Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Fear the common, not the weird.

The other day, I got to thinking how peculiar it is that nowadays people tend to consider weirdness as something to be fearful and suspicious of. Occasionally, people will look at me or one of my original ideas as "so weird" and look slowly away from me like they are somehow more clean and respectable for having boring normal ideas. This, I say, is a modern attitude. Time was, people suspected you of being coarse to the extent you were common. "That is so common", I remember often hearing when young, and indeed, the insult is still occasionally used. The insult vulgar, used in a similar way, comes from the Latin vulgaris, meaning "of the mob" or "of the common people". True, there might be an element of elitism in such usage, but I claim the past attitude was preferable.

A good approximation is to think of goodness as love of beauty, where beauty is part goodness and part tangible useful qualities, i.e., talents. Since goodness involves love of itself, to avoid circularity, think of morality as partly love of talent, partly love of love of talent, partly love of love of love of talent,...; then define beauty as what morality loves and goodness as that part of beauty that is not talent, i.e., that which is love; from evolutionary considerations it is then reasonable to suppose that goodness is the same as morality, and that the components of beauty (as well as goodness) are weighted like a geometric distribution with ratio the fraction of beauty that is love.

The important point to distill from the immediately preceding (approximate) definition of goodness is that goodness is an ideal. Goodness is a desire to make the world more a certain way; to wit, to make the world a more beautiful place. Idealists can prosper more than selfish people because they will tend to be loved unselfishly by idealists who share their ideal. Idealists will tend to love one another unselfishly, while selfish people will never tend to be loved unselfishly, and so idealists can prosper better than selfish people. Of course, there are many ideals that people can have, so many different versions of idealism. Peacocks, for instance, would seem to have an ideal very similar to humans, but rather than considering abstract talent as beautiful in itself, they apparently consider fancy tail feathers as beautiful. Humans, being more able to handle abstract concepts, tend to find talent as the concrete, not-involving-love part of beauty. Indeed, idealists who want the world to be more full of talented complex people will tend to love unselfishly talented complex people by mating unselfishly with them. And if you are going to mate unselfishly with someone, you are going to prosper better if the mate you chose has talents, inasmuch as these talent are desirable both in raising the children and in ensuring the children themselves have genetic qualities suited to prospering.

Goodness is present in people (or rather in some people, to various degrees) because it is an ideal, namely love of beauty, and because love of beauty is more or less the most useful ideal that you can possess. The point I wish to make here is that if beauty is the most useful thing to love, its opposite may be presumed to be approximately the least useful thing to love. It is not at all reasonable then to suppose that people could arise who are evil from it being their nature to desire to further badness or ugliness. It is not reasonable to suppose that there could evolve to be people who are evil because they idealistically by nature want to make the world less beautiful; such would be approximately the least useful ideal. Badness is not, then, some complicated ideal contrary to goodness. Badness is merely absence of goodness in favor of selfishness; it is not an ideal, but rather selfishness. There is nothing special about selfishness, it requiring merely a knowledge of one's own self interest which it may be presumed both the good and the bad possess. Badness is not special; it is on the contrary common.

Yes, but one may argue that there are people who are beyond bad, who are what I call evil in that they actually do behave at times contrary to their own self-interest ostensibly perhaps just to destroy beauty. But I say these people are not by nature evil. Evil people are bad people who through their own mediocrity have come to believe the lies they have found it convenient to surround themselves with. For instance, a person who from a bad selfish nature finds it convenient to be controllingly abusive might to make himself more scary pretend it is the nature of bad people to desire to destroy those who are good, in as much as goodness is contrary to wanting to submit to him. If he too believes the pretensions he submits his girlfriend to, that could turn him from merely a bad abusive boyfriend into an evil murderer. Or take Hitler (from Mein Kampf):

The psyche of the great masses is not receptive to anything that is half-hearted and weak.

Like the woman, whose psychic state is determined less by grounds of abstract reason than by an indefinable emotional longing for a force which will complement her nature, and who, consequently, would rather bow to a strong man than dominate a weakling, likewise the masses love a commander more than a petitioner and feel inwardly more satisfied by a doctrine, tolerating no other beside itself, than by the granting of liberalistic freedom with which, as a rule, they can do little, and are prone to feel that they have been abandoned. They are equally unaware of their shameless spiritual terrorization and the hideous abuse of their human freedom, for they absolutely fail to suspect the inner insanity of the whole doctrine. All they see is the ruthless force and brutality of its calculated manifestations, to which they always submit in the end.

If Social Democracy is opposed by a doctrine of greater truth, but equal brutality of methods, the latter will conquer, though this may require the bitterest struggle.

Hitler's objective was to appeal to common (in the worst sense) people. People who wanted to support leaders as though they believed, among other things, the lie that females from "an indefinable emotional longing" want to be controlled. It is not all especially difficult to define such an emotional longing: it is a result of having gotten one's hindquarters screwed by a controlling man and is as vulgar as one might imagine. If Hitler had just pretended to believe in such a natural emotional longing, he merely would have been bad. He actually believed it, though, and lo it turned out that the masses in the non-fascist countries he presumably thought hated controlling types from love of weakness didn't love weakness much at all (it is not as though he or his soldiers could personally screw all their hindquarters) and were strong determined fighters who gave his country rather worse than it dished out, it all ending in a pointless dreadfully evil destruction of humanity.

A bad person if lacking worthwhile qualities might pretend that those who claim to have especially worthwhile qualities are just fake, and that if society has given someone particular responsibilities or acclaim from a sense the person was special, that is not a very important right society should have, and on the contrary society has been faked. When manipulating others to like him, he might try, e.g., to get them to read Catcher in the Rye or similarly deceptive media that degrades the respected so that (e.g., in mating) they won't care much about his (impossible to hide) mediocrity. An evil person, on the other hand, he is so mediocre as also to actually believe the fundamental idea of Catcher in the Rye, and so he goes out and tries to shoot the president or the most popular rock star or whomever. (Strong admiration for The Catcher in the Rye is known to be one of the best indicators of a potential assassin.)

There is nothing weird or special about evil. Evil is merely absence of goodness together with a particular sort of mediocrity of understanding.

But it isn't just that distaste for weirdness shows lack of discrimination that I disdain criticism of weirdness qua weirdness. People have a degree of choice as to how much they wish to follow their own authentic tendencies. Someone who is true to himself, yes, his faults (such as are displayed), they are his own, but like Stevenson's donkey, so too are his virtues. Succeeding or failing more according to your own tendencies is a nobler thing than just imitating the tendencies of others, for the former sort of behavior, if general would lead to much faster evolution of the complex sort of tendencies humanity needs. In particular, if you accept your moral system or mating tendencies, such as you have, ready made, say from some religious institution, well, you might be better than a purely selfish person, but you are a far cry from one with authentic moral values that come from within. And a good girl judges not so much from considering her potential mate's faults and deficiencies as from considering his virtues. Faults die out, they are short term. They hurt her, but they won't so much hurt the more distant future. Virtues, they grow. They might not grow into much during her life time, but by loving them now, she just might be enabling his special virtue to multiply into a powerful positive influence upon eternity. Virtuous girls are more accepting of quirkiness in a potential mate than less good girls are.

I must admit, authenticity of belief and love of quirkiness are not so easily found in our world as are other virtues.

I wrote the first part of this post (and saved it as a draft) in late June. I felt there was something else involved, which now I have a somewhat better handle on. Being authentic is akin to mating early. Good people wouldn't from mere altruism selection be supposed to mate nearly as early as would be moral, because the benefits to one's genetic material of mating early are distant. Similarly, on the face of it one can't see how an otherwise good person would evolve to be nearly as authentic and non-conformist as would be moral. Indeed, the benefit of authenticity is that it encourages future evolution by increasing the correlation between future evolutionary success and genetic worth. And traits that encourage future, faster evolution are so distantly rewarding they just don't get selected for well by what selects for idealistic and altruistic tendencies.

Notwithstanding there are not really forces that select for authenticity at the individual level, there are forces that select for it on the gene level. I.e., it is necessary to think in terms of competition between different alleles (in diploid individuals) rather than competition between individuals. These inter-allele competitive forces would not nearly select for authenticity as much as would be ideal (unless something else be involved), but they do select for it somewhat (also they select for early mating somewhat, though not nearly so much as the effects arising from sperm selection). I believe the lack of authenticity among the good is more general than lack of desire for early mating; excess conformity is quite a systematic obnoxious problem. That said, I am hesitant to say that people should be extremely more authentic, for though it would be good if somehow there were some way to make all otherwise good people be authentic, in fact, even though a typical good individual's genetic material would prosper more by being significantly more authentic, if a good individual were to become so exceedingly more authentic as to possess an amount of authenticity that would be in the best interest of good people as a whole for every good person to possess, then that good individual would likely suffer from his idiosyncrasy, which would be bad since his willingness to be so exceedingly authentic would encourage his demise, which would make the world more full of conformists.

More later. It turns out authenticity is I am inclined to think very much encouraged by female lust and the consideration that when describing evolutionary success it is reasonable to weight success of important genes more than success of unimportant genes. Female lust has epigenetic effects, in my opinion, which allow the genome to differentiate between important genes and unimportant ones. I have written a poem which outlines the idea--I'll probably post it. Then I think I'll post various other ideas I have been having lately about female lust, and in particular its likely epigenetic effects. Another thing I've been thinking lately is that cocaine is significantly more evil than people give it credit for being; indeed, I have come across papers (Researchers Find Alterations In Brain's Circuitry Caused By Cocaine) indicating that very recent research indicates cocaine effects gene expression in the brain by altering histones. Histone modification is as likely candidate as any for how female lust produces its epigenetic effects, histone modification having a certain inheritableness that is a hot topic among epigeneticists. Anyway I have concluded that if my worst fears are true, cocaine use might lead to alteration of the histone configuration about DNA that could last centuries if not millennia, which within a millennia or two would cause the world to become full of conformist twits who hate diversity. E.g., you'd tend to see lots of war and human sacrifice. Female lust would become totally pointless, and all its beneficial effects on the evolution of higher moral traits would disappear for a few millennia. In other words, if the war on cocaine isn't won in a few generations, it would follow mathematically that humanity will, if nothing is done to reverse these effects, with a very high probability, destroy itself in an orgy of mass murder within a millennia or two. But I will talk about that later, after I have studied the situation much better. There's so much complexity (and in particular, complex chemistry) involved, it is well I think about the situation for a few years or months (to clear away the fog of ignorance) before I publicize any conclusions I might reach. In particular I have to be clear what exactly are the defenses that prevent female lust chemicals from being effectively made otherwise than by females (e.g., by males or coca plants).

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