There’s a whole in your reductionism

April 19, 2013 § 19 Comments

One reasonable criticism of the notions of a “sexual marketplace” and a “marriage marketplace” is that as reductive concepts they fail to capture the full reality they purport to describe.

But of course this is true of all reductionism.  Reductive methods can be extremely useful as a way of finding or describing partial truths.  Reductive descriptions of real things are never complete: it is literally impossible to capture a part of reality and bottle it up into formal expressions.

At the end of the day, the concept of an economic marketplace is every bit as problematic as the concept of a sexual or marriage marketplace.  They are useful concepts, and they help us come to grips with true aspects of reality.  But they are also inherently limited, and the modern tendency is to be blinded by reductionism.

I realize I’m not saying anything especially new or novel here – hey, welcome to blogging.  These thoughts were prompted by reading this post over at Siris.  Whether “hypergamy” is or is not a good term for a largely intuitive and not rigorously researched-and-documented notion of the operation of the sexual marketplace and (distinctly) the marriage marketplace is certainly a legitimate question.  (Every time someone in the manosphere says “game theory” I think of John von Neumann and get mildly annoyed at the cooption of the term.)

But terminology aside, a lack of scientifically reductive rigor and comprehensive social science documentation isn’t enough to make me dismiss a whole set of ideas – especially ideas about as squirrelly a subject as sex – as moronic.  In fact when it comes to matters of sex, I tend to find pretensions to scientific rigor rather suspicious.

Pitiless egalitarianism

April 6, 2013 § 48 Comments

There is all the difference in the world between pity and contempt.    The former expresses caritas for someone who suffers from a disadvantage or is lower in the social hierarchy.  The latter treats someone as an outcast from civilized company.  There are times and places for both; but the time and place for the latter obtains only when the person has brought it upon himself.

Parents of illegitimate children have brought it upon themselves.  The children themselves have not.  To express contempt rather than pity for the latter is, itself, contemptible.

Egalitarian modernity struggles with the difference between pity and contempt, because to be “in” society at all just is to be equal.   To egalitarian modernity anyone who isn’t an equal isn’t anyone at all.  He is worse than contemptible: he is subhuman.

Newtonian Game in a Lorentzian world

April 6, 2013 § 6 Comments

Simplicity can be both a strength and a weakness.   Static models can be helpful in getting a picture of the world that remains fairly consistent from the perspective of a particular  person.  But they are only a starting place, a way of grasping concepts without having to take in everything all at once.

Consider the ideas of “alpha” and “beta”.  The hypergamy model predisposes us to think of them as absolute categories; but most of the time this is not really the case.  For example, there are likely many men who seem “alpha” to less attractive women and, at the same time and in the same man, are “beta” orbiters of more attractive women.  Most people find themselves dissatisfied because they know that something “better” is on offer — they can see it, right there, just beyond their grasp.

The trashy cafeteria approach is a consequence of the universalization of our modern, atomized, self-centered consumer society.  Instead of going to a mechanic we go to an oil change place, a brake place, and a tire place; and that is fine in itself, applied to automotive needs.  But then instead of courting a whole human being on a track to marriage, modern amoral people get their sexual needs[1] fulfilled through a composite of different “products” offered by different “providers”.  The reductionist approach has become totalizing, and the world has become a cafeteria.

Christendom took a cafeteria approach to God a few centuries ago, during the Protestant Revolt, laying Him out on a buffet table where everyone gets to take what they find appetizing in the Christian religion while rejecting the rest.  So is it really any surprise that we find ourselves simmering over a can of sterno?

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[1] I use the term “sexual needs” very broadly here to include all of the wants and needs traditionally fulfilled through courtship and marriage.

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