(this is not good news)
the Sapient Paradox: Psuedo-Speciation and Transcendental Empiricism
(Genetic ontologies and the historicity of Being)
from Bruno Latour, Reassembling the Social, 2005, p. 51
Agency is about the most difficult problem there is in philosophy
from Karen Barad, Meeting the Universe Halfway, p. 141
. . . the primary ontological units are not 'things' but phenomena--dynamic topological / reconfigurings / entanglements / relationalities / (re)articulations of the world. And the primary semantic units are not 'words' but material-discursive practices through which (ontic and semantic) boundaries are constituted. This dynamic is agency.
from Eelco Runia, Moved by the Past: Discontinuity and Historical Mutation (Columbia U. Press, 2014)
how to make evolutionary sense of the fact that humans, alone among species, “took off” on a kind of autonomous development that made it their destiny “to ply the seas eternally”? . . . .The more we disarmed our environment the more we became our own environment. pp. 180-84
|Detroit, near east side, 1933-1944
Dodge Main, center. Midland Steel, lower right. Detroit Steel Products just out of sight, lower left. Michigan Steel Tube about five blocks north of Dodge. Murray Body two block east of Dodge. Chrysler Highland Park is just to the north west of Dodge. Packard is just out of sight at the lower left of this photo. Only Dodge Main and Midland Steel are clearly visible.
Friederich Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil, 242
The very same new conditions that will on average lead to the leveling and mediocritization of man--to a useful, industrious, handy, multi-purpose herd animal--are likely in the highest degree to give birth to exceptional human beings of the most dangerous and attractive quality.
Friederich Nietzsche, The Will To Power, Book IV, 960
From now on there will be more favorable preconditions for more comprehensive forms of dominion, whose like has never yet existed. And even this is not the most important thing; the possibility has been established for the production of international racial unions whose task will be to rear a master race, the future "masters of the earth"; a new, tremendous aristocracy, based on the severest self-legislation, in which the will of philosophical men of power and artist-tyrants will be made to endure for millennia -- a higher kind of man who, thanks to their superiority in will, knowledge, riches, and influence, employ democratic Europe as their most pliant and supple instrument for getting hold of the destinies of the earth, so as to work as artists upon "man" himself. Enough: the time is coming when politics will have a different meaning.
The situation that we face today:
the wreckage of socialism, the persistence of fascism, and the triumph of nihilism
1. The Wreckage of SocialismThe wreckage not only of socialism but more broadly of Progressivism, of the entire cultural-historical self-formative project (Bildung) that grew out of the Enlightenment and gave us the Russian Revolution, Scandinavian Social Democracy, and the American New Deal. The Russian Revolution and the New Deal (and Finnish Social Democracy) are homologous: their common root was committment to science, planning, and human capital development; and their social base was amongst cosmopolitan moderns, in the universities, in workplaces (white collar and blue collar), and in progressive business and management milieux (Zizek, Less Than, 488); their psychological disposition was the jousisance of a cognitive-developmental leap combined with an inclusive humanism. This general cultural-historical-political dynamic is better understood by approaching it through the American experience of Progressivism, New Deal, UAW: there is no such thing as American exceptionalism (see Michael Mann at the right); and therefore the history of the United States can serve as a field of investigation into the global state of affairs that we face today.
The photo above right shows the scene of the first sit-down strike in Michigan in November 1936 (at Midland Steel); and the scene of the massive wartime strike of May 1943 (at Dodge Main). Below the photo of Dodge Main and vicinity are two excerpts from Nietzsche. I interviewed dozens of Nietzsche's exceptional human beings of the most dangerous and attractive quality who organized these unions and led these strikes. The only texts I have run across that capture the essence of these struggles as related to me by these workers are Nietzsche's scattered comments on the übermensch. From the standpoint of activity, of agency, these two excerpts put the problematic of these UAW workers in its proper context, while the Nietzsche quote directly to the right articulates, at the most fundamental level, the problem of agency as the "aggressive, expansive, form-giving forces" that might be seen as homologous with Lacan's concept of "the Real." This is the first level of the problematic of agency.
The outward events, the underlying dynamic and ontological transformations that both generated and were consequences of these events (including the civil war within the UAW from late 1936 to spring of 1941), cannot be consigned to a bygone Fordist past. The very notion of a "class with radical chains" (Marx) was bogus from the outset, in part because the very concept of class is a Platonic ideal whose content is the Cartesian self writ large, in part because empirical investigation of a class in itself becoming a class for itself--the most celebrated example of which is the Flint sitdown strike of 1936-7--destroys the very concept of class by rendering it superfluous. In the process of such investigations it becomes clear that understanding the present and imagining the future is not possible without understanding in a new and very different way both the New Deal and the UAW. Put another way, the "lessons" to be "learned" from these übermenschen of the early UAW are now, in the Twenty-First century more relevant than ever.
Michael Mann, The Sources of Social Power. Volume II: The rise of classes and national states (Cambridge University Press, 1993)
America has not so much been exceptional as it has gradually come to represent one extreme on a continuum of class relations. America has never differed qualitatively from other national cases. Differences have been of degree, not kind. . . . Explanations asserting an original and enduring American exceptionalism . . . have only a very limited truth. 638
On representation, Russia was at the opposite extreme from the United States. . . . But even the eastern edge of the western ideological community experienced the more liberal legacy of the Enlightenment. . . . Among Russian professionals, gentry and aristocrats, and state administrators, a self-conscious, partly autnomous intelligentsia emerged, advancing alternative versions of progress. 660 here
from Friederich Nietzsche, Geneology of Morals, II, 12
The democratic idiosyncracy which opposes [the will to power] has permeated the realm of the spirit and disguised itself in the most spiritual forms to such a degree that today it has forced its way, has acquired the right to force its way into the strictest, apparently most objective sciences; indeed, it . . . has robbed life of a fundamental concept, that of activity. Under the influence of the above metioned idosyncracy, one places instead "adaptation" in the foreground, that is to say, an activity of the second rank, a mere reactivity; indeed, life itself has been defined as a more and more efficient inner adaptation to external conditons (Herbert Spencer). Thus, the essence of life, its will to power, is ignored; one overlooks the essential priority of the spontaneous, aggressive, expansive, form-giving forces that give new interpretations and directions, although 'adaptation' follows only after this; the dominant role of the highest functionaries within the organism iself in which the will to life appears active and form-giving is denied.from Vivian Gornick, The Odd Woman and the City (2015), p. 65
Consciousness as a first value, we each discovered, whas what we together were exploring. This absorption grew in us day by month by year, fed by the excitement of abstract thought joined to the concreteness of daily life.
|The principle characteristic of
these exceptional human beings was their embeddedness in
the cultural-historical existential space--the habitus--of the
Enlightenment. This is the second level of agency. This cultural-historical existential space might also be viewed as Lacan and Hall do: as
an emotionally-charged Symbolic Order. It can also be viewed,
after Vygotsky, as a cultural-historical zone of proximal development;
or (after Piaget) as an arena in which one's formal operational
cognitive powers were developed; and especially as the kind of emotionally-charged
domain of identification and development described by Alcorn in his Narcissism and the Literary Libido. This immediately brings to mind, as two concrete historical instantiations, Reginald Zelnick's Workers and Intelligentsia in Late Imperial Russia and Margaret C. Jacob's The First Knowledge Economy: Human Capital and the European Economy, 1750-1850.
It is in this same theoretical context that one can browse through the issues of the Bulletin of the Taylor Society, wherein the "second" New Deal was developed from the mid-1920s to the August 1933 issue in which the corporatism of the NRA (the "first" New Deal) was questioned (An Interpretative Forecast of the NRA: Is the Trend Toward Fascist or Socialized Self-Government?).
But then, all this is also applicable to the cosmopolitan Progressives who comprised the staff of the state apparatus associated with the Second New Deal. Thus, the UAW (Unity Caucus) and the Keynesian elite are homologous: they spring from and are an expression of the same cultural-historical existential vector* that begins more or less with the Enlightenment and ends, more or less, with the anti-modernist terror of McCarthyism. A precursor to McCarthyism is to be found in the UAW's Progressive caucus, which was seen by key leaders of the Unity caucus (Kraus, Mortimer), and by a former member of that Caucus (Paul Silver) as fascist. This theme is developed on several pages on this site; here it is only introduced as the persistence of fascism. Modernist cosmopolitanism vs. Fascist provincialism and traditionalism (family-God-country): these are not simply counterposed ideologies (The shibboleth of ideology is the evil twin of Cartesianism). They are such fundamentally different ontologies that they must be understood as psuedo-species, as different from each other as homo sapiens sapiens is from homo erectus, with the difference being that this is not a biological but a cultural-historical developmental difference (see below). At a minimum, what is required is a concept of the post-biological quantum heterogeneity of Dasein, "The fundamental historicity of Being" (Zizek, Less Than Nothing, p. 108). Without this, it is impossible to understand the actual rhetorical performances and crowd reactions in today's (2015) right-wing rallies.
* The concept of a superorganism is useful here. "The superorganism account of human sociality: How and when human groups are like beehives", by Selin Kesebir (Personality and Social Psychology Review. 2012 Aug;16(3):233-61). Also: Superorganism (Wikipedia).
Some Bildungs-proletarians of Detroit's East Side: interviews (1975-76)
the same cultural-historical existential vector that begins more or less with the Enlightenment and ends, more or less, with the anti-modernist terror of McCarthyism
2. Alcorn-Mozart semiotics
3. Progressive networks/institutions (New Deal "state")
4. Election of 1932/NRA (7a); mid-1935 breakout of KE (second New Deal) Wagner Act; Election of 1936
|3 Planes of Immanence
2. the persistence of fascism
The persistence of fascism--of the political culture, psychological dispositions and praxiological modalities of ressentiment (the inner life of fascism); the possibility that the inner logic of ISIS and the Tea Party are identical, That ISIS is the Tea Party on steroids, and that Melanie Klein's is the voice most in tune with our time (which is not the same as affirming the validity of her theoretical perspective). In the United States fascism has become normalized, legitimized within media discourse. Nevertheless if one focuses on the inner logic of fascism--ressentiment--rather than on its outward form--street violence, concentration camps, the Führer principle--then we have today the Führer principle in practice, exhortations to racist violence, and the promise of the camps. And this brings us to Figures 1 and 2. (See Paxton on KKK, Black Legion, Coughlin Zizek wrong on fascism 434
Figure 2. Donald Trump Talks Like a Third-Grader
Figure 1. PISA Math Scores, 2003 - 2012: 25 Nations. (For more on Figure 1 see the PISA Results: Evolutionary, Historical, Developmental, and Psychological Perspectives). This figure is pregnant with all sorts of meanings, prospective as well as retrospective. The development of our cognizing powers, and the subversion of that development. In the context of Fig. 1, an interesting New York Times article: Reforms to Ease Students’ Stress Divide a New Jersey School District (12--25-15). The kind of cogntive issues implied by figure 1 played a major role in my interviews of Nietzsche's "exceptional human beings of the most dangerous and attractive quality," conducted in the 1970s. I refer to these auto workers as Bildungs proletarians, an ontological designation that arose out of a Hegelian investigation of agency. Together with the plebeian upstarts, these workers constituted the forces of creation within the field of action provided by the auto industry, the New Deal, and the Enlightenment as historical vector and developmental field.
On psuedo-speciation: Consider the GOP rhetorical performances of the Summer of 2015: What are the psychological and cognitive characteristics of the audience response in these theaters of ressentiment that politics provides? One must wonder at the primitive and repetitive nature of the discourse of the current leader on the right, not merely his racist attacks on a variety of others, but also his primitive language (I like; I don't like; good guys; bad guys; I'm great--so great it will make your head spin; he's stupid; what a face; you're ugly, fat, on the rag . . . ). At what grade-level is the Trump rhetorical performance? Donald Trump Talks Like a Third-Grader. (Politico, August 13, 1915. Chart above from For presidential hopefuls, simpler language resonates: Trump tops GOP field while talking to voters at fourth-grade level, Boston Globe, Auguast 20, 2015.) This fourth-grade mentality holds the sphere of public discourse hostage. Applying the Piagetian schematic (as presented by the Vygotskian Michael Cole*) to the rhetorical theatrics of politics and the various media outlets enables us to assign a place in the cognitive-linguistic scheme of things. Fox News and CNN: third to fifth grade; MSNBC: maybe fourth to sixth grade; PBS Newshour: perhaps at the level of a high school graduate. (See Cog divergence LINK) This is one dimension of a concept of psuedo-speciation. "The fundamental historicity of Being" (Zizek, Less Than Nothing, p. 108)
*Michael Cole, Cynthia Lightfoot, and Sheila R. Cole, The Development of Children (Worth Publishers, 2009)
Figure 1. PISA Math Scores, 2003 - 2012: 25 Nation
Southeast Asian nations are in light blue; Scandinavian nations + Switzerland in dark blue; Anglo-Saxon nations in orange; France, Germany, Belgium and Poland in green; Italy, Portugal and Spain in brown; the United States in red. (The advanced capitalist nations. Some have been omitted for the sake visual clarity).
Note the decline in the Anglo-Saxon and Scandinavian nations. The results of the 2015 tests will be released in December of 2016.
Nietzsche, Hegel, Vygotsky: three who thought the historicity of Being
To see what I mean when I say pseudo-speciation, consider this example from Sophia Rosenfeld, A Revolution in Language: the Problem of Signs in Late Eighteenth-Century France (Stanford, 2001). Two other examples, drawn from the current political scene, are the Musso rant and the Ground Zero debate.
The enormous cognitive gulf between the enlightened representatives of
Revolution and the villages folk, between the two protagonists in the
Ground Zero debate, and between Musso and the modern civilized citizen,
has been inadequately conceptualized. The two ontological
modalities on display in these texts and videos are both emotionally
and cognitively at odds. Of immediate relevance: this excerpt from Jeremy E. C. Genovese, "Piaget, Pedagogy, and Evolutionary Psychology."
Compare the Democratic and Republican debates of the Fall of 2015: a concept of psuedo-speciation is required to make sense of the differences, which are fundamental. We are dealing here with different orders of being (and simultaneously with ontological instability) having nothing to do with genes and everything to do with history and culture, culture and power, power and the reactions to power, all made possible by that wonder of wonders, mind and language: The more we disarmed our environment the more we became our own environment. (Mind: embodied, extended, enacted and distributed.)
This rhetorical performance of the right is not only cognitively primitive. It should be obvious that on the right there are not issues, but postures, gestures, various encodings of the same sado-sexual reflex (the inner logic, the generative matrix, of racism). Postures, gestures, various encodings (floating signifiers) of the same sado-sexual reflex--we are no longer in the land of the Cartesian self and its motivations and interests. Rage enacted in a political-media theater of violence (psychologically, the "issue" of immigration is the script for a generalized lynch-mob): This is the essence of what is called "Conservative" today. And not only rage, but political pornography. Sex and violence make up the entirety of the inner logic, the generative matrix of the other, of populist Republicanism. These sado-sexual fixations may dress themselves up as issues, as if they were subject to rational debate and beholden to empirical checks (see GOP as the Stupid Party). Language on the threshold of gesture and reflex. Regression to infantile narcissism via processes of identification, to a politics of patrimonialism. Certain American classics of the 1940s should be reread today: Lillian Smiths's Killers of the Dream, Wilbur Cash's The Mind of the South, and others. "The fundamental historicity of Being" (Zizek, Less Than Nothing, p. 108).
"truth has the structure of fiction" Less than Nothing, 252, 494)
a critique of the "people"
from Werner Stark, Sociology of Religion: A Study of Christendom (Fordham University Press, 1966-72) vol. 1, p. 188
As democratic convictions became settled . . . 'the people' emerged increasingly as the true sovereign, and the conception gained ground that 'the people' is sane and sound, and its voice, at least to some extent, is sacred.
from Friedrich Nietzsche, The Will to Power, § 863
The values of the weak prevail because the strong have taken them over as devices of leadership.
from Yrjö Engeström and Reijo Miettinen, "Activity theory and individual and social transformation," in Reijo Miettinen, and Raija-Leena Punamaki, Perspectives on Activity Theory (Cambridge, 1999), pp. 25-6:
Differences in cognition across cultures, social groups, and domains of practice are thus commonly explained without seriously analyzing the historical development that has led to those differences. The underlying relativistic notion is that we should not make value judgements concerning whose cognition is better or more advanced--that all kinds of thinking and practice are equally valuable. Although this liberal stance may be a comfortable basis for academic discourse, it ignores the reality that in all domains of societal practice value judgements and decisions have to be made every day.
Racism and Psuedo-speciation
Some might say a concept of psuedo-speciation smacks of racism. Nothing could be further from the truth.
This concept of pseudo-speciation is the antithesis of the varieties of neo-racism that now permeate the semiosphere--for example, Nicholas Wade's neo-racist A Troublesome Inheritance: Genes, Race and Human History* (Penguin Press, 2014), and Gregory Cochran and Henry Harpending's neo-racist The 10,000 Year Explosion: How Civilization Accelerated Human Evolution (2009). Serious neo-racist works, such as these, have three characteristics. First, " . . . the authors employ an undefined and oftentimes arbitrary racial classificatory scheme, assume race to be a natural fact, use ethnocentric metrics to measure intelligence (but see Ceci's critique of the concept of intelligence) and attempt to lay the ground work for the racial classification of humanity by intelligence."** Second, these works merely dress up in psuedo-scientific terms the dark side of neoliberalism--its racist mass appeal; and third our whole culture seems to be animated by a feverish hostility to understanding humans as extremely complex cultural historical, ontologically indeterminate organisms. ("The quest of biological psychiatry, adopted and aided by DSM, is to claim a brain disease for every human trouble." Kirk et. al., Mad Science)
Indeed, one might say that the racist conception of human difference is not only intellectually null. It is also a symptom of the primitive cognitive processes characteristic of racism. This site takes the bull by the horns, and addresses human differences from a cultural-historical and a political perspective. Taking the bull by the horns means goring a few sacred cows. When this is done our number one sacred cow bites the dust--the myth of the individual, the Cartesian self in a market economy (the self-evident ontological given and eternal truth of our being, the selfy self-same self)--and is replaced, as a first, and only first, approximation, by the Quantum Heterogeneity of Dasein: Five Genetic Ontologies***: Hegel, Marx, Nietzsche, Vygotsky, Descola, Latour; the Sapient Paradox: . . . Figure 3 will be discussed below and throughout this site. (Genetic ontology and transcendental empiricism: the genesis of the pages)
*See Jonathan Marks' review and blog (anthropomics). Also Geneticists say popular book misrepresents research on human evolution (Nature)
**reviewed by Cadell Last, Explorations in Anthropology, Vol.12, No. 1, pp. 120–123.
***Miguel de Beistegui, Truth and genesis : philosophy as differential ontology (Indiana University Press, 2004)
Figure 3. The Quantum Heterogeneity of Dasein: Five Genetic Ontologies
(Five Principles of the Production of Practices)
The Quantum Heterogeneity of Dasein: Five Genetic Ontologies
Heidegger sought to use the concept of Dasein to uncover the primal nature of "Being" (Sein), agreeing with Nietzsche and Dilthey that Dasein is always a being engaged in the world: neither a subject, nor the objective world alone, but the coherence of Being-in-the-world. This ontological basis of Heidegger's work thus opposes the Cartesian "abstract agent" in favour of practical engagement with one's environment. Dasein is revealed by projection into, and engagement with, a personal world - a never-ending process of involvement with the world as mediated through the projects of the self.
Heidegger raised the question of the ontological status of homo sapiens. The obscure romanticism of his language is not unrelated to the fact that he became an important Nazi (the rector of the University of Freiburg). His static primordialism is in sharp contrast to the dynamic historical and developmental ontological thinking of Hegel-Marx-Vygotsky. The weakness of the latter triad is in their naïve progressivism, the assumption that modern rationality would become the dominant ontology of modern society. They did not comprehend the volcanic force of ressentiment that showed its face in the ultra-nationalism of the nineteenth century and the fascism of the twentieth century . . . and today almost everywhere. Nor did they grasp that nihilism (neoliberalism's greatest if unintended achievement--see New York Times on Nihilism at the right) was the ultimate result of the cultural logic of capitalism.
The one thinker of that epoch who got it right, who speaks to our Now of the twenty first century, is Nietzsche. Of the five genetic ontologies three belong to the era of state power. Ressentiment: again and again it appears, always claiming to be new, always the same old shit. Eternal return (of the same old shit). Bildung and the Will to Power. Here Nietzsche and Hegel should be supplemented with some key contemporary texts, including Alcorn and Dupre. It was Alcorn who opened my mind to an understanding of the pre-1960s left: the Communists and Socialists of New York and southeastern Michigan. It was Alcorn who enabled me to make sense out of what Saul Wellman (Communist Party Detroit) and Cliff Williams (UAW Pontiac) were telling me. On nihilism: the last man; disindividuation; decognification; the incredible shrinking self--it is uncanny how dead-on Nietzsche's scattered comments are in the early Twenty-first century.
Genetic ontology (Miguel de Beistegui: "Transcendental empiricism is concerned with isolating the genetic and immanent conditions of existence of the real"), historicity of being (Zizek), Modes of Existence (Latour), psuedo-speciation (Mary Migdley)
Ontology, Transcendental Empiricism, Emergence
1. The New York Times (and others) on NihilismScreen Addiction Is Taking a Toll on Children (7-6-15)
Steve Jobs Was a Low-Tech Parent (9-10-14)
The Extraordinary Science of Addictive Junk Food (2-20-13)
Today’s Exhausted Superkids (8-15-15)
Is Internet Addiction a Health Threat for Teenagers? (7-16-15)
Failure to Thrive (3-12-15)
The Immigrant Advantage (5-24-14)
In Heroin Crisis, White Families Seek Gentler War on Drugs (10-30-15)
Death Rates Rising for Middle-Aged White Americans, Study Finds (11-2-15)
Drug Overdoses Propel Rise in Mortality Rates of Young Whites (1-20-16)
How the Epidemic of Drug Overdose Deaths Ripples Across America (1-19-16)
Teens spend nearly nine hours every day consuming media (W. Post 11-3-15)
3. The triumph of nihilism (and the New York Times on Dasein)
So far: the wreckage of socialism and the persistence of fascism . . . and now:
The triumph of nihilism as the socio-cultural engineering project of global corporate networks of unimaginable reach and power, generating an entropic process of disindividuation. Mass consumption as a mode of absorption and transformation of the organism. The fiction of freedom (see Dupre), the subversion of individuation, the inner logic of addiction, the commodification of distress, the infantilization of public discourse . . . in short, the dissipation of the species homo sapiens sapiens into a proliferation of effects. DSM-5 as the operating manual of the post-human ontology. The vortex of un-becoming . . . and the point of departure for a new kind of politics (or not). Zizek doesen't know how right he is when he says (843) . . . . . and 453 "no final Aufhebung
The New York Times on Dasein. Out of the set of all New York Times articles subsets can be formed. The New York Times on Dasein is one such subset. The Times on Dasein can be read in the context of Ehrenberg ("Today, many of our social tensions have been expressed in terms of implosion and depressive collapse or, in a similar way, its flip side: explosions of violence, rage, the search for new sensations"); Stiegler ("the entropic vicious circle that leads to dissociation, desocialization, and disindividuation"); these more lengthy excerpts from Hall et. al.("This specific mode of identification and desire, motivated by the terror of helplessness and insignificance that afflicts each prematurely born and maladapted human being in early childhood, is, of course, infantile narcissism, and it creates and sustains precisely the types of unconscious desires and drives that consumer culture and its para-political civic life require"); Kirk et. al. ("The quest of biological psychiatry, adopted and aided by DSM, is to claim a brain disease for every human trouble. On the one hand, the drug industry’s marketing efforts and its massive infusions of money to support psychiatric activities, and on the other hand psychiatry’s enthusiastic acceptance of the partnership, have completely subsumed psychiatry as a satellite branch of the multinational pharmaceutical industry.); and Usher ("consumption is a matter of consuming signs, it is the experience itself that counts, i.e., that signifies and defines"). A plane of immanence is formed when this is done. This plane of immanence can be given a name: Nihilism. This is the inner world of neoliberalism. (The fundamental historicity of Being.)
from Lawrence J. Hatab, A Nietzschean Defense of Democracy, p. 28
. . . the happy nihilism of the 'last man,' who makes everything comfortable, small, and trivial.
Why Dasein? Part II
As with all such grand schemata, they are useful only if they get us on our way; only if they form pedal notes in the practice of transcendenta empiricism
|the absolute in action
Derrida; Zizek; Hall; Timimi et al.
New Light on Fascism: France: the Dark Years; The German War: A Nation Under Arms, 1939–1945
the invisible power structure (the sodalities of racism: local govt
seeDiken, Nihilism in Dark Age
Eelco Runia, Moved by the Past: Discontinuity and Historical Mutation (Columbia U. Press, 2014)
“For historians, ‘not thinking’ goes under the name of ‘positivism’ and takes the form of allowing yourself to become wrapped up in your subject. It implies consenting to be a vehicle for what Hayden White has called prefigurations . . . to the extent you succumb to prefigurations you only replicate your subject” p. xii
“how to make evolutionary sense of the fact that humans, alone among species, “took off” on a kind of autonomous development that made it their destiny “to ply the seas eternally”? p. 180
“The more we disarmed our environment the more we became our own environment.” 184
|The Genetics of Autism
Rebecca Muhle, Stephanie V. Trentacoste and Isabelle Rapin Pediatrics 2004;113;e472-e486
Although many genes and proteins have been im- plicated as causes of autism, too little is known about their functions or their role in brain development to generate a parsimonious hypothesis about the brain dysfunctions that underlie autism. Evidence from multiplex families with the broader autism pheno- types, together with twin studies, indicates that sin- gle-gene defects are rare even within families. This is a general feature of many genetically influenced complex disorders such as obesity or diabetes be- cause, first, different mutations in a given gene in different families do not have the same consequences for gene inactivation, and, second, phenotypic vari- ability within a family may be a random stochastic event or result from interactions among different genes in different members of the same family. Fur- thermore, brain development and complex behaviors are multidetermined, with genes turning cascades of proteins on or off while they influence one another. A specific mutation, deletion, or unique set of genetic polymorphisms may determine one’s susceptibility to autism, yet even then environmental triggers may modify the phenotypic expression of the disorder.88
Despite the profusion of investigations into the genetics of autism, few significant genetic linkages to autism have been identified. Even when strong ge- netic linkage is suggested, its significance remains undetermined until the functions of the gene product have been defined and its influence on brain devel- opment and physiology have been elucidated.
Review - Behavioral Genetics in the Postgenomic Era