MF indictments of non-entities

From: Amilcar Kabral (
Date: Sun Dec 21 2003 - 20:39:00 GMT

  • Next message: Sam Norton: "Re: MF Discussion Topic for December 2003"

    When RMP writes "independently manipulable signs" i think he's referring to
    the fact that we have pictures, signs and words in our heads that only
    'stand for' what we see/hear/feel in the external world. That these are
    'independently manipulable' doesn't refer to them as being completely
    detatched from the world, but more simply that our thoughts don't directly
    act upon the world (contrary to our beliefs about prayer and positive
    thinking). When we 'manipulate' these signs in everday thinking -such as
    planning to move, watching the weather forecast and imagining being in that
    kind of weather, etc.- more than not they do follow the laws of physics,
    biology and social custom (unless we fantasize or write bad sci-fi). We may
    of course follow these internal directions, such as envisioning seducing a
    mate or planning a business venture, or we may not.

    With the notion of 'rules of their own' (a.k.a. arbitrary signs) methinks
    RMP also refers to the fact that we can speak truth in English, Thai and
    Hindi. Though these languages (like math and musical scores) have rules of
    their own, they do have differing systems of categorizing language which
    dictate their grammatical structure, but not necessarily their semantic
    content, which is a different categorical structure altogether -what they
    mean to the producer, reader or listener and whether or not they refer to
    reality. Each of these languages (i assume) have analogs of nouns, verbs,
    prepositional phrases, etc. while the rules of combining and ordering these
    differ just as there are many ways to phrase the same thought in any one of
    these languages. And you can speak the same truth in each of these languages
    (though differently nuanced).

    Sam, i think your three examples of 'logic' are a little misleading. What i
    found obviously missing (smirk) from your description was any notion of
    semantics and/or categories. You contrasted grammatical structure and
    'quality' without the natural counterpart of grammar, semantics. The
    'wrongness' that we discern in the latter two examples, varying from
    'quality'/truth, stems from us knowing that though these sentences do have
    correct grammatical structure, they lack correct semantic content. They are
    'wrong' or 'lack quality' because they conflict with and contradict the
    categorical distinctions of English (and social relaity in general). I don't
    think that this example indicts the coherence of intellect at the fourth
    level. That's because the intellect to me isn't the mind but the body of an
    immaterial consciousness. IMO what should be addressed is where
    consciousness and will fit into this hierarchy.

    To put it bluntly, i think the issues of abstract signs and independently
    manipulable lay in that these signs are analogous to genes, dna, etc but not
    in the function of how they sit in the intellectual level. Rather they are
    analogous in that they correspond to these thoughts and when we think about
    them in our heads, our thoughts generally follow the rules of what they
    refer to, as close as we know. I'm referring more to Piaget finding out when
    peekaboo doesn't work and that when we think of our mother we see a
    picture/movie of her facial expressions that very closely resembles what she
    looks like. That's a different dimension of what Sam thinks our thoughts are
    analogous to.

    That leaves the question of what is the analog of protons for the quantum,
    atoms for the physical, dna for the biological for both the mind and

    The other issue i have with some of the posts is the explicit and implicit
    equation of emotions with intellect. Both emotions and
    intellect/intelligences are primarily features of individuals. Though
    individuals may be programmed to think and feel in certain ways, neither of
    these neurologically-based activities can be located in the abstract thing
    called 'society'. But this tiff i have with those distinctions comes from
    the fact that i think that the MOQ hierarchy should read 'quantum, physical,
    biological, individual,THEN social' simply because you can't have any of the
    latter without the former. DNA without atoms, or biology without carbon,
    entities without DNA? Those seem to me just as foolish as the thought of
    society without individuals, or thought without brains (or thinker). But
    then again, society doesn't 'choose' its members nor vice versa, which is
    another issue altogether.

    Just as biological molecules (carbon-based) act differently from regular
    physical molecules; and melanin and chlorophyll are the only biological
    molecules with a metal atom; and why DNA is the preferred replicating
    language for viruses, amoeba, sperm whales and humans; so reads the general
    mystery of what specifically detects, selects and designates the patterns of
    the lower levels as having 'quality'. And i propose that we lightly tread
    around the concept of consciousness/will to discern what selects which
    lower-level patterns of intellect have 'qualty'.

    So in saying that, Sam, i agree that the intellect doesn't adequately
    explain what acts as the 'choosing unit' for the intellect. Nor, however,
    does 'individual' solve the problem as you portrayed in your grid.
    Scientists have yet to explain what pattern of energy/matter moves the world
    to existence from non-existence. Hydrogen is the significant sub-atomic
    particle (one proton at its simplest) that moves us from quantum to atomic
    reality. Carbon is the molecule that separates the inorganic from the
    organic. DNA is the molecule that moves us from bio-chemical reactions to
    sustainable and replicable organisms. However we don't have a tangible
    entity to ascribe our 'decision-making unit' or 'consciousness unit' to. Of
    course the corpus callosum and pineal gland were respective contenders for
    these organs, but fell to the wayside as these organs simply work as gate
    keepers and govenors (cybernetics connotation) that transmit information
    rather than as entities that outright select and create information (but
    they serve as insightful analogs to these functions). Just as we don't know
    the big "WHY" of the proton, carbon, DNA or any specific gland/organ as
    responsible for such a discontinuous shift between levels, simply saying the
    'whole organism' (i.e. individual) won't solve the problem either.

    It seems that your indictment of Pirisig's MoQ levels - that he doesn't
    explain what does that skilled manipulation or choosing - also indicts your
    own system of missing the critical power of explanation. However you do make
    a critical step in qualifying and quantifying that specific individuals are
    doing these skilled manipulations and making these choices.


    ps: after re-reading this post i must ask you to please excuse my arrogance!
    But then again, that's how it came out up . . . shrug

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

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