Re: Memetic/Ontological correspondence?

t (JakeSapien@aol.com)
Fri, 2 Jul 1999 09:54:02 EDT

From: <JakeSapien@aol.com>
Date: Fri, 2 Jul 1999 09:54:02 EDT
Subject: Re: Memetic/Ontological correspondence?
To: memetics@mmu.ac.uk

In a message dated 7/1/99 6:34:58 PM Central Daylight Time, agassi@erols.com
writes:

>> Specifically, can human ambivalence find correspondence to Quantum
Mechanics? I doubt it. Because, Heisenberg Uncertainty is probabilistic,
while human ambivalence is agenda driven.<<

I share your doubt. While QM is very intriguing, the tendency to become
almost religious in attempts to apply it every potentially spiritual question
reflects the shortcomings of some of the reductionistic programs that still
currently drive western thought. Dennet in DDI has some good thoughts on
reductionism, both recognizing it as a valuable tool, and also identifying
the problems of getting too ideological about it ("greedy reductionism").
Though I question Dennet's success in actually escaping that ideology
himself, he does lay the foundation for a much more realistic emergent
materialism.

Within a paradigm of emergent materialism, it becomes much more tenuous to
suggest that things like human ambivalence are in any intimate way related to
QM, and HUP. Ideas like that are mirages of greedy reductionism. Emergent
materialism would also demand that we reconsider "mirage" evaluations that
greedy reductionism has made of more emergent phenomenon -- like claiming
that self is not real -- it is "merely an illusion." Dennet still
philosophically struggles through issues like that -- and his psychological
protege, Blackmore, makes the illusory-self an article of faith.

As to your concerns about logic -- which I would more broadly talk about in
terms of rationality. It is not an idea itself, rather it is a description
of the property of our conceptual systems. It is a conceptual attribute
rather than a neurological attribute (once again the greedy reductionism
slips in to cause some to attribute it to neurology).

Correspondence to reality (whatever we take "reality" to mean) is not the
sole guiding function of our conceptual systems. More importantly, our
conceptual systems are necessarily embodied, and as such function to exercise
control over our environment for our benefit. That is important -- things
that fail to function, fail to survive. While some correspondence to reality
is necessary to exercising control, exercising control over reality and
corresponding to reality are not entirely compatible goals.

What emerges are correspondences (recognizing them as matters of degree
rather than necessarily dichotomous true/false status) that are mutually
coherent and consistent, and those that are not, fail to be favored and tend
to be selected out. Incoherent and inconsistent correspondences are of
little use to an embodied conceptual system regardless of their degree of
correspondence, and so we naturally favor rationality.

Likewise, as a result, our conceptual system will be as much metaphorical as
it is definitional. That's good, because it is one indication that our
conceptual system is functioning more or less ideally -- using correspondence
in the pursuit of control, not just pursuing correspondence to the detriment
of exercising control. It's much more simple and yet profound than a mere
neurological itch.

It's good to see somebody in intense philosophical mode on this list, Aaron.
There is nothing naive about that. Though that at times may seem to irritate
some of the regular and even some of the published memeticists here -- they
really need that. Whether we like it or not, memetics has not yet escaped
the territory of the Philosophy Kingdom, and so bringing up these more
fundamentally philosophical issues remains not only important, but *crucial*
- as annoying as the reminder may be for those who long to journey into the
Empirical Empire. At least they can take refuge in a peer reviewed journal,
as opposed to something like the "Grinning Idiot Press". Now if some more
luminary personalities would just acknowlege that this journal actually
exists!

-JS

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