16
   

Is culture really all about terror management?

 
 
manored
 
  1  
Reply Sat 26 Dec, 2015 09:21 am
@FBM,
FBM wrote:

Yes, I think they probably want to make it clear that they're speculating. As for the search for meaning, though, I think there's an individual version of this and a social or cultural version. Someone comes up with a story and/or ritual that feels comforting, shares it with others, who share it with others, etc. Each would be motivated by his/her personal sense of comfort derived from the story, but if it's a good one, then society at large would benefit from the comfort. I think it's plausible, but unproven.
Well, that is true, I'd say that's a possibility.
0 Replies
 
Finn dAbuzz
 
  1  
Reply Sat 26 Dec, 2015 11:29 am
@FBM,
I agree with those who believe it is an element in the formation of a culture, but I'm not sure it is the only one.

Do you accept that a troop of baboons have a "culture?" I think it might be difficult to find any baboon expression of "art", but I would suggest that like all social animals, they have a way of thinking, behaving and working that exists within the confines of the organized troop/pack/pod etc.

Sticking with baboons, I assume achieving a position of dominance within the troop satisfies some urge within the animal. Whether or not this equates with the animal "feeling good about itself" is difficult to answer, but I don't think it would be overly projecting human traits on baboons to say it does. The process of obtaining dominance requires aggression.

As far as aggression towards "outsiders," this is so prevalent within the animal world that I tend to believe it comes with genetic wiring. The platitude that "You have to be taught to hate and fear," is something I suppose we all might want to believe, but I wonder if there hasn't been research on human children that suggests otherwise. I can see how adults may steer the child's instinctive behavior towards a given group, but that's not the same as creating it. I'll have to some research on this.



Foofie
 
  1  
Reply Sat 26 Dec, 2015 12:30 pm
I do believe TMT is fairly correct, based on Ernst Becker's book, Denial of Death. By taking society's cultural mores as important facets of ones' life, we can ameliorate the awareness of our mortality to some degree, I feel. Culture, and its institutions offers enough of a diversion to keep us not always ruminating on our mortality. In effect, society's institutions gives us a reason to chase the proverbial merry-go-round ring, and lose oneself in busyness and ego enhancing activities. It also lets us feel that in some way our being part of a society that will outlive us, gives us a measure of vicarious immortality, since we are part of something bigger than our single life.
manored
 
  1  
Reply Sat 26 Dec, 2015 01:00 pm
@Finn dAbuzz,
Finn dAbuzz wrote:

As far as aggression towards "outsiders," this is so prevalent within the animal world that I tend to believe it comes with genetic wiring. The platitude that "You have to be taught to hate and fear," is something I suppose we all might want to believe, but I wonder if there hasn't been research on human children that suggests otherwise.
There has, such as the one I posted earlier. I honestly think that's just wishful thinking. If it has to be taught, where did it come from?
Finn dAbuzz
 
  1  
Reply Sat 26 Dec, 2015 03:15 pm
@manored,
Thanks. I obviously missed your link.

Quote:
If it has to be taught, where did it come from?


Now that's interesting since the people who tend to believe it has to be taught also don't, often, believe in anything like evil (unless the bad actors are conservative). They also don't usually believe in the biblical story of Cain and Abel, so it can't be traced back to the former.

So at some time in prerecorded history some nasty, xenophobic racist, thanks to brain damage I guess, came up with hate and fear and began to pass it on to ensuing generations. It spread like wildfire.

I don't have a problem with the notion that there are parents who stoke the fire of genetic programming. It's not all nature, but considering the bloody history of mankind there is ample evidence that the "other" should be feared. For every time the Clan of the Cave Bear came across a clan of strangers who wished to trade goods and knowledge, not to mention women of child bearing age, they most likely came across two others who wanted to steal their goods and women and grind the rest of them into the mud.

Human behaviors that have endured for thousands of years have done so for a reason, overall they preserve the species. War certainly seems like a behavior that would result in the opposite (and thanks to technology it now might) but it's been with us as long as recorded history and mankind certainly has flourished throughout.

Despite our knowledge and technology we are not that far removed from our primitive ancestors. It's all well and good to say we shouldn't hate and fear "others" (and ideally we wouldn't) but since the majority of the worlds population hates and fears "others," letting down our guard could prove suicidal.


Leadfoot
 
  1  
Reply Sat 26 Dec, 2015 03:41 pm
I'm inclined to think that the term 'terror management' is more applicable in today's culture to be 'terror encouragement', as in 'finding ways to keep people terrified'. The previous mention of 'crack babies' was a good example. It was basically racially motivated bullshit just as 'Refer Madness' was in an earlier time.

Quote:
From Wikipedia:
Prenatal cocaine exposure (PCE) occurs when a pregnant woman uses cocaine and thereby exposes her fetus to the drug. "Crack baby" was a racially charged term coined to describe children who were exposed to crack (freebase cocaine in smokable form) as fetuses; the concept of the crack baby emerged in the US during the 1980s and 1990s in the midst of a crack epidemic.[1] Early studies reported that people who had been exposed to crack in utero would be severely emotionally, mentally, and physically disabled; this belief became common in the scientific and lay communities.[1] Fears were widespread that a generation of crack babies were going to put severe strain on society and social services as they grew up.

Later studies failed to substantiate the findings of earlier ones that PCE has severe disabling consequences; these earlier studies had been methodologically flawed (e.g. with small sample sizes and confounding factors). Scientists have come to understand that the findings of the early studies were vastly overstated and that most people who were exposed to cocaine in utero do not have disabilities.[1]
manored
 
  1  
Reply Sat 26 Dec, 2015 04:21 pm
@Finn dAbuzz,
Finn dAbuzz wrote:

Human behaviors that have endured for thousands of years have done so for a reason, overall they preserve the species. War certainly seems like a behavior that would result in the opposite (and thanks to technology it now might) but it's been with us as long as recorded history and mankind certainly has flourished throughout.
My history teacher once told the class that through history, wars tended to coincide with populational overcrowding, aka, when a country's population began to exceed its current capacity to produce food to feed it, its space, or other resources, that was when that country tended to get involved in a war. So one might argue that war effectively served as a natural mechanism through which population was kept under control and the weak were selected out of the population.

But yes, modernity has changed the rules. We can now control our populations through artificial methods so we no longer need to subject ourselves to the suffering of war. In theory, at least.
FBM
 
  1  
Reply Sat 26 Dec, 2015 05:51 pm
@Finn dAbuzz,
Finn dAbuzz wrote:

I agree with those who believe it is an element in the formation of a culture, but I'm not sure it is the only one.

Do you accept that a troop of baboons have a "culture?" ...


Damn. Good question. Damn good question. I'm going to have to do some exploring before I can give a decent response to that one.

Quote:
As far as aggression towards "outsiders," this is so prevalent within the animal world that I tend to believe it comes with genetic wiring. The platitude that "You have to be taught to hate and fear," is something I suppose we all might want to believe, but I wonder if there hasn't been research on human children that suggests otherwise. I can see how adults may steer the child's instinctive behavior towards a given group, but that's not the same as creating it. I'll have to some research on this.


The study on babies that I saw did show that preferences for like-looking babies exist, but that's a far cry from hate and fear. I remember as a very young child wondering why white people hated black people. It never clicked with me, no matter how hard society tried to indoctrinate me into thinking otherwise. In any event, it need not be an either-or. Could be some of both. A genetic disposition to (dis)favor, later amplified by social environment.
FBM
 
  1  
Reply Sat 26 Dec, 2015 05:56 pm
@manored,
I was also thinking that both out-group aggression and in-group cooperation could both be linked to tribal competition for resources. Seems reasonable that both would be naturally selected for over time.
FBM
 
  1  
Reply Sat 26 Dec, 2015 06:01 pm
@Leadfoot,
Leadfoot wrote:

I'm inclined to think that the term 'terror management' is more applicable in today's culture to be 'terror encouragement', as in 'finding ways to keep people terrified'. The previous mention of 'crack babies' was a good example. It was basically racially motivated bullshit just as 'Refer Madness' was in an earlier time.
...


Good point. There was a TMT experiment done on prospective voters that showed how politicians who campaign on a platform that includes perceived threats on life from outsiders (mortality salience) get more votes. If you're interested, I'll look it up again and post it.
0 Replies
 
FBM
 
  1  
Reply Sat 26 Dec, 2015 06:13 pm
@Foofie,
Foofie wrote:

I do believe TMT is fairly correct, based on Ernst Becker's book, Denial of Death. By taking society's cultural mores as important facets of ones' life, we can ameliorate the awareness of our mortality to some degree, I feel. Culture, and its institutions offers enough of a diversion to keep us not always ruminating on our mortality. In effect, society's institutions gives us a reason to chase the proverbial merry-go-round ring, and lose oneself in busyness and ego enhancing activities. It also lets us feel that in some way our being part of a society that will outlive us, gives us a measure of vicarious immortality, since we are part of something bigger than our single life.


Subjectively, it makes sense to me, too. From time to time I run across the idea that the gummit conspires with big business to keep the populace focused on trivial or abstract issues so that they can carry on their business of profiting off us unmolested. That seems to be a bit of a conspiracy-minded stretch to me. Seems that people are only too prone on their own to focus on such things, and that may be a least part of what TMT is describing. A grand conspiracy doesn't seem to be required.
cicerone imposter
 
  1  
Reply Sat 26 Dec, 2015 06:58 pm
@FBM,
We, the people, are the grand, great, conspiracy. We're responsible for voting them into office where they legislate. Anyone here know an honest, ethical, politician? How about the candidates for president?
Finn dAbuzz
 
  1  
Reply Sat 26 Dec, 2015 09:36 pm
@FBM,
As I wrote, I don't think it's all nature. Parents can ramp up the genetic predisposition to fear outsiders.

Plus, I think the notion of people "hating and fearing" others has been trumped up. Of course it exists, but I think I can count on one hand the number of people I've met over 61 years who actually hated another group of people just because they were different.
FBM
 
  1  
Reply Sat 26 Dec, 2015 11:21 pm
@cicerone imposter,
cicerone imposter wrote:

We, the people, are the grand, great, conspiracy. We're responsible for voting them into office where they legislate. Anyone here know an honest, ethical, politician? How about the candidates for president?



I plead ignorance, but the closest thing I see to it is Bernie.
0 Replies
 
FBM
 
  1  
Reply Sat 26 Dec, 2015 11:29 pm
@Finn dAbuzz,
Finn dAbuzz wrote:

As I wrote, I don't think it's all nature. Parents can ramp up the genetic predisposition to fear outsiders.

Plus, I think the notion of people "hating and fearing" others has been trumped up. Of course it exists, but I think I can count on one hand the number of people I've met over 61 years who actually hated another group of people just because they were different.


I wish I could say the same. I was subjected to all sorts of racist indoctrination. It didn't stick, but not from their lack of trying. I have no memories of hating and fearing anyone based on their mere appearance, only their behavior. My guess is that the infantile tendencies towards favoritism mentioned above would disappear at some stage of development if it weren't fed and nurtured by adults. That's just a blind guess, of course. But we're not competing for survival resources in the same ways as our distant ancestors. Maybe that infantile tendency is vestigial?
0 Replies
 
InfraBlue
 
  1  
Reply Sun 27 Dec, 2015 12:14 am
@FBM,
It’s all about survival.

The beliefs and rituals that make up culture were first implemented to ensure the survival of the group ( e.g. actions that would ensure abundant food supplies that included appeasement of nature and eventually gods) and only secondarily, through the survival of the group, was the survival of the individual ensured. The development of ideas expressly concerning individual survival came later in the cultures of the world.
FBM
 
  1  
Reply Sun 27 Dec, 2015 12:30 am
@InfraBlue,
It occurred to me while I was reading your post that the issue of the origins of culture and the current state of affairs are different questions. I haven't (yet) read anything by TMT proponents that speculate about the origins, evolutionary or otherwise. The literature may be out there, but I just haven't seen it yet.

Anyway, I think I see what you mean about the elements of culture developing with a group-first emphasis. Culture is necessarily social, not individual. The me-first drive isn't culture, just instinct (barring the rare cases of self-sacrifice). Is that pretty close?
InfraBlue
 
  1  
Reply Sun 27 Dec, 2015 02:49 am
@FBM,
FBM wrote:

It occurred to me while I was reading your post that the issue of the origins of culture and the current state of affairs are different questions. I haven't (yet) read anything by TMT proponents that speculate about the origins, evolutionary or otherwise. The literature may be out there, but I just haven't seen it yet.

Anyway, I think I see what you mean about the elements of culture developing with a group-first emphasis. Culture is necessarily social, not individual. The me-first drive isn't culture, just instinct (barring the rare cases of self-sacrifice). Is that pretty close?

It seems rather obtuse that these people haven't covered the significance of culture itself in regard to their theory seeing as how they involve it as a part of this theory and yet treat its psychological aspect and the current state of affairs as if they exist in a vacuum, in and of themselves.

If these people are referring to their theory in the context of instinct then I fail to see where culture comes into play.
layman
 
  1  
Reply Sun 27 Dec, 2015 02:53 am
@InfraBlue,
These TMT people must be of the Freudian persuasion, eh? They know all your "subconscious" motivations, phobias, etc. Not just yours, but EVERYBODY'S.

Seen that before.
0 Replies
 
layman
 
  1  
Reply Sun 27 Dec, 2015 02:56 am
Quote:
I found that those of my friends who were admirers of Marx, Freud, and Adler, were impressed by a number of points common to these theories, and especially by their apparent explanatory power. These theories appear to be able to explain practically everything that happened within the fields to which they referred. The study of any of them seemed to have the effect of an intellectual conversion or revelation, open your eyes to a new truth hidden from those not yet initiated.

As for Adler, I was much impressed by a personal experience. Once, in 1919, I reported to him a case which to me did not seem particularly Adlerian, but which he found no difficulty in analyzing in terms of his theory of inferiority feelings, Although he had not even seen the child. Slightly shocked, I asked him how he could be so sure. "Because of my thousandfold experience," he replied; whereupon I could not help saying: "And with this new case, I suppose, your experience has become thousand-and-one-fold." (Karl Popper)

http://www.stephenjaygould.org/ctrl/popper_falsification.html
0 Replies
 
 

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