Re: virus: Quotes
Mon, 28 Oct 1996 09:45:02 -0700

id AA32379; Sat, 26 Oct 1996 00:08:55 -0400
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Date: Thu, 24 Oct 1996 20:20:56 +0000
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Subject: virus: "There are no ultimate truths"
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Dear Virians,

Perhaps we could clear this up a bit by looking at the
Socrates > Plato > Aristotole progression as a step-by-step means of
solving this problem.
Socrates first introduced the problem of the basis of knowledge
by repetitively asking for the basis of each statement in a system of
knowledge. Since fields of knowledge cannot (by definition) be
infinitely regressive, this line of questioning necessarily ends
either in a circular argument or an "I don't know" admission. This
necessarily creates a state of intellectual chaos, since it points
out that no knowledge has any firm foundation within itself.
Plato found an apparent solution to this in the concept of the
ideal, and in the concept that the real was at best an approximation
of the ideal (neo-Platonism seems to have developed to explain how
this applies to natural phenomena as opposed to human construction).
In this view, knowledge systems developed because the base
assumptions of the systems preexisted the development of the systems
in the real world, they themselves existing in the ideal world. The
problem with this is that two or more systems could have
contradictory assumptions, which would both exist as ideals; but this
was rectified by the addition of the concept that the source of the
ideal (as in the neo-Platonic Qabbalistic idea of God) contained all
dualities and could express them at will as elements of the ideal
However, this could not explain why some ideas explicitly
contradicted elemnts of the real (ex.: Matter is unsubstantial, so I
should be able to put my hand through this wall. Why can't I do it?).
This Aristotle attempted to rectify by placing an emphasis on
empirical observation; however, this simply provided holes for the
Socratic methodology again, unless some Platonic elements were
allowed to remain (such as in the arena of metaphysics), supported by
some empirical observation but not testable in themselves.
The statement that "there are no absolute truths" can thus be
taken to mean one of two things:
(1). It is a refutation of Platonic philosophy in its entirety,
denying the existence of the ideal, yet not going so far as to apply
Socratic methodology to empirical evidence; or
(2). It is a statement of the Socratic philosophy in its entirety.
The first statement leaves the host of this memetic complex open
to attack by the Socratic methodology, which must be assumed to be
invalid in order to preserve the integrity of the complex. This
avoids, instead of solves, the problem. However, the second statement
leaves the host open to the intellectual chaos that necessarily
This problem was solved by Nietzsche, who stated that the
procedure of philosophy was to question all ideas until the Abyss was
reached (i.e., the intellectual chaos of Socratic procedure), then
pretend that the Abyss does not exist by constructing one's personal
philosophy and invalidating or ignoring anything that contradicts it.
This was the method by which he arrived at his philosophy of the will
to power.
At the risk of starting old arguments again, this is the
definition of Mr. Brodie's level-3 activity, which is not so much a
higher-than-thou state as it is a solution to the inherent
instability of memetic complexes. Memetics seems at heart nothing
more than a codified means of Socratic methodology, and the level-3
mind seems a natural result of a full memetic stance. The level-2
mind, as applied to atheism, would thus be the (2) statement of "there
are no ultimate truths" mentioned above, where truth is still held to be
the result
of empirical observation. Expression of level-2 thinking in other
perspectives is a mix of this with a greater or lesser amount of
Platonistic thought.
Level-1 thinking would result from either a total lack of
logical thought or an application of Socratic methodology until the
idea of logic is dismissed entirely as having no basis whatsoever.

In Sum:
(1). The statement that "there are no ultimate truths" is not
self-contradictory. In the Socratic perspective, it is merely a
statement for the benefit of explaining to people not holding that
perspective how nonsensical all knowledge is. In the materialist
perspective, it is simply a refutation of the Platonistic perspective
(2). Level 1, 2 and 3 minds have a basis in philosophical
perspective, and are thus not arbitrary divisions nor normative
statements of how people should think. Moreover, the level-3 mind is
a necessary by-product of a full application of memetic theory.

Toward the accumulation of useful information,