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Thread: are we territorial like other animals?

  1. #1 are we territorial like other animals? 
    Forum Bachelors Degree charles brough's Avatar
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    This is sort of a taboo subject because fighting over territory is associated with nationalism and that, also, is a taboo subject. Peace-loving social scientists find it unrewarding to deal with subjects that might seem to justify war. Also, dealing with animal instincts in us is offensive to both the Christian Right and Marxist thinking which has to believe in the infinite maleability of human nature so they can hope to eventually drag us into egalitarial communes.

    We do have all kinds of territories, however. For example, each of us has a several foot diameter invisible "box" we are alway in. Anyone who approaches us to talk to us cannot bridge that box and come closer than its border without making us uncomfortable. We instinctively then take a step back from the other person to restore that territorial border.

    Another border to our territorial nature is the one surrounding our "home." We feel protective of it. Our whole private property legal system is based on it. Our home is our castle. Once, when doing insurance inspecting, I drove a little into someone's driveway as a means to then back right out and go in the opposite direction. As I hesitated in the driveway to put some things away, out came the owner in his pink pajamas in a rage yelling at me! I largely ignored him and made him so furious he picked up a big rock. It was time for me to leave! (it could only happen in California!)

    There is also a territorial border to one's society and this is ideologically ignored in our secular system thinking. In an effort to bridge over the old religions with our secular system, we try to downplay the affinity we have for our own territory. Nevertheless, it explains why we are so much closer to Europe and in its interests than Asia and Africa. We are willing to treat Islam far worse than we would parts of our own society such as Australia and Latin America. We talk about the plight of Africa but give very little to help it.

    It is much the same with Islam, also. It is very sensitive about Jews setting up their own government right within their society. Israel could only last because the US backs it with force and finance. Hindu society is also very territorial and has a long struggle over Kashmi behind it.

    But here is the real crux of the issue: does anyone know why territorialism is the cause of human creativity and the drive behind science itself? This is an obscure subject, but not so obscure that a few brilliant scientists have not already figured it out. I've read them. It is obscure because it is largely gender-oriented! Anyone dare to deal with this . . .

    charles


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  3. #2 Re: are we territorial like other animals? 
    Universal Mind John Galt's Avatar
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    Apart from your bizarre claim that human territorialism is a taboo topic, the rest of your post hangs together, until....
    Quote Originally Posted by charles brough
    But here is the real crux of the issue: does anyone know why territorialism is the cause of human creativity and the drive behind science itself? This is an obscure subject, but not so obscure that a few brilliant scientists have not already figured it out. I've read them. It is obscure because it is largely gender-oriented! Anyone dare to deal with this . . .
    You can't ask a question that assumes as fact a postulate you drop in, unsubstantiatedd from nowhere. This is a science forum not a drama class. (Obviously, you can, and you did, ask such a question. I just don't find it a friendly or encouraging way to introduce the topic.)
    You ask Anyone dare to deal with this ? Apparently you don't. Please, without the drama and the hints, tell us what you are talking about.

    Ardrey


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  4. #3  
    Forum Sophomore spidergoat's Avatar
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    Of course, we are territorial apes armed with nuclear weapons.

    Does being territorial have something to do with sex and ego? It probably does. The same thing that leads us to suceed in society is the thing that makes war.
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  5. #4  
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    Ah! You stole my thunder spidergoat. I was going to say that. You've moved into my territory. Give it back now. :wink:
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    i often wonder how the other animals on this planet feel, that is if they feel, about us controlling most of the planet.

    maybe they're planning a revolution.
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  7. #6 territorialism 
    Forum Bachelors Degree charles brough's Avatar
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    I was challenged over a statement about territorialims being the basis for the best, the creativity, in science and the arts. . . and being too dramatic . . .

    Here is how creativity stems from human territorialism:

    We distinguish ourselves from everything else. We see ourselves as individuals, but we also have a strong social affinity. That is, we need to feel we are also apart of a larger group of people. We identify with that group and with the territory it claims. How we distinguish which is our "group" and which is not is both nationalistic (patriotism) and religious-cultural identity. We have in the past seen ourselves as part of a "Western Society" ("Christendom.)" This was all especially true in the most creative age of our civilization, during the 18th and 19th centuries, for example.

    Consider the land mass of the society as a type of breeding ground. We are social primates who have enlarged our hunting-gathering groups into huge masses of people called "societies" by the aid of language and religion. We see society's breeding ground as our territory in a male-type feeling of possession. We feel towards it as the Alpha male feels. We see it as our own and our responsibility to care for and protect, even at the cost of our own lives. That is why men go to war. They go to war even to expand our territory---as we are actually succeeding in doing in Iraq while denying we do it.

    The feeling is not static. It is expansive. We feel this macho territorialism in an aggressive way in our minds as an effort to expand not just the physical territory of our society but also that of the mind. We want to expand our understanding, to push back the fronteers of the mind, to push back the limits of our creativity---as Beethoven did, for example. This is the way it was when our society was strong.

    This trait does also exist in women in the same way that men also love children, but men do not love children like their mothers do and, by the same token, women are not as territorial as men are when society is strong.

    charles brough
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  8. #7 Re: territorialism 
    Universal Mind John Galt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by charles brough
    We feel this macho territorialism in an aggressive way in our minds as an effort to expand not just the physical territory of our society but also that of the mind. We want to expand our understanding, to push back the fronteers of the mind, to push back the limits of our creativity
    You are still making a statement, not providing any evidence. Your earlier comments about territoriality I would largely agree with. The above statement does not follow logically from those earlier comments. (They do not exclude your statement, but they certainly do not support it.)
    In short, you are putting forward a speculation that territoriality generates the drive for creativity. That is interesting, but I see no reason to accept it. What evidence do you have?
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    Forum Radioactive Isotope cosmictraveler's Avatar
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    It's funny, I travel all over the Earth and so far not one person said to me"you can't live here". I even proclaimed on many occassions that would love to live in some of the distant lands I have visited and again no one said I can't. I feel that most people like where they live and if you can get along with them you'll fit in just fine. That means you may have to adopt some of their customs but that seems a small price to pay to find contentment. People are always moving around today and I'd think that most people would be willing to change to "fit in".
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  10. #9  
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    I don't mean this quite as negatively as it may sound CT, but if what you say were wholly true, why are their border guards along the Rio Grande?
    And again, if you returned home and found a stranger sitting in your armchair your territoriality might well come to the fore.
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  11. #10  
    Forum Radioactive Isotope cosmictraveler's Avatar
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    Again I'll say that there are certain things that a country will ask you to do in order to live there. One thing that America does is ask that if you'd like to immigrate there then fill out the paperwork and wait your turn.I know of many other countries that will not let you enter unless you earn at least 20,000.00 or there abouts per year. Other countries have other prerequisits in order to live there.

    Why not ask about those countries also, instead of only America?
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  12. #11  
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    Two points: I asked about America because your profile shows you are resident there. Had you been resident somewhere else I would have phrased the question accordingly.
    Secondly, the immigration controls you refer to (and I am not arguing ofr or against them) are, as far as I can see, those nations way of saying "you can't live here". So the many countries you have visited would have in many cases been reluctant to accept you. I am attempting to demonstrate that the rosy picture you portrayed a few posts back has several thorns on it.
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  13. #12  
    Forum Radioactive Isotope cosmictraveler's Avatar
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    Of course I might have to wait my turn to become a resident in many countries but I still can become a resident. So if there are rules I must follow them to insure that an overpopulation does not occur and their resourses of those countries I want to live in don't become depleted as many countries now are learning about. If too many people populate a given area it becomes degraded and spoils it for everyone. Look at Haiti.
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    Forum Sophomore vslayer's Avatar
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    immigration is a great thing. free immigrtaion is the way to peace. if everyone is away from their home country then corrupt governments will have no workers and no-one will want to fight a country that the rest of their family lives in.
    and so the balance of power shifts...
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  15. #14  
    Forum Radioactive Isotope cosmictraveler's Avatar
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    An inundation of people from a poorer country into a richer country by the millions will not do anything but create untold problems. When people don't like where they live because of a corrupt government then overthrow that government where they live, just don't run away from the problems. By leaving one problem country you just create more burdens upon a wealthy country for it cannot keep up with trying to help millions of poor, uneducated and illiterate peoples over a short period of time.

    As I have stated all people have to do is immigrate LEGALLY when it is their turn to do so, but millions don't want to do things LEGALLY they want to enter into countries ILLEGALLY and therefore upset the natural order of things. This only brings about more problems and more corruption to the countries where they immigrate to.
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  16. #15  
    Universal Mind John Galt's Avatar
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    There is a lot of truth in your last post CT, but
    Quote Originally Posted by cosmictraveler
    but millions don't want to do things LEGALLY they want to enter into countries ILLEGALLY and therefore upset the natural order of things.
    My emphasis. Natural order! Borders? Immigration controls!! Natural?
    Until 1905, I think, the UK had no immigration control whatsoever. I believe many other countries (perhaps most) were in the same situation then, and or not long before.
    The natural thing was to be able to travel freely where you wished. Now I am not arguing that this would be practical in today's social, economic and political climate; but please don't tallk about upsetting the natural order.
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  17. #16  
    Forum Radioactive Isotope cosmictraveler's Avatar
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    Traveling is one thing but you are discussing living in another country I thought. One can travel, as I have stated, just about anywhere but living anywhere will be more difficult to do. There are not enough resource to take care of people already living in certain countries because they have overpopulated their own country and now want to move onward to other countries and do the same thing. This will only lead to more problems where they move to and that's why limiting the influx of people from various nations through LEGAL immigration is the only realistic way to prevent the same problems from happening.
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  18. #17  
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    Quote Originally Posted by cosmictraveler
    Traveling is one thing but you are discussing living in another country I thought.
    Perhaps I could have been clearer. I said "The natural thing was to be able to travel freely where you wished." I should have said "The natural thing was to be able to travel and settle freely where you wished." Immigration controls to inhibit persons settling in countries (as opposed to paying poll and merchandise taxes) are for the most part a recent invention. I was objecting to your use of the word 'natural' applied to such controls. I am not expressing an opinion either way on whether these are a good thing or a bad thing, merely that they are not a natural thing.
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  19. #18  
    Forum Radioactive Isotope cosmictraveler's Avatar
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    By the natural resources I was talking about that if to many people populate an area, like Haiti, then the natural order of things decay into nothing to support life there. Without some kind of regulations more countries would be overcome with peoples that didn't care about the laws of nature and only want to populate to gain control over who might be there already. Case in point ,America with the Native Americans.
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  20. #19 territorialism 
    Forum Bachelors Degree charles brough's Avatar
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    I made a lengthy and detailed reply and then posted it. Immediately, I was shunted to the log-in section again and forced to log in a second time. Then, I tried to find the post I had spent so much time on. It had disappeared. I am not in a mood to do it again right now....

    chas.
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  21. #20  
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    That is always a downer. If I am writing a lengthy reply, especially one which I have had to research, I write it in word, then transfer it to the forum. Naturally the one time I don't do that the computer or network or system crashes.
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  22. #21  
    Forum Sophomore wretched's Avatar
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    yes, we are territorial animals, always competing. I don't think it is a taboo, actually it is encouraged by other to behave a little agresive ... they call it> Being assertive...
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  23. #22  
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    Quote Originally Posted by wretched
    yes, we are territorial animals, always competing.
    I disagree (he said competitively). We may be in one of three states :
    • Competition
      Cooperation
      Coma
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  24. #23  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ophiolite
    Quote Originally Posted by wretched
    yes, we are territorial animals, always competing.
    I disagree (he said competitively). We may be in one of three states :
    • Competition
      Cooperation
      Coma
    cooperation... for what, to achieve a place in nature, we against the environment... hmmm, sounds like competing to me... :wink:
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  25. #24  
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    True, all debates eventually condense to a matter of semantics. With that caveat consider the following.
    Contrast the behaviour of a lone predator, such as a leopard, with that of a herd animal such as a wildebeest. Certainly you can argue that the actions of the wildebeest, even when they are cooperating, represent a 'fight' against nature. However, if we were to tally all the actions conducted by a leopard and by a wildebeest we would likely discover that the number of cooperative actions of the herd beast far outnumbered those of the hunter, even though the former actions unltimately represented competition.
    Therefore, to distinguish between the two kinds of actions allows us greater definition of those actions. Typically, with greater definition, comes greater understanding: precision=refinement=increased information content.
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  26. #25  
    Forum Sophomore wretched's Avatar
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    Sure, that was interesting, :wink:

    Hmm, let me get this.... are you suggesting that the prey has a more elaborated behaviour?
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  27. #26  
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    No. I am suggesting that if the prey is a herd animal it will incorporate more examples of cooperation into its behavioural repertoire than we would see in a lone predator. Its behaviour may or may not be more elaborate, that is incidental. It is the significant cooperative element I am focusing on.
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  28. #27  
    Forum Sophomore wretched's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ophiolite
    No. I am suggesting that if the prey is a herd animal it will incorporate more examples of cooperation into its behavioural repertoire than we would see in a lone predator. Its behaviour may or may not be more elaborate, that is incidental. It is the significant cooperative element I am focusing on.
    Okey, that tells me the herd animal is not territorial since its survival depends on a more cooperative behaviour.

    But what does territorial mean exactly? are we suggesting not only a spacial concept but one of property and rights?
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  29. #28  
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    Quote Originally Posted by wretched
    Quote Originally Posted by Ophiolite
    No. I am suggesting that if the prey is a herd animal it will incorporate more examples of cooperation into its behavioural repertoire than we would see in a lone predator. Its behaviour may or may not be more elaborate, that is incidental. It is the significant cooperative element I am focusing on.
    Okey, that tells me the herd animal is not territorial since its survival depends on a more cooperative behaviour.

    But what does territorial mean exactly? are we suggesting not only a spacial concept but one of property and rights?
    I need clarification; why is cooperative behavior defined as non-territorial?

    How would a 'spatial' and a 'property' concept vary for humans and non-humans? E.g., I might be 'territorial' about my house, but 'possesive' about my desk, and they are very different impulses.
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  30. #29  
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    Quote Originally Posted by wretched
    Okey, that tells me the herd animal is not territorial since its survival depends on a more cooperative behaviour.
    I am not clear how you reach this conclusion. Why would a herd animal not be territorial? The individual beast is not defending its territory against any other beast of the same type, but against any other beast that is not from the same herd.
    That said most herd animals are less territorial than predators. The two facts may well be inter-related, but that is different from interdependent. Herd animals are often migratory. This will tend to weaken territorial tendencies. (Although, in contrast, migratory birds can be fiercely territorial.) An interesting aspect of the contrast between herd and predator is that most herd animals urinate and defecate quite randomly, whereas predators use these processes to delineat their territories.
    I wonder (only 1/2 seriously) if the expression "I don't give a s***" is meant to convey the thought that the ideas expressed to the protagonist are so unworthy that he/she will not even bother to mark the territory of their own position.
    Quote Originally Posted by wretched
    But what does territorial mean exactly? are we suggesting not only a spacial concept but one of property and rights?
    Territorial in the broad sense is spatial, but more than the space it is the resources within that space that are being defended. In that context property is simply a more precise way of defining territory.
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  31. #30  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ophiolite
    Quote Originally Posted by wretched
    Okey, that tells me the herd animal is not territorial since its survival depends on a more cooperative behaviour.
    I am not clear how you reach this conclusion. Why would a herd animal not be territorial? The individual beast is not defending its territory against any other beast of the same type, but against any other beast that is not from the same herd.
    That said most herd animals are less territorial than predators. The two facts may well be inter-related, but that is different from interdependent. Herd animals are often migratory. This will tend to weaken territorial tendencies. (Although, in contrast, migratory birds can be fiercely territorial.) An interesting aspect of the contrast between herd and predator is that most herd animals urinate and defecate quite randomly, whereas predators use these processes to delineat their territories.
    I wonder (only 1/2 seriously) if the expression "I don't give a s***" is meant to convey the thought that the ideas expressed to the protagonist are so unworthy that he/she will not even bother to mark the territory of their own position.
    Quote Originally Posted by wretched
    But what does territorial mean exactly? are we suggesting not only a spacial concept but one of property and rights?
    Territorial in the broad sense is spatial, but more than the space it is the resources within that space that are being defended. In that context property is simply a more precise way of defining territory.
    Not territorial when it comes to those of its same species, but taking into account that being territorial includes the resources within certain space then I guess we all are territorial animals. But how does it manifest among humans?


    that was a good one!
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  32. #31  
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    Quote Originally Posted by wretched
    I guess we all are territorial animals. But how does it manifest among humans?
    Tribal warfare.
    Warfare between nations
    Disputes over trade (protectionism)
    Arguments between neighbours
    Favourite seats in a bar or restaurant
    My office

    The integration of tribal identity with a territory and with possessions involves a lot of blurring. An example: I suggest the strong reaction felt by many Americans to the concept of burning the American flag is a reflection of the territorial instinct, subsumed through multiple layers of tranference - territory = country = governement = symbol.
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  33. #32  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ophiolite
    Quote Originally Posted by wretched
    I guess we all are territorial animals. But how does it manifest among humans?
    Tribal warfare.
    Warfare between nations
    Disputes over trade (protectionism)
    Arguments between neighbours
    Favourite seats in a bar or restaurant
    My office

    The integration of tribal identity with a territory and with possessions involves a lot of blurring. An example: I suggest the strong reaction felt by many Americans to the concept of burning the American flag is a reflection of the territorial instinct, subsumed through multiple layers of tranference - territory = country = governement = symbol.
    I agree with the last example; working in a crowded lab, I deal with 'territorial' practices every day. But I don't perceive the other practices as territorial; the first three seem to arise from economic motives rather than territorial 'instincts'. And arguments between neighbors, while they have any number of immediate causes, usually seem to arise from an impulse to exert social dominance.

    As an aside, I would like to add that as a U.S. citizen I feel great pride when I see images of the U.S. flag being burned in protest. As an acquaintance phrased it, "I value that for which the symbol stands more than the symbol itself", and that is my flag they are burning to protest a perceived wrong. What greater compliment could there be to the avowed principles on which my country was founded?
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  34. #33  
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    The function of the territorial imperative, as Robert Ardrey called it, is to protect resources - which are economic entities. So, the first two do very much fall into territorial clashes.
    I agree that several types of neighbour dispute are about social position. I was lax in not specifying I had in mind the - "your tree is casting a shade on my roses" - type of dispute.
    Congratulations on your attitude to flag burning. Refreshing, but I suspect rare.
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  35. #34  
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    Ah, yes; I see that. I suspect that I tend to view war as a deliberate decision to appropriate another's resources, and 'territorialism' as the need to defend one's own.

    The territorialism I experience daily is more about social dominance than about control of resourses, now that I think it through, and I think they are different impulses.

    I think there is an impulse to dominance, in both individuals and groups, that transcends the impulse to control resources; the desire for dominance can lead to a course of action that is destructive to the entity and the resources.
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  36. #35  
    Forum Bachelors Degree charles brough's Avatar
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    Earlier, Ophiolite requested I present a better case in my attempt to explain whyterritorialism and creativity are or may be directly connected.

    What had come to seem obvious to me now presents a real challenge. So, let me put it this way:

    We observe territorialism in most mammals and often in other forms of life as well. We can refer to it, therefore, as an instinct, but as with all instincts among higher forms of life, at least, it is able to be conditioned. That is, it can be somewhat modified.

    In mankind, as with most mammals, territorialism is more a male trait. In some societies, it is modified by the ideology to be more allied to the hunting instincts, to be compounded synergistically with them. In the human mainstream, however, we have departed from that in our religious systems. With our patriarchal monogamous religions, for example, we re-focus territorialism and divert it to both patriotism and territorial integrity or expansion on one hand and the protecting and expanding of ones home/yard and other real estate on the other. The home and family become units as powerful to the individual as the social good.

    Territorialism tends to be stronger among the more dominant males. The dominant male functions in human society as well. Religion is a tool which functions in human affairs to bind the hunting-gathering group substitute, i.e., society, into a controlable entity---controlable by the dominant or alpha males. This occurs even when the ideology itself deceivingly dwells on "democracy" and "free will."

    Finally, the approximately 5,000 year old adoption of monogamy motivated sub-dominant males to expand the limits of society in less hunting-like ways. The less dominant als wanted respect, even adulation.But not being alpha, the have been less masculine and more artistic. The alphas moved into politics and the military, justice and sports. The subdominant into creativity, the arts and sciences.

    My point is that it is the same instinct, but modified by our patriarchal-mongamous religious systems to enable us to increasingly create and in that way teleologically enable our societies to get ever larger.

    That is the best explanation I can make without producing a whole thesis or paper on the subject.

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  37. #36  
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    There are a lot of anthropocentric and androcentric cultural assumptions in that last post.
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  38. #37  
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    Thank you Charles for your fuller explanation of why you feel there is a connection between the Territorial instinct and creativity. I believe I understand the argument you are making. I would go so far as to say it is plausible, but (and this is a gargantuan but) I find no evidence for it. Ignoring, or rather accepting, many of the assumptions that J has suggested you are making, there is still a point where you say "But not being alpha, the have been less masculine and more artistic". I say, prove it. Provide a single piece of solid evidence supporting this contention.
    I believe I can make as strong, or stronger, a case for the 'hunting instinct' being the source of creativity. Hunting involves an appreciation of form and shade and colour (in order to distinguish the prey) as does art. Hunting involves a continual refinement of language skills, as does literature. Hunting involves a brain attuned to sounds and the natural rhythyms, as does music.
    I don't happen to believe this is the case, but put it forward to illustrate that there is as much evidence for the one as the other. You are speculating - a valid act - but without some substantial evidence your thoughts will remain at the level of speculation, and would not merit the title of hypothesis.
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    j
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    So the theory that creativity arises from a frustrated desire to give birth is currently out of fashion?
    Why do they want us to believe Conspiracy Theories?
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    That sounds distinctly Freudian, and consequently suspect.
    To me creativity is simply an amalgam of the pattern recognition attributes of the human brain with its problem solving skills and innate language structure.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ophiolite
    That sounds distinctly Freudian, and consequently suspect.
    To me creativity is simply an amalgam of the pattern recognition attributes of the human brain with its problem solving skills and innate language structure.
    Are your ironic skills irrusting?
    Why do they want us to believe Conspiracy Theories?
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    Fecund feelings have failed me. My ironic skills are irrusting irredeemably, irreversibly, and in the face of this I am irresolute, prefering to adopt a fetal position.

    I'm glad we ironed that out.
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  43. #42  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ophiolite
    To me creativity is simply an amalgam of the pattern recognition attributes of the human brain with its problem solving skills and innate language structure.
    Your last post certainly exemplified that.

    However, creativity and pattern recognition seem contradictory to me.
    Would creativity be more complex and innovative patterns?

    But, back to the original discussion: the territorial and creative impulses do seem very similar to me; a desire to define one's world.
    Why do they want us to believe Conspiracy Theories?
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