LS Re: Soc. and Intellectual values
Sun, 23 Aug 1998 03:57:46 +0100

Platt and squad

Platt Holden wrote:
> 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.)

Awareness, yes, but biological awareness doesn't necessarily mean
awareness of the self as distinct from everything else.

> 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.

I don't see how Jonathan can have unique insight unless he is merely a
cell himself;-) We can't ever know, it's just speculation. However Donny
also can't prove that animals _are_ self-aware, so we end up in a
stalemate. I think my example of digesting food at least casts enough
doubt on biological self awareness to leave the question open.

> > 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.

> 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.

Yes all truth is just the way humans see things. That's what I was
trying to point out. As we're currently discussing separateness I
singled that out. But, yes, it applies to everything.

> 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?

We can say that they're good. That's all. The MoQ says that everything
is either good or better. Realness doesn't come into it.


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