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Unread May 24th, 2006, 06:07 PM
Margaret McGhee Margaret McGhee is offline
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 271
Default Re: Implications of Somatic Behavior Choice

In a previous post I decried our culture's commercialization and fetishization of competition. This NYT article seems to bear out some of my worries about this:

Edmund Hillary Blames Climbers for Everest Death

I interpret this as a cultural influence that provides us with the belief that being seen as a winner by others is more important than being seen as a good and moral person - or perhaps, more important than knowing that you are a good and moral person even if others are not aware of it. It is a matter of the strong emotions produced by our social or personal identity beliefs, respectively.

Our culture provides these weighted beliefs for us. If they are prevalent when we form our personalities then we have little choice but to incorporate them into our identities. Even fifty years ago, a climber who failed to provide assistance to another climber who was still alive, would have been soundly condemned by everyone in the sport - and would die a disgraced man.

Today, giving up the summit for the life of a climber in another party is seen as a foolish mistake - especially by corporate sponsors who would never fund another one of your expeditions. He would probably be accused of the mountaineering equivalent of political correctness.

These win at all costs values (actually emotionally weighted inputs to our decision mechanism) have so pervaded our culture that we even see them echoed in our foreign policy. The willingness to kill thousands of innocent civilians, and even a few thousand American soldiers, in order to obtain some political win - is seen by many Americans as pragmatic hardball politics. It's what you do if you want to keep your party and friends in power. Our full cultural embrace of these values is shown by the fact that Bush's handling of the war is getting low marks in the polls - not because he has used war for political gain, but because he isn't winning it.

One reason I find my hypothesis so compelling is that it provides such clear explanations for so much behavior (like this) that would otherwise seem perplexing or even unexplainable.


Last edited by Margaret McGhee; May 24th, 2006 at 08:20 PM.
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