Saturday, 19 February 2011

That's You, That Is

I was discussing with someone a book they had been reading about how everyone is a product of their DNA programming.  They said it had made them more understanding towards people in general because it meant that no-one could help being the way they are.  Fair comment.

They  continued that this also explained why women can't read maps.  To whit I responded (and just look how I walked right into this one.... ) "Well, I can read maps".  They replied (cue fanfare ...):

"And that just proves another point outlined in this book.  That all women are self-centred."


Actually, I think that my assertion that I can read maps doesn't actually prove that ALL women are self-centred... just... that I think I can read maps.  But I get his point.  That we relate everything to ourselves.  We put ourselves at the centre and then appraise, judge, compare and contrast whatever is happening or being said in direct relation to how we think it impacts us personally.

What he and the author of the book (also male) was saying is that it is only women that are self-centred.  For now, I 'm going to leave aside the misogynistic claims of the author and the person with whom I was having the discussion, through gritted teeth admittedly, and assert that all humans are self-centred.  It IS the way we're wired.

And we can't help it.  We live in a culture and a society that promotes and applauds personal success.  The survival of the fittest, slimmest, sleekest, richest.  It's the way we've evolved.  The human mechanism is propagated to ensure its survival as a species and to do that it puts itself at the centre and then each one of the members of the human race puts themselves at the centre of the species.  And entirely logically too, because it is impossible to experience life from any other viewpoint but this one.  You literally cannot be an other-self centre.  You can only be this one.  You can assume what it might be like to experience life as another person, but even if they explain what their experience is, you can't know with certainty that what you think they mean is what they actually mean.

So as a practical and survivalist mechanism, it's a useful one.

But... and there's always a but..... that mechanism to survive is becoming increasingly destructive In My Opinion (see, you can't get away from it). The functioning, being necessarily selfish, seeks to exalt itself above all others - and not just in obvious ways, but in every way.  Everything that this agency of self-centredness does is referrant to itself.  Even acts of charity, it could be argued, make the giver look good, both in their and other's eyes.  In comparison to others we want to be better, kinder, cleverer, thinner, richer, ..... ad nauseum.  We want to be the best, in some way, even if it's by being the best victim!

It's like a virus that's gone awry, run amok.

I grant that there are many who see that the human species is destructive, nihilistic and aggressive in the extreme due to its need to be right at any cost.  Due, essentially, to it's utter self-centredness.

And here's the ludicrousness of it all; if you look to find this 'self-centre' it's obvious that it doesn't actually exist.  The programme/mechanism/functioning/process does, but not an actual 'thing' that can be identified and found.

So where does that leave us?  Where does that leave you and me? If what you think you are is just a functioning of DNA programming, designed to ensure the overall survival of the species by advancing each member to compete against all other members, then does seeing that it IS just a functioning mean you see through the futility and destructiveness of trying to compete as an autonomous individual self?

I think it depends... not just on DNA, but on the particular culture, upbringing, influences, parenting, schooling - in other words the entire environment within which we all live.  All those things that dynamically impact and make up each person and their characteristics and personality.

In an absolute sense, it doesn't matter.  But in terms of the whole experience as living as a species, I'd say it does.

But I can't help it, I'm made that way, apparently.


  1. haha, it's a silly argument that that particular book makes. Its so plainly easy to see that all self related topics are well... self centered. Not just on a female plane but also on a male plane. I could easily point out how any human being is self centered. There is nothing bad about it, but every personal relationship, goal, plan, whatever, is based around self filter, "what can I get from this."

    Most of the time it's to continue the story by perpetuating that self that is assumed to be there. You could of easily turned the tables because what he was doing was being self centered in "his" argument that women are self centered, that, "I could dare be well versed on this subject over you." *hint hint* control issue *hint hint*

    Selfishness runs strongly throughout the self concept! :D

  2. Yes, completely. The self concept is selfishness - utterly.

    And LOL, he WAS being self-centred in his argument - i.e. furthering his superiority/rightness over me/female. It's
    laughable, fascinating and ironic.

    And, yes - totally a 'control issue' ... althought control can only be successful if it's accepted.

    And I could have turned the tables, but no matter what I could have said - it would always be proof of his rightness.

    So in the final analysis, it's best just to shut the fuck up!