Re: virus: Observations on Virus

Tyson Vaughan (
Wed, 25 Oct 1995 18:52:08 +0000

David McFadzean wrote:

>Dogma has the connotations of something held to be true no matter
>what the evidence to the contrary. I don't think it applies to
>science or Virus.

I agree that, based on the general principle of Virus, positions within
Virus are adaptable. Like Extropianism, Virus encourages questioning of
these concepts, and alteration of them if necessary. However, this very
principle seems to me to be an example of dogma.

Here's my analogy: scientific facts and theories may be challenged via the
scientific method. However, the method itself is not to be questioned or
challenged in any way. It is absolute dogma.

While I think that the scientific method is the best thing we've got for
establishing facts, that doesn't change the fact that it is dogmatic.

Deron Stewart said:

/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.

You articulated that better than I could have. Well said.

David McFadzean said:

>Just to clarify, I postulated that the meaning of one's life is the
>sum total of the effects of that life, due to memes or otherwise.

Okay. Thank you for that.

>I noticed that you used the word 'postulate' which, to me, means that
>the statement is provisional and, ipso facto, not dogma.

Indeed, yes. Good point.

Actually the dogma discussion has gone far beyond what I really expected or
intended. I really wanted to make two points. The first was that which I
explained above using the analogy of the scientific method. The second was
that, despite Virus's overriding principle of encouraged memetic mutation,
there have been instances in which fairly strong statements have been
uttered which could be interpreted as dogmatic. If people in the Virus
community don't continually question and challenge its positions and remind
the community as a whole of the overarching vision of adaptable
meme-complexes, there is a very real danger that postulations can become
dogma. That seems to be, historically, one of the ways in which dogma has
developed in various belief systems.

>>{An aside here -- Romana, by the way, also seems to think that death is a
>>very, very bad thing, something to be avoided at all costs. I see no
>>problem with longevity or even immortality, but I don't see anything wrong
>>with death, either. It's natural, after all. Seeing her talking about
>"Natural" should never be confused with "good". Botulism is, after all,
>completely natural.

Sorry, I don't mean to imply any such value judgements regarding natural
phenomena such as death. I regard these as neither "good" nor "bad", except
as they may affect the lives of humans. I don't think botulism is "bad,"
for instance. But it can have a potentially tragic effect on a person's
life. That would be bad.

All I really meant was, hey, we all die. It happens. It's not so bad. Deal
with it, Romana.

>Is it hubris to believe that humans have the most potential of
>any known species? Just wondering.

Not at all. Not in my opinion.

Acting positively and vigorously on that belief is, I think, one of the
most noble things a human can do.

Tyson Vaughan
Memetic engineer

Our commitment to positive self-transformation requires us to
critically analyze our current beliefs, behaviors, and strategies.
--from the Extropian Principle of Self-Transformation (v2.5)