virus: The Greeks would be Geeks

David Rosdeitcher (
19 Feb 97 18:55:11 EST

Reed--great post! Parts cut out for brevity.

>...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.

>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.

The ancient people developed some good things and created some bad viruses. Both
have been passed down. I think there might be an advantage to understanding
that. One of those viruses is implied-

>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.

>There is nothing so beautiful as a new model, a
>new theory, a new idea. We will never attain perfect understanding,

>Ideologies are stepping stones, not fortifications.

They seemed to create an idea of Absolute Truth which keeps people stuck in
obsolete ideologies, preventing development. This idea has infected some
objectivists as well.

>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?
No, ABSOLUTELY not. But, certain principles always apply within their

>The frontier is OUT THERE.

> Are you going to cower away and cling to limited
>universe of yesterday, or are you going to leap into that void?

> 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.

I took what seemed to be an orthodox Randian "objectivist" position to counter
what seemed to me to be a fundamentally subjectivist position about memes,
thoughts and free-will. And suddenly I was transformed into the kind of geeky
objectivist I used to criticize.

>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?

>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

I agree. One of the problems I had when arguing with objectivists is that they
seemed to be living in a world of pure ideas, not action or how to start
something different.

>Objectivism will never overtake the net because Objectivism died before the
>net was born.

Past objectivist writings like those of Rand will certainly not overtake the net
since they are not relevant. I don't consider objectivism to belong to Ayn Rand,
it seems more like a natural way of thinking that she was one of the first to
identify and put into a system. If within objectivism there is something
advantageous to people, and IF that thing is presented and marketed right,
objectivism expressed in a new form can spread throughout the net.

>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.

This is a case, where taking a "'meme' out of context" was a GREAT idea!

>1) To make a strong analogy between a person's position and that of some
>famous thinker is to,
>without exception, create a straw man.

I was not comparing anyone to Plato per se, except one instance about Plato's
Cave. What I was saying was that there are only 2 philosophical systems,
Platonistic and Aristotelian and each idea falls into one of those 2 categories.
Yes, it's black and white. (From this point of view or these distinction memes)

I think that there is a conflict between me and others here based on the
contexts of objectivism and memetics. Objectivism often emphasizes that
generalizations can be made, since they are coming from a context of people
arguing that they can't be made and that people are impotent to know things.
Memetics emphasizes the idea that there will be cases when generalizations
cannot be made and how models are only models or the map is not the territory.
Both apply, according to their context. -David