Central authority and planning is the hallmark of socialism. Artists are now losing the license to practice their art in Cuba. Apparently a free expression of one’s creativity is a threat to the proletariat.

Mr. Exposito has recently lost his license to do art in Cuba. Why do communists always resort to restricting freedom? The answer is that they believe that the rest of us suffer from “false consciousness”, i.e. we do not know what is good for ourselves. We are the enemy of the people. But socialists and communists have true consciousness because that is what Marx said!! However, freedom that can be taken away at the whim of a bureaucrat is not freedom, but the beginnings of slavery.

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“It is very likely that never in human history have there been as many treatises, essays, theories and analyses focused on culture as there are today. This fact is even more surprising given that culture, in the meaning traditionally ascribed to the term, is now on the point of disappearing. And perhaps it has already disappeared, discreetly emptied of its content, and replaced by another content that distorts its earlier meaning.” Mario Vargas Llosa, 2016. (https://lithub.com/mario-vargas-llosa-how-global-entertainment-killed-culture/) From ‘Notes on the Death of Culture. Essays on Spectacle and Society.’

Any ignorance, and hence confusion, regarding the invisible forces of ‘culture’ would be an obvious source of our many social misfortunes and political misadventures. Direct and indirect references to culture are continuously being made in many contexts, leading inevitably to the question: Is there anything in society that is not cultural?  Contrary to popular belief, it is being recognized that all of our public activities contribute to ‘culture’, even the vast numbers of trivial pursuits that set the stage for more interesting and controversial ones. We can therefore legitimately ask, do we ever really know what we are talking about when we reference the content of our culture, most of which is generated via social interactions? There probably was a naive time when many thought that they did, or at least the educated ones, the few that could read. Even today, politicians and experts fervently work at persuading us that their view of the world is ‘true’, that they hold the key to happiness, and that we should follow them. One should not expect these ambitious public actors, our so-called ‘thought leaders’, to be sufficiently sensitive or honest to admit to the limits of their understanding. The possibility that the average Jan or Jo is as aware of their surroundings as their supposed superiors never occurs to them, apparently. In this they are pretty much like everyone else, accepting the inevitable reality of hierarchical social groups. (Jan and Jo are indeed ignorant, but so are we all, as we shall see.)

It is surprising to note, however, that although the modern concept of culture is such an important part of our conversation, it has only been around since the mid 19th century. The first formal definition, and still one of the most useful, is by Edward B Tylor (1), the ‘first anthropologist’: “Culture or civilization, taken in its wide ethnographic sense, is that complex whole which includes knowledge, belief, art, morals, law, custom, and any other capabilities and habits acquired by man as a member of society”. Inherent in this definition is an emphasis on the better aspects of our behavior: Primitive Culture: Researches into the Development of Mythology, Philosophy, Religion, Language, Art, and Custom (1871).

At the same time, ca. 1871, Matthew Arnold (2) published Culture and Anarchy wherein a highly aspirational and moralistic view of the goals of society as a whole was articulated, stressing our common humanity. In his universalist view Arnold held common ground with Tylor, but there were many dissenters right from the beginning. In the early 20th century, Franz Boas thus gained much support for his particularist view of many cultures, a view that is consistent with what most intuitively accept today. Contemporary evolutionists, however, seem to prefer the view that all social information passed on to others constitutes culture. (3) Thus the fields of sociology and anthropology have not settled into anything resembling a consensus. Today the very concept of culture is being challenged, battered perhaps by all the incomplete renderings and weak defenses of it. (4,5)

It seems clear then that a robust, reproducible and testable concept of culture would be an essential basis from which to develop a better understanding of the incredibly complex relations of humankind. Ignorance and incomplete understanding, especially about self and others, must necessarily produce irrational systems of coexistence since we are self-governing individuals, tasked by fate with having to arrange increasingly complex societies. But countering ignorance and confusion is hard work and success is not guaranteed. Wars, genocides and mass exploitations are still upon us. Opportunities for improvement all around are therefore great: reducing our inhumanity towards each other; providing for a greater sense of purpose and meaning in the lives of all 8+ billion; inducements for all to be the best that they can be; perhaps most important, we might improbably even acquire the tools by which to guide our future global culture in a more sustainable direction – virtuous evolution!

It would thus seem necessary to find the keys in the present so that we may solve the problems of the future. The fact that we are here and can talk about these questions means that we have been successful so far. The task appears immense, yet there is reason for optimism.

The Components of Culture.

  1. Global Culture. This is the ineffable totality, the natural ‘culture medium’, within which all people exist, actively participating in Darwin’s “war of nature”, surviving as best we can. (6) Simply put, it is the Web of Everything: all that is publicly displayed or articulated by all living human beings across the globe. In reality, (i) it also includes all the diverse behaviors, good, bad or indifferent, and all products and possessions, including tools and technologies, of all presently existing humans. (An alloverse*, as opposed to the individual idioverse of Rosenzweig.) (7) (ii) It also includes all the currently accessed stores of historical information about what had been known, thought, taught, observed, produced and evinced by humanity as a whole: physical and electronic records, books, articles, historic artifacts, rules, habits, addictions, (mis)understandings, (mis)classifications, (im)moralities, trades, disciplines, etc, etc. (iii) It also includes all the features of nature in the different localities where humans operate, now extending to the bottom of the ocean, miles underground, and to the outer limits of the solar system. Trillions of galaxies have very recently become ‘visible’ outside of our own. (iv) It constantly changes from moment to moment, in ways and at a pace that far exceed our individual or collective faculties of apprehension and comprehension. (v) While people, their thoughts, behaviors, artifacts and environments are real, the vast body of information and knowledge that is physically transmitted is virtual – i.e., strictly speaking, transmitted signals do not constitute knowledge. If and when such signals are captured by the sense organs of a person, they are processed in the body of that person, mostly within the brain, recreating a real instantiation of knowledge and awareness, albeit as an indirect, unique, approximate representation in a mind. So, while culture is public, meaning is private – a fundamental dualism that affects all our deliberations. There are also many physical limitations to our ability to capture signals. The statement that neutrinos are passing through my body is an interesting shareable thought, it is a phenomenon (publicly signaled statement) that we can discuss. Actual neutrinos that routinely pass through my body without any interaction, are undetectable signals, not phenomena. The alloverse of cultural information, while immense, thus represents only a very small fraction of all the signals in the physical or material universe. To put all this another way:

Total Global Human Culture is that supercomplex (8) whole consisting of the totality of all phenomena as observed by everyone in nature and society. This includes reports of phenomena communicated via language or emotion. Nature, human behaviors and artifacts, including all technologies, are the predominant sources of such phenomena, defined here as all events and structures perceptible by humankind. Global culture is therefore synonymous with ‘observable external reality’. Every human being is continuously contributing to its maintenance and construction.

  1. Effective Culture. The set of all those specific phenomena of global culture that a person, due to their unique situation, has been directly exposed to and has interacted with, learned from, and responded to, up until the present moment of their life. This represents our ‘little’ corner within the whole totality of global culture. We directly learn from it and are continuously shaped by it in a seamless dynamic process that to varying degrees becomes somewhat more self-directed and selective with the passage of time (wisdom). Even just observing the routine activities of people passing by teaches us something about the community in which we happen to be. Most importantly, in terms of our personal development, each child starts learning, from the moment of their first breath, directly from a completely new and strange sensory and phenomenal world composed mostly of family and its social circle, including teachers. This represents an extraordinary diverse and unpredictable source of information; a private set of ‘knowledge’. There are even suggestions that fetuses start learning to recognize a mother’s particular language while still inside the womb. Some ‘highly cultured persons’ acquire and become widely known for prodigious amounts of socially interesting information, but all of us directly participate in shaping our immediate environment. Even so, fame apparently amounts to nothing but a short-lived vanity in most cases. Alas, this process of learning, creativity and teaching does not seem to gravitate toward a meaningful consensus or recognizable goal. Rather, differing perspectives and disagreements multiply leading to more confusion, even chaos. Despite our extraordinarily productive brains in which hundreds of billions of cells, mostly neurons, are constantly processing ‘information’, we can only partially sample and internally process a small fraction of the whole external cultural reality, that global universe of all cultural phenomena. Therefore, it is thus impossible to accurately describe the whole at any moment in time, or even any part of it. Hence the term supercomplex is used in the abstract definition of the whole.

Effective social culture is the unique sum of all the phenomena within global culture that the life cycle brings a person into direct contact with, providing an evolving supply of learning experiences, feedbacks and opportunities.

  1. Personal Theory of Culture. Each person has their own, more or less incomplete, mind-view, intuition or ‘theory’ of what culture is, whether they call it that or not. (Prior to the 19th century it was usually called by another name.) This is often what is being referred to when we now talk about ‘our culture’. It is an individual ‘subjective/objective’ intuitive synthesis of the milieu in which they act out their biological and social imperatives. It is based on our personal effective culture (personal and social history) and shaped by our own unique biologic features – our idioverse (Rosenzweig). This is akin to Theory of Mind. A theory/intuition/concept is automatically conjured up in our minds when encountering the thought of society, or related questions such as duties, expectations, choices, actions, meanings, purposes, rewards, punishments, pleasures, and what individuals and groups are up to. This mental construct is the more or less coherent product of all personal experience and can therefore be expected to change with time or situation. It is always personal and subjective, and is variably but incompletely held in common with others, most closely with family and friends. The meaning and use of the word has drastically changed and expanded over the last 150 years, yet global culture itself has changed even more, in a runaway process fueled by our many biological drives, accumulating knowledge and evolving technology. This may be the reason why it has been reported that there are more than 160 published definitions of culture. Every investigator apparently hones in on an aspect of their effective culture that seems to be most fundamental or meaningful to them, most relevant to their interests. Furthermore, our culture is the ultimate complexity that we must deal with – on a par with the universe and our bodies. ‘Our culture’ is effectively ‘infinite’ since the reality of it dwarfs our mental and physical abilities. For these reasons, nobody, no polymath, no creative genius, anthropologist, historian, politician, scientist, or philosopher has a sufficient sensory awareness or computational wherewithal to fully, accurately and precisely describe or explain all the phenomena as experienced by themselves, or any other person, group or whole. Abstract, very ‘thin’ linguistic conceptualizations are the best we can do. Many of us try to fill in the gaps with art, poetry and music. Or we can go into great detail on a particular set of phenomena (e.g. science, history, literature, finance, etc.), but then we become less sure of how that fits into the whole – a variant of the Heisenberg Principle. We might as well invoke a variant of Gödel’s Theorem at this point: we also seem to strongly suspect certain things to be true even though we do not have specific or sufficient information to support that view.

A Personal Theory of Culture is recursively generated in the mind of each biologically unique, evolving person, enabling that individual to survive and flourish in a challenging, uncertain and changing external phenomenal reality over time.

  1. Community Identities and Traditions. These used to be fairly easy to recognize from a distance: groups of people from various localities looked, dressed, spoke and behaved in a recognizably different way. This was colloquially referred to as ‘their culture’. But the world is changing rapidly and what once seemed to be stable communities are now seen to be rapidly changing everywhere. They may still communicate in their own language and may have characteristic shared beliefs. This could lead to a certain predictability and confidence in interactions with such members of a traditional community or group. Locality thus has a tendency to homogenize the effective cultural experiences of local inhabitants, whose theories of culture would then also have similar features, leading to similar behaviors. This is a powerful source of learning. Such local adaptations can even lead to physiological changes: differences have been observed in central nervous system function when comparing distinct populations. E.g., different regions of the brain are used to perform the same task in people from Europe or Asia. In selected Asian-Americans, different regions of the brain of an individual may be used for the same task depending on whether the subject had just been primed with Asian or American associations. However, cultural traditions often have rather fuzzy geographical edges and they evolve continuously. Even very isolated groups learn from other traditions with which they intermittently came into contact with, so none are, nor were, ever completely isolated. Furthermore, individual biological and psychodynamic variation within such traditions may be wide and there would always be subgroups, exceptions and outliers. For example, it is inevitable that some members would attempt to be conservative, others liberal; some more socially conforming, others more individualistic – such diversity would be expected to provide a survival benefit. Dominant, widely established traditions tended to be viewed as ‘civilizations’ that often saw themselves in opposition to lesser civilizations, or even uncivilized barbarians. All this seems to be going out the window as a result of the communications revolution.

Group formation is a fundamental feature of human behavior. (9) Innumerable local and global, real and virtual groups and communities exist due to changes in technology and the explosion of information and knowledge. The word culture is often affixed to these as a loose descriptive term: corporate, criminal, drug, police, rural, cosmopolitan, African, Asian, Polynesian, European, white, etc. In this sense the word at best provides a very general sense of what is being considered, but very little, if any, reliable information is identified by these labels. Not infrequently, outright erroneous ideas are reified.

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Going beyond Tylor, we identify a single ‘infinitely’ large ‘supercomplex’ abstract whole necessitating a multipartite, multi-perspectival approach. It is now obvious that there is just one culture, albeit extremely diverse. There has been a lot of confusion about this in the past. All peoples on earth have been interconnected by migration, trade or war, but information traveled rather slowly then. In the ‘good old days’, different ‘cultures’ or ‘civilizations’ were identified by unique features such as language, manners, arts, ceremonies, dress and social arrangements, all the while ignoring the simple fact that most of the basic behaviors and social interactions across all regions were very similar or indistinguishable. Where distinct differences did exist, intermediate instantiations were often found, and the borders were fuzzy. Superficial differences were allowed to obscure deep commonalities. In this respect, ‘cultural differences’ have much in common with ‘racial differences’. Just as there is now only one race, there is just one culture – there are no biological incompatibilities amongst human groups, there are no boundaries of social behavior. The underlying motivations for the hard, but erroneous, separation of race and culture may, in fact, be very similar: groups tend to form around any idea or behavior that might be associated with a competitive, security or lifestyle advantage. Such groups engage in positive feedback loops of self affirmation, so becoming less concerned about accurate evaluation of the evidence. World War II and the holocaust were extremes of this kind of thinking and it is still very much alive in the polemics of today. Ontologic unawareness (ignorance) and epistemic confusion cannot be legislated away, rather society appears to change as increasing proportions of its members intuitively see themselves and the world differently – a result of the ‘evolution’ of knowledge and the war of ideas.

Global social change could be an extremely slow process, but fads rapidly and chaotically come and go. The deep convictions seen in the process of ‘othering’ are usually misguided, even though they may be ‘adaptive’. So it is hard (impossible) to identify in real time anything by which ‘progress’ could be measured. Everyone’s personal theory of culture is incomplete and uncertain. Today’s undeniable trend might be the key to future success, but, more likely, it will just be tomorrow’s forgotten infatuation. “The inability of the mind to see its own advance is one of the reasons the future will always surprise us.” (Jason Kuznicki, 2018.)

Serious, evidence based public debates founded on a reasoned analysis of the complex problems of society have been of very limited effectiveness. Profound inherent super-complexities, structural and functional, are involved: different effective cultures, different theories of culture and different or conflicting traditions. Language (narrative) also is an important limiting factor, only a very thin version of reality is communicated. Stories and narratives appeal to intuitions in ways that we do not fully understand. All our true inner feelings on social questions of morality, values, fairness, duty or mission are difficult to identify and articulate, and so are opaque to others. What is for me is never exactly for the other. A better approach, therefore, would be to be a little less concerned about what is wrong with the narratives of others – they are all incomplete and partially correct – but more focused on a self-critical analysis of one’s own gaps in understandings and knowledge, and improving on those. Such a continuously self-improving person could hopefully then act in a more effective manner, leading to a greater influence on others in their community. ‘Progress’ does not appear to be the direct result of our endless polemics. The ignorant self-righteous shouting and screaming across a perceived divide properly turns most people off. Authentic changes in behavior and attitude that spring from direct personal engagement in the problems of social reality have a greater chance of beneficially influencing others: each one of us teaches by example. In so doing we contribute to culture.

Learning from history is also a lot more complicated than commonly presented. The volume of information available to a broad public is now unprecedented, placing more and more people in positions where very sophisticated decisions need to be made. The industrial revolution presented new challenges and brought about great changes in social arrangements. It also brought the most destructive wars in history. We are now in another such period of large scale change. The scary thought is that we again seem to have no clear idea of what is coming. A simple, but reasonable, rule of thumb would be to invest in the diverse talents of all individuals above all else, to prioritize the functionality and competence of each uniquely valuable person. Society should organize around the primary principle of respect for each and every one – maximally inclusive diversity, building on the successes of the past and trying to avoid previous errors. Large corporate structures (bureaucracies, businesses, political movements, etc) to which people submit rather than exercising their own best individual judgement may represent the greatest threat to our happiness. We need to nudge and cajole our fellows into taking greater individual responsibility. We should also heed the lurking dangers of the moment. Politics is an extremely crude and dangerous instrument, but absolutely necessary.

The postmodern critique of ‘Enlightenment Culture’ and its terminal condition has been quite destructive. The over-dramatic meme of the death of the individual, reason, God, etc., has been very devastating but might now be losing steam. Reconstruction hopefully is in ascendance – a never ending cycle. Evolution is war, entailing the death and elimination of the obsolete, whether physical features or cultural manifestations. We need greater clarity on the frameworks within which we exist and operate. Familiarity with the structures and components of ‘our culture’ may therefore be essential guideposts in our pursuit of happiness.

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(1) “While a foundational figure in cultural anthropology, Tylor … accepted the premise that all societies develop in the same way and insisted on the universal progression of human civilization from savage to barbarian to civilized. Nowhere in his writing does the plural “cultures” appear. In his view, culture is synonymous with civilization, rather than something particular to unique societies, and, so, his definition refers to “Culture or civilization.” In part, his universalist view stemmed from his Quaker upbringing, which upheld the value of a universal humanity, and indeed Tylor’s refusal to accept the concept of race as scientifically significant in the study of culture was unusual in Victorian science.” Logan, PM; 2012. BRANCH. (http://www.branchcollective.org/?ps_articles=peter-logan-on-culture-edward-b-tylors-primitive-culture-1871)

“But in terms of cultural theory, the most important criticism [of Tylorean evolutionary anthropology] was that of the American anthropologist Franz Boas (1858-1942). A German immigrant to the United States, he was influenced by German Romantic philosophy, including Herder’s insistence on cultural particularity. In 1896, Boas published an influential critique of Tylor’s science, “The Limitations of the Comparative Method of Anthropology,” in which he persuasively challenged the basic notions of psychic unity and independent invention upon which Victorian evolutionary anthropology rested. .… He argued throughout his work for cultural pluralism, for “cultures” in the plural, and with him began the final shift in anthropological thought from the traditional universalism to the new, particular theory of culture that characterized twentieth-century thought.” Ibid.

(2) “Arnold objects to (the Victorian) narrow definition of culture, calling it a combination of “vanity and ignorance,” and attacking its acolytes as people who value culture solely as a form of “class distinction,” a “badge” that separates them “from other people who have not got it”. Instead, he argues, culture is a combination of broad intellectual interests with the goal of social improvement. “There is a view in which all the love of our neighbor, the impulses towards action, help, and beneficence, the desire for removing human error, clearing human confusion, and diminishing human misery, the noble aspiration to leave the world better and happier than we found it,—motives eminently such as are called social,—come in as part of the grounds of culture, and the main and pre-eminent part”. Culture combines this commitment to “the moral and social passion for doing good” with the ideal of scientific objectivity, “the sheer desire to see things as they are”. Rather than a means to differentiate the elite from the mass, Arnoldian culture assumes the elite and the mass have a shared humanity. This was a novel use of the term at the time and was seen then as the most striking aspect of his new idea, …” Logan, PM; 2012. BRANCH (http://www.branchcollective.org/?ps_articles=peter-logan-on-culture-matthew-arnolds-culture-and-anarchy-1869)

Arnold, M. from Culture and Anarchy: “The whole scope of the essay is to recommend culture as the great help out of our present difficulties; culture being a pursuit of our total perfection by means of getting to know, on all the matters which most concern us, the best which has been thought and said in the world, and, through this knowledge, turning a stream of fresh and free thought upon our stock notions and habits, which we now follow staunchly but mechanically, vainly imagining that there is a virtue in following them staunchly which makes up for the mischief of following them mechanically.”

(3) Chris Buskes, Nijmegen; 2013: “Hence ‘culture’ can be defined as: all information that is transmitted to next generations by non-genetic means, i.e., through spoken or written language, teaching, or imitation. … Similar definitions of ‘culture’ can be found in Richerson and Boyd (2005); Jablonka and Lamb (2005); Plotkin (2010); Distin (2011), and Mesoudi (2011).” (https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11406-013-9415-8#Fn7)

(4) VandenBroek, AK. 2014: The Culture Concept. “The culture concept — which overtime has been contrasted, combined, and entangled with the related concepts of society, personality, identity, symbolism and practice — weaves together the history and core philosophical and methodological debates of anthropology as a discipline. Yet, today the concept that lies at the center of what anthropology is and does is fragmented and contested, as anthropologists have taken on the challenges put forth by postmodernity to cope with contradiction, borderlessness, constant flux, and the impacts of anthropological and historical biases, such as sexism, orientalism, and othering. This has left some anthropologists reaching back to science to find stability and others plunging into a realm of interpretation and description, while a new generation of anthropologists formed within this milieu must find space to make a discipline, whose central subject is disputed, both relevant and professional.(http://ak.vbroek.org/2014/01/03/the-culture-concept/)

(5) Vargas Llosa, M. 2012. Notes on the Death of Culture. The realm of culture is “understood not as a mere epiphenomenon of social and economic life, but as an autonomous reality, made up of ideas, aesthetic and ethical values, and works of art and literature that interact with the rest of social existence, and that are often not mere reflections, but rather the wellsprings of social, economic, political and even religious phenomena.” (https://lithub.com/mario-vargas-llosa-how-global-entertainment-killed-culture/)

(6) Darwin, C. Origin of Species, 1859. “Thus, from the war of nature, from famine and death, the most exalted object which we are capable of conceiving, namely, the production of the higher animals, directly follows. There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved.”

(7) “Alloverse”, a neologism, refers to an universe composed of all that is outside of the universe that is within. An alloverse, in theory, consists of all the psychic events and behaviors of all members of our global community. This is derived from Saul Rosenzweig’s concept of an idioverse: “The idioverse consists of the population of events experienced by a single unique individual. This conception supersedes that of personality because the idioverse purports to be a more direct and objective formulation.” (https://link.springer.com/article/10.1023/A:1026063429852) “… the concept of the idioverse, defined as a self-creative and experiential population of events.…” (https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1207/s15327752jpa8203_02) In short, idioverse would then consist of all the psychic experiences (events) during an individual lifetime. The interaction between idioverse and ‘alloverse’ is yet another perspective on understanding our place in the world – the supercomplex relationships between and among individuals and groups.

(8) Supercomplexity. It is becoming apparent that many challenges of life need to be approached from the perspective of supercomplexity: ontologic and epistemic challenges that exceed our ability to conceive or study objectively. Many questions relating to culture easily fall in the supercomplex category since we can not recognize or define all of the components and how they might relate to each other. We do not even know what the measures for success might be. In algebra supercomplex and hypercomplex are terms used to describe ‘fictitious’ numbers that cannot be described in ordinary language. These concepts appear to be necessary to ‘understand’ data related to gravity and quantum physics, etc. (https://youtu.be/E2zUeCK6k-A) In biochemistry it refers to a stable structure formed by the “association of two or more complexes of biological molecules that occur separately elsewhere”. (http://www.yourdictionary.com/supercomplex) The microscopic structure of our bodies similarly are supercomplex because we do not have the tools to ‘visualize’ what is inside of a neuron, for example. By transferring the rules gleaned from the macroscopic world to the microscopic one, we are engaging in a categorical leap of faith – the lack of reason in quantum phenomena illustrates the point. In addressing the complexities of preparing for tomorrow, Barnett (2004) refers to the supercomplexity of life’s learning challenges: “The challenges of complex systems, even if they could not be altogether unravelled, could be dissolved to a significant degree. The challenges of supercomplexity, in contrast, could never be resolved. They are the challenges that arise from the question: what is a university? Or: what is a teacher? Or: what is a doctor? The challenges of such questions could never be dissolved, at least not in ways similar to those of complexity. For such questions, in principle, yield a multiplication of answers and further questions. And some of those answers and further questions spring from perspectives, value positions and even ideologies that are mutually incompatible. To see universities and teachers as consumers of resources, or even as producers of resources on the one hand, and to see universities as sites of open, critical and even transformatory engagement are, in the end, incompatible positions, no matter what compromises and negotiations are sought.” (https://www.hv.se/globalassets/dokument/stodja/paper-theme-2-5.pdf) Many examples of the inability of logic and reason to explain human behavior have been documented. Time, context and order affect outcomes, demonstrating the need for quantum-like theories of cognition and rational behavior – gestalt, query, configurable weight, integration, and fuzzy trace theory. A quantum probability theory model might succeed better at predicting outcomes. (Pothos, Busemeyer. 2013) (https://ppw.kuleuven.be/okp/_pdf/Lee2013QMOCA.pdf)

(9) Weingarten, CP and Chisholm, JS; 2009. Attachment and Cooperation in Religious Groups. An Example of a Mechanism for Cultural Group Selection. “Nowak (2006) modeled the evolution of cooperation via five mechanisms: kin selection, direct reciprocity, indirect reciprocity, network reciprocity, and group selection. Nowak concluded: “we might add ‘natural cooperation’ as a third fundamental principle of evolution beside mutation and natural selection”. Group-selection models can be mathematically equivalent to models based on individual selection (Boyd 2006; Lehmann and Keller 2006; Nowak 2006).” (https://static1.squarespace.com/static/54b85e43e4b07f864ec6eeb9/t/55525a88e4b0027d29fcdb88/1431460488330/Comment+on_+attachment+and+cooperation+in+religious+groups.pdf)

Emphases mine.

Religion and science have different roles in human culture and it would seem that one would never successfully replace the other. Science for the most part is about establishing the facts of the external world. Religion ideally co-opts scientific information and then tries to resolve all of the remaining questions and mysteries. Rules for society and the individual are paramount amongst the interests of religion.

https://mobile.nytimes.com/2017/04/18/books/review/knowledge-illusion-steven-sloman-philip-fernbach.html

Cognitive scientists now provide additional information supporting the postmodern view of man not being a rational agent. Humans are ignorant by necessity and ‘stupid’ in that most decisions are not rationally arrived at. However, language and thought is exquisitely logical, but the problem is that ontology and epistemology have overwhelmed our inputs. We have the potential of being logical and rational, but we don’t have the time to do a thorough analysis in every case, even in most cases. Individual persons are also the only information processors. So, we must rely on each other (and on technology in the future) but there is a very high premium on each one of us being as rational and knowledgeable as possible in our narrow field – a veritable and vast web of knowledge is the engine of our culture and civilization.

Yesterday, 1/20/1917, Donald John Trump succeeded Barack Hussein Obama in a patriotic ceremony the tone of which struck me as diametrically opposed to the one of 8 years ago. The Capitol was wrapped in huge flags, Lee Greenwood brought the house down, and tears to the eyes of many; the inaugural speech was unabashedly jingoistic. In 2009 it was more of a celebration: history was being made, opening the doors for a new era of hope, tolerance and conviviality. The reality on the ground now is obviously not what was anticipated then. Something went wrong. Polls show that we have never been more divided, the vast majority of us thinking that the country is going in the wrong direction.

Mistrust and intolerance have shockingly multiplied. I do not recall rioting in the streets of Washington on inauguration day, ever. Hillary Clinton diagnosed the problem as being due to large swaths of irredeemable deplorables lurking in dark corners of civil society. These mostly uneducated white men, she said, were vehicles of hate and bigotry that need to be eliminated through better controls and regulation. There would be a federal solution for that! Trump effectively railed about stupid, self-serving, corrupt politicians and the crooked news media.

Reality does not comport with these hyper-simplistic formulations:

  1. Some/many of us tend to think that we have a complete understanding of culture and that anyone could do this. Wrong! All human beings have a very restricted and unique perspective that is determined largely by their personal, family and social history. Culture also has very many diverse critical components that most of us know little about, much less understand: education, society, money, economics, health, science, work, law, art, religion etc., etc.
  2. Very importantly, many aspects of culture itself are riddled with unrecognized confusions and misconceptions (illusions or delusions).
  3. We tend to think that we understand our own minds. We assume that we are clear, in our own minds, about our understandings,  personal needs, desires and intentions. We think we know what we like and dislike, or the limits of what we will do or not. No doubt some of us are more in touch with ourselves than others, but none of us understand much about the emotions and prejudices that drive us from moment to moment. Almost daily, new scientific information is reported that indicates that consciousness is produced by exquisite systems that monitor events throughout the body, events that we are completely unaware of. There is also wide variation in the structure of our bodies, so I am really a black box unto myself.
  4. We also assume that we have a good understanding of what goes on in the minds of others – “most people are generally like me”. Wrong! The behavior of large swaths of irredeemable deplorables should permanently put this self-delusion to rest. Our understandings, values, attitudes and assumptions vary greatly. There is, in fact, a dynamic interplay between our bodies, culture and mind, rendering who we are as individuals completely unpredictable.
  5. The sources of public information appear to be unable to provide impartial, accurate and comprehensive reports. There is much personal bias injected and the various power centers appear to resort to censorship and propaganda. Leakers, whistleblowers, Russian hackers and others have exposed deficiencies and vulnerabilities.

We live in the oldest democracy and many would argue that we have been the most successful. But the world is changing rapidly and we must adapt. As society becomes more complex, the interdependence of individuals is heightened. Our success or failure would depend on the efforts of each individual, trying to be the best that they can be, no matter what the area of their engagement. [Of course, how such a more perfect union would be structured is the million dollar question.]

U.S. Election Results Show The Real Divide In America Is Economic $DIA

http://www.seekingalpha.com/article/4032594

the signal was generated by two objects, each roughly 35 times the mass of our Sun, locked in a decaying orbit the size of Switzerland, circling each other 50 times a second. The energy involved was staggering, briefly exceeding that of all the starlight in the Universe

By Hoak, D. Aeon Magazine

We are most certainly part of something very strange – 50x per second! Gimme a break