Re: "Rage to Master" from Dr. Winner

From: Dave Long (
Date: Tue Feb 20 2001 - 00:37:11 PST

> o) It seems that the most important job of a teenager is to build good
> mental 'habits' and weed out bad ones. The specifics are less
> important. Learning how to learn, work, achieve, befriend, be happy,
> contribute, be healthy, and grow beyond entertainment, sex, consuming,
> being annoying, and variously wasting life.

In the vocabulary of a previous generation:
look to developing virtues, then acquirements,
and only lastly acquisitions.

> o) Each "generation's" context is so different that subtle
> misunderstandings ruin rapport,

Matt Jensen's "bogus memes" are Francis Bacon's
"idols of the human mind", after several hundred
years of context changes. What's the Y operator
for civilization? We can't just literally copy
old bits forward; they need to be ported to the
new interpreters.

For instance:
> Attribution theory might thus provide a useful means to
> understand why some entrepreneurs simply give up when facing setbacks,
> while others persist.*

Fortitude (the willingness to persevere in a
prudent undertaking) provides a useful means
to understand that question, and it goes back
to the last turn of the century, beyond that
to the church, to the stoics, to the ancients,
and probably beyond them to people who didn't
bother writing such things down, or lacked

If we decide fortitude or lack thereof is an
appropriate explanation of these behaviors,
then we also know:
a) persistence is trainable, but
b) one should not be overly persistent,
   beyond the dictates of prudence, or
   to the detriment of justice.

Not bad for an n-thousand year old theory;
from what I could tell from the abstract,
attribution theory doesn't offer as much.


* I found this an interesting perspective on my own struggle to overcome
> setbacks and move forward--rather than fall into the seemingly common pattern
> of accepting the setback as an ongoing limitation. How this stuff evolved
> is a darn good question.

My hypothesis: humans, like the other
domesticatible animals, are wired for
social hierarchies. "Back down once
beaten" is a simple rule for peaceful
group life, and those who don't (say
juvenile males, or Cool Hand Luke)
are marginalized until either they do
or they coup.

... ... ... ... ...

> o) Teenagers are more wild in many ways than pre-teens or adults and
> spend most of their time with other teens rather than adults who could
> provide a role model (re: the 'abolish high-school' thread),

I read somewhere a study of gang violence noting
that many homicidal strings could be traced back
to quarrels over women and personal possesions,
which gives contemporary meaning to Achilles'
deserting his homies due to having being dissed
over Briseis and Hector's experiencing drive-by

It seems to me we'd have to abolish cube farms
as well as high schools to desegregate teens
and adults, or do we put them to work alongside
each other?
> o) Difficult childhoods produce strong, driven people who have a hard
> time not producing lazy, aimless, uncontrolled children. Those children
> barely provide for their children who then become strong and driven.
> Hence the generation-skipping phenomenon and endless frustration of
> successful people with their children.

Is this well-attested? I've seen or experienced
some examples of the other points from this post,
but a "generation-skipping phenomenon" sounds novel.

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