Looking at Michael Tomasello’s Book (2016) “A Natural History of Human Morality” (Part 1 of 22)

0389 The book before me published by Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts.    The question?  What makes humans unique?  The approach is scientific.  Humans think differently than great apes, their closest biological kin. One way to understand that difference is to observe and measure the cognitive capacities of human newborns and infants, as well as the cognitive abilities of adult great apes.

This book belongs to a decades-long arc of inquiry by the author.  During much of this time, Michael Tomasello serves as co-Director of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany. I cover two decades in my examinations.  Here is the fourth book in the list.

0390 What has this semiotician found so far?

First, from the very start of his journey, the content-level of Tomasello’s vision corresponds to the situation-level of Razie Mah’s hypothesis.  The ultimate human niche consists of the potential of triadic relations.

Razie Mah’s hypothesis applies the two-level interscope for Darwin’s paradigm to human evolution.

0391 First, the general Darwinian paradigm looks like this.

0392 In The Human Niche (available at smashwords and other e-book venues), Razie Mah proposes that the ultimate human niche1b is the potential of triadic relations.

Tomasello’s hypothesis that joint attention2b and shared intentionality2b are behavioral and cognitive adaptations to the niche of sociogenesis1b reconfigures the situation-level of Darwin’s paradigm, resulting in what I call the “Tomasello-Mah synthesis”.

0393 Yes, fortune turns her wheel.  Tomasello does not know Mah’s hypothesis.  Tomasello’s arc of inquiry is underway in 1999.  Mah’s hypothesis first appears online in 2018.  So, Tomasello configures his insight, corresponding to the situation-level of the Darwinian paradigm, as the content-level of his vision.

Tomasello’s vision offers a way to bring a phenotype (of human ontogeny2c’) into relation with a foundational adaptation (of joint attention2a’).  But, according to Mah, phenotype and adaptation are two independent fields of evolutionary inquiry.  One does not situate or contextualize the other.  Rather, the two intersect.

Consequently, Tomasello’s vision resolves the internal contradictions of the intersection of genetics and natural history,by assigning the phenotype to the category of thirdness and the adaptation to the category of firstness, while maintaining the actuality of both.

0394 Here is a picture of Tomasello’s vision.

0395 Of course, this examination appears precisely 25 years after Tomasello’s vision is cast in 1999 AD.

His vision is maintained throughout his arc of inquiry.

Consequently, his conclusions carry an awkward emptiness.  The emptiness compares to the basement of a house.  The basement is dark, cool, foundational and ignored, until of course, one must seek refuge in a storm.

0396 The previous examinations of Tomasello’s works demonstrate that the house, the abode of his vision, is furnished with morality.

Tomasello can ignore the basement, haunted by immaterial beings called, “triadic relations”.  Yet, in that place, where a family might store potatoes, onions, smoked meat, along with luggage and Christmas ornaments, dwells something that Tomasello may safely ignore.  I call that ghost, “religion”.


Looking at Michael Tomasello’s Book (2016) “A Natural History of Human Morality” (Part 22 of 22)

0588 The Tomasello-Mah synthesis shows the ghost in the basement of the house of Tomasello’s vision.

Indeed, as this version of Darwin’s paradigm begins to haunt the entire edifice of human evolution, then Tabaczek’s housebecomes more than a house with a basement.  If sociogenesis1b is the potential1b of triadic relations2a, then Tomasello’s arc of inquiry may be re-articulated using triadic relations.

0589 For example, Razie Mah’s Primer on Sensible and Social Construction may be used to re-label the eras of individual, joint and collective intentionality.  Individual construction associates to the category-based nested formSensible construction associates to the two-level interscope, containing content and situation levels.  Social construction associates to the three-level interscope, containing content, situation and perspective levels.

Here is a list of what that might look like.

0590 To continue, the re-labeled eras may be regarded in terms of the evolution of talk.

The evolution of talk is not the same as the evolution of language.  Language evolves in the milieu of hand talk.

0592 Next, I would like to focus attention on the era of collective intentionality.

Here is a list depicting the timeframe.

0593 Before the era of collective intentionality, hand talk is confined team activities.  Hand talk produces sensible constructions.  Each team develops its own way of hand talking.  

After the domestication of fire, team-tradition hand talk starts to be used generally, eventually producing fully linguistic hand talk.

The situation is very dynamic.  Since cooking with fire increases the number of teams, fully linguistic hand-talk is re-appropriated for specialized use in more and more teams.  Fully linguistic hand-talk influences all social circles.  In some of these circles, grammatically correct, yet apparently nonsensible statements, generate social constructions that open new cognitive spaces.  These novel cognitive spaces become sites for more sensible construction.

0594 The voice comes into play during community meetings (150), seasonal mega-band round-ups (500) and special occasion tribal pow-wows (1500).  The voice is used for synchronization.  Song brings a large gathering of hominins into synchronization.  Once this cultural habit starts, then singing joins other traits in sexual selection.  The voice comes under voluntary control.

0595 Most likely, the early speciations of late Homo erectus produced species that could sing and hand-talk.  But, they could not speak.

Speech is added to hand-talk with Homo sapiens.  Anatomically modern humans practice a dual-mode of talking, hand-speech talk, for the next two hundred-thousand years.

0596 Hand-speech talk would still be practiced by anatomically modern humans today, were it not for the Ubaid of southern Mesopotamia.  The hypothesis of the first singularity proposes that the Ubaid is the first culture on Earth to practice speech-alone talk.

Here is a picture of the era of social construction.

0598 Today, all civilizations practice speech-alone talk.

This brings me to the limit of Tomasello’s vision.  I open the door, and step out into the realization that our current Lebenswelt is not the same as the Lebenswelt that we evolved in.  I step into the vision of Razie Mah.

0599 The arc of Tomasello’s inquiry, spanning from 1999 to 2016, opens onto three masterworks by Razie Mah.  These electronic books are available at smashwords and other e-work venues.  This examination relies primarily on The Human Niche, along with books contained in the series, A Course on The Human Niche.  A related series is titled, Buttressing the Human Niche.

Here is a list of Mah’s masterworks.

Still, there is more.

A Commentary on Michael Tomasello’s Arc of Inquiry (1999-2019) is available at smashwords and other e-book venues.  This commentary includes Mah’s blogs for January, February and March, 2024, along with an examination of Becoming Human (2019), the fifth book in a sequence of five books.

0600 My thanks to Michael Tomasello, who writes the books under examination while Co-Director of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, for conducting a scientific inquiry, from which I have examined only several works.


Looking at Michael Tomasello’s Book (2014) “A Natural History of Human Thinking” (Part 1 of 22)

0187 In the preface, the author notes that this book is a prequel to The Cultural Origins of Human Cognition (1999, Harvard University Press).  The question is the same.  What makes humans unique?  The answer is the same.  Humans think differently than great apes, their closest biological kin.

In 1999, researchers in evolutionary anthropology could say, “Only humans think of other humans as intentional agents.  Plus, my cat and my dog are intentional operators, as well, say nothing of the weather.”

Okay, I added the second sentence for dramatic effect.

Unfortunately, research conducted after 1999 introduces a problem.  It turns out that great apes recognize intentionality in others.

Uh oh.

0188 This book is the third marker in Tomasello’s intellectual journey.  I start following his trek with Looking at Michael Tomasello’s Book (1999) “The Cultural Origins of Human Cognition” (appearing in Razie Mah’s January 2024 blog).  The second marker that I examine may be found in Looking at Michael Tomasello’s Book (2008) “Origins of Human Communication” (appearing later in the same blog for the same month).

0189 In the publication before me, A Natural History of Human Thinking (2014, Harvard University Press, Cambridge Massachusetts), Tomasello explicitly abstracts three cognitive processes in order to distinguish humans from apes.  The processes are cognitive representation, inference and self-monitoring.  He then proposes that all three components were transformed in two key steps during hominin evolution.  He labels his claims, “the shared-intentionality hypothesis”.

0190 Does this follow the trajectory set by previous works?

Here is a theme that appears in the second marker, pre-emptively modified with the above propositions in mind.

0191 This modified picture allows me to offer slogans for movements zero and one.

For zero, the slogan is “I work for food.”

For one, the slogan is “We work for food.”


Looking at Joseph Farrell’s Book (2020) “The Tower of Babel Moment” (Part 1 of 10)

0001 The full title of the work before me is The Tower of Babel Moment: Lore, Language, Leibniz, and Lunacy.   The author is one of the wandering stars of our current age, an era when academics award more doctorates than any job market can absorb.  Professors with sharp elbows occupy the few available academic positions, leaving brilliant and successful graduates, the ones with sharp minds, to find places in heaven knows where.

Farrell finds a spot on the internet, that once verdant pasture of free expression, and establishes his own scholastic exploration outside of modern institutional constraints.  In short, he founds his own school.  Those who listen to his voice offer remuneration.  God bless all concerned.

0002 The work before me offers speculation on the nature of the titular biblical story.

Farrell proceeds by way of a spiral staircase of observations and… may I say?.. expansive “measurements”.  Measurements of what?  The literature of the seventeenth century?  The titans of the late Renaissance?  Yes, that will do.

0003 My goal in this examination is to shoehorn Farrell’s exploration into a category-based nested form composed of category-based nested forms.  The interscope is elaborated in A Primer on Sensible and Social Construction, by Razie Mah, available at smashwords and other e-book venues.  Of all procrustean beds that I have at my disposal, the interscope is most accommodating.

Here is a diagram of the interscope.

0004 The method is simple.  First, associate features of Farrell’s argument to elements in the above matrix.  Second, discuss the implications.

Each nested form consists of four statements, the most paradigmatic of which goes like this.  A normal context3 brings an actuality2 into relation with the possibilities inherent in ‘something’1.  The subscripts refer to the categories of Charles Peirce.  Thirdness brings secondness into relation with firstness.

The nested form is fractal.  An interscope is a category-based nested form composed of category-based nested forms.  A two-level interscope associates with sensible construction.  A three-level interscope corresponds to social construction.  Note how the labels change from 1, 2 and 3 to a, b, and c.

The three-level interscope allows the visualization of virtual nested forms, composed of elements within one column.  For example, the virtual nested form in the realm of actuality turns the second column into a category-based nested form,where a perspective-level actuality2c (as virtual normal context) brings a situation-level actuality2b (as virtual actuality) into relation with a content-level actuality2a (as virtual potential).

0005 Farrell opens chapter one with his personal discovery of Leonard Bernstein’s recorded lectures, titled “The Unanswered Question”.  In these lectures, Bernstein discusses Noam Chomsky, who has his own unanswered questions.  Chomsky, in turn, provokes Farrell to ask his own unanswered question, “How do linguists go about demonstrating linguistic universals?”

A universal may be regarded as an observable feature “measurably” appearing in all spoken languages.

0006 Phonologists find common observable features in the sounds of speech.  Common sounds are attributed to the anatomy of the head and neck.

Etymologists find common observable features in closely related words in different languages.  The words are similar and not identical, because they arise from isolation and drift among speaking populations, in a manner similar to biology’s slogan, “descent with modification”.

0007 The key?

Universals imply common origins.  For phonologists, the universal is biological.  For the linguist, the universal is… perhaps lost… in the recesses of time.

0008 A dramatic hypothesis stands against this key.  A sudden change may destroy the common language of humanity.  That change may be labeled, “A Tower of Babel Moment”.

0009 Years ago, Farrell proposes a wider context to this type of hypothesis.  The scenario includes ancient cosmic wars and world grids.  But, these are other books, and other matters, than the text at hand.

0010 So, before going on to chapter two, let me draw some associations.

On the content level, the normal context is language3a.  The actuality may be called a “topology”, or a map of all spoken languages2a.  The potential is that universals imply common origins1a.

The normal context of language3a brings the actuality of cross-language maps2a into relation with the potential of ‘the idea that universals imply common origins’1a.

On the situation level, the normal context is a civilizational moment3b.  The actuality is the Tower of Babel (the biblical story)2b.  The possibility is ‘discontinuity’1b.

The normal context of a civilizational moment3b brings the actuality of the story in Genesis 112b into relation with the potential of a discontinuity1b that corresponds to God confounding the common language of the plains of Shinar.

0011 Here is the two-level interscope.


Looking at Daniel Dennett’s Book (2017) “From Bacteria To Bach and Back” (Part 1 of 20)

0001 Let me start with an admission.  In this particular examination, I am not myself.  I am someone who I am not.  I own a dog named, “Daisy”.

The book before me is by Daniel C. Dennett and is titled, “From Bacteria to Bach and Back: The Evolution of Minds”.  The book is published by W.W. Norton (New York, London).  The book wrestles with issues both philosophical and scientific.  How does our world come to be?  How do we come to be?

Who are we?  We are people with minds.  Minds intelligently design artifacts using tools of production and tools of the intellect.  The first tools are handy.  The second are… well… not exactly the same as “handy”.

0002 The hand grasps a tool then uses it to manipulate things.  The word, “prehensile” applies.  Our hands are full of prehensions.  We are aware of the heft and feel of material instruments.

The mind grasps an intellectual tool with its… um… brain.  Is there such a word as “comprehensile”?  How about the term, “comprehension”?  Once we become competent using an intellectual tool, we comprehend.  We become familiar with its heft and feel.

0003 The hand is unlike the appendages of other mammals.

For example, cats and dogs only have feet.  The cat uses its front feet as “paws”, in a manner similar to the way humans use their hands.  Not really, because the cat’s paws cannot hold anything.  The cat cannot pick up a tool.  May I say that the cat’s front paws are part of the feline toolkit?  Evolution builds tools right into the cat’s body.  Most mammals are fashioned this way.  Tools are part of their bodies.

0004 The mind serves as a metaphorical appendage, because it grasps ‘something’, and in doing so, may manipulate it.  The dog, whose practical toolkit includes feet and a formidable mouth, has an advantage over the cat, in this respect.  The dog’s mind grasps ‘something’ and, in doing so, manipulates humans into serving as the leader of its pack.

To me, the dog is testimony to the inhospitality of wolf “culture”, in general, and the inadequacy of wolf “leadership”, in particular.  Wolf pack-leaders often behave like aristocrats, always expecting deferential treatment.  They are often filled with paranoia and treachery.  Yet, their followers know that they need a leader.  Otherwise, there is no pack.  Without the pack, there is only death.

0005 Surely, a reasonable human would serve as a more hospitable leader, especially since humans know how to get food in surprising ways.  Humans give dogs food.  Until, of course, starvation fills the land.


Looking at Razie Mah’s (2014) A Course on How To Define the Word “Religion” (Part 1 of 24)

0001 Many home and private schoolers face a difficulty.

They want to teach their children and students about God and nature.

At the same time, they want their children and students to pass standardized tests constructed by government agencies that declare themselves to be “not religious”.

Can a “not religious” sovereign establish a religion?

I like to call this apparent anomaly, “Big Government (il)Liberalism”.

Other names also apply.

0002 Indeed, parents and teachers suspect that the standards… or perhaps, the norms… of these godless educational… er, indoctrinating agencies do not allow a type of thinking that has been common to Christian civilization since its inception.  This type of thinking is both analytic and synthetic and is promulgated by the schoolmen (or “scholastics”) of the so-called “Middle Ages”.

As it turns out, scholastic debates concerning mind-independent and mind-dependent reality end up with a definition of sign-relation that incorporates modern science, while at the same time transcending it.

Of course, the mechanical philosophers of the 1600s don’t know this.  Modern scientists try to model observations and measurements of phenomena, using their highly specialized disciplinary languages.  These models break down into two elements: cause and effect.

But, material and physical cause and effect cannot describe the causality inherent in sign relations.

0003 Surely, there are three elements to all existence.

Charles Peirce (1839-1914 AD) reads Francisco Suarez (1548-1617), a Baroque Scholastic, and comes up with the idea that there are three categories.  Firstness has one element.  Secondness (which includes mechanical science) has two elements.  Thirdness has three.  These three categories describe the causality inherent in a sign relation.

These three categories are also the foundation for the category-based nested form.

0004 So, what does this mean to parents and teachers?

None of the government agencies, who declare themselves to be “scientific”, can define the sign as a triadic relation.

So, perhaps that is a good place to start.

0005 Semiotics encompasses the natural sciences, not the other way around.

Teaching your students the analytic and synthetic practices of the category-based nested form and semiotics will prepare them for technology, engineering and mathematics. Science typifies secondness.  And, secondness stands between thirdness and firstness.

Say what?

Take a look at the following figure.  Even without familiarity with Peirce’s categories, the diagram tells a story concerning the relevance of triadic relations1 in regards to inquiry3 and science2.  Understanding is not the same as scientific determination.

Figure 01

0006 What about the social sciences?

I wonder, can modern social scientists observe and measure social phenomena?

Can they model observations of religious behavior, when they describe themselves as “not religious”?

If everyone can be religious and if social scientists choose not to be religious in order to build models of their observations of those who are, then isn’t there some sort of contradiction?

Or, is that the nature of specialization?

Speaking of specialization, sociologists do not study psychology.  Psychologists do not study sociology.  Plus, sociology and psychology ignore biology.  All these disciplines are alchemically sealed within their own academic echo-chambers.  They cannot hear one another.

Say what?

0007 The category-based nested form is a triadic relation, that is both synthetic and analytic.  It is useful for reading texts.  It is a powerful tool for picturing the purely relational characteristics of psychology, sociology, cognition and evolution.

A Course on How to Define the Word “Religion” offers a unique path into topics covered by the so-called “social sciences”, without the blinders of BG(il)L.

Please consider this course when developing a curriculum for your children and your students.


Looking at Razie Mah’s Series (2015)  A Course on How To Define the Word “Religion”  (Part 24 of 24)

0161 In conclusion, many home and private schoolers face a difficulty.

They want to teach their children and students about God and nature.

At the same time, they want their children and students to pass standardized tests constructed by government agencies that promulgate a religion, even though they declare themselves to be “not religious”.

This course is one way to approach the difficulty.

This course offers a path, a text, along which you, the adult, and your children and your students may walk together.

0162 No other work in the field of education in 2022 compares.

Except of course, other courses by Razie Mah, such as A Course on The Archaeology of the Fall and A Course on the Human Niche.

Welcome to the fourth age of understanding.

0163 A Course on How To Define The Word “Religion” may be found at smashwords and other e-book vendors, using the search terms: Razie Mah, series,  course, how to define the word “religion”.

The course consists of ten primers, followed by the masterwork, How To Define The Word “Religion”.

Each primer and masterwork is punctuated, not by page numbers, but by points.  A one-hour class may cover between twenty and forty points.  That is a little slower than one per minute.  If you conduct a class, record the number of points covered per session and report to raziemah@reagan.com.

0164 These blogs provide a taste of the style and the content.  They complement, rather than substitute, for the primers and the masterwork.

I hope that you enjoy these blogs and pass them onto others who may serve as guides in a world where education is the job of parents and those similarly motivated, rather than those who are certified by the state.

God bless.


Looking at Carlo Vigano’s Speech (2020) “How the Revolution of Vatican II Serves the New World Order” (Part 1 of 14)

0001 The presentation under consideration appears in a book, titled A Voice In the Wilderness: Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano On the Church, America, and the World, edited by Brian M. McCall and published in 2021 by Angelico Press, in Brooklyn NY.  The article is located at the end of Part II on pages 251 through 274.  It is a transcript of a speech given to the Catholic Identity Conference on October 24, 2020.  A video can be found on Remnant TV.

0002 The presentation is of interest as a follow-up to the June 2022 blog, Looking at Peter Redpath’s Essay (2000) “The Homeschool Renaissance”.   It complements the professional path taken by Dr. Redpath, who now promotes online courses, teaching “uncommon” common sense.

0003 Indeed, Vigano’s talk can only be described as “uncommon”, in the same way that Redpath’s essay, published 20 years earlier, is uncommon.  Plus, Vigano’s talk expresses common sense in the same way that Redpath’s essay does.

0004 Here is the difficulty.

How does one portray a turn of events that makes no sense?

0005 Redpath portrays the history of Italian humanists, who jettison logic at the very start of their movement, and who end up subjugated to the deterministic (and incomplete) logic of empirio-schematics.

Perhaps, the European humanists did not see it coming.

A little mathematical and mechanical logic can overthrow no logic at all.

0006 Vigano fixes on the political stagehands behind the theatrics of Vatican II, who embed themselves in the matrix of positional authority in the traditional Church as the drama of the Novus Ordo unfolds into a lurid parody of historic Catholicism.

Perhaps, the participants of the Council of Vatican II did not see it coming.

A little political intrigue can overthrow the realm.

0007 No, it does not make sense.

0008 How can one make something that does not make sense make sense? 

Obviously, the word, “sense”, has two implications.  The first implication is that it is sensible.  The second implication is that it impacts our five senses.  That is, it is sensical.  Sensible is not the same as sensical.

Something that does not make sense is not sensible.

Something that one cannot see, hear, taste, smell and touch is not sensical.

0009 Here is the trick.

Through diagrams of triadic relations, something that is not sensible may become sensical.

0009 So, my examination transforms into a question, asking, “How can I associate features of Vigano’s argument to empty slots in purely relational triadic structures, such as the category-based nested form?”

That is my task.

0010 The following blogs rely on the three works listed below.  Each displays the synthetic process of association and implication.  Once I associate features of Vigano’s speech to elements in a category-based nested form, I consider the implications.

0011 The three works are available at smashwords and other e-book venues.  Search for the author, Razie Mah, along with the title.

A Primer on the Category-Based Nested Form

A Primer on Sensible and Social Construction

How to Define the Word “Religion”

0012 Vigano’s presentation breaks into eleven sections.  Each is covered by a blog.  Then, a conclusion suggests other applications of Charles Peirce’s synthetic logic.


Looking at Carlo Vigano’s Speech (2021) “How the Revolution of Vatican II Serves the New World Order” (Part 14 of 14)

0092 The analogy in the previous blog brings me back, full circle, to the so-called spirit of Vatican II, as well as the title of Vigano’s speech.

Mercy is not the same as mercenary.  The Catholic elites of the time before Vatican II wanted to be accepted by their secular superiors, Big Government (il)Liberals. They wanted to be acknowledged by those-in-the-know so badly that they promulgated a new theology to mask a cruel exploitation.  That new theology alchemically dissolved and coagulated the sacraments into the open religion demanded by the wealthy and well-positioned purveyors of “the human brotherhood” and “the open society”.

This examination reveals that the Catholic elites, operating on the society tier, recapitulate the exploitation practiced by the financial elites in the organization tier.

0093 Students of political theology take note.

The alchemist says, “As above, so below.”

0094 Does the societal alchemic transmutation of the body of Christ2V into the human brotherhood2H and the kingdom of God2V into the open society2H have a parallel below, where well-funded organizations transmute our bodies as primal matter2V into products for sale2H and the labor of caring for human health2V into product-driven social arrangements2H?

0095 Intersections can be mysterious.

Intersections can also be cruel.

0096 Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano on the Church, America and the World is the subtitle for A Voice in The Wilderness,published by Angelico Press in 2021.  The presentation under examination appears on pages 251-274.  The speech is worth reading.

0097 How To Define the Word “Religion” is a masterwork by Razie Mah concerning political theology, one of the most disconcerting intellectual challenges of our current Lebenswelt.  This e-work is available at smashwords and other electronic book vendors.

0098 Plus, there is more.

Other electronic articles for sale may be found in the Intimations of Political Philosophy Series.

0099 In addition, recent blogs include the following.

Looking at Peter Redpath’s Essay (2000) “The Homeschool Renaissance”, raziemah blog, June 2022

Looking at Thomas Michaud’s Article (2021) “Anatomy of the Progressive Revolution”, raziemah blog, May 2022

Looking at Josh Hammer’s Opinion Piece (2021) “…Experts”, raziemah blog, July 2021

Comments on Philip Marey’s Post (2021) “Insurrection”, raziemah blog, Jan 2021

Comments on Yoram Hazony’s Post (2020) “Challenges of Marxism”, raziemah blog, September 2020

Theology of the Deep State, raziemah blog, May 2020