Higher order animals have been naturally selected to possess free-will enabled mind-constructs

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As the study of the brain deepens, more and more atheists tend to believe that free will is an illusion; that it does not exist.

Here is a video by Sam Harris talking about his book “Free Will”:

Jerry A Coyne, another popular atheist, also seems to have arrived at the same conclusion, viewing humans as biological meat-ware without a disembodied soul.

Jerry also argues that there’s not much downside to abandoning the notion of free will. He envisions (without providing any evidence for such extra-ordinary claims) a post free-will society in which we can treat criminals differently if we think their crimes resulted from a reduction in their “choice” by factors like mental illness, diminished capacity, or brain tumors that cause aggression.

In this excellent debate on the foundations of moral principles between Sean McDowell and Dr. James Corbett, Sean McDowell makes the case that the foundations of any moral system designed for human beings must necessarily include:

  1. An objective moral standard
  2. Free Will
  3. Objective moral value of humans

There is accumulating evidence that societies that abandon the notion of free will do not become ‘utopias of empathy’ as Jerry Coyne envisions, but rather criminal cesspools experiencing social decay. In his excellent book Life at the Bottom1, Theodore Dalrymple (Theodore Dalrymple is the pen name of Dr Anthony Daniels, who has worked as a prison doctor in UK) argues that Marxist Cultural policies filled with empathy towards the criminal underclass have not resulted in a safer or a more just society but rather the opposite, because it allows criminals to rationalize their actions. In his view, it is spiritual poverty, not material poverty that leads to violent behavior. He also argues that a Marxist Cultural world view without free will undermines self-reliance, resulting in broader definition of mental illnesses, such that everyone can be diagnosed as being mentally ill.

In such a circumstance, what would a Natural Philosopher do? Would he advocate the non-existence of free will, thereby encouraging social decay? Or would he propagate the perceived lie of free will? This presents a conundrum because a Natural Philosopher, like Thomas Jefferson, should believe that “There is not a truth existing which I fear… or would wish unknown to the whole world.”

The key problem here is that Jerry Coyne and Sam Harris are both searching for free will in the wrong place. They are like the fool who has lost his ring inside a dark cave, but searches for it outside in the sunlight because he does not have a torch to help him illuminate and examine the cave. They have the tools to examine the brain but not the mind; so they ignore the mind completely, using their tools to examine only the brain and finally conclude that free will does not exist.

But, it is entirely possible for the mind-construct to possess free will, while the underlying brain-stem is deterministic (i.e.) Monistic determinism need not necessarily lead to Materialistic Physicalism (the worldview that the brain is the only thing that exists), but can also lead to the dual-aspect view of Meta-physical Naturalism.

Spinoza, the Dutch philosopher who propounded the monistic deterministic worldview in his magnum opus Ethica, believed in the dual-aspect theory – that Existence had two aspects, God and Nature. A remarkably similar concept had also been expressed previously by Shri Adi Shankaracharya and his guru Shri Gaudapadacharya in the Hindu  monistic meta-physical treatise Advaita Vendanta.2

However, neither Spinoza nor Adi Shankara were mind-creationists (i.e.) they did not believe that the conscious mind-constructs flowed from an external separate entity [that would violate their monistic worldview]. They were both rationalists who equated God with Nature (different views of singular Truth3) and the mind-construct as a view arising on top of the brain-stem.

The dual-aspect theory of Meta-Physical Naturalism can be easily illustrated with an analogy more suited to our era: The mind-construct is analogous to the software that is running on top of a deterministic meat-ware based brain-stem. The mind-construct displays the following properties:

  1. Persistent self-identity through time – The concept of “I” is a mind-construct; dualists like Descartes also understood this phenomenon, resulting in his famous quote “I think, therefore I am”. A low-level organism without a well-developed mind-construct (an amoeba or an insect) will not have such a concept. This self-identity persists through time, even as the body changes (cells are being shed; we become older etc). This is analogous to software that remains the same even as the underlying hardware gets modified.
  2. ‘Stream of consciousness’ experience – This is analogous to the computation (thought) that is performed by software. Memories of previous inputs (sensory perceptions), outputs (actions) and computations (thoughts) can be stored and retrieved, to create a synthesized ‘stream of consciousness’ experience.
  3. Mental properties, which cannot be perceived as physical objects – Just as you cannot guess what desktop background image is shown by an operating system by examining the hardware under a microscope, the mental properties (thoughts/ images etc) of a mind-construct cannot be perceived by studying the brain. Specialized tools may be required for either task.
  4. Free will – Many software functions require random numbers for their operation; however, the underlying hardware is deterministic. Generation of pseudo random numbers effectively solves this problem. Such generated numbers are not truly random from a hardware perspective; yet they can be considered truly random for all practical purposes from a software perspective. Similarly, the mind-construct exhibits pseudo free will from a materialistic brain-stem perspective; yet from the perspective of interactions between mind-constructs, for all practical (social, economic, political, legal) purposes, the pseudo-ness of this free will construct is irrelevant and free will can be considered as being truly real4. This is a key point that both participants in this debate on God, Monism and free will seem to have missed.
  5. Degrees of Control – The mind-construct was naturally selected on top of the brain-stem, because it results in significantly better decision-making abilities which contribute to survival. However, the mind-construct is not completely uninhibited in its decision-making; it is guided by the impulses generated by the brain-stem. Such materialistic brain-stem impulses are biologically hard wired and have been naturally selected for short-term individualistic survival [seven deadly sins of Christianity or the Tamas/ Rajas gunas of Vedanta], but such impulses are not focused on long-term survival and succumbing to such impulses does not result in a moral, rational or civilized society. The evolution of the mind-construct, which experiences the impulses generated by the brain-stem but has the power to override such impulses in its decision making, enabled higher-order organisms to make better decisions focused towards long term survival. This is analogous to a software program that receives hardware interrupts, but has the power to override them if necessary.

Marxist Materialism vs Meta-Physical Naturalism

1. View of a person:

Marxist Materialistic view of a person is physicalist; Marxists view a person as a deterministic brain-stem, with a poorly developed (or absent) mind-construct. The meta-physical naturalist view of a person is as a (pseudo)free-will enabled mind-construct.

2. View of equality:

Marxists believe in the notion of the blank slate (i.e.) equality at a brain-stem level. However, the Marxist blank slate theory has been widely discredited. The meta-physical Naturalists believe in the notion of mind-construct equality (i.e.) all sane mind-constructs have the ability to overcome the base hardwired materialistic impulses generated by the deterministic brain-stem to make moral decisions.

When Thomas Jefferson, who was heavily influenced by Spinoza’s monistic philosophies, drafted the U.S. constitution with his immortal words (“We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”), he was referring to Spinoza’s notion of equality of mind-constructs; not the Marxist materialistic notion of equality of brain-stems.

The key mistake that Sam Harris, Jerry Coyne and other atheist physicalists are making is that they are ignoring the mind-construct and equating personhood with the underlying meat-ware. Yet, in all day to day interactions of sane adults, it is the mind-constructs that interact with one another (software programs interacting with each other). For such interactions, equating personhood with the mind-construct is the logical approach; equating personhood with the underlying meat-ware is a fallacy, which will have disastrous consequences for society.

Take a neural network running on a computer system. There is some randomness in the system; let us remove the randomness and replace the calls to getRandom() with a pre-defined set of numbers that are known already. In this setup, it is possible to predict the behavior of the neural network, quite easily by simulating the behavior of the neural network using another neural network. Using such a simulation, with the randomness removed, with the same set of training inputs offered, the simulator should achieve 100% predictability.

Yet, the neural network can override hardware signals and take decisions from a higher level perspective. This is Spinoza’s definition of free will.

By defining free will as something that exists beyond the Universal Laws of Nature, Sam Harris and Jerry Coyne are setting a tautological trap; Nothing can really exist outside of the Universal Laws of Nature, else such Laws cannot be ‘universal’.

The mind-construct is bound by the Universal Laws of Nature, just like the brain. The mind-construct cannot conquer Nature (or God); but the mind-construct can certainly conquer the brain, as the brain is also bounded by the Universal Laws of Nature.

1: His entire book is available for free as columns published here.

2: The 19th-century German Sanskritist Theodore Goldstücker was one of the early figures to notice the similarities between Spinoza’s religious conceptions and the Vedanta tradition of India, writing that Spinoza’s thought was “… a western system of philosophy which occupies a foremost rank amongst the philosophies of all nations and ages, and which is so exact a representation of the ideas of the Vedanta, that we might have suspected its founder to have borrowed the fundamental principles of his system from the Hindus, did his biography not satisfy us that he was wholly unacquainted with their doctrines… We mean the philosophy of Spinoza, a man whose very life is a picture of that moral purity and intellectual indifference to the transitory charms of this world, which is the constant longing of the true Vedanta philosopher… comparing the fundamental ideas of both we should have no difficulty in proving that, had Spinoza been a Hindu, his system would in all probability mark a last phase of the Vedanta philosophy.”

Max Muller, in his lectures, noted the striking similarities between Vedanta and the system of Spinoza, saying “the Brahman, as conceived in the Upanishads and defined by Sankara, is clearly the same as Spinoza’s ‘Substantia’.”

Helena Blavatsky, a founder of the Theosophical Society also compared Spinoza’s religious thought to Vedanta, writing in an unfinished essay “As to Spinoza’s Deity—natura naturans—conceived in his attributes simply and alone; and the same Deity—as natura naturata or as conceived in the endless series of modifications or correlations, the direct outflowing results from the properties of these attributes, it is the Vedantic Deity pure and simple.”

3. It should be noted that neither Spinoza’s Deity (natura-naturans) nor Adi Shankara’s Deity (Brahman) is a prayer-answering entity that is outside of Nature. They viewed Nature and God as different views of Truth, which was singular. God and Nature were not the same though. Nature was considered a finite manifestation of God, while God was considered infinite (i.e.) in both their worldviews, God was not the mere corporeal matter of the cosmos; God could have infinitely many other attributes that may or may not be expressed in the cosmos, and of such attributes which are expressed in the cosmos, humans may or may not have the ability to perceive all such expressions. They both hypothesize that there could be no empirical evidence of attributes of God beyond Nature because humans, being bounded by Natural Laws, can only perceive attributes of God within Nature.

4: Adi Shankara in Advaita Vedanta performs a ying-yang perspective shift and claims that just as free will can be considered as an illusion (a pseudo concept) from the materialistic point of view, matter can also be considered as an illusion from the mind-construct point of view. He calls this matter-as-illusion perspective as ‘Maya’. The movie Matrix is based on the perspective of Maya expounded by Adi Shankara.

Male homosexual paedophilia as a sexual competition reduction mechanism

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There are several theories as to how male homosexuality could be naturally selected. A selection of such theories, ranked based on (my estimations of) empirical support for each, is presented below:

1. Sexually antagonistic selection

What if one or more genes that predispose toward homosexuality (and with it, reduced reproductive output) in one sex actually work in the opposite manner in the other sex? A fitness detriment when genes exist in one sex—say, gay males—could be more than compensated for by a fitness enhancement when they exist in another sex.

One study has found that female relatives of gay men have more children than do those of straight men. This suggests that genes for homosexuality, although disadvantageous for gay men and their male relatives, could have a reproductive benefit among straight women. [link]

Currently, this is the most widely accepted hypothesis among evolutionary psychologists and has strong evidence supporting it.

2. In-utero immune response changes due to fraternal birth order

A correlation between fraternal birth order and male sexual orientation has been suggested by research. In several studies, the observation is that the more older brothers a man has, the greater the probability is that he will have a homosexual orientation. It has sometimes been called the older brother effect.

Anthony Bogaert’s work involving adoptees concludes that the effect is not due to being raised with older brothers, but is hypothesized to have something to do with changes induced in the mother’s body when gestating a boy that affects subsequent sons. An in-utero maternal immune response has been hypothesized for this effect. [link]

3. Group Selection – Social Cohesion

Homosexual behaviour may promote natural selection at the group level by promoting social cohesion; similarly, it might deter violent competition for females. There is some evidence from bonobos that supports this hypothesis. [link]

4. Alliance formation hypothesis

According to the alliance-formation hypothesis, same-sex sexuality evolved by natural selection because it created or strengthened male-male alliances and allowed low-status males to reposition themselves in the group hierarchy and thereby increase their reproductive success. [link]

5. Sneaky Fucker Theory

Bisexual men could convince straight men that they were gay and earn their trust. While the straight men then went out hunting, such bisexual men could sleep with their women and thus secure a way of passing their genes along. Since homosexuality lies on a spectrum, and very high percentages of homosexuals have also had sex with women, there is significant evidence backing this theory.

6. Kin Selection/ Gay Uncle hypothesis

As homosexuals have been freed from investing time and energy in their own reproduction, perhaps they are able to help their relatives rear offspring, to the ultimate evolutionary benefit of any homosexuality-promoting genes present in those children.

A variation of this theory operating at the level of the group is the allomothering hypothesis. Our ancestors engaged in a great deal of “allomothering,” whereby nonparents—other genetic relatives in particular—pitched in. If sufficient numbers of those assistants had been gay, their groups may have benefited disproportionately.

Some support for this comes from male homosexuals among a more traditional population on Samoa. Known as fa’afafine, these men do not reproduce, are fully accepted into Samoan society in general and into their kin-based families in particular, and lavish attention upon their nieces and nephews—with whom they share, on average, 25 percent of their genes.

Other research has found that the Samoan homosexuals are the exception rather than the norm; finding that “ Homosexual men were no more likely than heterosexual men to channel resources toward family members” [link].

7. A nonadaptive byproduct.

Homosexual behavior might be neither adaptive nor maladaptive, but simply nonadaptive. That is, it might not have been selected for but persists instead as a byproduct of traits that presumably have been directly favored, such as yearning to form a pair bond, seeking emotional or physical gratification, etc. There is no empirical support for this theory; but since this theory states that homosexuality was not specifically selected for, it would be hard to find evidence supporting this theory.

8. Balanced polymorphisms.

Perhaps a genetic predisposition for homosexuality, even if a fitness liability, somehow conveys a compensating benefit when combined with one or more other genes, as with the famous case of sickle-cell disease, in which the gene causing the disease also helped prevent malaria in regions where it was epidemic. Although no precise candidate genes have been identified for homosexuality, the possibility cannot be excluded.

9. Social Prestige hypothesis

Since there is some anthropological evidence that in preindustrial societies homosexual men are more than randomly likely to become priests or shamans, perhaps the additional social prestige conveyed to their heterosexual relatives might give a reproductive boost to those relatives, and thereby to any shared genes carrying a predisposition toward homosexuality. There is no empirical support for this hypothesis.

All of these theories have one weakness – they do not explain the correlation between male homosexuality and paedophilia.

“While pro-homosexual activists like to claim that pedophilia is a completely distinct orientation from homosexuality, evidence shows a disproportionate overlap between the two. Although almost all child molesters are male and less than 3% of men are homosexual, about a third of all child sex abuse cases involve men molesting boys” Perkins, Tony. “Pro-homosexual political correctness sowed seeds for Foley scandal.” Web site, Washington Update.(Family Research Council; October 2, 2006)

Multiple studies have been conducted to identify if there are any correlations between homosexuals and paedophilia. Dr. Groth, an expert in the field of child sexual abuse, studied many cases of child molestation and came to the following conclusion:

In over 12 years of clinical experience working with child molesters, we have yet to see any example of a regression from an adult homosexual orientation. The child offender who is also attracted to and engaged in adult relationships is heterosexual” (link)

Dr. Freund performed phallometric tests on many child offenders and concluded as follows:

“These studies show that only rarely are sex offenders against male children diagnosed as androphiles [homosexual in adult orientation] and that phallometric diagnosis of gynophilic [heterosexual in adult orientation] and androphilic volunteers almost always corresponds to their claimed erotic preference.”( Freund et al. (1989). Heterosexuality, homosexuality, and erotic age preference. Journal of Sex Research, 26, 107–117)

Dr. Freund also concludes:

The research to date all points to there being no significant relationship between a homosexual lifestyle and child molestation. There appears to be practically no reportage of sexual molestation of girls by lesbian adults, and the adult male who sexually molests young boys is not likely to be a homosexual.”

Such conclusions have been used by gay lobbies to claim that there is no correlation between homosexuality and paedophilia (link1 and link2).

Such claims by the gay lobbies have been criticised by other scientists who believe that significant correlations between homosexuality and paedophilia do exist. After considering evidence related to both birth order and the order in which erotic sex preference and erotic age preference develop in individuals, Gagnon (2005) concluded that “significant continuity exists that justifies seeing a spectrum of developing homoerotic possibilities rather than a sharp line separating two polar extremes” (i.e., “homosexual” and “pedophile” defined so as to be mutually exclusive). Thus, it seems reasonable to conclude that many, if not all, male homosexual pedophiles have a dual sexual preference, one based on the sex of the victim and the other based on the age of the victim. (link)

What if correlations do exist but ran in the reverse direction?

The Imprinting Theory

Evolutionary psychologist Gordon Gallup claims that male homosexuality could be caused (at least in part) by early imprinting –  he believes that males are much more likely to become homosexuals if their first masturbation experience is in the presence of another male. There is some empirical evidence supporting the imprinting hypothesis (link)

Gallup then reports on his own study (unpublished) of adult homosexuals. One out of four gay men had their first homosexual experience (which typically occurs during early adolescence) with a stranger who on average was 15.7 years older than they were. Most of the homosexual males in the sample also reported developing a clear sense of their sexual orientation around the time that they had their first homosexual experience. (link)

Gallup also delves into the question of homophobia – Why are many heteros uncomfortable with homosexuality, while homosexuals don’t seem to have an aversion to straights? According to his research, people are much less comfortable with scenarios like a homosexual teacher or pediatrician caring for their child than a homosexual fixing their car or performing surgery on them. They are more comfortable with a child being around a homosexual if the child is an adult rather than if he is still a minor. He then hypothesizes that, according to evolutionary theory, parents have a keen interest in the future fertility of their children, and will protect them from anything that would undermine their motivation to reproduce. [Gallup, G.G., Jr. Have attitudes toward homosexuals been shaped by natural selection? Ethology and Sociobiology 16: 53-70, 1995 – Link]

The imprinting hypothesis complements the social cohesion theory and the dominance-assertion hypothesis (Nadler, 1980) to offer another reason for the evolution of male homosexuality – male sexual competition reduction, while maintaining social cohesion.

In a polygynous tribal environment with around 150 members, a dominant male who exhibited adult heterosexual behavior combined with homosexual paedophilia could effectively ‘imprint’ upon other vulnerable young boys in the tribe, inducing homosexuality among them, removing them as potential sexual competitors for himself and his male offspring. Homosexuality could have evolved as a group selection mechanism to maintain social harmony among males in a polygynous tribe, who would otherwise be viciously competing for sex to the overall detriment of the group. For instance, in baboons in which dominant males maintain large harems, homosexual mounting is a display of dominance, and being mounted homosexually is a display of submission.

This hypothesis explains why male homosexual paedophilia could be naturally selected, as a sexual competition reduction technique. This hypothesis also explains why homophobia could have been naturally selected as a response to such predatory tactics, to protect offspring from being diverted away from reproductive success. This hypothesis also explains how ‘homosexual imprintability’ – the ability for males to be induced into homosexual orientation as a result of predatory behaviour – could also have evolved as a group selection mechanism, in accordance with the social cohesion theory (i.e.) male homosexuality allows a polygynous tribe to function better; monogamy, though, is even better for inter-male trust and co-operation.

Evidence in US supporting this hypothesis comes from prisons. A study of prison rape finds the dominant-assertion hypothesis to be generally true – dominant men are the mounters and submissive males are the mountees. Moreover, submissive males also develop effeminate homosexual characteristics that they had not displayed earlier, as a coping mechanism.

Another evidence for this hypothesis comes from polygynous Afghanistan where prepubescent and adolescent boys from impoverished, vulnerable backgrounds are sold into sexual slavery to wealthy and powerful men (who are typically polygynous with multiple wives) through markets known as Bacha Baazi. The predatory behavior by these powerful, polygynous men would have varying degrees of success in inducing homosexuality in their victims, thereby eliminating their sexual competition.

Thoughts on Ramayana

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Ramayana

The Ramayana is one of the two great epics of India (the other being the Mahabharatha). It is an epic poem written by Maharishi Valmiki around 5th to 4th century BCE, although some accounts hold that the poem was circulating before the days of Valmiki and that he was just the first to write it down. It continues to be performed in dance, drama and songs all across India to this day.

The Ramayana is a tale that emphasises the dharmas(virtues) of Ram (husband, warrior and king), Sita (wife and mother), Hanuman (loyal friend) and Lakshman (brother). Among the many dharmas exemplified in the Ramayana, Ram is also portrayed as a champion of ekapatnivratashta [ardent follower of monogamy].

The Ramayana is actually a debate on moral principles and the story serves as a backdrop to this debate. At various points in the tale, the actors involved in the dramatization will involve the audience in song, questioning the morality of each action taken by a specific character at that point. The two sides of each debate would be presented, but the final decision would be left open-ended to the audience.

I have taken significant liberties with the tale and removed the fantastical elements (magic, demons, talking birds etc) from this tale; I believe that these elements were added to spice up the theatrical show as a way to attract a broader audience. A summary of the stripped down version of the Ramayana along with my (entirely conjectural) analysis is given below:

1.    Ram is the eldest son of Dasharatha, the King of Ayodhya, a small kingdom in North India. Dasharatha has three wives and four sons.

Dasharatha is described as a man of great passions – he has a good heart (altruistic), cares for his people (empathy) and ably defends his kingdom (courage); but he generally does as he pleases and does not bother with such things as moral philosophies and ethics. Dasharatha is only able to rule and defend a very small territory.

Dasharatha has the genetics for excellent leadership; but, building a civilization requires additional virtues on top of genetically determined positive traits (referred to as Rajas guna in Vedanta). Ram, who was also a deep thinker exhibiting Sattva guna (living based on consciously reasoned morals) transitioned the society to SIUM; he was able to go to the next level and build a scalable civilization that stretched across the breadth and width of North India.

2.    Ram is invited to attend the Swayamvara ceremony of Sita, the princess of a nearby kingdom. The Swayamvara ceremony involves the suitors being asked to string a giant bow. Ram is able to break the bow and Sita chooses to marry Ram by garlanding him.

The spousal selection decision seems to be primarily made by the bride, but the parents of the bride play a role as well. The parents of the bride selected the suitors who are to be invited to attend the Swayamvara, and may exercise veto power over suitors they found dishonorable.

3.    King Dasharatha, Rama’s father, decides it is time to give his throne to his eldest son Rama. However Rama’s step-mother, the king’s second wife, is not pleased. She wants her son, Bharata, to rule. Because of an oath Dasharatha had made to her years before, she gets the king to agree to banish Rama for fourteen years and to crown Bharata, her son. Rama, always obedient, accepts his banishment. Sita convinces Rama that she belongs at his side and his brother Lakshman also begs to accompany them. Rama, Sita and Lakshman set out for the forest.

The debate at this point includes these elements:

Dasharatha could have simply refused his second wife, an action which might have benefited the Kingdom as a whole. Would breaking his oath be the right thing?

Rama accepts his filial duties and agrees to his banishment. But, what about his duties to his wife and to the people who adore him and want him to be king? Was Ram moral in dragging his wife along with him to the forest?

Sita had decided to marry a King, but is now finding herself wedded to a banished, impoverished man. She decides to follow him into the forest anyway. How many women will do that?

Lakshman had asked his wife, Urmila, to stay back. Urmila agrees and stays back in Ayodhya. Was Lakshman doing the right thing?

4.    Years pass and Rama, Sita and Lakshman are very happy in the forest despite its material discomforts. One day Surpanakha, the sister of Ravana tries to seduce Rama, and Lakshmana wounds her and drives her away.

Surpanakha was said to have magical powers to enchant any man; she could take the form of a very attractive seductress. Yet, Ram honoured his vows and chased her away.

5.    Surpanakha has her vengeance by telling Ravana, the King of Lanka about how beautiful Sita is, igniting his lust. Ravana is depicted as the most powerful, wealthiest man in the known world at that time. Ravana abducts Sita and takes her to his island fortress in Lanka. He offers to make Sita his queen regent, but Sita refuses the offer of the wealthiest, most powerful man in the known world.

Sita has the necessary virtues to overcome her materialistic hypergamous impulses and reject Ravana.

Ravana does not rape her though; he considers rape an act by low ranking men. He is used to having women throw themselves at him and is surprised by Sita’s refusal.

6.    Ram is broken hearted and searching for Sita when he comes across Sugriva, a Vanara (depicted as semi-human monkeys). Sugriva has been chased away by his brother Vali who has taken Sugriva’s wife for himself. Vali is described as being a powerful warrior, possibly more than a match to Ram. Ram asks Sugriva to challenge Vali in physical combat and Ram kills Vali by firing an arrow while hiding in a tree. Subsequently, Sugriva is made the king of the Vanaras and universal monogamy is enforced.

Who are these Vanaras? Why did Valmiki choose to represent them as semi-human monkeys? My theories on this:

One theory is that the Vanaras represent tribals who were added into the fold of Ram’s broader civilized society. Another more elegant theory is that Valmiki believed that all humans are Vanaras – genetically polygynous creatures with the genetic gunas(intrinsic character traits) of monkeys and that the ideology of Ramayana would uplift Vanaras to the state of men. (This is similar to the Christian doctrine of Original sin which holds that all humans are intrinsically sinful).

7.    The Vanaras happily decide to join Ram’s army and serve him faithfully. Many other Vanara tribes were included in Ram’s army resulting in a massive force. They build a bridge across the seas from the southern coast of India to the island of Lanka and invade in strength, destroying Ravana’s forces, beheading Ravana and rescuing Sita.

The dynamics of this process of civilization building should be apparent to anyone who has read my previous post on the benefits of socially imposed monogamy.

8.    Hanuman, one of the Vanaras, decides not to marry or take a wife but to serve Ram faithfully to the end.

In every society, there will be leftover men – those who will never form families. Many such men in India become Hanuman devotees – this is a sort of ‘sour grapes’ rationalization. Society needs to find a way to make their lives meaningful and dignified, so that even those without a genetic stake in society can serve the ‘cause of Ram’.

9. After completing his years of banishment, they return to Ayodhya. Sita’s chastity is suspected by the people of Ayodhya. Ram trusts Sita completely, yet asks her to prove her chastity by walking through fire (a bed of coals). She completes this test successfully and is accepted as the Queen Regent by the people of Ayodhya.

Marriage is a social contract; it is not just for the husband and the wife. The husband and the wife take their marital vows publicly before society; therefore society, specifically those who ‘witness’ the wedding, have an obligation to enforce the marital contract and punish those who break it. Kings and Queens are no exceptions to this social contract.

10. Rama becomes king. His rule, Ram-rajya, is an ideal time when everyone does his or her dharma and “fathers never have to light the funeral pyres for their sons.”

A peaceful, stable civilization is created based on the moral principles laid out by Ram.

The tale told in backdrop of the debates in the Ramayana is the story of how a civilization was forged by Ram. And I believe that dramatic presentations of the Ramayana were used effectively as religious propaganda to forge (and flavor) the Vedic civilization.

References:

http://www.mythome.org/RamaSummary.html

http://www.valmikiramayan.net/

Humans have been naturally selected for Capitalism

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In Ayn Rand’s Anthem, a dystopian fiction novel, she describes a Communist society organized by a centralized bureaucracy called the World Council of Scholars. Children are raised collectively by the whole society and not their biological parents. These children are not given names, but rather numbers – the protagonist is referred to as Equality 7-2521. Roles are assigned to them once they become adults and they are expected to fulfill these economic roles. There is no concept of salary though; equal communal living arrangements (housing and food) are provided for everybody by the World Council. The workers are also fully expected to sacrifice their lives for the sake of the collective, if necessary.

Ayn Rand may have been describing a well-functioning colony of ants or bees. E.O.Wilson, the famous sociobiologist, once quipped: “Marx was right; he just had the wrong species”. He was referring to the fact that eusocial animals with reproductive division of labour like ants and bees exhibit traits remarkably similar to communist societies.

In eusocial species, brood care responsibilities are shared by the entire hive. Since the workers are infertile, there is no need for any genetic competition between them; they can all work together with communal ownership of resources. Since the workers are clones, there are no distinctions between them. The worker bees work as a collective to serve the Queen, who is their genetic clone sister capable of reproduction. Worker roles are typically assigned by the Queen at birth (based on dietery differences in feed to the larvae). And the workers often sacrifice their lives (they are infertile, their lives don’t mean much) for the sake of the hive.

Humans, unlike bees, are a parasocial species (but not solitary like some members of the cat family). We live together in a shared community and there is inter-adult male cooperation but we are not wired for communal child-rearing. We are genetically different and fertile, which means that there will be competition among us resulting in economic inequalities. But, being social creatures, we also trade and cooperate with one another.

The notion of property rights also seems to be genetically determined. Children often make distinctions such as “this toy is mine and that is yours!”. When a child’s toy is stolen, it creates an emotional outburst. Property rights are not a social construct; Adults often have to teach children to share. That implies that sharing is the social construct and property rights are genetic. Chimpanzees often engage in the world’s oldest profession, indicating that our ape cousins also seem to have developed similar concepts of property rights[food] and trade[food in exchange for sex].

Successful farming and dairy collectives are in existence, but they are typically family owned affairs with genetically related members. The Free Market does not impose corporate structures; it gives participants the freedom to organize their enterprises any way they want. Organizing an enterprise as a collective would require a very high degree of trust among the members and such collectives do not scale well; enterprises organized as corporations scale up more easily. This implies that the social construct called ‘sharing’ only works in genetically related, small scale units.

One of the primary corollaries of Natural Law is that the legal constructs used to govern a species must closely match the intrinsic nature of that species. All mismatches between the legal constructs used for governance and the intrinsic nature of that species create social tension and disharmony, eventually leading to violence.

When property rights are not legislatively mandated, societies remain poor and dysfunctional. When Pol Pot attempted to raise children in a communal basis, parents protested, eventually leading to a mass genocide. The Free Market, which allows competition but also trade and cooperation, is easily the best way to organize human economies.

But, process patents seems to be unnatural. Children often copy one another in sports. A child who develops a better strategy to play a game might attempt to keep that strategy secret. But, if another child manages to figure it out and copy that strategy, it is accepted as a natural consequence and is not a source of any emotional outburst. I believe that removing process patents altogether will actually make us more prosperous. Companies can keep their best practices as a secret if they can, but they should not be suing one another if their strategies are copied. Process patents will just result in making lawyers richer and consumers poorer.

Redefining Patriarchy

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According to Feminist theory, patriarchy is an unjust social system that is oppressive to women. The feminist Carole Pateman defines patriarchy as  “the patriarchal construction of the difference between masculinity and femininity is the political difference between freedom and subjection.” In feminist theory, the concept of the patriarchy often includes all the social mechanisms that reproduce and exert male dominance over women. Feminist theory typically characterizes patriarchy as a social construction, which can be overcome by revealing and critically analyzing its manifestations. – source: Wikipedia

Feminists have  self-identified themselves as enemies of the Patriarchy. In the interests of fairness, therefore, it should not be the feminists who get to define what the patriarchy is. A Patriarch might define feminism as “A cultural propaganda attack launched by the KGB during the cold war, which was then used by corrupt power-seeking elites to dupe women, resulting in the breakdown of the family unit, inflicting significant misery to everybody (including women) and ultimately posing a threat to Western civilization itself.” But such a definition would not be allowed in Wikipedia.

A better definition of Patriarchy, that is closer to the Truth, can be stated as follows: “the set of artificial socio-cultural norms, practices and expectations necessary to promote and maintain another artificial socio-cultural construct – civilization”.

Feminists operate from a basic assumption of the blank slate theory which has been discredited by most scientists. The fundamental assumptions about the nature of masculinity and femininity made by conservatives are closer to the Truth.

Based on a better understanding of reality, the Patriarchy should support these actions:

1)              Imposing social constraints against promiscuity as a way of promoting monogamy

2)             Aiding young men and women through the courtship process to result in better spousal selection decisions

3)            Protecting the institution of marriage

4)           Promoting the leadership of the husband within the family unit to foster marital harmony

5)            Raising boys and girls with the skills necessary to become good husbands and wives, fathers and mothers so that the entire cycle (1 to 5) can be repeated again in the next generation.

The Patriarchy

The Patriarchy should take the credit (or blame from the feminist point of view) for these actions and clearly defend their necessity. All other educational, economic or sexual differences between men and women should not be blamed on the Patriarchy, but seen as arising due to inherent biological differences between men and women.

The Artificial Intelligence Apocalypse

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What will the post Singularity world look like? Will Artificial Intelligence machines wage a war against humans? Probably not. In all probability, they will behave in accordance with the three laws.

It is not extinction that we should fear, but a far worse fate.

The Chicken’s Tale

 birds

Once upon a time, there were many birds who lived in a forest. There were parrots, eagles, junglefowl, pigeons, swans, geese and owls. They bonded for life to form families and co-existed peacefully with one another. When the mother became pregnant, the father would build her a nest. He would bring her grain while she sat on the eggs. Once the eggs hatched, he would bring fat juicy worms for his children to eat and he would protect them from snakes and foxes. Once they were ready, he would teach them to fly high in the sky just like him. He would also teach his boys how to build nests so that one day they too could become good fathers.

 house

One day, the Man came to the forest and built a house. He set up a large coop with many warm nests made of hay. He then invited all the birds in the forest to come and live in the coop. “I will make sure that there was plenty of grain and water for everybody. You will also be safe from foxes and snakes”, he said.

The wise owl advised the other birds against it. Most of the birds decided to heed his advice but the junglefowl were confident that the Man was acting in good faith.

party

So they moved into the coop where it was warm and cozy and food was always available. They partied every night and had a lot of fun.

When mating season came, they all starting their mating routine as usual. But this time, something was different. Since the Man was providing them with food, shelter and protection, the hens did not need a rooster to build a nest or help with raising their young ones. Some of the hens did not like the roosters they were already paired with and wanted a change. Some roosters wanted greater sexual variety as well. “Let’s have a new society”, they said. “In this new progressive society, we can mate with whoever we want to mate with”, they said. “It’s natural to express and explore our sexuality”, they said. And anybody who objected was mocked for being out of touch and old-fashioned.

 cockfight

After many generations, the roosters had become very violent. They constantly fought among each other to get to the top of the pecking order for mating rights. And the rooster that got to the top monopolized all the hens. All the hens lined up happily to mate with the dominant rooster.

cage

In order to maintain the peace, the Man had to lock up several of the roosters in cages. Some of the roosters left the coop and went back into the woods. But they did not know how to build nests, because their father had never taught them. They could not convince any hens to come with them into the woods to start new families.

And thus it was that the wild red junglefowl was domesticated by the Man and switched from monogamy to polygyny.

A theory of competitive ethics in accordance with Natural Law

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Once we have understood that the nature of all living things is to compete, we must realize that all attempts to eliminate such competition in human societies will fail, because such attempts run counter to the basic nature of life itself. The best thing possible, therefore, is to civilize this competitive instinct, so that society as a whole benefits from it.

In order to see how competition can be civilized, we need to examine the various spheres in which humans compete. Humans, like all animals, compete for sex, resources and survival. All three forms of competition are inter-linked: We must survive, gather resources and reproduce in order to pass our genes.

Competing for survival:

Initiation/ escalation of force are considered acts of uncivilized competition for survival. Preparing for and acting in self-defense are considered acts of civilized competition for survival.

When a significant percentage of actors in a particular society engage in initiation of force, the nature of that society changes and becomes more violent. On the other hand, when a significant percentage of actors in a particular society are ready to act in self-defense, that society becomes more peaceful over time [link].

A neutral actor (an invalid who is not capable of initiation of force or self-defense) will benefit from living in a peaceful society, even though that actor is incapable of exercising self-defense.

Competing for resources:

Theft and fraud are considered acts of uncivilized competition for gathering resources. Trade and production are considered acts of civilized competition for gathering resources.

When a significant percentage of actors in a particular society engage in theft (violation of property rights) or fraud (violation of contract law) to gather resources, that society becomes less prosperous as levels of trust reduce. On the other hand, when a significant percentage of actors in a particular society engage in trade and production to gather resources, that society becomes more prosperous as levels of trust increase [link].

A neutral actor (a beggar) would benefit from living in a high-trust, prosperous society because such societies are more charitable.

Competing for sex:

Rape, cuckolding, polygamy and bastardy are considered uncivilized acts of sexual competition. Attracting higher quality mates for monogamous marriage through self-improvement is an act of civilized competition.

Consider a society in which the institution of marriage is not respected and all members of this society are left to reproduce naturally. Such a society will be barbaric with high levels of violence and low levels of trust and productivity. On the other hand, a society which respects the institution of marriage will be more peaceful and prosperous.

Neutral actors (children) will benefit immensely from being born in a civilized society.

The impact of constrained female mate choice on civilizational cycles

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The rise and fall of civilizations are influenced by political, economic and cultural factors. In this post, we will explore how female mating choices impact the civilizational cycle.

The stages of a civilization can be broken down into three stages:

1)    A search for the right cultural, economic and political environment

2)    Economic, scientific and artistic growth under an environment that fosters civilization building

3)    Decay, decline and collapse

civilizational cycles

Stage 1 is typically characterized by poor societies that practice polygyny. Such societies also tend to have extreme poverty combined with high degrees of income inequalities, with politically connected elite males being significantly wealthy compared to other males. In this paper, Satoshi Kanazawa argues that “if resource inequality among men is great, women choose to marry polygynously and the polygynous institution of marriage emerges.”

A concrete example of this phenomenon comes from Kazakhstan.  The economy has blossomed in the years since independence in 1991, largely due to the country’s lucrative oil industry. But a report released in 2008 found that both income inequality and poverty have also risen considerably. The gap has in turn created a pool of impoverished women willing to marry already-wedded men for the promise of financial stability. Polygamy was decriminalized in Kazakhstan in 1998 as a growing response to the popularity of polygamous marriage amongst women. A Presidential candidate in Kazakhstan’s 2011 elections announced his support for polygamy, suggesting it as a means for marrying off the country’s single women (and also possibly secure multiple wives for himself and other political elites).

It is possible for some societies to be stuck in Stage 1 (polygyny) forever and never get to Stage 2. For instance, there has never been any major civilization in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Stage 2 is characterized by a cultural/ political emphasis on monogamy. Income inequality reduces in this stage with all males participating in the economy. With increasing levels of inter-male trust and co-operation, these societies enjoy the benefits of socially imposed monogamy(SIM).

Stage 3 is typically characterized by a rebellion against SIM lead by low-ranking females. Monogamy requires low ranking females to marry low ranking men; under the natural state of sexuality, most females would be able to mate with a high ranking man. Such constrained female mate choices creates stress in all sexually dimorphic species.

Dalrock, a popular traditional Christian blogger, describes how this stress is expressed in this very eloquent blog post:

She actually figured out the pattern at some point and came to me about it.  She said she would get into a mood where she felt absolutely compelled to piss me off.  Every cell in her body was telling her she would feel better if only she provoked a fight.  Then she would do it, and I’d be out the door.  Once the fight was started but especially once I had left she felt miserable.  So she made a conscious effort not to give in to the urge;  we fought less and as a result spent much more time together.

Dalrock also points out that this stress is often amplified by feminist rhetoric, leading to disastrous consequences for the whole family.

This stress was what popular feminist icon Betty Friedan characterized as “The Problem That Has No Name” in her book, The Feminine Mystique. Her book is widely credited with sparking the second wave of American feminism in the late 20th century, which effectively ended socially imposed monogamy in the West, leading to significant cultural decay. Such a shift away from monogamy will eventually result in civilizational collapse.

The benefits of socially imposed monogamy

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The prevalence of monogamy in many civilized societies may lead people to erroneously infer that we are naturally monogamous. Based on a clear understanding of how sexual dimorphism works, however, it is apparent that humans are not a naturally monogamous species.

According to evolutionary psychologist Richard Alexander,

“Humans are the only mammal that lives in multi-male groups,in which confidence of paternity is high, and the males are both extensively and complexly parental and the males are also extensively and complexly cooperative with one another (and in which, I speculate, the males with the highest confidence of paternity also tend to be the most cooperative).”

Richard Alexander[1979] coined the term “socially imposed monogamy”(SIM) and “socially imposed universal monogamy” (SIUM) to describe mating practices followed by modern human societies. Under SIUM, monogamy is universally applied to all male members of the society. Under SIM, the male elites (typically kings) are granted the right to be polygynous, while monogamy is imposed on other male members of society.

Many evolutionary psychologists believe that SIUM is primarily responsible for peaceful, stable societies and that the absence of monogamy results in violent, stratified societies lacking freedom.

–       In Alexander’s view, the rise of stable large states (loosely if not entirely accurately labeled “nations”) is intimately linked to this institution: “It is almost as if no nation can become both quite large and quite unified except under socially imposed monogamy.”

–       Michael Price found out that in a sample of 156 states, monogamous one are more populous, less likely to use the death penalty, less authoritarian, less corrupt and richer than polygynous ones. He also believes that the prevalence of polygyny retards development in Sub-Saharan Africa and Islamic Middle-Eastern nations

–       Kevin McDonald found that the emphasis on monogamy was primarily responsible for the uniqueness of Western civilization and its subsequent achievements.

–       Laura Betzig has documented a close relationship between stratification, despotism and polygyny in early agrarian states.

In general, the following relationship between civilized values and mating habits can be observed:

civilization-mating practices

The mechanisms by which SIUM helps with the emergence of peaceful, prosperous, technically advanced societies can be understood by comparing it with tribal societies:

–       Monogamy pacifies males in the society resulting in greater levels of inter-male trust and co-operation.

–       In tribal societies, trust reduces with increasing genetic distance. In societies with SIM, with greater trust, there occurs a de-emphasis on extended kinship relationships and its correlative, a relative lack of ethnocentrism.

–       Tribal societies were often limited in size to only 150 members. Monogamous societies were able to expand by merging other surrounding tribal societies into themselves while imposing monogamy on those tribes. The earliest marriage ritual dates back around 12000 years and coincides with the development of agrarian societies. Such marriage rituals, often associated with religious and cultural practices, were used to impose monogamy upon tribal societies as a way of merging them into the fold of the larger civilized society.

–       In hunter-gatherer societies, all males were typically “generalists” occupied with the pursuit of gathering food. Once societies became larger with greater levels of trust and co-operation, males started engaging in specialization of labor, which resulted in an unprecedented growth of technological complexity, ultimately resulting in significant increases in prosperity for the entire society.

–       Fatherhood became a universal social expectation. The defining feature of mammals is motherhood. Humans are  the only mammalian species in which the male exhibits extensive paternal investment in raising and supporting offspring.

–       The males in a society with socially SIM follow the “nourish and protect” strategy of reproduction, rather than the probabilistic strategy of fathering numerous children with multiple females. Hence, societies with SIM typically tend to value human life and place restrictions on infanticide and feticide.

–       Women in such societies are often given equal treatment before the law. There is a greater tendency for marriage to be companionate and based on mutual affection and respect of the partners.

–       The rise of nuclear family units triggers a tendency toward individualism and all of its implications: individual rights against the state, representative government, moral universalism, and science.

Based on these factors, we can conclude that the adage “Marriage is the foundation of civilization” is absolutely true.

Links:

http://www.researchgate.net/publication/222400393_A_peculiar_ institution_GrecoRoman_monogamy_in_global_context/file/ 3deec5157bca2d8bd9.pdf

http://www.jrbooksonline.com/PDF_Books_added2009-3/UniqueWesternCulture.pdf

http://courses.washington.edu/evpsych/Alexander%20-%20How%20did%20humans%20evolve%20-%201990.pdf

The evolution of monogamy in humans

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Given that the natural state of reproduction in mammals in polygyny, the evolution of monogamy in humans is surprising. There are several theories as to how monogamy might have gained ground in the evolution of our species.

1.       Paternal care:

According to this theory, males evolved to become monogamous so as to invest greater resources in raising their offspring. This theory has been discredited by most evolutionary scientists because evolution does not “think ahead”. Rather than a cause for monogamy, fatherhood is probably a happy accident arising from a monogamous pair-bonding arrangement (i.e.) if you’re going to stick around with only one female, you might as well make yourself useful to raising your offspring.

2.       Widely spaced female territories:

According to this theory, when females of the species live in discrete territories that are far away from each other, males may have difficulty in mating with multiple females. By sticking with one female and guarding her from amorous advances from other males, he might produce more offspring than if he attempted to spread himself around.

This theory is questionable, because humans are a social species and females do not live apart. This theory may explain the origin of monogamy amongst other mammals, but may not be applicable for humans.

3.       Male infanticide:

According to this theory, males may benefit from killing other males’ babies, forcing the mothers to enter estrus sooner and be ready for reproduction. As a counter strategy, monogamy may have evolved because it incentivizes male fathers to stick around with one female and guard her offspring.

Evidence from primate behavior gives credibility to this theory. Amongst, monogamous Titi monkeys native to South America, infanticide has never been observed. Whereas, polygynous mountain Gorillas exhibit high rates of infanticide.

4.       The Sexual Revolution theory:

According to this theory, a sexual revolution may have occurred, led by low-ranked (beta) males and faithful females. Low-ranked males, who had no hope of physically overcoming the dominant members (alpha) of their groups, instead began providing extra food to certain females, to curry sexual favor. These females responded by remaining faithful to their breadwinning males. That change in behavior favored the reproductive success of these monogamous couples — pair-bonding offered a greater likelihood that their children, who took a lot of effort to raise, would survive — ultimately moving humanity away from a polygynous mating system to a monogamous mating system.

The Sexual Revolution theory is possibly the most widely accepted theory on the origin of monogamy in our species.

The Positive Feedback Loop of Monogamy

Although our ancestors were never fully monogamous, those couples that were monogamous provided significant evolutionary benefits to our species. Brains are hungry organs, demanding 20 times more calories than a similar piece of muscle. Babies with larger brains typically experience longer gestational cycles and are often more vulnerable during infancy.

Monogamous fathers created conditions in which babies are more likely to survive, with extra supply of proteins. This allowed babies, with larger brains and longer gestational cycles, to be born and survive. Male babies with larger brains would have become better hunters and scavengers when they grew up, which in turn would allow them to be better fathers, supporting the birth of babies with even larger brains.

The development of monogamy in our species coincides with a massive increase in brain size because of paternal care from monogamous fathers (link).

Courtship and the evolution of Art, Culture and Humor

Polygynous alpha males typically rose to the top of the male hierarchy through physical dominance and used their physical dominance to advertise themselves. Females who wanted the most physically dominant alpha of the group would have mated with such males, even though such alpha males did not invest in paternal care. Babies from such mating, lacking paternal investment would have a lower chance of reaching adulthood; however, those that did reach adulthood would in turn have a greater chance of becoming the new alpha of the group.

Among females wanting a monogamous father to help raise their offspring, sexual selection would have favored males with larger brain sizes. Cultural traits such as art, music, dance, verbal creativity and humor have no survival value. However, such traits are excellent indicators of large brain sizes.  Female sexual selection could have caused such cultural traits to emerge as courtship rituals (link).

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