sociobiology and metaprogramming

t (levy@Oswego.EDU)
Thu, 26 Mar 1998 12:44:42 -0500 (EST)

From: <levy@Oswego.EDU>
Date: Thu, 26 Mar 1998 12:44:42 -0500 (EST)
Subject: sociobiology and metaprogramming
In-Reply-To: <>

k> Well, IMO this is as simplistic as they come. If "true ecology" is left
> the technocrats, disaster is impending, as they have _no_ fundamental
> understanding of the deeper processes. I took a masters program in
> environmental studies once and one of those specialists explained to us
> students the nature of their approach. At the time (early eighties) they
> had discovered that corn can be employed to clean soil that has been
> polluted by immission from nearby highways (mainly lead), since this crop
> is capable of absorbing lead and storing it in the cobs. Someone then asked
> what was done with those cobs, since they were clearly not suitable for
> consumption. The answer was as simple as it was baffling: the polluted corn
> was mixed with unpolluted corn, until the average quantity of lead was well
> below accepted levels. True ecology is both a scientific _and_ a
> philosophical problem, since it reflects our complete physical and mental
> household. I would say that both politicians _and_ scientists (especially
> the technologically inclined) have been doing a _very_ poor job at it over
> the last thirty years.

Yes, I agree entirely that we have a long way to go, and as Chris Turner
describes a 'Paradigm' as a self justifying system, my point about ecology
was that through memetics it may be possible to engineer such self
justifying systems that somehow integrate ecology into technological

> I'd say the key to education is to understand ourselves as _biological_
> processes (both conscious and unconscious). If we fail to understand that
> consciousness is _not_ the crown of creation but a rather small part of the
> whole, we'll remain in the same deep shit that we're in now. Focusing
> exclusively on consciousness has propagated addiction in every conceiveable
> field - not only to alcohol but also to arms races, exploitive capitalism,
> stifling communism and so on - to pathological lifestyles in general.

Good point. Sociobiology is important because it tells us our limits and
allows us to construct the rest of ourselves autonomously. In order to
program the computer you have to know programming languages, and the
template of a human nervous system is no exception. In previous times
including this one the boundary of absolute and relative was muddled but
the ability of the larger whole to program the individual to undesirable
ends is diminished as the resolution of human parameters becomes more
transparent. When the limits and freedoms become clear, that is when we
have no choice but to accept responsibility for the structure of human
agregation and cooperation. Pathology does not exist in traditional
cultures, so that supports your statement. An integrated and holistic
technological culture would most likely not have pathology either.
However I think that pathology is a force that has gotten civilization
farther than it ever would have otherwise. Another interesting connection
is that Julian Jaynes attributed the origin of mental illness to the
growing emphasis on the individual and the advent of "mental space". I
don't remember the timeframe but it is in "Origin of Consciousness in


"The universe has a habit of deleting anachronisms."
-P K Dick

This was distributed via the memetics list associated with the
Journal of Memetics - Evolutionary Models of Information Transmission
For information about the journal and the list (e.g. unsubscribing)