Tag Archives: Political Philosophy

Machiavellian Hypothesis

Principle

This hypothesis suggests that social manipulation drove the development of the human brain rather than obstacles presented by the environment and organisms other than human beings. This theory explains the intelligence of many ape and dolphins.

However, this theory does not fully explain the development of the human brain. That requires Geoff Miller’s Theory on the Development of Intelligence.

Explanation

“What [Nicholas] Humphrey and [Richard] Alexander described was essentially a Red Queen chess game. The faster mankind ran– the more intelligent he became–the more he stayed in the same place because the people over whom he sought psychological dominion were his own relatives, the descendants of the more intelligent people from previous generations. As Pinker and Bloom put it, ‘Interacting with an organism of approximately equal mental abilities whose motives are at times outright [sic] malevolent makes formidable and ever-escalating demands on cognition. If Tooby and Cosmides are right about mental modules, among the modules that were selected to increase in size by this intellectual chess tournament was the ‘theory of mind’ module, the one that enables us to form an opinion about one another’s thoughts, together with the means to express our own thoughts through the language modules. There is plenty of good evidence for this idea when you look about you. Gossip is one of the most universal of human habits. No conversation between people who know each other well — fellow employees, fellow family members, old friends — ever lingers for long on any topic other than the behavior, ambitions, motives, fralities, and affairs of other absent — or present — members of the group.” (332, The Red Queen)

Source

The Red Queen by Matt Ridley

 

Protopia

Term
A state in which the world is progressively becoming better. Kevin Kelly coined this term to contrast his understanding of the world to the dystopian or utopian points of view, which are both stagnant rather than progressively changing.
Explanation
 
“However, neither dystopia nor utopia is our destination. Rather, technology is taking us to protopia. More accurately, we have already arrived in protopia.
     Protopia is a state of becoming, rather than a destination. It is a process. In the protopian mode, things are better today than they were yesterday, although only a little better. It is incremental improvement or mild progress. The ‘pro’ stems from the notions of process and progress. The ‘pro’ in protopian stems from notions of process and progress. This subtle progress is not dramatic, not exciting. It is easy to miss because a protopia generates almost as many new problems as benefits. The problems of today were caused by yesterday’s technological successes, and the technological solutions to today’s problems will cause the problems of tomorrow. This circular expansion of both problems and solutions hides a steady accumulation of small net benefits over time. Ever since the Enlightenment and the invention of science, we’ve managed to create a tiny bit more than we’ve destroyed each year. But that few percent positive difference is compounded over decades into what we might call civilization. Its benefits never star in movies.
     Protopia is hard to see because it is a becoming. It is a process that is constantly changing how other things change, and, changing itself, mutating and growing. It’s difficult to cheer for a soft process that is shape-shifting. But it is important to see it” (13, The Inevitable)
Source
The Inevitable by Kevin Kelly

Universal Acid

Term
A concept that undermines the legitimacy of belief systems, systems of thought, and previously held hypotheses.
Explanation of Evolution as Universal Acid
“If Nietzsche is the father of existentialism, then perhaps Darwin deserves the title of grandfather” (62, Darwin’s Dangerous Idea)
“Karl Marx was exultant: ‘Not only is a death blow dealt here for the first time to ‘Teleology’ in the natural sciences but their rational meaning is empirically explained’ (62, Darwin’s Dangerous Idea)
“Did you ever hear of universal acid? This fantasy used to amuse me and some of my schoolboy friends — I have no idea whether we invented or inherited, along with Spanish fly and saltpeter, as parts of underground youth culture. Universal acid is a liquid so corrosive that it will eat through anything!…Little did I realize that in a few years, I would encounter an idea — Darwin’s idea — bearing an unmistakable likeness to universal acid: it eats through just about every traditional concept, and leaves in its wake a revolutionized world-view, with most landmarks still recognizable, but  transformed in fundamental ways.
     Darwin’s idea had been born as an answer to questions in biology, but it threatened to leak out, offering answers — welcome or not — to questions of cosmology (going in one direction) and psychology (going in the other direction). If redesign could be a mindless, algorithmic process of evolution, why couldn’t the whole process itself be the product of evolution, and so forth, all the way down? And if mindless evolution could account for the breathtakingly clever artifacts of the biosphere, how could the products of our own ‘real’ minds be exempt from an evolutionary explanation? Darwin’s idea thus also threatened to spread all the way up, dissolving the illusion of our own authorship, our own spark of creativity and understanding.” (63, Darwin’s Dangerous Idea)
Source
Darwin’s Dangerous Idea by Charles Darwin