RE: MD Making sense of it (levels)

From: David Buchanan (
Date: Sun Feb 23 2003 - 00:01:54 GMT

  • Next message: David Buchanan: "RE: MD Metaphysics and Pragmatism"

    Steve and all:

    Steve said:
    .............As I see it, if static patterns were so bad, they wouldn't have
    happened, so evolution can't be about getting rid of them but rather getting
    better ones. ... I disagree that evolution has 'no goal' as Johnny Moral
    says. Evolution tends toward 'better-ness' from which I think it follows
    that static patterns are better than no patterns at all.

    DMB says:
    Strictly speaking, we can't know the goal of evolution, but it seems plain
    to see that our universe has made human life possible through a series of
    stages. I think Pirsig's levels are just a way to explain how all these
    seemingly distinct kinds of reality all hang together. So it is with the
    idea of "betterness". It is vague enough to work on all levels, yet retains
    an explanatory power that stands up to scientific observation and common
    sense. Obviously, this is a broader context for evolution than most folks
    usually imagine, but is still quite relevant to the ordinary sense of the

    Steve said:
    Darwin's value-free 'survival of the survivors' is explained as 'survival of
    the biologically better'--a dynamic process through which all species are
    continually changing in response to one another, so 'best' has no fixed
    meaning, yet through this process, life forms get better and better. In
    that way I could think of biological evolution as moving toward DQ (but
    better, perhaps, is moving by way of DQ?) While a biological entity could
    never get any closer to or further from DQ. DQ is a metaphor for this sort
    of process at work that acts not just on the biological level but on all
    static levels.

    DMB says:
    Right. I think we might be able to rightly talk about DQ as a creative
    and/or spiritual goal for humans, but when we're talking about biological
    evolution the goal is success and only the process is Dynamic. If I had to
    describe the difference between Darwin and Pirsig on this matter, I'd say
    its kind of subtle. Natural selection has random mutations, in effect, being
    selected by the enviroment. Some random changes make it and most don't.
    Pirsig's conception wouldn't deny such a mechanism, but there is an emphasis
    on the Dynamic choices made by the living organism itself. As I imagine it,
    it wasn't just that some mutations "worked" better than others. That's too
    passionless, Newtonian and mechanical for my taste. I think its that some
    changes appeared to be really hot to members of the opposite sex. I think
    the selection process is more "conscious" and experiencial in Pirsig's kind
    of Natural Selection.

    Steve was just thinking out loud:
    ..and between levels as well. Just as all species are constantly changing
    in response to one another within the biological level, all social patterns
    are changing in response to one another, and all intellectual patterns are
    changing in response to one another. Likewise, social patterns change in
    response to the ever-changing biological patterns, and intellectual patterns
    change in response to the ever-changing social patterns. (Can a lower level
    change in response to a higher one? hmmm) All of this adaptation produces
    better and better patterns and even new levels. This process is what we've
    come to describe as DQ...(oh no!...Did I just describe DQ as a static
    pattern--the process of patterns responding to other patterns? There could
    be a problem here.)

    DMB says:
    Hmmm. you've got alot going on here, but let differ on a few points. I think
    each level evolves in its own particular way, and each system of static
    patterns constitutes something like an enviroment in which this evolution
    plays out. I think we agree on that. But "social patterns change in response
    to the ever-changing biological patterns"? I can't see it. Seems to me that
    no measurable biological changes have occured since social patterns arrived
    on the scene. Biologically speaking, we haven't changed in hundreds of
    thousands of years. Or so they say. Anyway, I'm not so sure about cross
    level evolution and all that. One can only speculate. But as the moral codes
    have it, the lower levels ought not put the higher values in their service
    and its proper for higher levels to guide or control the lower ones.
    Finally, a thought about "the process of patterns responding to other
    patterns". I'd simply point out the there are all kinds of responses, but
    most of them are routine, static. Dynamic change is not about action,
    activity and motion, its creativity and art and love, but at a different
    level. I mean, most of all that responding is static, but dynamic and
    evolutionary responses are more rare, a kind of magic, if you will.


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