Re: Different patriarchy Model

Richard Foy (
Thu, 15 Dec 1994 13:02:59 GMT

In article <>,
Gerold Firl <> wrote:
>In article <> (Richard Foy) writes:
>>It seems sto me thta applying Harris's analysis to most of the wars
>>of the 20th century would not support his reasoning.
>>Very few of these wars have resulted in net gains for either side.
>True. Looking at culture as a complex adaptive system, which evolves as the
>environment changes, it is expected that some kind of *lag* will exist
>between environmental changes and cultural adaptation. The well-established
>engineering discipline of control theory has characterised the trade-off
>between response-time and stability in great detail; high-gain systems are
>quick, but susceptible to instability. Conservatism is a stabilising force
>which increases cultural stability, at the cost of introducing adaptive
>lag. The european wars of the 20th century were fought using paradigms
>which were already obsolete, but it took an amazing amount of carnage to
>get that message across.

I agree with what you are saying here. I think one has to keep in
mind that for this type of analysis there are two types of
environmental changes, those that are a result of *cultural changes
and those that are on-cultural. The cultural ones may have an
entirely different time constant than the non-cultural.

>We can decry the pernicious influence of conservatism, particularly so at
>the present time, when environmental rate-of-change is at unprecedented
>levels, but think about the alternative, the carnage which is created by
>cultural instability. Think of the irrational self-destruction of the
>ghost-dance, executed by the US, or Russia, Germany or Japan. The costs of
>adaptive lag seem minor in comparison.

I agree with the examples you cite. However, again I wonder there is
a clear cause and effect relationship here.
>Getting back to control theory, one of the best ways to minimise both lag
>and instability is by a process called *feed-forward*, where the system
>will look ahead to *predict* future needs, and implements corrective
>measures ahead of time. This is where rational planning comes in. Of
>course, planning only works if some kind of predictive ability exists.
>Feed-forward based on inaccurate prediction can be worse than no
>feed-forward at all, but if it is based on accurate prediction, it is very

This is an important point. In my view one needs to think about how
does one deal with prediction's that are inacccurate at the moment?
For example the prediction of global warming at the present time

>This is where anthropology intersects with science in a way which has real
>importance. I'm not talking about publications, tenure, careers, or even
>the advance of knowledge, important though these may be, but importance in
>terms of creating a global future of maximum benefit for all life on earth.
>For man to design a rational plan for acheiving a stable, sustainable
>future, anthropology must provide the predictive capability to ensure that
>problems don't become catastrophes. I'm counting on each one of you,
>y'hear? %^)

"Of the delights of the world man cares most for sexual intercourse
yet he has left it out of his heaven." -Mark Twain

WCSB --"Seeking equal justice for all." Richard Foy