Re: MF Discussion Topic for December 2003

From: Amilcar Kabral (
Date: Thu Dec 11 2003 - 04:00:38 GMT

  • Next message: "RE: MF Discussion Topic for December 2003"

    Greetings. now on with the nitty-gritty

    1) intellect - broad & narrow strokes (tailing DB's post)
    I tend to think that defining the intellect as 'symbol manipulation' may be
    a bit pregnant for debate (as we see from this topic). First of all, a
    debate could be held over whether language (symbol manipulation) is
    primarily a function of cognition (organizing one's own thoughts and
    therefore individual) or communication (conveying thoughts and therefore
    social). Adding dimension to this debate comes the question of whether
    'symbol manipulation' refers only to abstract symbols & codes such as words,
      numbers and musical notes or does it include concrete symbols as in
    internal representations of things such as faces, our bathroom cupboards and
    where we left our keys. So from the start we have two axes of discussion and
    clarification: a. cognition vs. communication & b. abstract sybols and/or
    concrete symbols.

    It seems that Pirisig would confine 'intellect' to refer to abstract
    cognition. more on this in point 3

    2) The coherence of 'choosing units'
    Sam: your email says that RMP's concept of the intellect fails to act as a
    'choosing unit'. My question to you then: "what would constitute the
    'choosing unit'?" but then again, maybe this is the old 'bait and switch' .
    Where did the phrases 'choosing unit' enter into this discussion in the
    first place? I'd venture to guess that your answer would be the 'autonomous
    individual' as laid out in your grid.

    Guys & Gals: one detail from Sam's grid that i noted was that the first two
    levels (inorganic-atom and organic-gene) the 'choosing unit' has specific
    tangible entities, whereas the second two levels (social-tribe and
    intellectual-intellect) do not. Were we to take Sam's suggestion of the
    "Autonomous Individual", the intellectual level would gain a tangible
    entity, the individual, however the social level would still remain without
    a specific entity on which to base our analyses, judgements, values etc. We
    could revolve through family systems, classroom politics, neighborhood
    organizations etc, but there would be no stable entity. Sam and all:
    Assuming that having a tangible entity to base one's analyses, judgements
    and values on is a good thing (said with tongue in cheek), what would you
    consider/enter as a valid entity for the social "unit"?

    I also noticed that the phrase 'choosing unit' may be a bit misleading to
    apply to the inorganic and organic level as at each of these their 'choices'
    are dictated by the geometries of their structures. In the case of atoms we
    have proton and neutron bonds (and the weak and strong forces in quantum
    physics) and in the case of genes we have slow mutations over generations
    due to the wizardry of nearly exact copying done by RNA. In contrast, in the
      social and intellectual levels we have choices between options such as
    communism vs. capitalism for an economy (social level) and cake vs. pie for
    dessert (intellect/individual level).

    Assuming that i'm on to something, it seems that the MoQ has within it it's
    own deathblow. If the progress of the 20th century was liberating
    individuals from society, what would happen if that actually happened?
    Wouldn't we have to delete the 'social' level outright, or least invert it
    to an idealized inorganic-organic-individual-social where humanity
    produces, well, the constitution and the bill of rights?

    3) PVDB wrote:
    "If that which drives the intellect could fully know itself, it would be
    fully certain in it's actions. A form of complete determinism. Hence there
    could be no feeling of being a choosing agent in this case."I'm not sure
    that just becaue the intellect attains full and complete self-knowledge
    that it would be completely determined and lack that kind of feeling. Values
    are results of choices. If i choose to value something over another, the
    choice and choosing lay within the setting up of the value system, which is
    a higher level choice. I do feel good when i make an unconscious selection
    between two or more options when its in accord with a conscious value that
    i've set beforehand. And in that i'm not bothered because i don't have the
    choice still, its just that i laid down the criteria on which my choosing
    will operate. I think that this interpretation resonates with some of what
    you wrote in later sentences in that same paragraph, but i'm befuddled by
    dynamical quality having a 'spatiotemporal behavior of its own', could you

    My own thoughts:

    I'm inclined to assert that the ability to objectify, question and set goals
    and values is the defining characteristic of the 'intellect'/'individual,'
    and is sheathed in the clothing of (or the guiding force behind) 'skilled
    symbol manipulation'. Pre-emptively, i wouldn't call this force 'dynamical
    quality' though. Dynamical quality seems, to me, to be more the territory
    through which one wanders and travels in order to set orientation,
    directions and destinations. Using a slightly different terminology: the
    conscious/will works through symbol manipulation to navigate the various
    forms and levels of (dynamic/static) quality. And that last sentence, ladies
    and germs, would be my thesis statement.


    Dance 'til your knees hurt
    Giggle 'til you're gone
    Love with abandon

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