LS Re: Soc. and Int. values

Magnus Berg (
Thu, 6 Aug 1998 18:27:14 +0100

Hi Donny and Squad

You wrote:
> I'll say again that I don't think fish (or ants, or bees, or
> wolves) can be said to have social patterns -- except perhaps in some
> metaphorical or basically poetic sense. (I'm not totaly opposed to the
> "fuzzyness" idea here, but I think "metaphorical" is more to my taste.
> Our
> language -- and thus out thinking -- is basically metaphorical. Poetic
> first and only literal prosaic by way of regulated social enforcement.)

I agree that language and thus our thinking is basically metaphorical. I
also think that the MoQ has an explanation as to why this is the case.

> I've expressed my opinion on this before, and, I fear, am still
> haveing trouble making myself clear. Something is a *society* when it
> takes on a life of its own -- a life dependent upon its individual
> constituents, for it *embodies* itself in them, but still a life that is
> seperate from them -- a group life... a "Giant." Is it not clear that
> New
> York City has a life of its own in a way that a school of fish most
> certainly does not?

Not a school of fish, *a* fish. I think the fish is a society of organs
in exactly the same way as NY is a society of organs.

Pirsig writes in Lila ch. 11
"... collective organizations of cells into metazoan societies called
plants and animals."

> At the bilogical level, organisms do things in order to pass on
> their genetic material and contine w/ the species -- that is what's of
> biological value, and everything that pursues that end is a bilogical
> value patern. That includes the schooling of fish, the formation of wolf
> packs... all of their behavior is conditioned this way. (And in humans,
> where we are helpless for our first 10-15 years of life, the formation
> of
> family units is -- yes -- a biological value.)

I think you and most of the Squad are way too concentrated on what is
usually called life, plants, animals and humans and try to make
metaphysical distinctions between different species. It's beginning
to sound like the bible where God gave free will to the human race
to rule the rest of earth.

> But socities are marked by rituals and institutions. That's how
> you can spot them. The purpose of a ritual is to make sure that things
> go
> on the way they are indefinatly; as James Burke put it, "we
> institutionalize a way of doing something to make sure it doesn't change
> even when we do." In other words, even when the individual constituent
> organisms of "the Giant" die and are replaced by a new generation, the
> Giant goes on living.

Just as the cells of a fish are replaced when they die. It's still the
same fish.

> "The American Way" is a complex of patterns that
> goes on and on even as its constituents come and go. And, what's more,
> we
> are prepared to fight, kill, and die in order to preserve our way of
> life
> -- the life of our Giant. The life of our Giant actually takes *moral
> presadence* over my own procreation, passing on genetic material to
> offspring, even (in countless minds) over the continuence of the race
> (how
> else would you explain the Cold War?).

And the life of the fish takes precedence over its organs too. The fish
might lose a tooth or two struggling for food.

The situation of the cold war is a little more complicated since we are
both biological parts of a society and intelligent societies ourselves.

> Do schools of fish have such a supra-individual lives? Such an
> idiological complex marked out by rituals, institutions, group
> identification, and patriotism? Don't you have to make a pretty big leap
> to say that?

As I said, it was only one fish, but I would definitely call a school of
fish a society too. It's a very dynamic society with practically no
static patterns at all but nonetheless. The very fact that we talk
about a *school* of fish instead of pointing at every member of it is
an indication.

> Magnus goes on:
> Intellectual:
> Yes, there's some of those too in a fish. A society needs
> a language with which different organs communicate. A fish
> has some kind of brain-like nerve center where signals from
> the sensory organs are dispatched and perhaps are made to
> contract a muscle somewhere. The intellectual patterns are
> carried by inorganic patterns, electrons. They are dependent
> on social patterns, because it is the social pattern that
> constructed the set of signals, or language, that is used.
> _______________________________________
> I'm definetly in w/ Diana and several others here. Nerological activity
> is not Intelectual value patterns. Int.poVs is not to be seen as
> refering
> to just "thinking" or "mind" or "consciousness" or "subject-object
> consciousness." Nerological activity is most certainly a biological
> pattern primarily -- it's good for survival. And it is well w/in the
> animal kingdom that we find "S-O thinking." I got that term from Hegel
> who uses it simply to mean the recognition of I-This, me-the outside
> world. My cat can chase a ball, knowing that the ball is something "out
> there." Acording to Bodvar this simple recognition suddenly rates as
> Intelectual activity. Come on! She chases the ball because that kind of
> play is good for practicing the hunt... and, trust me, most of the time
> she isn't very clear on the fact that this ball is a non-living thing
> animated only by momentum and gravity. Anybody w/ cats knows how they
> attack shoe laces, etc.

I don't think there's any metaphysical difference between neurological
activity and the audio waves exchanged when two people talk. The point
is that both carry meaning, not just form. The meaning, or semantics,
of any of those signals is defined by the language used in the society
where the signals where used.

> inorg = minerals
> Org = plants, animals, man (homo-sapian)
> Soc = The united States, The Brittish Empire...
> Int = Kantian formalism, the MoQ, QM, nucler biology, Cartisan Dualism,
> Fermat's therum...
> So, who has a problem w/ that?

I have. I think there are very few things, or words in the vocabulary,
that exclusively maps to one level only. Actually, I think most, if not
all, things are a fuzzy mix of all levels. I'm not supporting fuzziness
here, I'm pointing out the difficulties with the thing division.

I think I'll prepare a series of posts pointing out all levels as I
did with the fish. But each example will be with a thing that is
mostly considered to be of a certain level. Any suggestions for
typical level-things?


"I'm so full of what is right, I can't see what is good"
                                N. Peart - Rush

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