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Well I can mostly only repeat what I said on the Werelist a few years ago the last time this was discussed.

A theory is defined as a well tested hypothesis, but let's not be pedantic. Realistically, for something to be a theory it must at least have some compelling logical reasons to believe it's true, and why it is superior to the alternatives.

A far simpler explanation is that this is an idiosyncratic manifestation of modern culture as regards the place and status of animals and their representations in modern western society. In that sense, it is a kind of extension of furry.

You can go back and look at animal shamanism, and things like that throughout history and see a parallel, but in my opinion this is an aesthetic, superficial similarity. The significance is not the identification as animal, which is simply the form of appearance the phenomenon takes, but the real relationship and context which makes it possible.

What is represented is more significant than the representation, so the superficial similarity to animal shamanism becomes a moot point, if it is something rooted in the peculiarities of modern society.

You explanation, if true, does have the advantage of consistency in that regards, but the claim is staked on a contingency that can be empirically verified. It hasn't been verified yet, and I think there are many reasons to doubt that it will be. It seems like you are relying mostly on anecdotes.

Anecdotes only cease to be anecdotes when they are tied into a system, and the contingency that would make your anecdotes systematic hasn't been met.
Last question first - keeping in mind that science gets tripped up by mimics all the time so, I could easily be wrong. It's just what I'm seeing right now.

"Shovel teeth" are very accessible on the Internet.

The back surface of a shovel incision is concave like a straight-edge garden trowel and, if you slide a finger nail down the back of the tooth, it clicks across a ridge. The only place it's been found commonly is with Native Americans, Melungeons, Neanderthal, and (when they get around to looking at us) us.

If we're a product of Neanderthal genetics - it will be one of degree because Neanderthal genetics is (and necessarily is) complex. It won't be determined by a single allele.

There are lists of Neanderthal traits all over the Internet and I honestly don't know which to credit. But they look like lists of Were characteristics. We're down to four Weres in our House (we also have a Mainstreamer and three cats). Two in the bigger group were color-blind (currently only one). Two are diabetic (an autoimmune condition). Three have general autoimmunne problems. Three have migraines. Four have abnormal reactions to normally reliable medications (which could easily be explained by abnormal physiology). Two have flairing "Neanderthal" rib cages.

What I look for are the flairing rib cage (Do a Google image search for "Huamn skeleton" and "Neanderthal skeleton" and you'l see what I mean). The brow ridge isn't often pronounced but you can detect it by running your finger down the midline of the face from the forehead to the bridge of the nose.). Color-blindness and migraines have been linled with Neanderthal genetics. Autoimmune problems (All the Neanderthal fossils I'm read about showed signs of rheumatoid arthritis - too bad we can't tell much abut soft tissue - and many survived deep injuries that should have killed anyone in an age before antibiotics.) I'm hesitant to include autism spectrum conditions. There seems to be a lot of poorly based "science" there, but it would explain the proportions in the Were community. Frankly, I'm thinking that it's more a "looks like" rather than "is".

The other part of my theory is persuasive (to me, anyway) also. If you've studied biological anthropology (or evolutionary biology) you'll notice them talking about how much behavior we share with chimpanzees and bonobos especially. In ethnobiology, I've read several authors say that the animal closest to humans socially is the wolf. And now a lot of respected scientists are talking about "humans domesticated wolves domesticated humans."

Behavior/environment effects genetics - that was made pretty clear in the Russian fox domestication experiments. Over geological time, we are how we behave. Homo sapiens grew up in the relatively idyllic environment of Africa (then) but they were poor survivors, so they learned how to survive from their ape neighbors. Neanderthal grew up in the harsh European environments and they learned how to survive from their wolf and bear neighbors (Why did the neanderthal evidently reverence the bear and the eastern Europeans reverence the wolf?). If that ingrained itself into the hominids then the sapiens would behave like primates and the Neanderthal would behave like the primary predators in their environments because they are programmed to do so genetically.

Most of us (hominids) are hybrids and carry both species inside us. As for traits going away after time, the Hardy-Weinberg principle says that they don't necessarily do so, and they've identified enough Neanderthal DNA to assure that it has not. DNA doesn't code for traits, it codes for DNA production. Psychological traits are what they call "emergent characteristics". They arise almost accidentally from specific combinations of biological and environmental facts. Dark skinned people didn't inherit dark skin - they inherited the production of the proteins that produce melanin. Or primal personalities - the part of our personalities that we inherit by virtue of what we are - our nature, archetypes, hominid predispositions are accidentally byproducts of the way our neurons come together while our brains are developing.

Why are there so many wolves in the Were community?
Fair enough, for as much stink and some people tended to make about your position on Werelist, I've always found your demeanor to be agreeable enough.

While I have a respect for Soviet science, and believe that its reputation is generally much less than what is deserved, none can deny some of its shortcomings. The most infamous of these failures, of course, was Lysenkoism, a genetic doctrine which assumed the heritability of acquired traits. Lysenkoism has been definitively disproven and is used as the textbook example of ideology dictating science, with the irony that since all scientists are human beings and part of society, there can be no science which exists beyond ideology, but that's a tangent.

Just to be sure I am understanding your argument correctly. You believe that Neanderthals interacted with wolves and other animals and that the psychological impact of these interactions was inherited by their offspring genetically?

I am not trained in genetics or neurology, but my instinct is to be doubtful of this. What is certain is that no social order can be naturalized, otherwise society would never change since it would create a psychological feedback loop that makes breaking out impossible. This is exactly what is popular for ideologues to do today, to proclaim that modern society is the form that best coincides with the 'natural needs' of humanity, that it coincides with common sense, human nature, etc. It seems they missed Francis Fukoyama's memo that he got it wrong.

Psychology doesn't flow in a straightforward way from physiology, I think you would agree with that, nor does it exist in isolation from it. Psychology, with respect to biology and society, have a mutually influential relationship. Determining where one begins and the other ends is the difficult part, but we have seen through the course of history that it is the social factors which tend to predominate over biological ones as the engine of history and change.

Your position seems like it comes close to suggesting that a social order can be encoded into ones genes, and passed on. Correct me if I'm wrong on that.

There are interesting questions about the role of animals in human society. As furries have pointed out, animals and their representations have played an important role in society since the dawn of civilization. What I think they have not paid so much attention to is how this role has changed over time, and why.

Animals have always had their most prominent role in pagan societies. Pagan theology revolves around a naturalized order, in which everything has its place. A slave is a slave, and can never aspire to be anything more. It is the slave's place to be a slave. The master's position as master is similarly part of the natural order. Animals also had naturally ordained places as teachers, which a human might emulate, but never usurp.

It is no coincidence that Christianity and Islam came to dominate the globe, in my opinion. Not only in terms of sheer numbers, but intellectually as well. The vast bulk of modern science and philosophy is built upon the foundations provided by those two cultures.. we owe no less to Averroes and Avicenna than we do Aquinas. The role of Islam is often excessively downplayed, but that's another tangent.

I am reminded of this passage from The Oracle of the Dog by G.K. Chesterson:

Quote:People readily swallow the untested claims of this, that, or the other. It’s drowning
all your old rationalism and scepticism, it’s coming in like a sea; and the
name of it is superstition. It’s the first effect of not believing in God that you lose
your common sense and can’t see things as they are. Anything that anybody talks
about, and says there’s a good deal in it, extends itself indefinitely like a vista in
a nightmare. And a dog is an omen, and a cat is a mystery, and a pig is a mascot,
and a beetle is a scarab, calling up all the menagerie of polytheism from Egypt
and old India; Dog Anubis and great green- eyed Pasht and all the holy howling
Bulls of Bashan; reeling back to the bestial gods of the beginning, escaping into
elephants and snakes and crocodiles; and all because you are frightened of four
words: He was made Man.

I am not religious, but he touches the essentially revolutionary kernel of Christianity: the demolition of the old pagan naturalized order. The old pagan animal gods were nothing other than human contrivances. The essence of that Christian theology was that if there were slaves and masters, then it was only because we made it so ourselves, not that it was part of some natural order. It is about agency and responsibility. It is about freedom from the tyranny of a symbolic order that we ourselves have made, but presented as part of an immutable, natural world. That's my interpretation at least, but I have a lot of reading to do on the subject yet.

It was after the victory of Christianity and Islam and the destruction of antiquity that the status of animal representation in society went down dramatically, a decline from which there has never really been a full recovery from. Few would deny that the connection between human and animal is far more tenuous than it was several millennia ago.

If technological and social advancement renders possible a society in which animals are not needed for any purpose, for food, labor or companionship, a future which we have to admit is a possibility, we have to also ask ourselves what the symbolic significance of animals would be in such a society?

Is our connection to animals something that is contingent on the form of society, or is it something that immutable and exists beyond genetics, beyond society?

This is the question that first needs to be answered before one can even contemplate 'why so many wolves'. It seems that the latter possibility can't be considered without recourse to mysticism and supernatural explanations.

@BearX and I have talked alot about the "genetic component" The fact that the vast majority, BearX and myself included, have Autism/Aspergers. I firmly believe that there has to be some sort of "ground work" laid within the human brain to make it work with a non-human identity/soul. I am not saying others cannot be therian as well. I am saying perhaps it makes the connection between the human body and mind, to the therioype mindset stronger. It's all theory. But there is a heck of alot of overlap in the community.

Nice to meet you too @WolfVanZandt. I am 32, Mexican Wolf. Smile

(2017-08-14 21:49)Iskulya Wrote: [ -> ]Just to be sure I am understanding your argument correctly. You believe that Neanderthals interacted with wolves and other animals and that the psychological impact of these interactions was inherited by their offspring genetically?

Not exactly. I'm thinking more of horizontal evolution, which is a big thing right now. Environment actually provides chemical triggers that initially alters the expression of genetic traits but, over the long run, is selected as beneficial alterations of the genome. What we learned from our animal benefactors was evolutionarily beneficial to the species so it was picked up. Philosophers used to consider our minds as "blank slates". Everything we know had to be learned. William James started chipping away at that idea and not too many people hold the 'blank slate" view any more. The equipment we inherit from our parents comes with information. Biological anthropology borrows very little from Soviet science.

Your much closer to my position when you say that "Psychology doesn't flow in a straightforward way from physiology," but some of it does flow from physiology and in an indirect manner - as epiphenomena. It's not all nature or nurture - both play a part. What we've picked up from our ancestors is predispositions for certain behaviors. What we do with those predispositions is a matter of nurture and choice (I'm a free-will type of guy Smile )

Social order can't be encoded in genes. What's encoded in genes is what proteins will be manufactured in cells. Behavior predisposition is an accidental byproduct of genetics, but that doesn't mean its not there.

Dogs are arguably the same species as wolves yet their behavior is considerably different and it's different because of the biological history of dogs. Look at the difference between grizzly bears and polar bears - practically the same genetic material but what a difference the environment and biological history of the two make!

I haven't completely dismissed the existence of the archetype. It would make so much of therianthropy easy to explain and we may, in a very real way be the material expression of an archetype.

As divided as humanity is from nature, things are appearing that militate against that. The post-humanist and trans-speciest movements are large examples. I suspect that we're an evolutionary reaction to what can be a dangerous domestication of humanity.

Oh, I think that the recognition by ethnopsychologist that wolves are closest to humans in social behavior is more than enough to hint toward why there are so many wolves - it might well point in the wrong direction, but it's at least provocative.

Azi, I suspect that there are definite connections, the problem is that, as pervasive as therianthropy is in the lives of therians, those connections are going to have to be complex and it's going to take work to tease them all apart.

What makes you think archetypes are a reality that exists independently of, and precedes, human artifice?

I am not sure what you mean about post-humanism.. if anything the dominant trend of post-humanism asserts the opposite. The dominant trend of post-humanism I've seen is about positing a robotic future in which human beings have replaced their biological bodies with synthetic mechanical ones.

I see things moving in a different direction, but the future is never inevitable. It is a mistake to assume that ordinary people are a passive part of the environment, and are just along for the ride. People can learn, and eventually if the conditions are right learn to take power into their own hands. It's not inevitable, but it is a possibility, but so far things are not moving in that direction.

There is a growing danger from what I like to call the Californian Ideology, which presents itself as a kind of neo-Platonic technological fetishism. It moves away from the traditional capitalist relationship between capital and labor. It is based on a fanatical control over the creation and flow of information. As the Californians themselves put it, "The user is the product.". It presents itself as being the most free and horizontal system, but in reality we know that the big corporations like Google, Apple, Facebook, etc. are not 'free actors', but on the contrary linked to the state, and to each other, as a singular network and power structure from which the user, 'the product', is excluded.

There is no crystal ball that tells the future, but we can look at possibilities. The direction of future technology is in the direction of greater physiological integration with human beings.. the entire craze around VR and AR is just an example of this. The future envisioned by the heralds of the Californian ideology would see a future that is a kind of neo-feudalism, in which different classes are actually physiologically distinct from one another: as ones social position would be determined by the technological hardware they are integrated with. Privacy, of course, just as it is now, is a luxury reserved to the rulers which excludes the ruled, but to a degree that not even Orwell could fathom.

I'm not a luddite though. Technology itself is value free. What matters is the context in which it is used, and the fundamental context in which the development and use of new technology takes place today is in the exploitation and dehumanization of humanity.

I find this kind of future more likely than the idea that civilization will destroy itself in some kind of nuclear holocaust, or dissolve under the weight of ecological catastrophe, both of which are also possibilities.

But to return to the point. Lysenko believed that rye could be transmuted into wheat, not through natural selection, but by introducing changes through environmental factors, and then carrying over those changes through breeding. This seems similar to what you suggest about the 'transmutation' of human to wolf(although in this case we are not talking about a change in physical form). That this could be responsible for decisive, qualitative change has been solidly refuted by genetics.
"Posthumanism or post-humanism (meaning "after humanism" or "beyond humanism") is a term with at least seven definitions according to philosopher Francesca Ferrando:

Antihumanism: any theory that is critical of traditional humanism and traditional ideas about humanity and the human condition."


Actually, I didn't realize there were so many variations out there. Thanks for the heads-up.

What I'm seeing is polarization.

"I'm not a luddite though. Technology itself is value free. What matters is the context in which it is used, and the fundamental context in which the development and use of new technology takes place today is in the exploitation and dehumanization of humanity."

I can identify with that. A lot of people think I hate cities - it's not that. It's just that any lifestyle carries inherent dangers and if the people that adopt it isn't aware of those dangers and takes measures to neutralize them, that lifestyle can hurt them. I;m not so sure that humanity contain the seeds of their own destruction, but their lifestyles certainly do.

It is similar. Lysenko's theory isn't completely unthinkable. It's just probably wrong. But it resembles some possible scenarios. Horizontal evolution is a thing. We're past that point. Shamans should be grinning now. We are a complex web of connectedness. Our environment makes us (so we should be careful about our environmental choices!). And the fruits of our decisions very likely will never go away.

I like something a friend one of our tribe members said. To expand on it (it was made in the context of alcoholism), the choices we make grow a forest and as far as we walk into that forest, that's how far we have to walk to get out.
Well it's not for no reason that Marx said, "The tradition of all dead generations weighs like a nightmare on the brains of the living.". You can never escape the past. At best, it is just sublimated into the present. I would go as far to say that the "present" doesn't actually exist; it's a logical abstraction that is only useful in helping us to think about things in a relative sense. The past isn't just "things that happened": the things that happened are the result of processes that are a constitutive part of the 'present'. To see the present as a self-sustaining totality in isolation from the processes that produced it(which are necessarily a part of history) is illusory.

The question comes down to determining the primacy of matter over spirit, or vice versa. Even an atheist can acknowledge the existence of spirit. It need not be defined in a mystical sense, just as abstraction. No phenomenon can ever be experienced itself; for something to experienced, it must always come in the form of abstraction mediated by consciousness. For example, the pure sensation of pain is impossible: what makes pain painful is the dissonance between our consciousness and the condition of our body. Pain without the mediator of consciousness simply wouldn't exist as such, it could not be conceived of, and could not be experienced.

If matter has primacy over spirit, then it is our brains that provide the platform for our consciousness, and our consciousness could not exist without its continued functioning. Not that the human brain is the only possible platform for consciousness, but it is the only one that is known for certain if the primacy of matter is true.

If spirit has primacy over matter, then the brain becomes irrelevant; a mere incidental detail. The only means of knowing could be in the form of divine revelation. Or at least, the foundational basis of knowing could only be a divine revelation.

I do not consider these matters as abstract considerations separate from life. The value of either proposition can only be judged insofar as it explains and clarifies the world as it actually exists, so that it can be understood and changed.
It's not matter /or/ spirit. Modern physicists say that the universe isn't made of matter - it's made of fields. I don't think they're completely right. They've confused the model with the reality. Matter, field, spirit, information - they're all just different attributes of the same things.
I find this statement to be very muddled and confused.

Very clearly they are not the same. What is a rock? A rock is an object which can be seen, felt, observed, quantified. What is the number two? It is an abstraction, an idea. It cannot be seen, felt, observed, or quantified. If there was no difference between the two, then they could not be known. One can talk of how they are related to one another, and how the interplay of this relationship plays out in reality, but they are simply not the same.

You posit a world without difference, a world of depictions, but without anything to depict; a world of form without function. You posit nothing less than a world without change, without identity. The gap between the sign and the signifier, between the real and the imaginary, is ontologically necessary.

You fail to grasp that in order for abstraction to exist, there must first be something to abstract from, a difference or negativity. This is why a precondition for consciousness is not only recognizing that I am not you, but that I am not me. Humans live entirely in an imaginary world, but there exists a real world separate from this. The real always precedes the imaginary, but the real can never be known by humans because our dissonance from the real is the precondition that makes the imaginary possible.

It is impossible to reject this truth without falling into obscurantism. If all is one, then there is, in fact, no space which one can occupy from which they can proclaim the oneness of everything. In the very act of making the statement, you refute it.

A oneness that must argue for its own existence admits the false premise of its own existence. Consciousness, indeed, abstraction itself, is premised first and foremost on a negativity. There is no room for this in a world in which all things are one. Such a world could not be conceived of, could not be experienced, and could not exist.

And finally, I am not posing the question of "Matter, or spirit?" I affirm, Matter and Spirit, and of the two, matter first. One could quibble about the exact definitions of each of the terms, but fundamentally we are not talking about a narrow technical definition of matter or ideas as used by physics, we are talking about ontology and the necessary gap that is implicit in any coherent understanding of it.
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