LS the four levels
Sun, 9 Aug 1998 07:14:32 +0100


Some time ago I tried to argue that to distinguish between the levels we
should consider the motive of an event. In a school of fish the social
bonding is useful biologically, it benefits the biological value of the
fish. The social pattern of New York, on the other hand doesn't benefit
anything but itself. In fact it sometimes even works against the bodies.
        This is why the levels seem fuzzy. There's a parent-child
relationship. Each one is a child of the last one and initially helps
and supports its parent. But later the child becomes independent and may
even turn against its parent.
        Just as you can't say precisely when a baby becomes discrete
from its mother you can't say precisely when the social level became
discrete from the biological level. However to turn round and say that
it therefore *isn't* discrete is wrong as well. The transition may be
fuzzy but the outcome is clear. There is some socialisation in the
animal kingdom, but that is just the awakening of the giant. The real
social value lies in human culture where social patterns exist for no
reason other than to propagate themselves.

> Historically, S-O thinking began (as Donny correctly describes the
> beginnings of the Q-Intellect) around the 6th century when a tribesman
> turned to his companion and said, "I'm somebody."

I wasn't around at the time, but I would put the beginning of
intellectual value a lot further back than that -- right back to when
the first tribesman rubbed two sticks together and made fire, or
whatever the first attempt to create a cause and effect relationship
was. To believe you can create cause and effect is to believe in logic
-- IF I rub sticks THEN fire will occur. (Unlike Donny's cat which
hasn't got a clue why it chases balls.) Later that pattern would have
been transmitted socially from one generation to the next, but there
must have been one bright spark (sorry) who figured it out initially.
        As for subjects and objects, without S-O mentality, things just
happen. "I" can't make things happen because "I" doesn't exist.
        Of course it wasn't until this century that S-O thinking got to
be more important than social value, but still the roots have been
around for a very long time.

> 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?


According to the explanations of social value given by Pirsig it would
be impossible to built robots that can function socially like humans.
Such robots would have to understand and respond Dynamically to values
such as charisma, fashion, celebrity, ego, shame, humor. That is what
the social level of the MoQ is about and that is what AI has yet to

Theo & Jonathan

I share your concerns about "what's good is freedom from domination by
_any_ static pattern". But chap 24 is not the end of the story. Pirsig
deals with the problem in chap 30 and he does make a distinction between
goodness and change. It's not very clear, granted. But it's in there.


homepage -
unsubscribe/queries -

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.0b3 on Thu May 13 1999 - 16:43:37 CEST