LS Re: Soc. and Intellectual values

Platt Holden (
Sun, 23 Aug 1998 03:28:48 +0100

Hi Diana and LS:

Diana wrote:
> We may be splitting hairs here but just because something behaves as if
> it is separate from other things (a cell for example) it doesn't mean
> that it knows it's separate. If we say that it implies that
> "separateness" is the Truth -- ie something out there for the animals to
> discover. But it isn't, it's just the way humans see things.

Since Pirsig equates Quality with experience/awareness, it
seems we must ascribe 'knowing' of some sort to animals, and
perhaps even to atoms, whether we want to or not. (I'm using
'knowing' here as a synonym for awareness.)

Of course, the lower you go on the evolutionary scale the
dimmer the awareness, starting at the bottom with prehension
and gradually moving up step by halting step over the millennia
to irritability, sensation, perception, impulse, emotion, symbol,
concept and finally logic. (This progression attributed to Ken
Wilber.) But I'll leave it to Jonathan, our resident biologist, to
have the final word on if a cell 'knows' separateness or
anything else.

Be that as it may, I have a problem with your assertion that
separateness is not the truth and that it's just the way humans
see things. Isn't ALL truth just the way humans see things? I
don't think I ever met a truth that wasn't 'painted' by a human
somewhere, sometime.

As for separateness, those who say reality is an inseparable
continuum fall headlong into self-contradiction. The thought and
the language used to make that assertion depend on
separation. Are we to say that symbolism, analysis, coherence
and yes, metaphysics -- all of which are separation dependent -
- are unreal?




> > Biological (Darwinian) values, but evolved into something else.
> Biological entities have an instinct to preserve themselves. But, as I
> said above, that doesn't prove that they have any awareness of what they
> are doing. Biological life just happens. Animals that have an instinct
> for self-preservation may survive better in a Darwinian sense, but then
> that instinct is a biological pattern. If animals are aware of
> themselves and make a decision to protect themselves then they must also
> be capable of making a decision not to protect themselves.
> Do we really have to look at animals to understand biological value
> anyway? Humans are biological too. Consider breathing. You could see
> that as subject-object if you want -- me (subject) breathes (verb) air
> (object). In order to breathe I have to coordinate various cells and
> organs in such a way that they will perform this specific function on
> the object. In order to digest food I have to do the same thing and make
> decisions about what will be used and what won't and how the nutrients
> and energy will be allocated in my body. But actually there is no "I" in
> these functions at all. They just happen. I would argue that a cat
> chasing a ball is no different from breathing, digesting, or any other
> unconscious biological action.
> It's a good question though.
> Diana
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