RE: virus: Strange attractors and meta-religions (was God and

Wright, James 7929 (
Thu, 03 Apr 97 09:28:00 EST

Tony Hindle wrote:
>>No, I would not take it.[JHW]<<
> I cant make my mind up wether this makes you an idiot, a man of
>moral virtue beyond my present comprehension or a liar.

Self-delusion allows others to take unfair advantage of one, therefore I
don't consider myself an idiot.
Moral virtue, if it exists, is an individual product / trait; you are
free to expand your own, without limit, if you so choose. I do not
consider myself exceptionally virtuous for refusing to delude myself with
or without useful result.
I do not lie. I have been known to employ all sorts of verbal tricks
including sarcasm, hyperbole, metaphor, irrelevancy and humor
(storytelling), but try always to remember to indicate such with
emoticons (:-)) or abbreviations (VBG!). If you think I am lying, point
it out and see if I forgot to document it as a verbal trick, or make me
see where my position is mistaken.

<snip magic pill meme>
> Ok you possess a meme that I really want. I would be proud of
>myself if I really and truley believed I would do the same in such
>circumstances. (even if I wouldnt)<

I approach this from a logical point of view. Personal sacrifice for the
benefit of the race is rational, in that the race includes one's own
genes, and removing a common hazard (ignorance) would increase the
chances of survival for all genes, including one's own. I do not pretend
selfless altruism; although someday my practice may reach that
attainment, it is not now included.
Pride is unnecessary. Many numbers of people have done as much or more
previously. Volunteers for experimental medical treatments risk death
anyway to improve the chances of others; Galileo risked execution to
express his understandings of the universe, and many others died; there
are numerous examples. If you have children, would you not risk death to
preserve them from harm?

<Snip self-deceit discussion>
> Nothing. But I would have to convince (not just tell) myself
>that a given act was moral. Even if I possessed a button that when I
>pushed it it would convince me, I wouldn't be able to push it because I
>would believe the act of pushing to be immoral. You are right, there is
>something recursively difficult.<

If you are capable of self-deceit, I fail to detect how deceiving
yourself about the morality of a given act is prevented. After the first
use, any more use would seem to be a given (having deceived yourself that
the actual use of such a button, even just once, was justified).

>> Rationalization is just such a process; because I have a greater good
in mind, a minor evil
>>is tolerable which progresses me toward that greater good.<<
> Provided that a rational analysis is made I can't see what is
>wrong with this (example; I would kill a person to stop them from
>killing two others.)<

Making a rational analysis in this case is extremely difficult; you
appear to have ruled out from initial conditions the possibility of
disarming / incapacitating the the potential murderer instead of killing
them outright.
By the way, both for internal discipline and future welfare I am paying
to send my two children to Karate lessons.

>>The difficulty is that minor evils are also difficult to contain from
becoming greater evils, and self->>deceit seems to increase exponentially
once its' accepted as a valid tool. This shows up in drama, >>literature
and real life fairly frequently.<<
> Yes I am interested by this spiralling self deceit warning. In
>fact my feelings are at present, that I must understand the risks in
>order that I can feel safe enough to allow me to deceive myself even a
>little. Does that make sense James? <

It does to me. I see no real need for self-deceit; citing Yoda from The
Empire Strikes Back, "Do or do not. There is no TRY." I am not generally
disturbed by success or failure of a given effort; either it succeeds or
does not, and if not, they I am free to try again, with different methods
and the knowledge of what did not work the first time.
Others may have a better method or approach.