Toward an Anthropology of Ethics: Foucault and the Pedagogies of Autopoiesis

Anthropology has come to exhibit a certain ethical self-consciousness, a certain ethical anxiety, which the immediate heirs of Franz Boas would hardly have countenanced, perhaps hardly have under- stood. It emerged with the protests of the 1960s and had its earliest collective voice in Reinventing Anthropology, published in 1969 under the editorship of Dell Hymes. It has, however, proven to be far more durable than the Generation of Love. Though prevailingly leftist, its voices—neo-Marxist, feminist, postcolonial, ‘‘queer’’—have become increasingly diverse over the past three decades. The recent controversy over Alfred Kroeber’s treatment of his Yahi interlocutor, Ishi, is only one of many indications that its intensity remains quite high.1 What might thus be called anthro- pology’s ‘‘ethical turn’’ is indeed still very much in process. Here, I am less inter- ested in all that it has grown to encompass and enliven than in what, as yet, it has left almost entirely by the wayside. Anthropologists may worry at present over the stance they should take toward the Islamic veil, pharaonic circumcision, the Occi- dentalist trappings of the notion of universal human rights, or the ostensibly pater- nalistic regard of Ishi and of his remains, but they have yet systematically to put the ethical itself into anthropological question, systematically to inquire into the social and cultural themes and variations of ethical discourse and ethical practice, into the social and cultural lineaments of what, for lack of any better terminological placeholder, one might simply call the ‘‘ethical Ž eld.’’

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Posted in Anthropology, Autopoiesis, Ethics, Foucault | Tagged , , ,

Rethinking the Theoretical Foundation of Sociobiology

Current sociobiology is in theoretical disarray, with a diversity of frameworks that are poorly related to each other. Part of the problem is a reluctance to revisit the pivotal events that took place during the 1960s, including the rejection of group selection and the development of alternative theoretical frameworks to explain the evolution of cooperative and altruistic behaviors. In this article, we take a “back to basics” approach, explaining what group selection is, why its rejection was regarded as so important, and how it has been revived based on a more careful formulation and subsequent research. Multilevel selection theory (including group selection) provides an elegant theoretical foundation for sociobiology in the future, once its turbulent past is appropriately understood.

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Genes, Mind, And Culture: The Coevolutionary Process

A classic on Human Sociobiology, Genes, Mind, and Culture introduces the concept of gene-culture coevolution. In this volume Lumsden and Wilson provide a much needed facsimile edition of their original work, together with a major review of progress in the discipline during the ensuing quarter century. They argue compellingly that human nature is neither arbitrary nor predetermined, and identify mechanisms that energize the upward translation from genes to culture. The authors also assess the properties of genetic evolution of mind within emergent cultural patterns. Lumsden and Wilson explore the rich and sophisticated data of developmental psychology and cognitive science in a fashion that, for the first time, aligns these disciplines with human sociobiology. The authors also draw on population genetics, cultural anthropology, and mathematical physics to set human sociobiology on a predictive base, and so trace the main steps that lead from the genes through human consciousness to culture.

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Posted in Culture, Evolution, Mind, Sociobiology | Tagged , , ,

Collective intentionality: A basic and early component of moral evolution

Michael Tomasello’s account of moral evolution includes both a synthesis of extensive experimental work done on humans and chimpanzees on their potential for perspective-taking and helpful, altruistic generosity and a major emphasis on “collective intentionality” as an important component of morality in humans. Both will be very useful to the evolutionary study of this subject. However, his disavowal of collective intentions on the parts of chimpanzees would appear to be empirically incorrect, owing to reliance on experimental captive research focused only on dyadic interactions. Here, evidence to the contrary is provided from studies of wild chimpanzees as they naturally cooperate in sizable groups. Collective intentions are inferable when they go on patrol, when they mob predators, when they go hunting, and when large coalitions gang-attack disliked members of the same community. This last behavior has particularly significant pre-adaptive implications for the evolution of moralistic social control, and it suggests that moral evolution has deep roots, going back to the Last Common Ancestor of humans, bonobos, and chimpanzees.

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Posted in Collective intentionality, Moral evolution | Tagged ,

Systems Intelligence in Leadership and Everyday Life

The Systems Intelligence approach that we have developed with a number of associates and students in the course of the past five years at Helsinki University of Technology, offers a major opening for the understanding of leadership. The perspective is rich in terms of potential relevance for the actual conduct of leadership, we believe. This is because of the fruitful crossfertilization the approach creates between conceptual and theoretical considerations on the one hand, and an interest in actual praxis, on the other.

Our starting point is the conviction that there is holistic, systemic ingenuity to human action and to human leadership action that should be met head-on. This calls for the description, analysis and conceptualization of actual practices in a mode that takes for granted the intelligence of those practices even when that intelligence cannot be approached with conventional methods or in terms of explicit knowledge or strict objective rationalism. The Systems Intelligence perspective wants to bring back the human element of leadership – categories such as choice, subjectivity, experience and shared experience, instinct, sensitivity, inspiration, emotional energy and association, without dismissing the more traditional categories of control and prediction, analysis and calculation, and objectivity.

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Systems Intelligent Leadership

Posted in Leadership, Swarm intelligence | Tagged ,

Emotional Intelligence in Teachers’ Activities

Emotional intelligence (EQ) development is becoming a more important issue among such significant factors as competence and efficiency due to the constant and rapid social transformations, new challenges, high social norms, and setting high professional standards. The ability to control emotions and recognize them is especially important for a future teacher who faces two objectives that make a success or failure when establishing communication: developing the personal abilities that provide a basis for emotional intelligence and developing students’ emotional intelligence. A future teacher should be involved in searching for new approaches and tools for understanding and controlling emotions, as well as developing the ability to empathize. The aim of this research is to help a teacher acquires effective skills to build optimal relationships with colleagues and students. This search is also due to the need to develop the skills to exercise self-knowledge, understand the motives and goals in a professional teaching environment, to influence the emotions of other people, and to improve the leadership qualities. The article describes the results of an experiment carried out at the Faculty of Pedagogy and Psychology of Naberezhnye Chelny State Pedagogical University and at the Faculty of Psychology and Pedagogy of Nizhny Novgorod State Pedagogical University named after K. Minin in 2019. The experiment was aimed at measuring the development level of students’ emotional intelligence that affects the quality of various aspects of professional activity. The authors discuss the main criteria for assessing the level of future teachers’ emotional intelligence and give characteristics of each criterion. We have come to the conclusion that developed skills of emotional competence are of great importance to teachers and children, and to the successful social interaction. The findings of the research can be applied when working out the programs to develop emotional intelligence in order to resolve conflicts and forecast their consequences in a professional teaching environment.

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Posted in Emotional intelligence, Teachers | Tagged ,

Embeddedness and empathy: How the social network shapes adolescents’ social understanding

Based on theories of social-cognitive development, the present study investigated the yet unknown social structure that underlies the concept of empathy in adolescence. A total of 3.159 seventh graders (13.67 years, 56% girls) from 166 school classes participated by providing information on empathy, related psychosocial factors, and friendship patterns. Social network analyses were used to measure a comprehensive representation of adolescents’ social environment by covering individual, group, class, and school characteristics. Multilevel models revealed that individual characteristics as well as contextual factors predict adolescents’ level of empathy. Findings indicate that empathy is mirrored in the social structure of adolescents supporting the hypothesis that social demands, which continuously grow with the amount of embeddedness, shape their social understanding.

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Posted in Adolescents, Embeddedness, Empathy, Social network, Social understanding | Tagged , , , ,

Health promotion should focus on loneliness in our pandemic age

Loneliness is a subjective experience of social isolation and occurs when people feel disconnected from others. One can be surrounded by others but still feel lonely, and conversely, one can be alone, but not feel socially isolated. It refers to a negative perception of one’s relationships. Whilst loneliness can be a distressing feeling, it serves a function as it prompts us not to depend solely on our own resources.

For more than 4 decades, we have known that social networks affect health through a variety of mechanisms, including provision of social support (both perceived and actual), social influence (e.g. norms, social control), social engagement, person-to-person contacts (e.g. pathogen exposure, second-hand cigarette smoke) and access to resources (e.g. money, jobs, information).

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Posted in Coronavirus, Loneliness | Tagged ,

Collective Acceptance, Social Institutions, and Social Reality

The paper presents an account of social institutions on the basis of collective  acceptance. Basically, collective acceptance by some members of a group involves the members’ collectively coming to hold and holding a relevant social attitude (a “we-attitude”), viz. either one in the intention family of concepts or one in the belief family. In standard cases the collective acceptance must be in the “we-mode”, viz. performed as a group member, and involve that it be meant for the group. The participants must be collectively committed to what they have accepted. Social institutions are taken to be norm-governed social practices introducing a new social and conceptual status on the practices or some elements involved in those practices. This requires that some of the involved norms be constitutive norms as opposed to merely “accidentally” regulating ones. A classification of social institutions is presented. The account is broader in scope than is Searle’s.

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Posted in Collective, Social institutions, Toumela | Tagged , ,

Is the Pandemic Causing Children’s Anxiety to Go Up or Down?

How are your kids managing at home? We are in the midst of a terrible pandemic. Certainly, there is cause for all of us to be anxious, but I want to focus here on the effect on children.

It is a well-established fact that anxiety levels among schoolchildren have risen to record levels in recent years. Indeed, by some estimates, as many as a third of schoolchildren suffer from anxiety sufficient for a clinical diagnosis of anxiety disorder. Although adults, especially those involved with the school system, tend to attribute students’ anxiety to almost anything other than school, kids themselves cite the pressures of school as by far the major cause.

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Coronavirus School Closures: An Educational Opportunity

Posted in Coronavirus, Education | Tagged ,