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Idealism, Cynicism and Size

~atp~

TRIBE Member
Just some random thoughts stuff...not sure if this will make sense (or even interest any of you) in the end given the wine I've consumed tonight... ;)



Humans are animals, and are the product not of human ingenuity, of course, but of the genetic mechanism self-preservation. I believe, quite firmly, that all animals, humans excepted, act according to this self-preservation mechanism, without fail.

Put another way, genes have a primary directive: "Save yourself, forget the rest". This genetic prime directive is selfish, and drives the process of natural selection. It's a really simple concept, Dawkins does a nice job at packaging the theory into his book "the selfish gene".

Anyway, humans are a tad bit different. Not special, we just happen to have a more complex nervous system. You see, self-conscience is merely a product of complexity: pack in enough neurons, and voila! instant self-reflective ability! It's something like recursion, but probably more like a program that can change its own code intelligently.

So here we are with this special gift (?) of self-conscience which gives us the ability to understand some of the mechanisms that drive the world. In particular, our awareness of the rule of self-preservation allows us to disobey it. Such awareness might be described as morality, or maybe rationalism, or spirituality; any of these would do fine, but the point is that we can now proactively choose to ignore the rule that has governed animals for millions of years.

And this is only because we are able to reflect on the decisions we make and therefore determine, before acting, whether or not our decisions are selfish or altruistic.

That being said, I think it is the greatest irony of humankind that when it matters most, we ignore this gift. That is why I am cynical. I believe that when it comes down to it, humans will submit to the powerful will of our genetic Prime Directive; we see this behaviour everywhere, throughout history.

My idealism comes from the dream that we should resist the temptation of the genetic Prime Directive, raise awareness of it and teach generosity and altruism. In the face of the greatest acts of selfishness, I believe that we should remain true to the ideals we'd like to achieve.

The third concept that I think ties into these ideas is "size". Size defeats us, I think Stephen King said it best in the first Dark Tower book, but more or less, I believe that size, fundamentally, restricts all "cooperating" entities throughout the universe. Some sort of mathematical equation where the nth derivative is deterministic and finite, yielding a limit beyond which the entire system collapses (not necessarily in on itself, but quite possibly). Where I'm going with this is that a connected global community is harming us more than it is achieving good.

Don't misunderstand that to mean that the Internet will be our doom, etc. What I mean is that trying to unite every individual, at every level in every way of life across the globe is an unassailable objective: the infrastructure that acts like a glue holding our communities together can only get so big, and then they fall. It's that simple. The mathematics is unimportant when you know the truth (so says Godel) and so we realize something...global government, united economies, dominant corporations, global military; these are all things which will destroy, not create.

Worried about over-population? Don't! Size defeats us. We'll fuck up that prediction soon enough....

As an idealist, I dream of the day when we realize that the need for united global government is unncecessary. Unavoidable? Absolutely not. But a new awareness, a self-conscious behaviour at the societal level is required...how can we achieve that if we haven't even properly realized our own self-conscience? That's why I'm cynical...some people tend to think this is edging toward Communism, but it isn't: communism fails because as I mentioned, humans inevitably revert back to the self-preservation Prime Directive, which is what destroyed communism.


So, I hold to idealism in the face of cynical realities, and I believe that size is what defeats all of these things in the end...self-destructive tendencies...we'll "eat ourselves to death" in the end...just look at the United States; a great example of over-consuming resources. Fat kids eating McDonalds, rich corporations raping other countries of their resources, governments accumulating unnecessary power, etc. We watch as skies get polluted and wildlife gets destroyed. But we've been given this gift of self-consciousness and where is it being used? How are its effects felt? The self-awareness gives us the ability to change these patterns of self-destructive behaviour--where the limit of this destructive behaviour is a function of size...so it's only a matter of time...I hope we change soon.
 

SPACEMAN

TRIBE Member
dude, it's 2 in the morning. what kind of fucking drugs are you smoking to be writing this kind of shit at his god forsaken hour?

seriously, don't you have anything better to do than think of crazy ass shit that's already been thought of, regurgitating ideas that have explanations, being stoned and boring the shit out of anyone who cares to clidk on your post?

for real?

when blithering animals coast along the multitudes of ambivalence, how close does the reality of their situation really hit home?

go to sleep man. you crazy mutherfucker.

;)

az
 

PosTMOd

Well-Known TRIBEr
The human population is really split in two, much like our brains are: the primitive, instinctual part, and the neocortex, from where our consciousness rises.

A lot of stuff gets taken care of by the primitive part quite nicely, like digestion, shitting (part of it anyway-- the involuntary sphincter signals the voluntary sphincter in most people), etc. The human population that is this primitive, instinctual part is the non-thinking mass of morons, who like monkeys given a lever that when pressed gives them cocaine press it until they die.

Meanwhile, the consciousness-providing part, represented by me and anyone who read this far into this drivel, can't stop laughing at the idea that we're attached to this monkey that won't stop pressing that fucking lever-- YES, IT FELT GOOD A COUPLE OF TIMES, BUT PLEASE STOP NOW. You just shit yourself, and you haven't eaten in weeks, months, years, decades.

How futile. It's like trying to stop digestion, or trying to stop your involuntary sphincter.
 

chipotle

Well-Known TRIBEr
I would read it but I am off to bed now.

Plus, when I am tired I am a very slow reader. Usually I am not that fast of a reader though. Anyways.. I am off!
 

OTIS

TRIBE Member
Great post ATP, I disagree with a few unimportant ideas there, but for the most part I can heavily relate to what you're getting at. Although the late hour inhibits an appropriate reply, I just want to say kudos for (other than PosTMOd as of late) posting a topic in the gen forum that has some potential for good discourse.
 
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OTIS

TRIBE Member
Originally posted by SPACEMAN
dude, it's 2 in the morning. what kind of fucking drugs are you smoking to be writing this kind of shit at his god forsaken hour?
Judging by his first line Andre, it's a wine induced philosophical rant.
 

~atp~

TRIBE Member
Originally posted by SPACEMAN


seriously, don't you have anything better to do than think of crazy ass shit that's already been thought of, regurgitating ideas that have explanations, being stoned and boring the shit out of anyone who cares to clidk on your post?
I know, I know, it's been around before...I guess that's part of the problem; a lot of people have already said what I'm trying to with more grace and wit, but it doesn't seem to get through the monkey part of our brain...



Originally posted by PosTMOd
How futile. It's like trying to stop digestion, or trying to stop your involuntary sphincter.
Yah it is futile. This morning I feel a bit more clear-headed, and I guess a lot of what I was trying to point out is really just an exercise in understanding why the monkey always wins...is it because (s)he never gets tired? You know, maybe the cortex realizes it can't win, so we submit to it...*shrugs*


But it's all part of the great equation of humanity: Self-preservation + Size -> Destruction.
 

PosTMOd

Well-Known TRIBEr
Originally posted by mr tall
I try to think of what chuck norris would do, and then I do that
Chuck Norris has learned to control his involuntary sphincter, so now he has two voluntary sphincters.

Maybe society needs one of these...

 

PosTMOd

Well-Known TRIBEr
Well, I guess this ain't work safe anymore, unless you want to tell your boss that you were looking into getting him or her an artificial sphincter, in order to cut off the constant flow of shit.
 
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monro

TRIBE Member
Originally posted by ~atp~


I guess a lot of what I was trying to point out is really just an exercise in understanding why the monkey always wins...is it because (s)he never gets tired? You know, maybe the cortex realizes it can't win, so we submit to it...*shrugs*

i contemplate this to extreme levels at times,,,esp lately and also esp how it pertains to relationships and "love" abd what someone u love wants vs my natural desires and instincts..

nice overall points and thoughts,,
 

~atp~

TRIBE Member
Some more thoughts on size...



Consider that an average human acquires a certain amount of knowledge in their lifetime. I think that over human history, knowledge, if the amount of it in a human lifetime were quantifiable, has generally seen an increasing trend over the centuries. While our brains are relatively static in size, shape and composition, the sheer volume of material (knowledge by description, not by acquaintance) has been increasing over time.

What's kinda interesting to think about is that the rate of our insights into any particular element of acquired knowledge has probably not grown at all, even though we have more information to work with. In fact, I often wonder if it's decreasing. So for example, the cromagnon may have been acquiring information at a low rate, but each element of information was giving the cromagnons a wealth of insights about the world. Today however, we get fed ridiculous amounts of information, but the insights we gain from them are apparently few. It's a quantity/quality argument.

And what's the result of this highly inefficient use of the information we acquire over our lifetime? I have a theory: in my undergraduate thesis, I did an interesting experiment on feed-forward neural networks that involved analyzing how stable they were under varying conditions of noisy input. A feed-forward neural network is basically a set of connected "processing units" (nodes or neurons, if you like) that accept a particular kind of input (stimuli of some sort) and produce an output or "response". A neural network is "trained" to produce a particular output based on a given input. This could be something like binary addition, prediction, classification, etc. Over time, neural networks can potentially become very, very good at producing the correct output based on a particular input.

I'm telling you about all this because many researchers in the neurosciences use variants of the model I just described to emulate certain properties of the human brain. In the work that I did, I discovered that the neural network successfully discerned between "noisy" data and real data quite effectively (noise is random, "false" data patterns that are used as input into the network). However, and here's my point, after a certain threshold, I found that the noise overwhelmed the neural net's ability to perform with any accuracy whatsoever. Not only that, but after halting the intense session of noisy data injections, the recovery period for the poor neural net was quite slow.

You can liken the above experiment to human brains--and see the answer to my original question: the useless information we receive and don't really use to create insights becomes noise. If the noise level gets too high, our brains stop working altogether. Sounds fun, doesn't it? ...that's precisely the point at which the monkey takes over and the world goes to shit.

Prefix A.D.D. (Attention Deficit Disorder) to everything in the world that reaches our senses: ADD news, ADD internet, ADD jobs, ADD wars, ADD school. It's all noise. And the level is increasing. Where's the breaking point on humans? When does the noise overcome our ability to process information? ...scary thoughts.

Another (cynical) example of how size defeats us.
 

PosTMOd

Well-Known TRIBEr
Thing is, that information doesn't actually make it into [most] people's systems-- it's filtered out quite effectively.

The problem is that most people have no control at all over what they take in, and what is filtered out before processing. The human brain can handle say, 100 units of input, and you have too many dolts sitting around inputting video games, crappy television, and shitty music.

What are you left with? A bunch of morons who have only read the books they were forced to read in high school, and who think that CSI contains real science, and that Bush is a great president, since what he is doing with his soldiers mimics what happens in their video games.
 
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