Saturday, August 08, 2009

Instinct, Spontaneous Order, Reason

Here is a report about how population density was responsible for the big bang in human culture during the Pleistocene. For human culture to spread, there has to be a certain population density. Of course, this is what you would expect from the theory of self-organizing complex systems. The theory of society as a spontaneous order, then, finds even more evidence if this theory about population density is true. And if new levels of density result in new levels of complexity, the theory of spiral dynamics has some evidence supporting it. Couldn't this, then, be the emergence of the tribalist level of complexity?

In all, it seems that at very low population densities, we live primarily via instincts. There is limited culture, as we see in chimpanzees, but it is indeed limited. Once population densities real a certain level, spontaneous social orders emerge. This then drives the emergence rational thought -- which means that rational thought is rational only within a certain spontaneous social order. Scientific rationality would then be different from economic rationality, which would be different from artistic rationality, which would then be different from moral rationality, which would then be different from linguistic rationality, which would then be different from legal rationality, etc. How much do or would each of these overlap? It's hard to say. We have seen that scientific rationality -- scientism -- is highly inappropriate in the legal, economic, and artist realms. Could you imagine a science driven entirely by artistic rationality? Or law? Yet there are those who think it appropriate to impose scientific or legal rationality on the arts.

What, then, are we to make of all these rationalities? Each is a way of critiquing their own spontaneous orders. Each is a critical rationality. They all resemble each other -- there is a family resemblance of rationalities, or else we could not call them all "rationalities" -- but they are not all the same reason, either.

Out of instincts, then, come our various social spontaneous orders. Out of those orders we get our various rationalities. As the spontaneous orders evolve, so do our reasons. Do we thus become "more" rational? Or does rationality evolve, become different? Is it possible for these rationalities to interact, to create their own spontaneous order of reason? What kind of mind would that take place in? Or is it, too, social?

There has recently been a lot of work on the instinctual aspects of human life. Marc Hauser has done "The Moral Animal," in which he talks about morals as instincts. The Darwinian art and literature theorists, ranging from Frederick Turner to Dennis Dutton and Ellen Dissanayake, discuss the artistic instincts. But what about morals as a spontaneous order, as Hayek discusses? And what about the arts as spontaneous orders? On this foundation of instincts and spontaneous order, and their interactions, we can only then discuss moral reasoning or artistic reasoning. WHo is doing this work, making these connections? It seems there is a lot of work to be done.
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