Re: virus: maxims and ground rules and suppositions

Joe E. Dees (joedees@bellsouth.net)
Mon, 17 May 1999 14:46:19 -0500

From:           	"psypher" <overload@fastmail.ca>
Subject:        	Re: virus: maxims and ground rules and suppositions
To:             	virus@lucifer.com
Date sent:      	Mon, 17 May 1999 14:58:25 -0400 (EDT)
Send reply to:  	virus@lucifer.com

>
> > No, no, a thousand times no. Evolution _in no way_ implies a
> > direction. This is a common fallacy fostered within the ones doing
> > the implying.... (Uh, yes, often mystics....) (See Gould for the
> > fully-fleshed exposť of this fallacy.)
>
> ...which book?
>
> > There are local effects upon the universe brought into being by
> > consciousness, i.e. this post you're reading, but to claim that
> > consciousness is a requirement of any naturally developmental
> process
> > is, well, a conjecture without factual basis, at best.
>
> ...here you make a common assumption about the nature of the universe
> which arises directly from the biases inherent in science from Newton
> and on through logical positivism. There are no local effects, all
> effects are global.
> ...this error is akin to the discussion of pharmaceutical "side
> effects". We identify a particular effect [or event stream] as primary
> and all other effects become secondary, teriary, etc.
>
> ...look at the example you cite of a local effect - the post to which
> this reply is adressed. The proximal cause of the post in your scheme
> is your person, sitting at a computer and constructing a synthesis of
> ideas and concepts, the proximal effect is a series of symbols on
> your screen. But you've done more than that - much more - you set in
> motion a set of biochemical cycles and responses which affectet your
> incarnate form. By this process you altered the arrangement of
> subatomic forces into meaningful configurations doubly encoded - into
> a symbol of machine technics and a semiotic lingual system. Further
> actions spread your ideation to the screens of [X] people [where X is
> the number of virians paying attention]. This arrengement of symbol -
> which process subsumed the intentional reconfiguration of reality at
> levels from the quantum to the biochemical to the mechanical,
> technological, and societal and, in a larger sense ecological [taking
> into account the construction of the computer and related
> infrastructure as a contribution to the process].
> ...This iterates itself through my process of response to you and any
> attendant commentaries by interested virians. To the extent that this
> discourse is of interest to the participants it encourages the
> elaboration of the communications networks on which it depends. This
> is an intricate process which reconfigures the planet daily as we
> devote resources and brainpower to expand infrastructure. Our actions
> in corporate have effects on the environment in which we dwell - both
> physical and symbolic effects. This changes the environment in which
> we and others must manouver, which alters tha balance of
> characteristics necessary to flourish in the environment.
>
This is the Magickal Mystickal The Universe-Is-A-Fishbasket-And- Everything-Affects-Everything-Else Meme, strained through a Baudrillardian postmodernist collander, and I have two objections to it.

First, we must realize that the human species plays, by means of our dynamically recursively emergent self-consciousness- effectuated mastery of language and technology, a unique coevolutionary role in our biosphere. We affect our environment quantum levels more than any species that ever was, and perhaps more than all of them put together (we certainly have the ability to end practically all life here, and, to quote Paul Muad-Dib, "Those who can destroy a thing control a thing"). We are the exception, not the rule, in this regard; no other species on the planet is capable of grander, more beautiful or more horrible things. And yet we are the latest bloomer (or one of the latest) in the field of evolutionary emergence; other species are, compared to us, both memetically and semiotically impoverished, have next to no capacity to mediate either matter (technology) or meaning (language), and have very little in the way of cooperative endeaver outside the narrow circumscriptions of instinct. We most manifestly do, for better or for worse, all of these things, on a number of levels far surpassing the possibilities of nonselfaware species (BTW, it is a category error to label all of our cultural byproducts, from plastics to caustic soda to plutonium, as natural as the gas produced by cow farts). It has NOT ever been thus. Although environment and its ecological constituents have coevolved from time immemorial (see the Gaia Hypothesis), no single one of them has had even a fraction of the effect we have had upon the rest. This is as a RESULT of our self-consciousness and the qualities which it permits to emerge; we are evolution's accidental child, NOT its progenitors (only a sterile and solipsistic idealism could maintain otherwise).

Second, even given the huge effect we have locally (on this planet), it is an egregious overinflation to jump from that to the contention that everything must affect all else in a significant fashion. Whether or not I go to the bathroom in the next fifteen minutes or wait an hour, or whether I die of a heart attack in 15 minutes, is not going to make a significant difference in the rate of dustfall on the surface of Alpha Centauri (and I'm being generous here by picking a very close star, cosmically speaking), nor is the rate of that dustfall likely to decide which of the three above alternatives will solidify into my future path. In the universal nonscheme of things, we as a species are a collection of smart but tiny and impotent cold chunks of complex stardust with megalomaniacal and messianically egocentric senses of selfimportance all out of kilter with our actual ability to decide in which direction the Andromeda Galaxy twirls. The best thing we can do for the universe is to behold, understand and revel in it; our enhanced perceptions may plumb the micros and the cosmos, but our ability to cosmically act is miniscule indeed, and the majoe effect that most of the universe may have on us is to instill a sense of awe and wonder.
>
> ...nothing happens in isolation from anything else. The idea that it
> does is a construct that facilitates the play of a particular, very
> complex game.
>
> -psypher
>
> >
> > I would argue that there is no implication to evolution at all. And
> > it's damn time we stopped trying to work up any. There it is. It is
> a
> > fact, and as such, the ground under our maximal quest.
> >
> > - Wade, who knows nothing about set theory either.
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