Monday, October 04, 2010

Mechanistic materialists reduce the possibilities for human achievement

There's a strange dichotomy that goes along with a lot of the scientific materialism that's out there in American culture: on the one hand, we hear that we're more like animals than ever in our behavior and in how our social relationships are shaped by that behavior, on the other hand we communicate with each other through increasingly high tech means that depend on integrated circuits and on science that animals would never be able to formulate. There seems to be a disconnect. Love is reduced to oxytocin and sociobiology reduces group behavior to evolutionary adaptation based on animal drives, and yet we live in cities and we drive cars. To me what this means is that the mechanistic materialists out there and the sociobiologists are missing some essential part of the human experience. If what they say about us, that we're just sophisticated machines and that we're just more well developed animals, was really the last word on the human experience I don't think that we would have produced half of what we see around us on a daily basis. In fact it's jarring sometimes to read about how things like current trends of behavior within romantic relationships derive from ancient evolutionary adaptation from a magazine put together with the aid of computers running sophisticated software, that depends on digitalized photos, and that has used sophisticated offset printing presses to produce it, as well as a network of transportation and distribution to get it into my hands. What's missing is human freedom and the human capability to both collectively and individually determine our own destinies outside of the limits of biology. Economics and social structure play a role in attempting to limit human freedom, but unlike biology they're not set in stone, and neither are the existence of these constraints incompatible with the manifestation of the complex world we see around us and that we actually live in. People may have fantasies about cave men living in the past adapting to life through instincts to hunt, and having their family structures determined by that, but the same people are content to live in the modern world.

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