LS Re: 4 levels and 3 interfaces

Magnus Berg (
Tue, 4 Aug 1998 05:40:42 +0100

Hi Jonathan and Squad

You wrote:
> While I agree with the road Pirsig has chosen, I think his first steps
> along it have been faltering. Complexity theory (levels of
> organisation)
> is a good choice, but I don't see any special insight that Pirsig has
> revealed. Perhaps this will come out of discussion on the LS.
Jonathan, the four levels have nothing whatsoever to do with
complexity theory. If you reduce them to that, they lose all of their
explanatory power. If the four levels were organized like that, then
the taste of chocolate would be nothing more than a certain mix of
chemicals. Complexity theory reflects the dependency of the levels,
not the value.

The four levels are not like four levels of Donkey Kong where you
can forget about a level as soon as you get past it. Nor is it some
Egyptian pyramid whose height reflects the level in which it should
be placed.

It's a four dimensional space where reality extends. The first level
extends to the right. When the line is far enough, the second level
can build upward on that line. When that rectangle is big enough, the
third level starts building a cube. And when that cube is big enough,
the fourth level starts on the next dimension.

How things in this super cube is built doesn't matter. DQ has been at
work since the beginning of time, and then some. I'd bet that it is
humankind's ability to build things in this four dimensional space that
is the source of her enormous success.

> I wish I had seen this earlier. Is "chaos" another level? Does it have
> any patterns of value (surely not!)? What is it doing here? (I also
> noticed that in discussing static vs. Dynamic, Pirsig usually
> capitalises the *D* of Dynamic but not the *s* of static).
Chaos is not a level. It is a name for the absence of patterns.
The inorganic level fights it in the same way as the
biological level fights the absence of biological patterns.
In the super cube, chaos is a point that doesn't extend in
any dimension.

> I think virtually everybody has a clear idea of the distinction
> between
> inorganic vs. biological (living vs. non-living).
You have huh? Let's see, imagine a small society, say a spaceship on
an interstellar voyage to a nearby star. The trip will take several
decades and every crew member have a specific job during that time.
Suddenly, one of them dies, but the brilliant crew is able to build
a replacement robot that does the job of the dead crew member so that
the society can survive. One by one, the human crew members die but
all are replaced by robots. When the last human dies, the robot
crew replaces her also and carries on.

Now, what is this? Is it still a society? Is it not? If it's not,
when did it cease to be a society? If it is a society, where are the
biological building blocks? Or is a society not dependent on
biological building blocks?

> Aristotle also noticed
> it. Yet, it's very hard to define the difference. Aristotle didn't
> know
> about viruses and prions. How would he have regarded them? It's like
> trying to delineate between desert and forest. Everyone knows the
> difference, but there's no clear boundary between them (1-0 for
> fuzziness).
Fuzziness is not a solution, it's an excuse for a bad design.
Pirsig calls it platypus.

> Darwinian evolution is all about quality of ORGANisation (10
> out of 10 for that one Bo) within the biological level, but scientists
> interested in the origin of life use similar principals of molecular
> evolution (in the inorganic level). There is no credible theory of
> sudden "creation" of life - rather all theories are based on EVOLUTION
> -
> gradual change from inorganic to biological (2-0 for fuzziness).
Here, the bad design that craves fuzziness is to equal biological
patterns with life.

> (final score 4-1 for fuzziness).
Now, that was a biased referee if I ever saw one. :)


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