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PostPosted: Sun Aug 28, 2011 8:51 am 
Avisaru
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Interesting question.

It sounds logical that primitive peoples have less modesty because of necessity. But then you have to wonder - if that goes all the way back, how could we evolve to have any sense of modesty in the first place? Or is it an entirely cultural concept?

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PostPosted: Sun Aug 28, 2011 8:54 am 
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Chuma wrote:
Or is it an entirely cultural concept?
Of course it is.


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PostPosted: Sun Aug 28, 2011 10:14 am 
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Chuma wrote:
It sounds logical that primitive peoples have less modesty because of necessity. But then you have to wonder - if that goes all the way back, how could we evolve to have any sense of modesty in the first place? Or is it an entirely cultural concept?


My thoughts as well. It seems hard to explain our current enthusiasm for privacy without speculating that we have always had some desire for privacy that simply never got expressed in previous eras.

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PostPosted: Sun Aug 28, 2011 10:19 am 
Avisaru
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Eddy wrote:
Chuma wrote:
It sounds logical that primitive peoples have less modesty because of necessity. But then you have to wonder - if that goes all the way back, how could we evolve to have any sense of modesty in the first place? Or is it an entirely cultural concept?


My thoughts as well. It seems hard to explain our current enthusiasm for privacy without speculating that we have always had some desire for privacy that simply never got expressed in previous eras.


Some desire for privacy might be innate (emphasis on might). In the wild, male chimpanzees with lower social standing will sometimes lead a female off away from the group and form a short-term pair-bond, ensuring they can pass on their genes without being interrupted by the more dominant males. Of course, that behavior could be explained in other ways -- an example of deception, perhaps (chimpanzees have been shown to have theory of mind).

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PostPosted: Tue Aug 30, 2011 9:05 pm 
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Ollock wrote:
Some desire for privacy might be innate (emphasis on might). In the wild, male chimpanzees with lower social standing will sometimes lead a female off away from the group and form a short-term pair-bond, ensuring they can pass on their genes without being interrupted by the more dominant males. Of course, that behavior could be explained in other ways -- an example of deception, perhaps (chimpanzees have been shown to have theory of mind).


You could argue from that standpoint, sure. I would consider the sheer prevalence of private accommodations in pretty much every modern society with a substantial middle class further evidence. It would undoubtedly save everyone a lot of money simply to build collective housing with minimal privacy, less money spent on land and building materials, less spent on rent or purchasing, and so forth. Yet instead everyone spends the considerably greater portion of money needed to give each family its own house or flat and putting multiple bedrooms and bathrooms in each unit to give even individuals within the household some privacy. The fact that people put themselves through so much trouble to pay the mortgage or rent rather than build dormitories that would cost everyone far less speaks volumes to me about privacy as a compelling need.

Of course one should not overlook the point that needs (whether psychological like privacy or physical like food) do not exist in a vacuum but interact with surrounding material conditions. The fact that people have a strong and compelling desire for something does not mean that need will necessarily get filled to their full satisfaction. People living in poverty in a society with less technical development than our own will undoubtedly make do with much less privacy than we would consider acceptable, simply because they can't afford a large house with many bedrooms. We should not take the resulting abundance of large families living in cramped conditions as evidence that people don't really want privacy that much and will readily forgo it. That would make no more sense than arguing we have no deep-felt need for adequate nutrition by citing the malnutrition that has long plagued humanity in less developed areas and time periods.

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PostPosted: Tue Aug 30, 2011 10:04 pm 
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I don't know about crowding being a modernistic thing.

Crowding among Hunter-Gatherers: The !Kung Bushmen (Abstract) wrote:
Highly crowded living conditions exist among the !Kung Bushmen, hunter-gatherers who live on the edges of the Kalahari Desert in Botswana and South-West Africa. The !Kung appear to be crowded by choice, and biological indicators of stress are absent. Data indicate that residential crowding alone does not produce symptoms of pathological stress.


Science 19 October 1973: Vol. 182 no. 4109 pp. 301-303. Draper, Patricia.

Granted, the research is older than I am but it's at least something.

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PostPosted: Fri Sep 02, 2011 3:17 pm 
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I would have to ask what crowding means in this context and how you would compare that context with our own. From what little I have read, these people mostly live in simple and impermanent huts since their hunter-gatherer lifestyle makes long-term settlement impossible. That surely makes a difference regarding how much shelter they can build for themselves. If they have to rebuild shelter on a regular basis rather than building it once and living in it permanently, that greatly shifts the ratio of labor invested in a structure to the amount of use one gets out of that structure. It becomes highly improfitable to invest so much work on an elaborate shelter when you will abandon it the next day anyway, enough to outweigh the problem of cramped sleeping space. Or so I would hypothesize.

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PostPosted: Fri Sep 02, 2011 3:48 pm 
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Eddy wrote:
I would have to ask what crowding means in this context and how you would compare that context with our own.


By this she means an average camp density of 188 square feet per person, compared with the 350 square feet per person which was set as the desirable standard by the American Public Health Association.

Eddy wrote:
From what little I have read, these people mostly live in simple and impermanent huts since their hunter-gatherer lifestyle makes long-term settlement impossible. That surely makes a difference regarding how much shelter they can build for themselves. If they have to rebuild shelter on a regular basis rather than building it once and living in it permanently, that greatly shifts the ratio of labor invested in a structure to the amount of use one gets out of that structure. It becomes highly improfitable to invest so much work on an elaborate shelter when you will abandon it the next day anyway, enough to outweigh the problem of cramped sleeping space.


Which has precisely nothing to do with crowding.


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PostPosted: Fri Sep 02, 2011 5:36 pm 
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The most important point I see is that the stress-factor was not present. This would seem to imply that, given the means and opportunity to expand, the population would feel no psychological pressure to do so, which flies in the face of a privacy-organ-style hypothesis.

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PostPosted: Fri Sep 02, 2011 6:00 pm 
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cromulant wrote:
Eddy wrote:
I would have to ask what crowding means in this context and how you would compare that context with our own.


By this she means an average camp density of 188 square feet per person, compared with the 350 square feet per person which was set as the desirable standard by the American Public Health Association.

But do they include bathrooms and stuff? My dorm room in college was only about 60 square feet, and that was for two people, but we obviously didnt do everything in there, so it didnt seem "too small/crowded". Hotel rooms are probably not much bigger. If your bathroom is just behind a tree or something then that space should count as living space if we're comparing against America.

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PostPosted: Fri Sep 02, 2011 10:43 pm 
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Soap wrote:
If your bathroom is just behind a tree or something then that space should count as living space if we're comparing against America.


But by that token, since one can theoretically urinate anywhere, one's living space would be 5,490,369,310,000,000,000 square feet i.e. the world.

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PostPosted: Fri Sep 02, 2011 11:16 pm 
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Soap wrote:
If your bathroom is just behind a tree or something then that space should count as living space if we're comparing against America.


My thoughts as well. One must remember that these people live in a vast open space, the Kalahari Desert, in small bands of several dozen people. That would tend to mitigate against feeling overcrowded.

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PostPosted: Sat Sep 03, 2011 12:40 am 
Avisaru
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Eddy wrote:
My thoughts as well. One must remember that these people live in a vast open space, the Kalahari Desert, in small bands of several dozen people. That would tend to mitigate against feeling overcrowded.


It sounds from the article, though, that they don't get out much.



I figure, they've got that whole vast Kalahari to spread themselves out in, and instead they choose to live like sardines in a can...maybe overcrowding isn't something that needs to be "mitigated" against, in their eyes.


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PostPosted: Sat Sep 03, 2011 2:49 pm 
Avisaru
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bulbaquil wrote:
Soap wrote:
If your bathroom is just behind a tree or something then that space should count as living space if we're comparing against America.


But by that token, since one can theoretically urinate anywhere, one's living space would be 5,490,369,310,000,000,000 square feet i.e. the world.

Do you mean to say that regularly urinate on the other side of the globe? We must subtract from your total the following areas:

1) areas which are too far to be convenient for urination (e.g. anything beyond a kilometer or so from where you are standing)
2) areas which are close, but ritually forbidden from being urinated on (e.g. the living room carpet, the petunias, your friend, etc.)
3) areas which are close and which are permissible to urinate on, but which may be off limits for you (e.g. a stranger's loo)
4) areas which are close, permissible to urinate on, and available to you, but which you personally would not wish to urinate on (e.g. an open field, a filthy public restroom, etc.)

The total area on which most modern people regularly urinate on would probably add up to no more than a couple of square meters. I'm not sure what you mean by "theoretical" lavatory space, but there's no "theory" I'm aware of in which a human will deposit their urine over the entire surface of the Earth. I think what you meant by "theoretically" was "If we all act like annoying credulous pillocks."

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PostPosted: Sat Sep 03, 2011 2:52 pm 
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Or, you know, hyperbole.

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PostPosted: Sun Sep 04, 2011 12:45 pm 
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sirred wrote:
Or, you know, hyperbole.

With no purpose and no relation to the discussion?
Foe'd.

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PostPosted: Sun Sep 04, 2011 12:58 pm 
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There was purpose and relation. The idea that the whole world counts as a bathroom of sorts (as expressed by bulb) seems to be hyperbole, or at least taking the idea of adding a tree out back to your living space to it's logical conclusion. Therefore, it seems unlikely that it was a serious assertion that someone could or would piss on every square inch of the earth.

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 05, 2011 1:47 pm 
Sanci
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brandrinn wrote:
sirred wrote:
Or, you know, hyperbole.

With no purpose and no relation to the discussion?
Foe'd.


I do like how the discussion has gone totally off the rails thanks to a discussion about how some people use hyperbole and some people can't understand it. And by "like", what I mean is "why does this happen so often on this board, especially when most of us ought to be aware, as conlangers, of exactly these kinds of varying pragmatic concerns across speakers? Seriously, got competence?" </rant>

To bring it back on course,
Quote:
Highly crowded living conditions exist among the !Kung Bushmen, hunter-gatherers who live on the edges of the Kalahari Desert in Botswana and South-West Africa. The !Kung appear to be crowded by choice, and biological indicators of stress are absent. Data indicate that residential crowding alone does not produce symptoms of pathological stress.


This abstract was written by a scientist who spent at least months, probably more like years, studying what it means to be crowded, how to define living space, how crowding manifests itself in a biological stress response, and most importantly, how these people actually lived.

She has done the work so that you don't have to speculate about the facts. All you have to do is figure out what you can take from this research. What I take from this research is that there is a counterexample to Eddy's claim that "all humans prefer more privacy to less, ceteris paribus". The question to be asked now, for Eddy's purposes, is whether the relevant !Kung's physchological features were spontaneously generated, as by some sort of random mutation, or whether there are extenuating circumstances which motivated the surface feature to choose crowding.

To answer that question, perhaps we should attempt to find out if anyone has done research on crowding conditions in similar cultures.

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 05, 2011 7:20 pm 
Avisaru
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Okuno wrote:
Quote:
Highly crowded living conditions exist among the !Kung Bushmen, hunter-gatherers who live on the edges of the Kalahari Desert in Botswana and South-West Africa. The !Kung appear to be crowded by choice, and biological indicators of stress are absent. Data indicate that residential crowding alone does not produce symptoms of pathological stress.


This abstract was written by a scientist who spent at least months, probably more like years, studying what it means to be crowded, how to define living space, how crowding manifests itself in a biological stress response, and most importantly, how these people actually lived.

She has done the work so that you don't have to speculate about the facts. All you have to do is figure out what you can take from this research. What I take from this research is that there is a counterexample to Eddy's claim that "all humans prefer more privacy to less, ceteris paribus". The question to be asked now, for Eddy's purposes, is whether the relevant !Kung's physchological features were spontaneously generated, as by some sort of random mutation, or whether there are extenuating circumstances which motivated the surface feature to choose crowding.

To answer that question, perhaps we should attempt to find out if anyone has done research on crowding conditions in similar cultures.


Yes. Maybe we could search around for more info about the !Kung. I'd be especially interested in the fauna of that region -- large predators could be good enough reason for everyone to stick close together, for safety.

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 05, 2011 9:44 pm 
Avisaru
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Ollock wrote:
Yes. Maybe we could search around for more info about the !Kung. I'd be especially interested in the fauna of that region -- large predators could be good enough reason for everyone to stick close together, for safety.


lions, jackals, feral dogs, at least one species of hyena. and then you have hormonal bull elephants.

yeah, I know I wouldn't be wandering off on my own either.

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PostPosted: Tue Sep 06, 2011 7:50 am 
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Here's another article. It's about population density and not privacy, but it's still a bit on crowdedness an low-tech societies which might be helpful.

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PostPosted: Thu Sep 08, 2011 12:15 am 
Lebom
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Ollock wrote:
In the wild, male chimpanzees with lower social standing will sometimes lead a female off away from the group and form a short-term pair-bond, ensuring they can pass on their genes without being interrupted by the more dominant males. Of course, that behavior could be explained in other ways -- an example of deception, perhaps (chimpanzees have been shown to have theory of mind).

Subordinate male chimps seek privacy to avoid getting the shit beat out of them by their superiors. They know they will get into trouble but they still want to mate so they do it in private. If permitted to, a subordinate would probably mate in full view, sending everyone the message "she's mine." In this sense, privacy is seeked in order to do something you want to do but would otherwise face ramifications for. Privacy always has an underlying purpose; it is never privacy for privacy's sake in most human societies. It is only when a certain ramification becomes characterized with certain actions that you have taboos, and consequently a desire for privacy in order to do said action. If the taboo is removed, then so is the need for privacy.

A need for privacy in the North American sense - and perhaps the British one, too - is almost definately culturally constructed. Look at the way we raise our babies and compare it with the way babies are raised in just about any traditional pre-/non-industrial society. We practically teach our future generations to want more privacy by enforcing it on them when they are very young. This In effect makes them anti-social - or at least less social than they would otherwise be - and consequently makes them want to be alone more often. Of course there are legitimate reasons why North American parents do this, but these reasons don't exist in traditional small-scale societies and there is no reason for them to want less sociality in their future generations, either. Traditional societies are more social because more cooperation is required to do things like collect food, raise kids, make shelters, etc. That, and in a traditional small-scale society everyone not only knows each other, they are also probably all related to each other. They are family, so understandably they want to be around each other. Taboos that are linked with privacy don't form as readily because people in an extended family are more comfortable with each other.

A more collective-oriented society like the Terps would probably have this exact same thing, but on a larger scale. Your biggest dilemma here is to find out how to have industrialization without breaking up extended families.


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PostPosted: Thu Sep 08, 2011 12:46 pm 
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@Okuno.
A bit late but the language you quoted of mine was not my opinion. It was a verbatim account of the abstract. Just thought that'd I'd like to clear that up.
[Edit: Spelling]

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