – it is the stuff you are talking about.

    I had to look up the Magdalene Laundry crew – as I am Ignorant of that term. I am a product of the Magdalene Laundry crew.

    Thank you for the education: Magdalene asylums, also known as Magdalene laundries, were institutions from the 18th to the late 20th centuries ostensibly to house “fallen women”, a term used to imply female sexual promiscuity or work in prostitution. Asylums operated throughout Europe and North America for much of the nineteenth and well into the twentieth century, the last one closing in 1996. The institutions were named after the Biblical character Mary Magdalene, in earlier centuries characterised as a reformed prostitute.

    Lidia States: The tide will turn once the surplus goes away. Human morality is not a fixed thing, but a product of circumstances.

    I agree.

    I have never reproduced – and I am adopted. I live in Wisconsin. I am likely a hybrid between Native American and European Settlers. It is quite common here in South East Wisconsin. My friends and lovers – much to my surprise – as I discovered later in life – are mostly hybrids between Native Americans and European Settlers.

    It is very likely that my Mother was Native American and young – I was taken away by Lutheran Social Services and as I had certain physical medical problems that meant I wasn’t adopted by a White European couple until I was a little over 1 year old. I am a product of the Magdalene Laundry crew – a Bastard.

    P.S. It’s not a “claim” of females that their offspring belong to humanity, it’s just a fact

    I disagree. The children (or increase) belong to the Egg and Sperm Donors. That is two People – not all of Humanity.

    And just remember – Barack Obama kills innocent Men, Women and Children almost every day – in various foreign countries – every day. This is also the policy supported by Hillary Clinton, John Kerry and Barack Obama, inn addition to the ongoing Torture Program.

    The U.S. drone program under President Barack Obama reached its fifth anniversary on Thursday having tallied up an estimated death toll of at least 2,400 people.

    This is my second, and thus, last post for the day. Consider what I have posted.

  • I dunno.

    If I had to pick a core evil, I’d pick “employment” over “ownership.”

    Employment is a form of human ownership, no?

    Garret Hardin proposed ownership as an antidote to the Tragedy of the Commons.

    There are many different forms of ownership; is it fair to tar them all with the same broad brush?

    I think speculative ownership should be banned. I don’t know how to do that, though. But if someone owns their personal “means of production,” they generally take reasonable care of it, else their production lacks means in the future.

    If you own a tool with which to earn your own livelihood, I think that’s A Good Thing. If you then accumulate earnings and buy two more such tools, and employ two other people to accumulate their earnings — I think that’s where ownership runs awry.

  • “There seems to be an unbridgeable explanatory gap between the physical world and consciousness.”

    Hence the many passages dealing with this; and an entire work on this topic by Shankaracharya, Drik Drishya Viveka: the Seer Seen Distinction.

    “According to most, we are supposed to be something we are not, with the goal of “betterment” always on the horizon like a mirage.”

    Hence the non-most concept of Tathatā, Suchness.

  • Robin Datta: “There seems to be an unbridgeable explanatory gap between the physical world and consciousness.”

    Hence the many passages dealing with this; and an entire work on this topic by Shankaracharya, Drik Drishya Viveka: the Seer Seen Distinction.


    I’m confident Bud can provide the understanding so many apparently lack here.

  • The Nobel Prize for economics was awarded several years ago to an economist who essentially disproved Garrett Hardin’s ‘Tragedy of the commons’ hypothesis if some ‘safeguards’were included.I can’t remember her name at present nor the name of the book she wrote explaining her work.Guy or someone else might remember and mention it.If not,and if anyone is interested,I can track it down and post it.
    Of course,Hardin partly meant the’T.O.T.C.’ to be a criticism of the idea that people can have as many children as they like,as it does not affect other people.This is clearly not correct,and a responsible government can influence their decisions.For example,several years ago,a previous Australian treasurer introduced a ‘Baby Bonus’,which was a government grant of 5,000 dollars for each child.This encouraged an increase of the birth rate,which our ecologically illiterate treasurer thought was a positive.By removing the baby bonus and introducing tax measures which provide a disincentive to have more than one child,it would be possible to encourage smaller families.

  • Comments pouring like water,so here is mine from the sewer.A garbage man makes more then a teacher in some cities.More teachers then police in Costa

    Rica. Do we own any sanity any reality anymore? I Must type what Dr. McPherson Says so I’s remembers.”Acting beyond the dominant paradigm,which those in the dominant culture claim to support but actually punish, could lead-and has led- to incarceration,torture,and early death. Supporting the dominant paradigm supports destruction, violence, and oppression” The heat engine if it fails, things heat up pretty fast,if it goes on we still warm. New report 2014 a new all time global warning record ! The pyramids of man [Money,Empire,Etc.] destroying the pyramid of life [living things] People protesting for the freedom of speech and the same time for the freedom of religion,Other people rioting in places over oil reserves [not enough money] and elsewhere not enough food.How many ways can the [1%] divide the people [99%] No easy way out anymore I’m afraid really afraid. The candles are burning at both ends until things heat up to mush.Or worse mushrooms! Be careful I mean well it’s getting very hot

  • Most of the comments above display a complete unfamiliarity with history or the definition of ownership.

    Not to mention rudeness.
    Kevin Moore: “I did try to put you on the ‘right track’ when you last went down this track, but to no avail, it seems.”

    Ownership of humans is relatively new in the over 2 million year evolution of humans. As is ownership of land. I did try to explain it in the first post and put y’all on the right track, but to no avail, it seems. You still seem to think that for two million years humans were selling stuff. Fascinating. Wrong, but fascinating.

    The past 11,000 years are, as Dr. McPherson pointed out, a DROP in the bucket of our evolution and hardly indicative of what is or should be considered “normal” human social evolution. It was an experiment that went very wrong. It developed stressed humans whose brain chemistry went awry from stress and malnutrition, causing more aggressive behaviors, which was a self reinforcing feedback in itself.
    More stress, more aggression, causing more stress and more aggression. I think everyone here is familiar with self-reinforcing variables.

    There is so much confusion here about the alleged “ownership” of one’s children or fetus or sperm or eggs. Really? YOU OWN your organs? You OWN your children? So you can sell them? That is the definition of ownership, or property, something that can be traded or exchanged for money. Only since we officially walked away from freedom, have humans enslaved each other. Why? We needed the workers. And the money.

    When marriage became ownership in ancient Rome it was to protect a wealthy male’s property from being stolen through inheritance. These Romans had several children out of wedlock, bastards, who they didn’t want to share their treasure with. So that is what determined the ownership of the wife and the children. Bastards were considered the lowest of the low, even until recently. My own mother died with the secret that she was a bastard, born in one of those Magdalene homes in St Paul Minnesota. Good Lutheran parents kicked out my grandmother. The Roman culture has a very strong grip on those who embrace civilization and their enslavement.

    Ironically, poor women have always had more control of their lives, their families and their money. They have always been afforded the freedom to love whom they choose and have sex with whom they choose. Because no money or inheritance to worry about.

    As for the ludicrous idea that moving into crowded, dirty, smelly cities, where people died of malnutrition and disease at much larger rates than when nomadic was the reason for population growth, Really????
    The archaeological society pretty much regards the move to sedentary, city lifestyle as causing disease, malnutrition and poorer general health resulting in smaller stature.

    A Nomadic, foraging lifestyle was always the healthiest and the natural one.

    The proof that most of us today have swallowed the lie that we are better in the cities is that nearly anyone asked if they’d choose to live as a foraging nomad and have a long and healthy life free of being owned, would say “hell no. I need my toys!”
    And perpetuate the myth that owning stuff and each other is the natural order of things.
    And they LOVE their enslavement so much that to support their conclusions they compare humans to the hierarchical ants. Really?
    You do realize we actually have cousins in the ape world you can compare us to?
    Like the Bonobo? Our closest cousins?

    For 2 million years and even to the present we see nomadic people who lived beautiful lifestyles without human slaves, without enslaving their food, and without the rampant mental illness found in urban lifestyle. They created incredible art and culture that lasts to this day.
    And we call them Neanderthals as an insult. As if. Our paleolithic cousins would be hurt.

    To identify with a civilized culture that resulted from stress and mental illness is to embrace mental illness as normal and natural.
    Being warlike, cruel, and grasping(needing to own stuff and people) is no more the natural way of being, than it is to have pneumonia or polio.

    The troubles all begin when some humans decided to enslave their food, and live on top of each other next to their food. And since then knuckleheads think it’s normal to die of plagues, wars, and famines. And yet there is no evidence of such symptoms of civilization before the Neolithic era.

    The population only began to grow after the invention of penicillin, fossil fuel heating, and better medical care to treat the several thousands of years old maladies that came with living in cities as slaves for the owners (kings & queens). Gotta keep the slaves alive to run the machinery.
    The infant mortality rate dropped from an unimaginable 74.5% in 1730–1749 to a tolerable 31.8% in 1810–1829 in the cities.

    “The percentage of the children born in London who died before the age of five decreased from 74.5% in 1730–1749 to 31.8% in 1810–1829.[50][51]
    Between 1700 and 1900, Europe’s population increased from about 100 million to over 400 million.[52]”

    Advice to future sentient beings: Do not enslave your food. Do not build cities.

  • Guy – I agree with most of what you posit but I would just add that it was the invention of debt as money that makes the concept of ownership so incredibly destructive.

    It turned ownership into a global game of musical chairs to the death.

    Prior to that ownership was something respected and communal. Something that the community sought out and supported for its inhabitants. If the town needed a farrier a farrier was either brought into the community and “empowered” through being set up by the community, or the community sent off someone to be trained to fit that need and then given that place within the community. If someone needed a barn the community would come together and build it. if someone proposed a business that the community deemed necessary the community came together and financed it.

    The instant someone or a group of people are given the sole right to create money out of nothing and are given the right to demand repayment plus interest and are allowed to back that demand with violence, every thing changes fundamentally. All of the negative you outline comes from this simple fact. Not that we can simply change this and everything would work out but it is important.

    People do not behave badly without first being put into an artificial situation that elicits that behavior. We, the ultimate species on the planet are no different than dogs in that if you set it up in the wrong way you will get bit. Thats no reason to kill all dogs (or people for that matter).

    Signed the most pessimistic optimist you will ever meet.

  • To the last sentence of Pauline’s comment I would add:
    Do not cultivate or irrigate the soil.
    Do not deforest the Earth.
    Do not introduce non-biodegradable or toxic synthesised chemicals to the ecosystem.(see ‘Poisoned Planet’ by Julian Cribb )
    Do not mine minerals.
    Do not use fossil fuels

  • Pauline: Most of the comments above display a complete unfamiliarity with history or the definition of ownership.

    Not to mention rudeness.


    Yes, we definitely don’t tolerate any rudeness around these parts.

    Only love remains!

  • Just had to post my second post to complement Pauline on her Post. Great insight,enlightening,delightful to read I love it when you post. Thanks!And I thought you typed Bonzo I laughed very hard,Sorry. And one more detail it took the Royal Navy almost 100 years after the Merchant mariners used vitamin C to stop scurvy. Sometime it takes a long time for the penny to drop !

  • Many animals exhibit ‘ownership’ as far as establishing breeding and feeding territories. That’s what a lot of the singing of male songbirds is about, and the howling of wolves.
    Being a reasonable being, I would allow ownership, but ONLY in the from of song.
    If your song is good enough, or bad enough, your territory should be safe. If you need an extra large territory, think Kenny G. or heavy metal perhaps.
    Since the song is also used to attract mates, playing really bad music might kill 2 birds with one stone, reproduction – wise, (no offense to my fellow songbirds out there).

    And I would definitely ban the concept of owning stock, no matter what song is sung!

  • Mo Flow-

    My question regarded the legitimacy of Sufi’s, not your personal opinion on the existence of UFOs. I don’t care to waste my time with you since you have no interest in learning, but suffice to say there is an overwhelming wealth of information in support of the UFO enigma including such notable figures as: Professor Stephen Hawking, Drs. Werner Van Braun and Herman Oberth, Walter Cronkite, Gorbachev, Presidents Harry Truman, John F. Kennedy, Nixon, Carter, Reagan, Chief of FBI J. Edgar Hoover, G8 Cabinet level ministers, Astronauts Edgar Mitchell and Gordon Cooper, Generals Douglas MacArthur, Nathan J. Twining, Chairman, Chairman Joint Chiefs, United Kingdom Air Chief Marshall Lord Dowding, military and civilian pilots, and numerous other trained observers as well as people like Monsignor Corrado Balducci, Chief Vatican Theologian, William S. Burroughs and John Lenin And the list goes on and on. In addition to the testimonies of the world’s most respected people, physical trace evidence exists as well.

    Now, does an equivalent base of support exist for sufi magic?

    Glad I am not in your shoes.

  • Mo Fu- does the following sound familiar?

    “When you seek a path to any new truth, you must expect to find it blocked by expert opinion and frightened holdouts.” ~~~Albert Guérard~~~

    An emotional plague afflicts people whose belief systems are so rigid they ignore relevant facts and become enraged if anyone challenges their beliefs. They lose sight of the fact that the main purpose of science is to investigate the unexplained, not to explain the un-investigated. As William S. Burroughs said, “There is a fear of finding the truth behind the UFO enigma; however, the understanding that we are not alone in the cosmos will knock down our wall of misunderstanding with a sledgehammer.”

  • We’re all owned aren’t we? In some way or another. Economic slavery is a form of ownership. We’re all dependent on the industrial machine whether we like it or not. We here in the USA are raised to be competitive and individualistic. It’s all about me, me, me. It’s a hard mind set to break out of. Owning things are more important than having relationships with other people and working collectively to accomplish goals. All these things are beat into our heads from infancy onward. It’s sad… and we will pay the price someday soon.

  • “explain how some alleged non-physical ghost, spirit, consciousness, god, energy, or other supposed non-physical entity or process that presumably exists in some “other, non-physical realm” can influence or have an effect on physical processes while not having a physical nature”

    If you know anything about String theory (or Witten’s M theory), you know that it’s logical implications are that the universe is a 11 dimensional construct, and there is no reason to believe that our comprehensible 3-4 dimensional universe is not a shadow cast by activities going on in higher dimensions. These higher dimensional activities are as a natural a part of Nature as anything we see, feel, think or do, but they are wholly inaccessible to our experience. And therefore they are less or not relevant because we can’t yet wrap our feeble minds around them? That is preposterous.

    Cosmology also now posits a multiverse. Meaning that other universes exist outside and in relation to ours in many various forms, including the possibility that separate universes exist manifesting every possible outcome for every action ever made. Do these other universes, and forces within and without them, have any ability to affect reality in this one?? Big questions that we can barely get a grip on. And Big questions that should be dismissed outright because they are technically beyond what we can experience? I hardly think so.

    Remember that atoms were once only theorized before instruments were constructed to detect them.


    Further I’ll have none of those rationalizations for bad behavior: Hierarchy is natural. Brutal exploitative behavior is natural. Therefore it’s sorta kinda fine and OK. Bullocks.

    These practices, like most concepts and manifestations, exist on a continuum and in a specific set of circumstances. To whit, you are going to follow the course that gets practical results.

    So, you can keep your brutal, wretched, disgusting and morally vapid behaviors while sitting in the center of the empire. And make endless Natural rationalizations an excuses for why it’s oh so bad. But gosh, since it is Natural (and isn’t empire loverly and natural, just like an large ant colony) you aren’t going to get me to change anything about my wretched behavior, now are you?

    This is like Public Relations flyer for a Uloborid Spider collective who wants a good torture memo excuse to keep crushing and pulverizing their victims.


    And so, from me out here in the boon docks, where all the results of the Empire are smacking people up one side and down the other all day long, the so-called self-proclaimed “Natural” behavior of so many ludicrously over-privileged Imperial subjects is just more rationalizations and excuses for bad, awful, destructive, self-priviledging behaviors.

    At this point these endless excuses seem like *all* there is in the imagination of the imperial center. Try this next time: Stop driving. Stop flying. Stop going and doing everything so fast. Use electricity in the same amount as an average Haitian or Central African Republican. Stop eating factory farmed food. Opt out. Totally and completely. Exercise your Free Won’t.


    Here is the equation.

    (1) You have fixation on hierarchy and obsessive excuses and bad PR for imperial privilege, and you have a dead world. <-period

    Or (2) You don't have hierarchy or empire and you might have a fighting chance going forward.

    Vôtre choix

    Good Day

  • Anyone who doesn’t agree with Pauline should be considered a kook AND a member of Densa.

  • FKling –

    we’ve done this dance before, quite a while ago. maybe I wasn’t clear enough back then. (or maybe I was, and you are poking me a bit to get me to talk about it more?)

    and I was using some levels of sarcasm and indirection (indiscretion?) in my previous recent comment, so that of course isn’t always helpful.

    I will be as direct as possible – as direct as I can, using my own personal judgement as to what is proper.

    UFOs and aliens do indeed exist. as do your groups of good and bad aliens. the reality of what they really are, and what it really means for them as far as what they consider “good” or “bad” or “neutral” – this stuff is so radically complex it would be impossible to communicate verbally – even if I knew all of it, and I only know of a tiny fraction of it.

    (not at all coincidentally – just as the reality of mystical experience is impossible to communicate verbally, as well, and usually only appreciated by the experiencer in small fractions).

    Sufi magic? miraculous shamanic healing? – and telekinesis, telepathy, precognition, and much, much more than that exists, right here on Earth.

    you don’t need to hop on an alien ship to experience any of these things.

    and yes, in addition to my first hand personal experience with some of your aliens, I have had first hand, personal, and very personally traceable, and generally traceable in “physical reality,” experience with certain things on Earth that I will completely never talk about.

    these things are not traceable by other humans to me, but by the beings I really fear, for my own very good reasons. they know all about what I am referring to, but I know very well that they do not wish me to talk about the reality and specifics of these things, so I don’t. it is really simple.

    and you are free, of course, to chuck me in the loony bin – and my strong preference is you do just that, rather than actually think about anything I am saying here.

    the aliens are just as careful, for their own identical reasons, as I am. we greatly respect each other that way – although the more mischievous rascals do enjoy tweaking me every now and then.

    I have passed through multiple sledgehammer experiences to get where I am today (which is nowhere of course, because there is nothing actually here) – over the course of about 4,200 years of lifetimes that I am more or less aware of. these experiences have shattered every layer of illusion that is possible to shatter. I have no trouble at all, both leading my normal human life, and living continuously in wide open, utterly non-rigid, Total Reality.

  • Excellent essay, Guy! And i won’t bother arguing with all the usual apologists for capitalist social relations who try to portray these relationships as being encoded in the human DNA.

  • Thanks for the essays on ownership,Guy.’The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Hunters and Gatherers’includes an excellent chapter by John Gowdy titled’Hunter Gatherers and the mythology of the market.’
    The following excerpts may be of interest.
    ‘Accounts by early European explorers and anthropologists indicate that sharing and a lack of concern with ownership of personal possessions are common characteristics of hunter-gatherers.Among the Hadza,the lack of private ownership of things also applies to the ownership of resources.Attempts to characterise the relationship of some hunter-gatherers to the land as “ownership” may be a case of imposing Western concepts on people who have very different beliefs about the relationships between people and between humans and nature.’
    ‘The hunter-gatherer literature shows that “economic rationality” is peculiar to market capitalism and is an embedded set of cultural beliefs,not an objective universal law of nature.There are many other,equally rational,ways of behaving which do not conform to the laws of market exchange.The myth of economic man explains the organizing principle of contemporary capitalism,nothing more or less.It is no more rational than the myths which drive Hadza,Aborigine,or !Kung society.In industrial societies,however,the myth of economic man justifies the appropriation by a few of the human material culture which has evolved over millennia,and also the appropriation and destruction of the world’s physical and biological resources.’

  • mo flow-

    Never have I thought you are “looney”.

    I bristle when people lump all paranormal into the same basket thus implying mutual inclusivity- to believe one is to accept all.

    Too bad you are prohibited from sharing certain information. If this restriction changes, I am interested in learning more.

  • Owned By Six Savage Strokes
    I have no idea what you’re talking about. The bank owns me, my boss owns me, my wife owns me, my dog owns me, destiny owns us, my addictions own me, my beliefs own, my delusions own me, my sexuality owns me, my history owns me, even the fucking aliens own me. Other than that, I’m like totally free. Ownership began with territoriality. That’s like way before my right hand owned my as a teen.

  • Bud Nye Says:
    January 18th, 2015 at 11:57 am


    I think it safe to assume that no life, biotic or abiotic, lives on stars.

    If by definition alone: “abiotic” means “non-living” … so nothing abiotic lives anywhere.

    Stars are abiotic entities that evolve even though they are not alive.

    Same with molecules and genes (The Uncertain Gene).

    Stars create carbon, a fundamental for biotic “carbon-based organisms.”

  • I enjoyed Guy’s post about patriarchy.

    It has not been all that long since women were allowed to vote.

    The wrong of not letting women vote lasted longer than slavery.

  • Karl Marx

    Section VIII, “Primitive Accumulation” of Capital involves a critique of Liberal Theories of property rights. Marx notes that under Feudal Law, peasants were legally as entitled to their land as the aristocracy was to its manors. Marx cites several historical events in which large numbers of the peasantry were removed from their lands, which were then seized by the aristocracy. This seized land was then used for commercial ventures (sheep heading). Marx sees this “Primitive Accumulation as integral to the creation of English Capitalism. This event created a large unlanded class which had to work for wages in order to survive. Marx asserts that Liberal theories of property are “idyllic” fairy tales that hide a violent historical process.

    (From )

  • Seems that I am the only farmer in this group. I own a farm. Couldn’t think of a peaceful reply to this subject so there won’t be one. I intend to quit this year…sell out.

  • Humanity is in the existential danger zone, study confirms
    19 01 2015

    The Conversation

    By James Dyke, University of Southampton

    The Earth’s climate has always changed. All species eventually become extinct. But a new study has brought into sharp relief the fact that humans have, in the context of geological time scales, produced near instantaneous planetary-scale disruption. We are sowing the seeds of havoc on the Earth, it suggests, and the time is fast approaching when we will reap this harvest.

    This in the year that the UN climate change circus will pitch its tents in Paris. December’s Conference of the Parties will be the first time individual nations submit their proposals for their carbon emission reduction targets. Sparks are sure to fly.

    The research, published in the journal Science, should focus the minds of delegates and their nations as it lays out in authoritative fashion how far we are driving the climate and other vital Earth systems beyond any safe operating space. The paper, headed by Will Steffen of the Australian National University and Stockholm Resilience Centre, concludes that our industrialised civilisation is driving a number of key planetary processes into areas of high risk.

    It argues climate change along with “biodiversity integrity” should be recognised as core elements of the Earth system. These are two of nine planetary boundaries that we must remain within if we are to avoid undermining the biophysical systems our species depends upon.

    The original planetary boundaries were conceived in 2009 by a team lead by Johan Rockstrom, also of the Stockholm Resilience Centre. Together with his co-authors, Rockstrom produced a list of nine human-driven changes to the Earth’s system: climate change, ocean acidification, stratospheric ozone depletion, alteration of nitrogen and phosphorus cycling, freshwater consumption, land use change, biodiversity loss, aerosol and chemical pollution. Each of these nine, if driven hard enough, could alter the planet to the point where it becomes a much less hospitable place on which to live.

    The past 11,000 years have seen a remarkably stable climate. The name given to this most recent geological epoch is the Holocene. It is perhaps no coincidence that human civilisation emerged during this period of stability. What is certain is that our civilisation is in very important ways dependent on the Earth system remaining within or at least approximately near Holocene conditions.

    This is why Rockstrom and co looked at human impacts in these nine different areas. They wanted to consider the risk of humans bringing about the end of the Holocene. Some would argue that we have already entered a new geological epoch – the Anthropocene – which recognises that Homo Sapiens have become a planet-altering species. But the planetary boundaries concepts doesn’t just attempt to quantify human impacts. It seeks to understand how they may affect human welfare now, and in the future.

    It’s been a stable 11,000 years.
    Steffen et al

    The 2009 paper proved to be very influential, but it also attracted a fair amount of criticism. For example, it has been argued that some of the boundaries are not in fact global in scale. There are very large regional variations in consumption of freshwater and phosphorus fertiliser pollution, for instance.

    Phosphorous pollution in croplands.
    Steffen et al

    That means that while globally we may be in the green, there could be an increasing number of regions that are deep in the red.
    Updated boundaries

    The latest research develops the methodology so that it now includes regional evaluations. For example it assesses basin-level freshwater use and biome-level species extinction rates. It also includes a new boundary of “novel entities” – new forms of life and novel compounds the likes of which the Earth system has not experienced and so impact of which is extremely challenging to assess. Ozone-depleting CFCs are perhaps the best example of how a seemingly inert substance can produce planetary damage.

    Tree cover remaining in the world’s major forest biomes.
    Steffen et al

    The paper also gives an update on where we stand on some of the planetary boundaries. At first sight, it looks as though there may be some good news in that climate change is no longer in the red. But then closer inspection reveals that a new yellow “zone of uncertainty with increasing risk” has been added to the previous green and red classification.

    2/9ths into the red.
    Steffen et al

    Climate change impacts are firmly within this new yellow zone. Our atmosphere currently has about 400 parts per million (ppm) of carbon dioxide. To recover back to the green zone we still need to get back to 350ppm – the same precautionary boundary as before.

    Perhaps most importantly the research produces a two-tier hierarchy in which climate change and biosphere integrity are recognised as the core planetary boundaries through which the others operate. This makes sense: life and climate are the main columns buttressing our continual existence within the Holocene. Weakening them risks amplifying other stresses on other boundaries.
    Reasons not to be cheerful

    And so to the very bad news. Given the importance of biodiversity to the functioning of the Earth’s climate and the other planetary boundaries, it is with real dismay that this study adds yet more evidence to the already burgeoning pile that concludes we appear to be doing our best to destroy it as fast as we possibly can.

    Extinction rates are very hard to measure but the background rate – the rate at which species would be lost in the absence of human impacts – is something like ten a year per million species. Current extinction rates are anywhere between 100 to 1000 times higher than that. We are possibly in the middle of one of the great mass extinctions in the history of life on Earth.

    The Conversation

    This article was originally published on The Conversation.
    Read the original article

  • I’m feeling’ a little evil in my bones today,so,

    to FKling:

    I gather that Vladimir Putin has proposed a plan to give free land to anyone who wants it, in the far east of Russia.

    If you stay for five years you get full title and it’s yours. There’s nothing there, of course, other than the wildlife. So, people would have to be able to build their own cabin, grow their own food, and do everything else they’d need to do, to survive.

  • Dredd (and others): or like this [perhaps our “successors”]

    2015-01-17 – New species of anaerobic sulfate-reducing microbes discovered beneath the ocean floors

    Quote: “The microbes, which have yet to be classified and named, exist in massive undersea aquifers — networks of channels in porous rock beneath the ocean where water continually churns, researchers say. About one-third of the Earth’s biomass is thought to exist in this largely uncharted environment.”

    “Note: These sulfate-reducing microbes are what produce hydrogen sulfide. These are the most ancient type of life that exists on this planet. They were here long before oxygen-using life got a foothold and they will be here long after there are no human beings left alive. The more volcanic activity that occurs in the oceans, and the warmer the oceans get, the better these microbes will do, which results in large-scale methane and hydrogen sulfide releases, which ultimately flips a planetary ‘reset switch’ and most life on this planet – especially oxygen-using life – sickens and dies, as has happened in previous extinction events. The switch has been flipped. We’re enduring the consequences now.”

    Quote: “Sulfate-reducing bacteria are those bacteria that can obtain energy by oxidizing organic compounds or molecular hydrogen (H2) while reducing sulfate (SO2-4) to hydrogen sulfide (H2S). In a sense, these organisms ‘breathe’ sulfate rather than oxygen in a form of anaerobic respiration. Sulfate-reducing bacteria can be traced back to 3.5 billion years ago and are considered to be among the oldest forms of microorganisms, having contributed to the sulfur cycle soon after life emerged on Earth. (There are a few genera of Archaea that can also reduce sulfate.)”

  • i believe that’s another “positive” feedback.

  • Getting another Page Not Found error, I have divided my comment into two parts:


    Excellent essay, and of course I agree with you as far as you go in describing the importance of ownership in recent human history. On the other hand, as I recently wrote in response to your first essay about ownership, it seems to me that “enforced access” serves as a broader and significantly more useful frame than the much more recent and narrower “ownership” frame. For our entire history as a species it seems clear that humans within various kinds of hierarchies have enforced access to biological survival necessities such as shelter, fuel, water, food, and so on, whether they used an “ownership” arrangement, or not, AND throughout our entire history various groups have OFTEN killed other humans and non-humans using many forms of warfare, massacres, genocides, and extinctions using the most effective technologies available in order to enforce that access. (Kevin Moore indirectly suggests this broader frame in his response.) So I don’t think ownership lies in a fundamental way “at the root of our myriad predicaments” even though recently in our history it certainly has contributed importantly to the predicament, as you describe so well. I think human population growth, out of balance with various land base’s ability to support humans, lies more fundamentally at the root of our predicament. For me, the things you discuss, very well, serve as expressions and consequences of these much older, more fundamental, biological and social processes.

    kevin moore,

    You wrote “As I see it, the predicament we are now in emanates from abandoning hunter-gatherer lifestyles and adopting agriculture.” As with Guy, I agree with you too, AND I think that the processes have origins going much further back into our evolutionary history and operating at a more fundamental biological and social levels. You pointed to these more fundamental processes when you wrote “In all cases, individual organisms are seeking a supply of nutrients, and the requirement to eat overrides almost everything else: hence the monkey trap, whereby the monkey will not let go of the food item, even though doing so puts the monkey into severe jeopardy.”


    I think that in a parallel way you do a great job of expanding some of the points I have tried to make regarding a longer-term, broader, biological, social frame. Yep, “deterministic and not reversible” (and COMPLEX, not just complicated). You wrote “Most animals, that I know of, have pecking orders.” Yes. All three Hominid species today, and to the best of our knowledge all in the past, have had strong social hierarchies. Furthermore, as Dacher Keltner emphasizes so well in his book, Born To Be Good, The Science of a Meaningful Life, as well as Paul Ekman in his revolutionary work on emotions, our emotions, which we now know occur universally among all humans, occur as a result of evolutionary forces within those social hierarchies playing critical signaling and communication roles in maintaining social, hierarchical efficiency and stability.

  • Well, two parts did not work, so three parts:


    Thanks so much for your kind remarks, but the question does not originate with me. I have just used my own words to ask mo flo, and others, for a resolution to the old philosophical “problem of the ghost in the machine”. Actually, almost forty years ago I did write a book titled “Understanding And Managing Your Anger And Aggression”, self-published. The clinical psychologist Albert Ellis wrote the Foreword to it and most copies of it sold through his Institute For Rational-Emotive Behavior Therapy in New York City. But no, to respond to your book comment. I know very well that I do not come anywhere close to having the research-based knowledge and experience to write such a book on consciousness. Meanwhile, many other people—psychologists, neurophysiologists, and so on—do have the knowledge, have written those books, and presently are writing them. If someone writing such a book wanted me to edit it, translating it into E-Prime in order significantly to strengthen the writing, I would feel well qualified to do that, and I would probably jump at the opportunity. But no. I remain only a babe in the words regarding the neurophysiology of consciousness.

    After posting the comment you referred to, I realized that I might best have clarified something regarding this sentence: “Please explain how some alleged non-physical ghost, spirit, consciousness, god, energy, or other supposed non-physical entity or process that presumably exists in some ‘other, non-physical realm’ can influence or have an effect on physical processes while not having a physical nature.” When I used “consciousness” there, I meant it to refer to some alleged NON-PHYSICAL consciousness as opposed to physical consciousness. I would have best stressed that. I think that most of the contradictions that people encounter with physical consciousness grows directly out of continuing to include assumptions based on the popular but false mind-body dichotomy that so many of us grew up with, and that so many religions teach. With this separated, dichotomous mind-body model, “mind” and consciousness presumably exist in a non-physical, “mentalistic” way. Indeed, as mo flo and others have suggested, they supposedly exist in another alleged non-physical “realm”. Most of us grow up with this often strongly religion-based, disembodied model of consciousness from birth.

    It seems to me that a physical view of consciousness resolves both the problem of the ghost in the machine and the old “mind-body problem”. It does this by eliminating the alleged, non-physical ghosts, gods, and “other realms”, as well as the disembodied, mentalistic mind, by not invoking them. Meanwhile, importantly, consciousness occurs as only one, very tiny slice of brain functioning, probably less than one millionth of it. A physical view of consciousness sees it as a completely natural, emergent quality, or function, of the electrochemistry of matter and energy, which occurs as a biological, living process, and it most certainly involves MANY life forms other than just humans. As with most other aspects of the human body, this physical view models consciousness as occurring within us physically as a developmental unfolding of a vastly longer-term and larger biological, evolutionary network on Earth.

    In the quote you copied from the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy I disagree with the statement that “There seems to be an unbridgeable explanatory gap between the physical world and consciousness.” As physical, biological processes, I think that we have made significant progress in understanding some of the details involved in the processes that produce consciousness, and, given a few more decades of research, I expect that we would develop much more understanding of these physical processes—but industrial civilization almost certainly will not continue for another few decades.

    Regarding the statement that “The hard problem of consciousness is the problem of explaining why any physical state is conscious rather than nonconscious.” I expect that this quandary grows directly out of the old mind-body dichotomy. Regarding the question “Why is it conscious?” the article poses, I generally don’t see natural science asking and trying to answer “why” questions as fundamental questions regarding any entity or process. We usually don’t ask why questions in natural science; we ask what, when, where, and how questions. One would have to have the omniscience of a god in order to answer fundamental why questions. This same reasoning applies to worth questions. I certainly agree with Chalmers that learning the details of the processes that produce consciousness qualifies as a hard problem. As the article summarizes: a considerable body of empirical research in psychology, neuroscience, and even quantum physics relates to it. Yes “The problem touches on issues in ontology (though I think not in a metaphysical way), on the nature and limits of scientific explanation, and on the accuracy and scope of introspection and first-person knowledge, to name but a few.” And yes, “Reactions to the hard problem range from an outright denial of the issue to naturalistic reduction to panpsychism (the claim that everything is conscious to some degree), to full-blown mind-body dualism.

    Regarding your comment that “I’m confident Bud can provide the understanding so many apparently lack here”, I appreciate the thought but seriously doubt that I have, or can, earn and maintain your continuing confidence. Yes, I have done a lot of reading, thinking about, and writing about these things over the years, but I do NOT claim to have any great or final understanding about them, and I have never thought that I did. (Well, perhaps I naively did sometimes in my early childhood.) Indeed, I mainly summarize and pass along what I have understood others to have learned. I know—very well!—that a highly fallible human, just like you and everyone else, and, like all of us, I just do the best I can. It just makes a lot more sense to me for us to pursue a course of scientific inquiry into consciousness concerning the many things that we do not yet know than invoking alleged, non-physical “other realms”, forces, and entities as a way to satisfy our limitless curiosity and impatient need to feel a sense of completion.

  • Now I get Page Not Found errors no matter how small the comment. I wonder if this test message will post.

  • If this problem works as it did last time, I will find that I can finish copying and pasting the rest of my comment later. The NBL site seems randomly moody regarding Page Not Found errors.

  • Bud, have you tried using “reader login” (right side menu) instead of the ‘prove you’re human’ login? It works better for me. No math required, just color preferences, for some reason! ;)

  • Tech Note

    I saved the text as a .txt file using Windows WordPad, then copied and pasted it here and I still get the Page Not Found error.

  • Nope, Wren. That does not work either. Thanks for the idea.

  • There are many people who have the peculiar notion that if Guy says something it must be right.

    In practice, although Guy has an overview and a narrative which are very credible, he has made statements which are completely wrong, and supplied explanations which have been deficient at best and misleading at worst.

    I will not list examples of things that Guy got wrong because there is no point. However, the conflation of CO2-induced warming and acidification, and the notion that there is a delay in warming die to CO2 are two glaring examples.

    As far as I am concerned, all scientists (and I regard myself as a scientist even though I have no professional position) one) should be seeking the best theory (hypothesis) to explain observations, and should abandon any theory or modify it if it does not explain facts or observations.

    With major upheaval on the horizon, I find myself less and less interested in going over old ground and more interested in personal preparations. However, what is old ground for me is new ground for many others. Therefore I say to Guy, keep doing what you do if you have the energy. I agree with 98% of it.

  • Tech Note: Bud – can you send me the copy, in one piece, you are trying to post that isn’t working? just email me moflow at outlook dot com. thank you!

  • Chief Seattle did say that “The Earth does not belong to us, we belong to the Earth”. While that’s essentially true, it is also true that most living things inhabit territories which they protect or occupy as their own. A lion for example delimits its territory and defends it against other lions. If the lion tries to protect too much territory, it either runs out of energy or let’s other lions have a go. A rabbit digs its burrows, two or three maybe, and will save itself from predators. If it digs too many burrows, it may inadvertently find a snake which had crawled into a burrow and meet its death. There is a built-in space limit as to what animals or plants can claim — but claim they do. As such, ownership of property is not necessarily an undesirable condition. It is the same for humans.

  • And ownership, as the Buddha so profoundly stated, arises from ‘dukkha,’ hunger, craving, desire, as many human actions do. Human “desire” of the dukkha sort is its own thing, something that is intrinsic within the psyche and the biology of the human animal, and not equally so among individuals.

    Some people believe we either live in the world as addicts, or we live without attachment beyond our real basic needs. This view is a spiritual understanding that transcends cultures, eras, and religions.

    Guy has managed to come to a number of what I think are quite profound conclusions on his own, while on his own path. Peace Pilgrim did, too. And of course, I think they are profound because I agree with them and I have come to many of the same, through my studies of a number of subjects, and through my cultural heritage, as well as my own experiences. And I really love seeing it from someone with your background, Guy.

  • Bill Belichick and the Patriots Win! Again!

    To get ahead, here’s what to do:
    Stop being naive—get a clue!
    You’d be much less pissed
    From trying to subsist
    If you would have been cheating too.

  • OGF,

    i cd write forever about my addiction to consumer society, ownership, and the resulting PTSD because of it.

    thank you for the comment.

  • @ Bud Nye Says:
    January 19th, 2015 at 11:08 am

    …I just do the best I can. It just makes a lot more sense to me for us to pursue a course of scientific inquiry into consciousness concerning the many things that we do not yet know than invoking alleged, non-physical “other realms”, forces, and entities as a way to satisfy our limitless curiosity and impatient need to feel a sense of completion.

    A-fucking-men!! You exhibit a substantial inquisitiveness and erudition in your comments but their verbosity, intended or otherwise, makes the digestion of your contentions problematic for some readers. In other words, elaboration for the purpose(?) of obviating reductionism is no more helpful than beliefs which cannot be substantiated by demonstrable inquiry. Delusions and hallucinations are solely subjective and, seemingly, will never be eliminated by such scrutiny.

  • Neurophysiology belongs to spacetime and matter-energy. Energy and matter are different manifestations of one entity, a concept some are unable to assimilate.

    The realm of matter-energy and spacetime is referred to in the Sankhya school of Indian philosophy as Prakriti. Consciousness, referred to as Purusha, is considered to be distinct, separate, and not subject to the constraints of Prakriti.

    Advaita (non-dual) Vedanta and Buddhism in effect acknowledge only Consciousness: only Consciousness, not one Consciousness or many consciousnesses, with Prakriti being an apparition in it. From this perspective, there is no such thing as “your consciousness”, only “you Consciousness”. Yet the search for the elusive tenth man continues as long as the basis for all knowledge – awareness – is overlooked.

    And hence such statements as “When I used “consciousness” there, I meant it to refer to some alleged NON-PHYSICAL consciousness as opposed to physical consciousness.” A “thing” called “Consciousness” completely misses Consciousness. A lifetime or even a millennium of studying “it” and thinking about “it” will be as useful as teaching algebra to bullfrogs.

    Sankhya will approach “neurophysiology of consciousness” as “neurophysiology and consciousness” while Advaita Vedanta and Buddhism would approach it as “consciousness of neurophysiology”.

    “the popular but false mind-body dichotomy that so many of us grew up with, and that so many religions teach.
    With this separated, dichotomous mind-body model, “mind” and consciousness presumably exist in a non-physical, “mentalistic” way.”

    The space-time, matter-energy realm is also referred to in the Vedic traditions as “jagat” meaning going, moving, changing (cognate with the English “go”). In the non-dual systems, jagat is an apparition in Consciousness. There are two aspects to jagat: the gross and the subtle. The gross can be defined by spacetime & matter-energy and the units of measurement applicable therein. The subtle includes such things as mind, beauty, kindness, thought, etc. and some such subtle entities have been addressed by mathematical methods. The subtle is constrained and influenced by the gross. All of Prakriti is insentient, including mind and thoughts and emotions, just like a red rose has no colour in pitch darkness.

    The Purusha, in contradistinction to Prakriti, is not jagat, but is immutable. It is the Witness, not doing anything, nor is anything done to it.

    Just as bullfrogs have a hard time understanding algebra, most folks have a hard time understanding the distinction here: the “thing” called “Consciousness” is tossed onto the heap of the rest of the “things”.

    “Meanwhile, importantly, consciousness occurs as only one, very tiny slice of brain functioning, probably less than one millionth of it.”

    That’s the usual screw-up of conflating mind, a brain function, and a subtle aspect of spacetime/matter-energy, with consciousness, not distinguishing between Self and not-self, between Seer and Seen.

    “why any physical state is conscious rather than nonconscious”

    For reasons similar to why a bucket of water reflects an image of the sun, but a bucket of sand does not.

    “reading, thinking about, and writing about these things”

    Looking at the finger pointing at the moon will never reveal the moon.

    “a highly fallible human”

    Fallibility lies in the realm of spacetime/matter&energy. Hence “He wno speaks, does not know, and he who knows does not speak”. Yes, it categorises me.

    Windoze WordPad has extra formatting code even in *.txt. Windoze NotePad does not. NBL and cookies are problematic. No cookies is much better.

    “‘dukkha,’ hunger, craving, desire,”

    Dukkha is pain, sorrow, suffering. Desire is kaama.

  • moflo! I would very much like to meet you and talk to you for awhile. I think we could be friends. You’re like the coolest, most interesting person I’ve been around in a long, long time. I always look forward to reading what you write.

    By the way, “tweak-tweak, tweak-tweak-tweak!”

    @Dave Thompson. Very interesting article, thanks. Keep them coming!

  • When it comes to this discussion of consciousness I see two essential philophical positions:

    One position is that of materialism. That’s Bud’s position. He (and all the folks he leans on for understanding) believe that consciousness is a byproduct of physical processes, and has no existence independent of them. Your experience of consciousness is a brain function, pure and simple. When your brain stops functioning you stop experiencing consciousness. And that’s all there is.

    The other position I will call transcendentalism (for lack of a better term). The essential core of the position – regardless of what core texts and belief systems are invoked to explain it – is that consciousness exists apart from its encapsulation in some matter-energy based structure like the human brain.

    Said in the language of this blog: Some think that nature bats last; while others think that consciousness actually bats last. In other words, even after sentient life ceases to exist on our little blue ball, the transcendentalist is confident that the primal consciousness that manifested itself here in countless forms, some of which were capable of self-sentient awareness, will continue to exist and manifest itself elsewhere. The materialist has no such confidence.

    So, for example, when it comes to the idea of evolution, for the materialist it is a large, but bounded physical phenomenon that is observable and measurable. For the transcendentalist, on the other hand, evolution is an unimaginably large phenomenon, unbounded by our most advanced theoretical understandings of physical universe. Those radically conflicting views are irreconcilable.

    Closing with the venerable Plato’s Cave allegory, which really encapulates the whole discussion very neatly: Bud and his crew are all sitting in the back of the cave, convinced that this is it. Mo Flo, Robin Datta and their crew have (so they say) found their way out of the cave, and (so they say) are seeing bright sunshine and blue skies for the very first time. They run back in the cave to tell Bud, who patiently explains to them why they’re having a brain fart – and are experiencing a delusion that really doesn’t exist.

    So which is it? Is Bud just ignorant, and ignorant of his ignorance? Or are Mo Flo and Robin just delusional, and deluded about their delusion?

    We report. You decide!

  • @Tim E., I’m sorry you have that situation haunting you. You did fare better than some, though, as my comment was more pointedly referring not to adoptions but to the recent discoveries in Ireland of mass graves of infants and young children who had died of malnutrition and neglect after being born to the imprisoned and enslaved young female “clients” of that particular institution.

    You said, “The U.S. drone program under President Barack Obama reached its fifth anniversary on Thursday having tallied up an estimated death toll of at least 2,400 people.”

    2400/5 = 625 per year. Meanwhile there are well over 200k net births-deaths each day.

    You really are not grasping the scale of the processes I am talking about.

    I logged in here:
    at 4:53pm yesterday. When their tally of new people on the planet had reached 625, the clock read 4:56pm. So we are talking about drones killing the net number of people born in three to four MINUTES.

    Just in the US, there is one birth EVERY EIGHT SECONDS. I know I am speaking to the choir, Tim, but just trying to emphasize the magnitude of this to everyone. World-wide, there is an extra person added to the planet every 1-2 seconds.

    Mounting a drone war is incredibly parsimonious of human life, considering the alternative. The whole point of controlling the Middle East is to control the flow of the Spice.. not just because it makes people rich, but because It Makes People, Period.* So really, the Drone War is a somewhat bizarre and antithetical kind of war, because you are attempting to war without the negative/positive consequences, but you are still banking on its seemingly random and terroristic nature to keep people afraid and in line.

    Have styles of warfare have actually become less deadly on a proportional population basis? This would be an interesting tendency and fit into my overall energy-to-human-mass-optimization conception. It’s fascinating how we can expend more energy on war-making while actually killing far fewer people than in the past, don’t you think??

    The American Civil War killed over 500 people PER DAY, not per year, to put things in perspective… at a time when US population was about 31.5 million., and the world population a little less than 1.2 billion. A proportional figure today would be the organized and intentional violent death of 5082 Americans (1/63,000) per day, or 114,583 global citizens per day if extrapolated to a global scale.

    You say, “The children (or increase) belong to the Egg and Sperm Donors. That is two People – not all of Humanity.”

    You’re personalizing a mechanism that is beyond personalization. The “reason” people exist is to engender more people. That is what the biological machine does. Trying to sort out which of them “should exist” (the natives vs. the colonizers; the colored vs. the melanin-deficient; the intelligent who procreate less vs. the mass of the Bell curve vs. the disabled and mentally retarded…) this is all “politics”. It’s all short-term. Meanwhile the aggregate human juggernaut rolls onward.

    *1/2 or more of the nitrogen in our bodies being the fruit of the synthetic Haber-Bosch process, and not natural earthly mechanisms.

    @Jan Steinman, I dunno. I hated being an employee and I hated being an employer. Problem is, without labor under hierarchical control of whatever kind (“free-market”, communist, fascist) you are not going to have an industrial, or even a complex, society. Who’s going to volunteer to dig turnips while the priests are preaching, the warriors are warring, the writers are writing, the scientists are scienting and the artists are arting?? Whether any of us like it or not, hierarchical assemblies appear to be more Efficient in transforming energy and raw materials—including other creatures—into a growing human population, which is just as much the “point” (such as it is) of our species’ existence as it is that of any species.

    You know, the european honeybee hives have their queens, drones and so forth. Different from the solitary bees. What works is propagated onward; what doesn’t work is not. It’s a baptism in fire, without what humans might perceive as a moral dimension.

    @Pauline, I really do not know who you are arguing against.
    You can say noble-sounding things like “do not enslave your food”, “do not build cities” all you like, but the fact remains that these are the mechanisms which have most efficiently supported our population. Make of it what you will, good or bad, but this is the reality. It’s not a “lie” that we live “better” in cities: rather, cities are a way of efficiently disposing the great number of humans who have manifested themselves on the planet. They are a sort of crystallization of body-and-material accumulation. When conditions no longer are such that they can hold together, they’ll dissolve, but they are neither right nor wrong.

    And you forget about evolution. Do you think the humans of a million years ago are identical to the humans of today? Why might one think so, when a terrier has such a different mindset from a retriever or a shepherd dog? Do you think our progressively-constrained environments over the last 10,000 years have had zero collective influence on our brain function and morphology?

    I live in a cold climate where the enslavement of animals is necessary to wring usable calories out of the sunlight that falls in my region. One cannot be a vegan on the Mongolian steppes. Your arguments seem borne of a luxury brought to you by a mild climate and access to industrial agriculture rather than by any comprehensible sustainable reality. to what does your definition of enslavement extend? If natives tend food plots to attract deer to hunt, is that enslavement? Does it happen only when we put a fence up?

    Furthermore, plants do also have a sentience and intelligence, so may we not “enslave” them either? I don’t need to live, but others may feel differently. All animals “enslave” their food! Ants farm aphids, wasps lay eggs in live caterpillars of other species, corn has enslaved us. This is the way of the world and I feel it is ridiculous and overly precious to set oneself above and apart from all of it in such a rarefied fashion. To put it less charitably, the slaves run the machinery that lets you make films instead of digging for grubs with a stick, so I’m really not sure what you are so het up about.

    Did people fall into the meatgrinder of “progress”? Of course, but the obvious empirical result is that there has been, at the same time, a staggering net gain in human biomass. That is the proof in the pudding of the success of the current system!!!!! You acknowledge as much, but need to understand we are not in the driver’s seat and that what has befallen us is a mathematical construct and a biophysical one.

    As for stress and aggression and psychopathy, yes, that happens to rats, too, who are too tightly crowded. Rat-crowding doesn’t fit in with your concept of what’s wrong with humans, so why is it that they suffer, do you think? Without ownership, stock companies.. it should be a rat/worker’s paradise, and yet…

    BTW I really don’t mind owning my organs, thank you very much…. ;-)

    And this is bs: ” “poor women have always had more control of their lives, their families and their money. They have always been afforded the freedom to love whom they choose and have sex with whom they choose.” Rather, poor women have always been sold out of their families into servitude, put into fields, sent to nunneries and sold into prostitution because they were an extra mouth to feed. Your reference to the timeframe of “Ancient Rome”, remember, was a time of Empire, and surplus!!Much as ours is today. Just wait, and things here will revert to the norm.

    Finally, I really think you are romanticizing the nomadic life, and have no idea of the child mortality rates. I read a biography of a !Kung woman, the highlights of which was her continuous stealing of roots and tubers from her family members (bad Nisa!) and her naive recuperation of a newborn sibling left out in the bush to die. When it’s no big deal to routinely leave unwanted newborns to die, sure, you can have a more sustainable human culture.

    Your figures about reduced mortality in the Industrial era reinforce my point: that complex hierarchical extractive habits create greater human biomass. I think you yourself are even confused about what is “unimaginable” and what is “tolerable”, the “unimagineable” having been more sustainable, with the “tolerable” having been brought about by systems which you claim are intolerable…!!

    @Bud Nye, thanks. I think you see what I am trying to say. It is very difficult to convey concepts when many people leap to the conclusion that one is “in favor” of what one is merely observing. You said, “The hard problem of consciousness is the problem of explaining why any physical state is conscious rather than nonconscious.” I don’t think that’s the hard question.. the hard question is how is anything conscious or not. Unless you mean “how” when you say “why”… :-)

    @oldgrowthforest, the point about addiction is fine, but we’re also addicted to eating and drinking and staying warm in some fashion. This is not a proposal that can be infinitely expanded or maintained.

    @Wester, I want to cry with you but can only laugh. Did you swim to Thailand? Your fierce anger is something I’m not physically capable of maintaining anymore; it would eat me alive to no end, and Change Nothing. You flippantly say “Vôtre choix” when it is not our choice in the least. There is no inch of the planet not claimed by some hierarchical extractive entity armed with guns. To stop extracting will kill billions tomorrow. So we keep extracting. What baffles me is your blindness to the population issue and emphasis on individual consumption. I could shoot myself in the head and tomorrow there will be 200,000 people to replace me, just me!! I don’t consume 200,000x the average person, or 200,000x what the poorest person does, either. But you need a target for your rage…

    I saw some images from the pope’s visit to the Phillipines. Ironically, they are herding street kids into mass cages so they won’t put a damper on things.

    @dairymandave, I would like to hear your farmer’s perspective.

    @ed, nah, I think Robin would say there is no cave, but I would welcome his correction.

  • Reality is the delusions we hold in common.

    Nature Bats Last. Consciousnsess is not constrained by spacetime/matter&energy: it has no first, no middle, no last; as the Witness, it does not bat, or do anything else. The confusion arises from thinking about a “thing” called “consciousness” as in “your consciousness” and “being” completely oblivious to one’s Self, as in “you consciousness”.

  • @ ed Says:
    January 19th, 2015 at 5:58 pm

    Such a diplomatic comment. Condemn one side while lauding the other without being explicit which receives your allegiance. Perhaps you should apply for the position of Ambassador to Ukraine. I once thought you had a fair perspective. All that aside, what you’re really asking is whether one believes in John Edward or not. Those that do are not worthy of even one micro-second of consideration and ALL their regurgitation has less merit than a single molecule of oxygen (that’s “O2” for the ill-informed). Or did you totally mangle what you were actually trying to say?

  • I have to admit that all the people I admire most were of the spiritual or, as ed put it, a transcendental persuasion. I’ll never argue for or against transcendentalism or materialism. I just let peoples’ actions declare their cause.

    I do, however, see materialism turning the earth into a dry, lifeless husk.

    A spiritual man, in my opinion the greatest American of all time:

  • Colin: Or did you totally mangle what you were actually trying to say?


    I can’t quite suss what you think I was trying to say.

    Whatever it was, it sure seems to have given you a bit of wood. So, you’re welcome!

    As I pointed out in a prior post, in addition to the committed materialists (like Bud) and transcendentalists (like Mo Flo), there’s an interesting third group of folks who are called MYSTERIANS (google it). These folks say that this hard problem of consciousness is actually SO hard that we’ll never be able to say definitively whether Bud is ignorant about his ignorance, or Mo Flow is delusional about his delusions. The folks who’ve come to this conclusion aren’t intellectual D listers, either, including folks like Noam Chomsky, Roger Penrose, etc.

    So now, I invite you tell me again…what what my point, from your soured perspective?

  • FKling –

    thanks. good to know!

    the very real fraud, as much as possible, has to be weeded out of the picture. I was reading James Randi way back, I follow his work with JREF, and I’ve been well grounded in skepticism as long as I’ve been thinking. it is both my scientific nature, and was my milieu growing up in a family of highly educated atheist academic scientists.

    I dearly wish I could say more. it would be very easy, on multiple levels, to communicate some very interesting things to you – things you could easily look into yourself, in great detail, with a couple of quick Googles.

    of course, just to be clear, it is not at all that I am coercively “prohibited” in any way – I could type the key details all out right now, in about three sentences – but it is that I deeply appreciate the necessity of having some very important context, as foundation, when trying to bring new “appreciations about reality” into one’s consciousness – in any way that is truly useful.

    the context I am stuck with, with keeping my knowledge to myself – and it is just so mind-blowing, in how many ways, how perfectly I am stuck in not being able to write about this – is very clear to me. the other beings who do know about this stuff, also know just how badly and totally stuck I really am – and I am sure they have laughed their asses off about it, probably several times. or at least they are smirking between themselves. I can just feel it.

    right now, I don’t see any way I will ever be able to talk about these things, in any way – except where the necessary context would also be totally embedded in the communication.

    Bud –

    just to be clear, again – I am not a dualist, and certainly not a mind-body dualist, in any way whatsoever. there is only one thing: Consciousness – in exactly the way Robin mentions it above with Advaita (non-dual) Vedanta and the Buddhists that “acknowledge only Consciousness: only Consciousness”

    please do not continue to conflate your ideas of “physical” and “non-physical” with anything that I believe. these terms are not just meaningless for describing my philosophy, they are completely misdirected.


    email me! please. that would be most awesome – and I know we could be friends. moflow at outlook dot com. and stop that!

    ed –

    I think your use of evolution as an illustrative example of how the two positions actually look at reality is superb. however, just to be clear, again – I think the scientific method can go enormously far – vastly further than anything we have done to date – with probing into what might look to us right now as “unbounded.” it may someday, who knows when – hit final limits. but I don’t even think we can guess what those limits are, right now.

    I think the materialist view is ultimately stagnating – for the evolution you speak of – in that, IMO, it truly limits our capacity to think, to form the right questions (so absolutely vital) and to conceptualize. I see the transcendentalist view, at least the way I see it, as easily encompassing every concern the materialists could possibly have. but the materialist view looks hopelessly riddled with contradiction.

    we really do create our reality in some key ways, and the “reality” of the materialist could literally walk itself into a final dead end. the only way out, at that point, would be via thoughts that the materialist has forever forsworn. it would simply be too bad for those materialists, ultimately – because life goes on.

    as I have stated here repeatedly though, and as Robin has emphasized here in his own way (“Reality is the delusions we hold in common” is a great one) – we are all delusional when we are talking about things here, in the realm of phenomena. my only (very personal) concern is I think some forms of the delusion game are actually much more interesting to explore, more fruitful, more ultimately creative, purely for the sake of entertainment, than others. that is purely a personal preference, but one I feel a need to express, very strongly, in my own way.

    Colin –

    screw belief, always. the proof is in the pudding, however we get to it, and however long it takes.

    ed again –

    as much as I admire both Chomsky and Penrose, I have never seen evidence from either that they are greatly free of many of the conditioned ways the “materialist” views limit their range of possible theorizing – as far as cracking the Hard Problem. I could be grievously wrong there, and would have to research much more of both their takes on the Hard Problem before seeing where their heads are at.

    “never” is really a very long time. “we” actually do have a long, long time (here on Earth? doubtful) to bring the materialist and the transcendental positions into some kind of harmony. the language itself is probably all frog-talk right now, but by distinguishing the two positions so well – and pointing out the third possibility – no resolution, no harmony – we do have some real clarity to work with, at the moment – at least for all us thinking frogs.

  • Our national sports—what’s the deal?
    Who knows anymore what to feel?
    Baseball’s steroid deceit,
    Now in football they cheat—
    Wrestling, at least, is still real.

  • Ed
    “Is Bud just ignorant, and ignorant of his ignorance? Or are Mo Flo and Robin just delusional, and deluded about their delusion?”

    lol, funny as fuck ed, feel sorry for all the shit ya had to wade through to come up with that gem. i don’t have a clue what these guys are carrying on about, nor do i want to, but if their pissing contest keeps them happily distracted, then WTF? go for it, no skin off my ass.

    Dave Thompson,

    thanks for your post, i just read at Rockström’s WEF declaration at Business Insider. It reads like a vague child’s Christmas wish list, “Please bless mommy and daddy and bring peace on earth.” I’m still trying to Barnosky’s latest book, it too sounds like a Christmas wish list. I just listened to David Fridley at radio ecoshock compare thorium to fusion. WTF? Thorium power was already proven back in the 70s.

    Scientists have their heads way too deeply stuck in their knowledge silos to address the overwhelming confluence of multiple crises we now face. It seems like specialists have their heads so far up their asses that they feel it qualifies them to authoritatively speak of things outside their normal sphere of experience. I may be full of shit, but at least i know it… mostly.

  • Lidia,
    Don’t know if I should sneak in a comment about your post but isn’t this thread about ownership and patriarchy? I notice in your reply to different posters that you are aiming squarely at the population issue, as in there are too many of us on the planet… While ownership of land and population numbers certainly present intersecting issues, there is no consensus as to how many people constitute a correct number as to the population of our species. Without involving the issues of this thread, it is a given that if there were no humans on Earth that the destruction that is occurring would not be taking place.
    Is the problem however the way we think, or is because there are too many of us. I would say it is because of the way we think. If for example the last human on Earth was a one star general sitting in a nuclear missile silo with a bad temper, and was still capable of launching an array of nuclear missiles, that this ONE individual could do more damage to the planet and life itself than 3 billion people, or more. Therefore, using this example, one soldier who suffers from combat fatigue, PTSD or whatever, is more dangerous than the entire human race. My point is that there aren’t too many of us on the planet, but that there are definitely too many of us who are forced by the rest of us to pillage the Earth to secure our sustenance, a condition which is entirely of our own making.

  • and Kirk – thank you. that was so totally sweet to read.

  • and of course, if I need to tweak you in return, I just might have to… ;)

  • Well, Lidia, without the rest of my sentence which provides context for the way I define “addiction,” which is, “we live without attachment beyond our real basic needs,” it strikes me that the items you list, like food, water, shelter, etc., are “needs.”

    Or I would define them that way. But let not go there. I also provided the context of Guy’s work within the entirety of my short comment and his “conclusions.” Guy discusses this and has discussed it many times, what people really “need,” i.e., the mud hut. So, there is context that was stated that must not have been very clear. Or it must just be inconvenient for you at this time.

    I’m sure you’d find something else to improve, or better, or fix, or reword, no matter what I do, since I clearly don’t write clearly enough to be understood. Since, in my long experience, I’m not going to get smarter like you and learn to express myself in only the most excruciatingly perfect way that captures every possible definition and non-definition of every word so as to avoid being objectified, you can feel free to ignore me in the future.

    shep, you’re welcome.

  • OGF: Guy discusses this and has discussed it many times, what people really “need,” i.e., the mud hut. So, there is context that was stated that must not have been very clear. Or it must just be inconvenient for you at this time.


    Unless I have a reading comprehension problem, what Guy apparently needed was a mud hut to which he could make $500,000 worth of upgrades and renovations. I’m guessing he put in a “platinum grade” of mud, but I could be wrong about that.

    Regardless, it’s an excellent example of the oftimes unintentionally hilarious difference between rhetoric and reality.

    But enough of that. Look at those terrible people over there who live in a city, enslave their food, and are extending the Empire!

  • fyi readers

    being past peak means we are in a post-peak world
    we are now past peaks in the following,

    fish caught
    oil palm

    IMO — they’re wrong about palm oil.

  • I watched a spot of sunlight on the floor… fade… and I knew another cloud arrived. I don’t need to see the sky to know about clouds. My windows are heavily draped – except for that narrow slit along one edge I’ve neglected to pull tight. No reason to open them with these clouds. Might as well be alone here on days so ergodic.* I know there were birds out there, I heard them. Really. I remember. There were several small children, I heard them out there playing in summertime. I’ve remembered those shouts since childhood. Was I so unbelievably young?

    That cloud has passed, the spot of sunlight is standing on the floor again, illuminating a channel of dust floating in midair. Old dusty thoughts float inside my old head. I think about the clouds. I know more clouds will come to carry me away forever with all this sentimental nonsense. Vexing. This life, any life, ought to be more than a downsized collection of shadow play memories. Something willful inside moves. An old hand reaches out to touch the sun. Cupped in my palm… it fades.

    *”tending in probability to a limiting form that is independent of the initial conditions”

  • You know, ed, the funny thing is, I almost never look at those “other people” enslaving their food, enabling empire. etc. I actually don’t like to think about it, or think that way. Usually the only annoying persons I pay much attention to are the ones in front of me at any given moment. I just want to get rid of them! It’s all I care about.

    And then, I don’t want to think about them anymore. And I feel that way about a lot of people, and it makes things hard sometimes.

  • “You can say noble-sounding things like “do not enslave your food”, “do not build cities” all you like, but the fact remains that these are the mechanisms which have most efficiently supported our population. Make of it what you will, good or bad, but this is the reality. It’s not a “lie” that we live “better” in cities: rather, cities are a way of efficiently disposing the great number of humans who have manifested themselves on the planet.”

    I can’t take the time right now to think through the issue re Pauline’s statements and this response. Just want to quickly add some related thoughts from previous consideration:

    – Civilization is symbiotic with civilization. You don’t get one without the other.

    – Half the (non domesticated) animals on earth have disappeared in the past 40 years, even as the human population has doubled during the sane period.

    – For now, I leave population discussion to others. But if we have eliminated half the animals in such a brief period, clearly having to do with eliminating their habitats, it would be grossly irresponsible to advocate for people to leave cities and spread out over the remaining animal habitats.

    – Cities don’t have to be azoic, unhealthy places. Cities don’t inherently require fossil fuel use. To grossly oversimplify, present-day cities could be so vegetated that from a plane looking down, you wouldn’t notice they were there.

    – If we care about non human species, we must immediately stop housing people beyond current city limits.

    – There are endless opportunities to locate more people in cities while simultaneously solving economic, social and environmental problems. Housing over commercial buildings enable people to walk to work and to stores, as well as to build community hubs where there are now sprawling “wastelands.”

  • “doubled during the saMe period.”

  • I have no concern with consumption. I will happily see the consumption burnt to ashes and even offer the matches and accelerants. I don’t give a damn about Jevon’s Paradox or socially normalized insanity. What I do have concern with is ethics, and I can’t see telling myself stories about how “everybody does it”, or those mean boys with guns are just too-o big and scary to take down. FTS. At the end of the day you and you alone have to live with yourself and your cognitive dissonances, where you sold out and what you compromised to go along to get along. I am trying to stay as sane as possible while the rest of the entire population is clearly fetishizing on some kind of hyper-nihilistic mass suicide cult. Fine. Go there with rationalizations or fight it.

    “I repeat ad nausea to my students, the only way to sleep well, to be genuinely happy, is to keep fighting, whichever way you can, in street
    demos, in your classes, in your confrontations with their police, yes, keep fighting those bastards.” – Tito Gerassi, Unrepentant Radical Educator

  • Lidia: My response is practical, down to earth, where all the food comes from. Industrial ag requires only 1% of the population to grow the food. If we go back to the start of this country, we did have agriculture and it took 90% of the population to do the work. That means it took 9 farmers to feed one city person. So now, with 1% doing it, it takes a lot of stuff and the stuff needs to be owned. Owning simply means the owner is responsible for the use of it. It is a heavy load to carry and when you can’t stand it any longer, you quit. Let someone else own it. That’s where I am now. I’m weary of ownership. I don’t own it; it owns me, usually over 100 hours a week. The non-farm population, the 99%, takes it all for granted as they pursue their “thing”.

    The whole structure is very vulnerable and will collapse soon. That’s when we will all need a hoe, or if lacking a hoe, a stick. Right now our farm feeds 400 people a day, every day. Without all my stuff, I don’t know that I could feed even myself for very long. I’m here in my silo, outstanding in my field.

  • Echoing both Lidia and Bud

    The indigenous Salish tribes of the Pacific Northwest inhabited the coastal areas at least as early as 9000 BCE. They were slave owners. Slaves came from raiding neighboring tribes outside of their “territorial boundaries”. They also had a hierarchical class system of upper-class, lower class and slaves and resorted to body mutilation to signify prestige among the “free born”. They were patriarchal. They also lived in semi-permanent cedar bark houses in close proximity to salmon runs and trade routes and traded for guns shortly after their introduction to them…and all this with no political system and well outside the coercive influence of anything resembling an empire.

    I would love to believe that the roots of our collective self-destruction lie outside of “us”, as if an aberration of our truer nature. But in my opinion, I see a connection between this belief and the need to blame otherness.

    While the concept of ‘property’ is definitely near the top of the list of human fallacies, I see it less as a ’cause’ created ex nihilo and more as just another ‘symptom’ which arises from far baser elements, which have always been beyond human agency. Just being outside of the food chain eventually produces many toxic dilemmas.

    Again, the concept of trespassing is probably something even Homo Erectus understood came with deadly consequences. A private fence line isn’t all that different from marking your territory by urinating on a bush.

    Far deeper concepts like control, dominance, possession, lust, greed and envy drives our ever seeking advantage over greener pastures, or more verdant hunting grounds, or a viable slave trade.

    Avarice is simply born from a taste of the good life.

  • As I wrote earlier, I think ownership boils down to possession, and we’re also at (or even have passed) a critical stage in our cultural evolution with the development of digital devices that can make exact copies of information arbitrarily. As long as you possess something, you can claim you own it, even in an anarchistic society. But with information, if you copy it, two people can possess (copies of) the same information. This is why I’m against IP entirely (and I’ve written extensively on this; earlier I wrote the Free Music Philosophy in 1994 modelled after Stallman’s Free Software manifesto:

    As far as life in the stars, it depends on how you define life. I define it as the ability of a system to reproduce (make copies of), change (mutate), and consequently, evolve. If I put this definition in a computer, it may think that fire is alive. (Fire can do all these things.) But we don’t think fire is alive but perhaps we should. By this, or other definitions, are viruses alive? Perhaps we should add “independently” and make the system complex (comprised of a set of individual units with nonlinear dynamics). This reminds me about the old quote about pornography/obscenity by SCOTUS judge Potter Stewart, “I know it when I see it.” Highly unsatisfactory. I prefer my definition (with additions if necessary) and anything that satisfies that should be called “life.”

    Life is not the same as consciousness (sentience) and consciousness I think is an internal matter. It doesn’t matter if anyone else thinks I’m sentient or not, I am aware that I am. That’s what matters. But how consciousness arises I think is best explained in G”odel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid by Douglas Hofstadter, who explained that book in another more recent book titled I Am a Strange Loop (which is clever way of saying “I is a Strange Loop”). Hofstadter with Dennett also wrote The Mind’s I (yet another pun). If/when we get to the Singularity (strong AI) we’ll be able to at least replicate this behaviour.

    I myself would define consciousness as an emergent property of a complex system, i.e., when a complex adaptive system becomes aware of itself. The property isn’t static but always changing and is a function of the connections (network) in the system. Even though the connections could be between material/physical objects and subsystems (like quanta, atoms, molecules, cells, neurons, etc.) I don’t believe this is necessary (i.e., it could be between nonmaterial objects with similar interactions). It’s the *interactomics* that matters. This is why I believe that once we can create networks with the dynamics seen in the human brain at multiple scales/hierarchies, we’ll get something resembling consciousness (aka Singularity), assuming we’ve not become extinct yet. Yet even if we do this in a virtual setting, the interactions are occurring in some tangible silicon media. So I think before consciousness can arise, there must be some medium in which the interactions that give rise to consciousness can occur. I have yet to see any scientific evidence for any other explanation but I’m continuing doing the science to provide evidence for this one. (And solving other day to day problems that come along the way using the same overall multiscale modelling approach, most recently making predictions of new drugs for more than 2000 diseases all at once, more accurately than anything other approach out there, and with some in vitro validation already done and several others validations, in vivo and in the clinic, at varying degrees of progress: )

    I have structured another rigourous experiment with mo flow that if it “worked” would make me significantly reassess the above worldview, if not give it up entirely, but so far I don’t have any thing to report.

  • And ed, since the advent of quantum mechanics and the understanding that classical (Newtonian) physics has its limitations (but still useful—classical physics is enough to explain most of chaos/complexity), a LARGE number of people have articulated philosophies that integrate multiple perspectives into something wholistic (holistic): I put Hofstadter’s GEB as the best effort thusfar that I’ve read entirely but others like Penrose to Pirsig to Dennett to Lem to Kurzweil to… I can go on. So I think that’s a false dichotomy.

    It’s unclear to me if Bud’s view goes beyond a material worldview of consciousness based on what I’ve read from him thusfar. As I understand mo flow’s TR at least, it encompasses the material worldview and includes both. I don’t think the ancient Hindus and Buddhists really had enough information to get anything right beyond vague descriptions but I believe the monks did “get it” and “figured it out” at some level. But we’re in a different place now, where saying “I figured it out” isn’t adequate except to generate questions like yours.

    IF/WHEN we get to the Singularity (however it is achieved), it will provide SOME evidence for some of these philosophies. If we can interrogate this Singularity then we MAY get more evidence. There’s a TV show called Person of Interest that’s interesting in this regard: there an AI is developed to protect people from terrorist attacks which is developed by creating a network of information. Then ANOTHER AI is developed without some sort of a prime directive and these two AIs (the show is ongoing) are currently at war with one another. We’ve come across these sorts of stories. IF/WHEN we create the Singularity we create evolves further and further, let’s say in the direction of creating more Singularities and a society of Singularities which then develop the ability to create their own Sub-Singularities, then what?

    There’s this recursive quality about evolution that’s fascinating (I’ve observed and quantified this in various biological systems). This is what Hofstadter talks about when he says “Strange Loop.” These strange loops are present everywhere when complex systems evolve (biological or otherwise), including in the proof of G”odel’s Incompleteness Theorem, in Bach’s compositions, and in Escher’s art. However, it’s not the loops themselves that matter, but the ability to recognise them as such and not get trapped within the logic (which would lead to an infinite regression), is what matters according to Hofstadter.

    I don’t necessarily believe this, but someone just told me that one of the hemispheres of the brain has been shown (scientifically, i.e., with a controlled study) that one of the hemispheres of the brain is responsible for recognising the self, and the other hemisphere recognising others. As I said, someone just told me this, so I’m not sure if it has been published and replicated independently. If this is the case, then there’s some other network (strange loop) that’s responsible for managing these two and their interactions and this could perhaps be what people refer to as the “god consciousness.” This is just one of my interpretations. But we also know from a recent study that things that happen elsewhere influence the brain. So I don’t think it’s just the brain—it’s the sum of experiences.

    I myself have done and experienced a lot of really really crazy things in my life that I can’t talk about here and which any one who hasn’t done and experienced the same won’t understand anyway. There are lots of things we don’t know yet but I think within a human there are multiple consciousness at play (but only one in the driver’s seat at a time). The creation of a singularity will help with understanding of that, perhaps.

  • Given adequate complexity, hardware will duplicate and exceed the function of wetware. It is not necessary to have water in a bucket to reflect an image of the sun; almost any liquid in any container will do. Once the hardware can not only reprogram itself, but augment its hardware through control of the acquisition/manufacture and assembly processes, that will be the singularity, since it will have escaped human control. Consciousness wil be manifest through it: it will claim awareness like any human, but unlike the case with humans, its claim may be disputed. It will have a distinct advantage over humans, since humans cannot augment their wetware (yet).

    The Vedic and Buddhist sages insisted that what was possible for them was possible for others. It had to be an individual effort and personal experience, just as one cannot share one’s awareness with others.

    But the overriding priority for humans may soon be lunch.

  • Tom Says:
    January 19th, 2015 at 10:41 am

    Dredd …

    2015-01-17 – New species of anaerobic sulfate-reducing microbes discovered beneath the ocean floors …
    Other microbes have been discovered buried deep like that: “The explanation is that deep life is able to proceed in extreme slow motion..” [Some tests done on deep core samples show they slow down their metabolism to 1,000 times less than their capacity. They do so to adapt to the lack of resources] (What Did The Mass Extinctions Do To Viruses and Microbes?).

    Sometimes mutualistic / symbiotic microbes and viruses become pathogenic under stress, but later revert back to mutualistic / symbiotic behavior when conditions normalize.

    Species of microbial life, including viruses, react differently to various conditions.

    Humans do too.

    The stress accompanying catastrophe leads to metamorphic events … catastrophic selection rather than natural selection as it were.

    Any time we experience inordinate stress our adult stem cells, microbes, and virus symbionts or pathogens can morph via abrupt evolution as it were (Abiotic Evolution: Can It Explain An Origin For The Toxins of Power? – 3).

    Random mutations caused by stress during catastrophes, or even the expectations of catastrophes, can and do cause damage to cognition … unless managed.

  • Robert,
    Your last paragraph is worth quoting “Scientists have their heads way too deeply stuck in their knowledge silos to address the overwhelming confluence of multiple crises we now face. It seems like specialists have their heads so far up their asses that they feel it qualifies them to authoritatively speak of things outside their normal sphere of experience. I may be full of shit, but at least i know it… mostly.”

    I too share your thoughts and familiarities with human BS. After a while, especially if they have spent too much time in a lab, the science groups all too often emerge from their lairs with the perception that they have discovered ‘the truth’. If they live long enough, they (we) may discover that if all of the greatest minds in the world would gather in the same room, that trying to grow a single blade of grass without a how-to road-map is an impossible task. In fact, even ‘life’ itself still remains as elusive an entity as the concept of a universe. Thanks for BS references! Good to know I’m not alone…

  • @Jean, I am aiming at the population issue because I think what Guy is bemoaning is a natural phenomenon that is simultaneously a cause and a symptom of population pressures.

    @Daniel, thanks for that interesting description of the Salish. Yeah, maintaining a belief that mankind can be different than we actually are and have been is a progressive form of Religion, with the Heaven being on earth rather than in the sky, and these believers can be just as committed as any jihadi. Because if you take away that possibility of agency, that psychological refuge that allows for improvement and perfectability, we are left with an abyss that most reflexively turn away from, the majority not even being able to let it enter their conscious thinking.

    @dairymandave, I understand and it is a scary prospect, which illustrates my point: that Ownership is a Technology we use to multiply our species.

    @wester, I think you are abroad teaching English? If so, that’s a delicious irony.

  • The latest essay in this space comes from Alton C. Thompson. It’s here.

  • I love Wester’s and Daniel’s posts here. Wester, I agree, everything is about ethics and it takes three things to establish ethics. All of this, the destruction to the planet is about intelligence, empathy (consciousness of realities beyond our “self,” the experiences of other living beings, and the capacity for understanding consequences of our actions, awareness of destruction and suffering that we cause. Those are the factors.

    I also agree with Daniel. It kind of proves that human beings can be equally screwed up and still maintain the environment, I think, which I’ve always believed after living in both cultures my entire life. And yes, a taste of the good life does it for some for a while, for some forever, but many choose other paths, and many, many Native Americans have held to their traditions as best as they could under the genocidal circumstances. In fact, few non-natives understand how strong those traditions are or how strong the people had to be to hang onto what they could if the life-sustaining traditions of their cultures. And they still do all over Indian country. They rarely receive credit for that, however.

    When we are discussing things like how Native Americans traded for guns, you kind of need the context that somewhere close to 100% of them were slaughtered, there was a government sanctioned genocide, and they were under constant encroachment and/or attack once they encountered Europeans-Americans. These “facts” are inseparable from each other, the fact that they adopted guns and the circumstances under which they adopted them. They embraced the guns in a world that was very different from the one they created. That kind of point that is so popular to make is not really valid. People who are so big on “scientific method” should be aware of the understanding that what you see after you’ve screwed with something, especially to the point of death, can’t give you real information about the thing itself, or certainly not what it was like in its natural state.

    This culture has as its religion its own capacity for conceptualization. If people can make a sensible sounding sentence, it must be true, or at least possible, we think. We’re continually making intellectual Frankensteins, taking as much data and documentation and accepted truths and putting them together like complex puzzles that allow us to peer into the gaps and know what must exist in the pieces we cannot see. But the puzzle is bigger than we understand, every time, as long as we are in the human body, because we are just people.

    Religion has addressed all these realities for thousands of years. Twenty thousand years ago, people in the most “primitive” tribal settings could see human beings as clearly as we do. Maybe more clearly. They came to certain conclusions about life, death, ethics, and human nature. They did it before humans had writing, and passed the stories on.

    They said things like, it’s all of us. No exceptions, because it’s (the problem) in us, and it has to do with us wanting to be God, it has to do with hubris and wanting things humans don’t really need. And it has to do with murder and lies, and human choices.

    And it’s really quite easy to see when you can see.

  • Hi all.

    Guy, I appreciate your essay and the connections you began to make with it. It doesn’t seem to really come full circle, though, and I would like it to because I am sincerely interested in the subject.

    When I saw the title of this essay I wondered if ownership does not arise from patriarchy… maybe it is like the chicken and the egg.

    I then recalled when I was here way back when (two summers ago) pondering these things with a painful focus, and I came across an essay which I posted on the member forum which I had I started called Patriarchy (seems to be gone now?). Can’t find that essay now, but I recall that the author wrote about how the domestication of animals by nomadic peoples eventually revealed the paternal contribution towards creating offspring. This in turn gave rise to the idea of “my children,” whereas before children were thought to come magically from women (which they do :)) and everyone cared for them all.

    I notice that few people want to talk about patriarchy, here or anywhere else.

    I have to wonder how it got so pervasive, since it also appears in tribal societies, not just in clearly invaded and dominated matrilineal cultures. It is like some kind of virus on the globe.

  • I heard about this on the car radio, and haven’t yet read the article. Ram, especially, might be interested.

    The new ASU-SFI Center for Biosocial Complex Systems will help scientists and policymakers alike gain a better theoretical understanding of the interconnections between these systems, and apply that knowledge to questions such as what happens to institutions, health care and human behavior as cities grow into mega-cities.


    Had some quick thoughts that seemed to relate to OGF’s post…

    Advice to the Rich and Powerful (areas to investigate):

    (Everybody knows “the good guys lost,” but that doesn’t stop many from keeping on.)

    – Altruism; here’s a good example:

    – Love the complex system. People are working at this crisis from many different perspectives. Some are building higher bridges. Some are lowering the water. Some dysfunctional things are crumbling under their own weight. It’s probably all good.

    – Don’t promote obviously fatal and avoidable projects–like dumping sewage into the sea, or removing wildlife corridors.

    – Emphasize animal habitat preservation.

  • @Christy, yes. it’s too bad, all of the forum posts got erased recently; there’s a slim chance they might return.. mo flow is working on it.

    Viruses are also natural and normal creatures. Why does labeling something a “virus” always have such a negative connotation? I’ve half a mind to mount a protest against “anti-virusism”.

    @Ram, your “singularity” is a waste of time. It’s never going to occur, Not Least because there won’t be the concentrated energy necessary to fuel it. Likewise with the Zeitgeist morons, the Elon Musks who think we are going to hitch a Winnebago to a rocket and camp out on Mars in some fashion. Autists.

    @oldgrowth, “people in the most “primitive” tribal settings could see human beings as clearly as we do….it has to do with hubris … quite easy to see when you can see.” Yes, various religions have “seen it”, yet nothing changes, does it?

    Was listening to a podcast where a guy was describing an improved habitat, transformed away from the conventional US agri-biz style monocropping by Mark Shepard, who wrote the book “Restoration Agriculture”. He described a now-rare bird, a shrike, fighting with a weasel. Weasels eat mice, and the shrike’s habit is to collect a surplus of killed mice when its belly is full, by impaling the dead mice on tree branches. The shrike wanted to protect its stash of mice from the weasel. Are we different from these animals? Better? Worse? Why or why not? Who is the more moral, the shrike, the weasel or the mouse? Show your work!

  • @Lidia. I have no idea. Does nothing change? Does everything change every moment? I’m not even interested in thinking that way, either. Maybe things do change, for some people. Maybe none of the above.

    What is it you are saying? That’s so general as to be meaningless. Nothing ever changes.

    Your need to resist and correct and basically find some kind of language weapon doesn’t ever change, from what I can tell. But I’m certain it will. At some point. And like I wrote earlier, until then you can feel free to ignore me, and I, hoping for integrity of some kind in the life, will now attempt to practice what I ask of others.

  • Oldgrowth, why do you see what I say as using a weapon? I don’t think that of you or of others. I don’t want to ignore you, or not ignore you.

    Neither of us would be here if we were not interested in expressing how we see things and finding out how others see things.

    Most of the time I think definitions matter, reality matters (as opposed to life as we wish it to be), but you are right in that insisting on any of this is without ultimate import. Things change every moment, yet follow a trajectory that is “easy to see” when you know what you are looking at.

  • ” Marriage, like gold and the associated rule, is part and parcel of imperialism. Men own their women, and also their children. Non-monogamous relationships are weird to the point of being dangerous.”

    I find it liberating that there is no hope here, for then there is no need to toe the line of patriarchal legitimacy. We no longer need to define people with terms like “bastard” or “illegitimate” or “faggot” or “bitch.” Let these concepts die. It encourages a leap of faith away from the norms of a controlling and crippling world order run through and to maintain dominance over everything that can be subdued and pillaged. It’s also quite common to equate the leap of faith–this leap away from everything we take for granted–as suicidal, but I question whether it is.

  • Yes, Lydia, I agree that viruses are natural and normal.

    They can also be very unpleasant, cause extensive and continuous pain, suffering, and death, be apparently impossible to eradicate once contracted, and are sometimes highly contagious.

    So, I was referring to those qualities, as experienced by humans and other creatures, as being similar to patriarchy. Nothing personal to viruses, who innocently exist as parasites within us. I am sure they have a place and a purpose in the universe. It is just hard to appreciate them when they get all active in a body and cause pain.

    Sorry to offend you about that.

  • @christy, I was hardly offended, just being a bit tongue-in-cheek, but seriously: a not-insignificant part of our own DNA comes from viruses. As with bacteria, where do “they” begin and “we” end? It’s all a big happening…

  • “Things change every moment, yet follow a trajectory that is ‘easy to see’ when you know what you are looking at.”

    Yes. In this instance I was particularly speaking of human behaviors and human observations about those behaviors specifically in connection with hubris, human needs versus human wants and desires, and human destructiveness. Those things are discussed here. There was no intent whatsoever to be an apologist for anything other than the truth as I see it where I find it, and that can be anywhere.

    It’s always a paradox, all of reality as we see it is a paradox, until it isn’t. And even if it were not, we cannot express the totality with words.

    I think what we do in the here and now, in particular when we engage with other living beings, is of ultimate, cosmic importance. And the words we use and what and how we communicate on all levels, visual, physical, psychological, emotional, exploitive, objectifying, nurturing, sustaining, and many more possible characteristics that define how individuals approach relationship(s), are of great importance, and our actions in the same way are of more importance.

    A great example of genuinely higher understandings is the mediocre general wisdom that it’s not what you say, it’s how you say it. I think that’s bs, and it’s a watered down version, a fundamentalist view, of what I describe here. It’s not how we say things. It’s what we say and who we are and how we are interacting with the other sentient beings in front of us. How we relate to them is the place where the words come from.

    We want to teach people, “educate” them with these wonderful understandings that we think are so wonderful, like Santayana’s far too oft repeated questionable comment about learning from the past. We end up with homilies, platitudes, abstractions that are interpreted in infinite ways through countless small minds, but we do it anyway, hoping everyone can get on board and we can make a better world, but it doesn’t appear to work that way from what I can see.

    We eat. We sleep. We make waste. We stand and we sit. We clothe ourselves, and we are creative creatures who NEED to make something. And beyond that, is what Guy calls “a life of excellence,” I think. It is what I would say is how we relate to everything that is not “I” or “self” or “me” and the quality of relating and relationship.

    I don’t particularly relate to the word “excellence,” because it too, is value laden, abstract, and hierarchical. I prefer ideas more like balance, sustaining, life-respecting. We have a right to meet our real needs, and beyond that we have responsibilities to the world around us, the responsibility to respect life and not take more than we need. There is love and it has a role here, as does lack of it.

  • correction: A great example of a genuinely higher understanding that becomes a useless and mechanistic mediocre general wisdom is that it’s not what you say, it’s how you say it.

  • I wish to reiterate what above has been more suggested than said with great emphasis: All that matters now are the animals. Humans must take a back seat. Although the global order artificially props up human existence, and expands human population, the demise of wild animals is not in the longer-term interest of humans. So, putting animals first and humans in the background is good for humans too. It’s a paradox. If we put ourselves first, it will hurt us more than if we put animals first. Putting animals first means non interference with their habitats. That means no further expansion of human infrastructure from where it is at present.

    Another paradox: If animal habitats are preserved at the expense of poor humans who are excluded from their current land base, those humans will poach and kill the animals that are supposedly being protected. Animal protection therefore requires ensuring that poor people everywhere are not exploited. Animal welfare and that of poor people are co-dependent.

    I can’t recall anyone on NBL refuting any of this, but I thought it could use some emphasis.

  • Lidia, What’s wrong with autists and why are you insulting them comparing them to Elon Musk? :)

    And if you think “any of this” is without ultimate import, why is contemplating the concept of a singularity a waste of time (any more so than any other things)? Along my contemplations, I have predicted cures/treatments for 2030 diseases, understood the rice proteome in a way no one else has, have felt the beauty of thousands of protein structures, written software to convert them to music that I (and a few others) really enjoy, and so on. Or do you think there are too many people and drugs to save lives, as well as improve the quality of one’s life, shouldn’t be discovered?

    I think learning is always a good thing to do, and it is my passion in life. Whether something happens or not is why I do anything. I do something because I like learning about it I don’t expect to see the singularity happen in my life time but almost everything I do contributes to it in some ways (depending on the way it may occur). If it’s a waste of time, you shouldn’t contemplate it.

    I think it’s interesting, how humans tend to behave in this fractal manner from an evolutionary perspective. When we talk of the singularity or genetic engineering, we’re aiming to do something with evolution that evolution has been doing for billions of years. I myself am driven to do this, for the love of it. I find it fascinating.

    artleads, thanks for the URL. I almost ended up doing a postdoc at the SFI but I ended up with a better choice and I’m now working with Stuart Kauffmann (who led it for a while). It’s a good thing to try, even though we’re a long way away from theory to practice, but you never know. Look at what happened with quantum mechanics and the invention of the transistor.