Re: virus: (un)selfishness

Martz (
Thu, 24 Apr 1997 20:15:28 +0100

On Wed, 23 Apr 1997, Robin Faichney <> wrote:

>>If the study of the nervous system progresses to the point where we can
>>accurately model the human mind and we can trace effects back to causes
>>right down to the level of individual neurons we may well be able to say
>>*precisely* what motivated a given act.
>Not so. Whenever you identify a cause, you can ask what caused that,
>right back to the Big Bang. A decision to stop at any particular point
>can only be arbitrary.

Agreed, but when examining *any* system that arbitrary decision must be
made; 'what are the boundaries of the system?'. For the purposes of this
discussion I had been taking a human / humans as the system, therefore
my prime concern has been that which is within the system and that which
has a direct effect on it. It'll be nice if we (as a species) find a
Great Big Theory of Everything (TM) but if it happens it'll be done by
us doing some of the things we do best; specialise and cooperate. I'll
leave the quantum physics and cosmology to the people with some

>It's only because there's a self-image that
>"you" think "your self" is responsible for anything, or that anything/
>everything "you" do is "selfish", or that "you have" a "self".

Ehhhmmmm, so what?

>>I'm reminded of an experiment
>>which was done (in the 60s I think, if anyone can jog my memory on this
>>I'd be grateful) where a number of volunteers had little receivers
>>placed in their brains. When the doctor pressed a button a small
>>electric charge was delivered. One one patient this would cause him to
>>look over his left shoulder. Every time the button was pushed, he'd
>>glance to the left. When he was asked what he was looking for he always
>>had a sensible reason; "I was looking for my slippers" or "I heard
>>something". What does this say about motivation?
>It tells us that small electric currents come into the picture.

It also tells us that reflection alone *cannot* reveal our motives to
us. It also requires examination from an outside source.

>But then we knew that, didn't we? :-)

We did.


For my public key, <> with 'Send public key' as subject an automated reply will follow.

No more random quotes.