I am a firm believer in the notion of culture existing as the practical realization of religion. Religion, in this context, may extend to other practical realizations of societal order such as the tribe-like settlements of the early day, empires, and modern political systems. Culture plays a vital role in religious indoctrination of its clan, and without it some pragmatic religions would become obsolete. Inbreeding and collectivism therefore emerged out of tribe-like settlements of early humans that went on to safeguard and transcend cultural doctrines and operatives through the generations. Some cultures moved past those conventions while others didn’t – this post will be dedicated to understanding the evolution of present-day cultures adapting to the ever-changing needs of man and the need for such culture.
On the feedback mechanisms before culture,
In my past writings, I have demonstrated the mechanisms of feedback that may arise out of individual-society interactions, and conversely. This I’ve come to realize is a widely-accepted notion in sociology. However, it was presented on the assumption that a well-established culture was prevailing in the individual’s immediacy. Before an organizational system of human attitudes – that stemmed from internal predispositions such as genetics – came into widespread existence, humans would congregate into clans ruled by their animalistic ambition. Inbreeding and collectivism would reduce genetic uncertainty. These clans would hunt, live and copulate together among their clan governed by their elementary reward system with no beliefs in the now superficial constructs surrounding emotions and physical existence. The earliest religions grew out of this basic ambition shaped by genetics. They structured and maintained consistency in this relationship between action and physical reward tapping into this internal reward system we’re all predisposed with thanks to our ancestor’s will to survive.
During this time, feedback was also influenced indirectly by genetics. Humans have been shown to prefer like races and creeds – something we could have evolved from collectivism in the past for its survival benefits. We are naturally attracted to our own clan regardless of what we might think of them. In this culture of tribe-like collectivism, humans would conform every bit to their clan’s collective expectations which naturally grew out of their Earthly surroundings, capabilities and predispositions. A certain tribe with a naturally low metabolism would tend to eat less food – something that would have resulted from basic reward-based reasoning. The clan upon noticing the low survival rate of obese members would have grown to realize on grounds of emotional reward on how they were meant to eat less carbs – to that of grief for example and its adverse physical effects governed by genetics which in-turn was safeguarded through cultural endogamy. Also, inbreeding itself might have emerged from another piece of reward-based reasoning when crossbred offspring failed to comply with their cultural expectation. This ensured all clan members felt the same kind of adversity and reacted equally thereby collectively evolving their culture as one that benefits them all. Feedback occurred between individual and their clan or alternatively to/from another clan they don’t see themselves belonging – based off cosmetic indicators such as race for example. Reward systems therefore, formed the earliest government of the people before religion could bring in a unifying world order.
Also, thanks to feedback – these clans would reach an equilibrium culture decided by their collective predispositions and ambitions and limitations and experiences. Remember how I used to say feedback cycles in sociology are perpetual, and this very perpetuality helps cultures converge on a set of genetic traits and opt for certain variations to cultural constructs – such as identity – collectivistic or individualistic? – and what scheme and level of each – besides others. Genetic homogeneity reduced uncertainty of thought or protocol. Patterns of thought were more unified now – so were cognitive abilities and personalities. This reduced likelihood for conflict and disagreements in everyday order.
A clan with a certain mutation of KSR2 would not grow paddy for a staple due to its high glycemic index just as an other clan with a certain kind of ADH and ALDH genes would not prefer brewing as a livelihood activity. The Asians with lower ethanol and by-product acetaldehyde metabolism will go on to drink less as they might have experienced unpleasant effects from acetaldehyde accumulation. This is indeed backed by contemporary Asian cultures where a taboo is placed on the recreational consumption of ethanol. For further proof, look no further than Dean Hamer, the geneticist who in his books raised solid arguments on the roles of genes in shaping human behavior leading to a distinct personality. Inbreeding was therefore necessary to maintain the genetic make-up required of their clan that served as foundation to all cultural constructs built above it – and without it, such as when people crossbred, genetic homogeneity would be compromised and threaten persistence of their rudimentary culture. It was therefore necessary that a culture be established to ensure accommodation and optimization of such genetically predisposed traits and collective personality in their Earthly endeavors. Upper-level cultural manifestations such as architecture and food portions are the result of these underlying demographic intricacies.
A review on genes as a determinant of personality ends in-part paraphrasing our theory of feedback,
Moreover, gene × gene and gene × environment interaction studies deserve further attention.
As one study points out, genetic indifferences also predispose people differently to experiences when subject to the same test conditions. This interesting study compared the social effects of the notorious love hormone, oxytocin among Korean and American people. Upon reading and review of existing literature, I found something called the dual inheritance theory that almost perfectly paraphrases my hypothesis of cultural evolution during the initial (genetic) phases. This is when culture begins creeping into the domains of anthropology – because culture can with the helping of feedback now result in biologically specialized groups. In my writings about Islam, I have stated how Islam produces somewhat biologically unique individuals. Their biological specifics had converged on after years of tribe-like collectivism and inbreeding – so much that it would be safe to say that Islamic culture is an integral part of a Muslim right up from the time of birth. You could adopt and raise one in a Western home and he’d still behave and perceive life’s experiences differently than his native sibling. And often, these forcefully liberated individuals will naturally seek to their group in the long-term as their predisposed experiences don’t make life compatible with other individuals of another ethnic group. In other words, they don’t derive the same kinds and magnitudes of pleasure from activities associated with another ethnic group. This kind of behavior is keenly observed among non-Caucasian immigrants in any Western nation.
What are the anthropological ramifications of these revelations you ask? Many, mostly to do with early migration patterns and gene flow, and ethno-centric genetic and anatomical specializations. These elements often interact and feedback among themselves. These underlying ramifications show up in the superficial cultural identities and constructs of a group. But often, the complex nature of these underlying interactions makes it hard state any cause-and-effect with absolute confidence. For example, I would hypothesize the facial bone structure among blacks somehow correlates to their dialect of the English language. I could provide more wild examples but I’ll stop and remind you that some of these causes are confounded on historical events too. As with any controversial claims of such nature that spark egalitarian problems in political and social disciplines, Steven Pinker’s book The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature dedicates a good portion of itself on ways to help us come to terms with these unpleasant truths.
With a rudimentary culture developed, what was left was to make it universal. A culture that could transcend past the genetic barriers where they’d originated. A more universal culture could no longer rely on inbreeding and tribe-like collectivism to ensure its progress through the generations and therefore, required some social documentation of its doctrines, and perpetration through societal operatives. The fundamentalists of culture – the same clan members who were considered the wise and elite – were appointed in the task of maintaining this law and order – often reserved for the elderly being the least open-minded and experienced members. These fundamentalists were in the making of their collective people. A structure of hierarchy was set up to enable this – intellectual (in the context of cultural norms), oligarchical or age-based or a mix of two or more hierarchies. Younger members of the clan would have to obey the elders and whatever it is they might see appropriate – that includes your sense of fashion, career choices and lifestyle. Popular culture was indoctrinated with their cultural ideas, making it seem relatively universal. When I was young, I would be criticized for my disinterest in the local motion picture and other mediums of popular culture – because it was their society’s belief that the young and naive be indoctrinated through comedy and drama. Other societies may take the task of youthful indoctrination to education – such as in Islamic cultures. My social sciences textbook in elementary school would comprise entirely of pro-Islamic propaganda. Our moral sciences class, another mandated piece of worthless coursework, was pro-collectivism. It propagandized what a responsible and contributing member of society should think and do. The traditional feedback mechanisms of present-day society would ensure its persistence among its demography – regardless of original ethnicity or genetic predispositions.
As these advanced cultures emerged, personality no longer came to be something densely correlated with genetics. It was a convolution of personal attitudes and traits – genetically predisposed or not – that developed out of environmental factors and genetics with the ensuing feedback occurring between a predisposed genetic trait and the environment such as society – directly or indirectly. I could have picked my introversion directly from cultural, social and intellectual isolation and indirectly from a predisposed high intellect, and/or high irritability or ADHD during which time I developed coping mechanisms that became habitual. My other trait of intuition I suspect was an indirect result of trust issues from childhood betrayal by members I was genetically programmed to trust – such as mothers for example. These examples are what I classify second-degree traits, first-degree is what you come with out of the box. My original personality of relying on my senses or favoring social company over being left alone was changed by what the environment inflicted on me in-response to my expectations and ensuing actions. The basic reward-based conditioning kicked in and modified my personality accordingly to better adapt to my environment. It should be evident at this point that present-day personalities are the complex combinations of an individual’s intrinsic and environmental parameters – not linearly draw up from genetic markers.
While the earliest forms of theism resulted from genetic predispositions such as a God gene and the accommodation of natural traits by their environment, more contemporary religions were the convergence of many lines of thought on spirituality and mythology. Anthropologists still struggle to assign finite periods in time to the evolution of religon because religion, unlike anatomical evolution, resulted from complex interactions and feedback between multiple groups of people and/or individuals – and it would be impractical to satisfactorily draw up a hierarchical descendance into modern religion. Like any problem in mathematics, we cannot say with certainty what method or systematic approach had been used in solving the problem, but only whether it converges on to the right solution. Religion, after widespread culture, came to unify them under another common denominator of God. Most monotheistic cultures emerged from diverse forms of polytheism. These ancient religions were the shaping of the needs of such culture – and emerged out of a need for spirituality in times of adversity to maintain a world order dictated to them by the alter-ego fundamentalists of God.
These fundamentalists often had very narcissistic aims. They had a personal agenda to move. Some fundamentalists chose to a dogmatic and individualistic extreme, exercising violent indoctrination of foreign members – ethnically and culturally – while others took to a pragmatic and collectivistic extreme, promoting endogamy and homogeneity among their intended people – only held together by pragmatic ways of life and collective societal order. Compliance was rewarded with Earthly paradise under such a scheme therefore allowing people to pick up pragmatism more easily appeased by the readily observable cause-and-effect. Most ancient religions, especially that of early settlements were pragmatic where people would collectively participate in psychodrama and mystically rewarding activities. Hinduism is a suitable example of such – it followed and still remotely does a system of ethnic hierarchy called the caste system. Its followers are rewarded slightly into paradise due to a prevailing collectivistic society and theologically into another re-birth based on karma. Any violation would be resented – through physical harm and abuse under honor – as negative reinforcement was naturally predisposed into all humans and was widespread before a moral-driven ideology took over. The other extreme of pure dogma rewarded members with heaven – an imaginary concept of the afterlife with no guarantee of re-visiting Earthly pleasures. Some religions took the best offerings of both sides – pragmatism for its easy appeal and paradise, and dogmatism for its indoctrination of an ideology to help develop a moral-based conscience that would promote spread as violently as individualistic cultures and subsequently insure the shaping of future society. One notable contemporary example of this unique arrangement is Islam. Its dogmatic inheritance from Abrahamic scriptures – that guaranteed violent and rapid indoctrination of religious ideology – and pragmatic influence from Eastern religions – that allowed collective and mindless unity of its members toward progressing the fundamentalist’s agenda enables it to spread and conquer widely while employing honor and negative reinforcement. This is backed by the abundant ethnic groups found under Islam over Hinduism despite being rooted in collectivism – Arab, Persian, Indian, Egyptian, Syrian, and of Roman descents.
Many smaller clans and polytheistic religions faded away. They couldn’t stand the challenges posed by time. Religion went on to unite people theologically, under a net of dogmatic beliefs and values. This would ensure a more abstracted order-keeping without relying on constanguinity or tribe-like collectivism.
The Culture Test measures modern culture broadly on three parameters – guilt-innocence, shame-honor, and fear-power. A culture’s reliance on the internal goodwill and conscience of its members falls predominantly into guilt-innocence. Such cultures emerged with the evolution of modern political systems like the democracy. Under a system of pure law unimpeded by cultural ideas, the lower-levels of everyday order in society were maintained through a system of guilty reinforcement of proper conscience which initially took shape from theological dogma. Shame-honor relies on a system of honor perpetrated through collective ambition – a fear of exclusion from society with shame serving as negative reinforcement. Shame was internally instigated from a conscience that was shaped to place cultural and theological doctrines above textbook practice of law, or logic for that matter. Fear-power is an equally collectivistic venture. However, the body of consensus suggests they may belong to tribe-like settlements or early civilization – but I beg to differ. This paradigm belongs closer to theistic cultures, the ones that can be credited with the early beginnings of religion. Therefore, in an epiphany, guilt-innocence cultures were largely moral-driven philosophy – such as with dogmatic Christianity. Fear-power was an extreme opposite to the former, by moving authority to an outside and theistic entity. Shame-honor cultures found itself in the crossroads between the two with cultural doctrines shaping the every aspect of their lives, partly shaped by some prevailing pragmatic mythology such with Hinduism, or partly by an already existing rudimentary culture.
Cultural evolution is complex – and when I say complex, you know I mean it. What sociologists refer to broadly may have many different schemes of it. Collectivism, for example, manifests at different levels among some two Eastern countries. It is important to remember how contemporary culture is an autonomous development – something that took form over a stretch of time by the unconscious and reward-based reasoning of early peoples to factors affecting their physical existence.
Postscript: On the testing of culture in an individualistic present-day society.
Convergent tests such as the one cited above for culture, and the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator for personality do a good job at it. While they don’t necessarily tell you how you might have developed said culture or personality trait – they do narrow down on what you have turned out to be. With The Culture Test however, I did notice some questions that could be answered personally or through knowledge acquired from a local group.
What’s really left for me is connecting the dots. I’ve largely laid down the foundations of culture and religion – from evolution to present-day iterations of it, and postulated feedback mechanisms of greatest significance. All I have to do is fine-tune and connect the specifics to create a higher-order framework that would explain everything below it.
Update(12/20/2017): On the evolution of contemporary forms of monotheism.
My dilemma on where to place this discussion kept holding me back – it discusses the fundamental evolution of successful religions and concurrently inherits hypothesises from my theory of culture and its evolution. A successful religion is what I define as one that has spread to the vast of lands and peoples – given religion grew out of collectivism in times of uncertainty and trouble. Interestingly though, some notable religions like Christianity have divested into individualism. In my previous writings, I discussed religion in the context of world order and in the process of developing a system of societal structure, an order of peoples. But as I’ve come to realize, not all religions are like this. While individualistic and purely dogmatic religions like Judaism and Christianity have grown to embrace individualistic attitudes of its people for the higher layers of order-keeping enabled it, Eastern religions still heavily rely on collectivism for its sustenance. Pragmatic rites often have no justification in scriptures and are often localized to a geography. Individualism is therefore abstracted under such a paradigm of religion – as with Christianity – while other religions operate at a lower-level closer to the people, limiting and dictating their every thought and action.
Jerusalem ethnically belongs to Judaism – the most purest of Abrahamism and what chronologically came before Christianity. Islam came to be when a desert wanderer named Mohammed observed the downfalls and successes of Abrahamic Christianity after a Jewish carpenter died for his people’s sins and decided he would indoctrinate a clan of pirates and rapists who rode the high seas drinking and enjoying medieval sex trade without access to ideas of civilization and the progressing world by convincing them to give up their livelihood pleasures for his version of an Abrahamic religion. Mohammed sought after these gullible people as they were lost and found no meaning in life. Islam was their savior.
Jesus on the other hand went to indoctrinate a people driven by moral to maintain societal order. He sought after people seeking spirituality in times of uncertainty, such as during historically significant events behind Christianity’s success in Europe – the fall of the Roman empire and the Iron curtain. He emphasized on the concept of sinning and wrong-doing thereby, tapping into his followers’ inner conscience to maintain religious morality. The people Jesus sought after were progressive and on the verge of civilization, or in the midst of recovering from the loss of one. Just like individual-society feedback where a low intelligence individual would pull down the standards of living among a collective people, individualistic people found themselves into a guilt-driven scheme of it while Christianity’s morality fed back into an individualistic society in the making, perpetually until convergence. So today, sociologists can simply ask you questions pertaining to your conscience and moral justifications and determine if you’re Eastern or Western or Islamic cultured.
Mohammed sought after the ill-civilized and the nomadic. He devised a system of sexual reward and religious totalitarianism. He re-wrote the scriptures for the Quran in-line with his new philosophy. The low-level collectivism and pragmatic rites that enabled tribe-like unity and sustenance of Islam converged on to a system of honor while totalitarianism of thought and action lead to fearful obedience. Other forms of extreme theism falls into fear-power as they predicate their lives on mystical powers outside their control. Islam is pretty much tail-gating at this point with these super-theistic cultures.
The carpenter and the phedophile used the solid dogmatic foundation of the Torah and other Abrahamic scriptures, to perpetrate their own versions of it they saw good prospects in based off their life experiences and ethnicity. The pure forms of Abrahamic dogmatism failed as evident with Judaism – and the later fundamentalists were keen to avoid its failures among their target peoples.
The healthiest civilizations grew out of fertile lands sustaining fundamental livelihood activities like agriculture. Honor is strongly correlated with infertility and a lack of resources. A system characteristic of the animal kingdom – where one must by all means fall back on animalistic rewards for their Earthly sustenance – of food and sex. We saw how the Scottish and Northern English from the cold had a culture of chivalry and hegemonic masculinity, while Muslims from the desert had a system of sexual honor.