[extropy-chat] Rational thinking

Lee Corbin lcorbin at rawbw.com
Tue Dec 5 04:49:48 UTC 2006

Keith writes

> Who would like to take a crack at an EP analysis of why the founders acted 
> as they did?

Your posts were almost entirely adequate on this point. It's
pretty obvious, really. These were men with stronger social skills
and stronger social instincts than most, and nature, as many
processes are wont to do, serves up a normal distribution
of such skills and instincts.

Based on survival evolution, their genes were the distal cause
of their behavior;  individuals and groups having such individuals
fared better not only as you write, in the EEA (environment of
evolutionary adaptedness), but also in the last 10,000 years.

Your analysis, however, did not adequately mention the cultural
evolution that had placed these men in those positions at those
times. "The Rights of Englishmen" was not to them an idle phrase,
and we can see its memetic power clearly.

The proximate causes of their behavior included in many cases
their own economic self-interest.  George Washington, for example,
had been incensed for years at the treatment of himself and his
neighbors by the distant government of a King to whom they were
still very loyal.

Almost all of them exhibited strong mixtures of  motivations---the
feelings of group loyalty and patriotism to what they called and
considered to be their own "dear native land". Not a few of these
were written out in the Declaration of Independence, (which contains
quite a list of grievances in addition to other observations keenly
and sincerely felt).

Genes provide just one level of explanatory power, a level that was
sadly neglected for ideological reasons throughout the entire 20th
century. But it's important to keep in mind that it's not the only level
at which valid explanations are to be found.


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