Re: virus: Virus Lexicon, etc

David McFadzean (
Fri, 07 Apr 1995 09:52:09 -0600

At 01:57 PM 4/6/95 -0600, Duane Daniel Hewitt wrote:

>I think that generally the lower band is drawn at viruses. They are not
>considered living in themselves because they need another organism in
>order to replicate (like memes). Speaking of memes, a meme may act like a

Does that imply memes are not alive? Can you be more specific about what
it means to "need" another organism in order to replicate? In some sense,
humans need other organisms, don't they?

>virus in that it may lie outside its host for a long period and then
>reinfect. Viruses do undergo selection pressures and do replicate and
>therefore you are correct in that there is no hard and fast barrier. What
>is the relationship between complexity and adaptability?

I think complexity is a necessary condition for adaptability. It is also
a necessary condition for power, i.e. the ability to influence and control.
In order for system A to control system B, A must be able to predict how
changing the control variables of B will change the state variables of B.
To do that, A must understand B, i.e. possess of model of B. If B is very
simple (e.g. a room with a temperature) then A does not have to be very
complex (e.g. a thermostat). However, if B is a complex system (e.g. a
human), then A must have a minimal complexity to control B (e.g. another

>If we place a value upon increasing complexity then I think we can derive
>a lot from this. However, justifying this initial leap is where we will
>have to put a lot of effort.

Bartley pointed out in _The Retreat To Commitment_ that it is impossible
to justify anything within a logical framework. You can justify statement
until you reach axioms and rules of logic (which are axioms, too), but then
you can't go beyond that. He suggests that we don't have to justify. All
statements should be open to criticism and no belief is beyond criticism.
This is the basis of what he calls "pan-critical rationalism".

David McFadzean       
Memetic Engineer                Merak Projects Ltd.