Re: Culture & symbols

Robert Snower (rs222@WORLDNET.ATT.NET)
Fri, 2 Aug 1996 04:37:35 +0000

At 12:35 AM 8/2/96 +0000, thomas w kavanagh wrote:
>On Thu, 1 Aug 1996, Robert Snower wrote:
>> Redistribution creates a common identity in the same way tattoos do, or
>> kinship terminologies do.
>I did not follow the BMODs thread so I don't know if this was discussed
>there. Tattoos do not *create* identity. They might express a pre-existing
>one or be used as the basis of later lumping and/or splittling, but the
>act of putting pigment under the skin does not create/establish anything.

Must disagree. The process of tattooing, with the appropriate accompanying
mentality, can create identity, without pre-existing link, mental or
otherwise. (Where did your "pre-existing one" come from?)

>>Except that it is a good deal more powerful.
>What does this "it" refer to?


>The fact that I have five fingers, a kidney, and graying hair is deeply
>grounded in biological reality. The fact that I call several people
>"father," and several others "uncles" (and that a man older than me can be
>my son) and that my ethnicity is variable depending upon context is not.

The ability of the hair to turn grey depends on biological structure, so
does the ability to hypothesize about one's identity. But it's a quibble.

>As far as sociobiology is
>> concerned: sociobiology, via Hamilton's inclusive fitness, accounts directly
>> for societies in mammals (including humans) certainly past nuclear families,
>> to social bands and groups of varying complexity.
>just plain non sequitor: it does not follow. If I remember from a looong
>time ago, "inclusive fitness" describes the evolutionary relations between
>biological relatives. But human societies "past nuclear families" include
>a good many people who are not biological relatives and for whom
>"inclusive fitness" does not apply.

Not necessarily. And nothing was contained in your original statement about
non-relatives when you flat-out maintained sociobiology could not account
for society "above the nuclear family." Nothing about relatives, nor in
fact, anything about humans.

Best wishes. R. Snower