23 May 2008
The Desire to Impress Others is a fundamental driving force , shared by any organism that has a sufficiently complex Neural-Net Architecture .
The very fact that I do not have to define what “To Impress” means signifies that it is basic axiom (primitive) for humans .
We will first look at humans from the top down , then look at why .
Humans desire above else to impress other humans . This surpasses any other fundamental drives , even personal survival or survival of the genes or memes .
It even defines human . A person who does not act to impress others is seen as at least anti-social , at most a sociopath .
In WW I , soldiers went over the top to assured death to impress their comrades .
The whole Fashion industry is based on it . People have beggared themselves and their offspring to “Impress” .
Athletes will kill themselves with drugs and pain to impress .
Ever heard of the Solitary Olympics ?
The highest achievement a Roman could get was a Triumph . To Impress on a grand scale . Cf Crassus , the richest man in Rome , trying for military glory to get a Triumph and dying in the process .
It is like Bill Gates becoming a Captain in Iraq to have a ticker-tape parade in Manhatten .
Instead , Grand Circuses of Donations are held .
Louis IV turned it into statecraft , following the Roman Emperors .
The Empty Cellphone .
The most telling example I know is the empty cellphone .
When cellphones were first introduced , you could buy empty cellphone casings to impress other people . The advertisements did not even try to give a rationale .
There were ,and is , none . Any closer acquaintance would show it up for the fraud it was . Yet it sold . The desire to impress , irrespective of any putative advantage , was the driving force .
The Pocketwatch .
(History Today Jan 2008 p44 “Time Piece”)
The idea that time was valuable .
Pocket watches became fashionable from about 1740 , amongst those least able to afford them and with no industrial need . From court-cases , the watches (usually silver backed) were stolen from ploughmen , sailors , etc . Thomson tried to make a case that Industrialization required timekeeping . No 19th century industrialist who wanted to remain in business relied on his workers’ timepieces to get them to the factory .
There were sirens , bells , a special corps of TimesMen to chivvy workers in . Remnants of these can still be seen in that most conservative of organizations , the US School Board : Truant Officers .
The only reason they bought pocket watches was that some marketing guys with a surplus of watch-production convinced them that they would impress others .
They got this idea from the proliferation of eye-glasses after 1298 AD . This had some real need in the management-classes , to read commercial documents after most manager’s eyes could not focus well any more (See previous posts) .
A top-class manager (Executive) , his Time became valuable . He now could and had to read each item in a very busy schedule . He needed a watch .
But since their invention by some unsung genius in 1298 in Northern Italy , mass-produced glasses became so cheap so quickly , it stimulated the wannabes to get a pair.
Having a pair of glasses impressed other people .
I can remember grandparents and their peers being proud of having glasses . They pushed it forward in a discussion , showing that they too read books . It is not about literacy , but about literature . If you lived their boring life , you would probably do worse .
But since glasses had a real effect , it created a huge demand for middle-class educated managers . They too could learn accounts , then reading . Note that accounts came first . It is like an AI sneering at 0’s and 1’s .
Then printing became viable , as there was an already existing market (literate base).Then Newspapers . Then The Sun , the apotheosis of 4 centuries of human striving .
Potlatch , Nero , Timurlane , Versailles , iPods , Laptops , Vernon Koekemoer , etc .
You get the drift . Ostentatious display is to impress .
The Why :
A bit of background :
Attractor Basins :
“To Impress others” is an Attractor Basin in a Chaotic Theory sense .
To understand an Attractor Basin :
Imagine a basin . Drop many marbles all around near the rim . All will spiral to the bottom . Each different marble is a different cause , and starts from a different position . Yet , they all end up at the bottom of the Attractor Basin . What , then , is the cause of the state at the Bottom of the Basin of the Attractor ?
If you measure the path of any marble in very short increments , the path seems straight and the cause(1)->result(1) pair is our classical understanding .
At the bottom of the basin , there are many causes but only one result
Cause(n) –> Result (1)
Note that the basin definition is not included in Cause(n) . If it is , the general relationship would be
Cause(w,n) –> Result (w,1) , which describes w Attractor basins in at most, a (m+3) space , where m would be the number of dimensions in the original Cause(n) system .
(A definition of quantal superposition. )
The Nitty-Gritty :
Neural networks learn . That is their function . Why bother learning all the various positions of the marbles if all you have to remember is the Basin ?
“To Impress Others” is the Basin . The rest follows by definition .
Of course impressing others leads to mates , children ,riches ,etc . The normal expected evolutionary rewards . The marbles of evolutionary rewards . But there are other losing marbles even in the same basin , as we all know . Foolishness in 20-20 hind vision .
But in a proper basin such foolishness would not be possible , but , alas ,other foolishness would be .
A properly constructed hopscotch or labyrinth symbolizes such a basin . See previous posts .
“Impressing Others” can then be treated as a fundamental cause . The entire society is constructed around it .
There are innumerable conflicts between self-interest , family-interest and “Impressing Others”–interest . Fertile ground for all the therapists taking in each other’s washing .
Learned Helplessness and Mirror Neurons .
Successful neuronal networks have a problem that parts of them end in Learned Helplessness . Learned Helplessness is defined as where the “weights” in the neuronal network is randomized , because the difference between the actual and expected output neurons is random . Ie a part of the brain is not being used . This leads to apoptosis paring in childhood , the well-known paring of neurons .
At puberty , the neuron-mass once again expands faster than the myelization . There are frantic efforts as individual neurons try to survive by creating dialogues between mirror-neuronal networks . These are Socratic dialogues between elements in the brain . The brain beavers away at staving off learned-helplessness .
Hence a lack of judgement and elaborate theories that look like paranoia .Myths . It is just different elements of the brain trying to avoid apoptosis . But of course , sometimes there is a correspondence between reality and the theories . Hence the success of the Western model . It only takes an extremely modest correlation between theory and observation to send the western systems off on an ecstasy of Meaning .
This is why protected environments for this particular balance of learned-helplessness and mirror-neurons evolved : Universities in the West , Monasteries in the East . Essentially the same .
They are ameliarators of the Socratic impulse of immature humans .
In an University , Temujin would not have become Chinggis Khan .
The function of western Universities and Monasteries is to contain and channel really dangerous persons and their memes .
If Hitler or Stalin had gone to any University ,they would have made formidable heads of departments .
Note that none of the major shit-stirrers in the last two-hundred years (from Napoleon on) had the benefit of a University Education . The reason seems clear .Dilution of resources .
It makes one wonder what other Empire builders were masked behind the Universities.
In other words , things could have been much worse . But they could have been much better ,too .
In any case , the University structure seemed to be winning , until they cleverly freed the smartest people on the planet to be as selfish as they liked .
If anybody survives , they are in for another round of monasticism . It is the ideal format for a low-tech survivalist civilization . Yech .
Humans are too stupid to run even a Neolithic civilization . They have destroyed the underlying support-structure in the Americas and Australias , not to mention Eurasia and Africa .
They hope for a Deus-ex-Machina from resources out of the asteroid belt , while at the same time cutting the resources needed for space exploration . Basically , they deserve to die in large numbers . And they know it .