Re: virus: Religion, Zen, post-structuralism, and the failure of logic

Eric Boyd (
Sun, 02 Jun 1996 15:33:15 -0500

John "Dry-Roasted Army Worm" Williams wrote:
> [Fair warning! Very long!]

Before I start here, I'd like to thank you John for saying what I knew
but could not not express. This is a beautiful peice of work. Thank

> We are obliged, of course, to be bold. Change is our
> proclaimed business, innovation our announced quarry,
> the accents of the future the language in which we
> deal. (Terrence Hawkes)
> Also:
> "The Law brings death, but the Spirit brings life."
> (I Corinthians 3:6, CEV)[1]
> Post-Structuralism[2] suggests otherwise; it suggests that there is no way
> we can get direct knowledge. All of our information-gathering techniques
> are flawed from the beginning, and we can't hope to overcome the
> differences. Where a structuralist would have said the task is to seperate
> the mistaken biases and interpretations from the True Structure, the
> post-structuralist says that it is all bias and interpretations, and the
> True Structure, if it exists, *cannot* be percieved. One reason for this is
> that we are beings in the world, not observers outside of it, looking in.

Yesyesyes. We are /of/ the world, not above it. Are there any good
books on Post-Structuralism?

> What this does, essentially, is reduce all major schools of thought and
> discipline to "ways of seeing."
> "Above all, deconstruction works to undo the idea -- according
> to Derrida, the ruling illusion of Western metaphysics -- that
> reason can somehow dispense with language and arrive at a pure,
> self-authenticating truth or method." (Christopher Norris)

As I see it, this is entirerly the same thing as E-Prime tries to stop.
The so called "Aristotletillian essences" are nothing more than the
above mentioned True Structure. "Is" and its cohorts run alot deeper
than even I realized. Another very good reason to stop using "is".

> Post-structuralist thought says they are both wrong. They are both
> constructs of humans; they are "ways of seeing," but they are not -- and
> cannot be -- the One True Sight.

I love this! I've been saying for a long time that "to travel is better
than to arrive"... you've now said, in as many words, that arriving is
in fact impossible. There is no truth.

> Or we can take what I call the "enabling step." In other words, taking a
> leap of Faith, that what we percieve has some connection to reality.
> Fortunately, with the concept of memes, and the development of
> Post-structuralism, "ways of seeing" loose their ultimate authority over
> us. We can see them all (if we choose) as being imperfect creations created
> by an imperfect people, with an imperfect grasp on things. We can begin to
> attempt to exchange Ways of Seeing when it suits.

Level three finally has a firm basis.

> Postructuralism tells us that we cannot know anything ultimately. This
> anhilates the authority of the major meme-schools, all of which insist they
> have The Truth. This is the Law, that brings death, whether it's Jewish law
> (in the context of the New Testament period), or Science, or Christian law.
> Memetics suggests a theory on how we *see*, which enables us (if we take
> that leap) to modify our own thinking patterns, to *learn* to see
> differently than we do, and teach others to see differently than they do,
> and lets us put off these Science- or Religion-colored specticals when the
> need arises; like when we have to face the death of our mother from cancer,
> or when we need to stop that runaway atomic reaction, and I mean pronto!

Memetics seems to implicily express all of this, eh? The idea that
ideas evolve is just a facet of the "fact" (now that's a useless term,
eh? But my meme space has been so polluted by all this "absolute" stuff
that I can't even think without making those assumptions. A lot of work
to do here!) that the "truth" does not really exist. Idea's are
continually changing /because/ there is no truth for them to cling to.
As ways of seeing the world change, the "truth" of the world changes as
well. That is why I really like John's statement about the Bible being
a "progressive revelation" of people's changing attitudes toward the
world. Maturing attitudes, actually. It could not be otherwise.

> The goal, then, is a new vision of living. It is to learn how to see as
> others see, and to try to get others to see as others see, and to spread
> understanding, tolerance, and interest in other forms of vision. Like
> Buddhism, which rests on an awareness of the *here*ness of people. Like
> Christianity, which rests in the Faith of the One True Conviction. And like
> Logic, which explores concepts in detail, and keeps a check on sillyness.

The enshrinement of level 3 as the goal of a new way of life? Cool. I
had thought orginally that this entire idea was antitheis to
Christianity, with it's emphasis on "the One True Conviction" but you
are right here, too. Viewing the world as /having/ an ultimate truth
/can be/ one way of looking it. And that is really a way that provides
a basis for learing about the world. After all, if there are no
absolutes, knowledge is useless/meaningless because the world may change
tomorrow. Science must view the world as having a True Structure, or it
has nothing to work with. The big question now is this: where do we
draw the line? Where does science become invalid because this
assumption no longer holds? Or is it, as D.McF. maintains, an entire
way of looking at life that makes itself valid?

> And, of course, this vision of living has something that precious few of
> the dominant ones have had: both an interest in change AND a recognition of
> what it is to be an emotional human being, with perceptons and feelings
> unruled by logic.
> What do ya'll think? Think this might be a viable "accent of the future?"

This is certainly where I'm baseing myself out of now. Sort of a hybred
mix (ala level 3) of Zen and Engineering. And an understanding that
both (and neither) are the Truth. (what's really nice: that does not
even look like a contradiction anymore. Funny how if you work hard
enough (or is that relax long enough?) duality's vanish, eh?)

> [1] Notice that practically no-one needs to say "The Bible?" Now *that's*
> one heckuva meme-factory.

No doubt!


I'd like to say thank you, again. I think the memetic interactions of
our two brains (plus all you others out there!) have really boot
strapped us both to a better level. Cheers!