Re: MD Beyond

From: Wim Nusselder (
Date: Fri Mar 12 2004 - 22:54:53 GMT

  • Next message: Matthew Poot: "Re: MD Beyond"

    Dear Jim,

    I'm afraid I don't recognize what you wrote 11 Mar 2004 14:04 +0100 as a
    proper response to my question (How do you connect George Carlin's eco-rant,
    which you reproduced 10 Mar 2004 16:38:31 -0800, with Pirsig's Quality

    Carlin's point was that the earth is not in trouble. I don't see how
    Pirsig's claim that (patterns of value from) lower levels should not
    dominate (those from) higher levels has relevance here.
    This claim also happens to be a part of Pirsig's ideas that I don't find
    very useful: patterns of value cannot dominate patterns of value of another
    level, because (in my way of defining them) levels are discrete and patterns
    of value of different levels are of completely different types. Higher level
    patterns of value cannot exist without specific types of patterns at the
    next lower level and can have a marginal influence on the stability and
    versatility of specific patterns of value at the next lower level, but
    that's all.

    I already wrote that the earth may indeed not be in trouble 'if we only
    consider biological patterns of value', i.e. if we understand 'earth' to
    refer to the global ecosystem. If we understand 'earth' to refer to the
    planet, i.e. to the inorganic patterns of value on a global scale, human
    activities can influence them even less.
    Social level human activities DO influence the global ecosystem. If we make
    a mess of things, with atomic war, large scale burning of fossil fuels that
    have accumulated during millions of years, large scale production and use of
    toxic chemicals with extremely low biodegradability (like DDT) etc.,
    diversity and therefore stability, versatility and dynamics of the global
    ecosystem WILL suffer. We cannot wipe out all biological patterns of value
    before wiping out ourselves (homo sapiens), however. So enough will survive
    to make the ecosystem survive once we are exit. It may take a million, 10
    million or maybe even a 100 million years to recover, but it will. So we
    can't bring it in serious trouble, measured against the timescale of the
    biological level.

    We CAN also understand 'earth' to refer to global society, however, or to
    refer to global 'civilization' as an intellectual level phenomenon.
    Global civilization as we know it IS in lethal danger if we can
    realistically expect a steep increase in radioactivity, climate changes
    within a century that 'normally' take (at the biological level) thousands or
    millions of years and/or a chemical environment that disrupts biological
    mechanisms that have developed maybe 1 billion years ago. Even IF we would
    be able to create a civilization able to survive such circumstances in time,
    it would be unrecognizable from the civilization we have now. Such an
    environment might well 'kill' the intellectual level altogether, throwing
    homo sapiens back into a way of life comparable in (lack of) complexity to
    the life of the hominids before homo sapiens. Society would still exist in
    the form of familiy groups passing on between generations (by simple
    copying) the severely limited behavioural options guaranteeing survival
    under harsh environmental circumstances. There is a (smaller) chance that
    even society would break down, that homo sapiens (or a mutated version)
    would survive only in limited niches with slightly better environmental
    conditions, without the possibility hominids developed to adapt to different
    environments and spread over the earth.

    George Carlin's 'eco-rant' is not a proper answer to ecologically concerned
    people who expect humanity to make a mess of things in one of the above
    described ways (or another comparable one) within an overseeable period of
    time if we don't stop certain developments.

    With friendly greetings,


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