Re: virus: Why swim upstream? (was: Re: Not Homophobic)

Eric Boyd (
Sun, 13 Jun 1999 17:35:03 -0400


KMO <> writes:

I get the impression that you (Tim, Dave, and Eric) have resigned yourselves to the fact that you must act out your genetic programming. Why do you think that is the case? Instead of saying "I am a social ape hardwired to struggle for status within my social hierarchy," why not say, "I recognize that my evolutionary psychology has equipped me with certain drives and needs that demand satisfaction. I also realize that unconscious pursuit of my genetic programming is frequently contrary to my happiness and not likely to promote the goals I value consciously.

Hmmm. Do you really think that we have that much conscious violotion? "certain drives and needs which *demand* satisifaction". I think the unconscious habit of placing ourselves in dominance/social hierarchies is truly "hard-wired". (I know I do it). We can choose not to *act* on what it gives us, but we cannot choose not to feel it. I think that we probably all "struggle" to improve our position in the social hierarchy, because we find a low position to be intolerable.

We deny our nature only at our expense -- which is to say, if we leave our fundamental drives and needs unsatisified, we will be unhappy; and as Bloom sais, such people usually kill themselves.

But what I'm sensing from you is that you'd like to include a "solution" in the maxim, in addition to the statement of the problem. For instance:

"I am a social ape. This predisposes me to jocky of a higher position on the social hierarchy, but I *choose* not to let this affect my programming and purpose"...

Are you sure that such an attitude actually leads one towards happiness? (if, in fact, you are leaving any question of position on the social hierarchy aside and not worrying about it, can you be sure that your fundamental need for social recognition will be satisified? My own experience would indicate no)

When interacting with others, on the Virus list and in other contexts, I resolve to monitor my communication and ask myself questions like, "What effect will this message have on the recipient's state of mind?" "How do I expect my communication to affect the way in which the other members of this community perceive and regard me?" "How do I want them to see me?" "Am I forgoing a deeper, more useful understanding of someone's post in order to hit them with a clever retort?" "If so, how will that serve the ends that I value consciously?" "

Excellent! It would certainly be worth including these questions in my EoE checklist. (tracing the source of the email dynamics back up into human nature)

Eric, in answer to your question about Bloom's formulation of the Lucifer Principle, it runs for 3 pages (323-326). Here it is:

Thanks. I was hoping for a quotable sentence, but I realized after I sent it that if such a sentence existed, I would have quoted it when I read the book...