Is it in the genes?

Posted by tkstone 2 years, 9 months ago to Culture
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Is it possible that philosophical thought can influenced by genetics? Are some predisposed to want to submit to the collective as a survival technique? I can't think of another explaination at the moment. Is this failing genetic experiment about to fail once and for all.


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  • Posted by DrZarkov99 2 years, 9 months ago
    The question of nature (genetic) vs nurture (learned behavior) has been, and continues to be explored, researched, and pontificated upon by legions of scientists and philosophers, without a definite determination. Any answer to your question here will admittedly be one of those pontifications based on personal experience. However, that doesn't mean I'll pass on the opportunity to present my anecdotal observations.

    Humans are social animals, which means we perform better by cooperating with others, both of our species and other social animals. The exceptions to this instinctive preference are called sociopaths, who lack a sense of belonging or empathy. For those (thankfully!) rare individuals, other living creatures are merely objects to be exploited for the benefit of themselves. Sociopaths may be physically destructive, like serial killers who regard the agonies of their victims as entertainment, or they may be socially destructive, joining social structures simply for the pleasure of destroying them.

    Other than the sociopaths, there do seem to be instinctive stratifications of behavior among humans. Some are less fearful of change, exhibiting more individualistic attitudes, while others are drawn to seek stability and security. There are "alphas" among both of these groups, who tend to gather followers, though the leaders who promise stability seem to end up with a larger following, which might indicate the change-seekers are a smaller population.

    That the risk-takers make up a smaller portion of the human population shouldn't be a surprise, since increased risk results in earlier and more frequent mortality. Does this mean that we are destined to become herd animals, devoid of the risk takers?

    My opinion is that risk-taking is a necessary genetic component for species survival. Otherwise we would have faced destructive famine, disease, and massive impact from natural events. I also think that the percentage of risk takers remains small, because too many individuals with looser ties to the community would destroy the social bonds that make us a (so far) successful species.

    Long-winded response, but I think it indicates that Objectivists will always find themselves in the minority. I don't consider that a bad thing, as there's a fine line between risk-taking as productive, and risk-taking as destructive.
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    • Posted by 2 years, 9 months ago
      Is seems a societies ability to leave it's risk takers alone may be an indicator of success. I agree we will probably always be a minority. I think that was the genius of our founders. Respect the minority.
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      • Posted by DrZarkov99 2 years, 9 months ago
        Tribalist societies tend to discourage risk-taking for the sake of long term stability. From our view as Western individualists, tribalists are stagnant, but for the majority of the human population that stability has a seductive quality. Will that be the Achilles' heel for Western republics and democracies?
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  • Posted by mia767ca 2 years, 9 months ago
    the nurture vs nature quandary...i have had 68 years to observe and think about it...conclusion....we are all wired differently...

    i was an instructor pilot in the Air Force, then American Airlines...40 years experience...

    i also teach students how to trade the stock market...

    ...and i am left-handed, but was taught to bat right-handed and golf right-handed...while i throw left-handed...

    do i think better due to an genetic disposition...let me say what i have learned...

    i can show a stock chart to 100 potential traders...and the outcome looks very similar to a bell curve regression analysis...in short...the middle can learn to trade successfully if they develop a trading plan and have the discipline to follow it...the bottom 5% cannot seem to recognize patterns and trade successfully...the top 5% get it right away and are successful most of the time...they "see" the trades immediately...i have questioned them as to what or how they "see" it and they cannot tell me...it just makes sense to them...(i am not one of the top 5%, but have the discipline to follow a checklist - hence why i survived 40 years of cheating death as my takeoffs still equal my landings)...

    i also choose to be a pilot due to my desire to fly and my left-handedness...it is a right-handed world and we lefties live shorter lives...on average 5-7 years less...a captain flies from the left seat and the throttles are in the center of the cockpit and the yoke is handled by the left hand by the captain and the other yoke on the right side is handled by the right hand by the co-pilot...i definitely flew better in the left seat, but was competent from the right seat as well...possibly from being taught to bat and golf right-handed???...

    in the military there were two primary training jets...the T-37 and the T-38...

    the T-37 is a side-by-side...with the student in the left seat and the instructor in the right...

    the T-38 is a front/back dual cockpit with the throttles on the left side and the yoke in the center...so you ended up flying with your right hand...front or back...

    as a student you spend 6 months in the T-37, followed by 6 months in the T-38...if you mastered both airplanes you moved on to fighters, cargo, bombers, or whatever...

    out of a class of 72, i finished the T-37 at the top of the class...i fell to 12th at the end of the T-38 phase of training...

    in time, i learned to fly extremely well from either seat in the military or civilian aircraft...and so far i have avoided the right-handed world bias and stay alive...

    i like the nurture vs nature side of the argument, but have learned how to apply myself to any and all situations in the classroom and how to walk without drooling...i have always been perplexed with talking with others who just do not "see" the futility of the "god"argument...why do i "get it" right away and it makes perfect sense to me...and others cannot ...???
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    • Posted by KnowledgeisaBurden 2 years, 9 months ago
      Wonderful explanation from experience using tools as a method. Have taught folks to do various tasks, some complex some simple, seems there is a incoming mind set of some that inhibits the absorption of information. If they can wipe the chalkboard clean for this particular task they learn (most of them). Its the ones with some sort of internal struggle to be contrary, why this is set like cement, have not figured that out yet. You could teach me to trade anytime' Always wanted to know that
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      • Posted by mia767ca 2 years, 9 months ago
        if you want to learn to trade start with "How to Make Money in Stocks" by William J. O'Neil, who just retired...make sure to get the 4th edition with the 100 extra pages of charts...when you are ready i can start you on the weekday electronic business news...when you have developed a trading plan you can open a paper trading account (free) with ThinkorSwim brokerage house...there is no rush...the trade you missed on friday will be there on monday, next week, next month, next year, and next forever...my email is: mia767ca@aol.com
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  • Posted by  $  Olduglycarl 2 years, 9 months ago
    I would say No, Your language, your culture, your upbringing, education and your experiences not to mention one's choices. will determine one's propensity for consciousness, conscience and the attainment of a mind.

    You might say that each of us has that same potential "to be" or "not to be", baring any severe physiological abnormalities. Genetic predispositions or possibilities are not a precursor for behavior or ideological disposition. I once ask that question, (in my book) "is it genetic", but after much research and personal observations, all but the worst of cases are able to overcome and gain a conscience and become a value producing or creating, even if its a learned experience, (brain only). It would seem that choice to do so is the main driver of this process. Even bicameral man had the ability to choose. Awareness is always Key.

    Even prior to progressiveism, there was a stark difference in cultural behavior across the world. Even in today's world there are cultures that have yet to ascent into conscious awareness and self inspection of the individuals behavior. They are simply not aware that there are other choices.

    Our forefathers witnessed that ascension with the aid of civilization, language, education and the shear will of individuals that came from primitive cultures.
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  • Posted by  $  Stormi 2 years, 9 months ago
    I think it has to be in part years of brainwahsing via government schools, who push entitlement and actually weaken children. They become paarents and set the same example they learned. Then they have endless agencies who must save people to ensure their continued budgets. Politicians must have sheep to give handouts to in return for votes. Our country hs been infiltrated by socialists and communists, goig back to the 50s and 60s who predicted they would crush us from within. We fell for Earth Day, which ironically is Vladimir Lenin's birthday, think they didn't laugh at that stupidity? NO, I think it is not genetics, but terminal falling IQ.
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    • Posted by 2 years, 9 months ago
      Either way I don't see us pulling out of this nosedive.
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      • Posted by  $  Stormi 2 years, 9 months ago
        More and more, I fear you are right. Student test scores are falling, IQ is dropping, how can we expect reasoned actions? Today I read an article about Millennials being the best educated group, yet they live at home. College has become the new high school, where brainwashing is more important than academics. How do you turn that around?
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  • Posted by Herb7734 2 years, 9 months ago
    It may be true. All my cousins are steaming libs and so were their parents and grandparents. Only one sane one in the bunch and he was adopted. And add to that, the horror I had to endure when I just found out my granddaughter is a lib. She even went to the DNC in Philly. My BW has cautioned me to not "get into it" with her. This is worse than a Stephan King story.
    I'd pray for her soul, but who'd listen? I'm an atheist.
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  • Posted by  $  blarman 2 years, 9 months ago
    Influenced? Perhaps. Determined? Not if you believe in free will. There have been too many people who throughout history have defied their physiological constraints to become great to justify such. Ludwig von Beethoven, Stephen Hawking, Helen Keller just to name a few.
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  • Posted by dbhalling 2 years, 9 months ago
    No. Our defining characteristic as an animal is our ability to reason. The very nature of humans is that we do not pre-programmed knowledge that is what allows us to live in so many different environments. However it also allows us to choose death.
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    • Posted by  $  Maritimus 2 years, 9 months ago
      Hello, DBH,

      Somebody marked you down. I thought that doing so was grossly unfair. I compensated.

      For the benefit of the others, I would like to point out that the most important benefits from reason are the consequences of the fact that in every action we have a choice.

      Anybody who has worked on development of new or improved products knows that the innovations involved require choices based on only limited ability to forecast outcomes for those choices. Every one of those decisions represents a risk taken.

      To put it in another way, the main benefits of reason come from ability to minimize the risks within a world of omnipresent uncertainty and total inability to control all the variables active in any given choice situation.

      I do think that cognitive ability of any given individual has a genetic component at its root. The history proves, without a doubt it seems to me, that great minds existed from the earliest recorded time, and most probably before. On the other hand, study any "dynasty" of an originator with a great mind and you will see that a great mind is not truly inheritable.

      To choose death, I think, is a fundamental individual right. The social order which prohibits it is not fully reason based.

      I ended up more verbose than I intended. One thought followed another.

      Have a great day.

      Sincerely,
      Maritimus
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      • Posted by dbhalling 2 years, 9 months ago
        Thanks - in general I do not worry about being marked down.

        "To choose death, I think, is a fundamental individual right. The social order which prohibits it is not fully reason based." Agreed.

        "The main benefits of reason come from ability to minimize the risks within a world of omnipresent uncertainty."

        I think that is one benefit. But we have actual knowledge also. For instance, I can exactly define how much weight a boat can carry.
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        • Posted by  $  Maritimus 2 years, 9 months ago
          Agreed. That is what I call computational ability of our minds.

          Have you ever read "Where Mathematics Came From?" Lots of fun.

          P.S. Marking down, by definition, does not bother me also. But unfairness does.

          Best.
          Maritimus
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  • Posted by minorwork 2 years, 9 months ago
    Without the genetically created brain there would be NO thought at all. But your "submitting to the collective as a survival technique" question I'd put in the caterofy in which evolutionary psychologists work or rather struggle to relate specifics of the DNA alleles to the behavior you are speaking about.

    "Evolutionary psychology is a theoretical approach to psychology that attempts to explain useful mental and psychological traits—such as memory, perception, or language—as adaptations, i.e., as the functional products of natural selection." ~ https://www.sciencedaily.com/terms/ev...
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    • Posted by  $  MichaelAarethun 2 years, 9 months ago
      tht's nice when it gets beyond theoretical attempts let me know. Until then I'll stick with known facts
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      • Posted by minorwork 2 years, 9 months ago
        What is the base theory upon which you interpret your facts? Neurology is what I'm figuring is the base. I'm not thinking you will say your base is philosophical thought as I've never heard of how that is measured, in what units, or by what calibrated means and calibrated to what? So it must be genetics which is where my base theory finds its origins thru time binding of behaviors in the architectural structure and properties of the brain. If I'm warm with what you are meaning as "fact" which I think should be based on physics ultimately, then chemistry, then biology and up thru behavior then I'm interested either in confirmation of my vision of your thinking or invalidation of it with justification either way.

        Be clear that I am no fan of the paradigm of evolutionary psychology but am in seeing value in the researchers gathering of data. Seems you find the correlation of data is being done thru philosophical guided correlations influenced by evolved genetics. The challenge is finding the system of organizing behaviors with the most pragmatic value to our battle against PSED (Pain, Suffering, and Early Death.)
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  • Posted by Hot_Black_Desiato 2 years, 9 months ago
    Let's face it. People in general are pretty lazy, and pretty selfish, and not in the good way.

    People can be conditioned to become lazy. When hard work is continually punished and demonized, Laziness and lawlessness are continually rewarded, society in general will follow the same path of water and money. the path of least resistance.

    I forget where I hear this quote, but it seem to be almost a law of behavior.

    "When the pain of change is less than the pain of maintaining the status quo, you will change."

    Seems people are pain/pleasure driven in almost all cases. When you get hungry enough you will work in some way or another, but as long as government continues to promote benefits for the lazy and unproductive, this problem will continue to get worse. Productive people are quickly quitting and just going on public assistance, I estimate just because this is their way of "going on strike" and getting back some of what was taken from them by force in the first place.
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  • Posted by  $  MichaelAarethun 2 years, 9 months ago
    I would suggest - but like tkstone I don't know - the answer is all the lines of insufficient potty training.

    I think is not I know. Those five words describe the part of the difference between subjectivism and objectivism. The results of following the Second Law. One never sees fudge words.

    "Could genetics be resonsible for influencing philosophical thought?"

    A: I don't know have any studies been done on the subject? You don't know? Easy let's do a Google takes about five seconds

    Do Genes Influence Personality? | Psychology Today
    https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/...
    Jul 11, 2013 - We all know intuitively that genes influence personality. The problem is developing the right paradigm that can accurately answer the question ...
    Do your genes determine your entire life? | Julian Baggini | Science ...
    www.theguardian.com â€ș Science â€ș Genetics
    Mar 19, 2015 - But isn't all that thinking things over irrelevant if our final decision ... And doesn't the whole edifice of personal responsibility collapse if ... Genes would help us uncover the secrets of all kinds of ills, from the psychological to the physical. ..... of free will by Joseph L Price (a scientist, not a philosopher) as “the ...
    Character traits determined genetically? Genes may hold the key to a ...
    https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases...
    May 16, 2012 - Genes play a greater role in forming character traits -- such as self-control, decision making or sociability -- than was previously thought, new research suggests. ... say that genetically influenced characteristics could well be the key to ... the genetic influence was strongest on a person's sense of self-control.

    Notice most of these follow the line of my second paragraph. On reflection I'll stick with the reason in paragraph one. It's as good as any other - so far.

    Meaning liike Ayn Rand and Evolution I put it on the shelf. My time iis prioritized. But some other objectivist may wish to pursue the nature of potty training.

    At present the answer to the question as posed is Yes. As me Mum used to say 'All things are possible in this best of all possible worlds.'

    TK has articulated a subject of interest.

    Explained why and stated his current limitation. Sound beginning. Myself i would look to see the results of the failing genetic experiment if knew where to look. Since google couldn't help we're going to need a more definitive connection to continue.

    Until then neither explanation can be evaluated much less accepted.
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  • Posted by CircuitGuy 2 years, 9 months ago
    I think we're adapted to distrust other "clans" and be altruistic toward our in-group kin. Genes for with the right balance of self-interest and concern for our kin (related genes) were fruitful and multiplied. This does not mean putting others' interest ahead of our own is a virtue. I think we have to put what we think is right for us first. If we naturally desire to give something to someone, say to give our kids some advantage at our own expense, we should do what we think is right, use reason, and not second-guess our true desires just because of their origin. In other words, maybe I know selective pressures adapted me to want things for my kids more than for me. The fact that evolutionary adaptations made me this way does not depreciate what I truly want.

    What would be wrong IMHO would be telling my kids, or anyone, I made a lot of sacrifices for you. I was just doing what I wanted. Unless you willingly made a contract or agreement with me of some sorts, no one is in my debt, and I'm not in their debt.
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    • Posted by 2 years, 9 months ago
      I think trust is the key. How big a group will we each comfortably trust seems to be the variable I am looking for.
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      • Posted by CircuitGuy 2 years, 9 months ago
        In voluntary trades, trust usually plays some role. If even a tiny fraction of contracts had to be enforced by courts, the economy would break down. As you say, members of a large group cannot all trust one another, but they can find trading partners whom they trust.
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      • Posted by  $  Olduglycarl 2 years, 9 months ago
        The leftest philosophy seems to be the most dangerous, especially at high levels...the group will be the first to turn on you.
        Examples can be seen with business association with politicians and government only to be used as a scape goat or just rat on them to save face.
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  • Posted by Zenphamy 2 years, 9 months ago
    All cognitive functions are affected by genetics as well as environmental triggers and influences. We talk a lot about reason being volitional, and it is for those that can and will, but there are multitudes of human kind that can't.

    The fact is that all humans are not born equal and continued support of them only makes it worse for those that have the abilities to reason. Either someone that can and will reason has to support them or the gov't has to, by stealing from the rest of us.

    But the altruists, the religionists, and the subjectivist amongst us will continue to say, 'Oh, for the children.'
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    • Posted by minorwork 2 years, 9 months ago
      It's amazing to me that this country (USA) had its government developers using the radical philosophy that gave the idealist vision of human rights under the law that brooked no distinction between class, race, creed, or sex. Spinoza and John Locke. IMO, this foreshadows Rand's objectivism putting so much emphasis on individual equality of opportunity to reap what is sowed as the highest morality of responsibility to self giving the highest regard for others with objectivist ideals.
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  • Posted by lrshultis 2 years, 9 months ago
    Collectivism has failed several times for humans since their appearance on Earth depending on what conditions were and how Homo sapiens sapiens was able to survive as a subspecies. Built in is a tendency toward being a social animal and the ability for reason, language, and eventually conceptual thought about the natural world. That makes a human brain a universal bio-computer which can create philosophies and religions depending upon the previous discoveries or lack of discoveries about nature. Since it needs to recognize relationships and patterns to survive, it can produce mathematics which studies relationships and methods of measuring, categorizing, and presenting them to other minds.
    I would say that genes have little to do with it other than producing protein for biochemistry of the body. The rest is just luck of being there when some good idea or discovery comes along.
    Collectively it takes centuries and millions of humans to have enough discovery just to learn to feed everyone enough for survival of enough people to keep off extinction. Probably trillions of discoveries had to be made just to get to today with billions of humans surviving fairly easily.
    The only apparent gene driven collectivism is the social animal from evolutionary actions.
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  • Posted by  $  Thoritsu 2 years, 9 months ago
    Intelligence is partly genetic. I suspect an element of inquisitiveness is as well. Both are necessary for a philosophic basis outside various cultural dogma. Therefore, some portion is in the genes. No assertion as to the proportion. No question upbringing and surroundings are a huge factor. Even more a factor in the less intelligent and inquisitive.
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  • Posted by  $  CBJ 2 years, 9 months ago
    "Is it possible that philosophical thought can influenced by genetics?"

    Indirectly, yes. The degree of one's reasoning ability is influenced by one's genetics, and a person with greater reasoning ability is more likely to choose a sound philosophy and less likely to fall for the arguments of those touting inferior or evil philosophies.
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  • Posted by  $  allosaur 2 years, 9 months ago
    No. I have four brothers. I'm sure we were sired by the same father but it would be hard for an outsider to tell both looking at us and talking to us individually.
    Our beliefs vary. Only one is a lib and only one (another) returned to being a Catholic.
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  • Posted by dwlievert 2 years, 9 months ago
    To the extent one accepts "genetics" and/or "environment" as causal agents responsible for ones behavior, you invalidate any notion of responsibility and therefore morality.
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    • Posted by 2 years, 9 months ago
      Just because genetics causes a certain response to a stimulus does not negate responsibility.
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      • Posted by dwlievert 2 years, 9 months ago
        Of course it does not. There are those however, who, starting from the fact that it may (this has yet to be scientifically demonstrated), nonetheless wish to use such possibilities as the basis for explaining and then excusing behavior.
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  • Posted by wiggys 2 years, 9 months ago
    do you think if Ayn Rand had any children and gave them out for adoption never to see them again her genes would have created a person with her philosophical capacity? I doubt it!
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  • Posted by LibertyBelle 2 years, 9 months ago
    Knowledge is either possible to man, or it is not.
    If it is not, there is no point in discussing anything.
    If it is, it is silly to attribute one's knowledge to
    genetics, or to claim "inborn ideas" or anything of
    that sort. Leonard Peikoff deals clearly with the
    idea of "polylogism" in his book The Ominous
    Parellels
    .
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  • Posted by KnowledgeisaBurden 2 years, 9 months ago
    Kids learn what they live...Generational stupidity has taken us this far....
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    • Posted by  $  puzzlelady 2 years, 9 months ago
      I don't know why you were marked down. I've put it back because your statement is a fine, concise capturing of the essence of how humans learn.
      Genetics--the "selfish gene"--is the blueprint for the physical body, the hardware of life. It includes what metaphorically is the human computer's operating system—a brain with the capacity to absorb and integrate received sensory input. The input—the memes, the matrix of energy that constitutes a being’s received impressions, sensory data, experiental awareness—from day 1 of its life goes to build a being’s knowledge base, value appraisal, even personality.

      The genes only determine how the machinery receives and processes the data. The genes alone cannot, however, affect the way the environment influences the mental, psychological and psycho-epistemological development of an individual. That is in the purview of the memes. Memes have a gravitational force of their own as to which ideas and values are most self-assertive and take control over an individual's mind. They may even try to subvert an individual’s power of Reason.
      Whether an individual becomes independent or desirous of communal homogeneity depends on which memes gain ascendancy from parents, teachers and received knowledge. It is said that by age 5 a child has learned everything it will ever need for societal coexistence. The parents will instill obedience, getting along, cooperating, doing what others want—all the social graces that require an individual to suppress ego, whims, instant gratification, even self-serving desires, as a trade-off for survival. So it’s the memes, not the genes, that build philosophical thought.

      And it takes volitional consciousness—Reason and objectivity—to choose and internalize rational values that will eliminate emotional conflicts and contradictions, since memes operate on the emotional side of the human psyche to maintain their control. The problem is that not everyone can turn on their volition with the practiced ease of an Ayn Rand. We could say that volition—free will—is a special kind of meme, a “meta-meme”, that can be turned on by the example, guidance and inspiration of those who have it.

      What the genes provide is an “app” for perceiving reality. Beyond that it takes human software--a process of critical thought, abstract reasoning--to validate the hodgepodge of received impressions and competing values. And some memes, like religious beliefs, have an iron-clad defense against being deleted or modified. They are well compared to viruses, which are invaders, not protectors, of the system.
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      • Posted by 2 years, 9 months ago
        Thank you PL for your thoughts. One reason I suspect that genetics has more impact than you suggest is simply based on simple observations of kids. It has amazed me how certain traits, ie. attention to detail, calmness during stressful times, can be expressed in alternating generations. My middle son is almost a carbon copy of my late father in law. He rarely saw him growing up, (900 mile drive) but he is definitely his grandson. I am not saying genetics is it, but rather a powerful aspect.
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      • Posted by KnowledgeisaBurden 2 years, 9 months ago
        Enjoy your thought process' Most of the time I also think too much and from experience keep most to myself. From doing this,I tend to compile, formulating into the most concise use of words. Take there 'tailgaters' when there are 25 or more cars in front of you, yet this driver is tailgating, causing themselves a panic situation, self induced tension. They pass only to tailgate the next person. Assessing the variables have compiled to 'Selfish-Impatient-Distracted'. Do you think this is close to the mind set the drivers are displaying?
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  • Posted by term2 2 years, 9 months ago
    I dont think its genes. There seems to be some predisposition towards statism built into human nature, but I think it comes from lack of rational thinking (which is not automatic). No thinking, and we revert to emotions (god knows what those are when disconnected from thinking).
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    • Posted by minorwork 2 years, 9 months ago
      Is rational thinking not a brain function? A function which, though very complex, based on physics, chemistry, biologic hierarchies that having ancient origins influences on the brain's structure results eventually into a subjective categorization that can't be physically measured called philosophical thought.
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