Showing posts from February, 2014

In Defense of Spock

Eric Orwoll responded to Modern Romance . In his response, he compared me to Spock from Star Trek in being “coldly analytical”. I took that as a compliment. Eric, what you call “coldly analytic” I would call “abstract”. In a way, abstractions are alienating. They distance us from embodied experience: from sensation, emotion and action. There is a zen to being and doing. You don’t want to miss the forest for the trees, but you also don’t want to miss the trees for the forest. Abstract thought cannot help you in a moment of action where milliseconds count. However, that doesn’t mean abstract thought is divorced from embodied experience. Abstractions are just more removed from embodied experience. There are more layers of representation and information processing between an abstraction and the experiences it relates to. Abstract thought is emotional. It is just removed from the physical expression of emotion. Emotions are what motivate us: they set us in motion. Without emotio

We Cannot Transcend Evolution

Many people believe that we have transcended evolution, due to modern technology and the welfare state. This belief is false. We have not transcended evolution, and we will never transcend evolution. What is evolution? Evolution is a process that operates on a population of organisms, or (more broadly) on reproducing units. Evolution has three basic components: Reproduction: Organisms can create copies of themselves, or split into new copies. Reproduction implies the capacity for exponential increase. Mutation: Occasionally, heritable information is randomly changed, creating variation within the population. Selection: Organisms need resources to survive and reproduce. There are also environmental hazards, including other organisms. Some forms are better at reproducing than others. Forms that are better at reproducing will become more common. When you have these three components, you have an evolutionary process. Although selection can be positive or ne

Modern Romance

These days, most of us live in cities with millions of other people. We are always surrounded by members of the opposite sex. Yet, it is difficult for many people to find love. Despite the superabundance of mating possibilities, people now spend more time and energy on the mating game than ever before. Adolescence has become an almost permanent condition. Men and women spend years and years going through a cycle of casual affairs and short-term relationships. To understand this situation, you have to understand human sexuality. Let’s start with the simple observation that men and women are different. Men have stronger feelings of attraction. Women have stronger feelings of attachment. That is because men and women have different reproductive strategies. Men can have more children by having sex with multiple partners. Women cannot. Women, on the other hand, need the protection and support of men to survive and raise children. We evolved different emotions that reflect the costs and