A blog of politics, law, religion, and the tricky spots where they collide.

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By far the most important philosopher of the Menaissance is Charles Darwin. The theory that human sexual preferences evolved from the time that hominids successfully reproduced in the primeval African grasslands can explain the mystery of women’s preference for macho—or alpha—males. At the same time, evolutionary theory gives the former wuss permission to pursue massive amounts of sex with an endless assortment of women. Finally, the emphasis that Darwinism places on natural selection encourages him to adapt to the brutal current sexual ecosystem. Culture, in both its feminist and Emily Post forms, hasn’t won him any favor with women, so he will embrace Nature in all its rude harshness.

Love in the Time of Darwinism by Kay S. Hymowitz, City Journal Autumn 2008

I find this whole article trying to understand why single young men act as they act fascinating. Like many efforts to model human relationships, it sort of misses the point. The writer is trying to map the dating culture as if its intricies have some sort of significance. Sure, whether to hold doors or pay for dinner can be a confusing topic. And since we’re so thoroughly enraptured by our own relationships or lack of relationships or potential relationships, it can occupy a whole lot of thought. But focusing on these banalities is like the grinch focussing on the trappings of Christmas. A robot can hold open all the doors you want (or, you know, other stuff). But if you’re hanging out with a robot, you’re hanging out alone. Relationships are about the human, the spontaneous, the unscripted. How does my story speak to your story? How does my heart speak to yours? Having a neat set of procedures to follow might give us a bit of comfortable structure—but the meaningful part will come when we deviate from those expectations. Or when we decline to deviate from them. At there heart, the relationships are about empathy and connection.

Of course, I’m assuming people are looking for lasting or valuable relationships. If they’re trying to fulfill that Darwinistic imperative, eat, breed, die, maybe they will have different goals. Or if they are looking for personal affirmation or a feeling of conquest or just something to distract from nagging feelings of purposelessness, maybe an elaborate courtship ritual is more important than the actual courtship.

But I think most people, at heart, want an actual relationship. So reading this article by Hymowitz is sort of like watching a zombie movie. There is scene after scene of monsters staggering awkward toward something warm and alive. They know they want it, but can’t quite figure out how things like fences or door knobs work. They colide with eachother and smash things with grasping arms. And the whole tottering-mass of semi-humanity is animated by one unifying desire. It has something to do with the living, human mind—and they’re pretty sure they’ll know what they have when they find it. But until then, it’s hard to articulate anything other than a gutteral, “Brains!”

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