Wed Dec 26th, 2007 at 11:12:15 AM EST
I was bemused by the vehemence of debate which took off in the "Hostility to the Limits of Growth" thread once Deepak Chopra made an appearance.
On the one hand we have the rational scientists, and on the other those who believe science may be extended into the realm of spirituality.
<And that's without even mentioning "Art"!>
I'm going to chuck two things into the Pot. Firstly a very lazy quote from a blog concerning Robert Pirsig's
Metaphysics of Quality
The Metaphysics of Quality (MoQ) is an intellectual ordering of experience; it is a way of organising our knowledge; it is a filing system for the contents of our mind.
It postulates that the fundamental reality is Quality or value. All things come from Quality, and it is Quality that draws all things into being from Quality. All that exists is a form of Quality, and nothing exists without Quality. You could say that Quality is one of the names of God.
The first distinction that is made in understanding Quality is a distinction between Dynamic Quality (DQ) and Static Quality (SQ). DQ cannot be named and cannot be described. It is the cutting edge of experience. It is pre-intellectual awareness. DQ does not fit into any intellectual system; it is the ragged edge at the border of all such systems. DQ is the driving force of evolution, the lure (or: telos) which all of existence pursues.
Sometimes, a DQ driven evolution creates an evolutionary leap. Something new comes into existence. For this new thing of value to be maintained in existence it must 'static latch'; that is, it must be able to generate a particular pattern of value which persists over time, either on a continuous basis or a continuously regenerated basis.
These static latches form the known world. They are the stable forms of Quality.
Static Quality can be named. It can be classified and analysed. The principal classification of SQ is a division into four levels. These levels are discrete and do not overlap. Moreover, all that we presently know can be classified and described according to these four levels, except for DQ itself, which, to repeat, remains outside of all realms of classification.
The four levels are: inorganic, organic, social and intellectual. (For the sake of simplicity the inorganic can be taken to include the quantum level, although perhaps this level could constitute its own 'zeroth' level).
The inorganic level refers to atomic and molecular behaviour. Any object can be viewed as existing at the inorganic level. For example, a rock is a pattern of inorganic value - it's constituent parts value their current relationships more than any other alternative (eg disintegration). In the original flux, before there was either matter or time, Quality was found to lie in a certain structuring of quantum forces. [Here an astro-physicist can fill in the gaps].
The inorganic level is shaped by the laws of physics. These laws are a codification of the value choices made by atoms and molecules.
The organic (or biological) began to develop when a particular molecule made a DQ leap into a different pattern of behaviour. 'Biological evolution can be seen as a process by which weak Dynamic forces at a subatomic level discover stratagems for overcoming huge static inorganic forces at a superatomic level.' The highest quality static latch at the organic level was the molecule DNA. In practical terms this level can be considered as anything which can be described with reference to DNA.
The organic level is shaped by the law of natural selection. This law is a codification of the value choices made by organic patterns of value.
Uniquely (so far as we know), the human species is able to experience two further degrees of static quality.
The social level is the 'subjective customs of groups of people'. This sense of 'social' does not apply to anything non-human. The DQ innovation and static latch which enabled the social level to come into being was the development of language. It is possible that this static latch was supplemented by the further DQ innovation and static latch of ritual, but that is a moot point.
The social level encompasses an enormous variety of human behaviour. It can be understood through the values which govern it. The social level is shaped by laws, customs, mores and religious practices (eg against murder, adultery, theft) which are enforced by soldiers, policemen, parents and priests. These laws are what preserve the existence of social patterns of value from a degradation into the biological patterns of value on which the society depends. The social level is also ordered through the celebrity principle, which articulates the governing social values. Celebrities are those people who exemplify the values of the society, and who gain social rewards (principally wealth, power and fame) as a result.
The intellectual level is 'the level of symbolic social learning', the 'same as mind'. It is the 'collection and manipulation of symbols, created in the brain, that stand for patterns of experience'. The DQ innovation and static latch which enabled the intellectual level to come into being has not been satisfactorily determined.
The intellectual level is shaped by the notion of 'truth', which stands independently of social opinion. There is no link between celebrity and truth. The guardians of the intellectual level are, variously, the members of the Church of Reason. Intellectual 'laws' (eg logic) are a codification of the value choices made by intellectuals.
A culture is a combination of social and intellectual patterns of value. The twentieth century can be understood as a contest between social and intellectual patterns of value.
So: a quick recap on the key terms.
Quality - source of everything (I think of Quality as being one of the names of God, ie it conveys something about God, but is incomplete).
Dynamic and Static Quality - the first division in our understanding. Dynamic Quality (DQ) can't be defined (the Tao that can be spoken is not the eternal Tao). Static Quality(SQ) is everything that we can talk about.
The four levels: inorganic, organic, social and intellectual, in order of ascending value.
My heresy is that I don't think level four is `intellectual' - and I think there are all sorts of profound problems with it. I would rechristen the fourth level as `eudaimonic', and understand how it works differently - and I've written a longish essay on why which can be accessed via the moq.org website.
Pirsig's Metaphysics - in my view - asks better questions of Reality than anything else I have seen - albeit my exposure to Metaphysics is limited. There's also an interesting analogy with Maslow's hierarchy of needs here, of course.
Note that Pirsig confines himself to four levels, and the diarist - who is from a Christian tradition - has "issues" with the fourth and "highest" of the levels.
Now it seems to me that it is in this fourth - Intellectual/ Spiritual/ Emotional? - level that the guerrilla warfare is being fought out on ET - and, come to that in many other fora.
The second piece of "background" is personal.
About a dozen years ago - when I was just finishing my stint as a "top dog" in a global futures exchange - my ex went to see "Mary Rose", a psychic/ tarot reader who had been recommended to her by a friend. After this, she pestered me on and off for 6 months or so to go and see her, while I poo-poo'ed the whole thing as a good (well, pretty useless, actually) applied mathematician should.
In the end, I was prevailed upon to do so, just to shut my ex up on the subject, and duly caught the train down to Greenwich. I was surprised that "Mary Rose" appeared quite normal, and after introducing myself, she took a tarot pack and started off on a "reading".
Now, at this remove, I cannot remember all of the reading but a few examples of things she said stay with me:
She referred to places, and to names. She saw "Holland" for instance - was that relevant? Yes, I said, I had just that afternoon booked a flight to see an exchange CEO in Amsterdam (which my ex did not know, and would not have interested her if she had). You'll get what you want there, she said, and I did.
She saw "Robert", who was recently dead, and "Canada". A friend of mine, Bob Purves, formerly of the Winnipeg Exchange (whom my ex did not know and had never met) had very recently died. She said that he was a (Taurean? I think). I had no idea, but when I checked, he was.
She asked if I had a car. Yes. Be careful with the steering and brakes she said.
Within a week my ex had parked the car in our drive, which was at 90 degrees off a steep hill, but left off the brake, and failed to straighten up the steering. The car duly trundled off down the hill and caused a few hundred quids worth of damage...
There were other instances, but the long and short of it is that since meeting "Mary Rose", whom I returned to a few times over the years, I have been convinced that there is another level of "consciousness" or maybe "awareness" in which some people have an ability.
This is of course not susceptible to any sort of "proof" and I don't think it is to be relied upon to the exclusion of more "rational" decision making.
The point of all this is that whatever the "truth" is of our "reality" we have to approach it on the basis of our own experience, and, moreover, IMHO on the basis that the "Either/Or" scalpel of Reason is a deeply imperfect way of approaching whatever it is that is "out there".