virus: Re: Ethics, truths, multiple simultaneous mutations

Tyson Vaughan (
Fri, 17 Nov 1995 01:01:24 +0000

David M. worte:

>The arguments we have been having recently over moral issues such as welfare
>and capital punishment are perhaps due to the lack of an ethical framework
>on which to base our positions. Virus must provide such a framework in order
>to succeed as a religion.

David, this is the essence of what I was trying to say in an earlier post.
I just didn't think that various Virions tossing ideas and arguments back
and forth, no matter how rational they might be, would ever lead to a
satisfactory resolution of Virus's positions. It became exasperating.
Therefore, I'm thankful for your suggestion, which is excellent.

I think hypocrisy often boils down to a very basic talent which is one of
the most powerful forces in human nature -- self-deception. The saying
goes that you can fool your friends, but you can't fool yourself. Well, I
believe the opposite is much closer to the truth. And most people are
constantly deceiving themselves, often to justify an aesthetically pleasing
path over the "right," more difficult path. Self-deception allows people to
create a separate set of rules for themselves. It also helps them convince
themselves of a more comfortable reality than the one which actually
presents itself (e.g., believing there is a life-after-death is for many
people more comfortable and pleasing than believing that there is
absolutely nothing after death). Self-deception makes it easier to bend
interpretations of data to what one WANTS to believe, rather than what the
data may indicate to an objective viewer. In short, self-deception creates
an extremely hostile mental environment for reason.

Seen this way, self-deception appears to be a bridge linking faith with

The reverse, of course, is that honesty is absolutely key for successful

I don't know whether those (honesty and self-deception) merit separate
entries in the list of sins and virtues. Self-deception may be covered
already. Honesty might be more worthy of consideration as a virtue.

Anyway, this obviously comes from my own observations of myself and others
and is something I've thought about, so I figured it might help show
another perspective on the sins and virtues.

On another note... One statement in the explication of Reason intrigues me:
"If truth is the goal, rationality is the way." This begs the question,
"Is truth the goal (for Virus)?" And in turn, "What is Virus's position on
the nature of truth?"

One of the central lessons of 20th Century physics appears to be that truth
is fluid. Relativity, quantum uncertainty -- these things say that there
is a truth, but it depends on where you are, where you are looking, etc.
Granted, this is physics, not philosophy or theology or psychology or
whatever. But these physical properties describe such fundamental aspects
of the universe that they must be considered in the light of other

Assuming we accept the notion that truth is fluid, is it enough to simply
acknowledge this? That notion is not incompatible with having truth as a
goal. In fact, it seems to me it couldn't be more harmonious with Virus's
mission to adapt its memes according to changing times, ideas and

And that leads me to one more question. The evolution of the memetic
complexes which make up Virus has been talked about in terms of its
extension through time. But what about extension through culture, language
and class? Could Virions in Nepal have a different set of sins and virtues
from those in New York? Could the Virion position on welfare be different
in New Orleans' housing projects from that in Connecticut's wealthiest

Tyson Vaughan memetic engineer graphic designer

"Carnival" means "festival of meat."