Re: General Semantics-Josip's suggestion

Ton Maas (
Mon, 27 Apr 1998 08:52:26 +0200

Message-Id: <v03102802b169d4389a46@[]>
In-Reply-To: <>
Date: Mon, 27 Apr 1998 08:52:26 +0200
From: Ton Maas <>
Subject: Re: General Semantics-Josip's suggestion

Chris wrote:

>I.e., if we are going to design memes, or 'neurological programs',
>then we should not be complete 'prisoners' of our own.

For precisely the same reason Gregory Bateson insisted that what we
_really_ need to understand better is the relationship between civilization
and addiction. His main gripe with cybernetics (of which he was one of the
co-founders) was its orientation towards control. In his formal analysis of
alcoholism he pointed out that the underlying pathology of any addiction is
a dangerous "flirt" with the illusion of control. Fallacies of reductionist
thinking are always more subtle than they first appear to be - precisely
because junkies are always cleverly trying to hide the truth from
themselves. According to Bateson it is our task to rethink scientific
preconceptions about reductionism and control, but we can only truly do
this once we accept the fact that we're addicts to our old and familiar
ways. From this perspective we should be especially wary of attempts at
memetic _engineering_ as opposed to understanding.


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