Re: MD What is a person?

From: David MOREY (
Date: Fri Oct 10 2003 - 21:02:35 BST

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    Small thought on language.
    Is experience, visual experience a form of language?
    I take Pirsig's idea that to experience something
    it has to show up to you, you have to value it, we don't
    notice what we don't value. Loads of information coming
    towards your senses is ignored. Also if you don't
    differentiate between things then you have no things.
    You have to draw a line between sky and earth to experience
    sky as opposed to earth. All the Derrida deconstruction stuff,
    and the key role of 'differance' -to differentiate and defer-
    seems to apply to our capacity to sense, therefore are the
    experiences of our perceptions a form of language?

    David Morey

    ----- Original Message -----
    From: "Paul Turner" <>
    To: <>
    Sent: Tuesday, October 07, 2003 10:50 AM
    Subject: RE: MD What is a person?

    > Hi Sam
    > [Sam:]
    > To my mind, a person is a stable pattern of values existing at the
    > fourth level, an 'autonomous
    > individual' - ie one in whom there resides an independent response to
    > Quality (DQ) which is not
    > mediated through the previously existing static forms (the social level
    > static latches).
    > [Paul:]
    > I think that a "person", in MOQ terms, is an inorganic pattern of stable
    > quantum probabilities, organised by DNA into a biological body valuing
    > survival and reproduction, many social relationships valuing status,
    > authority, and social stability, a collection of structured concepts and
    > ideas valuing a coherent conceptual organisation, explanation and
    > prediction of experience and with a [Dynamic] capability to change for
    > the better.
    > However, as each higher level expresses increasingly diverse
    > preferences, we can say that personality emerges more clearly in the
    > social and intellectual levels than at the biological and inorganic
    > [it's hard to imagine a carbon atom with personality, although I believe
    > some quarks are charming ;-)]. So I do have some sympathy for your
    > assertion.
    > [Sam:]
    > It is
    > precisely the ability to respond directly to Quality, and therefore not
    > to be 'controlled' - ie
    > repeating the static social norms - which marks out the change in level
    > from social to level 4. As
    > you know, I think the best description for these new values is
    > 'eudaimonic'.
    > [Paul:]
    > If you want to say "respond" then I think it is the symbols which are
    > responding to Dynamic Quality. However, I see it more as static patterns
    > emerging from Dynamic Quality where change is the end of one pattern and
    > the beginning of a new one.
    > [Sam:]
    > This stable pattern of values is the 'agent' around which the
    > 'manipulation of symbols, standing for
    > patterns of experience' coheres. I still don't understand how it is
    > possible for there to be any
    > stability on the fourth level unless there is some equivalent to an
    > 'agent' around which the
    > intellectual symbols (and everything else) can coalesce.
    > [Paul:]
    > I think the "stability and coherence" is simply in the existence of
    > patterns themselves, indeed it may be a good definition of "pattern"?
    > However, I can see your point; in fact this is the trouble I had back in
    > May in the "what is a living being?" thread.
    > [Sam:]
    > It seems to run into the same problems as
    > the theory of gravity just sitting around waiting for someone to
    > discover it from ZMM.
    > [Paul:]
    > I don't see how?
    > [Sam:]
    > In other
    > words, I don't accept that the symbols have a capacity to respond to
    > Quality that is independent of
    > an agent, ie the stable pattern of fourth level value which I call the
    > autonomous individual. I
    > think the only way that symbols can react to Quality is through the
    > mediation of that individual, ie
    > that the role of that individual is precisely to say which symbols, and
    > which patterns and
    > arrangements of symbols, have Quality, and which do not. I think both
    > you and Pirsig imply that the
    > symbols have an independent relationship to Quality, which doesn't
    > involve the mediation of a
    > personal intelligence, and I don't understand how that can happen.
    > [Paul:]
    > I think that the relationship is static patterns emerging from Dynamic
    > Quality, and perhaps the static patterns, as part of the process of
    > organising and explaining experience, organise themselves around a
    > "personal intelligence" which is given the symbol of "I".
    > [Sam:]
    > Now this stable pattern of values, the autonomous individual or
    > 'person', is aware of and able to
    > respond to DQ. And I understand the mystical path to be a way of
    > developing that pattern, that
    > person, in a way which can radically undermine the sense of ultimacy
    > which is otherwise experienced
    > by such a person. In other words, I think the 'dissolving' of identity,
    > which is referred to in the
    > great religious traditions, in various ways, is the transition between
    > the fourth level pattern of
    > values and DQ. Whereas I think that you (and Pirsig) see this
    > dissolution of personality as being
    > the transition between a level 3 stable pattern of values (the 'social
    > self', or possibly the ego)
    > and the realm of level 4. Is that fair?
    > [Paul:]
    > No :-) I think "personality" refers to both social and intellectual
    > patterns.
    > [Sam:]
    > So, from my point of view, there is no necessary
    > contradiction between my assertion of the reality of personal agency on
    > level 4, and your Buddhist
    > teaching (or Meister Eckhart's teaching etc) about the dissolution of
    > the self. We just place that
    > dissolution at different points on the scale.
    > [Paul:]
    > I think we agree on this point.
    > [Sam:]
    > Similarly, with respect to language. I interpret Wittgenstein's point
    > about there not being
    > something which thinks (which is how I interpret your point about the
    > weather) through a MoQian
    > lens. In other words, I think it is true and accurate to say that there
    > is no 'thing' - understood
    > in SOM terms as a scientifically describable entity - which corresponds
    > to the mind. However I do
    > think that there is a stable pattern of values - a person in all their
    > infinite variety and
    > stability, of habits, language, culture and personality - which is both
    > a source of independent
    > judgement and open to dynamic evolution at a higher level than that of
    > society, which can in fact go
    > off on purposes of its own. This is an area where I think MoQ language
    > can offer a better way of
    > understanding our existence than (some) Wittgenstein.
    > [Paul:]
    > I think we're pretty much in agreement here as well.
    > [Sam:]
    > (By the way, I think that what Wittgenstein
    > calls a 'form of life' corresponds quite nicely with 'social pattern of
    > value' - but that depends
    > upon seeing language as something which functions at the level of
    > society, which I know you don't
    > accept).
    > [Paul:]
    > Actually, my views have changed a little here and I'm still considering
    > language. As a starting point, I don't think language is confined to one
    > level.
    > [Sam:]
    > So I agree that it is the intellectual patterns which have Sam, ie that
    > Sam is simply one example of
    > an agglomeration of intellectual patterns of value (or, eudaimonic
    > patterns of value, of which the
    > intellect is one part) - but I think that the intellectual patterns
    > don't have any independent
    > access to Quality, other than through autonomous individual him or
    > herself.
    > [Paul:]
    > Again, I think the "individual" is a differentiation that comes after
    > intellectual patterns and is not the enabler of them.
    > [Sam:]
    > Anyhow, that's a fuller response. I'm sure we will still disagree, but I
    > wanted to point out some
    > areas of sympathy as well as the disagreement.
    > [Paul:]
    > Thanks Sam, I enjoy our discussions.
    > [Sam:]
    > By the way, what do you think of the concept of 'meme'? That seems quite
    > similar to your point of
    > view about intellect.
    > [Paul:]
    > "<philosophy> /meem/ [By analogy with "gene"] Richard Dawkins's
    > term for an idea considered as a replicator, especially with
    > the connotation that memes parasitise people into propagating
    > them much as viruses do."
    > Very good!
    > "Memes can be considered the unit of cultural evolution. Ideas
    > can evolve in a way analogous to biological evolution. Some
    > ideas survive better than others; ideas can mutate through,
    > for example, misunderstandings; and two ideas can recombine to
    > produce a new idea involving elements of each parent idea."
    > "Some ideas survive better than others" Excellent!
    > "Use of the term connotes acceptance of the idea that in humans
    > (and presumably other tool- and language-using sophonts)
    > cultural evolution by selection of adaptive ideas has become
    > more important than biological evolution by selection of
    > hereditary traits."
    > Sounds pretty good.
    > Cheers
    > Paul
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