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25 July 2007



Very interesting post.

1. Sometimes our mundane perception of the world infects our metaphysical perception of the world. Spinoza argued that people believe that things have a quality of being 'good' or 'evil', because they realise something does bad or good for them, and as such makes a judgement about the nature of the object that is unwarranted. The same goes for teleology; we believe there is order (or intention) in one thing that we tacitly deem all things to have order.

No proposition is immune to doubt, nor should be shed from the light of scrutiny.

2. Your examples of co-operation take place on different levels of analysis. For example, the gene-level, the cell-level, and, largest of all, the level of all human agents. Granted, cells and genes are our constituents; but how far do our constitutents define the behaviour of macro-level? This is a difficult question for the activity of (a) individuals [biological] and (b) society. We may need to assume some kind of strong reductionism where the most fundamental principles hold true of larger scale phenomena - I'm not so sure this holds even in physics, let alone human agency.

3. Dawkins suggests something of the following: even though we have these mechanisms working within us; which say, allow altrusitic behaviour or make survival the strongest impulse, we are in a social system where we can go beyond that. The survival instinct is one which acts, and does not think, meaning the hunter may make some vital mistake in favor of a quick decision to survive (or propagate). Religion may have some evolutionary beneficial too. But the enlightenement values of truth through rational enquiry can eliminate some things which have naturally come from within us, which we may curb, such as, say, a suggested constant desire to kill and reproduce (a fairly accurate description of modern man). As a matter of fact, we may have developed through this Darwinian narrative, as a matter of right/justice, we decide our moral values and political order through a different order of facts and propositions.

Barnaby Dawson

I tend to the feeling that there is a more general theory than evolution which can be described as a process resulting in greater and greater cooperation (and deeper degrees of control over the environment). This would apply on the biological level but also on the level of human societies (and levels beyond). Points A-E would all be evidence to support this.

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