Everyone desires to reach a stage of absolute happiness where he is all the time happy. This is defined as a state of NIRVANA which supposedly brings you to an ultimate state of pleasure.
But the terms pleasure and misery cannot be absolutely defined. It is because they are relative terms. To explain this through an example, let us take an example of a man who is accustomed to have stale bread as his daily meal. If his diet is suddenly changed to something like biryani which is better in taste, he will feel a pleasure. His degree of pleasure is in direct proportion to the degree of improvement in the taste of the food. If he is offered still better food, his pleasure increases further and if one day, it is suddenly continued to supply him with stale bread, he will feel misery. This is because, he has obtained a knowledge of something which enhances his pleasure.
On the other hand, if stale bread is the only available food on earth, the terms pleasure and misery will be meaningless as there is no scope for relative comparison. Even if the supply of a wonderful meal is continued over a long period, without any variation in tastes, a man will be bored, as the feeling of pleasure can be derived only through comparison.
Considering another example, if a man feels he is good looking, it is only in comparison with people who are not as good looking as he. If he is sad in this aspect, it is because of people who are better looking than him.
So, a world of absolute happiness is a world where all people are identical in appearance, have equal intelligence as difference in intelligence will again give rise to certain complexes, and in proportion to the difference, degrees of pleasure and misery will begin to surface. Also everyone should have equal power and artistic abilities. To sum up, each and every individual's tastes, behavior, appearance, intelligence and capacity of doing work must be same as each and every other individual.
As everyone will be having the same thoughts, there will be no need for speaking with each other, and as every one will have the same abilities, there will be no question of anyone getting interested in anyone. It is a world devoid of competition and initiative. In short, this world will be of the LIVING DEAD.
Dallas: A high school principal and his security staff shut feuding students in a steel cage to settle disputes with bare-knuckle fistfights, according to an internal report by the Dallas Independent School District.
The principal of South Oak Cliff High School, Donald Moten, was accused by several school employees of sanctioning the ‘cage fights’ between students in a steel equipment enclosure in a boy’s locker room, where “troubled” youth fought while a security guard watched, according to the confidential March 2008 report first obtained by The Dallas Morning News.
Such fights occurred several times over the course of two years, the report said.
Moten, who resigned from the district in 2008 while under investigation in connection with
a grade-changing scandal, denies the cage-fight accusations. “That’s barbaric,” he told The Dallas Morning News. “You can’t do that at a high school. You can’t do that anywhere. It never happened.”
But investigators with the district’s Office of Professional Responsibility gathered testimony from two employees at South Oak Cliff High who said they had witnessed students fighting in the cage from 2003 to 2005, among others who heard about the fights.
One employee overheard Moten tell a security guard to take two students who had been at each other for days and “put ’em in the cage and let them duke it out,” the report states, and the practice was so embedded in the school’s culture that one student remarked to a teacher that he was “gonna be in the cage.”
Moten is a former police officer who lied about being kidnapped at gunpoint to get out of work, for which he was given administrative leave. NYT NEWS SERVICE
The critics of modernity, going back at least to the 19th century, have told us that modern society is hurtling forward, its social ties unraveling behind it, its citizens left unhinged and bewildered. In recent decades, disintegration has remained a persistent image in popular social criticism, from Alvin Toffler's Future Shock and Philip Slater's The Pursuit of Loneliness (both published in 1970) to more current entrants such as Judith Warner's 2005 book Madness: Motherhood in the Age of Anxiety. And now comes the sociologist Dalton Conley tapping into the same trope and, like many before him, presenting the crisis of contemporary society as bearing most sharply, indeed almost exclusively, on the privileged.
The trouble with this long tradition, and particularly with Conley's rendition of it, is that the evidence doesn't support the view that modernity has disoriented all groups in society, much less that it has peculiarly shaken up the privileged. Despite the pervasive image of a postmodern self, fragmented and fractured, the educated have found new ways to knit their lives together. It is the less educated, squeezed on every front, whose lives have become more insecure and unstable in both work and family life.
A professor at New York University, Conley has important articles and books to his credit, and much of his work deals critically with social inequality. His Being Black, Living in the Red is a substantial study of the sources and consequences of racial differences in wealth. The Pecking Order: Which Siblings Succeed and Why is an intriguing analysis of the limited role of genes and family background in accounting for achievement, highlighting instead the role of luck, accident, and the inability of parents with many children to provide opportunities to all of them.
In contrast to his earlier work, however, Elsewhere, U.S.A. is a disjointed dervish of a book that embodies its author's diagnosis of modern life. It is frenetic, disorganized, marred by leaps of logic and digressions galore. Its saving grace is that it challenges us to understand how contemporary social transformations affect the realms of personal life: love, friendships, the sense of self. But to grasp those connections, we have to pay attention to facts that Conley dismisses or ignores.
Amid a welter of kvetchy asides (Conley hates advertisements on movie screens, logos on T-shirts, and people who yak on their cell phones in public), Elsewhere, U.S.A. offers two big concepts to diagnose modern society's ills: the "elsewhere" society, and the "intravidual." "Mrs. and Mr. Elsewhere," workaholic professionals, always feel they should be somewhere else than where they currently are, and so they betray those around them as their mind races ahead to the next encounter, or they look around for a more desirable interaction. The intravidual is the reciprocal of this dissociated society: Rather than an integrated self, the modern person is internally fragmented.
Along with these two big concepts, Conley emphasizes four forces that drive contemporary social change. New technologies create a 24/7, sped-up work life that continuously intrudes on family time. Growing income inequality makes those near the top envious and insecure, leading them to work ever harder. Women's participation in paid work erodes community life, breaks down the boundary between work and leisure, and strains families. And the networked society permits an almost infinite number of selves -- virtual and actual -- as people participate in multiple communities of varying depth and reality, from the anonymous others who "recommend" films on Netflix, to friends of friends on Facebook, to the avatars in virtual social universes. Continue reading...
2Blowhards: Julian Jaynes -- thoughts? Reactions? And what about that "bicameral mind" idea?
Gregory Cochran: I read Jaynes' book years ago and thought at the time that he was deeply, entertainingly crazy. Nowadays, it seems likely that people have changed enough over recorded history to generate noticeable personality differences. That doesn't mean I buy his bicameral mind model: just the idea that people now may have significantly different minds from people then.
2B: One visitor thinks that "the best way to test Jaynes' ideas would be to study some of the uncontacted tribes in the Amazon and New Guinea and see if they are still of 'bicameral' mind." Has anyone bothered to do this?
GC: If someone really believed in bicameralism -- some non-Nebraskan -- sure. I wouldn't myself.
2B: From another reader: "[You say that people will cling to the Blank Slate myth as long as it pleases them to.] The Catholic Church reluctantly stopped believing in the geocentric model of the universe long before there were important practical applications. They had an enormous investment in the geocentric model, but the empirical evidence was too strong. Are you saying that the scientific evidence against the 'Blank Slate myth' will never be strong enough, or that the motivation to cling to the myth is stronger than that for the geocentric model, or perhaps that heresies are suppressed more efficiently nowadays?"
GC: I think people -- some people -- care a lot more about this than anyone ever cared about geocentrism. There are also practical political aspects.
2B: From another reader: "Depiction of trickster gods in West Africa seems a bit positive, at worst morally neutral. In Northern Europe, Loki was a clear-cut villain. Could that contrast come from selection-induced personality differences?"
GC: And yet Bugs Bunny is our hero. I think this line of analysis is about as sound and solid as Citibank.
2B: "I have heard that the wide varieties of thalassemia are the result of reproductive isolation. If populations mixed in Italy, the best ones would be common, and the rest rare. Maybe that was from Cavalli-Sforza? But maybe malarias varied regionally, leading to regional adaptation: there is no best resistance?"
GC: There are lots of places where several hemoglobin mutations (defenses against malaria) co-exist. Modeling suggests that in some cases some variants will eventually be replaced by others, but that process can take a long time -- in some cases far longer than falciparum malaria has existed. Falciparum malaria in Italy (at least in central and northern Italy) is less than 2000 years old: there probably hasn't been time enough for the dust to settle.
2B: "An androgen receptor allele associated with male pattern baldness shows signs of strong selection in some populations. Does the difference have cognitive effects, personality affects, does it increase paternal investment, reduce intergenerational mate competition, socially-mediated personality differences? I have an uh, personal interest in this one."
GC: I have no idea. There are some interesting regional variations in the average activity of the androgen receptor, but the variant linked to baldness is different. I hadn't heard that it looks selected: do you have a reference?
2B: "You say: 'brains have shrunk about 10% over the last 30,000 years, and almost certainly changed in other ways as well.' So, why is that? Is it that we have less need for more generalized brains? Or have genes that lead to more efficient brains predominated? Can we compare brain size between hunters and gatherers (such as are left) or slash and burn types with those who live in complex societies?"
GC: Nobody knows why the human brain has shrunk. It might be increased temperature. There is some indication that the cerebellum has become relatively bigger over this period: this might be a clue. Larger populations would tend to create more mutations, and some might have led to more efficient brains: certainly any change that preserved or improved function while shrinking the brain would be highly favored. As for brain size, Eskimos have larger-than-average brains (and score higher on IQ tests than other hunter-gatherers) while Australian aborigines, Pygmies, and Bushmen have smaller-than-average brains.
2B: "So it turns out that no one has really taken a hard look at interfertility among human population groups. I can't say I'm surprised. What about interbreeding success between dogs? Are there differences? Lions can breed with tigers, but Ligers are infertile, right? So much for the interspecies question. Where intra-species breeding success is at issue, I would assume -- perhaps mistakenly -- that the question would hinge on graduated differences rather than something like on/off. This is why I wonder if there is good data regarding relatively distant dog breeds, which aren't so different from human races."
GC: Female ligers are often fertile, in accordance with Haldane's rule.
As far as I know, all human mixes ever tried have been successful, but I don't think there has been much checking of the rate of miscarriages, measurement of average fertility, etc. There might be a problem or two.
There might also be hybrid vigor. Sometimes the offspring of two particular strains of a plant or animal species are sturdier, healthier, etc than their parents: two populations that have this property with respect to each other are said to "nick." For all we know, there are ethnic groups that have never had members intermarry but would produce really formidable offspring if they ever did.
Of course, the real point of that comment was to suggest an experimental program with, say, 100 ethnic groups, that involved systematically testing interfertility (i.e. making babies) in all 10,000 possible combinations: a vast mating matrix. I would say that we know the results of only one row of that matrix; the Irish and everybody else.
2B: "Of course the elephant in the bedroom is the huge gap between average black and average white IQ. Whites had to grapple with and survive ice age conditions. Blacks didn't. That's the the thinking as to why the gap exists." In other words, is the denial of the idea that substantial differences between population groups exist finally down to people wanting to avoid the black/white IQ difference?
GC: Nobody knows the historical/prehistorical causes of the gap. As for the motivation being a desire to avoid discussing or admitting black/white differences: partly, but there are other drivers, I think. Continue reading..
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