FORWARD BASE B

"Pay my troops no mind; they're just on a fact-finding mission."

Abstract Reasoning is What Makes Us Human

In movies, the good guys are always emotional acting “from their hearts” while the bad guy lives in his mind creating elaborate plans usually losing in the end because of some variation of “he doesn’t understand the power of love.” In the philosophy of movies, emotion and love is what makes us human.
In real life, the capability of abstract reasoning is what sets apart higher from lower humans and humans from other animals. The person who can ponder the root causes of poverty is more effective than someone who from blind compassion for a picture of a starving kid in a magazine donates to charity and helps pay the “non-profit” CEO’s salary.  The price of not having abstract understanding is to be parasitized and preyed upon.

Humans have moved towards abstract concepts for a long time and some breeds are more advanced than others.
Language itself is a system of symbolic abstractions and is part of the human species as swimming is to fish or burrowing to a mole.
But since civilization, levels of abstraction have gone far beyond what most humans are able to handle.
Consider the concept of interest on a loan, for instance.  A considerable percentage of humans max out their credit cards or mortgages and are then taken by surprise when the compound interest spins out of control.  Or let’s look at estimating probability, something people are really bad at.  In a society of rational humans the only gambling would be against other players, never with unfavorable odds against the house.
The difference is who can understand abstractions and who cannot.
In general, peoples who have lived in complex civilizations longer are better at it.  It comes as little surprise that Jews, Syrian Alawis and Christians, Lebanese Maronites, and Armenians do well wherever in the world they go.  They are all mercantile peoples who spent thousands of years living on top of some of the world’s major trade routes.
Meanwhile, peoples new to the abstractions of civilization struggle to deal with laws, commerce, and the concept of the state.  Unable to formulate long term plans and heavily selected for binging in times of plenty, they become impoverished and hopelessly addicted to drugs and junk food.  Whether we’re talking about the Pima, the Pygmies, the Samoans, the Sioux, or the Aborigines, the problems are always the same, the only variation is degree.

Plato grouped humans into three categories.

Bronze – Ordinary workers and merchants engaged in their work with little awareness beyond their own wants. In Enlightenment philosophy, whether by communism, capitalism, or even libertarianism and anarchism, these people are supposed to be the rulers. That’s why these ideas when unalloyed by common sense never work. Mob rule, tragedies of the commons predictably result.

Silver – Those with enough awareness to be granted some measure of power without selfishly abusing it.  They have enough foresight to understand at least part of the big picture and some ability to think of the longer term within the context of their role. They are the middle management of society, the officers of humanity. They don’t take bribes(they can understand how it damages the credibility of the entire system), they keep utilities cheap and reliable, the trains arrive on time.  They make sure things work.

Gold- Those with enough awareness to understand the complexities of the macroscale and reason beyond oneself.  Those who can best do this are those who should be managing societies.

To care about anything that occurs after one’s death, for example, is irrational in the most literal sense. A bronze-soul squeezes the world for all it’s worth as long as they’re alive. What should it matter if the nation were to fall after they’re buried, or the entire human race to meet its demise?
The difference between a higher man and the stampede is to grasp the highly abstract idea of a future beyond oneself in the endurance of one’s work, deeds, ideas, and seed—to perceive beauty in what we will never see, touch, or taste for it’s own sake.
There’s a Greek proverb: “A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in.”
Taking delight in what has not yet happened is pure abstraction, but for those capable of it, it is as real as any present and tangible pleasure. As real as are imaginary numbers and infinity to a mathematician.

People are only equipped so far by nature to deal with groups of up to 150.  Abstraction is the only way for limited human beings to work around the limit set by the Dunbar number and be able to reason out the workings of a mass society of millions of people.
A lower human given charge of a nation handles millions of people with the package of instincts appropriate to a small tribe.
What is a great famine that kills millions so long as you, your family, friends, and closest followers are safe?
It makes no sense to care about people we don’t know so long as it doesn’t affect us. It very much makes sense to sacrifice a million strangers we don’t care about in a war to get what we want. Why not abuse and neglect as it pleases us? They’re all just a statistic. To perceive beyond this, a human must use abstraction and imagination.

Ironically, the lower human ruler also projects his warm instinctual feelings for a small group onto many and preserves a million who are destroying everyone else out of crass sentimentality.
The higher being sees a rook is not worth a pawn and does what must be done.
Where the lower man is ruthless, the higher is merciful
And where the lower is generous, the higher crushes.

The gold soul has the same animal instincts as the bronze but it has the quality of consciousness that allows it to reflect on its nature while the bronze just follows its program like any other animal.
The high human can reflect on its own instinctual drives, figure out the purpose of each, and reason the best course to realize the “intended” goal.
The drive to socialize and observe social norms is there to further our survival in a group and to aid the survival of the group itself against other groups.
So if in charge of millions, we ought to use intellect to further the group as an appropriate instinct would, if it existed.
The drive to breed is there to spread our genes.
So we ought to understand that instinctual gratification with contraceptives is an illusion.
Where instinct is not enough, the greater human formulates strategies.
Faced with relentless change, human animals flounder in aimless despair like pandas with their bamboo forests burnt down.
High Humans change their survival strategy with the times.

2 responses to “Abstract Reasoning is What Makes Us Human

  1. Koanic November 22, 2015 at 4:49 am

    “In general, peoples who have lived in complex civilizations longer are better at it… They are all mercantile peoples who spent thousands of years living on top of some of the world’s major trade routes.”

    The causation probably goes the other direction.

  2. Pingback: This Week in Reaction (2015/11/22) | The Reactivity Place

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