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Thread: Re-Imagining Cultures

  1. Top | #21
    Sapere aude Politesse's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rousseau View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Politesse View Post

    That may also have been my fault, I miss very few opportunities to recommend it...
    There was also a time recently when I was researching Sociology much as I am now. I actually took Economy and Society out of the library in the past few years, and carefully studied my own copy of The Social Construction of Reality. But one Covid hit I got locked out of the goldmine. Now I'm finally giving in and actually purchasing the stuff.
    Ah, I do like Berger and Luckmann's classic as well. Did you find it enlightening?

    I've been missing my local library, though with the size of my "to read" pile, I hardly need it as a source of books per se.
    "Banish me from Eden when you will, but first let me eat of the tree of knowledge."

  2. Top | #22
    Deus Meumque Jus
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    Quote Originally Posted by Politesse View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by rousseau View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Politesse View Post

    That may also have been my fault, I miss very few opportunities to recommend it...
    There was also a time recently when I was researching Sociology much as I am now. I actually took Economy and Society out of the library in the past few years, and carefully studied my own copy of The Social Construction of Reality. But one Covid hit I got locked out of the goldmine. Now I'm finally giving in and actually purchasing the stuff.
    Ah, I do like Berger and Luckmann's classic as well. Did you find it enlightening?

    I've been missing my local library, though with the size of my "to read" pile, I hardly need it as a source of books per se.
    I consider it one of my major influences. Lots of perspective on the history I'd been reading for years before, and I came away with sympathy for pre-modern cultures and why they were the way they were (and why we are the way we are). I actually made notes in it as well, probably worth going through again and checking those out.

    I've amassed a bit of to-read pile myself but I'm a bit flighty with topic and most of what I want to read isn't in there.

  3. Top | #23
    Mazzie Daius fromderinside's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rousseau View Post

    Maybe another trend: we instinctively build systems that promote homeostasis. We often do a shitty job of it, but the overall effect averages out as population growth.
    I don't think we can avoid thermodynamics when we study human cultures. Since we are here by random process cooking in other random processes it is little wonder that we observe conservation of energy in our attempts to manipulate and prolong them.

  4. Top | #24
    Deus Meumque Jus
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    Quote Originally Posted by fromderinside View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by rousseau View Post

    Maybe another trend: we instinctively build systems that promote homeostasis. We often do a shitty job of it, but the overall effect averages out as population growth.
    I don't think we can avoid thermodynamics when we study human cultures. Since we are here by random process cooking in other random processes it is little wonder that we observe conservation of energy in our attempts to manipulate and prolong them.
    I've spent a lot of time in the past few years studying the rise of the nation-state. It's interesting when you put it in the perspective of Thermodynamics. A couple nations did it, then within the course of a few centuries the entire Globe followed suit. Crawford Young wrote much about this process in Africa, and how states across the continent followed, roughly, the same trajectory.

    It raises some valid questions about agency. We are free, but not free from broader cultural forces.

  5. Top | #25
    Formerly Joedad
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    Quote Originally Posted by rousseau View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by fromderinside View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by rousseau View Post

    Maybe another trend: we instinctively build systems that promote homeostasis. We often do a shitty job of it, but the overall effect averages out as population growth.
    I don't think we can avoid thermodynamics when we study human cultures. Since we are here by random process cooking in other random processes it is little wonder that we observe conservation of energy in our attempts to manipulate and prolong them.
    I've spent a lot of time in the past few years studying the rise of the nation-state. It's interesting when you put it in the perspective of Thermodynamics. A couple nations did it, then within the course of a few centuries the entire Globe followed suit. Crawford Young wrote much about this process in Africa, and how states across the continent followed, roughly, the same trajectory.

    It raises some valid questions about agency. We are free, but not free from broader cultural forces.
    We're as free as those baboons, or just as deterministic.

  6. Top | #26
    Deus Meumque Jus
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    Quote Originally Posted by T.G.G. Moogly View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by rousseau View Post

    I've spent a lot of time in the past few years studying the rise of the nation-state. It's interesting when you put it in the perspective of Thermodynamics. A couple nations did it, then within the course of a few centuries the entire Globe followed suit. Crawford Young wrote much about this process in Africa, and how states across the continent followed, roughly, the same trajectory.

    It raises some valid questions about agency. We are free, but not free from broader cultural forces.
    We're as free as those baboons, or just as deterministic.
    T.G.G. Moogly ask yourself why people like playing the lottery? What would large sums of money do for a person?

    I'm not that interested in re-hashing determinism, what I was getting at with the post is that human agency doesn't (and can't) exist in a vacuum, even on the scale of macro-politics. Cultural pressure is ubiquitous and ever-present, and can't be separated from human behaviour. Put another way, culture is a cause of human behaviour, just as much as the individual is.

  7. Top | #27
    Mazzie Daius fromderinside's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rousseau View Post

    .... Cultural pressure is ubiquitous and ever-present, and can't be separated from human behaviour. Put another way, culture is a cause of human behaviour, just as much as the individual is.
    Reads like you have a bad case of Wynne-Edwards "Group Selection" to me.

  8. Top | #28
    Deus Meumque Jus
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    Quote Originally Posted by fromderinside View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by rousseau View Post

    .... Cultural pressure is ubiquitous and ever-present, and can't be separated from human behaviour. Put another way, culture is a cause of human behaviour, just as much as the individual is.
    Reads like you have a bad case of Wynne-Edwards "Group Selection" to me.
    Na, I don't think so, but I think you could argue that human cultures are akin to an ecosystem of sorts. Laws and norms set the framework for behaviour. I haven't read the book yet but I believe Giddens touched on this in Structuration Theory.

    The theory of structuration is a social theory of the creation and reproduction of social systems that is based on the analysis of both structure and agents (see structure and agency), without giving primacy to either.
    A small example to demonstrate: you walk down a street with people everywhere, culturally what are you free and unfree to do? Some behaviour is not possible. In reality this is no different for any other animal, living anywhere, but for us the sphere of rules and norms is a bit more complicated.

    I don't think this has anything to do with group selection, but it does set the frame that the individual has to adapt to or fail to survive/reproduce. The African example was interesting because on some level even a global culture existed that leaders had to adapt to. A new, more efficient norm became prominent and everyone followed suit.

  9. Top | #29
    Mazzie Daius fromderinside's Avatar
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    So you actually agree that one's position in any grouping is the result a series of consequences and not the result of some group friendly 'trait'?

  10. Top | #30
    Deus Meumque Jus
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    Quote Originally Posted by fromderinside View Post
    So you actually agree that one's position in any grouping is the result a series of consequences and not the result of some group friendly 'trait'?
    Yea, maybe I haven't worded some of my posts well (this happens with 11 month old in tow). But group selection wasn't in my mind when making any posts in this thread. In the original post I mentioned progress, which might have suggested that, but it was only a reference point to understand this historical pattern. That's my main interest: understanding patterns of cultural change across time. In the OP I'm highlighting a pattern: as a species we continually build on what was before, rather than re-thinking what's there.

    We strayed from that and got into thermodynamics, then cultural pressure which is another thing entirely. My later argument is that a specific culture is analogous to an ecosystem: a place where people habitate, and have to adapt to, to survive and reproduce. Selection still happens at the genetic level, but behaviour is largely constrained and channelled by the culture. I don't really know how group theory would fit into this, but a more robust culture would facilitate a better life for it's inhabitants.

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