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Re: [evol-psych] Warfare as suicide

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  • Edgar Owen
    Philippe, There is some truth to your analysis, but let us not forget that very many of the individuals who die in war are not there by choice, they are forced
    Message 1 of 24 , Aug 1, 2007
      Philippe,

      There is some truth to your analysis, but let us not forget that very many of the individuals who die in war are not there by choice, they are forced to be there by their leaders who are more than willing to sacrifice them to maintain or increase their own power, and of the men that die willingly, most if not all are there because they have been brainwashed by the nationalistic propaganda of their leaders.

      So the message is that the overwhelming majority of the men who die in war are not committing suicide in the normal sense of the word. They die because they are sent there either by force (draftees) or brainwashing.

      Edgar



      On Jul 31, 2007, at 1:40 PM, Rushton wrote:


      Richard Koenigsberg wrote <<Nine-million men died and did NOT PASS THEIR GENES ALONG. Human beings often behave in entirely irrational, non-adaptive ways.>>

      Irwin Silverman replied <<There is a rich literature in sociobiology and evolutionary psychology on the evolutionary origins of human warfare based on kin and group selection, including works by Alexander, Van den Berghe, Vanahan, Eibl-Eibesfelt, Salter, Richerson, and a number of our own studies. The serious scholar should not dismiss these offhand.>>

      Of course Irwin is correct. According to a History Channel documentary a couple of nights ago there were 100,000 suicides by Germans in Berlin when the Russians were taking over, many by officers who felt they could not break their oath to Hitler and surrender, and including Magda Goebbels who killed her six children and self rather than live in a world without National Socialism, and including thousands of child soldiers deployed against Russian tanks. Many interviews with people who survived suggested some of the motivation was a deep sense of honor.

      Lest one dismiss "nazis" as just fanatics, another program on the Hitler Channel (some of us call it that because of the number of WWII programs) covered the preparations the British made when expecting imminent invasion by the Germans in September 1940. Mustard gas would be deployed on the beaches (despite Geneva conventions and blow back against civilian populations) and suicide personnel behind the lines (despite the retaliation this would cause to British prisoners and civilians). Churchill was desperately working on sticky bombs that individuals could attach to tanks as they went past in the streets.

      I've written about some of this in a 2005 article in Nations and Nationalsim: "Ethnic nationalism, evolutionary psychology, and genetic similarity theory," which cites some of the aforementioned work on kin selection hypotheses.  

      Many other national groups have produced suicide warriors. The term ‘zealot’ originates in a Jewish sect that existed for about 70 years in the 1stcentury CE. According to the classical historian, Flavius Josephus (1981) an extreme revolutionary faction among them assassinated Romans and Jewish collaborators with daggers; this likely reduced their chances of staying alive. A group of about 1,000 Zealots, including women and children, chose to commit suicide at the fortress of Masada rather than surrender to the Romans.Masada today is one of the Jewish people’s greatest symbols. Israeli soldiers take an oath there: ‘Masada shall not fall again.’

      Soldier armies—the Japanese kamikaze, or the Iranian basaji—have committed suicide attacks against enemy combatants.  

      E. O. Wilson suggested that warfare (and even genocide) only has to happen successfully once evey thousand years or so to provide a huge evolutionary advantage to the genes of the propagators (assuming success) that it could be selected for.

      Regardless of which group selection models are eventually proven of use, it seems clear that the human psyche is built to sacrifice for identity groups. Otherwise it would be utterly irrational and unpredictable and so not lawful. Science is about laws and predicability. Humans have an inbuilt dark side as well as a good one. (Original sin.)

      PS I can send a pdf of the article if anyone wants one (offline).

      Best wishes,

      Professor J. Philippe Rushton, Ph.D., D.Sc.
      Department of Psychology,
      University of Western Ontario,
      London, Ontario, N6A 5C2, Canada
      http://www.ssc.uwo.ca/psychology/faculty/rushton_bio.htm
      Tel: 519-661-3685

       


    • Irwin Silverman
      ... True enough, when the sacrifice involves forfeiting or risking one s life, but the mechanisms of group selection require that just some members of the
      Message 2 of 24 , Aug 1, 2007
        On Wed, 1 Aug 2007, Julienne wrote:

        > But it would seem clear to me that such sacrifice is not
        > selected by everyone - and more people do NOT choose it
        > than choose it.


        True enough, when the sacrifice involves forfeiting or risking
        one's life, but the mechanisms of group selection require that just some
        members of the aggregate possess this tendency - enough to give the group
        a competitive edge (often by sheer intimidation, as in the case of youth
        gangs, terrorist organizations, and guard bees)


        Irwin Silverman, Ph.D.
        Emeritus Professor of Psychology
        York University
        4700 Keele Street
        Toronto ON M3J 1P3
        Canada

        ph - 416-736-5115 x66213
        fax - 416-736-5814
      • Irwin Silverman
        ... The question is what evolutionary advantage is being served by a cognitive mechanism which renders individuals so susceptible to the will of a leader?
        Message 3 of 24 , Aug 1, 2007
          On Wed, 1 Aug 2007, Edgar Owen wrote:

          > They die because they are sent there either by force (draftees) or
          > brainwashing.

          The question is what evolutionary advantage is being served by a
          cognitive mechanism which renders individuals so susceptible to the will
          of a leader?




          Irwin Silverman, Ph.D.
          Emeritus Professor of Psychology
          York University
          4700 Keele Street
          Toronto ON M3J 1P3
          Canada

          ph - 416-736-5115 x66213
          fax - 416-736-5814


          >
        • Julienne
          ... Hi Irwin, I wonder how much they have this tendency. I think, with human beings, there are some very angry people happy to start wars and violence, but
          Message 4 of 24 , Aug 1, 2007
            At 12:27 PM 8/1/2007 -0400, Irwin Silverman wrote:

            >On Wed, 1 Aug 2007, Julienne wrote:
            >
            > > But it would seem clear to me that such sacrifice is not
            > > selected by everyone - and more people do NOT choose it
            > > than choose it.
            >
            >
            > True enough, when the sacrifice involves forfeiting or risking
            >one's life, but the mechanisms of group selection require that just some
            >members of the aggregate possess this tendency - enough to give the group
            >a competitive edge (often by sheer intimidation, as in the case of youth
            >gangs, terrorist organizations, and guard bees)

            Hi Irwin,

            I wonder how much they have this tendency. I think,
            with human beings, there are some very angry people
            happy to start wars and violence, but then there is
            massive manipulation of the "victims", i.e., young
            to be sent to "glorious" deaths for their country,
            their king, their cause, etc. When there is
            forced conscription, when the young MUST join the
            army, then it isn't just sacrifice, it's quite a
            different kettle of dead fish. Look at the Palestinians
            brain washed into thinking they must do this. Look at
            the young Americans who believed it was the "patriotic"
            thing to do, and look at those who joined the military
            for the educational and other benefits. I think it's
            also significant that there is quite a degree of
            rebellion against this U.S. attack on Iraq, as there
            was opposition to the Vietnam war. During the Vietnam
            War, look at how many were prepared to go to Canada to
            avoid the draft.

            Soldiers are often the angry, or those who have no
            other access to money for education. Same with gang
            members - often kids with no helpful family or community
            support. Those involved in violence are all too often
            forced to be or there by default.

            Julienne
          • Haci-Murat Hubey
            I suspect you already know that and want us to think about it :-) What evolutionary advantage is there to make the young susceptible to learning from the older
            Message 5 of 24 , Aug 1, 2007
              I suspect you already know that and want us to think about it :-)

              What evolutionary advantage is there to make the young susceptible to
              learning from
              the older (alpha, beta, gamma) males? :-) (and females too :-)

              What evolutionary advantage is there to allowing living things to have
              brains
              that learn (e.g. have beliefs in their heads)?

              What beliefs they have come from (may be said to be formed in such a way)
              that over time they convince themselves that the said older [fe]males
              are more
              often right than wrong?

              I guess this is called socialization.

              Did we not just read an article on chimps learning from alpha males?
              I would suspect that they'd also learn from zeta males too if it looked
              like it worked.



              Irwin Silverman wrote:
              > On Wed, 1 Aug 2007, Edgar Owen wrote:
              >
              >
              >> They die because they are sent there either by force (draftees) or
              >> brainwashing.
              >>
              >
              > The question is what evolutionary advantage is being served by a
              > cognitive mechanism which renders individuals so susceptible to the will
              > of a leader?
              >
              >
            • Haci-Murat Hubey
              ... Circa 1970s I talked to a Turkish friend. He had a letter from a friend who talked about something that happened to someone in the military during the
              Message 6 of 24 , Aug 1, 2007
                Irwin Silverman wrote:
                > On Wed, 1 Aug 2007, Julienne wrote:
                >
                >
                >> But it would seem clear to me that such sacrifice is not
                >> selected by everyone - and more people do NOT choose it
                >> than choose it.
                >>
                >
                >
                > True enough, when the sacrifice involves forfeiting or risking
                > one's life, but the mechanisms of group selection require that just some
                > members of the aggregate possess this tendency - enough to give the group
                > a competitive edge (often by sheer intimidation, as in the case of youth
                > gangs, terrorist organizations, and guard bees)
                >
                >

                Circa 1970s I talked to a Turkish friend. He had a letter from a friend who talked about something that happened to someone in the military during the Turkish involvement (invasion?) of Cyprus. Some poor kid tried to run and the sergeant shot him. He was laughing. They do not like cheaters.

                Why?

                In Joseph McCarthy's book, he lists the reasons. From 1722 to 1822 Turks/Ottomans lost 5 million dead, had 5 million refugees during wars; Crimea, Caucasus, Bosnia, and the Balkan wars. Circa 1930 the population was 13 million. If you multiply by 20 you get 260 million, about the size of USA. That means that the US would have lost 100 million dead and would have had 100 million refugees. During WW2 they deported the Armenians fearing the same thing would have happened.

                Someone has to do the fighting, and people die. They are convinced they have to fight to survive. It has always been a job for young males because they make the best killers.
              • Edgar Owen
                Irwin, Well I think the answer to that is rather simple. If they refuse to go to war they will be imprisoned at the very least. As a soldier, if they refuse to
                Message 7 of 24 , Aug 2, 2007
                  Irwin,

                  Well I think the answer to that is rather simple. If they refuse to go to war they will be imprisoned at the very least. As a soldier, if they refuse to advance from the trenches they will be shot by their own compatriots. It is a matter of certainly dying now or even though they will be dying a little later with high probability. Essentially it is brute force pure and simple that forces them to 'commit suicide'.

                  Edgar


                  On Aug 1, 2007, at 12:35 PM, Irwin Silverman wrote:


                  On Wed, 1 Aug 2007, Edgar Owen wrote:

                  > They die because they are sent there either by force (draftees) or
                  > brainwashing.

                  The question is what evolutionary advantage is being served by a
                  cognitive mechanism which renders individuals so susceptible to the will
                  of a leader?

                  Irwin Silverman, Ph.D.
                  Emeritus Professor of Psychology
                  York University
                  4700 Keele Street
                  Toronto ON M3J 1P3
                  Canada

                  ph - 416-736-5115 x66213
                  fax - 416-736-5814

                  >


                • Julienne
                  ... They are just the most physically strong. Their brains are not yet fully formed, and they are at a stage where they want to prove they are men . The
                  Message 8 of 24 , Aug 2, 2007
                    At 12:37 AM 8/2/2007 -0400, Haci-Murat Hubey wrote:
                    >Circa 1970s I talked to a Turkish friend. He had a letter from a friend
                    >who talked about something that happened to someone in the military during
                    >the Turkish involvement (invasion?) of Cyprus. Some poor kid tried to run
                    >and the sergeant shot him. He was laughing. They do not like cheaters.
                    >
                    >Why?
                    >
                    >In Joseph McCarthy's book, he lists the reasons. From 1722 to 1822
                    >Turks/Ottomans lost 5 million dead, had 5 million refugees during wars;
                    >Crimea, Caucasus, Bosnia, and the Balkan wars. Circa 1930 the population
                    >was 13 million. If you multiply by 20 you get 260 million, about the size
                    >of USA. That means that the US would have lost 100 million dead and would
                    >have had 100 million refugees. During WW2 they deported the Armenians
                    >fearing the same thing would have happened.
                    >
                    >Someone has to do the fighting, and people die. They are convinced they
                    >have to fight to survive. It has always been a job for young males because
                    >they make the best killers.

                    They are just the most physically strong. Their
                    brains are not yet fully formed, and they are
                    at a stage where they want to prove they are
                    "men". The governments, the rulers, the true
                    killers, play on this age/developmental
                    vulnerability, and send these young men off
                    to war to act out the mental illnesses of the
                    killer leaders.

                    As long as we keep teaching "someone has to
                    do the fighting", that will be true. But
                    that old brain attitude is dying out. We
                    do not HAVE to fight...and we do not have
                    to kill people. American soldiers and
                    Australia, sent to WW 1 and 11 didn't think
                    they had to fight or die - they went to help
                    others who were dying. The governments appeal
                    to the best in these people to encourage them
                    to sacrifice. Further, just in case they don't
                    want to chuck their lives away, there are laws
                    which punish them for refusing to fight, and
                    plenty of people ready to kill them if they
                    refuse to fight - at the very least to shame
                    them for "cowardice". Look at how this illegal
                    Bush regime cries that people who disagree with
                    this war are "not patriotic", "not supporting
                    the troops", cowards, etc. The hypocrisy and
                    lies in this can be seen in the way the
                    government itself doesn't support the troops:
                    they send them to die, they send them in
                    inadequate armour, they overwork them with
                    grossly extended "tours of duty", and they
                    give them inadequate health care - some
                    given pain killers for PTSD and sent straight
                    back into action.

                    Julienne
                  • Phil Roberts, Jr.
                    ... Here s an explanation I have offered in one of my papers ( Feelings of Worthlessness ): Explanation #2 (rationality theory): Being the blind arational
                    Message 9 of 24 , Aug 2, 2007
                      Irwin Silverman wrote:

                      > On Wed, 1 Aug 2007, Edgar Owen wrote:
                      >
                      >
                      >>They die because they are sent there either by force (draftees) or
                      >>brainwashing.
                      >
                      >
                      > The question is what evolutionary advantage is being served by a
                      > cognitive mechanism which renders individuals so susceptible to the will
                      > of a leader?
                      >

                      Here's an explanation I have offered in one of my papers
                      ('Feelings of Worthlessness'):

                      Explanation #2 (rationality theory): Being the blind
                      arational process that she is, Mother Nature instills
                      in all her creatures a sense of their own importance
                      (or of the importance of their needs) that is rationally
                      inordinate. And, as a species reaches a certain stage
                      in its rational/cultural/memetic development, its
                      members increasingly come to question this inordinancy,
                      and increasingly come to require reasons (justification)
                      for maintaining it (needs for love, purpose, moral
                      integrity, religion, immortality, etc.).


                      Presumably, one of manifestations of this need to justify
                      one's existence would be a need to be a part of something
                      greater than one's self. Also, an increased attentiveness
                      to the opinions of others, resulting from our realization
                      of our own lack of objectivity where our self-importance
                      is concerned.

                      What we dedicate today is not a memorial to war, rather it is
                      a tribute to the physical and moral courage that makes heroes
                      out of farm and city boys and inspires Americans in every
                      generation to lay down their lives for people they will never
                      meet, for ideals that make life itself worth living. (Bob
                      Dole - dedication of WWII memorial)


                      In this view, the moral ideals that underlie most human
                      conflict is not so much an adaptation as a
                      maladaptive byproduct of the evolution of rationality.
                      Is this pretty much a non-starter as far as
                      you are concerned?

                      Phil

                      www.rationology.net
                    • Irwin Silverman
                      ... Paradoxical as it may seem, the military is not a good place for angry people and, in my experience, they generally don t do well there. The military is
                      Message 10 of 24 , Aug 2, 2007
                        On Wed, 1 Aug 2007, Julienne wrote:

                        > Soldiers are often the angry ..

                        Paradoxical as it may seem, the military is not a good place for
                        angry people and, in my experience, they generally don't do well there.
                        The military is all about subjugation to the group. Angry people tend
                        to resist this. The people who join the military (including yours truly,
                        a long time ago) are mostly adolescents in the midst of an Eriksonian
                        crisis of "identity diffusion."
                        It works, too. The personal bonds and intense feelings of loyalty
                        to the group that you form can drive you to self-destruction if tested,
                        but can also be exhilarating at that time of life and unforgettable.



                        Irwin Silverman, Ph.D.
                        Emeritus Professor of Psychology
                        York University
                        4700 Keele Street
                        Toronto ON M3J 1P3
                        Canada

                        ph - 416-736-5115 x66213
                        fax - 416-736-5814
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                      • Julienne
                        ... Well, perhaps it depends on whether they are forced into the army or not. But those who tend to choose to go in, when they don t have to, and those in
                        Message 11 of 24 , Aug 2, 2007
                          At 06:39 PM 8/2/2007 -0400, Irwin Silverman wrote:

                          >On Wed, 1 Aug 2007, Julienne wrote:
                          >
                          > > Soldiers are often the angry ..
                          >
                          > Paradoxical as it may seem, the military is not a good place for
                          >angry people and, in my experience, they generally don't do well there.
                          >The military is all about subjugation to the group. Angry people tend
                          >to resist this. The people who join the military (including yours truly,
                          >a long time ago) are mostly adolescents in the midst of an Eriksonian
                          >crisis of "identity diffusion."
                          > It works, too. The personal bonds and intense feelings of loyalty
                          >to the group that you form can drive you to self-destruction if tested,
                          >but can also be exhilarating at that time of life and unforgettable.

                          Well, perhaps it depends on whether they are forced into
                          the army or not. But those who tend to choose to go in,
                          when they don't have to, and those in professional armies,
                          tend to be angry. Same with the police. People who have
                          rage issues tend to go where it ca be legitimate to play
                          out that anger.

                          Julienne
                        • Edgar Owen
                          Phil, I wouldn t agree with you that morality is a maladaptive byproduct of the evolution of rationality. What it is is the modification of individual biology
                          Message 12 of 24 , Aug 3, 2007
                            Phil,

                            I wouldn't agree with you that morality is a maladaptive byproduct of the evolution of rationality. What it is is the modification of individual biology by the social contract necessary for humans to live in large groups (towns, cities, societies). I've discussed this previously in terms of the institution of marriage, which is based on laws which are codifications of the large group morals necessary to reduce conflict and insure some degree of order and stability of large groups. In other words pure individual biology would dictate constant conflict over females which would destroy social order, and cause the group to fragment. Therefore a moral norm arises called marriage which dictates that males leave pair bonded females alone. Then laws arise to codify and enforce such moral norms and ensure punishment of those who transgress.

                            Even animals which live in small groups have some norms of morality which govern behavior within the group to preserve the group as opposed to all individuals acting only in their own biological interests.

                            Morality is not maladaptive per se. Morality is the natural functional biology of groups. So the problem is not morality per se, but only a dysfunctional morality that acts to weaken the group rather than to strengthen it.

                            As to the evolution of rationality, the important question is why it has evolved so little. Or why, when the capacity for rationality is presumably there, why it is so often ignored or submerged by irrational forces in those areas where it could make all the difference. We use it effectively when we don't step in front of buses, but we so often don't use it in matters of human or national relations.

                            Edgar

                             

                            On Aug 2, 2007, at 5:06 PM, Phil Roberts, Jr. wrote:

                            Irwin Silverman wrote:

                            > On Wed, 1 Aug 2007, Edgar Owen wrote:
                            >
                            >
                            >>They die because they are sent there either by force (draftees) or
                            >>brainwashing.
                            >
                            >
                            > The question is what evolutionary advantage is being served by a
                            > cognitive mechanism which renders individuals so susceptible to the will
                            > of a leader?
                            >

                            Here's an explanation I have offered in one of my papers
                            ('Feelings of Worthlessness'):

                            Explanation #2 (rationality theory): Being the blind
                            arational process that she is, Mother Nature instills
                            in all her creatures a sense of their own importance
                            (or of the importance of their needs) that is rationally
                            inordinate. And, as a species reaches a certain stage
                            in its rational/cultural/memetic development, its
                            members increasingly come to question this inordinancy,
                            and increasingly come to require reasons (justification)
                            for maintaining it (needs for love, purpose, moral
                            integrity, religion, immortality, etc.).

                            Presumably, one of manifestations of this need to justify
                            one's existence would be a need to be a part of something
                            greater than one's self. Also, an increased attentiveness
                            to the opinions of others, resulting from our realization
                            of our own lack of objectivity where our self-importance
                            is concerned.

                            What we dedicate today is not a memorial to war, rather it is
                            a tribute to the physical and moral courage that makes heroes
                            out of farm and city boys and inspires Americans in every
                            generation to lay down their lives for people they will never
                            meet, for ideals that make life itself worth living. (Bob
                            Dole - dedication of WWII memorial)

                            In this view, the moral ideals that underlie most human
                            conflict is not so much an adaptation as a
                            maladaptive byproduct of the evolution of rationality.
                            Is this pretty much a non-starter as far as
                            you are concerned?

                            Phil

                            www.rationology.net


                          • Irwin Silverman
                            ... I m with you on the need to identify with something larger than self. I am a great fan of Erik Erikson s analysis of the travails of adolescence in these
                            Message 13 of 24 , Aug 3, 2007
                              On Thu, 2 Aug 2007, Phil Roberts, Jr. wrote:

                              > In this view, the moral ideals that underlie most human
                              > conflict is not so much an adaptation as a
                              > maladaptive byproduct of the evolution of rationality.
                              > Is this pretty much a non-starter as far as
                              > you are concerned?



                              I'm with you on the need to identify with something larger than
                              self. I am a great fan of Erik Erikson's analysis of the travails of
                              adolescence in these terms. I don't go along, however, with the
                              "maladaptive byproduct" notion. Our so-called moral ideals are a large
                              part of our politics and competitive nature. E.O. Wilson put it this way:

                              " Human beings are consistent in their codes of honor, but
                              endlessly fickle with reference to whom the codes apply. The genius of human
                              sociality, in fact, is the ease with which alliances are formed, broken
                              and reconstituted, always with strong emotional appeals to rules believed
                              to be absolute (On Human Nature, 1978, p.163)"
                            • Phil Roberts, Jr.
                              ... Yes. His view on social development is interesting. However, I think it is misleading to refer to the emotional difficulty we often encounter in
                              Message 14 of 24 , Aug 5, 2007
                                Irwin Silverman wrote:

                                > On Thu, 2 Aug 2007, Phil Roberts, Jr. wrote:
                                >
                                >
                                >>In this view, the moral ideals that underlie most human
                                >>conflict is not so much an adaptation as a
                                >>maladaptive byproduct of the evolution of rationality.
                                >>Is this pretty much a non-starter as far as
                                >>you are concerned?
                                >
                                >
                                > I'm with you on the need to identify with something larger than
                                > self. I am a great fan of Erik Erikson's analysis of the travails of
                                > adolescence in these terms.

                                Yes. His view on social development is interesting. However, I
                                think it is misleading to refer to the emotional difficulty we
                                often encounter in adolensence as an "identity crisis". The
                                problem is not that we don't know who we are in adolesence, its
                                that we CAN'T ACCEPT who we are, i.e., of low stature, etc.
                                This is different from a great ape, in all likelihood, in that
                                in man it has an emotional component not present elsewhere in
                                nature to any significant degree, in that it is injurious
                                to the ego (self-worth) to perceive one's self as an underling.
                                Compare this to what a great ape probably experience, i.e.,
                                frustration at not being able to access physical necessities
                                with no ego/self-worth manifestations whatsoever. It is
                                a mistake, IMHO, to equate the pecking order we find in
                                nature where only physical needs are involved, with our own
                                insatiable appetite for self-significating experience in
                                which difficulties have resulted
                                in suicide being the second leading cause of death in college
                                students, at least according to a recent television report.
                                Humans are not animals, and the reason why EP is not taken
                                seriously is because too many EPers think we have to assume
                                they are in order to qualify as a scientist. There is
                                nothing scientific about the assumption that the introduction
                                of rationality into natural selection doesn't bring along
                                with it it's own dynamics.

                                > I don't go along, however, with the
                                > "maladaptive byproduct" notion. Our so-called moral ideals
                                > are a large part of our politics and competitive nature.

                                But our competitive nature has a lot more to do with
                                ego/self-worth than with physical needs. When Mary Collins
                                dumped me for another guy when I was twenty-one, I had to
                                be monitored for suicidal behavior per instructions from
                                my shrink. That makes no sense whatsoever in evolutionary
                                terms. Rather than curling up in a ball and wishing I was
                                dead, I should have had an even stronger urge to compete
                                for females. My competition with other
                                males had very little to do with my physical needs, but
                                rather with my EMOTIONAL need for evidence that I was
                                of worth, in this case in the estimation of a significant
                                other where the reflection on my self-worth was all the
                                more effected.

                                > E.O. Wilson put it this way:
                                >
                                > " Human beings are consistent in their codes of honor, but
                                > endlessly fickle with reference to whom the codes apply.
                                > The genius of human
                                > sociality, in fact, is the ease with which alliances are
                                > formed, broken
                                > and reconstituted, always with strong emotional appeals
                                > to rules believed
                                > to be absolute (On Human Nature, 1978, p.163)"
                                >

                                And yet, most of us would agree that the codes of honor of
                                the Nazi's were less honorable than those of most modern
                                cultures. There seems to be a standard over and above
                                the specific codes that guides us.

                                PR

                                www.rationology.net
                              • Irwin Silverman
                                On Sun, 5 Aug 2007, Phil Roberts, Jr. wrote: (I.S. wrote) ... Nature, 1978, p.163) ... Like all nations codes of honor, the Nazi s stressed loyalty to the
                                Message 15 of 24 , Aug 6, 2007
                                  On Sun, 5 Aug 2007, Phil Roberts, Jr. wrote:


                                  (I.S. wrote)
                                  > > E.O. Wilson put it this way:
                                  > >
                                  > > " Human beings are consistent in their codes of honor, but
                                  > > endlessly fickle with reference to whom the codes apply.
                                  > > The genius of human sociality, in fact, is the ease with which
                                  > > alliances are formed, broken and reconstituted, always with
                                  > > strong emotional appeals to rules believed to be absolute (On Human
                                  Nature, 1978, p.163)"

                                  > And yet, most of us would agree that the codes of honor of
                                  > the Nazi's were less honorable than those of most modern
                                  > cultures. There seems to be a standard over and above
                                  > the specific codes that guides us.

                                  Like all nations' codes of honor, the Nazi's stressed loyalty to
                                  the state, obedience to leadership, territorial defense, personal sacrifice,
                                  courage, etc. I believe that the Nazi example makes Wilson's core point - that
                                  so-called codes of honor can be and are regularly distorted to justify all
                                  manner of evil.
                                  I.S.
                                • Robert Karl Stonjek
                                  ... RKS: I think this is slightly naive. Firstly, the Nazis utilised a mechanism which was already widely exploited for good and evil. Police, military and
                                  Message 16 of 24 , Aug 6, 2007
                                    >
                                    > On Sun, 5 Aug 2007, Phil Roberts, Jr.
                                    wrote:
                                    >
                                    > (I.S. wrote)
                                    > > > E.O. Wilson put it this
                                    way:
                                    > > >
                                    > > > " Human beings are consistent in their
                                    codes of honor, but
                                    > > > endlessly fickle with reference to whom
                                    the codes apply.
                                    > > >     The genius of human
                                    sociality, in fact, is the ease with which
                                    > > >     alliances are formed, broken and reconstituted,
                                    always with
                                    > > >     strong emotional appeals
                                    to rules believed to be absolute (On Human
                                    >
                                            Nature, 1978, p.163)"
                                    >
                                    > > And yet, most of us would agree that the codes of honor of
                                    > > the Nazi's were less honorable than those of most modern
                                    > >
                                    cultures.  There seems to be a standard over and above
                                    > > the
                                    specific codes that guides us.
                                    >
                                    > Like all nations' codes of
                                    honor, the Nazi's stressed loyalty to
                                    > the state, obedience to
                                    leadership, territorial defense, personal sacrifice,
                                    > courage, etc. 
                                    I believe that the Nazi example makes Wilson's core point - that
                                    >
                                    so-called codes of honor can be and are regularly distorted to justify all
                                    > manner of evil.
                                    > I.S.
                                    RKS:
                                    I think this is slightly naive.  Firstly, the Nazis utilised a mechanism which was already widely exploited for good and evil.  Police, military and other services widely use it to some degree in every country that I can think of.
                                     
                                    Second, Good and Evil are relative terms and even when identified as such, an act of good can be carried out for evil purposes and an act of evil can be carried out for good purposes.
                                     
                                    As a boy scout, many years ago, we pledged allegiance to "God and the Queen".  In the USA, pledging allegiance to the flag is a common practice.  In times of war these pledges become realised in the behaviour of those who make the pledge.  In the case of the Nazis, soldiers had to pledge allegiance to Adolph Hitler.
                                     
                                    Kind Regards
                                    Robert Karl Stonjek
                                  • Phil Roberts, Jr.
                                    ... You see no moral distinction between the honor of those who sacrificed personal interests to create the Nazi death camps (e.g., the SS) and the honor of
                                    Message 17 of 24 , Aug 6, 2007
                                      Irwin Silverman wrote:

                                      > On Sun, 5 Aug 2007, Phil Roberts, Jr. wrote:
                                      >
                                      >
                                      > (I.S. wrote)
                                      >
                                      >>>E.O. Wilson put it this way:
                                      >>>
                                      >>> " Human beings are consistent in their codes of honor, but
                                      >>> endlessly fickle with reference to whom the codes apply.
                                      >>> The genius of human sociality, in fact, is the ease with which
                                      >>> alliances are formed, broken and reconstituted, always with
                                      >>> strong emotional appeals to rules believed to be absolute (On Human
                                      >
                                      > Nature, 1978, p.163)"
                                      >
                                      >
                                      >>And yet, most of us would agree that the codes of honor of
                                      >>the Nazi's were less honorable than those of most modern
                                      >>cultures. There seems to be a standard over and above
                                      >>the specific codes that guides us.
                                      >
                                      >
                                      > Like all nations' codes of honor, the Nazi's stressed loyalty to
                                      > the state, obedience to leadership, territorial defense, personal sacrifice,
                                      > courage, etc. I believe that the Nazi example makes Wilson's core point - that
                                      > so-called codes of honor can be and are regularly distorted to justify all
                                      > manner of evil.
                                      > I.S.
                                      >

                                      You see no moral distinction between the "honor" of those
                                      who sacrificed personal interests to create the Nazi death
                                      camps (e.g., the SS) and the honor of those who saw them and
                                      and the moral code that led to them as evil and in
                                      need of destruction (e.g., the liberating G.I.s)?


                                      PR
                                    • Phil Roberts, Jr.
                                      ... Distorted? Evil? This sounds like someone who is making a judgement about the code of honor of the Nazi regime based on something that transcends the
                                      Message 18 of 24 , Aug 6, 2007
                                        Irwin Silverman wrote:

                                        > On Sun, 5 Aug 2007, Phil Roberts, Jr. wrote:
                                        >
                                        >
                                        > (I.S. wrote)
                                        >
                                        >>>E.O. Wilson put it this way:
                                        >>>
                                        >>> " Human beings are consistent in their codes of honor, but
                                        >>> endlessly fickle with reference to whom the codes apply.
                                        >>> The genius of human sociality, in fact, is the ease with which
                                        >>> alliances are formed, broken and reconstituted, always with
                                        >>> strong emotional appeals to rules believed to be absolute (On Human
                                        >
                                        > Nature, 1978, p.163)"
                                        >
                                        >
                                        >>And yet, most of us would agree that the codes of honor of
                                        >>the Nazi's were less honorable than those of most modern
                                        >>cultures. There seems to be a standard over and above
                                        >>the specific codes that guides us.
                                        >
                                        >
                                        > Like all nations' codes of honor, the Nazi's stressed loyalty to
                                        > the state, obedience to leadership, territorial defense, personal sacrifice,
                                        > courage, etc. I believe that the Nazi example makes Wilson's core point - that
                                        > so-called codes of honor can be and are regularly distorted to justify all
                                        > manner of evil.
                                        > I.S.

                                        Distorted? Evil? This sounds like someone who is making a
                                        judgement about the code of honor of the Nazi regime based
                                        on something that transcends the specifics of any concrete
                                        code. But that's my point, precisely.

                                        What do you suppose that standard is, and where do you
                                        suppose it comes from?

                                        Phil
                                      • Peter Webster
                                        Here s another way to think of warfare: mutual sacrifice of children. Erich Fromm writes, Another error against which I want to caution is to ignore the
                                        Message 19 of 24 , Aug 7, 2007
                                          Here's another way to think of warfare: mutual sacrifice of children.
                                          Erich Fromm writes,

                                          "Another error against which I want to caution is to ignore the
                                          spiritual and religious meaning and motivation of actually
                                          destructive and cruel acts. Let us consider one drastic example, the
                                          sacrifice of children, as it was practiced in Canaan at the time of
                                          the Hebrew conquest and in Carthage down to its destruction by the
                                          Romans, in the third century B.C. Were these parents motivated by the
                                          destructive and cruel passion to kill their own children? Surely this
                                          is very unlikely. The story of Abraham's attempt to sacrifice Isaac,
                                          a story meant to speak against sacrifice of children, movingly
                                          emphasizes Abraham's love for Isaac; nevertheless Abraham does not
                                          waver in his decision to kill his son. Quite obviously we deal here
                                          with a religious motivation which is stronger than even the love for
                                          the child. The man in such a culture is completely devoted to his
                                          religious system, and he is not cruel, even though he appears so to a
                                          person outside this system.

                                          "It may help to see this point if we think of a modern phenomenon
                                          which can be compared with child sacrifice, that of war. Take the
                                          first World War. A mixture of economic interests, ambition, and
                                          vanity on the part of the leaders, and a good deal of stupid
                                          blundering on all sides brought about the war. But once it had broken
                                          out (or even a little bit earlier), it became a "religious"
                                          phenomenon. The state, the nation, national honor, became the idols,
                                          and both sides voluntarily sacrificed their children to these idols.
                                          A large percentage of the young men of the British and of the German
                                          upper classes which are responsible for the war were wiped out in the
                                          early days of the fighting. Surely they were loved by their parents.
                                          Yet, especially for those who were most deeply imbued with the
                                          traditional concepts, their love did not make them hesitate in
                                          sending their children to death, nor did the young ones who were
                                          going to die have any hesitation. The fact that, in the case of child
                                          sacrifice, the father kills the child directly while, in the case of
                                          war, both sides have an arrangement to kill each other's children
                                          makes little difference. In the case of war, those who are
                                          responsible for it know what is going to happen, yet the power of the
                                          idols is greater than the power of love for their children."

                                          The Anatomy of Human Destructiveness pp205-206 (1972)
                                        • Phil Roberts, Jr.
                                          ... In hindsight, I d like to withdraw this question, in that it can too easily be construed as insulting. I meant it only as a rhetorical device for drawing
                                          Message 20 of 24 , Aug 11, 2007
                                            Phil Roberts, Jr. wrote:

                                            > Irwin Silverman wrote:
                                            >

                                            >>
                                            >> Like all nations' codes of honor, the Nazi's stressed loyalty to
                                            >>the state, obedience to leadership, territorial defense, personal sacrifice,
                                            >>courage, etc. I believe that the Nazi example makes Wilson's core point - that
                                            >>so-called codes of honor can be and are regularly distorted to justify all
                                            >>manner of evil.
                                            >>I.S.
                                            >>
                                            >
                                            >
                                            > You see no moral distinction between the "honor" of those
                                            > who sacrificed personal interests to create the Nazi death
                                            > camps (e.g., the SS) and the honor of those who saw them and
                                            > and the moral code that led to them as evil and in
                                            > need of destruction (e.g., the liberating G.I.s)?
                                            >

                                            In hindsight, I'd like to withdraw this question, in that
                                            it can too easily be construed as insulting. I meant it
                                            only as a rhetorical device for drawing you (Irwin) out a
                                            bit. I apologize if it was taken any other way.

                                            Phil
                                          • Phil Roberts, Jr.
                                            ... Since Irwin has not responded, I will offer my own response to this question, one which is one of myriads of implications of the single simple premise that
                                            Message 21 of 24 , Aug 11, 2007
                                              Phil Roberts, Jr. wrote:

                                              > Irwin Silverman wrote:
                                              >>
                                              >> Like all nations' codes of honor, the Nazi's stressed loyalty to
                                              >>the state, obedience to leadership, territorial defense, personal sacrifice,
                                              >>courage, etc. I believe that the Nazi example makes Wilson's core point - that
                                              >>so-called codes of honor can be and are regularly distorted to justify all
                                              >>manner of evil.
                                              >>I.S.
                                              >
                                              >
                                              > Distorted? Evil? This sounds like someone who is making a
                                              > judgement about the code of honor of the Nazi regime based
                                              > on something that transcends the specifics of any concrete
                                              > code. But that's my point, precisely.
                                              >
                                              > What do you suppose that standard is, and where do you
                                              > suppose it comes from?
                                              >

                                              Since Irwin has not responded, I will offer my own response
                                              to this question, one which is one of myriads of implications
                                              of the single simple premise that 'feelings of worthlessness'
                                              are a maladaptive byproduct of the evolution of rationality.

                                              The standard I believe Irwin was referencing in his judgement
                                              that the Nazi code of honor is "distorted" and "evil" is
                                              an implicit theory of rationality in which 'being rational'
                                              is simply a matter of 'being objective'. And the reason why
                                              this standard transcends all concrete codes of honor, morality,
                                              etc. is simply because objectivity itself is never fully
                                              captured in a concrete belief system about values just as
                                              it is never fully captured in our scientific theories about
                                              truth (i.e., the interminable ammendability of our scientific
                                              theories).

                                              This should not be confused as either a skepticism or a
                                              relativism in which anything goes. In much the manner I assume
                                              we have "good reason to believe" that the theory of relativity
                                              constitutes an increase in cognitive objectivity relative to
                                              Newtonian mechanics, I suspect we have "good reason to believe"
                                              that the moral code of those who did
                                              everything to assure the destruction of the Nazi death camps
                                              constitues an increase in valuative objectivity relative to
                                              the moral code that created them. But I think we should also
                                              accept that this relatively more objective moral code is not
                                              itself the culmination of morality, but merely a stage in our
                                              ongoing discovery of what morality/rationality "is".

                                              Phil

                                              www.rationology.net
                                            • Irwin Silverman
                                              ... Well, it drew me out ... Apology accepted.
                                              Message 22 of 24 , Aug 12, 2007
                                                On Sat, 11 Aug 2007, Phil Roberts, Jr. wrote:

                                                > Phil Roberts, Jr. wrote:
                                                >
                                                > > Irwin Silverman wrote:

                                                > >>
                                                > >> Like all nations' codes of honor, the Nazi's stressed loyalty to
                                                > >>the state, obedience to leadership, territorial defense, personal sacrifice,
                                                > >>courage, etc. I believe that the Nazi example makes Wilson's core point - that
                                                > >>so-called codes of honor can be and are regularly distorted to justify all
                                                > >>manner of evil.
                                                > >>I.S.

                                                > >
                                                > > You see no moral distinction between the "honor" of those
                                                > > who sacrificed personal interests to create the Nazi death
                                                > > camps (e.g., the SS) and the honor of those who saw them and
                                                > > and the moral code that led to them as evil and in
                                                > > need of destruction (e.g., the liberating G.I.s)?
                                                > >
                                                >
                                                > In hindsight, I'd like to withdraw this question, in that
                                                > it can too easily be construed as insulting. I meant it
                                                > only as a rhetorical device for drawing you (Irwin) out a
                                                > bit. I apologize if it was taken any other way.

                                                Well, it drew me out ...
                                                Apology accepted.
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