Re: virus: Church of Virus/Memetics/Faith

David McFadzean (
Fri, 30 May 1997 13:05:09 -0600

At 09:09 AM 29/05/97 -0400, John \"Dry-Roasted Army Worm\" Williams wrote:

>>I don't think the two cases you describe exhaust all possibilities.
>I'm assuming you've offered that later...

Actually I didn't. I left the generation of other possibilities as an
exercise to the reader because I thought it was fairly obvious. If not,
let me know.

>As for something providing its own foundation -- logic itself is exempt
>from the charge against circular logic? Hmm. That's an interesting claim.

Not exactly. I'm saying that the circularity of an argument lies on
a continuum. Very tight circularity (e.g. The Bible is true because
it says so in the Bible) is a logical fallacy. But if the circularity
is extremely complex and indirect (like the body of scientific knowledge)
then it is not a logical fallacy (e.g. we know the age of the universe
because we know the speed of light, and the distance of stars, and the
nature of our instruments, and ... thousands if not millions of steps ...
which are eventually, in the long run, self-referential).

>Interestingly enough this is an issue that captivated Hume for some time,
>and then rubbed off on Kant, who attempted to justify it. Kant's
>justificiation is different. Simply put, he saw there to be _a_priori_
>truths -- truths that didn't need to be proved. These were hard-wired into
>us, and were something we were tuned into percieving. (Sounds a little like
>Plato's forms to me.) If these truths could be seperated from the morass of
>other assumptions, then there would be a basic foundation identified that
>science and logic could be supported on. This led eventually to
>Structuralism, which attempted to interpret human behavior on this basis,
>and then to Deconstructionism, which insisted that there was no such
>structure, that structuralism was based on air, and that we could know
>nothing *except* through our perceptions and belief-filters and thereby
>made everything suspect.

I would agree more with your Deconstructionist characterization. Except that
I would say that everything is open to criticism and revision (the pan-
critical rationalist position) instead of saying everything is suspect
(which might seem the same to you but has different connotations for me).

David McFadzean       
Memetic Engineer      
Church of Virus