Re: virus: More tangents on religion, etc. (prev. Demon Thread)

Reed Konsler (
Sun, 28 Apr 1996 20:27:23 -0400

On Saturday, April 21, 4:06pm James T. Martin said:
The normally brilliant Mr. Konsler may be a little off on this one.
Naturally, it may be my fuzzy understanding of his meaning. But
"dynamic equilibrium, and pressure" and such, sound like discredited
Lamarkian (sp?) evolution to me. No, it's the impersonal flow of natural
selection that determines the fate of life on earth, interspersed with
cosmic tragedies. What is consciousness for? It's the height of adaptive
evolution which strives for more complex input. Are you talking strictly
about a change in the environment of the mind? Our physical
change of the environment may well be our final undoing.
"Meaning = Effect?" You must be feeling particularly senisitive today, I
get no meaning from that at all. Jim Martin

First, as to "Meaning = Effect":
I lifted this meme from Principia Cybernetica (gosh, if you haven't snooped
around there yet you're in for a real treat! Search for it on the WWW). This
is a short-hand equation which I use to sum up a number of ideas like "What is
the meaning of life", which is how the statement was originally expressed in

The meaning of a life is it's effect on the universe.
The meaning of anything is it's effect.
Meaning = Effect.

Therefore, if something has no effect it has no meaning. I'd tie this back
into the discussion of belief we were having earlier:

One who is observed to act as if X were true is said to believe X.

Or, said another way:

Belief is nothing without action. "Feeling" that something is true is
insignificant w/respect to acting as if it were true. A belief which is never
expressed into the environment doesn't exist.

Act as if ye had faith...

Break In Stream Here---

As to the rest of what you said, I think I got carried away with the lingo. I
absolutely agree with everything else, so if you precieve us as in disagreement
then I haven't done a good enough job of getting my point across. I have a
tendency to wax poetic sometimes. It's inefficient, I admit, but I keep
waiting for an occasional stroke of genius (and waiting... :) )

Anyway, what I mean by "Dynamic equilibrium" was exactly what you said.
Natural selection pressures each organism of an ecosystem. The ecosystem
exists in a sort of dynamic equilibrium in which predator-prey cycles, seasonal
shifts, and other rythms vary the system but in way that we recognize as in
some way stable while at the same time constant motion. Like an ocean, or like
the old concept of homeostasis. Always the same and yet always changing.

If you look at a Mandelbrot set what you see is literally chaos.
But within it is something recursive...perhaps not "order", but at least
"pattern". That's what complexity is about...finding patterns in the chaotic;
looking for phrophecy in the White Noise.

I think you're correct in pointing out to us that we shouldn't get too enamored
of "Lamarkian" ideas. I would include in this category "group selectionism"
and the more poetic versions of "gaia". Myself, I was converted by Dawkins and
have yet to stray too far from the hypothesis he expressed in The Extendend
Phenotype. All of life is a competion between genes (and now memes) and humans
are sandwiched somewhere inbetween. We are simply vehicles through which these
replicators express themselves into the environment.

Conciousness is the confluence of genetics and memetics.

But what I think is true is that the influence of an infinite number of memes
and genes create a constant tension. The multitudes of vectors sum into a
pattern within which are bulid feedback loops from microcosmic to unknowably
vast. The whole thing breathes or, as I said, exists in a sort of "dynamic
equilibrium" It's like a game of tug-o-war in which the closer you come to the
edge of the pit the harder you pull. In the end if you looked at a ribbon tied
to the center of the rope it would tend to wander around the center of the pit.
It would always be in motion, but on average would stay right in the center.

Of course, not all competitions are evenly matched. That is where evolution
gives one an advantage, and where natural selection ensures that each
generation is slightly different from the last.

And, again as you pointed out, this equilibrium is punctuated from time to time
by catastrophies, inclement weather, and other strangeness. And when
everything settles down it is different, and the same.

As you say "our physical change of the environment may well be our final

But I doubt it.