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Rational Evolution

By DranoK 420 in Culture
Tue Aug 28, 2001 at 10:20:15 AM EST
Tags: Freedom (all tags)

     It's no use, you realize; what you want is impossible.

           --I don't even know what I want.

     Of course you don't; that's the problem.

     Sometimes I wonder why I have these conversations with myself. Usually I dismiss the confrontational voice as simply the only essence capable of carrying on a worth-while conversation with. There are times when this voice makes me shudder, however -- the voice is capable of admitting far darker insights than my conscious being would allow. There are some questions simply too painful to ponder at times.

     How long have I been a slave?

           --Don't be so selfish

     How long have we been slaves?

     Disgruntled, my fingers type in routine search patterns into a pathetic regex index engine masquerading as a 'search.' I find what I'm looking for: the complete text to the DMCA. I have it now. Nervously, I attempt to prove that other voice wrong:

           grep -ic control dmca: 39
           grep -ic protect dmca: 116
           grep -ic freedom dmca: 0
           grep -ic liberty dmca: 0

      No freedom. No liberty.

            --It's inevitable.

     The founders of this Nation understood the necessity of freedom.

           --Did they? Freedom to acquire independent capital is not freedom.

     How disgustingly honest my voice can be. He's not always this depressed -- sometimes he can't stop babbling in ecstasy-yearning caffeine-burning rages. I don't think he got his medication today. He urges me to examine the Children's Online Protection Act (copa):

           grep -ic control copa: 6
           grep -ic protect copa: 19
           grep -ic freedom copa: 0
           grep -ic liberty copa: 0

           --It's all about control.

     Of course it is. What did you expect?

          --I dunno; hope.
      You don't even know what you want to hope for.

     It stretches back a long way, doesn't it? Back to the beginnings of rationality. Back to evolutionary simplicity and the unforeseen advent of primate intelligence. A species who did not simply run from the burning forests, but wondered why the forest burned. A species not content with frivolous survival. A species intent on understanding.

     An impossible feat, to be sure. Primal man, attempting to understand the world around him, with out the science or technology to view a full picture.

           --And I suppose you understand the world now, right?

     If man cannot understand the world, maybe man can understand man.

           --Or he can pretend to understand.

     Gods were created to explain the unexplainable; deities and monsters and laws. Moral codes ethics science mathematics. Man could not understand the world so he created a new world he could. From the first perception, the first opinion, the first reflection the modern world began to be constructed. An illusionary tower of Babel reaching for the clouds of perfection through knowledge and understanding. Valhalla.

     Religions created, laws passed, morals laid. Give purpose to life -- give meaning to life; give order to life.

           --Order == control

     What are we left with? The reflections of reality? The abstractions of truth? The misconception that such a pathetic notion of truth can exist? And what if someone doesn't understand our own pitiful meanings of life? What if someone doesn't see our reflection of reality as we do?

           --Crimes against nature

                --Crimes against humanity

     So logical is our quest for understanding. So noble. So reminiscent of moths swarming over a fire only to be burnt to a blackened marshmellow crisp. It is our destiny -- our instinct to create order. To understand. To rationalize. It is our God-given purpose. We create our own reality to understand.

     An almost infinite onion of layered reality, assumptions and truths -- a complexity of ineffable social behavior to rival the Universe itself. A reflection of reality we have determined to be reality; a status quo which cannot be destroyed.

      The evolution of rationality slowly converges to two simple facets of rights and freedom: to control and protect. You cannot protect what you do not control, nor can you control what you cannot protect.

     The voice sits quietly in the back of my head, whispering these ideas to my more conscious self. I am a slave to the evolution of culture. I am a slave to morals, ethics, and rationality. I am a slave with but one simple question: Who controls this reflection of reality?

     Who will control our misconceptions of truth?


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Rational Evolution | 59 comments (33 topical, 26 editorial, 0 hidden)
you should be (2.00 / 6) (#4)
by darthaya on Mon Aug 27, 2001 at 06:49:06 PM EST

Writing a poem criticizingn the notorious slavery in Sudan and some other small Africa countries.

Such beautiful language is wasted on such a trivial obstacle such as DMCA. Geez, I wonder if human had evolved at all for all these 100 years. The intellectuals in the last century were worrying about something a lot more noble and useful for human kind.

And to answer your question: no sir you haven't been slaved for one single minute in your entire nobel life. And to compare DMCA with slavery is just, an very offensive insults to the people who are still suffering from slavery around the globe.

If I'm a good writer (2.42 / 7) (#9)
by DranoK 420 on Mon Aug 27, 2001 at 07:31:51 PM EST

I will write about what I wish. Even if its the atrocity of a government which promotes 'saftey'. Even if it's the unthinkable delusion of Cthulhu devestating a small town in Texas. You write with whatever skill (or lack thereof) you contain about whatever you want; as will I.

Only my words will be far more interesting to read.

Arrogantly yours,


Poetry is simply a convenient excuse for incoherence.

[ Parent ]
Thinking harder than the drugs you're on (2.66 / 6) (#6)
by drtro on Mon Aug 27, 2001 at 07:16:07 PM EST

But seriously, I like the gist. I'm not sure I'd understand it as well if I didn't do all that acid back in college, though...

The real mind-killer, I kind of think these days, is obsessive-overanalytic thought patterns. Work on the Zen Buddhism, and then mix in a little Leibniz (perhaps The Monadology) and you get the same buzz but without the paranoia. Oh, a bit less frenetic. Then think for a while.

But it's always hard to listen to what other people have to say...

In the end, just know - you/me/he/she/they are the evolution of culture. Our government -- any government -- is just a drowning duckling, struggling to swim. (Though that doesn't mean there's something better..)

I hope this isn't patronizing (3.50 / 6) (#10)
by spacejack on Mon Aug 27, 2001 at 07:39:34 PM EST

I don't know if you were joking or not about reading Ayn Rand... but maybe you should read some. Your article seems to be an attempt to point out the hypocracy of attempting to "fix" or "do good" through force, rather than unconcsiously improving the world by doing what's good for yourself.

I tend to sympathize with this attitude in everyday personal life. Except that in a larger sense, I believe we sometimes need force to keep our society from going into the shitter. However, trhurler and all the other Libertarians will tell you the attempt is futile and creates the problem; that this is mere aesthetic, superstitious judgement that will vary from one person to the next; ultimately detrimental in the large scale.

So this is the question: Do we try to fix things (everyone having their own ideas on what "fix" means, the majority swaying the vote, the minority suffering for it), or do we just let them fix themselves? How bad can mankind get, left to its own devices and a few property laws? How good?

We have no frame of reference to make opinions; Libertaria doesn't exist, so people either make fun of the worst social programs, or point out the worst societies that resemble Libertarianism.

Is Libertarianism itself an artificial construction of circular logic whose only purpose is to prove itself, or is it something simpler... is it "correct"?

History has taught us to fear simplicity. We learned to fear the simplicity of Stalin and Hitler. We fear the simplicity of a Libertarianism.

Do we keep fiddling with the volume, the balance, the equalizer, everyone thinking they know what settings will work best, or should we just spin the dial all the way to the right, pop it off and then sell it for whatever we can get in cash?

Tricky question. IMHO, only spend brain cells on it if you've got them to spare.

So.... did I get off track here?

No, you didn't get off track... (2.50 / 2) (#14)
by DranoK 420 on Mon Aug 27, 2001 at 07:45:43 PM EST

I try to write in a way that is inductive of allowing people to take what they want from it. I didn't offer any suggestions in that entire article; I pointed out things I think about, have internal dialog, and ask a few questions.

What I mean is entirely up to you.

You seem to want to know what I actually think. It's not any more 'real' or 'valuable' than what you think, but here goes: I know I can't fix anything nor recreate something. I don't try. I write about what irks me and about what pleases me. Unless I'm only talking about my own sphere of influence (which is hideously small) I don't try to change things nor advocate change is required. *shrug* It's much more nihlistic than anything. Some would say apathetic. I wouldn't, but some would.


Poetry is simply a convenient excuse for incoherence.

[ Parent ]
Are you a slave? (3.16 / 6) (#13)
by Anatta on Mon Aug 27, 2001 at 07:44:24 PM EST

I am a slave to morals, ethics, and rationality. I am a slave with but one simple question: Who controls this reflection of reality?

You do, of course.

If you wanted, could you not go murder someone? Could you break copy protection? Could you take so much heroin that the world starts spinning backward? Could you break laws on a grand scale for nothing more than to please your will?

Yes, you could.

Laws exist because various cultures have defined what behavior is acceptable to the populace. They do not, and never have, dictated what humans with free will can and cannot do.

Laws may stop some from doing something, but if the will to murder, or to do heroin, or to break copy protection is great enough, then the will trumps the law. There will likely be punishments for breaking the law, but the punishments occur after the law breaking has taken place.

You may feel that the government has made you a slave, society has made you a slave, or corporations have made you a slave, but they have not. You have the most powerful, frequently fearsome, attribute in existence: will.

You may use it as you please, but beware the consequences.
My Music

Please re-read the article (3.66 / 3) (#15)
by DranoK 420 on Mon Aug 27, 2001 at 07:48:47 PM EST

then comment. I am not a slave because of laws -- I'm a slave because I was raised believing murder and theft are wrong. I'm a slave because of the culture I live in. I'm a slave because of *how* we think, not *what* we think.

Laws are simply easily recognizable byproducts of our reality.


Poetry is simply a convenient excuse for incoherence.

[ Parent ]
Please re-read my reply (4.40 / 5) (#23)
by Anatta on Mon Aug 27, 2001 at 09:27:52 PM EST

I am not a slave because of laws -- I'm a slave because I was raised believing murder and theft are wrong. I'm a slave because of the culture I live in. I'm a slave because of *how* we think, not *what* we think.

You missed my point; you're not a slave at all, or rather you're only a slave if you choose to be. I'm not really referring to laws as judgements of the state, but rather codified examples of the moral foundations of a society. If you'd prefer, substitute the 10 Commandments or the 8-Fold Path for "laws" if you wish.

If someone is out there murdering people, then there's a good chance he or she doesn't think such actions are wrong, or perhaps the murderer sees his or her actions as morally... different. With free will, you get to choose what is right and wrong to you, the laws and society be damned.

My guess is there are some things that are highly illegal/morally evil that you would not consider "wrong," and there are some things that are completely legal/morally good that are repugnant to you. You are perfectly free to decide where your moral compass takes you, or perhaps to discover where north truly points.

I will refer to a quote from Herman Hesse's Demian which I think strikes at the heart of this discussion. If you haven't yet read it, I highly recommend it. In this passage, Pistorius, a musician and philosopher, is speaking to Sinclair, the main character seeking answers to questions similar to those you posed:

"You must have dreams of love, you must have desires. Perhaps you're made in such a way that you're afraid of them. Don't be. They are the best things you have... When you know something about Abraxas, you cannot [be afraid] any longer. You aren't allowed to be afraid of anything, you can't consider prohibited anything that the soul desires."

Startled, I countered: "But you can't do everything that comes to your mind! You can't kill someone because you detest him."

"Under certain circumstances, even that. Yet it is a mistake most of the time. I don't mean that you should simply do everything that pops into your head. No. But you shouldn't harm and drive away those ideas that make good sense by exorcising them or moralizing about them. Instead of crucifying yourself or someone else, you can drink wine from a chalice and contemplate the mystery of the sacrifice. Even without such procedures you can treat your drives and so-called temptations with respect and love. They will reveal their meaning -- and they all do have meaning. If you happen to think of something truly mad or sinful again, if you want to kill someone or want to commit some enormity, Sinclair, think at the moment that it is Abraxas fantasizing within you!... If you hate a person, you hate something in him that is part of yourself. What isn't part of ourselves doesn't disturb us."

I refuse to believe that our moral compass is defined by our society, and that we are slaves to society's collective decision-making. We see countless examples of people going above and beyond what society requires for no reason other than their own desire, and we see countless examples of people reaching the depths of cruelty and suffering because their moral compass tells them that is where they must go.

You control how you think.
My Music
[ Parent ]

Are you poor people so lonely? (none / 0) (#29)
by the trinidad kid on Tue Aug 28, 2001 at 05:43:38 AM EST

Lots of things I do, I do not because I am some atomist individual but because they are part of a network of things that people I like and love do, we do things collectively, not individually.

The sort of music I like is not priveliged as uniquely good, it is good to me because I share it, and my understanding, experience and memories of it, with other people.

Sometimes I worry that folk round here should get out more and belong, be part of a collective, a community, society, the world. Jeezo enough of the cult of the individual already (as I believe our American cousins might put it).

[ Parent ]
Do I? (none / 0) (#45)
by DranoK 420 on Tue Aug 28, 2001 at 01:20:07 PM EST

Do you control what you think?

If you were a blind man born to an isolated community of blind people on an isolated island, would you know you're blind?

How can you understand you are a slave when you believe in your heart you are free? That is the problem -- people do indeed think they have freedom of thought. We don't; we have a short chain on our thoughts built by the ethics and morals of society. Really, a serial killer's view of reality and our president's view of reality don't differ too much -- both can be, to some extent, understood.


Poetry is simply a convenient excuse for incoherence.

[ Parent ]
I am a slave (2.66 / 3) (#18)
by spacejack on Mon Aug 27, 2001 at 08:01:13 PM EST

to property :(

[ Parent ]
In one sense, we are all slaves (4.00 / 2) (#24)
by danceswithcrows on Mon Aug 27, 2001 at 10:05:29 PM EST

Laws may stop some from doing something, but if the will to murder, or to do heroin, or to break copy protection is great enough, then the will trumps the law. [...] You have the most powerful, frequently fearsome, attribute in existence: will. --Anatta

Contrast this with: (paraphrased, I don't have the book handy)

Only the powerless are truly free. Those with power are chained by their basic natures: The good will use their power to help others; the evil will use their power to hurt others. --Thomas Covenant, _The One Tree_, Stephen R. Donaldson

I don't know, I'd have to agree with Donaldson a bit more there. Consciously willing to do something different or out-of-the-ordinary is difficult for most people. Far easier to drift along in old familiar habits. We are slaves to our habits far more than we are slaves to the State (at least in the USA) though most of our habits (watch "Friends" every Tuesday, have a Bud Light down at the bar, vote Republican) enrich the state.

The Donaldson quote is curiously silent wrt crazy people, though. I'd say there is freedom in insanity as well as powerlessness. Or maybe that's just because society tends to lock 99.8% of the insane people up and give the remainder important government jobs....

Matt G (aka Dances With Crows) There is no Darkness in Eternity/But only Light too dim for us to see
[ Parent ]

Comrade in arms (3.20 / 5) (#19)
by Tatarigami on Mon Aug 27, 2001 at 08:52:24 PM EST

Wow, I thought I was the only one who heard that voice. Tell me, does yours tell you to burn stuff too?


But seriously, my thoughts on the topic, while vague and unfocused have been similar to some things you've said above. That paragraph regarding the 'hypocrisy of attempting to force good' is a good summation of a concept I've been trying to put into words for a while now.

What I actually said was 'If you squeeze a handful of shit, it doesn't vanish, it just oozes between your fingers. And the harder you squeeze, the faster it oozes'. But I think your phrase is probably the more universally acceptable one...

Nice! (4.00 / 5) (#21)
by Signal 11 on Mon Aug 27, 2001 at 08:58:02 PM EST

First, get your telepathic thought recording devices out of my room. Secondly, great article.. but to answer your question...

People are interconnected. The concept of individuality is one that is alien to much of nature - bees, ants, highly ordered 'societies' if you will. Sharks, lions, predators all hunt in packs - rarely by themselves. Strength in numbers.

Strength in numbers.

That is the true basis of humanity, the golden rule if you will... by ourselves, we accomplish little, together, we can move mountains. Strangely, modern societies increasingly turn towards individualism. Ayn Rand even advocated this - people should be selfish. Sadly, Ms. Rand diluted herself - capitalism is just as much a slave-based system as socialism, or anarchy.

Try as we might, we're not individuals. We're part of a collective. How we organize that, however, is up to us, but we can't detach from it. We can choose capitalism, where everyone is slave to an impersonal system. Or we can choose communism, where we are slaves to a select few who dictate all (command economy).

We are free, but only to choose the color and weight of our own chains.

Society needs therapy. It's having
trouble accepting itself.

backwards (none / 0) (#37)
by Rift on Tue Aug 28, 2001 at 09:17:55 AM EST

Strength in numbers

No, protection in numbers. Most predators hunt alone (sharks included) - a few big cats and dogs being notable exceptions. Almost all herds and groups are formed for protection... if you're alone, you won't see the jaguar, and he's definately gonna eat you. If you're with 50 friends, the odds are better of seing it, and if you don't all get away, you only have a 1 in 50 chance of being eaten.

People are interconnected. The concept of individuality is one that is alien to much of nature - bees, ants, highly ordered 'societies' if you will

I'd argue that humans don't follow the herd or solitary rule for accomplishing anything. A group of people with no leader will do absolutely nothing - except maybe fight within itself. A group with a strong leader can accomplish much, but it's normally only what the leader wants, not the group - and they're more likely to fight with another group that has a leader. An individual can sometimes accomplish what she wants, but most of the time lacks the power to do so without a group.

No, I don't think we are all interconnected (otherwise we wouldn't hate each other so much), but we're not ment to be loners either.. I think we're pretty much just drones - we do what the most charismatic person around us wants. Ants was probably the right comparison..

by ourselves, we accomplish little, together, we can move mountains

Sure, but who wanted to move that mountain? Who gained from it? All of us, or just one guy that convinced us it was a good idea?

A pen is to a car what a meteor is to a _____
[ Parent ]
Biology may dicate collective nature (none / 0) (#41)
by DranoK 420 on Tue Aug 28, 2001 at 01:05:33 PM EST

But the quest for 'individualism' has destroyed that. Especially when you have clothing companies catering to 12-year-olds telling them they can be an individual by joining the mob buying this summer's fashion.

I'm not interested in how our society works, however. I like being much more....well, philisophical if you can withold your snickers..

As long as we continue to exist with separate, private thoughts, there will be those who knowingly or unknowingly create new paradigms of reality. After all, if someone follows in your footsteps thru the brimstone gates to your reality, you truly are their King.


Poetry is simply a convenient excuse for incoherence.

[ Parent ]
twisted & tasty (4.28 / 7) (#22)
by prana on Mon Aug 27, 2001 at 09:10:30 PM EST

the article is a metaphor as beautifully twisted as its subject matter. i like it! unfortunately, many will take the words at face value, ironing out the pregnant depth in favor of something easily judged and concretized. the wonderful irony is that you hard-heads are caught in the very web the author's words have woven! i can't decide whether to laugh or cry, at you or with you.

and even so, here i am, a slave with the rest of you. i will laugh and cry, as my ego is just as easily deluded by the simple perception that i am "seeing" more than thou..

DranoK, people could relate to this more easily if you laid out pictures of humanity (examples) and elucidate this theme in each of them, thus giving shape and character to this particular thread of life.

i do eventually disagree with you, though. you make sweeping judgements despite the fact that you haven't seen the Big Picture. you're seeing that reality as we know it just a complex, evolving system; there is no inherent meaning, or truth, or anything. you could call these things properties of the system--stable, observable patterns of behavior.

as you approach the fringes of that system, escaping the oblivious clutch of it all, you gain new perspective and begin to see the system as a construct, not a given. you can identify some of the patterns along which it is evolving, and you condemn them because your rosy (or simply unexamined?) view of the world has come crashing down. this existential conclusion has been rehashed time and again, eventually leading to "the world is meaningless, time to die," or "the world is meaningless, i am truly free!" you have just taken these basic realizations to a higher order; their essense remains the same.

i expect humanity to face these difficulties any time their Truths (unconscious assumptions?) are broken down and understood. while many painstakingly peel that infinite onion, forever it shall be torn apart by the will of a simple realization: transcendance. the mind transforms infinite, incomprehensible complexity to terrible simplicity, infinitely realized.

we are not creating this order. we are discovering it. each step of discovery will make the prior appear to be founded in delusion. have faith to continue the journey, as the journey itself is just another deluded stab at the onion. it too will pass, as We approach Infinity.

this is getting long-winded, but this is where is see the rub: human minds can only take us so far. we cannot keep jumping out of the box, because we are constrained by our biology. i contend that entities formed by the organization of individuals are becoming the new Individual, and this greater understanding is their destiny.

but not if i can find a way to get out of this pesky body first!

Well... (none / 0) (#40)
by DranoK 420 on Tue Aug 28, 2001 at 12:59:43 PM EST

I wouldn't venture so far as to say I have been at the fringes and can see reality as a construct. I think I'm just as blinded as the rest of humanity is. Not being able to see reality, however, does not indicate that one cannot realize they are unable to see reality.

I also am not saying that we have a choice in the matter of deluding ourselves. I certainly avoided that point altogether. I agree with you -- we are constrained by our biology. I think we as a species have the notion that we are more than that -- more than our evolution. With this, I would disagree.

Altogether, I fear you overestimate the intellect of humanity. As far as we know, on a cosmic scale relating to other intelligent species (if they exist), we could be the evolutionary equivilent of a domesticated cow.



Poetry is simply a convenient excuse for incoherence.

[ Parent ]
Freedom means the freedom to make mistakes (3.83 / 6) (#25)
by anansi on Mon Aug 27, 2001 at 10:26:59 PM EST

...and as Niven says, my freedom to extend my arm ends where your nose begins.

This world is encrusted with sharp edges and rail-less cliffs... and there is no shortage of bossy schoolmarms who would leash us 'for our own protection'.

Just don't get caught filing a sharp edge smooth, that's private property.

Fascinating to me, how a company can be 'publicly' held, yet everything it controls is private property. Fascism in action.

Authority is like that weird Apollo character in that old Star Trek episode: without supplicants to bow down to it, authority withers away. If there isn't enough danger to make us need the police, Authority will create the danger, with a 'terrorist threat' or a prohibition on some consensual adult behavior like chemistry or eros.

The only way to achieve autonomy, is to stop looking to authority to provide safety. As the amateur aircraft builders did, fight for the right to risk life and limb.

When you take responsibility for your own safety, then you begin to discover that other cries for help seem less urgent: they too can take responsibility for their own safety, and the freedom to help, ignore, or compassionatley listen, is yours to command. Niven's Protector was a slave to his sense of smell, and we have greater freedom.

Sometimes the most creative thing one can do, is to suffer silently without comment or complaint. The pain will cut. It carves, whittles, sculpts the soul. It teaches, if you can listen without screaming.

...And when the pain is outgrown, you become bigger than the the thing that was your enemy. You will understand the need for the guardians at the gate.

Don't call it Fascism. Use Musollini's term: "Corporatism"

What about those who require authority? (4.00 / 1) (#36)
by Shovas on Tue Aug 28, 2001 at 08:59:22 AM EST


This is all well and good, and for the most part I agree with you, but what about those who are unable to adequately protect themselves because of stature, wealth(lack of), disability or mobility?

"...then you begin to discover that other cries for help seem less urgent: they too can take responsibility for their own safety, and the freedom to help, ignore, or compassionatley listen, is yours to command."

It is good that you included the thought that we will then have the freedom to choose to help or ignore those who can not help themselves. There are situations, however, where one who can help is not available.

I would suggest social services are needed in some circumstances, or else a severe degredation and/or segregation(even moreso than now) would erode society. Things like police, fire, day care, medicine: all these things are 'sometimes' needed by those who can not provide or purchase them on their own, and were individuals, with the ability to help them, are not in a situation to help.

Everything in moderation, I suppose. :)

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[ Parent ]
Authority vs support (none / 0) (#55)
by anansi on Tue Aug 28, 2001 at 07:51:03 PM EST

It's easy to see whether or not someone is a true authority figure. Are they well funded? Do they have their own support system? How extensive is their corperate culture?

Social workers, teachers, day care... These are not positions of authority, not in the larger sense. They are given too much to do for too little pay. Their jobs are to clean up the messes caused by those in power, and to absorb the blame for policies made way over their heads.

Doctors, Lawyers, Police, Soldiers, Politicians... they support and enable the powerful to stay that way. There's never a lack of funding, they get whatever late model tools they claim to need. They serve the rich in much greater proportion than they serve the poor, all though once in a while there are exceptions. Still, when individuals get sent to jail for indulging in a victimless crime, and companies get a 'cost of doing business' fine for poisoning a watershed, it's not hard to see whose interests are being served.

The matrix has you. Waking up will be the most painful experience imaginable.

Don't call it Fascism. Use Musollini's term: "Corporatism"
[ Parent ]

Never a lack of funding? Where do you live? :) (none / 0) (#58)
by Shovas on Wed Aug 29, 2001 at 08:35:58 AM EST


"Doctors, Lawyers, Police, Soldiers, Politicians... they support and enable the powerful to stay that way. There's never a lack of funding, they get whatever late model tools they claim to need."

I would absolutely love to live wherever you are, because this institutions are suffering from the exact problems you claim they are not. Medicine is the worst situation here. Our health care system(tax funded) is under extreme pressure to cut costs, in order for our government to maintain their yearly surplus. That does not mean they have enough money either. Doctors, nurses, and patients are continually protesting for more money, and from my stays at hospitals, I can certainly understand why. These people are overworke, primarily. They are spread too thin.

Lawyers, I would agree with you. However, lawyers are a business, as opposed to what medicine, police and an armed forces are(at least here: that being non-profit.

Police are continually asking for more money to hire new members and purchase new(much needed, I genuinely think) equipment.

I guess my arguement here is that I'd have to disagree with you that the services(fire, police, medicine, armed forces) are in place to maintain the established powers. Especially untrue when each of these groups would sooner see the current government leave in the hopes of a better government. It's been this way for well over 20 years here, probably longer.

To the debate Authority vs. Support, however, I would say it has to do with the [F]reedoms and liberties taken away, by the source. For police, even though I've said they're underfunded and not an authority in your sense, I would say they are an authority who takes away our freedoms. The difference is that they are cronies, pawns to the government and those who truly control us. By passing various laws to restrict our lives in ways we may not like. Still, it's an indirect action.

Essentially, all I can say for myself is that the authority here still controls, largely, only itself(although 'itself' is rather massive).

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[ Parent ]
You're just jealous (3.66 / 6) (#35)
by wiredog on Tue Aug 28, 2001 at 08:27:58 AM EST

Because the voices in my head won't talk to you. Here're some of the things they've said to me:

If you think the problem is bad now, just wait until we've solved it.

Note that "internship" and "internment camp" both start with "intern."

Coding new features is fun, while testing is merely indispensable.

Why should we oppose social security investment in the stock market? Because State ownership of business is what made the Soviet Union what it is today.

In the Middle East, I think the Jews and Muslims should get together and settle things in a Christian manner! Actually, looking over the history of Christianity, they are.

Information may want to be free, but entertainment wants to be paid.

Life sucks, but it's better than the alternative.

Richard Stallman, the Old Testament prophet of free software, is the archetypal hacker: brilliant, driven, awesomely prolific, and without a life.

If there's a choice between performance and ease of use, Linux will go for performance every time. -- Jerry Pournelle

Um (1.00 / 1) (#39)
by DranoK 420 on Tue Aug 28, 2001 at 12:52:08 PM EST

I have no clue what you just said, but damn fine comment!



Poetry is simply a convenient excuse for incoherence.

[ Parent ]
The actual saying is,... (1.00 / 1) (#49)
by Kasreyn on Tue Aug 28, 2001 at 01:57:07 PM EST

"You're just jealous because The Voices are talking to ME!"

Seen on many bumper stickers, never gets old. ;-)

Great post, cheered me up a bit. Maybe that's our purpose in this life - to make each other happy. If that's so, you've earned your oxygen today, Wiredog. =)


"Extenuating circumstance to be mentioned on Judgement Day:
We never asked to be born in the first place."

R.I.P. Kurt. You will be missed.
[ Parent ]
Applying limited domain rationality incorrectly. (4.50 / 2) (#38)
by Mad Hughagi on Tue Aug 28, 2001 at 12:24:23 PM EST

The evolution of rationality slowly converges to two simple facets of rights and freedom: to control and protect. You cannot protect what you do not control, nor can you control what you cannot protect.

Rationality: The quality or state of being rational; agreement with reason; possession of reason; due exercise of reason; reasonableness.

Ratio: Relation in degree or number between two concepts. [I assume that reason is a framework of ratios - I don't know if this is the correct way to view it though]

Evolution: A gradual process in which something changes into a different and usually more complex or better form.

Right: In accordance with fact, reason, or truth.

Freedom: The capacity to exercise choice; free will.

I believe these are suitable descriptions with which to describe the relationship of the evolution of rationality with respect to rights and freedoms.

My take on it is that in defining a rational evolution we must be careful to avoid setting up a self-contained system. By closing off our ability to further rationalize, we limit the degree with which we can evolve. Especially in the last century we have made observations of our reality that have bent or extended our basis with which we can apply our previous framework of rationality (the results of quantum mechanics and relativity can not be considered as rational consequences of a cartesian outlook, for example).

Now, with respect to rights and freedoms, we come to the point where we believe that by conforming all human action to our current framework we will be lead into the path which will optimize our rational evolution. My point is that it is precisely the *converse* of this that is required to make advancements in our rationality that will further expand it so that it can progress at the optimal rate [namely that of creating a more complex system or in another view, peeling the onion].

This implies that we should not make a point of forced protection or control. We should always imply the option of doing things differently or whatever, only that the knowledge with which we make our decisions is presented fully.

A rational basis then requires the greatest amount of knowledge [or framework of ratios] that can be associated with the decision at hand, and as such maybe we are not escaping the constraints of control (from our rationality), but at least in this case there is no explicit force being employed by one portion of humanity on another, it is the inherent rationality itself guiding us.

The problem is not with rationality, it is with the limited application of certain rational concepts into domains where they have no substantial basis for being applied.

Control, and hence protection, are results of people not having the rational basis required [or by having an unfounded rational basis] to operate within our current sociological climate (or reality, or whatever). There is something to be said for the person that can still operate within our current system and yet not formally observe the controls which are installed for our *protection* by the authoritative collective that is charged with guiding the mass of humanity. I try to operate on this basis, and it has for the most part always been a successful venture. Sooner or later a transcendence (as many others have pointed out) will be required for us to progress - of this I am relatively confident. Our current situation is not an equilibrium - it requires further progression, otherwise we are going to self-destruct. Many people believe they have pointed out certain criteria that we must overcome in order to make this transcendance... personally, I think the cartesian fragmentation of reality that was instilled during Newtons time is one of the most pressing *mass-psychology* problems that still exists today. I try to do my best to promote a "breaking-through" of this limited outlook, and it often runs against the grain. I suggest that if people are concerned with our rational evolution that they try to promote progression in other areas that they feel need development (even against the formal authority) and perhaps, just maybe, one day enough people will realize the decisions that we need to make as a whole in order to promote a rationally true and beneficial evolution.

Anyways, that's my take on it.


We don't make the products you like, we make you like the products we make.

It's hard for me to argue with you (none / 0) (#46)
by DranoK 420 on Tue Aug 28, 2001 at 01:39:45 PM EST

because you make several, well, 'rational' points. I won't conceed that you stated rationaly what I feel, but I think you gathered a close aproximation. From a rational point of view, what you state here is the first thing which should rationaly be done: remove rationality from that which it doesn't belong.

I fear, however, that the deeper you delve the more you'll realize how few places of thought exist where rationality can exist comforatbly.


Poetry is simply a convenient excuse for incoherence.

[ Parent ]
No need to argue ;) (none / 0) (#48)
by Mad Hughagi on Tue Aug 28, 2001 at 01:52:47 PM EST

I was just trying to give my spin on the situation, I think your article displays a very common experience that many of us have when we consider certain elements of our current sociological situation.

Part of rationality is that it is inherently self-contained. It can only exist comfortably within it's own domain, as given by it's base axioms or principles. We can try to make further associations between different levels of our rational outlook, but to strictly enforce them as being correct or directly applicable is very short-sighted indeed, and I believe this is very eminent in the materialist protectionist policies that we currently abide by.

Our rational domain is very small when you really get down to it. It only covers a very abstract and extremely particular situation in it's essence (natural science and mathematics are about the only examples I can think of where there can be any certain degree of objectivity - precisely because we self-contain these systems). Application of these principles to other domains of human thought can lead to different understandings, but I do not believe they should be taken as the basis by which all of our other knowledge should flow from.

Good article man, this is the kind of thing I enjoy reading here on k5.

We don't make the products you like, we make you like the products we make.
[ Parent ]

Well (none / 0) (#53)
by DranoK 420 on Tue Aug 28, 2001 at 07:30:15 PM EST

I can't comment much. Just can say one thing: Agreed.


Poetry is simply a convenient excuse for incoherence.

[ Parent ]
Ignorance is Bliss... (none / 0) (#50)
by Fee on Tue Aug 28, 2001 at 04:39:17 PM EST

Ok ... here's the thing. To understand that we truly create our own reality, and that "truth", "morality" and the like are simply the current version of what we as a "society", "culture" or "other social grouping" decide it to be at this point in time is a bit unnerving. Without the anchor, without the guide, without the foundation gained by acceptance from the "other" which shares our reality... where do we go?

As James Burke is fond of saying: "The world is, at any one time, exactly what we say it is.... So say!" And that is the rub isn't it.

Even with knowing that it's a play we have no choice but to pick our role and do the best we can.

Some times I do wish that I did not ask the questions, or see what others did not. Some times I do want to live in the bliss of ignorance, never questioning the accepted view of things. How nice it would be.

I can't reject everything! .... I can't accept everything! .... I can only act out the role in the I have taken and try to make the play my own!


We are all slaves to money... (none / 0) (#51)
by nologin on Tue Aug 28, 2001 at 05:07:45 PM EST

I seem to recall this following passage, from a Memorial Day speech...

... our precious freedom cannot be bought ...

It is ironic that our soldiers fought in two World Wars to preserve our freedoms that we could not buy for ourselves, but our country would later allow our precious freedoms to be bought out by others foreign and domestic. Regardless of the government's political agenda, this a clear indication that our own government is nothing more than a slave to money.

The question that burns in my mind is whether or not this is right. I know for a fact that my life is influenced by my access to money (income, savings, etc.). And since the government is supposed to be a representation of the people it governs, should the government also be influenced by the amount of money it has access to?

The DMCA is a law that the government passed due to the influence of economically powerful corporations. It was lobbied for with a lot money, to protect a prime source of money for these companies...

Unfortunately, no change in political ideology will resolve this issue. Communism, Monarchy or even Anarchy will never change the fact that money is our number one master.

To understand, to create, to soar (4.00 / 1) (#56)
by Defiant One on Tue Aug 28, 2001 at 09:08:30 PM EST

I'm pleasantly entertained by your Hegelian turns of phrase, and appreciate your post to K5.

On reflection, I think I would basically agree with your insights, but feel I might slightly part with you on a subtle point. The alternation between essentially positive images and essentially negative ones, when taken in context of the human ego, is one which I feel you *may* allow to go slightly negative for my taste. For example, you write:
So logical is our quest for understanding. So noble. So reminiscent of moths swarming over a fire only to be burnt to a blackened marshmellow crisp.
The image which wins out here is the blackening of the quest; the crisping of the nobility. I do not find our fate so dire, and prefer to think of it as an affirmation of the inquisitive impulse. Life affirms our quest for understanding, and instead of the nobility being crispened, as a moth to flame, it is affirmed, as a bird in flight. You note:
[the layered onion is] A reflection of reality we have determined to be reality; a status quo which cannot be destroyed.
Given the above, I find this statement to be, again, syntactically entertaining, but it seems to allow the potentially edifying moment to be obscured - which indeed may be the point. My problem here is, though certainly clever, your post does little to distiguish itself philosophically, or ethically I should perhaps say, from all the other sour viewpoints we can get in any number of forums. Each moment of positivity is met with a negative counterpart, but one which wins out and effectively weights us down. Consider the following quotes, which can be taken as antidotes to each other:
- We create our own reality to understand
- I am a slave to morals, ethics, and rationality
If these propositions are equal on the scale, your position seems to put a finger on the latter by asking about who "controls this reflection of reality...[or] our misconceptions of truth".

So, I wonder, where is the victory many philosophers have talked about, from Spinoza's Expression, Kant's Synthetic A Priori, to Bergson's Elan Vital, to Nietzsche's Force, just to name a short list at the underpinnings of Modernity? Where is the triumph of intellection which is not mired by misconception? Where is the winged flight which does not go down in flames?

"What can I say, I believe in total, honest democracy. I also believe this American system can work."
- Woody Allen, Stardust Memories

Yes (none / 0) (#59)
by Daniel McKinnon on Thu Nov 01, 2001 at 04:42:14 PM EST

The insights that you have felt are, as you know, not individual to you. Since the dawn of time man has struggled with these views. Unlike what you have said about religion, what you say you have this struggle with is the basis of many (smart) people's religion. Those who critisise your views are what I affectionately call "The stupid people." People who I honestly feel for. People who will never understand the big picture, so mixed up in their own innocence. You need not be angry. We, the freedome fighters of the world, are those who are smarter. We understand what is happening, we refuse the world that those have tried to lay out before us. The world that has been made on the stupid assumption that we are all stupid people (seeing as though the basis for this illusion is based on the opinions generated by this very lie) It is our responsibility as the smarter ones to not let the "stupid" defeat us. They don't control thier own thoughts. They are indeed alowed to think this way and those who control them are allowed to controll them, too. On the flip side, people like us are allowed to reverse-engineer these people. I think it is up to smart people, such as yourselves, to work together in ways to break the structure of lies. But we must never forget these initial intentions. Otherwise history will repeat itself for just another brutal cycle of broken humanity. (if someone decides to bash my writing, ignore them, they are the stupid people, don't try to sway them, they are the stupid people, just let them be until we can get them to understand our intentions)

Rational Evolution | 59 comments (33 topical, 26 editorial, 0 hidden)
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