For no light matter is at stake; the question concerns the very manner in which human lfe is to be lived.
"Most people are other people. Their thoughts are someone else's opinions, their lives a mimicry, their passions a quotation"
and Behavioural Distancing
Co-creating meaning since 2001
"Civilizations in decline are continually characterized by a tendency towards standardization and uniformity"
"The minority is always right"
"Advancement often depends, not on rightness of action, but on acceptable behaviour and image, self control, appearance and dress, perception as a team player, style, and patron of power.
The result of all this is ethical erosion."
Robert W Goddard
"The simple man lives within himself, the man of society always lives out of himself and cannot live but in opinion of others...it is from their judgement alone that he derives the sentiment of his own existence."
Low Behaviour Distance
What is Behaviour Distance?
Mirror neurons allow us to 'tune in' to others and understand their behaviour. They allow
us to relate other behaviours to our own - as similar or disimilar, understandable or not understandable, to be admired and emulated, or despised and rejected.
They therefore place or locate the behaviours of others and create a sense of the distance between ourselves and those we observe and interact with. Behaviours perceived as 'different' or unusual - or just plain 'weird' - are therefore seen as alarming and are shunned.
What is Behavioural Distancing?
Consciously and unconsciously we use information provided by our mirror neurons to adjust our behaviour - we change our behaviour to open or close the behaviour distance between ourselves and others.
In open human groups individuals can distance themselves from the group by physically leaving it - by literally and metaphorically 'walking away'. In closed groups - such as classrooms and 'secure' institutions - this is not possible.
Hence in closed groups individuals who wish to 'distance themselves' can only do so behaviourally - and unusual, challenging or extreme behaviours tend to be adopted.
"The life-history of the individual is first and foremost an accommodation to the patterns and standards traditionally handed down in his community. From the moment of his birth the customs into which he is born shape his experience and behaviour. By the time he can talk, he is the little creature of his culture, and by the time his is grown and able to take part in its activities, its habits are his habits, its beliefs his beliefs, its impossibilities his impossibilities."
Ruth Benedict in "Patterns of Culture"
'Professionalism' as behavioural distancing
Every professional group has its own code of practice, conduct or behaviour. This tends to preserve 'standards', but equally it maintains exclusivity and group interests by increasing behaviour distance with 'outsiders'. Every profession is a 'club' which demands conformity from its members.
Moderated Behaviour Distance
Enforced Behaviour Distance
High behaviour distance
You may not be interested in neuroscience, but neuroscience is interested in you
"My heart is in the east, but I am the farthest reaches of the west -
How can I taste what I eat, and how can it agree with me?"
1075 - 1141