Friday, March 22, 2019

It’s Only Natural



The opening chapter of Casey’s book is entitled “The Dawn of History.”  Through this chapter one can discern why much of what is advanced in today’s society is destructive to society.  But before getting to this, Casey constructs what is unique about man:

Human beings are singularly badly constructed for survival. …David Hume comments, “Of all the animals with which this globe is peopled, there is none towards whom nature seems, at first sight, to have exercis’d more cruelty that towards man in the numberless wants and necessities, with which she has loaded him, and in the slender means which she affords to the relieving these necessities…”

Ibn Khaldûn offers that many dumb animals were given more perfect power than God gave to man.  Man must consciously contrive necessary behaviors whereas other animals have such behaviors instinctually.  These contrived behaviors begin at birth; from Frank Tallis:

“The human infant must have a high quality of care, and this is best delivered by two parents working together for an extended period of time – in effect, two parents in a monogamous relationship, sharing a strong pair-bond….”

A male and female, committed to each other for at least long enough to raise the children that they produce.  Hard to see how human life on earth would ever have survived absent such an institution. 

It is also hard to see how human life would have survived “if procreation had not been put under the dominion of a great passion.”  I think I need not explain how this kept the man interested in what otherwise results in a lifelong burden.

So now we have a male, female and child.  Next comes the division of labor – and guess what?  It was sex-based: women specialized in child-bearing and child-rearing, and foraging near the home; men specialized in long-range hunting and protecting the family.  The father was more expendable than the mother; as long as the female survived, more children were possible.  Overall men had the worst of the bargain: whereas women faced danger primarily in procreation, men faced danger in both provision and protection. 

Casey examines the impact on these relationships brought on by two very recent revolutions: the Reproductive Revolution and the Technological Revolution.  In just a few short decades, abortion has gone from rare to common, divorce has no social stigma, even the concept of illegitimacy is forbidden, and homosexual behavior has gone from being vilified to being praised.  Sex can now be totally separated from reproduction – friends with benefits, if you will.

In what amounts to a few moments of the history of man, his entire social structure has been overturned; the social, economic, and political consequences are yet to be seen.  The implications are still being worked out, “with fear and trembling.” 

Casey next addresses the patriarchy.  We are told that patriarchy is the universal political structure that favors men over women.  No mention of the burdens that come to the man or the benefits that come to the woman; no mention that the structure is rooted in the protective function played by men – and can only have been played by men if the species was to survive.  No mention that most men are as politically, socially, and economically impotent as most women. 

Men have to be prepared to sacrifice their lives in order to protect the women and therefore the species, as it is only women that can give birth.  Casey offers an example of the “low and devious cunning, nineteenth century British parliamentarians – all of whom were men – who…

…attempted to conceal their male dominance by legally prohibiting women from working in coal mines and reserving those delightfully dirty and dangerous jobs for their brother patriarchs.

Even today, the bulk of physically demanding – and dangerous – jobs are dominated by men.  Is it a scheme?  Casey offers that men must be the only oppressors in history that are…

1)      Less well-served by the education system that they created
2)      Are greater victims of physical violence
3)      Are treated with greater severity by the criminal justice system in respect to divorce and child custody as well as criminal sentencing
4)      Do a staggeringly greater proportion of the dirty work – the real dirty, and dangerous, work
5)      Are less well-treated by their health systems
6)      Live statistically shorter lives

…than the oppressed “other.”  It is difficult to identify any other alleged oppressor / oppressed relationship where such things would be the case.  Perhaps this does demonstrate one thing: as far as “oppressors” go, men might very well be the dumbest of the lot, and, therefore, the dumber sex.

Perhaps the most compelling argument: Casey suggests one considers the imbalance in the demand for sex.  Who really holds the power in this relationship?


Through the institutions revolving around family, and the necessity for such a stable and long-term relationship in order to ensure continuation of the species, Casey offers that man is a social being because man always had to be a social being if he was to survive.  It is difficult to imagine children surviving to adulthood had man not been a social being…before he had children (such a chicken and egg thing, I know; but you get the point).

It is also difficult to imagine how man could have survived among the wild animals had he not been a social animal.  Remember, men have been placed on earth with none of the physical means to compete against other land animals.  Alone – with no division of labor and no large numbers – man was easy prey for beasts of every type.

As social animals, our survival depends much on having appropriate emotional responses to others – being happy in the good fortune of others, showing empathy when called for.  Survival also depends on favoring insiders to outsiders – the safety of the known vs. the unknown; the safety of common tradition as compared to foreign. 

Morality is much more easily extended to members of the in-group vs. the out group.  We band together against the unknown.  No need to be upset about this; if not for this you likely would not be here today.

Language – by far the most complex and differentiating skill man has developed relative to other animals – came about spontaneously.  It is a social product that offers a model of what is (and, at times, has been) possible in legal, economic and political orders, according to Thomas Sowell.

Don’t compare man’s language to the grunts of some animals.  Yes, animals do communicate with each other, but try to find singular or plural; past, present or future tense; suffixes and prefixes.  Try to find things that have never been said before in the animals – as we often do in man.

Conclusion

Casey demonstrates the foundational differences in men and women.  Legislation and technology are not likely to modify these relationships into a new model that can thereafter survive the transformation.  Our history is too long to be toyed with in such a manner.

Further, one cannot read this chapter of Casey’s work without finding something extraordinary in man – something present in man and not in other animals.  Is it just random atoms smashing together?  And these atoms smashed together in no other species, yet all other species hold in common that these randomly smashed atoms produced nothing of the complexity of the human central nervous system and the unimaginable concept of consciousness?

Randomness produced uniqueness in humans and commonality in every single other animal species on earth?  How is that random?

Which takes more faith, to believe in the luck of random atoms or…I don’t know…God?

25 comments:

  1. BM, your ending statement is very reminiscent or Cornelius Van Til or Greg Bahnsen. They have whole systems of logic built to answer your question in a very authoritative way.

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  2. "...these randomly smashed atoms produced nothing of the complexity of the human central nervous system and the unimaginable concept of consciousness?"

    When the sun was placed at the center of the solar system rather than the earth, man's place in the cosmos seemed to diminish. When it was discovered that our solar system was not even in the center of our own galaxy, man's place seemed to diminish. When it was discovered that man was made up of all the same building blocks as everything else in the cosmos (carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, calcium, phosphorous, etc.), man's place seemed to diminish. When it was *discovered that man shared 98% of his genetic coding with chimpanzees, man's place again seemed to diminish.

    Perhaps it seemed to many that scientific advancement was just a merciless set of lessons in humility, and if one wished to be at the forefront of scientific inquiry, one need only follow this trend logically to its conclusion that our place in the universe is not special, thus not important. This of course, seemed to exclude any possibility of a benevolent God being responsible for creation and man in particular.

    Herein lies the problem with the term "natural." It has been bound up in the ideas of mechanistic determinism in regards to man. Sadly, the term is more likely to bring to mind Rousseau than Aquinas.

    But we are still, and science has proven that we are, the most complex thing in the cosmos. We are the pinnacle of creation.

    *it turns this number may be the result of human contamination during the Chimp genome sequencing.

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    1. "Perhaps it seemed to many that scientific advancement was just a merciless set of lessons in humility..."

      Precisely. This reality should bring on humility, not despondency.

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    2. Yes, but then humility is a Christian virtue, so perhaps those without the faith are more prone to despondency in these situations, especially those with a superiority complex over believers (not talking about you Peg. You're a delightful person).

      Also it turns out that there are very good reasons why we're not in the center of our solar system or the center of our galaxy: these locations require immense gravity wells that would be insupportable for human life.

      Some astronomers believe we're in a highly advantageous position in the galaxy as well, since we're in between the Sagittarius and Perseus arms of our spiral galaxy. This position not only provides a good vantage point for viewing the cosmos, but it is also a safe distance away from dense concentrations of stars which can be very dangerous to be around. Providence or coincidence?

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    3. ATL: "Providence or coincidence?"

      Neither.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anthropic_principle

      I really don't mind "the faith", but invoking it for things that are easily explained without it... always strikes me as a bit forced, a bit desperate. Does not do justice to the concept imo.

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    4. Well I suppose desperate is in the eye of the beholder.

      For instance, I think it's a bit desperate to rely on the idea of a bubbling multiverse randomly dispersed with differing physical constants in order to explain away the idea that our perfectly fine tuned universe has an Author.

      But otherwise, fair point. I was just relaying an interesting observation punctuated with a rhetorical question.

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    5. It won't explain away the idea of an Author.

      The anthropic principle always applies.

      For example: God cannot create the universe as is, create man as is, but place him on Mars. Even God has to create a consistent universe less we would be unable to live. God created the universe as a place for man to live, but that limits his choice as to how the universe could look like. For man, in its present shape, the only habitable place is a planet like earth, at a certain distance from a sun, in a universe with the laws we observe. It cannot be any other way.

      We cannot place limits on God, but God can place/accept limits on his creation in order to make that creation viable. Arguably God could ignore limits for his creation, but this then would put everything in a permanent state of chaos in which no predictions can be made by man, and hence where free will/choice cannot exist.

      IIRC, science started out inside religion. With the enlightenment it broke 'free' of religion. Only to discover that this is in fact impossible to do so without creating chaos and its own demise.

      Strange as it may sound, I see no fundamental difference between the hard sciences and religion. Except maybe that the hard sciences are universal and religion is personal. Faith, so I would say, is the marriage between the two.

      As I see it, the problem with christianity as it is preached today, is that it has started to place man above God by ignoring the created (universal/scientific) reality and has started to impose arbitrary (culturally marxists) rules.

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  3. "So now we have a male, female and child"

    male: conservative/authoritarian
    female: socialist/communist
    male child: liberal/libertarian

    Politics is not difficult...

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  4. "...women specialized in child-bearing and child-rearing, and foraging near the home; men specialized in long-range hunting and protecting the family. THE FATHER WAS MORE EXPENDABLE THAN THE MOTHER [emphasis added]; as long as the female survived, more children were possible."

    Yes, if a man dies, there are others (unless the tribe loses them ALL.) But no child can be produced without BOTH man and woman, the special function of the womb notwithstanding. So, also, if a woman dies, there are others (again unless the clan loses them ALL, but the argument holds).

    The reason for making the woman's life less strenuous and keeping her close to home is not because she is the only one that can bear children. Rather, it is because of the PROCESS of making each child; the length of a pregnancy and the vulnerability of the fetus and the mother during that time.

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    1. You proved the point with your last sentence, so why did you offer your first?

      One man and a thousand women can produce one thousand babies per year (and one very happy, but exhausted father).

      One thousand men and one woman will produce extinction, as the men will kill each other.

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  5. All I have to say about this post is that I read it twice and really like it. Good work Bionic, and thank you. Peg

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  6. I just read Daniel Ajamian's speech from the Austrian Economics Research Conference entitled, "The Cost of the Enlightenment." I highly recommend reading it. I was struck by how great it is, but also how similar it is to something you'd write.

    I mean seriously. I can tell he's learned a lot from this blog. Or perhaps he's come to a lot of the same conclusions independently, and read a lot of the same books (Dawn to Decadence, Advance to Barbarism), and internalized a lot of the same phrases ("naked before the state", "house built on sand").

    To be honest I was a little stirred up that someone was appropriating your insights so completely, but then I thought to myself: "Isn't that the point of what we're doing here? Don't we want these ideas to be appropriated and spread by others?" My answer (to myself) was of course, "Yes!"

    I thought maybe he could have given you a little more credit, other than just referencing a few posts of yours. Of course, maybe a speech wasn't the best place to do that. Perhaps he's done so elsewhere?

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    1. How was that not BM? The parallels were too uncanny.

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    2. We correspond often enough. It is difficult to imagine him giving credit to "bionic mosquito" during a lecture to an academic audience.

      In any case, spreading the ideas is what is important. And I agree, it was a really good piece.

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    3. "difficult to imagine him giving credit to "bionic mosquito""

      One day it will happen! Good to hear you and Daniel are in cahoots.

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  7. Hmmm, it seems he's...a Texas libertarian. Google tells me he's lives in Pearland.

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    1. Huh? Which "he" are you referring to? And I don't live in Pearland. Apparently Google doesn't know all (but it's close).

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    2. Ajamian. I meant to reply to your comment above. I’m asking no questions, even though I want to.

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    3. Oh you thought maybe I was Daniel? Nope. I wouldn't be giving a talk at the Mises AERC. I'm only a mustard seed in our little diaspora nation. I'm an engineer with a 9-5 who cares about liberty and history is all.

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    4. I entertained the possibility. You don't give yourself enough credit, ATL.

      I'm a landman in Midland, btw. Its possible, dare I say likely, that we work in the same industry.

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    5. Always great to hear from people from West Texas. I grew up a bit West of Midland off of I20. Sounds like the boom is back on.

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    6. Likewise, RMB! I grew up here as well.

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