Re: MD Making sense of it (levels)

From: johnny moral (
Date: Fri Feb 21 2003 - 05:31:50 GMT

  • Next message: johnny moral: "Re: MD Art"

    Hi Platt,

    Doesn't the scale of a pattern have more to do with what level it winds up
    in? I mean, isn't climbing a tree to get the bananas an idea? I think to
    qualify as itellectual a pattern has to be observed over a wide area, of
    space and time, like democracy or universal health care. So a single
    bicycle is an inorganic pattern, but the knowledge of how to build bicycles
    and the idea of people riding bicycles to get around is an intellectual

    This would make biological terrorism an intellectual pattern, because it
    acts on a wide scale, not on the people it kills. Those people are killed
    by biological patterns, certainly, but they themselves are not terrorized at
    all, except for a very brief moment. The point of it though is inciting
    terror across a large populace and for a long time, which makes terrorism an
    intellectual pattern. Just because we don't approve of something doesn't
    mean we have to rationalize some reason why it isn't an itellectual pattern.
      I disagree with Pirsig's notion that intellectual patterns are
    automatically superior to social patterns, in fact I think most of them are
    terribly fascist and anti-human.

    I also have a problem with Pirsig's notion that evolution has to be toward
    some goal. He admired Lemark's theories and found Darwin's survival of the
    fittest nonsense, because it was simply 'survival of the survivors', which
    he felt was meaningless. But it IS just survival of the survivors. Dynamic
    quality, in my view, is not a goal that static quality advances 'toward',
    that is just a romantic view that we have come, intellectually, because of
    static intellectual patterns, to believe. Certainly, what we happen to
    believe evolution is advancing toward changes culturally, and that would
    imply that dynamic quality changes. Of perhaps it is just our idea of
    dynamic quality that changes, but if so, then we don't understand dynamic
    quality's indifferent nature, imo.

    >From: "Platt Holden" <>
    >Subject: Re: MD Making sense of it (levels)
    >Date: Thu, 20 Feb 2003 10:07:15 -0500
    >Dear Wim:
    > > You wrote 11 Feb 2003 09:58:17 -0500:
    > > 'To determine at what level a certain object, artifact or action belongs
    > > ask myself, "What is the highest moral pattern I can reasonably
    > > to it?" If the answer is biological, this will automatically include the
    > > inorganic since the biological is dependent on inorganic patterns.
    > > Likewise, if the answer is intellectual, the social, biological and
    > > inorganic patterns are also included because the intellectual pattern is
    > > dependent on these lower level patterns. So of course a bike is "also an
    > > inorganic pattern of value" as are all artifacts I can imagine. But what
    > > distinguishes it as a bike are the intellectual patterns that designed
    > > produced it.'
    > >
    > > If your method of attributing a level to a pattern of value allows
    > > attributing more than one level to the same pattern of value, then
    > > choosing the highest one is a way to solve the ambiguity. That leaves
    > > question unanswered HOW you attribute (one or more) levels to patterns
    > > value. I suggested 'by the way they are held together when understood as
    > > wholes holding parts'. You disagreed, but didn't give an alternative.
    >How? Roughly I break the levels down into the world of ideas
    >(intellectual), the world of human associations (social), the world of
    >animals and plants (biological) and the world of particles, chemicals and
    >minerals (inorganic). Human artifacts result from ideas, "the highest
    >pattern I can attribute to them."
    > > You quoted Pirsig 14 Sep 2001 13:41:57 -0400 (and quite a few times
    > > afterwards) as saying:
    > > 'Intellectuals must find biological behavior, no matter what its ethnic
    > > connection, and limit or destroy destructive biological patterns with
    > > complete moral ruthlessness, the way a doctor destroys germs, before
    > > biological patterns destroy civilization itself.' You applied that to
    > > terrorism: 'those who are terrorists and those countries who support
    > > tolerate terrorists have the moral standing of germs and like germs must
    > > deliberately and ruthlessly annihilated by all means at our disposal.'
    > > terrorists are biological patterns of values according to you, how would
    > > you classify artifacts designed and produced by terrorists, say a
    > > shoe-bomb?
    >Note in Pirsig's statement the word "behavior." A shoe-bomb is an
    >intellectual pattern. Using it to blow up an airliner at 30,000 feet
    >300 innocent civilians is biological pattern of behavior because terror,
    >violence and death are the operative practices at that level. It's like
    >guns. Guns (intellectual pattern) don't kill people; people kill people
    >(biological pattern).
    > > You wrote 24 Nov 2002 20:00:03 -0500:
    > > 'All humans have intellect. To suggest that an individual's religious
    > > beliefs, political leanings, or sexual practices are the decisive
    > > in determining intellect is ... "quite preposterous."' So one can
    > > reasonably attribute to ALL humans intellectual patterns of value (and
    > > some even higher artistic/religious yet unpatterned value?!). Are you
    > > the highest level you can attribute to terrorists is biological???
    >Yes, based on their behavior which defines them as "terrorists."
    > > Isn't it
    > > equally preposterous to suggest that an individual's terrorist practices
    > > are decisive in determining that it belongs at the biological level?
    >No. The key word is "practices" which make a terrorist a terrorist, a
    >person who intentionally and randomly kills without warning.
    > > You wrote 11 Feb 2003 09:58:17 -0500 again:
    > > 'What artifacts did you have in mind that were built before the first
    > > intellectual pattern? Recall that Pirsig said that the intellect's
    > > evolutionary purpose was "to help a society find food, detect danger,
    > > defeat enemies." (24) Doesn't this mean that intellectual patterns
    > > (language and such) were around since the beginning of human society?
    > > "independence" from social patterns and becoming an entirely separate
    > > comes much later.'
    > > I think it is confusing to say that intellectual patterns of value were
    > > there before the intellectual level was there (as 'an entirely separate
    > > level'). At the start of chapter 12 of 'Lila', where Pirsig 'defines'
    > > levels as discrete and operating simultaneously but almost
    > > he uses 'levels' and 'systems of static patterns of value' as
    > > interchangeable. I think society and social patterns of value holding
    > > societies together were there before intellectual patterns of value were
    > > around to help societies to (better) find food, detect danger and defeat
    > > enemies.
    >For humans, social patterns by themselves can't find food. It takes
    >thinking, planning. Unlike primates, humans have to reason to survive.
    > > Social patterns of value already offered freedom from biological
    > > want and had non-intellectual ways of finding food, detecting danger and
    > > defeating enemies. Intellectual patterns of value (to the extent that
    > > didn't go off on purposes of their own) only helped society to do better
    > > that respect. I think human society began with hominids, around 2
    > > years ago, who had only a rudimentary language with which they could
    > > express and communicate emotions. Their social patterns of value, that
    > > them an edge over anthropoid apes, were patterns of unthinking behavior
    > > that were passed on between generations because of a stronger
    > > towards curiosity and mimicry. They could never have phrased the
    > > 'Why are you doing that?' to their elders, but from an intellectual
    > > of view that's exactly how we can interpret their curious and mimicking
    > > behavior. Their elders could never have answered that question in their
    > > rudimentary language, but from our intellectual point of view their
    > > behavior (showing how to do things and if necessary beating their
    > > into line if they deviated) expressed the answer: 'because it has always
    > > worked and will work best now'. Intellectual patterns of value were
    > > created by homo sapiens, between 50.000 and 100.000 years ago. Rituals
    > > (elaborate patterns of essentially unthinking behavior preserving the
    > > know-how available to a society) may have been 'the connecting link
    > > the social and intellectual levels of evolution' (according to Pirsig in
    > > chapter 30 of 'Lila'). They may have enabled 'the oldest idea known to
    > > man', that 'the physical order of the universe is also the moral order
    > > the universe', the first proper answer to 'Why are you doing that?':
    > > 'Because that's how the universe works, that is the order we should
    > > uphold.' Another possible connecting link between the social and
    > > intellectual levels of evolution (according to me) may have been
    > > language, but that is another subject. Anyway, among those patterns of
    > > unthinking behavior that were passed on between generations of hominids
    > > long before intellectual patterns of value were around were ... the
    > > of artifacts. At first only sharpened sticks and stones to beat of
    > > predators with. They were neither designed nor consciously discovered.
    > > were simply used because they worked. (And others that didn't work led
    > > the extinction of the group that used them, so the making of others
    > > passed on to next generations.) But they WERE artifacts. Even today,
    > > although most artifacts are consciously designed or discovered the first
    > > time, they are often (re)produced by unthinking routine behavior, by
    > > patterns of value.
    >I see nothing in your description above that distinguishes early humans
    >from a group of chimps, baboons or the food-washing monkeys of
    >Japan. "Patterns of unthinking behavior" is an apt description of what
    >goes on at the biological level. Humans did not and cannot survive on
    >instinct, imitation and group hugs alone. Somebody had to think to
    >sharpen a stick or a stone instead of using it as found. Somebody had
    >to think to keep those early people alive. As Pirsig says," . . . someone
    >has to be first."
    >So Pirsig's statement about intellect being used early on to find food,
    >detect danger and defeat enemies supports my contention that what
    >separates man from beast is his ability to put two and two together, not
    >some herding instinct, copycat behavior or reliance on tooth and claw.
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