virus: definition of level 3

Generic User cen08881 (
Mon, 4 Nov 1996 01:20:14 -0500

This didn't seem to make it in last time I posted it, so...
We could equate the level-1 through level-3 minds with the progresive
problem resolutions of Plato, Aristotle, and Nietzsche:
The fundamental problem with memetic complexes was pointed out by
Socrates, who seems to have asked "What is the basis of this idea?" of every
meme in the structure. Eventually, this reduces to a circular argument or a
set of assumptions, neither of which is firm ground. A person might be
tempted at realizing this to abandon all knowledge as futile: this would be
the level-1 mind, which functions on a desire & need level as opposed to one
of philosophical (rational or irrational) thought.
Plato tried to resolve this by postulating the ideal, and neo-
Platonism extended this to the concept of the real emanating from the ideal:
thus all knowledge would be inextricably based in ultimate reality, since
postulates would have an objective existence in and of themselves. The
problem with this is that contradictory postulates could objectively exist
at the same time -- a problem solved by both the neo-Platonic idea of God as
containing all dualities in itself and by Aristotle's emphasis on empirical
observation. Here is the level-2 mind: actions are based on a system of
philosophy which holds its ground either in the ideal world (or the divine)
or in empirical evidence. Thus both religious and scientific thinkers are at
Note that religious level-2 thinking has the advantage of having an
irrefutable, if unprovable, base (God), whereas scientific level-2 thinking
has the advantage of a provable, if not ultimately verifiable, base
(mathematics and logic). This may be why the two are always at odds, since
the dominance of one weakens the stability of the base of the other.
Nietzsce realized that neither of these weaknesses could be overcome, so he
made the statement that forms the bais of level-3 thinking: that it is
necessary to question everything, while looking for proof, until one arrives
at a point of intellectual chaos -- and then pretend that that chaos does
not exist [ref. _Beyond Good and Evil_]. The individual is then free to, and
must, create his or her own system of philosophy and ignore or invalidate
any attempts to undermine it. This is the level-3 mind.
[It is also why any attempts to shake Mr. Brodie form his position on
the levels will ultimately fail unless he decides to abandon it of his own
The level-3 thinker is basically a happy existentialist. He realizes
that any serious consideration of knowledge, as opposed to seeing it as a
game, when carried to its extreme will lead to uncertainty and eventual
self-destruction [ref. _Nausea_, _The Stranger_, _Either/Or_ &c.]. He
refuses this and makes the choice that he has to in order to keep on living.
Unlike the transition from the level-1 to the level-2 mind, the
transition from the level-2 to the level-3 mind would be irrevocable, since
the individual has already (at least in his own experience) destroyed the
basis of the former. He may, however, appear to be operating on level-2,
since he must appropriate a level-2 meme complex in order to function
philosophically and survive.
The levels most likely have no basis in physiology, but rather have
their basis in the questioning of ideas -- which is why memetics would be
the foremost arena for level-3 development.

Regarding the "useful" categorization:
I do not think that Mr. Brodie's use of the word "useful" is a
throwback to pragmatism. Rather, I think that it is the best way of stating
that a level-3 thinker chooses his memes on the basis of how he would like
the world to be structured rather than on an outside basis such as logic,
mathematics, or God. Of course, this does not mean that a level-3 thinker
would necessarily avoid logic, mathematics, or God -- he would simply
appropriate those concepts if he wanted them there... if he found them

After all of this, though, I must admit that whether it is beneficial
to be a level-3 thinker or not is debatable. Most likely, level-3 thinking
would result in borderline narcicism, arrogance, and paranoia (a result of
the required increased defenses of his basic concepts), as well as an
increased succeptibility to depression if the individual could not
adequately refute attacks on his basic memes. In addition, level-3 thinkers
would be harder to control, from a law-and-order point of view.

Noctem "Don't quote Crowley, tell me what you
Stygian Blacksmith Studios think."
- _Mage: The Ascension_