Evolution and human behaviour and culture.

So much on my mind – I can’t keep up with it!

Books to read on relationships – “Marriage is the medium”

I have been reflecting on the role of evolution in relationships.

I doubt that marriage was somehow hard wired or ‘natural’ yet what is our pairing history?

I have a hypothesis:

We became human through a process of evolutionary development where we gained an advantage by walking upright, liberating the hands, developing language, having a bigger brain. Some of these processes or all of them, involved us being born as infantile creatures more vulnerable than other mammals. We are born at what  might be a more juvenile stage in other primates. This means that the parents play a vital role in development.  Grandparents do too; an explaining why we live beyond our reproductive life. Through the grandparents the group has a collective memory and redundancy in its nurturing capacity.

Psychologically this can all go haywire, evolution did not provide a fool proof post-natal environment. In fact it may be that what does not kill us makes us stronger psychologically. We have attachment wounds and seek out spouses that offer the possibility for psychological healing, a second go at being nurtured. It may be that the fear of change leads us to seek out partners that confirm our familiar view of the world and ourselves and reinforce it. Or there may be strong out-of-awareness mechanisms that can see the healing opportunity. But for some reason pair-bonds evolve that have the potential for re-living (a hellish time) and then repairing attachment wounds.

Some of this may happen while the partners are young, though I imagine it is more likely in the grand-parent phase of life. It may not have happened a lot, but if a tribe had sufficient elders who were somewhat psychologically healed it would lead to significant advantages for the group. Hence the evolution of cultural taboos against divorce and incentives for staying together.

Whatever the reason for the power of hanging-on in a relationship, there is a process of healing that is possible if there is guidance and consciousness. This healing does not happen if at the point of difficulty in the relationship partners just move on. By staying in the relationship, and becoming conscious the marriage becomes a healing space just like a therapeutic relationship. In fact the therapeutic healing space is a surrogate marriage, it can even be a futile substitute. Marriage becomes an alchemical crucible, where stages of transformation can be facilitated by conscious attention. The evolutionary basis is there but we also have reason and consciousness and we have developed capacity for depth and loving relationships. This cultural evolution can happen much faster than physical changes, and there is currently a rapid shift from individualism to a relational paradigm.

There are plenty of other, less benign forces at work that explain marriage, such as inheritance of wealth and bonding families and tribes, however the healing potential of relationships is also there. Very recently (slowly) we as humans may be ridding ourselves of sexist elements of marriage such as ownership of women by men and becoming more conscious of the healing potential.

With this hypothesis to sharpen and examine I have a pile of books to read on my kindle:

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Darwin’s Legacy: Scenarios in Human Evolution (African Archaeology Series) [Kindle Edition] Sue Taylor Parker (Author), Karin Enstam Jaffe (Author)

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Sex, Murder, and the Meaning of Life: A Psychologist Investigates How Evolution, Cognition, and Complexity are Revolutionizing our View of Human Nature

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The Dawn Warriors: Man’s Evolution Toward Peace

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Robert Bigelow was my teacher in 1969 at the University of Canterbury in Christchurch. I was deeply influenced by his teaching. It seemed like we were getting genetics 101, but I now see that his insights were very rare, and they did not get a good grip on the orthodoxies. Sone of the details may be wrong or dated – the overall hypothesis makes sense and makes his book a worthy candidate for Peace Studies.

Time I read it again – not on the kindle unfortunately.

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The Meaning of Human Existence [Kindle Edition]
Edward O. Wilson (Author)

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Then a couple by Stephanie Coontz (she is mentioned in an earlier post relevant to this discussion) here :

The Way We Never Were: American Families And The Nostalgia Trap Paperback – October 6, 1993
by Stephanie Coontz>

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Marriage, a History: How Love Conquered Marriage [Kindle Edition – downloaded sample] Stephanie Coontz

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Diane Wolfthal Images of Rape

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A Natural History of Rape: Biological Bases of Sexual Coercion
Here is a review: Goodreads

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Sex: A Natural History

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The Evolution of Marriage and of the Family
By Charles Jean Marie Letourneau

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Books are not what they used to be.

Been posting a few items about books here.  Very casual. Hardly posted a thing this year, and see post on Evernote below re that. Feel some motivation coming on.

The motivation is to post book covers and snippets because I am loving my ebooks – have for years.  I don’t really want the paper books anymore.  But I miss the affordance of the stacks of books lying around unread.  They are now just a line of links on a screen and sometimes I can’t even recall why I have the book sample or who recommended it.  There are so many samples, just a list! So I’ll post unread books here, awaiting reviews.

Once paper books are read they can go on a shelf somewhere.  Even the pile in the garage.  I can look at them when I tidy up, and think, oh yes I remember that.

OK, so there is a purpose for the blog, to notice what I have in my ebook library in some sort of meaningful way.  So out with Evernote for books – and onto the blog with them.  Expect more flimsy post with cover pictures.

I will update posts too, I often do that here, they need edits and additions as they go up very rough.

I tried Goodreads for this purpose, however for some reason I am more attracted to my own blog, at least first. Social media can come later, if at all.

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There is already plenty here in the blog to stir reminiscences.  There are references to books back to 1999.  As I went back to look I found a dead link to this item

Malcolm Gladwell on Blockbusters and books.  Collaborative filtering!

Just six
authors–John Grisham, Tom Clancy, Stephen King, Michael Crichton,
Dean Koontz, and Danielle Steel–account for sixty-three of the
books on the list. In a world more dependent on collaborative filtering,
Grisham, Clancy, King, and Steel would still sell a lot of books. But
you’d expect to see many more books like “Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya
Sisterhood”–many more new writers–make their way onto the best-
seller list. And the gap between the very best selling books and
those in the middle would narrow. Collaborative filtering, Hagel
says, “favors the smaller, the more talented, more quality
products that may have a hard time getting visibility because
they are not particularly good at marketing.”

It seems he was wrong though.

Must revisit, interesting. What has happened 15 years later to those lists?

web.archive.org/web/20000301085403/http://www.gladwell.com/1999_10_04_a_sleeper.htm

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The technium

Kevin Kelly Interview – transcript:

http://edge.org/conversation/the-technium

Sums up many of his ideas.  I find his clarity inspiring.  There are just some ideas he explains well.

 

with new tools:

 

So you have the power to do evil expanded. You have the power to do good expanded. You think that’s a wash. In fact, we now have a choice that we did not have before, and that tips it very, very slightly in the category of the sum of good.

Does it? I can’t quite make that moral leap, but what is clear is that there are more options. For the baddies too! The root of evil may be ignorance and there fore as knowledge tools improve so does good?

I like this idea too:

It may be that for us to really master the issues of attention management, critical thinking, learning how technological devices work and how they bite back, all this techno-literacy may be something that we have to spend several years being trained to do. Maybe you can’t just learn it by hanging around people who do it or else just hanging around trying to learn it by osmosis. It may require training and teaching, a techno-literacy, and learning how to manage your attention and distractions is something that is probably going to require training.

I think the same about relationship. We now have so many relationship tools that need teaching that we need, as he puts it (in relationship to new media):

We know that from plenty of studies of literate and illiterate people from the same culture—that reading and writing changes how your brain works. That only came about because of four or five years of deliberate practice and study…

I get inspired like this with Kevin Kelly usually because I like what he says about the future and tools, but sense that I have a psychological perspective that he, and the whole Edge buch miss.

The evolution of psyche.

Then I want to get writing.

I also like:

There’s this conundrum, this dilemma of remaining different while connected, because if you’re just different but not connected, there’s no power in that, and that’s actually easy to do, but can you remain different while connected? You’re different in certain degrees, yet you’re part of the uniform standard. So it’s like you don’t want to make up new words that don’t mean anything. You want to write a book that uses the standard words in the dictionary, so you’re going to be different while connected to the standard. You’re connected to the English language, but you’re going to be different with what the words say.

I suppose that is what we get heretics, they speak to powers they are connected with. Not just to the desert.

I now want to read the “new economy”

http://kk.org/books/KevinKelly-NewRules-withads.pdf

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Evolution of emotional literacy

Kevin Kelly (What does Technology Want? p196) quotes George Lucas:

Evernote Snapshot 20121129 225558

Just maybe that is about to change (Perhaps on December 21?? 🙂

I think we are in a rapid change right now. It will be more visible soon. I think the feminist consciousness, the decline of religion, urbanisation, education are all leading to a shift in consciousness that means there will be ever more psychotherapists.

See also:

http://psyberspace.walterlogeman.com/2012/evolution-of-consciousness/

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Evolution of consciousness

The book by Kevin Kelly “What does technology want continues stimulate my thinking.

He is eloquent on the evolution of tech. To make his case he draws on parallels in biological evolution. He comes up with principle after principle that are deep insights into any change process. He reminds me constantly of Frederick Engles and on the dialectics of nature. There are principles of change that go beyond one sphere.

Today it is this S curve that grabbed me.

Evernote Snapshot 20121119 133549

You would need to read the chapter to fully get it, but take the example of rail road air as the three levels of technology that work together to ensure that transport increased at a constant level, of say miles, speed and lower costs.

What I do is relate this to the evolution of psychotherapy. Or lets call it conscious intimate relationships. A mere 40 years ago there were about 10 therapists/counsellors in Christchurch, now it is more like 400. What is that curve about? The psyche is on the move!

I imagine the three technologies are:

Analytical psych
Humanistic Psych
And now still in the lower reaches of its s curve, relationship psych

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Why are psychological methods known by their founders?

Freud, Moreno, Jung… methods are known by their founders.

This is because they are working in the realm of relationships. They are included in the science.

They are not working with things.

Marx is the same.

There is no objective thing they are working with.

In so far as we are part of such a modality we are part of a community around that person.

The Buddhists have lineage, so do psychologists but we don’t acknowledge that so easily.

It would be better to acknowledge our whakapapa in the psychological realms of our work in a more conscious way.

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Science Weekly Extra: Craig Venter on the science of synthetic biology

Science Weekly Extra: Craig Venter on the science of synthetic biology

Really quite an amazing story.

I could well get a little bio printer in my lifetime for body bits. (that might have been another podcast) Almost certainly I’ll print out my very potent flu jabs.

Click to play & download Venter

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Shakespeare Sonnets – Evolution – Kim Hill – Brian Boyd (and relationship)

Loved this discussion:

Click to play & download Bryan Boyd Interviewed by Kim Hill

Here is the book:

Ref=sib dp pt

Kindle

I will read the book. But as I listened I was burying to join in on the discussion. I have since my days studying under Prof. Robert Bigelow in the late 60s at Canterbury had an understanding of “gene pools”. The concept makes sense of how some things might benefit the survival of a species even when individuals do not have more babies.

Brian Boyd touched on this lightly in the interview, I’ll be interested to see if he does this more fully in the book.

The point is this: if lyrical poetry (or anything else) is useful to the group then only a few need to have a gene for it, and even if they individually don’t have more babies, the group as a whole might survive and a neighbouring group who does not have that gene in their pool might not.

I’ve been thinking about this in relationship to the purpose of monogamy. It seems that it has a special place in healing wounds from childhood. But this typically does not happen till after the crucial childbearing years, in the second reflective half of life. I think of the powerful impact even one or two healing couples can have in a group. They can foster relationship education as well. They might influence psychological health, and more robust grandchildren.

PS

Bigelow’s book here: Amazon – The Dawn Warriors

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Archetypal Tendencies

I’ve been reading Kevin Kelly’s What Technology Wants. One of the central thesis of the book is that evolution is not only driven by adaptation. There are two other forces at work: structural forces, ie the laws of physics and contingency, luck. What if Beethoven did not have a piano?

I’ll post the picture that impressed me again:

Camera Roll-47

This is a central idea (from the book):

The progression of inventions is in many ways the march toward forms dictated by physics and chemistry in a sequence determined by the rules of complexity. We might call this technology’s imperative.

What is stirring me to write this post is that I listened to a podcast today on Tech Nation, Moira Gunn interviewing Adrian Bejan – details

Click to play & download Adrian Bejan

 

It is uncanny, and totally in line with the Kevin Kelly theory of what is inevitable that these tow come up with the same ideas. This is the time when we make a shift from classical darwinism, to incorporate something marx might have called dialectical materialism.

 

More about & by Adrian Bejan here:

His book on Amazon:

Design in Nature.

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This theory, Bejan calls it “Constructal Law” governs everything. From his book:

The constructal law is revolutionary because it is a law of physics—and not just of biology, hydrology, geology, geophysics, or engineering. It governs any system, any time, anywhere, encompassing inanimate (rivers and lightning bolts), animate (trees, animals), and engineered (technology) phenomena, as well as the evolving flows of social constructs such as knowledge, language, and culture. All designs arise and evolve according to the same law.

What excites me is that the same law – or rules of complexity, a law about change really, governs the psyche too. I think Jung was onto this with archetypes. These structures hare universal across cultures.

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What Technology Wants. – Kevin Kelly

Amazon

I’ve quoted a few things from this book on the blog already, so click the tag, Kevin Kelly and you will see my notes as I read the book.

I think its profound.

Its not just about the evolution of technology. He revises biological evolution in a radical way. Its not just him though, he draws on many latest developments in the field. The main thrust is captured in this image from the book.

Camera Roll-47

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