December 04, 2012

Generosity, reciprocity, capacity, intimacy, nastiness, and torture

JAMES MADEIROS (3 DECEMBER) posts on Sociology Degree Programs HERE “Reciprocity: Society’s Invisible Hand”
“The most common (and commonly defended) positions regarding personal choice revolve around free will and fate, but these two stances exclude one of the most powerful predictors of human action and interaction: societal influence. This is especially true when it comes to the concept of the “rule of reciprocation,” which defines the invisible hand that pushes us to give back when others give to us. This pressure is most acutely felt when people fail to reciprocate and are then saddled with guilt that makes them feel uncomfortable – a feeling that is avoided by reciprocation.”
Comment: The problem with some versions of sociology is its proclivity for making things up (as happens with some exponents of economics!).  Relating reciprocation uniquely to society’s pressure on individuals and calling it “the invisible hand” is that it fails the evidence test from the widespread behaviour exhibited among some, but not all, pairs of primates (see Robin Dunbar, “Grooming, Gossip and the Evolution of Language”).
Similarly, among humans reciprocity is practised, but not unanimously. Reciprocity is a powerful behavioural exchange habit that predates by hundreds of millennia its appearance among modern humans. Reciprocity, where the implied exchange may be separated by time delays, pre-dates the relatively more recent exchange behaviour practised in human bargaining – where the implied exchange is immediate and rarely occurs among primates (and some bats) practising reciprocity. 
Hence the attempt by James Madeiros to make Sociology Degree Programs appear authoritative, complete with its own ‘invisible hand’ of society,  exposes its shallowness.  

Neuroscience: Under Attack from Posthuman Destinies by abdul lateef Dec 4, 2012 
A team of British scientists recently analyzed nearly 3,000 neuroscientific articles published in the British press between 2000 and 2010 and found that the media regularly distorts and embellishes the findings of scientific studies. Writing in the journal Neuron, the researchers concluded that “logically irrelevant neuroscience information imbues an argument with authoritative, scientific credibility.” Another way of saying this is that bogus science gives vague, undisciplined thinking the look of seriousness and truth.

AMONG spiders, the female of the species really is more deadly than the male. ... suitors, post copula, in a manner that Hannibal Lecter might have admired. Male Spiders Let Mates Eat Them for Kids' Sake - Sexual ... 23 Dec 2011 – Female orb-web spiders that eat their tiny male mates after copulation, called sexual cannibalism, have more, larger babies that survive longer ... Male spiders castrate themselves during sex to avoid being eaten ... 2 Feb 2012 – Biologists have identified a new sex technique used by certain spiders, called "remote copulation", where the males castrate themselves during ...

Is it all in the micro? from Cafe Hayek by Russ Roberts Dec 4, 2012 
Casey Mulligan in this week’s EconTalk argues that the generosity of the safety net deepened the recession and slowed the recovery. I don’t believe all of his analysis but it sure is provocative. And he might be right.

Invest in Sound Economics from Cafe Hayek by Don Boudreaux Dec 4, 2012 
2012 was for Russ and me filled (as recent years have been) with accusations that we write what we write, say what we say, teach what we teach, and blog what we blog only because we’re intellectual mercenaries… 
For nearly nine years now we’ve posted material at the Cafe almost daily (and, on most days, several times).  As I noted last year, during that time we’ve avoided adding any advertising links – despite increasingly frequent solicitations for us to add such links.  So, truly, neither Russ nor I receives any monetary payment for our work here as Cafe Hayek’s ‘blogeristas.’  While our blogging does have intellectual rewards, it is, for us, a true labor of love – one that we will continue to perform for the foreseeable future.

So what we have here is the BJP mostly reacting to the Congress’ left liberal “rights based agenda”, riding on its bandwagon in states where it is in power while being mostly clueless on the long term strategic implications of this “rights based left liberal law making”.
The Vedanta episode highlights how these Rights based  laws like the FRA have effected a long term strategic advantage to the Congress… The BJP on account of its intellectual vaccum and myopia has shot itself in the foot by contributing unwittingly to this Left Liberal strategic shift in favor of the Congress. What is worse the BJP still does not see a need to chart a fundamentally different course Legislatively or Politically to challenge the Congress.

Indian heritage? from Love of All Wisdom - Dec 3, 2012
But then, there are also places where my visits to India have impeded my understanding. It took me far too long to see the integrity orientation of classical Indian philosophy, because I had spent too long understanding classical India through the lens of my modern experiences. What I had seen in modern India was what Louis Dumont and Max Weber saw: tightly knit communities where family counts more than individual preferences, contrasted to the individualism of the modern Western world where I grew up. Now, no doubt much or even most of classical Indian society fit this description just as well, in practice. What didn’t fit it was the theory, the ideas: the Jains, the Buddhists, the Yogins, the Advaitins sought to separate themselves from this communal world and transcend it. They were not individualists in the Western sense, but individualists they were. And I might have had an easier time of seeing that if I had been confronted with their ideas before encountering the modern Indian world.
Moreover, it was never my intention to limit my studies to India. As Jeffery Long said last week: “My main interest, whatever the historical genealogy of my access to these teachings, is in whether they are true.” I do think the historical provenance of various ideas has an important bearing on our understanding of them and their truth, but it is the truth that I seek.

The Internet  from Larval Subjects . by larvalsubjects Dec 4, 2012
I started this blog on a lark back in 2006… Late one night I created the blog “Larval Subjects”, and wrote my first post on the relationship between Deleuze and Lacan.  The blog became one of my most fulfilling modes of intellectual engagement.  Perhaps that’s pathetic, but I don’t care.
Why did I start the blog?  I started basically because I was in a place of loneliness and despair… At a time where I felt as if I had failed academically because I was only a lowly community college professor and had not achieved a tenure track position, this was a way of overcoming my despair and simply taking delight in thinking and discussing. And finally the blogosphere has exposed me to theoretical orientations that I would have never encountered on my own… There’s not a day in which I don’t consider shutting down this blog and withdrawing from all online participation.  I dread opening my email.  I dread opening the comments on this blog.  Sometimes I go days without looking at either.  I’m shell shocked.  These three examples are only one of many.  You don’t see the emails I delete, nor the emails I receive.  At this point I seldom even respond to emails unless I can actually trace the person who sent it.  So what’s my point?  My point is that when you talk about the nastiness of the blogosphere you might be ignorant of the context. 

Torture has been consistently prohibited in international human rights and humanitarian law for more than half a century and has been condemned in a number of international conventions. The prohibition is absolute and no exceptions, including situations of public emergency and war, may be evoked to legitimise the use of torture. Despite this, torture and other forms of ill treatment is still a predominant and widespread occurrence and continues to be practiced in over 100 countries.
International law obliges states to investigate allegations of torture and to punish those responsible. It also requires that victims of acts of torture obtain reparation and have an enforceable remedy to fair and adequate compensation, restitution of their rights and as full a rehabilitation as possible. Nevertheless, torturers are seldom brought to court and torture survivors rarely receive any kind of redress as compensation for their suffering.

Sri Aurobindo summarizes the discussion about involution and evolution with the following: “Therefore all this evolution is a growing of the Self in material nature to the conscious possession of its own spi9ritual being.”
The material forms that we see around us are not dead or inanimate, but are rather densely packed forms of energy, organized in such a way as to hold tremendous power and consciousness within the apparent immobility. The consciousness that creates the universe is thus involved in these material forms, and they become the basis for the evolution, the systematic unfolding of the powers of existence and consciousness held tightly within the forms of matter.
At the end of the evolutionary process we find: “the spirit holding Nature conscious in himself, complete by his completeness, liberated by his liberation, perfected in his perfection, crowns the evolution.”
This makes the process of birth and death part of a larger cycle of systematic unfolding of this consciousness of the spirit taking birth as a conscious form in Matter. “To grow in knowledge, in power, in delight, love and oneness, towards the infinite light, capacity and bliss of spiritual existence, to universalise ourselves till we are one with all being, and to exceed constantly our present limited self till it opens fully to the transcendence in which the universal lives and to base upon it all our becoming, that is the full evolution of what now lies darkly wrapped or works half evolved in Nature.” Sri Aurobindo, Rebirth and Karma, Section I, Chapter 7, Involution and Evolution, pp. 66-67

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