Nonphenomenal Lineage

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Monogamy, originally uploaded by griff le riff.

Today I have a couple of questions for you all:

Are our brains coded for monogamous behavior? What is the nature of love and attachment? Are we doomed, as a human race, to fall prey to natural instincts? Is fighting those instincts completely futile?

I had a conversation with my boss on Friday about humans and monogamy. It was disturbing. One of those discussions that you kind of expected all along, but hearing it out loud makes it all the more concrete.

First off, there are a few conditions to this argument: Let’s not start this argument from the position that the planet is made up of plants, animals, and humans. I’m working from the position that there are merely plants and animals. Flora and Fauna. You can’t seriously believe we’re something much better than animals because we have this great ability to rationalize, and we have opposable thumbs. So what? We’re just a little smarter than the rest, but we still share like 98.5% of our DNA with chimpanzees. We’re still predators that live just like the all the other predators.

It doesn’t matter if your vantage point is the human of today, or of early Homo Sapien; if broken down to the bare minimum, our species has to do four things to stay alive: eat, sleep, keep our bodies protected, and make more of ourselves. And we’ve been this way for a long long time – it’s been 100,000-150,000 years since the first modern Homo Sapien began to wander the earth, and more than 2 million years since the first Homo Habilis.

So this behavior works, it keeps us alive. We eat generally three times a day, we sleep everyday, and we have to change our wardrobe when the weather shifts a mere 30 degrees. The truth is we’re pretty weak and susceptible to death if we don’t follow nature’s demands exactly. So we’ve developed within our bodies a way to measure precisely what we need everyday, so that we don’t forget to take care of ourselves. And these needs that we have, to eat, to sleep, to stay warm or cool, can be all consuming, ie: If you’re really really tired, what else can you successfully do besides sleep? Not much, and not for long before your body shuts down and you are forced into it.

So it would follow that our other sustainable inner mechanism, the one that makes us want to reproduce would be equally as strong and the hunger, food, sleep thing. In order to keep our species going, nature has devised ways to keep us making babies. This need to reproduce is a very fundamental law in nature, and it’s very hard to avoid. When you look at it objectively, we were put here so we can make more of ourselves.

But then there’s this other layer of life, this layer of society, one where we have to do things against nature to keep our lives working properly. What I mean is the day-to-day things we do that are superlative to the basic needs of shelter, food, sleep and sex. And when you mix in these other, unesscary things that we do, plus our super power of self-awareness, that’s where things get complicated. Because now it’s our awareness of self and it’s interaction with social rules versus the basic natural instincts.

So how come we’re not screwing as many people as we can all day long? How strong is our self-will? And is the will ever the victor in the end in the struggle against nature? Take monogamy, for example. We’re think were monogamous as a species. I mean, at least we think we’re serial monogamists; find a mate, settle down, have kids, stay together forever, or for a least a few years until a better one comes along. But let me consider the logistics of monogamy applied to our natural behavior:

Women have a finite number of eggs, they can only have maximum 15 kids, let’s say. And most only have 2 or 3. So, it would seem that since women only have a few options to create new life, then their decision on who to have father the child would be weighed upon many things. Quality would definitely be a factor. So, once a suitable father is found to produce a child, it would seem the next step would be to stay with that father to continue to produce optimal human beings.

Men, on the other hand, produce sperm over and over and over again. They don’t have a finite number of people they can produce. So since their half of the creation process is not as precious because it’s not as limited, why not choose quantity over quality? Wouldn’t Nature keep urging them to pursue more, more, more on account of how much sperm they produce? Why so much sperm? Why, to impregnate many women.

So back to monogamy: If women choose one man for child-bearing purposes, it would make sense. But why would men ever agree to a kind of situation where they would have to deny Nature over and over again to maintain a social rule, ie a loyal marriage? Why would men swear off other females for the sake of a marriage?

If we enter into marriages, who is it really benefiting? The offspring, I suppose, is the major concern. The parents stay together to protect them. But what about the relation between husband and wife? Are they truly monogamous? So many marriage infidelities take place all the time. And the ones that are faithful to each other, is that out of true love, or is borne out of self-denial because of social mores?: I’m not going to have sex with person X because my spouse would be sad, and I would be looked down upon by my friends and family.

So tell me, married people, are you constantly denying yourself new sexual partners based upon a marriage license, or your idea of “love”? Just because you’re on a diet, doesn’t mean you can’t look at the menu. The very thought of sex with another is betrayal in that situation. You’re only denying yourself the action because of the social consequences. Or are you really, truly in love with your spouse, and never, ever look at another human and think, yeah, I’d like to tap that! If you say no you’re lying. How long can we deny these natural instincts that control so much of our lives?

I wish I had a good, pat answer for that, but I don’t. I guess if you believe in true love or whatever, then that may make sense for you. But love is another of those things that’s not necessary for life to proceed. It’s nice, and some people believe that they probably couldn’t live without so-and-so, but everybody knows that it is, in fact, possible to live as long as the four basic conditions are met, and love is not one of them.

This has become really long and really rambling, and I’m sorry to you all for that. It’s just that I feel that sometimes it’s futile trying to look for “love” because it’s truly a non-necessity to life. Why bother living with someone when they only want to screw you and then move on? Why construct an elaborat relation with anyone when you know, in the end, they’re going to do whatever their body tells them. And if they don’t, it’s because they’re constantly denying it. I don’t want to be in a relationship if it causes the other person to be in constant self-denial.

Please, someone prove me wrong. I want to have more faith in our control to keep our pants on and our minds in love, because right now, I think that I have absolutely no control over anything.


Written by pocheco

June 22, 2005 at 7:16 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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