virus: The Greeks would be Geeks

Reed Konsler (
Tue, 18 Feb 1997 23:36:29 -0500

The recent refernces to Aristotole and Plato lead me to put forth this idea:

The famous greek philosophers...lets say Socrates, Plato, and
Aristotle...are revered because they invented, along with others
unremembered, a system of more or less logical argument and philosophy.
The Greeks are in general revered for their contrubutions to reflective
thought (meta-memes if you want some jargon).

Transposed in time, however (and fiating a common language), they couldn't
hold muster in intro philosophy. The point is that they are ANCIENT and
that culture, knowledege and philosophy has progressed quite a long way
since then. They were mental giants of their time...and likely possessed
incredible reserves of raw cognitive ability.

What they did not have (and all Memetisist chime in now...) was the
advantage of the memetic heritage to which we all, to a greater or lesser
extent, have been exposed. They had the nature, but not the nurture.

I mean, stop and consider how primitive these mental masters must have
been. There are emeritus professors in every department, 50 or 60 and
still mentally sharp as ever...passed by becuase the meme-sphere of even a
specialty outpaces. They are eclipsed by their younger collegues IN A
SINGLE GENERATION. In physics, if you haven't done it by 25 or 30 you
aren't going to make a really mind-bending contribution...historically
anyway. And why?

Becuase culture charges on...and struggle as we might each of us will be
left behind. As soon as you understand an idea you can bet it's been
proven false and something more complicated erected in it's place. The
"truth" never stands still long enough for one to catch it...and if you do
catch it you've failed.

Now, Richard, I don't agree with my understanding of level 3 becuase it
seems to me like a sort of respite from the quest for the holy grail...a
place where you can be satisfied. But maybe I'm misinterpreting. Most of
my questions, I think, are not intended to attack you level ideas but to
define them. I will not join a bunch of self-satisfied slackers.

I advocate the incandecent life, not the pleasant one. So no system is
perfect, so what? Charge! There is nothing so beautiful as a new model, a
new theory, a new idea. We will never attain perfect understanding, (to
paraphrase Browning:) but a man's reach must exceed his grasp, or else what
is heaven for?

Ideologies are stepping stones, not fortifications. James Burke describes
culture and history as an exploding sphere... meme-sphere if I may be so
bold. Plato is behind us, Aristotle is behind us...and yes, David, Ayn
Rand is behind us, too. Not that she wasn't brilliant, not that she didn't
contribute great ideas to the debate...but is there ever an ABSOLUTE truth?
Atlas Shrugged is plublished...and a published idea is dead. The frontier

Do you want to know what the Existential Void is? It's when you stand on
the frontier of cuture and look outward instead of inward. There is
nothing there...yet. Are you going to cower away and cling to limited
universe of yesterday, or are you going to leap into that void?

[Inserted into this rant: McLuhan describes culture as "forward through
the rear-view mirror" and I think this is what he means. As communication
speeds up we all know what each other knows. We can't rely on people to
teach us, there isn't any "ancient wisdom" to find. At the frontier of
culture we have two choices...look forward into the unknown (terribly
frightening) or backward. McLhuan insisted that people we so afraid of
looking forward that they didn't even live in the present...but looked into
the past. Not like living in yesterday...but living in the MEMES of
yesterday. Using obsolete models becuase if we used curent ones and found
those lacking...then what?]

Come on yourself say you love to tinker. You argue with the
Objectivists, you argue with Neo-techs, you argue with us. Take the
plunge...hack these obsolete philosophies (and I include Levels: and idea
published is an idea dead) to pieces and salvage the parts that
work...understanding is pieced together, on the fly, continuiously.

David, you are always talking about SLAVERY about FACISM about CONFORMITY.
Where is freedom? Where is will? Where is life? Why did feudalism fail?
Because hiding in a castle means there is no that freedom?

Freedom from fear perhaps. Are you willing to sacrifice your freedom of
will for this?

Who is really the SLAVE? Freedom is expressed in action, in movement, in

We are all searching for elegance of thought...but it is elegance in
DYNAMIC thought is the is the master that is important, not the

The true thinker is the ultimate tinker...the thought is never "finished",
but rather "abandoned" (I forget who said this) for another project.
Objectivism will never overtake the net because Objectivism died before the
net was born. Stop moving forward through the rear-view mirror. Step
beyond the ideological idols and take personal responsibility.

I don't mean you shouldn't quote Rand...please do, there is tons of good
stuff there. But don't present HER philosophy, present yours. Don't say
SHE thought, say I THINK. That is freedom. And that is what Richard tries
to approach in level 3.

And here is Richard's mental position: He has been writing the diary of
thought and he has reached TODAY, this MOMENT. Right NOW. And you ask:
"What happened next?"

And what, to be perfectly fair, is he supposed to say? He can't tell you
what the next thought is until he thinks it. Every model, every concept he
advocates is obsolete, from his persepective, the moment he utters it. An
idea published (and I mean "published" in the broadest possible sense) is
an idea dead. Level 3 was yesterday, which is why he can honestly say he
doesn't believe it. Today...well, Richard, what is today?

I can imagine Richard is becoming quite sick of defending Level 3. Who
sees the inconsistencies more than he does? And what must Dawkins think of
HIS bastard child by now? Does he realize that the frontier has moved
beyond him...that his shining ideas have been widely accepted, and are now
like all models...obsolete?

Can you imagine the feeling he must have seeing the corpse of his most
brilliant days hacked to pieces for that single that we may
construct our own Frankenstien's monster? To Dawkins "Memes" were a
one-off, a clever idea stuck amidst the "meaty stuff".

We have cut out his creation's gall bladder and made it the heart. Is any
one surpised he doubts it beats? What must he think of the beast which is
driven by such a thing?

Non-ranting mode on:

1) To make a strong analogy between a person's position and that of some
famous thinker (For instance: "you guys are just like Plato") is to,
without exception, create a straw man. No modern position is the eqivalent
of that expressed by Plato...I dare say in light of the centuries of
argument he might even adjust his words given the chance. It might be a
weak analogy ("you guys SOUND like Plato...and we all know that's a OLD
idea") but as such can, and should be, easily picked apart.

2) To claim personally another's philosophy is to become an indentured
servant in ones own mind.

Igor, give be the scalpel...I have some work to do this eeeee-ven-ing...

Reed, the LARGER one....

Muh ha ha h-ha HA!

Reed Konsler