Saturday, February 9, 2008

The Evolution of Marriage

Throughout history marriage has been an important institution. It is important, not necessarily because of why it exists however, but that it has existed since pre-history, to be sure. Of course it is important for why it did exist, but of that question we cannot be sure of an answer and therefore should take into account inaccuracies in our own deduction. Over time, our deductions have been biased heavily by our own present interpretation of the institution of marriage, which in it's own right, could very well be inaccurate as well.

Many anthropologists have taken the same information over time and come up with many different views on marriage historically. Some believe that it was a means of support for women and child rearing. Others have speculated that it was the opposite, that men have come to the institution as a means for their own survival and procreation. Some claimed that marriage was male dominated and enacted and others claimed it was female dominated and enacted each clearly based on their own preconceived notions and belief systems.

These notions in themselves beg an interesting question, for surely everyone who has looked at the evidence and came up with their own (separate and different) conclusions did so to the best of their ability and resources and to the best of their knowledge and belief were right in their assumptions and “discoveries” about the institution of marriage. So, with many conflicting opinions, our own present day beliefs included, how can we be sure of which, if any, beliefs are truly correct if we can only, now and throughout history, base them off our current-to-date dispositions regarding marriage and never truly hold an unbiased view (that, by the definition of belief, being impossible).

Another aspect relating to marriage and it's researched institution lies not within seeing it in one particular time as being of one fashion of another, but of seeing it over time and its evolution (or potential for evolution) throughout history. Of this topic, one opinion clear, that marriage changed historically because of the growth of excess. Immediately, we must take into account our prior argument, that we are subject to personal bias, and analyze her argument. Of course, without outside knowledge of personal life or beliefs (extraneous to this argument) you cannot ascertain if It they are merely reflecting a commonly held belief today (particularly in the lower classes) that excess wealth is bad and that this notion is bending her perception of the evolution of marriage in these terms. That is, we cannot be sure whether they are reflecting societal beliefs in her observations of marriage historically, inserting things unconsciously into the argument or else seeing things that may not have, in actuality, existed at all. Of this we cannot truly debate, as I said; however, we can still take a look at her argument.

They state that throughout pre-history, perhaps up until the settling of civilization, around 15000 B.C., into agrarian societies and then into municipalities and there onto city-states and nations, influenced marriage. This does seem logical, as the changes between foraging and farming and farming and city-dwelling, would likely change the needs of the family and therefore the family dynamic itself. Of course, what dynamic would become from one period to the next, from one place to the next, is anyone's guess, and many have made such guesses (subject to my aforementioned opinion regarding bias). They believe that the acquisition of wealth led to the change in society, which therefore led to the change in the family dynamic. Of course, I must ask however, whether the evolution of humankind's positions historically and the marriage dynamic are mutually inclusive or in the very least if we could ever actually prove if a change in one could cause a change in the other and if so which one did the changing and which one was therefore changed. These are mysteries that I believe would take a great deal of time and effort to unravel, and certainly, I haven't the time, knowledge, or ability for such endeavors.

As for what I believe personally, I think that marriage is a foolish word to use in this argument, as marriage has not existed for the majority of time that humankind has. Marriage is a political institution of the present day that we associate with the past, and I don't see how this could be true of then as it is today (or as it is supposed to be today). I resent that both of these documents remove from pair-bonding any notion of physical, emotional, and (at least for women) sexual attraction. I cannot believe that these are manifestations of the post-industrial, or even post-agrarian surplus world, but that they have to have existed since the very beginning and thusly it would be foolish to ignore their impact on the evolution of pair-bonding. These authors focus too much on “for the benefit of the future”, but what is there to say that ancient man, any more than present man, sees the future benevolently over their own present wants and needs. The utopian view that these copulations were solely for the greater good, the benefit of the species, and the betterment of the future, is ludicrous. Humankind is, if anything, self-serving by nature. Survival comes before reproduction, even in evolutionary processes.

In a broader sense, I don't think that marriage, as it is today and as it had differently been in the past, could be uniform. There are so many cultures in the world today, as there were in ancient times, and it seems foolhardy to think that every society ran the same way. We know that some were patriarchal and some were matriarchal; no doubt too, there were others that were a mixture of both. So, therefore, certainly there were societies were women were oppressed sex objects and concubines and others where men were invited into relationships and made to leave if later unwanted. Historically, there have been societies where men and women shared work loads, and others where there was an imbalance. It is only natural that societies that have vastly different cultures would have vastly different beliefs and customs. The same holds true today, and for more wide-ranging ideas than the family dynamic. We don't fight wars over family structure today, but we do over the rotted remains of pre-historic plants. I'm sure a thousand years ago, such a thing would seem utterly foolish. But such is life, and so long as we're around, we're going to be coming up with new ideas about old institutions. What else is there to do; I shudder to think that evolution could be voluntary.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

The Evolution of Desire

Throughout our lives, it seems that we are constantly yearning for more. We want more happiness, more joy, more love, and ideally a whole lot more sleep. Undoubtably so, this desire has existed from the very beginning. From roaming nomads we sought home and familiarity. From civilization onward, we've desired family and thus independence there-from. We gained communities and deism which gave existence a point and formed government and constitutions to protect our lives and our rights. And still we yearn. Still we desire something. Who knows what the future could hold. Perhaps the desire for utopia isn't so foolish a dream after all.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Election 2008

Up until this point I haven't discussed politics much. But, I figure that during this primary season there are a few things that I'd like to see change. They are as follows:

1. I don't want a president who thinks that their god is talking to them, telling them what to do. I beg to ask why one who says this, like President Bush, isn't required to have their head examined. I mean, if I went on TV tomorrow, or even if President Bush went on TV tomorrow, and said that Thor the god of thunder said to invade a soverign nation that was in actuality standing against another country, Iran, which we had a vested interest in seeing depressed, they would've carted him and I off to the nearest mental health facility. I mean, it's crazy that one could be hearing voices from Thor. Enough said. No more god talk.

2. Timetables. I don't want to hear a thing about timetables. What you're saying when you said "timetable" is simply this: We're looking to keep our troops there for a while longer, but I really, really promise that when this date or benchmark is reached, we'll leave. We promise. Give me a break. Leave now. How many more people must die before the timetable comes to fruition?

3. Past drug and / or alcohol abuse. I don't care what you did in the past. I want to know what you do in the present. If anything, past abuse should be seen as a good thing and even an accomplishment to have overcome, if of course, you're not still covering it up.

4. Civil campaigns. I don't want people kissing each other's asses on the debate scene. I want to make up my own mind, not simply get the pre-manufactured candidate that the other candidates, through fault or no fault of their own, have portrayed as better than themselves. Give me a break.

5. Immigration reform. This is not an issue. Ok. Do you get that. We have bigger problems. People are dying. The economy is crumbling. Wall Street is in freefall. Mortgage brokers are screwing families out of their money and their livelihoods. And President Bush is HEARING VOICES!

So then, who do we vote for? Well that's a good question and I'm not going to give you the answer here. That's not what the primaries are for. You'll have my opinion and my candidate for the general election and not before. Now we must vote the way we believe and in the next month or two, we'll know what options we're looking at for the next four years.