Love Potions

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Recently, my friend, Dr. Michael LaBossiere, wrote a series of articles concerning determinism. In these articles he examines the possibility that all animal behavior, including human behavior, is essentially determined by hormones–impulses generated on the physical plane that are easily identified, their effects on the body leading to behaviors, such as in the realm of sex.

In two articles he uses the Vole, a gerbil-like creature, as his subject.  Voles are monogamous animals, a rarity in the mammalian world. Their monogamous behavior correlates with the secretion of oxytocin and vasopressin. And so, Dr. LaBossiere argues that the monogamous behavior of Voles is purely mechanistic, based on the addictive qualities of oxytocin and other pleasure-inducing hormones.  And so, if this behavior is mechanistic in nature, so are the human romantic ideals, such as love, honor, and loyalty.  The same argument can and is made for homosexuality, that it is not a choice, but an urge induced by a heretofore undiscovered  biological mechanism. Dr. Labossiere states that he believes in free will, but in his articles he seems to mostly argue for a deterministic world.

Before I endeavor to deconstruct and ultimately destroy the mechanistic view of human behavior (and it must be destroyed because, besides the fact that I believe it untrue, it is a danger to human life and happiness), let me reveal a bit of my history as a teenager and a young man.

I ran away from home 4 times before I was 16. Looking back, I consider that I was surrounded by adults that were dysfunctional and in some cases border-line insane.  I felt no love from the adults that I spent the most time with at that time. I did feel anger, hatred, enmity, and even an odd sort of competition and jealousy from them.  Their insanity was evidenced by their deep unhappiness.

An adept cut-purse, I stole voraciously, from book stores especially, and constantly conspired with other kids my age to relieve adults of the cash in their wallets. I lied constantly, skipped school regularly to the point where I had no idea what was going on in my classes. I began to fail and fail badly in school.  I enjoyed throwing rocks through windows and destroying others’ property in general and was arrested for burglary. Eventually, I dropped out of high school, and became involved with a woman who was 10 years older than I eventually siring a child out of wedlock.  My life was a disaster.  Mind you, that I was brought up Catholic, was an alter boy and a Boy Scout.  But the pain from home tore me apart, and before I was 14, I thought often of suicide.  I’ll be the first to admit that luck has a great impact on each and every one of us. Heck, as Kurt Vonnegut once observed, none of us even asked to be born so far as we know.  I don’t want to say there were no good times as a kid, but there weren’t many.  Even today when I think of my teenage years, I get nauseous.  But regardless of my circumstances, I am without excuse; I was an evil person. And don’t underestimate the age at which kids know good from evil.

Now that you know why I can never run for political office, let me indulge myself for a moment. Fast forward a decade and move further along in time after that. I graduated from college, became a police officer, and eventually joined the Army. I’m currently a staff sergeant in the US Army. My last NCO Evaluation report, written by a lieutenant, captain and major, states the following about my performance: “the most competent Senior Intelligence Sergeant in the Brigade; continuously remained well-versed on the evolution of conventional and asymetric threats…intellectual prowess and continuous mentorship developed Soldiers in analytical skills….promote to Sergeant First Class now…a top 1% NCO that always accomplishes the mission to the highest standard”.  

What changed in the last 25 years of my life? Did my hormones or brain chemicals shift to such a degree that my life did a 180 degree turn? And if they did, why?

Don’t get me wrong. All animals are influenced by hormones. Wild animals’ behavioral changes during hormonal shifts  are well documented. But it is humans’ self-awareness, reason and morality that sets us apart.  Even the much vaunted humaness of dogs seems to be overrated; dogs feel no shame, despite the sheepish look after Spot defecates in the hall.  In fact, humans seem to be the only animal that will behave in ways that spite hormonal tides.  Before I make the crux of my argument, let’s look at a couple of Dr. LaBossiere’s arguments. He writes that if fidelity is mechanistic, than humans are merely reacting to the pleasure provided them via chemical actions on the brain.

He states:

While fidelity is praised, one important question is whether or not is worthy of praise as a virtue. If humans are like voles and the mechanistic theory of human bonding is correct, then fidelity of the sort that ground pair-bonding would essentially be a form of addiction, as discussed in the previous essay. On the face of it, this would seem to show that such fidelity is not worthy of praise. After all, one does not praise crack heads for their loyalty to crack. Likewise, being addicted to love would hardly make a person worthy of praise.

One obvious counter is that while crack addiction is regarded as bad because of the harms of crack, the addiction that composes pair bonding should be generally regarded as good because of its good consequences. These consequences would be the usual sort of things people praise about pair bonding, such as the benefits to health.  However, this counter misses the point: the question is not whether pair bonding is good (it generally is in terms of consequences) but whether fidelity should be praised.

I feel these two paragraphs miss the mark, primarily because fidelity between man and woman seems anything other than an addiction–it seems like work.  People struggle to remain faithful.  Why do most people at least try to resist the urge to be unfaithful in marriage? Because they know very bad things can happen if they follow their immediate instincts.  Fidelity involves a crusade against our hormones (though there’s a lot more to sex drive than hormones).

JRR Tolkien wrote a series of letters to his oldest son, Christopher, warning him of the dangers of untamed sexual desire.

Faithfulness in Christian marriage entails that: great mortification. For a Christian man there is no escape. Marriage may help to sanctify and direct to its proper object his sexual desires; its grace may help him in the struggle; but the struggle remains. It will not satisfy him–as hunger may be kept off by regular meals. It will offer as many difficulties to the purity proper to that state, as it provides easements. No man, however truly he loved his betrothed and bride as a young man, has lived faithful to her as a wife in mind and body without deliberate conscious exercise of the will, without self-denial.

Tolkien’s view is precisely the opposite of LaBossiere’s; people struggle with fidelity, they are not addicted to it.

Before going further, let me state explicitly my thesis: the things that provide pleasure to people via increases in dopamine, seratonomin, and oxytocin can change over time, and they change primarily because thinking changes.  I used to gain pleasure from stealing and breaking windows. Now I gain pleasure from working hard, learning, writing, playing with my kids and physical training. The chemical reactions that cause me to feel pleasure remain the same, but the little understood mind changed greatly.  And I know why my mind changed: I experienced true Christianity.  I struggled for years after first experiencing it, but slowly changed over the years, like a metal refined by fire.  Consider a man who is overweight and out of shape. He does not exercise but knows he must for health reasons.  At some point his thinking on the matter changed and the seed was planted for future action. When he first starts exercising, he only feels pain. His body is telling him to stop. He is not deriving much pleasure from it at all. But he pushes through, and eventually morning runs start to feel good, his mind seems to work better, fat begins to melt off him. And so it is with almost all good habits. There is an initial period of discomfort. But as beings above mere wild animals, we can push through that pain using reason to form a vision of our goal.  After a while, we have formed a habit, and there is no longer pain, but probably quite a bit of pleasure to be gained from accomplishing what was once very difficult.

The French Renaissance philosopher Michel de Montaigne, a famous skeptic, disliked passionate feelings of love because he felt they interfered with freedom.  Many people are critical of the Christian views on sex and passion, they view (improperly) Christians as prudes whom dislike others feeling any type of sexual pleasure. This is not the case of course.  As its root, the Christian values concerning sex is about keeping one’s mind. W.B. Yeats once observed that he had witnessed more men destroyed by chasing after women then he had seen destroyed by alcohol. This from an Irishman.  Yeats and Montaigne understood that for man to act like Man, (big M intended), and not destroy himself, he must not follow every fleeting hormonal impulse.

Michel de Montaigne
Michel de Montaigne

As a man thinketh, so is he~Proverbs 23:7. And so as a person’s thinking changes, so do his habits. The ancients knew the power of habit. In fact, I believe it is the most powerful tool in existence when it comes to effecting human behavior. The first thing that I myself do when I want to accomplish something, is figure out how I can make aspects of the task a habit. This usually involves setting aside a time and place in which I always practice part of the task. I always write in the morning. I even learned a way of getting things done that aren’t pleasing: Just do one thing a day that you don’t want to do, but needs doing at some point. Just one thing. You’ll be surprised at how effective it is. And this is what I think of homosexuality: it is a habit, not something hardwired from the beginning in a homosexual’s genome.

Almost anything can become a habit, good and evil. Vince Lombardi said quitting can become a habit, Dale Carnegie said the habit of feeling sorry for yourself is the worst habit of all.

Aristotle said of habit:

Moral excellence comes about as a result of habit. We become just by doing just acts, temperate by doing temperate acts, brave by doing brave acts.

In this article, I am primarily writing about physiological determinism, not cosmological determinism. That is, the idea that man does not have free will at all.  That is for another time. But it must be said here that determinism, is a major theme in leftist politics.  The belief, nay, the focal point, of this political system being that the determining factor in a man’s life is summed in the advantageous or disadvantageous situation into which he was born. That rich men are rich because they were born to lucky circumstances, and the poor people are poor because they were born to poor people.   But my interpretation of conservative politics, as I practice them, is to ask each person: What can you do right now to improve your lot and the lot of others? I see leftist politics as one giant antithesis of Carnegie’s admonition,  the leftist declares: The best habit is to feel sorry for yourself. And he hopes that men who don’t feel sorry for themselves, ie the men who make the world work, will give him some free stuff.  In other words, the view is self-serving, not “sympathetic.”

Finally, we must ask: How is the deterministic view helpful? If I truly am moved about like a puppet by hormones and impulses randomly bursting in my brain, what changes if I believe otherwise? But now ask yourself, what if we are not absolutely controlled by a domino effect of physiological input, but I believe and act as if I  am, what changes then? A great deal. A very great deal.

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11 thoughts on “Love Potions

    apollonian said:
    March 16, 2014 at 9:39 pm

    Hubris: Most Grievous Sin

    Magus: determinism is NOT NOT NOT “luck” or randomness; on the contrary, they’re opposites. Determinism is absolute cause-effect, every effect necessary result of prior cause, that cause itself being an effect fm cause before it, etc. Thus objectivity (Aristotle) implies and necessitates determinism.

    “Luck” or randomness, on the other hand, denies cause-effect, being merely a half-baked form of such cause-effect–sometimes effect fm sometimes cause. Thus “luck” is mere form of subjectivism (Plato, Kant, et al).

    Note then perfectly “free” will is the hubris of Godliness, for only God has a perfectly “free” will. Humans are sinners, always and necessarily self-interested, creatures of will, but certainly not perfectly “free,” God-like will.

    We act, surely because though we understand reality is determined, still we don’t know exactly HOW and what will happen, say, in the next 5 minutes–so, we act as if it makes any diff.

    And remember, acting as if there is free will is a HABIT fm early in our lives–it’s really hard to get over, no matter how much thinking about it all one does.

    Ultimately, note pretending to “good-evil” and perfectly free will is surely impelled fm a basic inferiority-complex–for why otherwise would one imagine he must prove himself “good”?

    Further, note the globalist dictatorship controls and manipulates humanity much by means of this false “good-evil” and “free”-will inculcated upon the not-so-bright members of society, along w. heavy propaganda and media-programming.

    magus71 responded:
    March 16, 2014 at 10:04 pm

    As I stated, this article is more about biological determinism than cosmological.

    Yes, I understand that luck is not the same thing as determinism. My point is that many people buy in to the distant ripple that has its impact on the boat.

    But the boat (us) has an engine (will), and even if it’s nudged a bit, the boat can use its engine to get back on course.

    I do not believe the mind to be entirely subsumed by determinism; i am not a Calvinist.

    apollonian said:
    March 17, 2014 at 5:59 pm

    It’s Either-Or, Determinism or Hubris

    Well magus: note again, to pretend to perfectly “free” God-like human will is hubris (madness), by definition. And it’s NOT just Calvin; St.s Paul and Augustine affirm we’re sinners (self-interested), nothing to be done about it–doomed to heck without God’s grace and mercy.

    And there’s no in-btwn: as u admit some determinism, u admit everything is ultimately determined.

    And “good-evil,” hence perfectly “free” will is what we’re programmed w. fm the beginning by ZOG in order to manipulate the weak (“good” = obedience) who accept this inferiority-complex indoctrination.

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but all u’re doing is asserting and insisting, right?–but isn’t there a greater truth involved?–either-or regarding determinism, the only alternative being the hubris of subjectivism.

    Bill said:
    March 18, 2014 at 1:58 am

    I’ve hijacked too many of your other threads to go there, but I’ll at least dip my toe in. From a theistic God of the Bible POV, one necessarily has to concede that determinism IS the case 😉 Now know I’m saying this wight he utmost respect for the way you think and your intellectual honesty, but seems like you’re building a bit of a Straw man here. I don’t believe in Free Will at all, think there’s no way to seriously argue determinism but at the same time, believe we have a tremendous degree of agency. Genetics (neurotransmitters in particular) govern very much what will happen in our lives, but all the circumstances that we encounter, much of which we have 0 control over also have a huge influence over it. I didn’t have the same demons that plagued your childhood, but I had several of my own and can completely empathize . It could be that my brain chemistry changed and that’s why drinking alcohol doesn’t entice me any more for instance, but it is more likely a result of looking at the consequences. The consequences I experienced over the years were largely completely out of my control and had I not encountered them, I would likely still drink to excess. We can’t truly know the future, so the best we have is taking educated guesses (the closer to ‘now’ we are the more likely we are to be right) based on probabilities and our assessments of them. Those change based on experience and even though we may get more accurate with more feedback, it often works the opposite way too. Biologically , I could never have been an NBA basketball player no matter how much I tried. Or maybe I could if I lived in a different time place where everyone was shorter and slower than me (virtually impossible to fathom but certainly possible). I could never be a serial killer or ___ (other list of terrible things) but how much of that is b/c I learned early on that the punishment outweighs any benefit – I have no idea. How much of my behavior is ‘nice’ precisely b/c I had a lot of very compassionate people around me that provided a constant feedback loop seeing how being nice helps others? We don’t have the computer power today, but we likely will, probably within my lifetime, to compute all the possible outcomes for any given situation and from their construct all the probabilities (and how probable each is). We’ll have to table the debate until we get such empirical evidence, but if that day comes, I think Determinism will finally have its comeuppance.

    magus71 responded:
    March 18, 2014 at 11:22 am

    If determinism is true, even at the micro level, why do people argue over anything? Everything that’s ever been written is a waste of time and paper. But then, maybe we have no choice but to argue? And who can criticize for bad behavior and stupidity? As I stated at the end of my article, this is somewhat like Pascal’s Wager: If I’m wrong I’ve lost nothing> If I’m right, the dangers of living like we’re carried along on a river of determinism will kill civilization. Dr. LaBossiere concedes that determinism=nihilism.

    Bill, you said:

    “It could be that my brain chemistry changed and that’s why drinking alcohol doesn’t entice me any more for instance, but it is more likely a result of looking at the consequences.”

    This is free will, no? You used reason to weigh the consequences. Now I’m not arguing our free will allows for infinite freedom. I cannot will bullets to bounce off my skin, I must eat food to survive etc. All freedom is constrained within certain laws. I compare it to the rank structure in the Army: An E4 (Specialist) has much less power than a Colonel, but he is still free. If the Colonel orders him to do something lawful, he must do it. But otherwise he is free to carry on and solve problems on his own. He has freedom within certain parameters.

    I am sympathetic to some aspects of determinism. For instance, an officer I work with was somewhat incensed at the performance of some of the enlisted in our office, especially since some of them were close to his age. I explained to him that they came from different backgrounds than he did, and that it takes *years* not days, to really change behaviors. He agreed with me. All we can do is keep mentoring and holding people accountable, as well as patting them on the back when they do well.

    For the purposes of clarity, when you talk about determinism, are you talking about fatalism or predestination? Are all people where they are merely because of their circumstances? It seems to me if we teach people they have no power over themselves, we are in for even more disaster than I now believe is upon us. Is this not the root of liberal thinking: To not resist things like abortion and drug addiction, but to actually make both of them easier via government enabling? As if individuals have nothing to do with their own circumstances, but other people somehow have something to do with the individuals’ circumstances?

    WTP said:
    March 18, 2014 at 6:07 pm

    if we teach people they have no power over themselves, we are in for even more disaster than I now believe is upon us.

    Well exactly. Don’t know of any specific studies but surely they exist. However, simple observation of past experience should prove as much. People who feel they have no control over their lives will make no effort to take control of their lives and their lives go down hill. People with much up against them succeed because the do not accept that their circumstances limit them. Of course Bill could no more be a basketball player (assuming he has more severe challenges in the vertical dimension than Calvin Murphy or Nate Robinson or Spud Webb or Mugsy Bogges or Earl Boykins or …) than I could a professional jockey. But within the world we live, we do control our destiny. We play the cards we are dealt. Sure, some people hold better cards than others in certain domains. But not all domains are equal. Again in regard to hubris, Einstein “God does not play dice” vs. Bohrs “Who is Einstein to tell God what to do?”.

    apollonian said:
    March 18, 2014 at 7:24 pm

    Question Of Determinism Is Simply Whether Reality Is Objective–Yes Or No?

    “And who can criticize for bad behavior and stupidity?”–Magus, above, at 11:22 am

    Note u presume there is such thing as “bad behavior” (fallacy of question-begging). “Stupidity” is something entirely diff., for which one can’t be blamed in any case, determinism or not. And as criticism is dependent on subjectivism, ur basis of “criticism” is therefore absurd.

    Remember the logic begins at the beginning, the basic premise, objectivity or not (subjectivism). Subjectivism is absurd on its face, the foundation of perfectly “free” will, as I noted. The only thing left is objectivity, the nature of things being necessarily what they are and nothing else–hence the absolute determinist nature logically following.

    And there’s no in-btwn–as soon as u admit u have no perfectly “free” will, u’ve essentially accepted the premise–absolute determinism.

    Regarding Pascal’s “wager,” note it’s reverse of what u indicate, magus–to go w. “free” will requires absurdity of subjectivism. But only God’s will rules–determinism–and u’ve lost nothing. Again, note we can’t perfectly predict what will happen 5 mins fm now, so we make use of will as if it did exist–which it does, but only to limited extent, as u indicate.

    But most of all, and as I’ve noted, consider most seriously the full implications of a seriously “free” will: (a) madness of hubris, (b) that inferiority complex which necessarily forms basis of contriving to such phony “freedom” and “good-evil” Pharisaism, sanctimony, and self-righteousness. Thus “guilt” is absurdly understood as a kind of virtuous quality as it invokes expiation.

    (c) Perhaps most of all, observe how this phony “free will” contrivance PERFECTLY fits agenda of ZOG and their program for manipulating the weaklings and inferiors of an over-populated, corrupt society in Spengler’s “Decline of the West”–for “good” then is mere acquiescence to slavery, obedience, and conformity, while individual political freedom, freedom of individual conscience, and property rights, for examples, are held to be “evil.”

    Finally, consider the heroic honesty it requires for the individual to throw off the mind-control of ZOG which induces such guilt and inferiority -complexes in the first place, based upon non-determinism, as it strives to control and ultimately destroy the individual and his/her conscience. And again, note the basic issue is nature of reality–is it objective?–if so, then it must be determined, ipso facto.

    apollonian said:
    March 18, 2014 at 7:32 pm

    Christian Honesty: Best Policy

    ‘It seems to me if we teach people they have no power over themselves, we are in for even more disaster than I now believe is upon us.” –Magus at 11:22 am, above

    People have the power to grasp the reality and exact nature of their will–first, note it doesn’t matter too much anyway, but further, the happiness of the person is in Socrates’ tenet of knowing oneself.

    Thus one’s will is limited–it’s NOT perfectly “free”–and the only proper disposition therefore is to grasp and accept reality, the evidence of one’s senses, and with this honest knowledge one is best informed and consoled, basis of wisdom.

    One can only do what one can, which is quite limited–be honest and face the facts–this is foundation of wisdom and happiness. We’re sinners (self-interested) and doomed to heck, and there’s nothing to be done about this; only God’s grace will save us.

    apollonian said:
    March 18, 2014 at 7:35 pm

    Oh yes: I don’t see any diff. btwn “fatalism” and pre-destination–these are just variations of the strict philosophic term, determinism, absolute cause-effect.

    magus71 responded:
    March 18, 2014 at 8:17 pm

    Even if Bill could never play in the NBA, he could greatly improve his skills in basketball. And I doubt that 99% of the people in the NBA could make computer programs as well as Bill can.

    apollonian said:
    March 18, 2014 at 8:38 pm

    “Disaster”?–It’s Merely CYCLIC, Determinist “Decline Of West,” By Spengler

    What exactly is the “disaster” that is “upon us”?–according to Magus, above at 11:22 am.

    Magus is surely correct, at least for his above-noted observation–USA has gone down proverbial “toilet.” But if he would only analyze, he’d see it’s perfectly in tune w. the necessary, determined reality which is CYCLIC, according to Oswald Spengler’s “Decline of the West.”

    For USA led the West fm enlightenment era, instituting US Constitution w. its EXPLICIT ideal of limited gov., founded upon strict reason and individual freedom, prop. rights, sanctity-of-contract, etc.–so what happened? In a word, success, victory, and “prosperity” happened, and this thereupon brought INEVITABLE and practical obligatory ruin, the seeds of destruction.

    For observe such success and “prosperity” inevitably raised-up a cursed generation (several of them, actually) of scum, weaklings, trendies, and TV-addicts who’ve now seen to the destruction of Constitution–even reason and justice itself, not to mention the dear Christian honesty and proper worship of TRUTH TRUTH TRUTH (hence Aristotelian objectivity, basis of truth) above all/any other tenet, ideal, and principle–including “love,” “good,” “faith,” or peace.

    This horrific destruction of American virtue was confirmed by American “Civil” war (already pre-saged by the secession crisis of 1830) which destroyed the Constitutional republic, replacing it w. a consolidated, centralized, imperial tyranny which thereupon exterminated the Indian population and thence 30 yrs after end of that horrific (“civil”) war initiated an even more explicit imperium w. the Spanish-American war–the rest is simply logical tightening of this satanic horror, nearly explicit AGENDA-21 genocide now beckoning the public conscious, the people being mass-murdered, only by slow-kill methods (GMO poisoned foods, toxic vaccines, poison fluoridated water, poison food additives, toxic prescription drugs forced upon the population, “chem-trail” contamination of ground-soil, radiation-poisoning of Fukushima, etc.).

    And what, in most specific terms, was it that founded and began this horrible Western “decline”?–one thing is the corruption and hubris of the now dominant Western middle class (“bourgeois”) which endorsed the moralism/Pharisaism of Immanuel Kant, esp., though there were others, like Hutcheson and Bentham, who, for practical purposes, revived the Pelagian heresy of “good-works”–which brought into fashion statist and thence socialist principles of Hegel and then Marx–the “noble lie” of “good” which ruined the Constitutional republic and culture of reason upon which it was based.

    Thus we see and confirm fm the peaking of enlightenment reason the rise of “romantic” irrationalism, as in ethics, to accompany the statism and socialism in politics, confirmed and crowned w. the onset and present dominance of Jews and terror-state of Israel, the Jews instituting the DEFINITIVE fractional-reserve banking system issuing nearly INFINITE fiat-money giving Jews absolute cultural dominance over everything, without exception, as we see confirmed before our very eyes.

    And note these Jews cloak, cover, mask, and justify themselves by means of the “noble lie” of “good-evil,” thus Keynesian economics and Paul Krugman, for examples, Jews now owning and controlling all the corp.s, politicians, judges, public edjumacation, and even the establishment “Christian” institutions and churches–so complete and total is their control and hegemony–only mass genocide is left to complete, as we see taking place before our very eyes. Such is the determinist reality, impossible to deny in theory, impossible to deny for registration of the sense-perception, the determinist theory demonstrated in reality.

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