FW: virus: Incipient Consciousness: discipline vs. freedom as methods of indoctrination for juvenile

Gifford, Nate F ()
Wed, 18 Jun 1997 11:15:19 -0400

Eric Boyd wrote:

>Robin Faichney wrote:

>> I don't know. Or rather: I don't believe the question means
>> anything. Unless it means, are the overall effects of that action
>> desirable or undesirable? But if it does mean that, why can't
>> we discuss in these terms, rather than asking is it right or
>> wrong, which implies some objective quality?

>Obviously, I wasn't very clear last time. I agree with your position on
>good and bad as being "undesirable" words in that they imply essences.
>I was just pointing out that desirable and undesirable do not have to be
>limited to just the effects on _other_people_, as you orginally said.
>Destroying property, even if it effects no one is still undesirable.

I don't see this ... first we should define property as being artificial <
that is man-made >. To me property as in land that exists in a primeval
state is extremely valuable because of its relative scarcity ... on the
other hand it has little value to the people who control it. I.E.
timber/hydro-electric development in the Amazon basin takes place because
moneyed interests demand it .... But, for the sake of argument lets define
property as land or elements that have been improved. I.E. farmland or
someone's automobile. What makes that property valuable is the energy
spent improving/utilizing it. Note that improvements are completely
relative to the observer. Consider an apple orchard. Suppose that orchard
is near Chernobyl and so won't be used in the next 250 years. I would
argue that going in to chop down the orchard is an ethical wash. Next,
consider an orchard that is completely inaccessible to vehicular traffic.
Chopping it down seems to be pretty senseless ... but still an ethical
wash. Now consider an orchard near a major thoroughfare being destroyed to
build a new shopping mall. Consider the Green Peace activists who sabotage
the equipment being used to tear down the orchard. There's an ethical
dilemma. I guess my point is that there is no change that you can make
that doesn't affect someone. The desirability of that affect depends on
your memes ...

>> PS Nate said offline that with kids he used "because I say so"
>> rather than "because it's bad". I tend to agree that his way is
>> probably better, and it's certainly more honest. (Hope Nate
>> doesn't mind me going public with this!)

>I don't know... seems to me that saying "because I say so" implies that
>you beleive in "might makes right", i.e. that you can impose your will
>on others just because you hold a position of authority over them.

Guess what bucko ... this is the whole point. Authority exists and
"because I say so" will affect how my child reacts to it. I get
complimented all the time about what a polite child I have. I could give a
shit about the compliments ... the fact that I have a polite child colors
his perception of the world ... he has a better understanding of the social
contract than all those products of Rousseau running around pissing the
rest of us off. My original post is included below.

>Would it not be better to perpetuate the illusion of essences, at least
>until your children reach the "age of reason", when you could begin
>explaining to them about how it is?

This comes back to my point above. THERE IS NO IS FOR IT. In fact there
is no IT. Perhaps the zen masters of the group can even get around the IS.
Sorry for the mystical phrasing. I think I have a point here .... but
having denied IT I can't say what IT IS.

>Looking back, I think I'll have to think more about this. Is there a
>third choice in raising children?

The joy of raising children is a lot like gardening. You plant memes ...
seeds ... and then watch them flower given appropriate weather ...
socialization forces out of your control. I was reading a book of
anecdotes by field scientists called "I'Ve Been Gone Far Too Long : Field
Study Fiascoes and Expedition Disasters" by Monique Borgerhoff Mulder
(Editor). One of the stories in the book is by an anthropologist who took
her kids into the bush to live with her while she studied a primitive
tribe. She writes that her daughter was playing with someone's bow and
arrow when the chief came and told her that her daughter would be sterile
if she continued to do this. The anthropologist told her daughter this and
her daughter spent a while thinking about her place in the reproductive
universe before deciding it wasn't worth playing with bows and arrows. I
view this woman as about as irresponsible as parents who don't force their
children to wear seat belts, but she probably has some rationalization vis
a vis cultural relativism etc. The point is that short of actual abuse the
memes you plant are up to you. What personality traits I consider to be
flowers you may consider to be weeds and vice versa. It doesn't matter as
long as you put some time in the garden.

>Possibly one doesn't have to wait for the age of reason. But then
>again, how to explain a relative moral system to a five year old without
>invoking the might makes right deal?. hmmm. There has got to be a way
>out. I just can't see it

Once you have your own seven year old you can worry about what's in their
little noggin. Personally I don't view them as particularly human yet. I
am a control freak for how seven year olds react to me. I demand respect
from them because I CAN. There have been a couple that I've barred from my
property because they haven't been appropriately socialized. Ironically my
son seems to enjoy hanging with "Wild kids" in the short run, but in the
long run they have disagreements with no way of settling them making them
"brats". I've noticed that "wild kids" don't have any close friends, where
kids from disciplined homes have a common sense of right and wrong to
appeal to. In another 10 years or so I suppose I'll be able to put all
this in terms of memetic engineering.


Note to Robin from Nate:

So, because they
wouldn't understand the real reason, you tell a child not to do
something "because it is bad". A useful meme.

I've never told my kid not to do something because its bad. I always give
him two reasons: First there is some non-zero probability that what he is
doing will cause harm to himself or others. And second, because I said so.

Dad: "Don't watch anymore cartoons today because I can hear your brains
turning to mush"
Kid: "Aw, Dad no you can't."
Dad: "Fine, don't watch anymore cartoons today because I said so."

I would think that if you tell kids things are bad they'll start to believe
you. For instance I once pointed out to my son ... "Look, the dog that
made that scat had worms." We then poked at the stinking warm turd to look
at the worm segments embedded in it and talked about how dogs <and people>
got worms. Since then he's been socialized by kindergarten and 1st grade.
He's now sure that turds are gross. "Thats not scat Dad, thats Dog
On the other hand, he's still pretty good about wearing shoes.