LS Re: Soc. and Intellectual values

Jonathan B. Marder (
Mon, 24 Aug 1998 13:57:49 +0100

Hi Diana, Squad,

>> I definitely do NOT have a unique insight. The whole concept of "life
>> force" implies that living organisms have a will to survive. That in
>> turn implies a concept of SELF as the survivor. ...

>The only thing that life implies is that there is experience of
Diana, isn't "experience of aliveness" just another way of stating
self-awareness? We could probably argue for hours about the exact shades
of meaning of the words, but ultimately, whether the response patterns
which make a cell "alive" constitute self-awareness or not is a matter
of definition.

>Just because something moves in a particular direction it
>doesn't imply that it is being willed to do that. The wind blows,
>flow towards the sea, nothing is willing them to do so.
Diana, you've opened a Pandora's box here. The "spirits" which cause
everything to happen arealmost ubiquitous in ancient cultures. CAUSALITY
as a concept is completely central to Science as it developed over the
last centuries. Everything that happens does so because of a tendency,
potential or motive force. Whether that force is a "will" within
(spirits), or a force from without (mechanics) or an interaction (field
theory) depends on how we choose to analyse the situation. Einstein is
one of the most obvious modern proponents of causality: "God doesn't
play dice..." is what he said - meaning that everything has a cause. In
quantum mechanics, causality has been replaced by statistical tendency;
X is likely to happen because ... it is likely to happen. Bohr's problem
(as described in Pirsig's Brussels lecture) was that he could
mathematically DESCRIBE the tendencies, but couldn't really EXPLAIN them
because that demanded (by convention) a mechanistic explanation.

>In biological
>entities there is consciousness of happenings but that doesn't prove
>that anything is being willed to happen either. If an animal has the
>ability to will itself to survive then it must also have the ablility
>will itself _not_ to survive. If it doesn't then suvival isn't a
>The assumption that there is a will is the same as the assumption that
>there is a subject. But the whole point of the Quality theory is that
>the intellectual interpretation of events as subject vs object is just
>one possible way to see the world. What I am trying to argue is that in
>animals, and in human digestive functions, that intellectualization
>never happens.

I think that's a red herring. Intellectuallization is a viewpoint or
interpretation. Remember all the confusion about use of the terms
"intelligence" and "sentience"? When a biologists talks about cellular
behaviour, he may well say "the cell thinks that ...", but this
shouldn't be confused with attributing human-like intellect. It's just a
way of describing things. The only time cellular intellect may become
important is when you are engaged in a dialogue with a cell :-)))))).

>>However, once we
>>attach some value to life itself, then definition of this value
>>a recognition of a cellular entity as a distinct pattern, SELF or
>Maybe the problem is that your definition of life refers only to the
>mechanistic functions. Magnus says in his essay "all it took was to
>shit and reproduce" to fake life. But this isn't right. He's missing
>key ingredient and that is experience. There must also be tasting of
>food. It's not enough just to mechanically eat.

The experience is the eVALUation. Life is a value, taste is a value.

>Obviously in order to study lifeforms you need to see them as distinct
>patterns, and you wouldn't get very far as a biologist if you couldn't
>tell them apart;), but that doesn't prove that you have to make such
>distinctions in order to BE a lifeform.

Actually Diana, modern biology is becoming completely molecular. The
"molecular biologist" is a chemist. The distinction between life and
non-life is hardly needed.

>> What it comes down to is that the only SELF awareness I know for
>> certain is my own. ... Isn't that Descartes' starting point?
>Yes but as other humans generally behave in ways that suggest they are
>experiencing the same thing as we are, we assume that they are
>aware. It's not provable but it's reasonable. Animals and plants,
>however, behave differently, consequently it's not reasonable to assume
>that their experience is the same as ours.

Thus when we cannot really tell whether they have a will, potential,
tendency or spirit to stay alive. As Pirsig would have it, there is a
MORALITY to them staying alive. All the other terms are synonymous.

Jonathan (alias, THE CELL)

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