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Thursday, October 30, 2014

The Creative Genius is Crazy-Smart

Why aren't you a creative genius? Is it because you're not smart enough? Probably not. Perhaps you're not crazy enough. Probably not. Perhaps the problem is that you're neither smart nor crazy enough.

According to Dean Simonton, "The most important process underlying strokes of creative genius is cognitive disinhibition—the tendency to pay attention to things that normally should be ignored or filtered out by attention because they appear irrelevant." But that's hardly enough. This describes the mentally ill as well. What differentiates the inability of the mentally ill to filter out things from creative people is that the latter also have high I.Q.s that allow them to filter the world in a more conscious way.

Indeed, little things I see, little things I hear spin out into stories and poems all the time. A fragment of conversation, an odd thing noticed out of the corner of my eye, random things which pop up in my mind, into my consciousness. I have to consciously filter out these things. Things others, apparently, filter out unconsciously.

This lack of filter means I am bombarded by sensory information and mental concepts. I can get easily distracted by them. They keep my attention. I could be mistaken for having ADD, but perhaps that's not a mistake. Perhaps ADD is a manifestation of cognitive disinhibition -- perhaps enough to create an attention deficit, but not enough to make mental illness. Again, intelligence makes the difference. Intelligence is the filtering device, what turns the noticed things into something new. The instinctive filterer is replaced by a more conscious one. But that means one has to learn how to do it.

How does one create the discipline necessary to turn one's cognitive disinhibition into creative genius? Intelligence is not enough, though it is a necessary element. What is needed is the right environment, one which praises and values creativity. Not in an abstract way, but directly, to you, in your life. Parents telling you that your picture you drew is awesome. Teachers praising your art work and writing skills. Encouragement is positive feedback, driving you to want to turn all those little details you've noticed into something new for others to see. This encouragement can turn internal, acting as a self-selector, a way of concentrating those noticed bits and pieces into creative works.

The difference between madness and creative genius can often be the difference in environment, in the encouragement of others. A support network can make you become your best; the lack of one can drive you mad. The example of John Nash is apt: he was at his most creative and least mad when he had a supportive network.

Does our current culture support the creative genius? Or does it drive them underground, into the shadows, attempt to medicate them all away? Such people are disruptors of the status quo, keep the world off kilter, challenge preconceptions. Conformists cultures such as ours (being a collective guilt culture, our culture is doubly conformist) despise disruptors, challengers, creative geniuses. This is why the genius is in retreat. It is culturally rejected, denied and medicated away when possible. But without it, society will meet with stagnation, merely maintain without creating nearly as much value and wealth in the world as it would with them. Only if a creative genius happens to have the right family support can he or she develop and create. But our institutions increasingly do not support such people. In fact, too often, they actively discriminate against them. Because they do, there is less value, less wealth, less beauty in the world than there could be. All exchanged for the sake of the kind of comfort one can only have in an impossibly unchanging world.

Mercy, Not Justice

Isaiah Berlin identifies in his piece on the role of ideas in the mass atrocities committed through the 20th century guilt and collective guilt cultures as the perpetuators of those atrocities:

The root conviction which underlies this [that creating the ideal society is worth killing people] is that the central questions of human life, individual or social, have one true answer which can be discovered. It can and must be implemented, and those who have found it are the leaders whose word is law. The idea that to all genuine questions there can be only one true answer is a very old philosophical notion. The great Athenian philosophers, Jews and Christians, the thinkers of the Renaissance and the Paris of Louis XIV, the French radical reformers of the eighteenth century, the revolutionaries of the nineteenth—however much they differed about what the answer was or how to discover it (and bloody wars were fought over this)—were all convinced that they knew the answer, and that only human vice and stupidity could obstruct its realization.
We see this in any society in which some external Law develops against which one must compare oneself. Individually, this results in the development of guilt (Medieval Christian Europe, Islam, the Roman Republic/Empire under Roman Law). Socially, this can and too often does lead to atrocities designed to protect the Law (the Inquisition, Islamic terrorism, crucifying rebels and campaigns against philosophers and Christians).

But in collective guilt cultures, the scale of the atrocities can increase exponentially, because the scale of actions condemned is much greater. In guilt cultures, so long as you abide by the rules of the external Law, you can pretty much do whatever else you want to do. That Law actually covered and covers far less than one might realize. In fact, anyone could come under the law, so in many ways it was more inclusive than is the Law that creates collective guilt. After all, one is guilty for being rich from market activities (in the case of Marxists), the member of a particular ethnic group (the Jews in the case of national socialist Germany), etc. We can perhaps count ourselves lucky that as collective guilt culture emerged in the capitalist West in the past several decades that it has had so many "guilty" -- men, those of European descent, the rich (but only if the rich own private businesses), etc. -- that it becomes increasingly difficult to commit mass murder against them. But that still does not mean that pernicious ideas aren't behind the Law underlying collective guilt culture.

As Berlin points out, the Law of guilt and collective guilt cultures are incompatible with people pursuing their own goals: "The central values by which most men have lived, in a great many lands at a great many times—these values, almost if not entirely universal, are not always harmonious with each other." The discoveries made in the pursuit of knowledge makes some people uncomfortable. "Creative imagination and spontaneity, splendid in themselves, cannot be fully reconciled with the need for planning, organization, careful and responsible calculation." New things disrupt perfection.

But most importantly, the Law of both guilt and collective guilt cultures cannot tolerate mercy, for mercy means allowing those who are harming society to "get away with it." If one's view of justice requires society to match some ideal, mercy allows imperfection in. We cannot allow imperfection in, thus justice turns unmerciful. When that happens, the only solution is to introduce stricter and stricter laws and punishments. Even three strikes and you're out can become too lenient. Perfect organization of society cannot tolerate difference.

But self-organizing network processes not only can, but are most complex and robust when heterogeneous. But such processes are, fundamentally, anarchic. Rules emerge naturally through the interactions people have with others, so the world is certainly knowable and (humanly) predictable, even while also being fundamentally uncertain. But that just makes it a more natural process. Utopia is truly and always nowhere. Attempts to create it will always result in that utopia being built on a foundation of corpses.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Notes on Plato's Phaedrus as Comic Inversion of Euripides' Hippolytus

Plato's Phaedrus was written to be a comic-philosophical inversion of Euripides' Hippolytus.

Hippolytus begins with speeches about love -- with the main emphasis being that love is madness and madness is bad, therefore love is bad. The nurse provides a minority view that love is rational and therefore good.

Phaedrus begins with speeches about love -- with the main emphasis being that love is madness and madness is good, therefore love is good. Lysias provides a minority view that favoring the nonlover is rational and that this is therefore good.

Hippolytus ends with a discussion of the relationship among writing, speaking, and truth, with Theseus making his decision on his belief that what is written down must be true.

Phaedrus ends with a discussion of the relationship among writing, speaking, and truth, with Socrates arguing that you learn more truth from dialogue than writing because you cannot have the writer there to question -- an observation which one can take back to Hippolytus to see Theseus' error more clearly (though the audience does know why he is wrong).

Phaedrus has the same relationship to Lysias as Hippoytus has to Artemis. Phaedrus loves the one who wrote a speech criticizing love and favoring the nonlover; Hippolytus loves a virgin goddess, with whom he can never consummate that love. This is one of those inversions because Lysias wants to have sex with the nonlover, while Artemis refuses to have sex with the lover.

The above point also makes it clear that Phaedrus is Hippolytus, not Phaedra, as one would expect. In a certain sense Lysias, in his ideas of the rationality of the nonlover, is the Nurse, with her ideas of the rationality of love, and Socrates plays the anti-Phaedra/Hippolytus/Chorus in his affirmation of love as madness and madness as good.

Euripides' portrayal of Aphrodite is a decidedly negative one; she comes off as petty, spiteful, vengeful, and cruel. This, in combination with what Phaedra and Hippolytus say about Aphrodite/love and with the fact that Phaedra's love for Hippolytus results in both her and Hippolytus' deaths, portrays love in a negative light.

After Socrates gives his speech in which a character argues that the nonlover is to be preferred over the lover, he expresses concern that Aphrodite will punish him for speaking ill of her (which is what she says she is punishing Hippolytus over). He also observes that Aphrodite, being a goddess, cannot be bad in any way (contradicting Euripides' portrayal of her). Socrates then gives his speech arguing love is good (thus enacting what Hippolytus should have done to make the play un-tragic).

Socrates further argues that just because love is madness, that does not mean that love is bad; there are, after all, other forms of madness which are recognized as good, including the madness of the Muses -- who would have been understood as influencing Euripides. Since Euripides is a poet, he is made mad by the Muses; it is thus ironic that he is portraying love as bad because it is a kind of madness.

If Plato's dialogue is a philosophical response to Euripides' play, then when Socrates says that his first speech and his second speech are the same speech, one can also understand this to mean that the dialogue and the play are "the same speech," but at different levels of understanding (with the poets being 4th from the bottom and philosophers being at the top, as per his ranking in the dialogue). Plato could thus be arguing that Euripides' understanding of love is accurate to his level of understanding, but that Plato's work demonstrates an understanding of love that is the most accurate a human can attain.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

I Will Never "Give Back" to My Community (but I Will Give)

There are few concepts I dislike more than "giving back." I dislike it because underlying it is a false premise and it is undermines the very virtue of giving.

This is a term that has bothered me for a while, but a recent report on local news about a woman who volunteered at the children's hospital really drove it home for me when the reporter described what she was doing as "giving back." 

First, the false premise. If I am "giving back" that means that I have more than I should. When I give a cashier $20 for something that costs $17.70, the cashier will be giving back $2.30 in change. The cashier, momentarily, has more money than (s)he should, which is why the money is given back. The idea of "giving back" to the community thus implies that the one giving back has taken more than he or she should have. This would properly describe a thief making reparations, but it should not describe acts of generosity. One only gives back under the conditions of a zero sum game. The thief thus properly is giving back if he has to give back what he took. For the same reason, politicians can be properly understood to be giving back if any money ever leaves their hands. They are playing a zero sum game, so they necessarily are giving back if they donate money to anyone.

But people participating in the private sector, in the profit-making economy, are playing a positive sum game. That means they are creating wealth and value in the world. Others benefit as much -- often more -- than they do from their activities. So when a person starts a business in a community, that person is benefiting that community, creating value in that community and creating wealth for that community. Having taken nothing, that person has nothing whatsoever to give back.

The absurdity of the concept of "giving back" is demonstrated quite strongly with the woman volunteering at the children's hospital. For her to give back, she had to have taken something from the children to give back. This woman has taken nothing; she has done nothing but give.

And that leads me to my second point. When you say that woman is "giving back," you are making her generosity less virtuous. You are saying the recipients deserve specifically her time and money. She owes it to those children to volunteer to try to make their lives better, more fun. Her generosity comes from her not owing anyone anything, but choosing to give anyway.

A business owner who opens a business in a community is thus benefiting that community by his mere presence in that community. He is providing jobs and goods and/or services, creating value and creating wealth. The community is already better off because of what he is doing as a business owner. He has taken from no one to get what he has gotten; what he has gotten is a poor reflection of the value he created, value he necessarily shared in creating through voluntary trades with others. He does not owe the community anything. He provided goods and/or services that community needed; he provided jobs that community needed. The community in turn rewarded him, making him wealthy enough to have enough excess that he is capable, if he wants, to be philanthropic.

If we consider the fact that no market exchange can or will happen unless both people are better off -- unless more value is created -- it makes sense to understand that excess value each gives the other as a gift as well. The business owner has been giving to the community by simply having a successful business. The community members have been giving to the business owner because he offers them the gifts of increased value.

So the business owner does not give back when he is generous. He is giving. Anyone who gives to others, whether they are a business owner or a current or former employee, is giving, is being generous, because they have participated in a positive sum game, and from the benefit they have given, give more from the benefit they have received.

And that is why I consider the term "giving back" as a way of saying "giving" not just objectionable, but downright odious.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Where Have All the Geniuses (and Heroes, Saints, etc.) Gone?

A brilliant article at The Nautilus declares that the genius is dead.The premise is wrong, but the content of the article is, for the most part, right. The cult of genius as a dominant cultural force is dead, of course, but the cult of genius as a remnant cultural force is not.

The author himself demonstrates how this is true in his observation that the genius replaced the saint. But why did the genius replace the saint? And why didn't the genius actually replace the saint (we still have people who believe in saints, after all)?

The idea of genius is a product of a particular psychosocial level of complexity. In the same way that the level that gave us guilt as a driving social regulator gave us the saint, the level that gives us responsibility as a driving social regulator also gave us the genius as the exemplar of what it means to be human. This being the case, one would expect to see different exemplars at each level of psychosocial complexity. And we do.

The tribal level gives us Caregivers.
Shame cultures give us Heroes.
Guilt cultures give us Saints.
Responsibility cultures give us Geniuses.
Collective Guilt cultures give us something tantamount to Secular Saints.

Given that the above have all given us not just particular psychologies, but fully developed societies as well, the exemplars are easy to identify. But we should see a pattern here. Caregivers, Saints, and Secular Saints are similar types; so, too, are Heroes and Geniuses. We would expect, then a Naturalistic Principles culture to give rise to something similar to a Hero or Genius (given people at this level tend to be interdisciplinary, perhaps a Universal Genius?), and a Global Contextualism culture to give rise to something similar to a Caregiver/Saint (perhaps a Global Caregiver?).

So the genius has not gone away. (S)He has just been joined and superseded by the Collective Guilt culture and their pantheon of secular saints who fight for social justice. In fact, the "democratization" of "genius" is part and parcel of this psychosocial level, and how it dissipates the idea of genius. But those whose lives are regulated by Responsibility will of course continue to believe in the Genius, just like those in the Guilt cultures still believe in Saints and those in Shame cultures still believe in Heroes.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Privilege and Collective Guilt

There is nothing like trying to engage someone whose morals are guided by collective guilt to really bring out the main features of that particular social regulator.

One of the main elements of collective guilt is that it is completely unprincipled. It is anti-foundational to the extreme, not even finding a foundation in our evolved psychologies (which they ultimately deny to even exist). Being unprincipled, such people do not engage in arguments, but rather move the goalposts around to make sure that you, their opponent, are in whatever is an oppressive, "privileged" group relative to themselves. Then they don't have to actually take your arguments seriously. You are just a mouthpiece for privilege and oppression.

This tactic goes back to the foundational philosophers of collective guilt -- Rousseau and Marx. Rousseau divided us into civilized (corrupt) and noble savage (uncorrupt). Marx of course divided us into bourgeoisie (corrupt) and proletariat (uncorrupt). If you could not see the truth of Rousseau's philosophy, it was because civilization had corrupted you. If you could not see the truth of Marx's philosophy, it was because you were bourgeoisie or were pacified by the opiate of religion. Of course, with Marx we also get the idea of a privileged class, and the egalitarian psychology has really run with that one of late.

What this has eventually turned into is the pantheon of privileged/unprivileged categories: bourgeoisie/proletariat, white/minority, men/women, 1%/99%, straight/GLBT, etc. Attempts to break down these categories are seen as the privileged attempting to enforce their privilege. Rather, inverting the categories is what's important. The "discovery" of "The White Racial Slur We've All Been Looking For" is prime evidence of this. It's less important to get people to stop using racial slurs than it is to find one for the privileged. This allows one to invert the categories, to declare what was "inferior" as "superior," and vice versa.

Except, we still end up with the idea that there is inferior and superior. We still end up with the idea of privilege. Rather than privileging the unprivileged, and vice versa, shouldn't we be trying to undermine the idea of privilege itself? To declare that you are not privileged simply because of your group membership, nor unprivileged (or underprivileged) because of some other group membership?

And consider the complete mess this makes of things? Am I privileged? I have a Ph.D. (privileged) and I'm "white" (privileged) and I'm male (privileged) and I'm heterosexual (privileged). But I was raised working class (unprivileged), I'm a member of the 99% (unprivileged) and I have Asperger's (unprivileged). And I have extreme minority political and social viewpoints (unprivileged). Also, my support for women's rights, gay rights, the elimination of political privileges for the wealthy, etc. should also make me an honorary member of the unprivileged. Except that my extreme minority political viewpoints -- not being postmodern leftist -- preclude that. Thus, I get accused of speaking from a position of privilege. Which would be a huge surprise to pretty much everyone who actually knows me.

My rejection of this perspective lies neither in thinking that there is no such thing as privilege, nor in declaring that white, heterosexual males are themselves a victim class -- victimized by postmodern leftist ideology, the dominant ideology of the day. Classifying white, heterosexual males as victims is absurd on the face of it. Thinking of them as a coherent group is also absurd, though. Many are privileged -- and many are privileged precisely because they are wealthy, white, and male. But many other people are privileged for a variety of other reasons. Is the President of the United States not privileged because he's not white? Give me a break! Declaring the most powerful man in the world a victim is absurdity upon absurdity.

What we need to realize is that privileges are primarily granted and reinforced by our political institutions. And by many of our social institutions, whose structures are intimately influenced by our political institutions. The bureaucratization of our institutions is downright harmful to many people -- especially those of us on the autism spectrum, who find active discrimination against us by those institutions. We do horribly in situations calling for endless meetings and communal gatherings, wanting rather to just be left alone to work. Outside of Silicon Valley, there are few employment opportunities in which work is actually placed above socializing. These are social institutions that privilege neurotypicals over those on the autism spectrum. I have experienced it repeatedly. In this particular case, it is not necessarily direct government influence (direct granting of privilege to particular individuals or groups), but influence on the structures of other institutions in the creation of more, larger bureaucracies.

The problem ultimately lies in people treating others as members of groups rather than as individuals. I find it hard to believe that reinforcing group-based thinking is the way to get out of group-based thinking; it is as absurd as thinking that finding a racial slur for privileged whites is the solution to eliminating racism.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

A New Dionysia? Could a Play Contest Transform Cultures?

Many inner city cultures continue to be shame cultures. We see this in the demand that one be "respected" whether or not one has in fact acted in a respectable manner. The problems with having a large shame subculture in a more complex culture involve such things as discounting education and a kind of rebelliousness that leads to criminality. This is less of a problem if one enters into the shame culture as a young teenager and exist it in one's later teens than if one never exits the shame culture at all.

Of course, one cannot force others to emerge into a more complex psychosocial level. But that doesn't mean that there cannot be institutions which can move things along.

The Great Dionysia of Athens might act as a model for such an institution. This play competition was a product of the Greek shame culture, and was also at the same time an institution of the transition from the shame culture into the guilt culture. A new Great Dionysia as a model for an inner city community project would make use of the positive aspects of the kinds of psychologies that create the shame culture, while hopefully moving people out of shame and into guilt as a social regulator.

One of the main features of the Great Dionysia was that it was a competition. This taps into the competitive aspect of this psychological level. A New Dionysia would thus have to be set up as a set of competitions wherein the audience votes and prizes are given.

We could even set the festival up as the Great Dionysia was set up. There could be a day of songs and poetry -- sort of a combination of poetry-slam, singing and rap contest. Then there could be a day (or two or three) of serious plays, with the hope that shame-to-guilt culture tragedies would be written. Finally, there would be a day of comedies in which local leaders were made fun of by the plays (similar to Aristophanes' plays). This would allow for a combination of artistic expression and cultural/political criticism that was typical of the Great Dionysia and which helped drive cultural evolution in Athens.

The New Dionysia would also need to be set up financially in a similar way as the Great Dionysia. The entire thing could be funded by various nonprofits, but it is also important that there be patrons of the artists themselves. There would need to be a selection process to select the slate of plays, songs, raps, and poems, and it would have to be early enough in the year that the playwrights could get the actors they needed and have time to practice. This could end up being a community project, with many people involved in creating sets and costumes. It could thus make our inner city communities more like communities, which would only benefit those communities, since a community of people who see themselves as a community don't put up with crime, etc.

Now, all we need are New Dionysias to pop up around the country in our cities. Who wants to get started?

The Phaedra of Shame to Guilt, the Phaedras of Guilt to Responsibility

There are many historical examples one can give of cultures dominated by any given social regulator. Tribes are regulated by familial/tribal disappointment. Ancient Greece was of course a shame culture. The Roman Empire was a guilt culture (as is Jewish culture and Islamic culture). The Modernist West was a responsibility culture. The Postmodern West is a collective guilt culture.

We get the emergence of a shame culture when there are too many people around to be regulated by family alone. When your social networks become too big because you are living in city-states, friends, colleagues, and important strangers' opinions of you begin to matter. Perhaps not coincidentally, these cultures also tend to be polytheistic (this may involve literal, identifiable religions, but it may also involve various "idols" such as we see in teen culture). The problem with historical polytheism is that there are conflicting values in the different gods. This means one cannot always know what the gods want, meaning you cannot rely on them as a guide to action. Social life is thus the most important social regulator. In literature, The Iliad and The Odyssey portray shame cultures at their strongest. 

In Athens during the tragic age, it seems the Greeks were starting to move into a guilt culture. Euripides' Hippolytus investigates this transition. Phaedra is feeling guilty about her feelings for her stepson, Hippolytus. However, she is feeling shame in equal measure. The problem is that you only feel shame if people know what you have done or how you feel. All you have to do is behave yourself or make sure nobody knows, and you won't feel shame. However, guilt compels you to confess your sins. Thus, after Phaedra is compelled by guilt to confess her feelings to her nurse, she immediately feels shame because the nurse knows. The nurse, being firmly embedded in the shame culture, thinks that if Phaedra has told her about her feelings, that she must not be ashamed of those feelings (perhaps thinking Phaedra's insistence on her shame is a show), so she promptly tells Hippolytus. Phaedra commits suicide precisely in order to avoid the shame she fears will arise from her nurse's actions. Had Phaedra felt only shame, she would have never told the nurse; had she only felt guilt, she would have told the nurse, but she would not have been compelled to kill herself. It is the combination of shame and guilt present in Phaedra that creates the situation where she thinks the only bearable way out is suicide and her damning letter.

There were many things happening in Athens that may have been pushing it toward becoming a guilt culture. The tragedies were being performed at the Great Dionysia; Dionysus may have begun to emerge as a monotheistic god (given the fact that Dionysus had pretty much all of the traits of all of the other gods, such a transition to Dionysus would make sense). Plato was also active in the proliferation of philosophy at the time, which in many ways sought to provide an external set of principles by which all people could live (a necessary condition for feeling guilt). The Athenian democracy itself may have provided those external principles, in much the same way as Roman Law provided the external principles of the Roman Republic/Empire. Virgil's Aeneid portrays the Romans as a guilt culture from their founding.

In Rome during the age of Seneca, Rome was going through a transition from a guilt culture to a responsibility culture through the influence of Stoicism. Stoicism may not have quite reached the average Roman citizen, but it was spreading through the upper classes, even reaching an emperor -- Marcus Aurelius. Stoicism in many ways challenged the authority of Roman Law, since man's reason and nature's laws are believed to be supreme -- meaning each could be used to challenge the law and, thus, the foundation of the Roman guilt culture itself. It is likely this challenge to the authority of the law that kept Seneca in trouble with the ruling authorities, even if Nero's decision to have Seneca commit suicide was likely idiosyncratic.

It is probably no coincidence that Seneca seemed to have written his tragedies while in exile. That was a clear indication his world view was in conflict with the majority culture. Investigating this conflict in the ways social regulations come into conflict is the theme of the Phaedra/Hippolytus myth, so it is also no surprise Seneca wrote a Phaedra play. But because Seneca was writing about the transition from guilt to responsibility rather than from shame to guilt, the story could not maintain its complete structure. Phaedra kills herself much later in Seneca's version than in Euripides' precisely because the conjunction of guilt and responsibility cannot take place until after Hippolytus' death. Phaedra has to feel guilty about Hippolytus' death, and she has to take responsibility for her false accusation before she can have the impetus to commit suicide.

Of course, the Stoic-driven responsibility culture did not manage to fully emerge and take over because of the spread of Christianity. Christianity, with its external principles rooted in God's law, was of course a guilt culture. The Catholic Church developed several institutions that feed into and fostered that guilt culture -- the most obvious being confession. The need to confess was given an institution within the church itself. The exemplary literary work of the Christian guilt culture is of course Dante's Divine Comedy. It is no coincidence that Dante has himself led through Hell and Purgatory by Virgil, the author of another epic poem rooted in guilt culture.

It is also no coincidence that when Europe exited guilt culture and entered responsibility culture, reason and natural law, that Seneca and the other Stoics were rediscovered and influenced the emergent culture and literature. Seneca's tragedies influenced both Shakespeare and Racine, even if it was only the latter who wrote a Phaedra for the times.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

On Global Contextualism as a Social Regulator

The most recent social regulator is what I'm going to call "global contextualism." It is part of the holistic (turquoise) psychological level in the Gravesean model. It builds on naturalistic principles, adding to this internal regulator an external aspect -- the global network and the local contexts are taken into consideration alongside (as variations on) naturalistic principles. Naturalistic principles see the unity under the variety of human cultural expressions; global contextualism sees the variety which emerges from those universals and the networks of people and the long-tern consequences of various actions within those varying contexts.

The global contextualist sees the big picture, over space and time, taking into consideration all the network effects (including butterfly effects). This may appear to be "unprincipled," but it still has naturalistic principles underlying it. And, practitioners having second tier psychologies, lower levels are not rejected, but fully integrated. They also can resolve some of the paradoxes that emerge in naturalistic principles.

Let us take, for example, the moral issue of whether or not one should cheat on one's wife.

The tribalist would argue against disappointing one's family. But of course, this would vary based on cultural norms. One may not disappoint one's family if one has lovers.

Those who feel shame would only worry about whether or not they would get caught.

Those who feel guilt wouldn't cheat if the external principles included fidelity to one's spouse.

Those who feel responsibility wouldn't cheat so long as they could continue to live up to their responsibilities toward their spouses. That responsibility may include fidelity itself, but it may not.

Those who feel collective guilt may see cheating as disrespecting the spouse as a man or woman, though if something were arranged between the two beforehand, such that there were no disrespect of the spouse as a member of the opposite sex, that would be fine.

For those who feel naturalistic principles, there are natural tendencies toward loyalty, and one understands that cheating leads to lack of trust, which reduces the spousal bonds. However, there is also understood to be a tendency to be mildly polyandrous; meaning, a spouse and a lover.Relying on internal information is not enough to necessarily tip the scales one way or another, though other values will certainly come into play in making the decision.

The global contextualists consider all pathways before them and decide based on that. It is unlikely that cheating would result in a pathway that would benefit oneself, one's spouse, the potential lover, whatever if any children are involved, social relations, familial relations, etc. This external network information helps one to tip the scales toward loyalty rather than mildly polyandrous tendencies.

Of course, as noted above in the discussion of naturalistic principles, other values necessarily come into play, so things are hardly so clear-cut as laid out above. And of course, it should also be clear from the discussion above that things are hardly clear-cut at any of the levels themselves. The nature of one's culture matters (and the nature of one's spouse). What changes is how one considers what actions to take.

Of course, while global contextualism is the latest to emerge, it's hardly the endpoint. Whatever emerges next will require investigation once it emerges. But we can only investigate that which already exists.

On Familial Disappointment as Social Regulator

The earliest social regulator -- found in tribes, and founding all of our social regulations -- is familial disappointment, which is extended to the extended family of the tribe as a whole (and relegated, in larger, more complex societies, to the household). Rituals are also adopted to aid in social regulation, since rituals allow people to enter and exit private and/or sacred spaces. The regularities of rituals allow social regulation by helping people understand what they need to do when. However, even with this, the rituals do not in and of themselves punish you for violating them. That falls to one's relatives.

We see direct familial interactions regulating social behaviors in the social mammals as a whole, but with humans we get the added element of disappointment. Disappointment requires language to clearly communicate it. The last thing most people want to do is disappoint their parents or other family members. That extends to one's spouse when one marries.

When a society (or a person) enters into shame as the primary regulator, though, familial disappointment fades fast. In the U.S., people tend to enter into shame as social regulator when they are 12 or 13. Have you ever met a 12 or 13 year old American who cared about whether or not he or she was disappointing his or her parents? Of course not. But they were concerned with what their friends thought. When they emerge into guilt and then responsibility, etc., they often loosen up on familial disappointment as a regulator (even if they do tend to more strongly reject the level they just emerged out of -- those who enter into guilt thus reject shame; those who enter into responsibility reject guilt; those who enter into collective guilt reject responsibility -- though this latter one, being egalitarian, also tends to reject all others in equal measure).

We would thus expect shame cultures to be more abusive toward family members, particularly spouses. And while we would not expect those regulated by collective guilt to be explicitly abusive, we would expect a weakening of family structures and perhaps an increase in divorce as a result. Those who feel guilt and responsibility are more likely to return to feeling familial regulations more strongly, so we would expect to see support for "family values" and stronger family structures in general.

We can thus see that these levels are not necessarily clear-cut and explicit. New levels contain the levels below -- those feelings don't go away once they emerge, though they may be suppressed to varying degrees. Healthy families likely have strong familial regulations in place, even if different members are at different psychological levels and thus use different social regulators.