Re: Where are Behavior Patterns?

Tue, 1 Feb 1994 17:30:38 -0500

>Explaining anything with reference to anything requires that they be
>analytically separated! I was taking no position, therefore, on the
>extent to which human behavior is explicable without reference to
>symbolic interpretations. If anyone cares to discuss that, though, I
>am always ready with a whole gamut of important human behavioral
>patterns that recur either without reference to, or in outright
>defiance of, conscious symbolic intention, to wit: overeating, over-
>drinking, substance abuse/addiction of all kinds, domestic violence,
>traffic jams, auto accidents, wrong numbers, slips of all kinds . . .
>Need I go on? One example was not hard at all! --Bob Graber

1. Over-eating has nothing to do with one's symbolic interpretation of
their own body and how others see it?
2. Over-drinking and the use of addictive substances is hardly without
symbolic interpretation. Perhaps 'addictive' behaviors are purely
biological in origin, but there are many studies of addiction which suggest
that both physical and psychological compulsion are involved. You mean to
tell me that there is no symbolic reason why certain groups tend to drink
heavily (writers, for example) and why others don't?
3. Domestic violence plays a very important symbolic role in Brazilian
culture. I am sure you are familiar with studies of the code of "machismo."
To think of
violence as purely instinctual will prevent anthropologists from ever
dealing with it as a social phenomenon.
4. "Traffic jams" are a behavior that results from a particular cultural
preference for the car over other means of transport, something which has
great symbolic value...
5. Auto accidents have incredible symbolic meaning post facto, if not as
they are occurring. Have you seen the movie Intersection? Please do.
6. Wrong numbers and 'slips' are unintentional behaviors, e.g. mistakes.
But that doesn't mean they are without unconscious symbolic intention. I am
sure you know of what Freud had to say about certain mistakes of speech...

Please go on Bob. I and R.C. would probably like to hear more examples.
Marshall Blonsky says we live in a universe "full of signs." There are
actions undertaken by humans which may have no symbolic value at first
glance, such as breathing and sleeping, but these are generally not
behaviors which a person can control or choose, and are not known to be
culturally differentiated.

Seeker1 [@Nervm.Nerdc.Ufl.Edu] (real info available on request)
Anthropologist, Cybernaut, PoMoDemite, Noetician, Situationiste, et al.
University of Florida, Gainesville, Cosmic Nexus of the Universal Matrix
"'Tis an ill wind that blows no minds!" --Malaclypse the Younger