Re: virus: Observations on Virus

Deron Stewart (
Wed, 25 Oct 95 14:35:00 PDT

>Scientific facts are written down as well. Are they dogma?

A religion (or philosophy) can not proceed very far before it has to take a
position on certain issues. Like science, a rational philosophy should be
empirical, taking into account the real world in the quest of its primary
goal -- an answer to the question "How ought one to live one's life?" The
answer to this question is undoubtedly a plurality, i.e. there's more than
one path to the "good" life, but there are many more paths leading to "bad"
or "ineffective" lives. The answer will evolve with time as some parts of
the answer are seen to be more effective than others and new ideas emerge.
Contrast this with the notion of Dogma which is singular and unchanging. The
fact that both are written down is not the essential defining element.

I suppose I am putting the universe in the place of the Classical gods.
Perhaps I have some pantheistic tendencies that way, but in general I don't
see humans as any better than any other species in the universe. I don't
like species-centricity at all.

I agree with you entirely here about species-centricity. An excellent book
along these lines is _Ishmael_ by Daniel Quinn which is a first attempt at
posing a "mythology" (philosophy) which avoids such destructive chauvinism.

I think of the issue as one of maximizing complexity. The human species is
more interesting - more complex - than any other species. However the
existence of any species adds more complexity to the world than any
individual instances of humans. To make this idea more concrete contrast the
"complexity" (beauty) of two worlds: One, with 3 billion humans pursuing
technology, science, and the arts along with vast unspoiled wilderness and
endless natural beauty; The other with 15 billion people in which a small
fraction are advancing human knowledge and many are living in misery, and
nature has been obliterated.

Few of us would choose the second path but collectively that is exactly
what's happening. The root of the explanation for this lies in Game Theory,
with each person maximizing their local "pleasure" at the expense of the
global maximum. I would hope that a rational philosophy would attempt to
transcend this kind of limitation.

Deron Stewart