Re: virus: Just asking...

Peter Charlot (
Tue, 15 Jul 1997 12:21:26 -1000

Tim Rhodes wrote:

> <Mysticism>, on the other hand, offers no receptor sites for the
> <evidence> antibody to take hold of. Woven into its coat is the
> message,
> "accompanying memes exists outside the realm of evidence, attach no
> value
> to countermeasures employing evidence." This is beautiful!!! As an
> adaption it is simply a wonder, the perfect anti-antibody defense.

Thank you Tim for continuing and stabilizing this discussion. The
belief that memetics
supersedes religious belief is a tenant of this group, but I believe we
need to move on
and recognize that we "rational minds" are subject to the same errors.

Your statement is the essence of the rational memes attack on the
mysticism. Being an atheist
I have agreed with it for years. It occurred to me, though, that by
finding refuge in rational thinking and science I
have committed the same blunder. A blunder that I begin to believe is a
necessary attribute of any meme-complex.
There is no difference between a scientific experiment and the lighting
a devotional candle. As the repeatable
ignition of the candle demonstrates the validity of the religion, so
does a repeatable experiment demonstrate
the validity of the philosophy (educational, institutional, national and
etc.) that supports that experiment.
Essentially, science has nothing to say about morality and ethics.
Dennett's weakest chapters in "Dangerous Idea"
attempt to find morality in memetic philosophy. He fails.

Dennett insists that there is no moral First Aid Manual. He's right and
he should have stopped there. He delivers his own morality but not
before he makes such valid statements as, "I do not at all intend this
to be a shocking indictment, just a reminder of something, quite
obvious: no remotely compelling system of ethics has ever been made
computationally tractable, even indirectly, for real-world problems."
Yet give him time and he joins the club. How does he do it?

Dennett states: "Yet we do get there from here. Few of us are paralyzed
by such indecision for
long stretches of times. By and large, we must solve this decision
problem by permitting an utterly "indefensible"
set of defaults to shield our attention from all but our current
projects. Disruptions of those defaults can only
occur by a process that is bound to be helter-skelter heuristics, with
arbitrary and unexamined conversation-stoppers
bearing most of the weight."

We've transcended in a hundred years from "ethical ideals" to
"helter-skelter heuristics and conversation-stoppers."
The result is the same. Each philosophy allows action in the end,
actions that not all will agree with or feel are justified. Dennett
seems the polar opposite of the audacity of religion, Dennett's is the
morality of "...well...we've run out of time."
Yet, this seemingly benign approach does not negate clarion calls to
action. He gets rather worked up, once he's let loose.

"If you want to teach your children that they are the tools of God, you
had better not teach them that they
are God's rifles, or we will have to stand firmly opposed to you..." I
guess when you reach heuristic deadlines
it is OK to pick up a gun yourself and kill them warring Christians.

The trouble is that Dennett has not accepted that the universal acid is
eating through his
philosophy as well as the religions he feels so removed from. I am thank
full that he and Gould are not
Military commanders. I'm sure they would wage a most rational war, but
it would be war nonetheless.
There is no ethics or morality. Morality and ethics are creeds and the
ol' acid
does not allow for their "sky-hook" solutions either.