milk, fur and fire

Mon Jul 17 20:01:33 MDT 1995

>>> UP Department of Philosophy email account
<philo at>  7/13/95, 12:51am >>>

ON MILK: What about immigrants to Europe and the USA  who eventually
get into the milk diet?  I guess one part of the question  is
answerable in terms of how a cultural practice developed as a
response  to particular environmental (resource) conditions.  While
another part  involves looking into how a group with such a cultural
practice shaped  conditions favorable to the continuation
(reproduction) of the practice  (where assuring access for a select
group entailed deprivation for others).

Lisa says: One way to approach this is to consider what the
conditions would probably be like in order for people to begin, keep
or change some behavior.  Once they are using milk [either directly
or via cheese or yogurt] all they have to do is keep raising
cows/sheep/horses and let the kids watch, in order to continue the
practice.  I don't see where a select group depriving others comes
into this picture so far.  I mean, it could happen, but do you think
it is necessarily so among early or modern or any milk-users?

ON FUR: Again there's a diversity here, I think.  But some hard
research  on genes and adaptation would still help.

Lisa sez:  I think you mean diversity of aspects of the question.
I think we already know everything we need to know about genes and
adaptation in general in order to address this question.  The tricky
bit is trying to figure out what were the circumstances, and what
were the related advantages [if any] to hair loss that might have
provided an 'evolutionary benefit' [a reproductive edge ahead of
others] to those who had less hair at some time in our ancestral

ON FIRE, TV AND A SPECIE IMPRINT:  Is there anything definitive about
 social behavior being imprinted on the human specie's genetic code?

Lisa says:  The best definitive answer is "There is no such thing."
For further discussion I would have to ask what do you mean by
"imprinted"?  There is no reason to expect what I think you mean,
theoretically, and it has never been observed [substantiated] that
any particular social behaviors are simply in the genes.  Also, I can
think of no mechanism by which fire-watching could become genetic.  I
mean, if you're serious about this suggestion, mustn't there be a
physical mechanism of some sort?

however, is that the communals were "few and far between"... in an
environmet  of plenty which changed as the feudals came into being
and so on such  that the facticity and demonstrability of an
activity, cultural practice  or  belief made dominant under and
employed for reproduction of a mode may  just remain a historical
given and nothing else.

Lisa says:  It is true that world and regional populations were
generally slowly increasing everywhere in times when everyone was
foraging.  Agriculture roughly coincides with increasing pop. growth
rates (discussion of the direction of causality, if any, and the
possible mechanism for this change are beyond the scope of this
post), so talk of relative plenty in the foraging or pre-feudal past
may well be relevant.  I'm not sure how you get from there to
"historical given" or what that means.

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