Re: about 'memetic engineering'

Ton Maas (
Wed, 25 Mar 1998 08:18:52 +0200

Message-Id: <v03102800b13e4e796ad8@[]>
In-Reply-To: <>
Date: Wed, 25 Mar 1998 08:18:52 +0200
From: Ton Maas <>
Subject: Re: about 'memetic engineering'

Kastytis wrote:
>What bad do you see in cloning?
>Do you think that surgery, for example, must be forbidden, because the
>is possible? Vivisection is evil, non-ethical thing, of course. In some
>countries humans
>sell their kidneys -- do we must to forbid all surgery and transplantology?
>The cloning
>of human beings as sets of spare parts for transplantology is evil. But the
>cloning of
>human embryonic tissues for use as transplantants is necessary and ethical
>The cloning of individuals of rare animal species is useful in restoration
>of some
>ecosystems. The genetic-engineered microorganisms may be beneficial in
>cleaning of
>polluted waters.

I agree that these are no simple matters, but in general there are a few
nasty problems with our approach to them. Because of the inherent nature of
the scientific enterprise, which in many ways resembles "unaided"
consciousness (unaided by art, dreams and religion), we see only relatively
short arcs of whole circuits and act accordingly. This is what Blake
referred to when he wrote: "Fools rush in where angels fear to tread". As a
civilization we're bent on shortcut solutions - invariably underestimating
the long-term implications of our own actions, hence our increasing
environmental problems. On the other hand our technology also emodies a lot
of implicit wisdom, so it would be very unwise to just dump it and return
to the "naivete" of the "primitive". We'd only be repeating ourselves. So
instead of making grand moves forward or backward, we should move ahead
very very carefully and preferrably not rely on our consciousness alone.
One big problem is that on the whole we've lost religion (as a coherent
social fabric), which anthropologically speaking is no small disaster,
since such things are almost impossible to resore once lost. How does one
go about "inventing" rituals and myths? The tragedy of modern myth-makers
is that they end up producing fiction.

Ton Maas

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