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How natural is monogamy for men?

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  • #16
    *drums fingers on table and waits for Serial to show up and write, with his usual brevity and succinctness, something that makes the complex, simple*



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    • #17
      My take is that we are Serial Monogamists (and "sinners") by nature.

      The approximately 4 year strong emotional attachment makes sense in the context of bearing a child, in which the make and female are motivated to stick around and hence provide maternal and maternal investment. Emotions like jealousy and the obsessiveness we find amongst a couple who is "deeply in love" would have been positively selected as they woul secure investment and hence increase the survival of the progeny.

      It also makes sense to think that men are hard-wired to spread their genes as much as possible and investing in his own genes, while women would be more concerned about attracting parental investment regardless of the original father (she already knows for sure the kid has half her genes).

      In big societies, widespread monogamy would be the desired scenario because it seems to promote a more peaceful interaction amongst males. In big polygamous societies, women tend to be considered as some sort of commodity, where the wealthiest marry many of them and the poor often have access to none. Picture an important percentage of the male population with no access to women throughout their lives and the impact this would have in their... socialization skills.

      In today's western society, Monogamy would imply making a long-term choice in which we trade off short-term craving satisfaction for a family life and company when old. This is particularly true in our modern societies, where, as opposed to life in, lets say, small tribes, single people are much more prone to find themselves socially isolated as they age. So suppressing instincts would be a good trade-off in the long term.

      My take is that the more we understand human nature, the more aware we are of the real sacrifices required when entering a long-term monogamous relationship, and therefore the more careful we will be in choosing out partner. It also helps fight pervasive bronze age moral constructs stating that any non-monogamous cravings and thoughts are a reflection of character flaws and psychological anomalies; and allow couples to freely explore other association schemes more aligned with their particular "socialization needs"

      Anyway, and in short, no, we would not be naturally hard-wired for long-term monogamy.
      “Every saint has a past and every sinner has a future.” -Oscar Wilde
      "The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism by those who have not got it." -George Bernard Shaw
      "The trouble with jogging is that the ice falls out of your glass." -Martin Mull

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      • #18
        So if we take our axiom of propagation and maintenance of genes in the gene pool we arrive at the idea that the more children one has and the more genetic success and this is what we will be more inclined to. Just an endless sea of random and uncommitted copulation, and men using women as genetic vessels. Splendid. But the goal of the game isn't so much so mate as much as possible but to maximize the amount of related genetic material in the gene pool in the future. Women have some tricks up their sleeves as well. It can often take years before a woman will let a man mate with her and this simply isn't time that most men are willing to waste. Years of courtship can act as incentive to stick it out and stay with a partner. What is more genetically advantageous, having a child every two years with the same mate after 5 years of courtship (15 years = 5 children) or flitting around to different mates trying to impregnate them and escape? This sort of fuck-everything-and-run theory doesn't give women the credit they deserve. A quality woman is usually intelligent and perceptive enough to discern who is loyal and sincere and who is a man-whore. Combine a dumb woman and a disinterested man-whore man and the child isn't going to have any advantage to speak of. Which brings me to my next point: what about survival and propagation of posterity? Fatherless children tend to have all sorts of economic and psychological disadvanteges. I contend and I think many would agree that a stable, united family setting is the most advantageous for not only the creation of offspring but to ensure their survival and propagation themselves. Usually propagation in our modern setting has more to do with how many children one can support successfully and that tends to boil down to finances. Of course nothing is set in stone but the most advantageous propagation strategy is not so black and white as it might appear. Not to mention the fact that nobody tends to want to mate with an old dude they just met and that window of opportunity usually dissipates within a decade or two. More evidence for the stable family setting.

        Or perhaps we can recognize that we are not our genetics and are increasingly disposed to subverting our genetic instructions and manipulating our pleasure mechanisms as ends in themselves rather than means for our genes to force their own ends. Hence childless couples or asexual humans. In the light of higher consciousness, what is "natural" is hardly of consequence or meaning anymore. What is natural is whatever we feel like.
        Stabbing conventional wisdom in its face.

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        • #19
          Or perhaps we can recognize that we are not our genetics and are increasingly disposed to subverting our genetic instructions and manipulating our pleasure mechanisms as ends in themselves rather than means for our genes to force their own ends
          That sounds very optimistic


          *drums fingers on table and waits for Serial to show up and write, with his usual brevity and succinctness, something that makes the complex, simple*
          That's sounds very optimistic as well, but thanks
          Last edited by SerialSinner; 06-28-2010, 11:19 AM. Reason: changed link
          “Every saint has a past and every sinner has a future.” -Oscar Wilde
          "The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism by those who have not got it." -George Bernard Shaw
          "The trouble with jogging is that the ice falls out of your glass." -Martin Mull

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          • #20
            Yes, stabby, what is "natural" for us is perhaps nearly irrelevant and difficult, if not impossible to tease apart from the cultural variables.

            "Usually propagation in our modern setting has more to do with how many children one can support successfully and that tends to boil down to finances"

            Theoretically yes....but in reality?
            Last edited by cillakat; 06-28-2010, 11:56 AM.



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            • #21
              In reality.....I'm more happy when I'm dating several people and getting it most every day than when I'm dating one person exclusively and not getting it as much. The Daemon has never been a fan of abstinence and has a fairly large appetite. I also understand thought that once a relationship is underway that straying is a bad idea too though and won't do that either.
              http://www.facebook.com/daemonized

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              • #22
                Originally posted by SerialSinner View Post
                That sounds very optimistic
                I think that the notion that all events are determined by prior events is compatible with the notion that we can subvert our genetic instructions. The extent to which we subvert our genetic instructions is largely due to causal environmental factors and we can subvert the hell out of them, whether or not we were able to not subvert the hell of them is inconsequential to our propensity to subvert to hell out of them.

                Originally posted by cillakat View Post
                Theoretically yes....but in reality?
                Hard to say. The have-50-kids-and-live-in-a-wooden-shack strategy may indeed be more advantageous than the have-3-kids-and-live-comfortably one. That's why I lean more towards the "humans do whatever they feel like most of the time" option.
                Stabbing conventional wisdom in its face.

                Anyone who wants to talk nutrition should PM me!

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                • #23
                  Also depends how many kids you need to guarantee a few grandchildren - a hundred years ago, 10-15 children was "normal" - allow a few sad losses for disease - put the others to work on the land or latterly in a factory..... Now, 3 kids is seen as extravagent

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                  • #24
                    Originally posted by Daemonized View Post
                    I also understand thought that once a relationship is underway that straying is a bad idea too though and won't do that either.
                    Many men and, I think, most women would tend to feel that way - but certainly not all. There are couples who practice polyamory. And couples who swing. And who practice variations on those two themes.

                    Though seriously, human relationships are already complex (infinitely so, it at times seems to me) and I would imagine that all of those options add additional challenges and difficulties.

                    Challenges aside, people do it. And happily. I guess what I'm saying is that it's good to know yourself, then be that authentic self (as has come up in some of the personality threads and journals recently), and find like-minded people with whom to form relationships and community.



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                    • #25
                      I'm pretty much with Serial Sinner on this one. Human males are mostly serial monogamists. Do we have the flexibility for other lifestyles? Absolutely. Some are dictated by society, others by where the man falls into the variability curve. Chimps are polygamists. Gorillas are harem keepers. Others are serial monogamists. Humans show tendencies for all three.
                      Start weight: 250 - 06/2009
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                      • #26
                        Originally posted by Stabby View Post
                        The extent to which we subvert our genetic instructions is largely due to causal environmental factors and we can subvert the hell out of them, whether or not we were able to not subvert the hell of them is inconsequential to our propensity to subvert to hell out of them.
                        Wait, isn't it the opposite? That it only matters what we *actually do*, not what we have the *inclination* to do.



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                        • #27
                          There are two senses of "inclination" at play here. On the one hand our genes will program us to be inclined to do certain things in order to propagate themselves. But on the other hand what we are actually inclined to do in reality isn't simply what our genes "want" us to do but is the sum of our individual psyches which are comprised of our conscious cognitions, subconscious environmental conditioning, and our genetic predispositions, and probably some more stuff. So my point to serialsinner was that what we actually have the tendency to do isn't based solely on our genes but on their interactions with environment and our conscious reasoning which was borne of the latter two and so I don't think that we are free from a deterministic universe, but we are free from our genetic instructions to an extent. All of our genes want us to propagate them to the best of our abilities and yet we don't because we have discovered other meaning in our lives, which means that humans are an exception to selfish gene theory literalism.
                          Stabbing conventional wisdom in its face.

                          Anyone who wants to talk nutrition should PM me!

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                          • #28
                            Originally posted by Stabby View Post
                            So my point to serialsinner
                            Ah, got it.


                            K



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                            • #29
                              @Stabby:
                              the notion that all events are determined by prior events is compatible with the notion that we can subvert our genetic instructions.
                              I completely agree with what I think you are trying to convey. If we consider Personality as part of our Phenotype, and Phenotype = Genotype + Environment, then it makes sense to see our genetic predispositions being heavily influenced by our social environment. I tend to gravitate very heavily towards the notion of Free Will being pretty much an illusion though, hence my reference to Psychological Determinism and my underlining of the words "we can" as quoted.

                              On the other hand, I think that regardless of social environments, there are some clear basic behavioral patterns we can work with which do manifest themselves regardless of culture. Status in men, for example, tends to be universally attractive to women. the next step would be to define status, and this would change greatly from context to context. But I guess we can safely assume that a higher status, independently of how we define it, would translate to more access to some sort of tangible or intangible resource which would imply, conscious or unconsciously, a better chance of get more quality/quantity of male/parental investment, which would be a desirable quality in a potential mate. Hope this makes sense.
                              Last edited by SerialSinner; 06-28-2010, 02:15 PM. Reason: (predetermined) typo corrections
                              “Every saint has a past and every sinner has a future.” -Oscar Wilde
                              "The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism by those who have not got it." -George Bernard Shaw
                              "The trouble with jogging is that the ice falls out of your glass." -Martin Mull

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                              • #30
                                Yeah I'm also a psychological determinist, and that is pretty much what I meant.

                                I agree with that. We can contradict our genetic instructions depending on how environment and the cognitive world we accumulate from them alter phenotype, but in many cases the desire simply isn't there to do it and if we do, it isn't to as great a degree as we could have. The desire to have children is an extremely strong one and originally all of our pleasure mechanisms and everything that helps determine our quality of experience was created by the genes to guide the conscious mind towards behaviors most likely to propagate and maintain them in the gene pool so it makes sense that a good life will be one full of these things that trigger quality life experiences, and those would theoretically be the very behaviors that result in propagation. There are definitely environmental and cognitive factors that can lead to the subversion and betrayal of genetically originated goals but even if we decide not to reproduce we're still going to have a lot of of those supporting drives and pangs hanging around. Like you said, even if we don't want children we still might want sex and we will still likely be drawn to the traits that denote a good mate. Or even if we don't have children to raise we still might want a lot of property and material possessions because affluent people tend to have more status and more means to support more offspring. Somewhere along the line in evolution, self-awareness, what started as a brilliant tool to be able to make logical predictions and create abstractions also made ourselves aware of ourselves (and aware of our self-awareness...) and some of us have become really good at dismissing many of these genetic instructions and creating new meaning for ourselves, although I doubt anyone will ever be able to break completely free, and I'm not sure if they would want to or what that would look like.
                                Stabbing conventional wisdom in its face.

                                Anyone who wants to talk nutrition should PM me!

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