LS Re: (Fwd) Relationship between intellect and society

Bodvar Skutvik (
Sat, 22 Aug 1998 03:19:38 +0100

Mon, 17 Aug 1998 11:12:23 +0300
Jonathan B. Marder wrote:

> [snip]
> I think this is mystification of something quite simple. Sure it can
> take a long time to take notice an unexpected sensation - sometimes even
> minutes. But response to an expected stimulus is much faster (under half
> a second). Otherwise you wouldn't be able to adjust the grip pressure
> when you pick something up.
> So there is primary sensation, and subsequent reaction which are quite
> different.

Hi Jonathan and Squad!
My .5 sec from the big toe was way off, more like 0.05 sec and
enough to adjust grip pressure (balance etc), but this does not go
by way of neocortex.The disturbing part was that when Libet touched
the spot on the (exposed) brain that corresponds to the right hand
f,ex. the person did not sense the touch until half a second later,
while an actual touch on the hand was felt as immediate. He went to
much more elaborate means to prove the 'subjective' trickery of
transferring the stimulus backwards in time (The Experimental
Evidence for Subjective Referral of a Sensory Experience Backwards in
Time". "BRAIN" no. 102 1979).

It was not only this aspect of Libet's that raised a stir in
philosophical and scientific circles (involved were John Eccles, Karl
Popper, Patricia Churchland, Daniel Dennett, Roger Penrose) the most
shocking was the finding of a similar 'evoked response' BEFORE a
voluntarily act was DECIDED upon (again the notorious half a second).
However spontaneous the subjects tried to be the ER preceded their
decisions. The principle of free will was debated among other things.

You went on:
> I've yet to see an explanation either from Pirsig or anyone else on how
> the intellect came from SoPoV!
> Sure, intellectual discplines have social components, but thought
> itself?

I will try to answer the Intellect from Society question, but must
start with the "thought itself" remark. What is 'thought itself'
exactly? Along with "ability to think", "mental activity" it is a
SOM platypi of great size, but not to be difficult I guess you mean
self-consciousness or awareness. As has been repeated many times Q-
Intellect is not SOM's "conscious of objective reality", but
merely awareness of self as an entity of higher value than other
(society). I use the 'mere' to indicate that it is a Static Value
level, a stage that may well become surpassed (Platt Holden once
suggested the MOQ itself as the first stirring of a new moral

Once the notion of IntPoV as 'thought itself' is dropped one can
see that in pre-historic time our ancestors spoke; they "thought";
they painted great "frescos", but their language their thoughts and
their art were tied to the common tribal (social) mythology: how they
came to be, how thunder and lightning, the heavenly bodies and each
and every natural phenomenon (of course, they knew nothing of
'natural phenomenons' that's Intellect!) portended for their tribal
fate. There was no reality outside the myth. Intellect at that
stage was totally in the service of society (see Donald Palmgren's
message of 20 Aug).

But over the tens of thousand of years Intellect's power of
abstraction grew and finally it reached such proportions that it
broke free from its mythical (social) clutches, the first Greek
philosophers started to search for THE TRUTH - independent of myth.
Phaedrus of ZMM identifies this with the birth of Subject-Object
Metaphysics, but IMO it is as much the birth of Intellect...... AS A

This is Pirsig's "intellect from society". But society's sway was not
over, it continued - got a comeback in form of the Middle Age when
the religious myth dominated the scene, but Intellect re-emerged in
Renaissance and Enlightenment ...and now it is so entrenched that
even Jonathan has a hard time imagine what it was like before ;-).

You ended thus:

> Intellect designs, society ritualizes!

When birds learn to open milk bottles and a monkey colony finds
a way to rinse food and it becomes standard procedure, it is
NOT intellect in the Q-sense that have designed the ritual? In my
opinion it is biological ability to react to changes in environment
plus social interaction.

> The seed of intellect isn't society. Society is the soil.

It's the static sequence (each level the "seed" (or the base) of
the next) that makes the MOQ special, if "intellect" is seen as an
outgrowth of Biology and Society as a result of it, why bother?
The "thought itself" ghost has haunted us since the beginning of the
squad and it's hard to exorcize.

Your turn.

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