renaissances

in Innate Social Aptitudes of Man: An Approach from Evolutionary Genetics [pdf], william hamilton suggested that, perhaps, one gets a renaissance by (re-)introducing barbarian altruism genes into a too outbred population, letting the mixture ferment for ca. 800 years or so, and then enjoying the fruits of everyone’s labors. he’s talking here, of course, about the european renaissance of the fourteenth to seventeenth centuries … and classical greece/athens after the dorian invasion of ca. 800 years earlier? i think. if it happened at all (link inserted by me):

“The incursions of barbaric pastoralists seem to do civilizations less harm in the long run than one might expect. Indeed, two dark ages and renaissances in Europe suggest a recurring pattern in which a renaissance follows an incursion by about 800 years. It may even be suggested that certain genes or traditions of pastoralists revitalize the conquered people with an ingredient of progress which tends to die out in a large panmictic population for the reasons already discussed. I have in mind altruism itself, or the part of the altruism which is perhaps better described as self-sacrificial daring. By the time of the renaissance it may be that the mixing of genes and cultures (or of cultures alone if these are the only vehicles, which I doubt) has continued long enough to bring the old mercantile thoughtfulness and the infused daring into conjunction in a few individuals who then find courage for all kinds of inventive innovation against the resistance of established thought and practice. Often, however, the cost in fitness of such altruism and sublimated pugnacity to the individuals concerned is by no means metaphorical, and the benefits to fitness, such as they are, go to a mass of individuals whose genetic correlation with the innovator must be slight indeed. Thus civilization probably slowly reduces its altruism of all kinds, including the kinds needed for cultural creativity (see also Eshel 1972).”

“self-sacrificial daring” is probably the equivalent of greying wanderer’s “aggression”, chris’ “drive”, staffan’s “persistence under negative reinforcement”, and/or my “contrarianism” or independent-mindedness.

the connection between these two renaissances might, indeed, be the reintroduction of some good altruism genes, but i think that maybe what these two “rebirths” have in common — what led to them occur at all — are the ca. 400-800 years of outbreeding which happened right before they began. in medieval europe we have the catholic church banning close cousin marriage around the year 500, and many secular authorities banned close cousin marriage at various points after that. and in archaic greece — the period just before classical greece/athens — we apparently have at least ca. 400 years of outbreeding — amongst the upper-classes most probably — and possibly amongst the lower classes, too (hesiod in his Works and Days recommends that a man — an ordinary man, a farmer — marry a nice girl from the neighborhood — from the kome or village — so, if archaic greeks actually did this, their mating patterns would’ve been quite endogamic, but not necessarily to close cousins — maybe third or fourth cousins or something — see A Companion to Archaic Greece).

i think you need some loosening of the genetic ties in populations — enough to get rid of a lot or most of the “clannishness” — so that you can have a “wikification” of those societies, i.e. societies where individuals are really willing to openly share their ideas with other like-minded people (see, for example, harold’s comment on the scientific revolution in england). but outbreed too much, and you might lose that “self-sacrificial daring” — because as hamilton said:

“…the benefits to fitness, such as they are, go to a mass of individuals whose genetic correlation with the innovator must be slight indeed.”

share your innovative ideas — your scientific inventions — with the entire world, and you might wind up benefitting all of those people more than your own descendents (if you’ve got any).

already at the start of the classical period in greece/athens, the mating patterns began to narrow [pg. 67]…

“[W]ith the emergence of the *polis*, exogamy began to give way in some places to endogamy — to marriage within the community. For the upper classes, this meant marriage within a tight circle of aristocratic families living in the same *polis*.”

…so it’s maybe no surprise that the athenians battled throughout the classical period against various aspects of clannishness (cleisthenes’ reforms are one huge example of this struggle) and that their renaissance didn’t last more than a couple hundred years. europeans, on the other hand — especially northern europeans — have continued to outbreed for something like over ca. 1000-1400 years — which, perhaps, is leading to another sort of problem for society — that it’s simplying fraying away at the seams because the weave is not tight enough.

maybe. dunno. all wild speculation on my part, obviously.

previously: archaic greek mating patterns and kinship terms

(note: comments do not require an email. why i otter…!)

61 Comments

  1. Also, both Greeks and Etruscans (Tuscany being genetically different from the rest of Italy if I remember Cavalli-Sforza correct) appear to have come from Anatolia and may well be closely related. That is, the Greek aristocracy and the Etruscans. We could be looking at some mutation in these population(s). Perhaps a tendency to outbreed?

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  2. Actually, the renaissance in western Europe was caused by communication of knowledge, art, and learning from Constantinople.

    The 4th Crusade sacked Constantinople; the heretic Papists attacked the capital of the Christian Empire and took a lot of loot back, including art, translations of classics from Greek history, etc.

    You have to understand that the Muslim “piracy” (they would actually call it “holy raiding” and I forget the Arabic word for it) in the Mediterranean led to a lack of Egyptian papyrus in the west, making document copying and writing in general much more expensive, thereby depressing literacy. So from the 700s on to the 4th Crusade, many of the classics of literature were lost to the west for wont of ability to copy them and distribute them, but they were not lost in the east. The “dark ages” were really a product of the destruction of the world’s largest trade transport “highway” of the time, a product of the holy raiding making shipping so dangerous and expensive, repressing the transfer of knowledge and increasing the price of writing to store and transmit knowledge.

    During the final sacking and conquering of Constantinople by the Muslims in the 1400s (BTW, this is when Rome actually fell – the official name of of the city was “New Rome” when it was founded), refugees fled and took everything they could with them: art, literature, scientific knowledge, etc.

    Funny how the renaissance in the west roughly corresponds with a knowledge transfer from the east.

    Not saying that breeding had “nothing” to do with it, but certainly breeding didn’t have “everything” to do with it, and probably “not much” to do with it.

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  3. “Funny how the renaissance in the west roughly corresponds with a knowledge transfer from the east.”

    Yes, but why Tuscany? And why hasn’t the internet and its gigantic transfer of knowledge to all corners of the world created a renaissance? It’s all funny cats.

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  4. But if knowledge transfer from the East was so important, then what specific examples are there? Gutenberg’s printing press shows no influence from the East. Francis Bacon already had the formula for gunpowder more than a century earlier. There are a lot of factors in play and this seems tertiary, behind things like the respite from the Malthusian trap afforded by the Black Plague, and the genetic factors already discussed.

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  5. Some Guy
    “Actually, the renaissance in western Europe was caused by communication of knowledge, art, and learning from Constantinople.”

    So why didn’t it happen in Constantinople then?

    Or rather if the Renaissance was just western Europe catching up to where it had been before the collapse of the Roman Empire i.e. to roughly the same level that China, India and the Middle East had achieved long ago, then why did it *carry on* past that level in Western Europe but not anywhere else who had recahed that level millenia before and why hadn’t it carried on past that level back in Roman times and only briefly in Greek times?

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  6. @hbdchick
    “one gets a renaissance by (re-)introducing barbarian altruism genes into a too outbred population, letting the mixture ferment for ca. 800 years or so, and then enjoying the fruits of everyone’s labors”

    I don’t think an event with an 800 year gap between the cause (barbarian invasion) and the effect is very plausible as a *direct* cause.

    However *if* IQ provides the wiring and (aggression / drive / persistence / contrariness) provides the electricity then *if* human innovation prior to the industrial revolution can be shown to have gone in spurts which correlate to a couple of centuries *after* a not too destructive barbarian invasion i.e. the existing civilization survives intact but under a new ruling elite, then that might fit Arab conquests, Mongols etc. I don’t know enough about Chinese / Indian / Middle Eastern innovation to know if it happened in spurts like that.

    The pattern would then be:

    1) a civilization develops based on the combination of minimum IQ and DACP but then runs out of DACP and stagnates

    2) a barb invasion (or barb mercenary coup) that replaces the lost DACP *without* destroying the existing civ causes an innovation spurt in the following century or two and then stagnates again

    3) repeat (1) and (2)

    The barb invasion of the Roman empire in northern europe didn’t leave enough of the pre-existing civilization’s cultural infrastructure to have that effect imo (although maybe the population there were still barbarian enough by the time that pre-existing level of development returned to the north again).

    However there is still the other jump – the jump beyond the level of development that China, India, the Middle-East *and* parts of Europe had reached millenia before.

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  7. @greying wanderer – “However *if* IQ provides the wiring and (aggression / drive / persistence / contrariness) provides the electricity..”

    Great turn of phrase, I like that!

    @hbd chick – I don’t know if this 800 years thing which Hamilton suggests is true or not. However I think he might be on to something with the suggestion that incursions of barbarian genes might from time to time might benefit a civilisation, or lead to a renaissance. Similar to your theory of “inbetweeners”.
    I’m often struck by the number of inventors, entrepreneurs, and industrialists who pioneered the Industrial Revolution in Britain and who were midlanders, northerners, and Scots. I believe the south of England was among the most wealthy, populous, and outbred regions at that time, but the men who were the great strivers and achievers were from the parts of the country where the outbreeders and inbreeders met.
    There seems to be something about those contrasts that has a greater tendency to produce high achievers, whether in art, science, politics, business, academia, etc.
    Where there is the most ‘equality’, socially and economically, you may get the most social cohesion and general contentedness, but you also get a society in my opinion where people have become passive and lost their spark and drive to succeed or achieve greatness. I believe the same may be true of highly outbred societies.
    So yes, it sounds plausible that the occasional influx of barbarian genes could shake things up a bit.
    Maybe if the 800 years thing were true [I’m not so sure about that], then Saxon and Viking invasions could have indirectly led to the Industrial Revolution?

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  8. @chris davies
    “who pioneered the Industrial Revolution in Britain and who were midlanders, northerners, and Scots”

    and the recently swamp-dwelling east anglians

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  9. During the 13th Century, just over 800 years ago, the Mongols conquered and in some measure settled genes in; China, Persia, Central Asia, Russia, Eastern Turkey and Bulgaria. They gave the Arabs, other than in Egypt a hiding but the Egyptians, precisely turkish slaves called Mamelukes who also used mounted archers, threw then out.

    For the record, they drew against the Poles/Germans, namely Templars and Teutonic Knights in alliance. It is PC to suggest that the Mongols won, except they didn’t stick around. There was a second attack on Poland/Germany in 1259 and that didn’t succeed either. Rarely mentioned. Doesn’t fit the PC narratives with respect to all conquering Mongols or Germans are not really good at war, it was all a mistake. The Japanese beat the Mongols repeatedly too, not just once because of the wind.

    The last of the galloping horsemen were the Mughals an Mongol-Central Asian Turkic mix. They conquered India in 1526.

    The Mongols were very clannish. It is famously known that there are umpteen millions of descendants of one of the mongol rulers, which one is not precisely known.

    So what consequences do we expect from the Mongols and the Mughals?

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  10. Extra thought. The conversion to Islam of the Pakistanis and Bangladeshis led to much greater outbreeding due to the destruction of the Hindu caste system as least at the level of the villages, even before the Mughals arrived. The traditional Hindu view is that Muslims were converted Untouchables but the scale of conversion in Pakistan and B’desh suggests otherwise. Perhaps these places were not so caste orientated anyway? 250 years until Islamic South Asia leads civilization?

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  11. @philip – “The conversion to Islam of the Pakistanis and Bangladeshis led to much greater outbreeding due to the destruction of the Hindu caste system….”

    no. the adoption of islam in pakistan (don’t know about bangladesh) has actually resulted in greater inbreeding — much greater inbreeding — because they adopted father’s brother’s daughter’s (fbd) cousin marriage (see also here) along with the new religion. fbd marriage isn’t really directly connected to islam, but the pakistans (and other groups) adopted it ’cause they wanted to emulate the (very cool) arabs.

    in many ways, a caste system can probably amount to a lot less inbreeding than other systems of marriage as long as cousin marriage within castes is avoided, which i believe it often is in many areas of india (esp. in the north).

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  12. @some guy – “Not saying that breeding had ‘nothing’ to do with it, but certainly breeding didn’t have ‘everything’ to do with it, and probably ‘not much’ to do with it.”

    my guess is that mating patterns have a lot to do with it, but by no means everything, of course. obviously you need other things in addition to optimal mating patterns: enough iq points, favorable environmental conditions, reasonable numbers of people (the more the better, but too many and you might start to have malthusian problems).

    the chinese had high civilization for millennia — and invented quite a few neat things — but never had a Renaissance — never had an Enlightenment (fwiw). why not? i don’t think the answer is only mating patterns — they’ve got that “hammered down nail” element to their population (lack of adhd), too, for instance — but too much cousin marriage (which they had) leads to “clannishness” and, therefore, a lack of trust and a general lack of cooperation between unrelated members of society (not to mention a lot of corruption). you can’t build a renaissance or a scientific revolution on that. you just can’t.

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  13. @staffan – “why hasn’t the internet and its gigantic transfer of knowledge to all corners of the world created a renaissance?”

    yes. why this, for instance?

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  14. Hamilton’s point is not so much to suggest a specific cause of various “renaissances” throughout history, but to argue that civilization reduces the genes for altruism via outbreeding and panmixia. Remember that Hamilton’s major work was in the kin selection basis of altruism. He argued that kin selection was responsible for altruism. He would reject the idea that outbreeding increases altruism.

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  15. @grove – “He would reject the idea that outbreeding increases altruism.”

    so do i. (~_^)

    or, rather, i reject the idea that outbreeding increases certain forms of altruism, namely those that are directed towards family/the in-group. that sort of altruism is obviously very much selected for in inbreeding societies (see: the arabs).

    other types of altruistic behaviors — like reciprocal altruism towards unrelated individuals — i think can get selected for under outbreeding (given the right conditions).

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  16. @chris – I’m often struck by the number of inventors, entrepreneurs, and industrialists who pioneered the Industrial Revolution in Britain and who were midlanders, northerners, and Scots. I believe the south of England was among the most wealthy, populous, and outbred regions at that time, but the men who were the great strivers and achievers were from the parts of the country where the outbreeders and inbreeders met.”

    yes, absolutely. there is definitely something curious there re. northern england and lowland scotland that requires explanation. why so many inventors up north?! also, a very (very) cursory look at some of the Big Thinkers of the enlightenment, and we turn up more in-betweeners. (need to sit down sometime and look at the rest of them.)

    i think what it is is that perhaps a barbarian invasion (bringing in lots of familial altruism genes) might be very beneficial for a society if it’s too outbred, but you might not need it if your society is already inbred. what you might need then is phase 2 of this renaissance-making process, and that’s some outbreeding. but you can’t take that outbreeding too far, otherwise you wind up with too many passive individuals, like you say, without enough spark and drive.

    maybe. still all speculation (i’d like to point out!).

    the other thing that always struck me (and many people) about the north of england is the creativity in the modern music scene! TONS of great music has come/still comes out of the north: everything from the beatles to joy division to the wave machines (yeah, i’m still hip! (~_^) — or i try to be…). what is UP with that? london’s a great town, but for music you want to be in manchester or merseyside.

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  17. @philip – “So what consequences do we expect from the Mongols and the Mughals?”

    well, hamilton would’ve said (i think) that, if the mongols/mughals had invaded very outbred societies, we shouldn’t be too surprised to witness a renaissance in those societies ca. 800 years later. only thing is, i don’t think that the mongols/mughals invaded very outbred societies.

    I would say that if, in the societies that the mongols/mughals invaded, they outbred for ca. 400 years, i wouldn’t be too surprised to witness a renaissance of some sort (would depend on other things like iq, of course) in those societies.

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  18. The key to understanding the Renaissance is something that I am calling “vernacularization”. I consider it to start with the Hundred Years’ War, in which England became English and France became more French. Influential writers (Chaucer, Dante, Cervantes, and Shakespeare) as well as dictionaries and grammars shaped and elevated vernacular languages. The Reformation was a vernacularization of the church. The Dutch and Swiss identities emerged and they gained their independence from the HRE.

    This process that I am calling “vernacularization” is a broader concept than creolization. I might call it “nationalization” but that word is already taken. Nationalism is completely different, and should probably be called “national statism”.

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  19. “why hasn’t the internet and its gigantic transfer of knowledge to all corners of the world created a renaissance?”

    What we’re doing right here is not only denying the dogma of the church we were all raised in, but actively discussing radically new ideas. Also, Moldbug rediscovered Carlyle and started a qualitatively new intellectual movement. I’d say the renaissance should follow the Internet becoming available to everyone and getting the gigantic amoutn of knowledge, which happened pretty recently. Wikipedia is only around ten years old. It’s only been useful for a part of that time, and the articles that touch on Cathedral dogma are reliably egregious.

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  20. Grove

    “Hamilton’s point is not so much to suggest a specific cause of various “renaissances” throughout history, but to argue that civilization reduces the genes for altruism via outbreeding and panmixia.”

    Sure, but extending the point makes for an interesting thought.

    #

    “He would reject the idea that outbreeding increases altruism.”

    I think over time it can increase anti-altruism i.e. specifically not favoring kin over non-kin, and under certain conditions that anti-altruism accidentally creates indirect altruism e.g. everyone chipping in for a universal ambulance service vs people relying solely on their own extended family.

    However I think there would always be a big valley between the benefits of a clannish society and the (potentially greater) benefits of an associative society hence why it doesn’t develop naturally but has to be culturally imposed e.g. Cliesthenes, Aquinas etc.

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  21. @Greying Wanderer- “Some Guy
    “Actually, the renaissance in western Europe was caused by communication of knowledge, art, and learning from Constantinople.”

    So why didn’t it happen in Constantinople then?
    Or rather if the Renaissance was just western Europe catching up to where it had been before the collapse of the Roman Empire i.e. to roughly the same level that China, India and the Middle East had achieved long ago, then why did it *carry on* past that level in Western Europe but not anywhere else who had recahed that level millenia before and why hadn’t it carried on past that level back in Roman times and only briefly in Greek times?”

    It did happen in Constantinople during the 12th century, but it was interrupted by the fall of Constantinople to the Crusaders of the 4th Crusade in 1204:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Byzantine_Empire#12th-century_Renaissance

    On a broader level, if you mean why it did not lead to the industrial revolution either in Byzantine or ancient Greek times, there is one choke-point in the scientific development leading to the industrial revolution and that is the formulation of Newton’s laws of motion. Without Newton’s laws of motion the industrial revolution is simply impossible. I do not disregard the various technological developments of ancient Greece, Rome and China, but these were empirical. The ancients were able to make things work without really knowing why they worked. After Newton though technological development was based on actually knowing what you were doing before you did it.

    Newton though did not just drop out of the blue, his laws were formulated as a result of Kepler’s laws on planetary motion (hm, so on second thought you might say that he did drop out of the blue). Kepler himself was trying to explain Copernicus’ heliocentric system. The funny thing is that Aristarchus had formulated the heliocentric system 17 centuries before Copernicus, so you might say that the industrial revolution was delayed by 17 centuries for what? For the absence of an ancient Kepler?

    It seems that there was an intellectual environment inexplicable to modern educated minds during both Hellenistic and Renaissance times. Once the ancient Greeks figured out that the earth was one of many round planets that rotated around the sun on imperfect cyclical courses (elliptical actually), their main interest moved to figuring out how they could describe these observations as a synthesis of perfect cyclical courses, hence Ptolemy’s epicycles. I suppose that this was the result of reading too much Plato and taking him at his word. 17 centuries later in Germany Kepler did not concentrate on figuring out how the whole thing actually worked instead of playing mind games, it just happened that Kepler, who was also Platonicaly minded, just played different mind games. He was trying to explain the solar system as a musical instrument that produced Platonic harmony. The solar system was no such thing, but Kepler did manage to stumble onto the actual laws of planetary motion by a fortunate mistake.

    Newton was no less a mystic than Ptolemy and Kepler, but he did manage to take the next step without everyone having to wait another 17 centuries. Why do such intelligent people get bogged down in metaphysical nonsense throughout the ages? I have no idea. But the answer to the question “why was the industrial revolution delayed by 17 centuries” is, because Greeks were erroneously seeking perfect Platonic movement and it took a German to erroneously seek perfect Platonic harmony!

    Arthur Koestler has written an amazing book on this, “The sleepwalkers”

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  22. The Bangladeshis are very inbred. (They make Hull look like the USA – British Joke). There is reliably a Bangladeshi family featured in studies of rare genetic diseases in modern Britain. However, at the point of Mughal impact in India this may not have been so?

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  23. @t – “The key to understanding the Renaissance is something that I am calling ‘vernacularization’.”

    yes. probably important. good point.

    i’d still guess, though, that you’d need a large population to start thinking of itself as “a people” before you could get vernacularization.

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  24. @peppermint – “What we’re doing right here is not only denying the dogma of the church we were all raised in, but actively discussing radically new ideas.”

    are you saying we’re in a pre-renaissance right now? ooo, i hope so!

    still have a hard time seeing how it would/could spread to more clannish regions of the world (thinking of the arabs or the afghanis, for instance).

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  25. @vasilis – “It did happen in Constantinople during the 12th century….”

    interesting. thanks for the link!

    i guess here is where i should point out that the orthodox churches in eastern europe also banned cousin marriage beginning in the early medieval period, but the bans were never consistent nor always enforced fully. for instance, theodosius the great banned first cousin marriage in the late-300s, but then his son repealed the ban. the greek orthodox church’s ban was instituted in 692 [pg. 15], but then in other regions — like russia — christianity arrived much later and, so, presumably did the cousin marriage bans (and the bans in russia flip-flopped throughout the entire medieval period, afaik — see my posts on russia in left-hand column below).

    sorry i can’t be more specific, but i simply haven’t read enough about mating patterns in eastern europe yet. but, a renaissance in twelfth century constantinople might also fit the ca. 400 years of outbreeding theory.

    Further Research is RequiredTM. (^_^)

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  26. @philip – “However, at the point of Mughal impact in India this may not have been so?”

    don’t know. in any case, you need time for this inbreeding/outbreeding thing to work. a thousand years is good, maybe just ca. four hundred as i’ve suggested in this post, but even that seems a little short to me. inbreeding or outbreeding for one or two hundred years isn’t going to have much effect at all. natural selection takes some time to work.

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  27. or, rather, i reject the idea that outbreeding increases certain forms of altruism, namely those that are directed towards family/the in-group. that sort of altruism is obviously very much selected for in inbreeding societies (see: the arabs).

    other types of altruistic behaviors — like reciprocal altruism towards unrelated individuals — i think can get selected for under outbreeding (given the right conditions).

    Hamilton is speaking of altruism in general, not certain cases or types of altruism

    The concept of reciprocal altruism is controversial. It’s not clear that reciprocal altruism qualifies as altruism. If altruism is defined by reference to lifetime fitness, then reciprocal altruism may not really be about altruism, since the behaviors that involve reciprocation of benefits, as in reciprocal altruism, are ultimately of direct benefit to the individuals performing them, so they don’t reduce lifetime fitness.

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  28. @Vasilis
    “But the answer to the question “why was the industrial revolution delayed by 17 centuries” is, because Greeks were erroneously seeking perfect Platonic movement and it took a German to erroneously seek perfect Platonic harmony!”

    Why didn’t in happen it India, China or the middle-east then? No Plato there and they reached a smiliar level to the Greeks before them.

    Either something unique happened in western europe or something happened that wasn’t unique (e.g. Ancient Greece, specific eras in China and India) but lasted longer than on those previous occasions.

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  29. @grove – yes, i know that hamilton is speaking about general altruism, and that’s great.

    what i am interested in is how inbreeding seems to increase altruism (see wade &breden) and how outbreeding seems to…do something else. think: greg clark’s middle-class values and how the English and other nw Europeans have been behaving since the middle ages. i think that perhaps since outbreeding has been happening since the early medieval period in nw europe that “genes for” altruism towards non-kin have increased in those pops – i.e. reciprocal altruism – but i could be wrong.

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  30. @Greying Wanderer- “Why didn’t in happen it India, China or the middle-east then? No Plato there and they reached a smiliar level to the Greeks before them.
    Either something unique happened in western europe or something happened that wasn’t unique (e.g. Ancient Greece, specific eras in China and India) but lasted longer than on those previous occasions.”

    Had anyone in India, China or the middle-east developed the heliocentric system? It was only by observing the motion of large bodies moving in a vacuum and at a significant distance from any large body that would rapidly terminate their movement through the force of gravity that it was understood that any moving body continues its motion until some force stops it. On earth the gravitational pull of the earth will stop any movement rapidly, so Aristotle had postulated that bodies move only when a force is constantly applied upon them. Actually bodies move until a force is applied upon them to stop them, but this is not evident when you study movement on earth. Newton cracked this problem and he did so by trying to explain the movement of the planets in a heliocentric system. As far as I could find, the Chinese did not arrive at a heliocentric system, the Arabs stuck to Hellenistic theories and in India a heliocentric system was proposed only 700 years after Aristarchus.

    Since understanding the laws of motion is crucial for any industrial revolution and since the development of these laws was the work of very few individuals throughout history, I do not know if we can consider this in a Hbd framework. On the other hand, it is a fact that people in Classical Greece and in Renaissance Europe were asking themselves these questions, while other people in other places were not. Before jumping to conclusions though we should remember that when Kepler was employed as Imperial Mathematician, his job description was drawing up horoscopes! He formulated his laws of planetary motion on the side, since his metaphysical pursuits went beyond mere astrology, Kepler sought celestial harmony.

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  31. @hbd chick – “i guess here is where i should point out that the orthodox churches in eastern europe also banned cousin marriage beginning in the early medieval period, but the bans were never consistent nor always enforced fully. for instance, theodosius the great banned first cousin marriage in the late-300s, but then his son repealed the ban. the greek orthodox church’s ban was instituted in 692 [pg. 15], but then in other regions — like russia — christianity arrived much later and, so, presumably did the cousin marriage bans (and the bans in russia flip-flopped throughout the entire medieval period, afaik — see my posts on russia in left-hand column below).
    sorry i can’t be more specific, but i simply haven’t read enough about mating patterns in eastern europe yet. but, a renaissance in twelfth century constantinople might also fit the ca. 400 years of outbreeding theory.”

    I suppose then that you find Byzantine history to be rather… Byzantine.

    I suggest that you take a look at St Basil’s Canon no. 87 first, you can find it here:
    http://www.holytrinitymission.org/books/english/canons_fathers_rudder.htm#_Toc78634056
    This canon forms the theological basis for the prohibition of consanguineous marriages by the church, both east and west. You will note that St Basil gives a fine exposition on how some things may be prohibited without being clearly prohibited in writing, which allowed the western church to expand these prohibitions at a later date as far as it wanted to. You will also note how he traces this prohibition to Leviticus, but takes care to pull out all the stops recognized by Judaism in the application of these prohibitions.

    When considering the Orthodox church on anything, you should take into consideration the immense authority of the Holy Fathers, of which St.Basil was first and foremost.

    When considering the Byzantine Empire, you should take into consideration that it was first and foremost an empire. It was an empire that had a church and not the other way around. On the other hand the western church was a church that sought to have an empire (and often did). Thus the founder of the Byzantine Empire, Constantine the Great, was Pontifex Maximus, that is head of the pagan clergy and at the same time he was a Christian Saint. In every case in the east the needs of the state came before the needs of the church.

    After Constantine the Great, the Christian orientation of the empire was contested by the third emperor, Julian the Apostate, who lost his case for the pagan religion. The emperors that followed Julian had various degrees of tolerance towards paganism, but Theodosius had none at all. He shattered shrines, massacred pagans and imposed by law upon everyone the Christian prohibitions to consanguineous marriage. His son Arcadius was more tolerant to pagans, allowing them to marry according to their customs. So you see in 4th and 5th century Constantinople Christians were following St Basil’s canon, while pagans were not (unless at swordpoint). By the 6th century Christianity prevailed in Constantinople, but the last remnants of paganism in what is today Greece disappeared only in the 9th century from mountainous Arcadia in southern Greece. So we actually have different groups in the same locality following different marriage rules and it was a very extensive empire.

    It is perhaps indicative of this mixed climate that the exact rules of the eastern church on consanguineous marriage, as well as on everything else, were set down in writing only in 692 by the Quintsext Council. There had been 6 Ecumenical Synods before this, each concentrating on dogmatic matters of the nature of God. Then they gathered another Synod, the Quintsext, to sum up the results of the previous Synods in fixed rules. 692 is not the year that the eastern church settled its marriage rules, it is the year they decided to write down their rules on everything. This of course makes it difficult to approximate the percentages of consanguineous marriages before this date, but as St Basil wrote, “But to infer a consequence by taking liberties with what has been left unsaid is the part of a legislator, not of one merely reciting the law.”

    All the above applies to the peoples who were in the empire when it was founded, but the converted Slavic populations are a somewhat different story. Since the eastern church was an instrument of the state, converting pagan invaders and neighbors was state policy. When they had to cut corners to achieve conversion, they very diplomatically did, without sacrificing the letter of the faith. In the west conversions had to be in Latin, so that the Pope could reign supreme. In the east the empire’s church followed exactly the opposite policy, translating the Bible and liturgy into the local languages. What Luther did in the west regarding the language of the church, the eastern church did on its own accord 1.000 years earlier. They went as far as to create the Cyrillic alphabet in order to convert the Slavs. This resulted in a greater retention of ancient customs by the converted peoples in the east. The Catholic church was more effective at imposing its edicts on western Christians because it needed to be. The Orthodox church only needed to keep the empire strong.

    Reply

  32. what i am interested in is how inbreeding seems to increase altruism (see wade &breden) and how outbreeding seems to…do something else. think: greg clark’s middle-class values and how the English and other nw Europeans have been behaving since the middle ages. i think that perhaps since outbreeding has been happening since the early medieval period in nw europe that “genes for” altruism towards non-kin have increased in those pops – i.e. reciprocal altruism – but i could be wrong.

    Yes, this is why I mentioned that it’s not clear that reciprocal altruism qualifies as altruism. Hamilton’s argument may be consistent with this if we take reciprocal altruism to not be altruism.

    Reply

  33. Grove
    “Hamilton’s argument may be consistent with this if we take reciprocal altruism to not be altruism”

    Yes, it gets confused because the people wired for reciprocal “altruism” call it altruism even though at the point of execution it’s the opposite (of the technical definition).

    (Except under certain circumstances imo the consequences of that anti-altruism effectively becomes altruism by accident through a kind of insurance effect like the ambulance service example.)

    Reply

  34. “The Mongols were very clannish”

    I do not think this is true at all – at least not if by ‘clannish’ we mean ‘inbred.’

    A few points.

    1. Traditional Mongolian (indeed, Inner Asian) society was exogamous. You married somebody from a different tribe. In some times and places marriage would be limited to just two allied tribes – for example, the ruling Khitan tribe, the Yelu, always married somebody from the Xiao consort clan. But never could they marry one of the other Yelu.

    But by the times of the Mongols this heavily structured pattern was gone. The only expectation was that you would marry someone from outside the tribe. Even if it meant you had to steal her from said other tribe. (Chinggis Khan was the son of a stolen wife; his first major campaign was launched to recapture a wife stolen from him).

    2. The Mongol empire was utterly hostile to established tribes and clans. Unlike previous steppe polities, the Mongols were not a tribal confederacy. When the Khan conquered a Mongolian speaking tribe he would break it up entirely, forcing its members to join the vast, decimal system military organization he had created to campaign. This system was an efficient way to coordinate troops – but it was also an easy way to make sure no tribe could defect and challenge his power. To keep power Chinggis engaged in one of the most complete (and successful) social engineering programs humanity has seen.

    Eventually the military units he created became tribes, and in places like Afghanistan you can find tribes with Mongol names dating from the original troops sent to occupy the area. But that process took centuries. At the beginning of the conquests the clan was dead.

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  35. @grove – “Hamilton’s argument may be consistent with this if we take reciprocal altruism to not be altruism.”

    right. it’s not the “sacrificing of your own, personal fitness” altruism, no. but, rather, the “be nice to your neighbor in the hopes that he’ll be nice back to you (which he often is in a place like england)” altruism, yes. (^_^)

    Reply

  36. @t.greer – “Traditional Mongolian (indeed, Inner Asian) society was exogamous. You married somebody from a different tribe.”

    one has to be careful with the word “tribe” — different peoples define it differently.

    mongolians — both historically and nowadays — have mostly defined a “tribe” as a patrilineal group, so one’s maternal relatives were fair game wrt marriage — and, indeed, many mongolian groups today favor maternal cousin marriage (pgs. 243+). as did the mongolians during the days of their empire [pg. 18]:

    “Mongol men were allowed to marry almost all of their female relatives except their own mothers, daughters, and sisters, and marriages between cousins were very common and normal. Grandfathers, fathers, and sons might marry the sisters of the same generation. All of these had happened in the Mongolian royal clan, which made the affinity within the royal clan extremely complicated.”

    so mongolians were and are inbreeders.

    @t.greer – “The Mongol empire was utterly hostile to established tribes and clans.”

    sure. i’m not surprised. leaders — especially leaders of empires — tend to hate tribes and clans because they are a bl**dy nuisance! and it’s par for the course for tptb to try to do everything in their power to break up clans (the arabs, though, have taken a different approach — maybe they realized that in their society it would be completely and utterly futile to try to get rid of clans). this is exactly what tptb in medieval europe were up to — pass laws to ban cousin marriage and support the church’s bans in order to weaken (the competition’s) clans, but meanwhile lobby the church for dispensations that only you as an elite will be able to afford and so maintain your own clan (or, eventually, lineage). some of the chinese emperors also tried to get rid of clans by banning cousin marriage, but they don’t seem to have stuck to their plan (see posts on china, lower left-hand column below). cleisthenes, too, in ancient athens tried to weaken the athenian clans by restructuring attica’s voting districts. worked for a while.

    @t.greer – “Eventually the military units he created *became* tribes, and in places like Afghanistan you can find tribes with Mongol names dating from the original troops sent to occupy the area. But that process took centuries.”

    that’s prolly because the cousin marriages in these regions never went away. (~_^)

    Reply

  37. @grey – “Yes, it gets confused because the people wired for reciprocal ‘altruism’ call it altruism even though at the point of execution it’s the opposite (of the technical definition).”

    yes! (^_^)

    Reply

  38. @vasilis – thanks for all the info! (^_^)

    @vasilis – “So you see in 4th and 5th century Constantinople Christians were following St Basil’s canon, while pagans were not (unless at swordpoint). By the 6th century Christianity prevailed in Constantinople, but the last remnants of paganism in what is today Greece disappeared only in the 9th century from mountainous Arcadia in southern Greece. So we actually have different groups in the same locality following different marriage rules and it was a very extensive empire.”

    we have to be careful not to confuse populations having restrictions against cousin marriages with those populations actually following the restrictions. for instance, the roman catholic church in the west banned first cousin marriage in the early 500s (503 i think it was), but had little to no way of enforcing that ban since marriages did not happen in a church until much later in the middle ages. thus the two-pronged approach (which giorgio ausenda describes) with both the church and the secular authorities (at various points in time) banning cousin marriages. enforcement in the early medieval period in western europe was very patchy, but historians (such as mitterauer and goody) are in agreement that by the 1200s-1300s in northwestern europe, cousin marriage was simply a non-issue. it pretty much didn’t happen anymore. meanwhile, in many parts of eastern and southern europe, cousin marriage was still common at that late point (see “mating patterns in europe series” below in left-hand column).

    and, of course, first cousin marriage is still prohibited by the roman catholic church to this day, and yet in southern italy the rates of first cousin marriages were as high as 48% in the 1960s!

    thus, i am always on the lookout for actual evidence of inbreeding or outbreeding, either historic or genetic. but’s it’s very useful to know about the regulations, too!

    @vasilis – “I suppose then that you find Byzantine history to be rather… Byzantine.”

    no, not really. mostly because i haven’t given it much thought. yet. (~_^)

    Reply

  39. right. it’s not the “sacrificing of your own, personal fitness” altruism, no. but, rather, the “be nice to your neighbor in the hopes that he’ll be nice back to you (which he often is in a place like england)” altruism, yes.

    Right, that’s not altruism according to Hamilton’s formulation. So we have logically inconsistent notions of “altruism” here. One of them has to give.

    Reply

  40. Yes, it gets confused because the people wired for reciprocal “altruism” call it altruism even though at the point of execution it’s the opposite (of the technical definition).

    Actually nobody referred to this as “altruism” until the idea of “reciprocal altruism” was developed relatively recently and until today where some are referring to it as “altruism.”

    Reply

  41. Traditional Mongolian (indeed, Inner Asian) society was exogamous. You married somebody from a different tribe.

    Low population density pastoralists would not be able to practice civilizational panmixia even if they wanted to. They would have to be cuckold fetishists or something and actively recruit men from settled populations to fuck their women.

    Reply

  42. @grove – “Right, that’s not altruism according to Hamilton’s formulation. So we have logically inconsistent notions of ‘altruism’ here. One of them has to give.”

    no, nothing has to “give,” because i’m moving beyond what hamilton had to say about altruism (biological definition) vs. altruism (layman’s definition). i’m interested in what happens wrt the evolution of behaviors towards others in an outbreeding population. i suspect (altho i could be wrong) that you can get selection for more behaviors that fall under what some people refer to as “reciprocal altruism” in outbred populations.

    i’m interested in understanding why in most nw european populations people are willing to lend their unrelated neighbors a cup of sugar when they ask for it, which, i imagine, is probably a lot more difficult in, say, bedouin society. i’m happy to refer to those sorts of behaviors as “reciprocal altruism” or just “altruism” in the layman’s definition of the word which (hbd chick checks her OED) has been in currency since the mid-1800s — and i’m able to keep that usage distinct in my mind from the biological/hamiltonian one. however, if you’re not happy using the word in that former sense, you don’t have to.

    Reply

  43. no, nothing has to “give,” because i’m moving beyond what hamilton had to say about altruism (biological definition) vs. altruism (layman’s definition). i’m interested in what happens wrt the evolution of behaviors towards others in an outbreeding population. i suspect (altho i could be wrong) that you can get selection for more behaviors that fall under what some people refer to as “reciprocal altruism” in outbred populations.

    You disagree that it’s logically inconsistent?

    Hamilton suggests that altruism declines in an outbreeding population.

    I’m not sure that reciprocal altruism qualifies as the layman’s definition of altruism, since the layman’s definition generally connotes a sense of self-sacrifice, rather than a tit for tat or mutually beneficial exchange.

    i’m interested in what happens wrt the evolution of behaviors towards others in an outbreeding population.

    That’s still in dispute though. We don’t know what came first and after, if it’s cause or effect, etc.

    Reply

  44. @grove – “You disagree that it’s logically inconsistent?”

    correct. i disagree that talking/thinking about different forms of altruism — beyond the rather narrow definition that biologists have of it — is logically inconsistent. frankly, teh scientists ought to have come up with another word for the phenomenon that they talk about, rather than having co-opted a word that was already in use. it’s confusing (as this discussion illustrates).

    @grove – “Hamilton suggests that altruism declines in an outbreeding population.”

    yes. i suggest that what declines in outbreeding population is what i call “familial altruism” — altruism (both in the biological sense of the word AND the layman’s sense) which is directed mostly towards family members. this seems to increase with inbreeding (wade and breden showed this is likely wrt inbreeding and altruism in the biological sense).

    otoh, altruistic behaviors towards unrelated individuals seems to increase in long-term outbreeding populations. at least it has, i believe, in one instance — nw europe since the early medieval period. it may not happen in all cases — it just may be made possible by long-term outbreeding.

    @grove – “I’m not sure that reciprocal altruism qualifies as the layman’s definition of altruism, since the layman’s definition generally connotes a sense of self-sacrifice, rather than a tit for tat or mutually beneficial exchange.”

    no, i think you’re fundamentally misunderstanding how most outbred peoples in the western world behave. my father and his wife, for instance, regularly drive their elderly unrelated neighbor to the doctor or hospital whenever she needs it — and they neither get nor expect any payment or reimbursement on the spot, of course. however, in return, the neighbor regularly takes care of the cats when they are away on vacation.

    furthermore, i think that a lot of nw europeans expect a sort-of “pay-it-forward” system to operate in their societies (which it does, i think). i assist a random old lady to get her groceries aboard the bus, and i don’t expect anything at all in return from her (except maybe a “thank you”), but i hope — and even somewhat expect — that some guy will help me get my (always too!) heavy suitcase off the luggage claim carousel. no one goes around calculating how much they’ve given vs. how much they’ve received in these small, everyday, altruistic interactions — but if nw europeans NEVER or RARELY experienced being on the receiving end of this sort of “reciprocal altruism,” they’d start to be annoyed.

    @grove – “That’s still in dispute though. We don’t know what came first and after, if it’s cause or effect, etc.”

    sure. my theory is still a theory (with a small “t”!). (^_^)

    however, i think it must be extremely unlikely that a radical change in long-term mating patterns in a population would not have any effect(s) on that population’s behavioral patterns. you’d think the selection pressures on that population would inevitably change, and…natural selection would happen. eventually.

    Reply

  45. correct. i disagree that talking/thinking about different forms of altruism — beyond the rather narrow definition that biologists have of it — is logically inconsistent.

    It’s not a “narrow” definition. It’s a formal definition. And to be precise, we’re talking about Hamilton’s formalization of “altruism”. Obviously it’s logically inconsistent to use different definitions for the same term.

    yes. i suggest that what declines in outbreeding population is what i call “familial altruism” — altruism (both in the biological sense of the word AND the layman’s sense) which is directed mostly towards family members.

    Hamilton is speaking of altruism in general. You disagree with Hamilton, right?

    furthermore, i think that a lot of nw europeans expect a sort-of “pay-it-forward” system to operate in their societies (which it does, i think).

    no one goes around calculating how much they’ve given vs. how much they’ve received in these small, everyday, altruistic interactions — but if nw europeans NEVER or RARELY experienced being on the receiving end of this sort of “reciprocal altruism,” they’d start to be annoyed.

    Right, but it’s still the case that “altruism” colloquially connotes a sense of self-sacrifice, rather than a tit for tat or mutually beneficial exchange.

    Regarding this “pay-it-forward” “reciprocal altruism”, this is why I noted earlier that the concept of “reciprocal altruism” is controversial. If altruism is defined by reference to lifetime fitness, as Hamilton does for example, then reciprocal altruism may not really be about altruism, since the behaviors that involve reciprocation of benefits, as in reciprocal altruism, are ultimately of direct benefit to the individuals performing them, so they don’t reduce lifetime fitness.

    Reply

  46. @grove – “And to be precise, we’re talking about Hamilton’s formalization of ‘altruism’. Obviously it’s logically inconsistent to use different definitions for the same term.”

    no, it’s not. look in any english dictionary and you’ll find that many words have different definitions listed in their entries — including al·tru·ism.

    MOST people when they use the word altruism do NOT mean it in the biological/hamiltonian sense. i’m also interested in the other forms of altruism — the ones that don’t meet hamilton’s formal definition. i think those behaviors are also interesting and require explanation.

    @grove – “You disagree with Hamilton, right?”

    well, i think (theorize) that a pay-it-forward, reciprocal type of altruism can be (and was in nw european populations) selected for in outbreeding populations in addition to the fact that the self-sacrificing altruism that he defined decreases. if that is disagreeing with hamilton, then, yes, i disagree with him. (although it’s only an idea that i have. no one’s proven it — or disproven it.)

    @grove – “If altruism is defined by reference to lifetime fitness….”

    like i keep saying, that is only one definition of altruism. please consult the nearest dictionary.

    Reply

  47. Grove

    “Actually nobody referred to this as “altruism” until the idea of “reciprocal altruism” was developed relatively recently and until today where some are referring to it as “altruism.””

    1. The entire culture refers to self-sacrifice towards strangers as altruism and has done for a very long time. They call anti-altruism (by the technical definition) altruism. This ought to be interesting.

    2. Even though it’s anti-altruism by the technical definition at the point of execution if *everybody* in a particular society follows the rule then it might become technically altruistic also because if *everybody* does it then this anti-altruism creates a high trust, meritocratic society which generates a massive accumulation of public goods.

    Reply

  48. Grove

    “You disagree that it’s logically inconsistent? Hamilton suggests that altruism declines in an outbreeding population”

    Society A
    – for the average individual 10% of their society are 2nd cousins or closer while 90% are 6th cousins or further

    Society B
    – for the average individual everyone is a 4th cousin

    What is altruism (technical definition) in those two contexts, would they be very different, despite being very different would they be logically inconsistent?

    Reply

  49. no, it’s not. look in any english dictionary and you’ll find that many words have different definitions listed in their entries — including al·tru·ism.

    I should have been clearer. It’s logically inconsistent to use opposing, contradictory, mutually exclusive, etc., definitions for the same term. Words can be defined by different synonyms e.g. smooth and slippery, but not by contradictary definitions e.g. hard and soft.

    MOST people when they use the word altruism do NOT mean it in the biological/hamiltonian sense. i’m also interested in the other forms of altruism — the ones that don’t meet hamilton’s formal definition. i think those behaviors are also interesting and require explanation.

    I think most people do mean a sense of self-sacrifice by the term altruism.

    A form of altruism that didn’t meet Hamilton’s definition would be logically inconsistent with Hamilton’s notion since Hamilton is trying to explain altruism in general.

    if that is disagreeing with hamilton, then, yes, i disagree with him.

    Yes, there seem to be two options here. Disagree with Hamilton’s definition or agree with it and propose a different class of behaviors.

    like i keep saying, that is only one definition of altruism. please consult the nearest dictionary.

    It’s a definition of altruism that can be logically inconsistent with another definition that contradicts it.

    Reply

  50. @grove – “It’s logically inconsistent to use opposing, contradictory, mutually exclusive, etc., definitions for the same term. Words can be defined by different synonyms e.g. smooth and slippery, but not by contradictary definitions e.g. hard and soft.”

    yes, i agree. but that is not the case in this instance. which is why i described (i think correctly) hamilton’s definition of “altruism” as being narrower than the layman’s definition.

    the hamiltonian/biological definition of altruism only includes those behaviors which reduce the actor’s fitness (although they may, in fact, increase his inclusive fitness — or, at least, that is how these sorts of altruistic behaviors are thought to have been selected for). the layman’s definition of altruism includes all sorts of (seemingly) unselfish behaviors that don’t necessarily involve a reduction in fitness — but might do! in other words, the biological defintion of altruism is a subset of the broader layman’s definition.

    i am interested in both.

    Reply

  51. yes, i agree. but that is not the case in this instance. which is why i described (i think correctly) hamilton’s definition of “altruism” as being narrower than the layman’s definition.

    Well it is the case in this instance. Hamilton is defining altruism, not a subset of altruism.

    the layman’s definition of altruism includes all sorts of (seemingly) unselfish behaviors that don’t necessarily involve a reduction in fitness — but might do! in other words, the biological defintion of altruism is a subset of the broader layman’s definition.

    I don’t know if this is true. The layman’s use of the term is not very precise or clear. But that’s case in general with colloquial language. That’s why we formalize and mathematize things. I don’t think it’s true that the layman would actually classify seemingly unselfish but not unselfish behavior as altruistic.

    Reply

  52. @grove – “Hamilton is defining altruism, not a subset of altruism.”

    the word altruism was already in currency in the english language before hamilton came up with his definition for altruism. it had been in use, according to the oed, since the mid-1800s. since hamilton’s definition is narrower than the definiton that had already been in use — than the definition that most people understand today — i.e. altrusitic individuals are only those whose fitness is apparently reduced via their actions vs. anyone who shows “unselfish regard for the welfare others”, a definition which does not say anything about fitness and, so, could mean being willing to give a cup of sugar to the neighbor when asked — clearly it is a subset of the general term for altruism.

    or are you saying that “biology english” is an entirely different language than standard english?

    and, like i keep telling you, but you seem to keep missing, so i’ll put it in bold this time: i am also interested in the behaviors that fall under the more general definition of altruism in addition to those that fall under hamilton’s definition of altruism.

    @grove – “I don’t think it’s true that the layman would actually classify seemingly unselfish but not unselfish behavior as altruistic.”

    no, i don’t think so either. what i meant was that a lot of behaviors that people think/feel are unselfish are not, in fact, unselfish. people expect something in return.

    Reply

  53. @vasilis – “His son Arcadius was more tolerant to pagans, allowing them to marry according to their customs.”

    arcadius, in fact, reversed the cousin marriage ban for everybody [pg. 55]:

    “The Emperor Theodosius I condemned unions between cousins in a law made in 384 or 385. It was still possible to effect such a marriage by imperial dispensation, a means of avoiding its own prescriptions that the Church was not slow to use. Indeed, the early history of such prohibitions was very chequered. In A.D. 405, some twenty years after his father’s introduction of the prohibition, Arcadius (A.D. 378-408) legalised cousin marriages once again for the Eastern empire based on Constantinople.”

    Reply

  54. @vasilis – “It is perhaps indicative of this mixed climate that the exact rules of the eastern church on consanguineous marriage, as well as on everything else, were set down in writing only in 692 by the Quintsext Council.”

    have you got a reference for this? i’m afraid i can’t find one. thanks!

    [edit: never mind! found it: quinisext council.]

    Reply

  55. @vasilis – re. the quinisext council’s cousin marriage prohibitions [pg. 378]:

    “At the same time, the process of prohibiting marriage within an ever-widening range of cognates — beyond first, and later second, cousins — had been completed, in theory, by the later seventh century. Such prohibitions are embodied in the canon of the Quinisext council of 692 and are firmly laid down in the Ecloga — although it is probable that they finally obtained general and widespread acceptance and enforcement only in the eleventh century….

    “The stimulus to this legislative activity on the part of both Church and state, it has been suggested, is to be located in the reaction to a very different tendency in many parts of the empire, namely the reassertion from the later third century of close ties of consangunity in marriage arrangements, and in particular the emphasis on cross-cousin marriage….”

    the late enforcement by the orthodox church is similar to the late enforcement by the roman catholic church in the west. however, in western europe, there were many secular laws banning cousin marriage as well (don’t know how this was in the east from the 7th to, say, the 11th centuries). PLUS there was manorialism in the west which further bolstered the cousin marriage bans. and, as you said:

    “In the east the empire’s church followed exactly the opposite policy, translating the Bible and liturgy into the local languages…. They went as far as to create the Cyrillic alphabet in order to convert the Slavs. This resulted in a greater retention of ancient customs by the converted peoples in the east.

    if you are correct, and this applies to marriage patterns as well, then cousin marriage may have lasted until very late, indeed, in eastern europe/the balkans/etc.

    Reply

  56. clearly it is a subset of the general term for altruism.

    Well it can’t be a subset of a set if it’s inconsistent with the set.

    or are you saying that “biology english” is an entirely different language than standard english?

    In ordinary usage, words are often used imprecisely or wrongly. The point of a formal definition is precision. Hamilton was providing a formal definition of altruism, not a subset of altruism. It’s a formal, general definition of altruism. He would say that actions that don’t satisfy his definition don’t qualify as altruism.

    The word “fitness” might be another example.

    no, i don’t think so either. what i meant was that a lot of behaviors that people think/feel are unselfish are not, in fact, unselfish. people expect something in return.

    Right, that’s why I mentioned that the concept of reciprocal altruism is considered controversial by some, since if altruism is defined by reference to lifetime fitness, like Hamilton does, then reciprocal altruism may not really be about altruism, since the behaviors that involve reciprocation of benefits, as in reciprocal altruism, are ultimately of direct benefit to the individuals performing them, so they don’t reduce lifetime fitness.

    Reply

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