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Offline SkinnyDevil

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"Reject basic assumptions..."
« on: July 31, 2009, 11:18:03 pm »
I posted this elsewhere, too....

Had a conversation the other day.

I'm sure I was being complimented when he quoted the Tyler Durden character: "Reject the basic assumptions of civilizations (especially the importance of material possessions)". Not that he knows me well enough to know if I embrace such a view, but it begs the question:

What ARE the basic assumptions of civilization? Of modern, western society?

Tyler was attacking consumer culture only, so ignore "Fight Club" (those assumptions, presumably, extend far beyond just the scope of Chuck's book) and tell us: What is YOUR LIST of basic assumptions?
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Offline TylerDurden

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Re: "Reject basic assumptions..."
« Reply #1 on: July 31, 2009, 11:45:03 pm »
Well, actually TD is generally viewed as being a neo-paleolithicist with references to hunter-gatherers around the ruins of Sears Tower etc(well corn is mentioned but even so...)

My list of basic assumptions is I suppose vaguely based on Schoepnhauer's relatively Buddhist beliefs.
« Last Edit: August 01, 2009, 07:31:23 pm by TylerDurden »
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Re: "Reject basic assumptions..."
« Reply #2 on: August 01, 2009, 05:20:10 am »


What ARE the basic assumptions of civilization? Of modern, western society?



How about progress? Most seem to believe that we are somehow better off than our paleolithic ancestors.

Offline PaleoPhil

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Re: "Reject basic assumptions..."
« Reply #3 on: August 01, 2009, 09:35:13 am »
Do you want what I see as the assumptions of modern Western Civilization, or do you want my own assumptions (which are dramatically different), or both?
>"When some one eats an Epi paleo Rx template and follows the rules of circadian biology they get plenty of starches when they are available three out of the four seasons." -Jack Kruse, MD
>"I recommend 20 percent of calories from carbs, depending on the size of the person" -Ron Rosedale, MD (in other words, NOT zero carbs) http://preview.tinyurl.com/6ogtan
>Finding a diet you can tolerate is not the same as fixing what's wrong. -Tim Steele
Beware of problems from chronic Very Low Carb

Offline Raw Kyle

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Re: "Reject basic assumptions..."
« Reply #4 on: August 01, 2009, 10:09:40 am »
Growth. It's the modern religion. As if the economy, city populations, individual corporate profits can grow forever. And all that really happens is there is an illusion of growth for a few years, called a bubble, that inevitably bursts and brings everything right back to where it is. This is a personal pet peeve of mine, I believe in the laws of thermodynamics, and thus in the closed system of Earth there is only so much resources. If you use this plot of land for production of X, then you cannot also use it for production of Y, whether Y is the animals and plants that used to live on that land or another synthetic product.

I've seen newspaper articles where the journalist says something to the effect of "City X is growing at an annual rate of 3% a year, and is therefore a stable community." As if growth and stability are not opposites. I'd like to see a doctor tell his cancer patient that his tumor is stable because it's only growing a little bit.

Religion is a basic assumption of just about every civilization. That there's a purpose to anything. The belief in that is obvious in it's importance to existence, if humans didn't have that belief they would have less survival motivation. Not saying it's wrong, just saying it can be explained as an adaptation.

Offline SkinnyDevil

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Re: "Reject basic assumptions..."
« Reply #5 on: August 01, 2009, 08:20:31 pm »
Phil - Either, but I was initially shooting for an examination of the basic assumptions of modern western society. Perhaps that first, then your personal assumptions.
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Offline goodsamaritan

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Re: "Reject basic assumptions..."
« Reply #6 on: August 01, 2009, 09:05:35 pm »
Phil - Either, but I was initially shooting for an examination of the basic assumptions of modern western society. Perhaps that first, then your personal assumptions.

Non westerner here...

What are the basic assumptions of modern western society? 
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Offline PaleoPhil

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Re: "Reject basic assumptions..."
« Reply #7 on: August 02, 2009, 04:18:11 am »
> "I was initially shooting for an examination of the basic assumptions of modern western society"

> "Non westerner here.... What are the basic assumptions of modern western society?"

OK, excellent questions. To better understand what the assumptions of modern Western society are, we also need to understand what the assumptions of other modern cultures are and what came before all modern cultures.

That last question is particularly crucial. We here in a Paleo forum have more inkling about it than most moderners. We know that the modern diet is terribly screwed up and that the diets of our "savage" ancestors were superior. How is it that our diets and our knowledge of nutrition got so far off track and why is it that we don't hear more about stuff like Paleo diets in our schools and other institutions? Why do we know so little about alternative ways of living among today's surviving hunter gatherers and those of the Stone Age? It is knowledge that was once shared by all human beings but then was lost by most in what Daniel Quinn calls "The Great Forgetting":

Quote
"Now I hope - I sincerely hope - that there are many among you who are burning to know why not a single one of you has ever heard a word about the Great Forgetting (by any name whatsoever) in any class you have ever attended at any school at any level, from kindergarten to graduate school. If you have this question, be assured that it’s not an academic one by any means. It’s a vital question, and I don’t hesitate to say that our species’ future on this planet depends on it." --Daniel Quinn, author of Ishmael

The Great Forgetting began with the Neolithic Revolution and only started to be significantly corrected with the advent of evolutionary biology, anthropology, Paleoanthropology, Paleopathology and other fields (though there were earlier revolutionary amateur thinkers as well). Scientists started to investigate other "primitive" cultures of today and cultures of the Stone Age. At first, most of them sought to justify modern Western culture and to denigrate other cultures. Then some of them started looking with a more objective eye and learned some startling things that call into question many of the basic assumptions of modern Western culture.

Learning that many of the foundational assumptions and principles of our modern society, what Quinn calls "Mother Culture," are mostly or completely bogus or destructive is very difficult for many moderners to accept. I find that if I just tell people the facts about them, they tend to get defensive and dismissively reject what I've shared without really considering it. But most of it is pretty intuitive and can be arrived at by using the Socratic method--asking ourselves questions and doing our own research. We tend to accept things better when we arrive at conclusions ourselves than have them dictated to us. I will make some attempts at that, with some help from Quinn, but I really recommend reading Ishmael, as Quinn is much better at helping people question the assumptions of Mother Culture than I am. He has a talent for nurturing "the genius of seeing that which is so evident as to be unseeable." Of course, Quinn is not to everyone's taste, so you can also learn more directly what Quinn learned by reading anthropology and Paleoanthropology books and everything you can about the hunter gatherer societies of modern and Stone Age times.

One assumption in the U.S., my country, seems to be that children will go to school, get a job, work hard until they're sixty or so, and hopefully accumulate enough money so that they can retire and move to Florida or another warm place, where they will then spend much of what they accumulated and then die. Of course, many people end up spending more on health care, elder homes and nursing homes and less on Mai Tais and recreational boats than they had planned. When they get to Florida, they find that people talk more about their chronic health problems than they do about their latest fishing trip and they find that instead of a quiet rural paradise it is increasingly noisy, congested and urbanized as more and more people move there (at least until the recent recession). Isn't it ironic that we spend most of our lives toiling away so that some day we might be able to spend it living the way hunter gatherers live every day, and when we get to the point where we can do that financially, many of us are too sick to carry it out?

Over the years I've heard people ask questions like, "Isn't there more to life than this?" "Why am I falling apart?" "Why does society seem to be degenerating even as we 'progress'?" "Why am I here?" "What is my purpose in life?" "Why do things seem to be out of sync with the natural universe?" "Why do I feel like an alien on a planet where I don't fully belong?" "Why do I feel like a caged animal?"

Why is it that even with the greatest accumulation of economic wealth in human history, Americans have higher rates of depression than were found among the traditional Inuit? Which society is more "civilized," that which has lots of prisons full of thousands or millions of hardened criminals, or that which has no prisons and very few criminals?

I'll paraphrase what I believe is the first of Ishmael's Socratic questions: among the people of modern Western culture, which want to intentionally destroy the world, including their own corner of it, their own tribe and family, and themselves? In other words, what peoples are consciously destructive and suicidal (and I'm talking about sane nations and cultural groupings here, not insane individuals)?
« Last Edit: August 02, 2009, 04:24:12 am by PaleoPhil »
>"When some one eats an Epi paleo Rx template and follows the rules of circadian biology they get plenty of starches when they are available three out of the four seasons." -Jack Kruse, MD
>"I recommend 20 percent of calories from carbs, depending on the size of the person" -Ron Rosedale, MD (in other words, NOT zero carbs) http://preview.tinyurl.com/6ogtan
>Finding a diet you can tolerate is not the same as fixing what's wrong. -Tim Steele
Beware of problems from chronic Very Low Carb

William

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Re: "Reject basic assumptions..."
« Reply #8 on: August 02, 2009, 07:11:33 am »
The Buddha, Jesus Christ and L. Ron Hubbard all pointed the way to becoming conscious, but few have taken their advice.

I see the destructive and suicidal as not self-aware, unconscious, programmed sheople or like that, and there really is a Loki/Satan/Coyote or whatever name.

Offline SkinnyDevil

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Re: "Reject basic assumptions..."
« Reply #9 on: August 02, 2009, 09:56:28 pm »
Well, actually TD is generally viewed as being a neo-paleolithicist with references to hunter-gatherers around the ruins of Sears Tower etc(well corn is mentioned but even so...)

My list of basic assumptions is I suppose vaguely based on Schoepnhauer's relatively Buddhist beliefs.

For the record, Chuck called his character an "anarcho-primitivist".

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anarcho-primitivism

Great responses so far - keep 'em coming!
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Offline Dan

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Re: "Reject basic assumptions..."
« Reply #10 on: August 03, 2009, 01:56:10 am »
Growth. It's the modern religion. As if the economy, city populations, individual corporate profits can grow forever. And all that really happens is there is an illusion of growth for a few years, called a bubble, that inevitably bursts and brings everything right back to where it is. This is a personal pet peeve of mine, I believe in the laws of thermodynamics, and thus in the closed system of Earth there is only so much resources. If you use this plot of land for production of X, then you cannot also use it for production of Y, whether Y is the animals and plants that used to live on that land or another synthetic product.
That is not at all what a bubble is, nor are the boom and bust cycles necessarily part of a free market.  Look into Austrian economics.
Earth is not a closed system, or there would be no life here.  Sunlight is the best example I can think of.


Religion is a basic assumption of just about every civilization. That there's a purpose to anything. The belief in that is obvious in it's importance to existence, if humans didn't have that belief they would have less survival motivation. Not saying it's wrong, just saying it can be explained as an adaptation.
I think this is because at some point in the past a few people saw that they could live as parasites (and gain social standing) if they guilt people into believing in a magical world to which only the priest can give you access.  And if they can abuse children to the point where they are emotional and intellectual cripples, those children will keep them fed and sheltered the rest of their life.

Offline Guittarman03

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Re: "Reject basic assumptions..."
« Reply #11 on: August 03, 2009, 09:18:53 am »
-GROWTH IS GOOD (industry, technology, population, production, money, etc).  I believe it spawns from the premise that plenty helps assure survival.  If you need 12 bushels of wheat (I know not paleo, whatev) to survive in a year, then you plant 100 b/c hail will take some, birds will take some, the tax man will take some, you need seed to plant, etc.  So we grow and store excess beyond what we need by an inherent survival mechanism

-WE ARE SUPERIOR TO ALL THAT CAME BEFORE US

-THERE IS A DIVINE GUIDANCE OVER WHAT WE ARE DOING (Often there is an 'end times' mythology belief associated with this;where many believe that everything will be destroyed but then made anew in glorious splendour of heaven).

-WE ARE TECHNOLOGICALLY ADVANCED (inherently associated with having a firm grasp on the laws of the universe)

Probably I could think of a few more.

Problem is, these are all terrible assumptions and almost certainly detrimental to us and our planet as a whole.  Kyle has mentioned the problems with growth.  Over-population of our planet is an ENORMOUSLY DIFFICULT problem to tackle, and most people don't even have the stomach to discuss it.  We are destroying the very life which gave us life.  Poisoning it with radioactivity and industrial chemicals, destroying it with deforestation and human settlement/farmland . . . I could go on for a while. 

Also, it's very likely that our paleo ancestors were physically and mentally superior, and probably even genetically superior (due to devolution as a result of helping everyone to survive, even those that probably should not have).

We are not really all that advanced, I know it seems that way b/c of the pace of advancement, but the universe is turning out to be such a weird place.  Things like quantum entanglement, naked singularities, the accelerating rate of expansion of the galaxies, the possibilities of a multiverse - the more we learn, the more perplexing and promising things become.     

Last, and I think it is perhaps one of the most dangerous assumptions of all, is the notion of divine guidance.  It subtly and subconsiously removes the burden of responsibility (collectively) from humanity and places it on some god figure.  It kind of goes hand in hand with the assumption that we are superior. 

I guess personally, I tend to hope and believe the best for humanity.  Simultaneously, I kind of assume the worst about the general population.  I hate to see unquestioned patriotism, religiosity, and confidence in ones own beliefs.  I constantly question my own.  I hate to see the WILLFUL ignorance of the public, and their disposition towards lazy habits of thinking ("he who reads too much and ponders too little falls into lazy habits of thinking" -Einstein).  But I beleive most of this is culture, upbrining.  I do not believe humans to act this way inherently, but maybe it's a bi-product of the basic assumptions of civiliation...   
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Offline SkinnyDevil

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Re: "Reject basic assumptions..."
« Reply #12 on: August 04, 2009, 09:01:42 pm »
Great responses.

My list (I've never written out a comprehensive list) includes things like:

Get up in the morning, go to bed at night.

Cook your food, 3 meals a day, brush your teeth.

Go to school, graduate, go to college, get a job.

Everyone thinks like you do. If not, there is something wrong with them.

If you're sick, go see the doc or the pharmacist.

Get married, raise a family.

Buy a house & a car.

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Offline PaleoPhil

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Re: "Reject basic assumptions..."
« Reply #13 on: August 05, 2009, 07:45:17 am »
This is pretty fun. Let me try again...

Assumptions of modern Western culture:
> Go to school for years to memorize stuff you'll mostly never use, get a job, buy more stuff than you can afford yet still somehow save enough money to retire and move to Florida or Arizona
> Life in the Stone Age was nasty, brutish and short because of all that meat they ate that was bad for them and killed them all off exactly at the age of 30, but they were somehow also fruitarians who wouldn't harm a fly and were very healthy
> By a gigantic house with a chemically treated lawn to impress your neighbors so they'll accept you into the collective of "normal" people.
> "New and improved!" is a good thing.
> Have a child or two even though you can't even take care of yourself.
> Don't eat the food God provided for you; eat man-made foods; after all, corporations and big labor unions and the politicians they finance know best
> Food is only safe if it comes in a package or has been made by professionals who wear funny hats or smocks
> Give your children processed junk food, rot their teeth, ruin their health and turn them into screaming, whining brats or else you're depriving them and I'll have to call Child Protective Services on your ass.
> Disregard how you feel and the fact that the medicines the doctor is giving you are only making you feel worse--he wears a white coat and has fancy certificates written in a language you can't read, so he must know better than you about your own body
> Your dog is actually an omnivore, not a carnivore, and he doesn't even need meat anyway, so feed him a "scientific formula!" of processed grains, sweeteners, and chemical additives from a fancy bag to make him holier, because the veterinarian recommended it and she wears a white coat and she's got some of those certificate thingies too, so she must know--don't give him that sinful bloody stuff; it's not even packaged!
> It makes sense to defecate on a porcelin throne--after all, isn't that what the royalty do?
> Wear shoes that are constricting and have huge heels on them, after all, shoe-manufacturers know what your feet need better than God does
> We need to grow the economy every year--our grandchildren can cut back on all this wasteful consumption some day in the future just in time before the environment is destroyed
> Spend your retirement money on medical problems and a nursing home and spend your time bitching about your medical problems, then die.
« Last Edit: August 05, 2009, 07:58:38 am by PaleoPhil »
>"When some one eats an Epi paleo Rx template and follows the rules of circadian biology they get plenty of starches when they are available three out of the four seasons." -Jack Kruse, MD
>"I recommend 20 percent of calories from carbs, depending on the size of the person" -Ron Rosedale, MD (in other words, NOT zero carbs) http://preview.tinyurl.com/6ogtan
>Finding a diet you can tolerate is not the same as fixing what's wrong. -Tim Steele
Beware of problems from chronic Very Low Carb

Offline Raw Kyle

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Re: "Reject basic assumptions..."
« Reply #14 on: August 07, 2009, 02:22:10 am »
Earth is not a closed system, or there would be no life here.  Sunlight is the best example I can think of.

Earth is closed in terms of matter (for the most part) but not for energy. And I actually am a fan of Austrian economics, but still stick by the laws of thermo when push comes to shove.

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Re: "Reject basic assumptions..."
« Reply #15 on: August 07, 2009, 03:38:16 am »
Earth is closed in terms of matter (for the most part) but not for energy. And I actually am a fan of Austrian economics, but still stick by the laws of thermo when push comes to shove.

Not so. There is a constant rain of water and space dust from outer space.

http://www.jmccanneyscience.com/

My basic assumption is that we live in a sick society, so much so that the best way of describing it is that we are all full of shit. No exceptions.
The way around this is to clear some space in the mind for Truth, and then try to find it. Good Luck!

Offline SkinnyDevil

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Re: "Reject basic assumptions..."
« Reply #16 on: August 07, 2009, 09:41:30 pm »
I actually am a fan of Austrian economics

This is a recent development! When did that happen?
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Offline Raw Kyle

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Re: "Reject basic assumptions..."
« Reply #17 on: August 12, 2009, 08:56:21 am »
This is a recent development! When did that happen?

More than a year ago. I don't believe everything they say, but I've been voting Libertarian rather than Socialist for a while now. Basically switched from an anarcho-community to libertarian.

Offline SkinnyDevil

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Re: "Reject basic assumptions..."
« Reply #18 on: August 12, 2009, 08:04:37 pm »
Interesting. I'd be interested to know what prompted the shift, if you don;t mind expounding a bit.
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Offline Raw Kyle

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Re: "Reject basic assumptions..."
« Reply #19 on: August 14, 2009, 03:40:13 am »
Two things mostly, learning about central banking like the FED, and observing the natural world to see how you cannot consume more than you produce and that more fit things survive. My socialist ideas were that everyone should share equally, but there are no natural examples of that to draw from, and although it could perhaps be a good principle, it isn't modeled after anything natural. It's natural for something stronger to take away from something weaker, like an animal taking anothers life for food. Just starting to think that people are way worse off when they're on the government dole than if they were starved out, like the population problems in the third world.

But is there any "perfect system?" Most would probably say no. These days I just observe what goes on, look at it through my particular lens, and try to keep myself safe and in a good position. If people want to know my beliefs I let them know, but I don't preach anymore. Although I can be found shaking my head at the radio or TV occasionally when it says something about the FED meeting to discuss interest rates or some economic stimulus package ideas.

William

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Re: "Reject basic assumptions..."
« Reply #20 on: August 14, 2009, 06:53:05 am »
My socialist ideas were that everyone should share equally, but there are no natural examples of that to draw from, and although it could perhaps be a good principle, it isn't modeled after anything natural. 

Some Amerindians shared everything, certainly those in what is now Canada. No longer, since they were sucked into the job/money/capitalist system.

Offline PaleoPhil

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Re: "Reject basic assumptions..."
« Reply #21 on: August 14, 2009, 07:00:11 am »
Yes, William, but both Marxist communism and laissez faire capitalism are modern innovations that cannot quite be equated with the economic systems in any First Nations' or Stone Age systems. There are some elements of both of the modern economic systems in the ancient ones, but they are not the same.

If you want to learn about Hunter Gatherer economics you can read the works of Marshall Sahlins, Richard B. Lee,  Paul Shepard, Richard Leakey and others. One good overview is "Limited Wants, Unlimited Means: A Reader on Hunter-Gatherer Economics and the Environment."
>"When some one eats an Epi paleo Rx template and follows the rules of circadian biology they get plenty of starches when they are available three out of the four seasons." -Jack Kruse, MD
>"I recommend 20 percent of calories from carbs, depending on the size of the person" -Ron Rosedale, MD (in other words, NOT zero carbs) http://preview.tinyurl.com/6ogtan
>Finding a diet you can tolerate is not the same as fixing what's wrong. -Tim Steele
Beware of problems from chronic Very Low Carb

Offline SkinnyDevil

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« Last Edit: August 14, 2009, 08:30:25 pm by SkinnyDevil »
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