Conclusions of the Territorial Imperative

Usually, at the end of a good book, I prefer to write my thoughts about what I have read. In this case, however, you will allow me to be lazy and let Ardrey talk for himself.

He writes towards the end, and I think the conclusions make sense;
1. We must know that man, while the alpha fish among species, is unique only in his capacity for getting himself into troubles that for other species nature would be compelled to provide
2. We must know that as body and behaviour evolve as a collective enterprise,  so human behaviour like the human body is governed by evolutionary laws comparable to those of any other species
3. We must know that while the human brain exceeds by far the potentialities of that possessed by any other animal species, its psychological processes probably differ not at all from those of other higher animals, and from those of lower animals perhaps as well
4. While granting that the varying cultural achievements of human populations set man apart from other animals, still we must know that such cultures, however complex, simply serve to fill out behavioural patterns, some as ancient as recorded life
5. Man no different from any other animal is a complex of expressions, frequently conflicting, in which no single determinant- territory, society, dominance, sex, economic necessity or single innate need for identity, stimulation or security – holds exclusive or permanent domain.
6. Our capacities for sacrifice, for altruism, for sympathy, for trust, for responsibilities to other than self interest, for honesty, for charity, for friendship and love, for social amity and mutual interdependence have evolved just as surely as the flatness of our feet, the muscularity of our buttocks, and the enlargement of our brains, out of the encounter on ancient African savannahs between the primate potential and the hominid circumstance. Whether morality without territory is possible in man must remain as our final, unanswerable question.

I will add here, contrary to Jean Jacques Rousseau, the capacity for violence is innate but the tools is what we must learn.

I hope this summary doesn’t disappoint all those who were expecting more, Victoria I am pointing at you😀

My solution to war

Among humans.

I have finished reading The Territorial Imperative. Thanks arch for the recommendation.

The solution to war, if Ardrey is to be believed, is to ensure there is just enough natural hazards everywhere to keep us distracted from killing one another.

Every time we have a common problem facing the country, people forget their tribes, bigotry and hate for a moment, even if it is just a few hours and direct their energy to helping one another.

The million dollar question is how to cause this natural events. That I leave to others to come up with.

Free will: do we have it?

In his blog post, free will and the perfect pool table, my friend Steve concludes we do. I don’t think he has demonstrated that we actually do we have freewill. I also contend he has failed to give a coherent definition of what he means when he says we have free will.

He writes

But now let us add the real-world pool table items back in. If we were to just add the pockets back, some of the balls would leave the table by falling into the pockets and the balls that remained would have to have paths that repeated themselves and which didn’t involve colliding into a pocket. If the felt is added back, so is friction and the balls in motion will then stop at some point due to that friction. Also, the not perfectly elastic bumpers will absorb some of the energy of the balls colliding with them. We end up with an imperfect, non-deterministic game, one in which the result of any balls being set in motion becomes quite uncertain. The only thing we can say for certain is the balls will come to a stop after each “play.” The motions are somewhat but not perfectly predictable, which allows for the skills of elite pool players.

Every time the cue ball is struck (the cue ball being made slightly larger than the other balls so it strikes them ever so slightly above the equator, minimizing the chances of a ball being hit slightly below the equator which can result in the struck ball flying off of the table (now you know)), the table ends up in a new state, that is the positions of the balls involved in collisions is almost guaranteed to be different as well as somewhat unpredictable.

and I find this is analogous to human life. The individual is any one of the balls. The friction on the billiard table are the different are the social constraints, the mental environment we live in and the push from the cue stick the different motives pushing us in different directions. If, for instance, the player was a professional and we observed how their play, we would tell almost accurately where the ball would go every time it was hit. So it is with humans; if we could carefully map every situation, we would, with accuracy, tell what the person would do. The outcome, given the same conditions would be the same.

I disagree when he writes

[..]So, decisions have to be made. Should I try to sink this ball or that ball? If I sink that ball, will the cue ball be in a position to sink another ball (or the next numbered ball in the sequence) and, if it won’t be properly positioned, can I make it properly positioned by some skill of my possession.

the decision of which ball to sink is not arbitrary. For a person who hasn’t played pool, I would be trying to sink any ball. For a professional player, with years of experience, this will not be the case. This is the effect of training. The play is not arbitrary.

While it is true that

 two different pool players will sometimes play a particular situation differently.

it is not true this is because of freewill. The differences in their play is as a result of differences in training, experience and abilities. And it is the same with other human affairs. Given the same scenario, different people will act differently because of differences in training, genetic make up and the motives.

And as reader Shinashiz said, this

And occasionally state that “they don’t know why they chose the route they did” or they felt more confident “in the moment” in that path, or…. And sometimes they get frozen in a state of indecision, that is they have two paths forward that they cannot distinguish between and they get “stuck” not being able to decide

doesn’t support freewill. To be undecided is to say, in a deterministic universe, that motives are matched up. That acting on any will almost bring a similar result. The moment one motive outweighs the other, in this case, the chances of a score increases for one against the other, the player will proceed and play. This cannot be, in my view, be called freewill, especially since we can see the immediate effect of the environment at play.

I agree with Steve when he writes

I think much of the debate about the existence of free will is based upon a faulty definition.

and I would have expected him to give us a proper definition. I do think that if a definition was coherent, much of this debate would have ended. My definition of freewill is quite simple and you are free to disagree with it.

Freewill means our actions are uncaused. 

Steve then says

The reason free will is important is that if we do not have the ability to make our own choices, that our response to situations was either hardwired into our brains or programming in by social conditioning, then we are not responsible for our actions, our engineers and programmers are. How could we punish criminals or send sinners to Hell without them having the ability to do other than what the situation triggers? How indeed?

While I don’t want to dismiss this very important challenge, I first would want to say, a human being is not responsible for their make, nor their thoughts. All these come to them from outside. Outside here could be a book, a tree, another person but never their own. And much as it is hard to accept, we are products of social conditioning, biological makeup[ temperament] and training. And our actions are driven by different motives that we are not the originators.

That we should be punished for our actions, is in my view, a religious idea and the main reason the churches, especially those that preach hell exist. They wouldn’t justify their hell if they accepted the fact of determinism. And we should change our motives for punishment. As a determinist, I believe, training is a better way to modify behaviour. Jails have failed to achieve this. We should bring down those walls. We should improve human societies. An unequal society breeds discontent.

Stories from home

In my village, the dead are revered. If you attended a funeral, even of the village thief, you would think you attended the wrong funeral. Speaker after speaker will tell you how good the late fellow was. I think even his victims would praise his generosity. I don’t know about you, but I have no such allegiance to the dead. I like to call a spade a big spoon and a big spoon a spade.

The dust has now settled on the grave of the late Lucy Kibaki. All the media reports I read after her demise were all glowing in tributes to her. For a moment I thought I was reading about a different person. I am not disagreeing with those who say she was a good grandmother, not at all. I only question a nation that seem to have lost its conscience.

If there is anything I recall about her are tantrums about the first family composition, disagreements with members of her husband’s cabinet or the several allegations of who she slapped here or there. I wish her family well.

Last weekend a man, Jacob Juma, was laid to rest at his home in western Kenya. His death is still clouded in mystery. No one knows who killed him though he had in many occasions named some high ups who wanted to dispatch him to the world of the dead. I hope they are found out. I am disappointed that the press could only refer to him as controversial businessman. This reference is to make the business of covering up the murder an easier task. Anyone with an agenda can easily claim it was a business deal gone bad.

Yesterday the police displayed their brutality on demonstrators. A little background, the constitution grants citizens the right to picket. I think the police didn’t read the document or don’t know of its existence. I am not ruling this out. Sadly a fellow has succumbed to the injuries. What his death has revealed is how divided, along tribal lines, the country is. When all there was to go by was a picture of a cop crushing his head on the ground, a section of the populace felt it served him right. Now that we have name, things are a bit different.

And the pastors are silent. They are silent when money is lost through sleaze. They are silent when the powers that be appoint people based on their surnames instead of merit. They are silent every time you expect them to speak, as Hosea, spoke. No, they can’t stand atheism. That is the biggest affront to the nation that they can’t stand.

As a prophet of the golden boot, I think things will get only worse. There will be more violence. The police, a group that isn’t known for their intelligence, will kill or maim more people and at the end, we will have the same crooks in places of influence.

Have a pleasant week everyone.

Thank you evolution for making me a man

I know most if not all of you are aware of the three blessings, a prayer said by Jews in the morning.  The prayer goes

“Blessed are you, Hashem, King of the Universe, for not having made me a Gentile.”

“Blessed are you, Hashem, King of the Universe, for not having made me a slave.”

Blessed are you, Hashem, King of the Universe, for not having made me a woman.”

This is not our interest today. We are interested in a more interesting one found in The Territorial Imperative by R. Ardrey. He writes

The daytime hippo is another thing. His flesh, I must admit, is not too bad to eat; but beyond that I can think of no virtue in all his vast carcass. He is ugly; his eyes are ugly; his mouth can exist for no purpose other than to provide the nightmares of children with appropriate furniture; his body resembles a gigantic bathtub. He is the idealised synthesis of all things ugly, and perhaps the perfection of that synthesis viewed through a hippo’s goggling eyes, is hippo beauty. But I am not a hippo and I see nothing through his eyes. Neither can I engage myself with his ways or identify myself with his purposes. He is the most graceless of beings, the most fathomless of idiot souls, a kind of prince among morons. I praised evolution for making me a man and not a Ugandan kob, but the most moving of my thanksgivings must be reserved for that genetic fortune which did not make me a crocodile who must lie on some sunny sandbank somewhere, day after day, month after month, looking at hippos.

On war

In his book, the Mysterious Stranger, Mark Twain, devotes a paragraph to war. He has Philip Traum – Satan, say

There has never been a just one, never an honorable one on the part of the instigator of the war. I can see a million years ahead, and this rule will never change in so many as half a dozen instances. The loud little handful,  as usual,  will shout for the war. The pulpit will, warily and cautiously, object at first ; the great, big, dull bulk of the nation will rub its sleepy eyes and try to make out why there should be a war and will say earnestly and indignantly “it is unjust and dishonourable and there is no necessity for it.”
Then the handful will shout louder. A few fair men on the other side will argue and reason against the war with speech and pen,and at first will have a hearing and be applauded; but it will not last long; those others will outshout them and presently the antiwar audience will thin out and lose popularity.
…next the statesmen will invent cheap lies,putting the blame upon the nation that is attacked, and every man will be glad of those conscience soothing falsities and will diligently study them and refuse to examine any refutations of them; and thus he will by and by convince himself that the war was just, and will thank God for the better sleep he enjoys after this process of grotesque self deception.

Iraq war anyone?
Elsewhere in the same book, he has Philip Traum talk of human civilization.  He says

You perceive that you have made continual progress. Chain did his murder with a club; the Hebrews did their murders with javelins and swords; the Greeks and Romans added protective armor and the fine arts of military organisation and generalship; the Christian has added guns and gunpowder; a few centuries from now he will have so greatly improved the deadly effectiveness of his weapons of slaughter that all men will confess that without Christian civilization war must have remained a poor trifling thing to the end of time.

He continues to say

[…]they all did their best, to kill being the chiefest ambition of the human race and the earliest incident in its history – but only the Christian civilization has scored a triumph to be proud of. Two or three centuries from now it will be recognised that all the competent killers are Christians; then the pagan world will go to school to the Christian – not to acquire his religion, but his guns. The Turk and the Chinaman will buy those to kill the missionaries and converts with.