Friday, December 31, 2010

The Moral Individual - ii

In my previous post I had argued that man is innately moral. I considered 'empathy' generates moral behaviour among human beings and empathy is an innate trait as it's found amongst other animals too. However, after observing my infant daughter I have to make a fundamental change in my argument.

I propose 'morality' is not an innate trait but a function of two processes in a human being.
- Experience of pain which generates self-pity
- A feedback loop inside the brain which associates the cause of pain with self-pity

I believe babies get their clue for rewarding behaviour (associated with the neurotransmitter dopamine) in a mild form of violent behaviour called playing. I suppose violence is the first basic instinct that  humans get as a surviving technique. Babies basically employ pulling, mangling, biting and hitting. They grunt and clasp their jaws as if their motivating factors. No amount of pleading, painful face making would deter them. Sometimes it only increases their pleasure.

However, when babies are hurt, they want our utmost care. They want our sympathy. In other words, pain generates self-pity among them that they want others to empathize. This is not just about crying at the moment when they are hurt. When the moment is over and pain has subsided they still want us to be attentive to the open wound. Pain is important for the surival in case of injuries, however, on the other hand, it develops a sense of helplessness and thus 'self-pity'.

In my opinion, every person who has felt pain has developed 'self-pity'. Stoicism is a  learned behaviour in the adulthood. However, this self-pity to become empathy one needs to have a proper feedback loop in the brain that can associate the cause of the pain with the self-pity. The genetic defects can affect such feedback loop. I'm already suffering from one such impairment related to reinforcement learning.

So a moral individual cannot be moral in every aspect. There could be hardly any instances that an individual experiences all the pains in the world. We need to further expand the definition of a moral individual with this in mind. Since this is not an innate behaviour, a person can grow in morality throughout his life. And the pain need not be just physical. It can be psychological or financial.

A normal moral individual of a set of morals: This person has experienced a set of pains and his feedback loop is alright that he has turned his self-pity into empathy. However, in aspects which didn't cause him any pain he's incapable of empathizing.

A true moral individual of majority of morals: This person has experienced a set of pains and his feedback loop is alright so that he has turned his self-pity into empathy. However, he also has a higher intellectual capabilities or common sense such that he can identify the fundamental nature of the cause of the pain and this would enable him to empathize with other pains caused by seemingly different causes.

But it's possible to make the first type (normal) individual to behave like true moral individual by inculcating empathy thro' education and developing taboos.

People with impaired feedback loop lack empathy.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

The Tulu Tribes - VI

In some of my previous posts I was discussing about the origin of matriliny. Some of the points I made during the argument based on the findings of other anthropologists;
- Whereas patrilarchy is about exclusive male rights; matriliny is about equal rights (except in the case of politics where it was a male privilege)
- Only tribes in food abundant regions could develop equal rights society because division of labour wasn't there and both men and women participated in hunting
- All civilizations were created in regions where male was the primary warrior. Thus original civilizations were naturally patriarchal
- It's possible for matrilineal civilizations to come up if the tribes in food abundant regions come into contact with sedentary civilizations people who aren't part of ruling classes
- Tulu tribes (tribes part of present day Kerala and Tulu regions) became matrilineal as they were part of food abundant regions and met mostly merchants-artisans from the sedentary civilzation of the north

I think I need to make a drastic change in this theory.

I am proposing Kerala and Tulu regions became matrilineal because there was a huge male migrant population to these coastal regions which resulted in imbalance in male-female ratio and thus polyandry was the only option left. Thus the children became part of mother's family as that was the only sensible thing for civilized migrants.

Of course, this theory has precedence in another theory with a opposite scenario. According to one theory about matriliny in Kerala, it had been argued that during hundred years of Chera-Chola war, Nayars lost a lot of men and there were excess of Nayar women. Thus a new type of familial relationship was created (called Sambandham) where men and women had relationship only for sex. Anyway, this has been discredited since hundred year Chola-Chera war itself has been considered a mere legend. I would say there are too many other reasons to reject it.

Even if Chola-Chera war was indeed the case then Central and South Kerala regions should have shown very strong matrilineal traditions but only Malabar (north Kerala) one could find matriliny across majority of the castes and tribes. Also, Matrilineal traditions were common in Tulu region too without the caste and tribe divisions(with exceptions everywhere). In Tulu region many castes share the same lineages.

Now coming to my new theory, let's discuss what would have happenend if Kerala and Tulu regions received a greater number of male migrants than there were tribes  pre-existing in that region. We should note that these two regions had active trading relationship with Greeks, Romans and Semites. There was every reason for merchants and their workers to stay back build a life there. But how would they find females for procreation. Probably, if the number of migrants isn't very large as compared to the native population, speculating the longest male wait and earliest female readiness every person could have found a bride. But if the scenario is beyond such adjustments then I would suppose only polyandry could have helped them.

I believe once the polyandry gave rise to equilibrium in sex-ratio after few generations depending upon the rate of migration, the most people would have gone back to monogamous life (or polygynous). But I suppose if it takes many generations to reach the equilibrium then the aspects of polyandry become ritualized. This plausibly the reason behind matrlineal civilzation of Tulu and Malayali regions. It should be noted that even polyandry has become ritualized for certain castes and tribes even after an equilibrium had been reached in the sex ratio.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Origins of Indians: Version 8.4

Coastal Migration Theory and I:
A new paper on another archaic hominin species and their admixture in Homo Sapiens is out[2]. According to the study, hominin species labeled as 'Denisovans', remains of whom found in Siberia, were related to Neanderthals. Let me call our old friend Neanderthals as N. Euskaria and these Denisovans as N. Siberia.

A previous study found N. Euskaria admixture in all of Eurasian Sapiens but not in African Sapiens[3]. This was considered as a proof of early Sapiens meeting with N. Euskaria in middle east and their subsequent dispersal to all over the world.

Now the new study has found N. Siberia admixture in Melanesians but which supposedly missing in other Euraisans and Africans. These two studies have a bearing on my model of the northern route migration of Homo Sapiens.

Until now I have based my opposition to the coastal migration theory on two counts.
- Lack of common sense in the model considering India is a tropical country like Sapiens' original home in Africa and there was no pressing need for further migrations to SE Asia and Oceania. I have proposed that the movement thro' temperate landscape would develop the wanderlust that our ancestors have been famous for in occupying the whole of Eurasia in a quick time. They migrated in search of a tropical climate until they reached SE Asia.

- The second factor is genetic. The lack of uniparental lineage Y-Haplogroup D, associated with the coastal migration, in India and the uniform distribution of Y-Haplogroup C (which is now strangely considered as "intrusive" Ancient North Indian or not part of the original gene pool -which has been called Ancient South Indian- in a recent study[4]) cannot be overlooked. Along with the fact that India's so-called oldest mtDNA lineage M2 is mostly observed in East India. This of course gives evidence for migration from SE Asia to India (and then further into Middle East and Europe).

Probably, I need to give add one more factor or probably replace the common sense approach to more circumspect scenario.

Now we know that N. Euskaria and N. Siberia interbred with us. We also know that we don't have N. Euskaria an N. Siberia Y-Haplogroup or mtDNA lineages.  There could be two scenarios.
1. Male Sapiens and Female Neanderthal species mated and produced only fertile males and sterile females. Therefore, only Sapiens' uniparental lineage survived.
2. Female Sapiens and Male Neanderthal species mated and produced only fertile females and sterile males. Therefore, only Sapiens' uniparental lineage survived.

We really don't know whether both scenarios were in vogue or only one of them had occurred. But since both N. Euskaria and N. Siberia were Neanderthal species we could see that above two scenarios have been found consistently true.

I would propose the reason for Sapiens' rapid migration along northern route from middle east to Siberia and from there to SE Asia along western east Asia is related to the second scenario.

It has been observed that Neanderthal communities always had lower percentage of females or lacked enough females so all males could have sex and/or procreate, a situation similar to Haryanvis. It was a common practice for a Neanderthal group to abduct females[5]. In contrast the oldest Sapiens had excess females[1]. So what would happen when a Hominin with enough females meet another Hominin that has scarcity.

Evidently there was a very strong evolutionary pressure on Neanderthals to abduct Sapien females than vice versa. This had resulted in Sapiens' rapid migration from middle east to central Asia to escape from N.Euskaria. But unfortunately for them there they would meet N.Siberia who had similar evolutionary pressure since they were also a branch of Neanderthals.

So, we do see Siberia admixture among one of the Y-Haplogroup C population in Oceania, Melanesians. Since the admixture is clearly because of a species related to Neanderthals and not any Erectus branch in SE Asia,  we can say that northern route was taken by the early Sapiens.

1. Estimators of the Human Effective Sex Ratio Detect Sex Biases on Different Timescales
  - Emery et al. (2010)
2.Genetic history of an archaic hominin group from Denisova Cave in Siberia
  - Reich et al (2010)
3. A Draft Sequence of the Neandertal Genome
  - Richard E Green et al. (2010)
4. Reconstructing Indian population history
  - Reich et al (2009)
5. The documentary I saw either on Discovery or National Geographic channel

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Terror Attacks - I

The central government claims that they have given specific intelligence about terror strikes. The state government claims that they haven't received any 'actionable' intelligence. This drama was played during Mumbai attacks and had been repeated for the latest Varanasi bomb blasts. I suppose IB reports should be brought under RTI with certain conditions. Now this specific intelligence has become dud the public must be able to examine that.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Random Thoughts - V

What if there is an Indo-Pak war? India and Pakistan will suffer but the world will be a better place for everyone else.