March 28, 2022
- Darcia Narvaez, who holds a Ph.D. in psychology from the University of Minnesota, is a prolific public intellectual who uses many tools of multimedia communication to do research and to address needs of everyday people. Her work enhances and taps deeply rooted wisdom about human nature so that it can be applied in everday tasks, such as parenting.
- She is a Professor of Psychology Emerita at the University of Notre Dame. Links to much of her work can be found at her personal website, as well as her Notre Dame faculty site.
- A capstone of Prof. Narvaez’s interdisciplinary scholarship is her 2014 book, Neurobiology and the Development of Human Morality: Evolution, Culture, and Wisdom. See her summary of the book.
- She received the Expanded Reason Award, a distinctive salute to innovative research in the spirit of Pope Benedict XVI, in 2017. The honor is bestowed by the Benedict XVI Vatican Foundation.
- In recent years, she has invested much research in a source of useful insights for families drawn from the concept of a nest for children that humans have inherited from their ancestors. Learn more about this work at org and evolvednest.org.
- Also see her blogs, including one she writes for Psychology Today.
Paul and Bill have interviewed Darcia Narvaez previously in episodes 55-56 and 96.
April 22, 2019
Today we present the second half of the interview with Darcia Narvaez, social scientist at Notre Dame and a specialist in childhood inculturation, attachment, and bonding issues.
We start out this half of the interview with a discussion of what Karl Polyani called the "great transformation" of European society, involving the breakdown of the pre-modern order and its safeguards for a stable population by means of understandings about community use of land, perhaps resulting in the popularity of emigration to the New World by dispirited, dispossessed, and to some extent dangerous people.
Several times Darcia disparages "hierarchy," understood in its general sense of social stratification, which she or other who have influenced her theorize to have caused huge social catastrophes, including the corruption of the Christian Church by its integration into the late Roman state and the collapse of populations and cultures in the New World on contact with the colonizers from Europe. Late in the podcast I ask her explicitly whether there is any benefit to civilization... let us know in the comments on Facebook or Podbean what you think about the answer!
Darcia's claim is that humans are by nature more egalitarian than other animals. This goes right down to childrearing, where human children, born so completely needy, have an innate expectation that their requests for assistance will be met. She comments that there is a Native American word, "wetiko," that was used to describe an attitude thought of as akin to a sickness that characterized those who acted in an aggressive and exploitative way toward others. Whether or not premodern peoples were all more free of this, it's certainly a common feature of civilized peoples. The Old and New Testaments certainly testify to this, and the need to confront it with compassion and an egalitarian attitude. We discussed the specific example of the disease of the large organization, society, business, or government, in which those at the top are simply disconnected, both intellectually and morally, from those at the bottom.
We mentioned subsidiarity, and might have mentioned clericalism... the social science of these concepts will hopefully be fodder for future podcasts.
April 15, 2019
Find Darcia's writings and resources across the internet:
Resource Page at Psychology Today
Topics we discussed in this podcast:
The human need for socialization from the very beginning, and ways that goes awry in contemporary society.
Things we can do to learn some of these lessons later in life:
- Self-calming via breathing, meditation, prayer. (Does our contemporary culture of outrage stem from a lack of the ability to calm ourselves that we are meant to learn starting in infancy?)
- Build a social network. We were meant to have interaction with an extended family that spans all age ranges for proper socialization. It's not too late to play with children, talk to the elderly, interact with people at other stages of life.
- Learn new languages and interact with people in different cultures. What are their reasons for doing the things that they do?
- Spend time with nature.
- Practice going outside yourself, defusing rigid thinking and attachment to "it has to be done this way." Intelligence is a measure of flexibility as much as anything.
Bill asked about social media and our tendency to seek out those who already agree with us. Darcia noted that we need guidance on how to socialize. Up through age 30 or so, it's natural for human beings to get that kind of guidance from others. Unfortunately we get that guidance through TV and video games now.
As usual, this was the first half of our interview. More discussion and more questions than we could possibly answer next time!