Agency refers to the capacity for human beings to identify opportunities and make choices that are consistent, correspondent, existentially possible, and coherent with and within reality, and to act upon them, unimpeded by knowledge limitation (ignorance), intellectual limitation(intelligence), mindfulness limitation (impulse), physical limitations(body), instrumental limitations(technologies), resource limitations, the impediments of others and their organizations into norms, laws, institutions, polities, and armies. Perfect Agency would require omniscience, omniscience, and complete insulation from impulse. So, Agency, like Truth, or infinity, or perfection, or godhood, or moving half-way across Zeno’s line, describes an infinitely logarithmic curve: There is always more to be had.
In social pseudoscience, one’s social, economic, and political agency is limited by ‘structure’ (institutions), and their (socialist) implication is that differences in income are an institutional choice not a necessity of human cooperation (natural law). In social pseudoscience then, we are considered to be equal in ability but unequal in institutional benefit. So we extended Agency by correcting the falsehood of equality and necessity.
We are constrained both internally and externally. We have five sets of internal faculties:
– Physical abilities (actions), one of which is speech.
– Senses – the five senses
– Technical Knowledge (actionable knowledge)
Each of these faculties grants us abilities – some more, some less, because we are individually physically, intuitionistically, and rationally better or worse in our abilities.
We are further constrained by externalities:
– Institutions of Cooperation – meaning norms, traditions and laws, and the economy.
We can work to improve our physical abilities – with training
– We can improve our senses with discipline and instruments.
– We can improve our intuitions with training.
– We can improve our reason with training.
– We can improve our speech – with training
– We can improve our knowledge – with training
We can work with others.
– We can work with others to improve our geography, resources, and formal and informal institutions.
– We can work with others to improve our productivity in goods services and information.
As we improve our internal and external ability to act, intuit, think, and speak, we improve our Agency.
The Three Acknowledgments of Agency:
1) I acknowledge that I can exercise some level of control over my thoughts, feelings, and actions.
2) I acknowledge that I am responsible to control my thoughts, feelings, and actions to the best of my ability (within my natural limits).
3) I acknowledge that I must work to develop the mental, emotional, and physical fortitude necessary to exercise my Agency.
“We are just another self-domesticating animal.
Some of us more successful at it than others.
Nothing more complex is at work.”
Biological Origins: How Much Agency Do We Have?
Women and men demonstrably think very differently because of the difference between utility and truth, and between proportionality and reciprocity, and between dysgenia and eugenia. Why do we assume that this same cognitive bias is limited to gender rather than a balance between the genders, and that different groups don’t just demonstrate the male cognitive bias or the female cognitive bias?
Truth, Reciprocity, and Physical Violence that Ends when Ended, VERSUS Fraud, Proportionality, and Reputation Destruction that Never Ends until Destroyed.
Violence and Threats VERSUS Shaming, Ridicule, Gossip, Straw Manning, Rallying, and Reputation Destruction. Those are the Male versus female competitive strategies.
HERD <————–——> PACK
Utility <———————> Truth
Proportionality <—–—> Reciprocity
Equality <——————> Meritocracy
Dysgenia <—————–> Eugenia
r <—————————–> K
There is nothing in mankind that is complicated other than the lies we tell ourselves and others in order to achieve our desired ends.
Male and female reproductive strategies are at odds. And we have little Agency in the choice of those strategies, at the individual, group, civilizational levels. Everything else is a consequence.
So everywhere and everywhen, we discover compromises whether reciprocal or not in order to cooperate, or at least minimize conflict, between our different reproductive biases, interests, and strategies.
There Is No Reason or Agency Among Animals.
Speech provides the illusion that the rider controls the elephant, when in fact, there are very, very, few of us whose elephants correspond to reality, and as a consequence so do our riders. There is a reason that the animals do not argue rationally – because they lack agency, and because they lack agency, they are not in fact human.
Just as children do not have the self-control of adults, many adults lack the self-control of others. While we may learn self-control of our bodies. We may learn self-control of our emotions. We may NOT learn self-control of our thoughts. We use the term ‘Agency’ to describe independence of our thoughts from physical and emotional impulses, from the bias of our intuitions, and from the bias of our thoughts. In this sense, some people are fully human (they have developed agency) or they are not fully human (they have not developed agency) and are still ‘animals’.
Who Is and Isn’t Human?
Is the line of demarcation between human and animal:
2) Sentience? (Reaction to stimuli)
3) Awareness? (Sympathy-intent/Empathy-experience/Imitation-action)
4) Consciousness (time – space)
5) Reason? (Agency)
As far as I know, it is Reason and Agency that separate us from the animals. That means very few of us are yet human. The rest are in different stages of domesticated animal. And I suspect that number (percentage) corresponds to the Pareto minimum.
Our process of self-domestication is far from complete. It is merely sufficient for west and to a lesser degree, east, to drag mankind out of ignorance, superstition, hard labor, filth, poverty, starvation, disease, plagues, suffering, child mortality, early death, continuous violence, and the vicissitudes of nature.
|HUMAN| The gods we aspire to be < Trained Humans < untrained humans < trained animals < untrained animals < untrainable animals.
We domesticated plants, those animals we could domesticate, and those humans we could domesticate. But we left the job unfinished.
Reversal: Genetic Tolerance for Graceful Failure – Agency and Morality
The evolutionary reason some of us have agency and most of us do not is that our reason is subject to temporal failure, and our information is subject to intertemporal failure, and instinct provides a very successful method of graceful failure in the face of limited information, limited time, and limited reason.
Meanwhile, selection for success of those with Agency allows others to adopt new knowledge and understanding by imitation without abandoning their dependence upon intuition.
This is the same reason we still have cheaters. While cooperation is most beneficial under ordinary circumstances, cheating (immorality), and predation (violence), are extremely valuable methods of graceful failure.
The animal-majority is insurance in case we fail. But they are not to be taken seriously in what makes us succeed.
SYSTEMS vs THE RIDER AND THE ELEPHANT
System G (genes),
System 0 (property),
System 1 (intuition/search/continuous recursion),
System 2 (steering, reason, calculation, computing)
The ‘puppeteer’ (returns search results constantly)
The mind handles exceptions (or disparate choices)
Negotiation (morality) is an exception handler.
I disagree with Chomsky, and I am fairly sure that Jeff Hawkins, and Kahnemann and his references, are correct: we just constantly search and re-search memory, and we pre-load any sequence of actions that have high value and then we become aware of the predicted outcome, and we choose to accept the proposition of our search, or we reject it, or we weigh it (research it, and reason with it).
I like the “Systems” metaphors because they’re abstract. It is easier to understand the “Elephant and Rider” metaphor. And the ‘puppeteer’ metaphor is probably attributing too much agency to our intuition when it is just an acquisition machine.
We act on behalf of our genes. The conscious mind (system 2: reasoning search) rides on the elephant of intuition (system 1: intuitionistic search), which is informed by our desire to acquire, inventory, and defend, which is biased by our reproductive strategy, which is biased by our genes.
MAN IS A VICTIM OF HIS GENETIC BIASES
We intuit that people – we and others – have agency. That the rider dominates the elephant. That is very hard to demonstrate, when it appears the opposite.
Developing Agency depends on the biological ability to do so, the market demand to do so, and the discipline to do so. So the elephant is a very simple machine, and the rider (consciousness) but a tool with which the elephant identifies opportunities, negotiates cooperation and executes conflict.
In other words all we think and do as JUSTIFYING the commands of the elephant. And that very, very few of us are fully human and able to transcend the elephant. And that propertarianism is a means, like stoicism, like mathematics, of transcending the elephant – or rather COMPLETING THE TRANSCENDENCE OF MAN.
All learning is continuous recursion. Epistemology and neurology are the same subject.
THE CONSPIRACY OF THE ELEPHANTS
There is no conspiracy among peoples with genetic and cultural homogeneity, any more than there is a conspiracy between women against men, or predators against prey, or competent against incompetent.
We demonstrate differing degrees of neoteny, different moral intuitions, differing brain distributions, different endorphin distributions, and different morphology distributions for ancestral reasons.
We all participate in the unconscious persistence of genetic, class, cultural, mythological, and institutional strategies. We can enumerate the properties of different group strategies, right down to the grammar of the speech and the methods of arguments, and the distributions of cognitive biases people and peoples use (which is one of the research programs what I work on).
All of these properties and in group differences are both measurable at the individual and observable at the collective. One does not blame a dog for dragging it’s backside on the carpet. It’s a dog. One simply teaches the dog not to do so. One does not blame women for feminine cognitive biases and life preferences – they were an evolutionary necessity. One does not blame a competing group for pursuing it’s genetic interest at others expense – one simply creates norms, traditions, laws, institutions, and knowledge to prevent murder, violence, theft, fraud, fraud by omission, free riding, socialization of losses, privatization of commons, conspiracy, rent seeking, producing pseudoscience, pseudo-rationalism, propaganda, systemic lying, advocating or practicing moral and ethical irreciprocity, attempts at conversion, at institutional erosion, asymmetric reproduction, invasion, conquest, war, and genocide in either short term or long term means.
Either a group can defend itself against destructive, parasitic and predatory competitors or it can’t. Groups compete. They compete by the means available to them. And groups learn to exploit every possible niche, from the most high trust, innovative, and productive, to the most low trust, parasitic, and destructive. But we cannot blame others for their immorality (free riding, parasitism and predation). We can only seek to defend ourselves against the immoral. There are no conspiracies. All our talk is just smoke and negotiation and deception on behalf of our genes. We are under the illusion that the rider drives the elephant, but the rider (our consciousness) is just a passenger on the elephant of our genes. Genes don’t conspire. They can’t.
THE ILLUSION OF CONTROL
Speech provides the illusion that the rider controls the elephant, when in fact, there are very, very, few of us whose elephants correspond to reality, and as a consequence so do our riders. There is a reason that the animals do not argue rationally – because they lack agency, and because they lack agency, they are not in fact humans