Principia Discordia

Principia Discordia => Or Kill Me => Topic started by: Cain on December 04, 2008, 06:11:53 pm

Title: No strings attached freedom
Post by: Cain on December 04, 2008, 06:11:53 pm
Freedom in politics is a curious thing.  When it comes to the topic, I can't help but think of the past 8 years of lunacy, highlighted in particular in the years following 2003.  It has become increasingly clear that “freedom” (with the speech marks) is a very odd project, not least because it is diametrically opposed to what most of us understand freedom to be.  Indeed, as events in Iraq and subsequent US military statements seem to suggest, one can actually be fighting against one's own freedom without even realizing it, or even while thinking one is doing just that.

Snarky comments about the war aside, it is increasingly clear that not only is the brand of freedom which the US Neoconservatives believe in so fervently something of a chimera, but that all political projects may themselves be dangerous to exercise of liberty.  Politics, so long as it is based on any form of ideological idiocy or the naïve multiculturalist relativism that is practiced nowadays is something that cannot be in favour of freedom, that in fact works against it.

This is something I have been grappling with for about the past year or so, to very little avail.  My thinking has traversed elements of all sorts of socially liberal thought, trying to pin down the elements or essence that makes them so much more free, the common bond which unites their purpose and rhetoric, even if it fails in the practice.  This is why I have been notoriously inconsistent in my political opinions of late, and have flirted between elements of all sorts of political opinions from the socialist end of the spectrum to the laissez-faire end with mutualism.  I've been hoping to find a way or method to overcome the inconsistencies, to try and bring together the elements of freedom, untainted by the less attractive elements that came with them.

But the thing is, once you go deep into the ideological structure of all these theories, you see how logically dependent on the basic assumptions of the theory these less attractive elements are.  In many ways, trying to purge these elements ends up in nothing more than throwing out the baby with the bathwater.  So the question for me became not how do we find a political system which brings about the greatest amount of freedom.  That was too limiting, and in some ways impossible to figure out anyway.  How do we measure the right to vote against the freedom to own arms?  Freedom of speech against the presumption of innocence?  And in ranking already existing alternatives, is this not nothing more than settling for, and legitimizing, the current flawed systems, when something better may still be possible.

Instead, I wanted to think about freedom outside of the constrains of politics.  And, with some help and a couple of useful guide maps, I found my way to this strange and unusual ground.  The problem, you see, is this.  Every single political conception of freedom comes with strings attached.  These strings may be obvious, in the guise of an all powerful central committee, or super-empowered secret police service.  But they may be lesser too.  One of the most insidious guises of these strings are those theories which have a certain theory of human nature.  While of course humans are animals and thus in some ways have predictable traits, our social and communicative systems have elevated and hastened our social landscape in such a way that practically any human trait can be followed with a “maybe”.  The problem with this is that it assumes that people will act in certain ways conducive to the theory in question.  But when people dissent or act in unexpected or accounted for ways, as they invariably do, then questions of exile, ostracism, “re-education” and witch hunts all come to the fore.  When freedom is conceived of as being a functioning part of the current political order, any excesses can be excused in the name of protecting 'freedom', be it the 'freedom' of contemporary neoliberal democracy, or that of the Peoples Revolution.  Or the Commune.  And so on and so forth.

So long as freedom is framed with certain identities, constrained with certain ideologies, given a grand project, it becomes no longer freedom, but a method of excusing the use of power towards various political ends.

So instead, we must conceive of freedom in a more literal way.  Freedom, instead, is the ability to be other than we are.  To have choices, and to be able to make them, freely.  Despite what you are, what you do or what you believe, freedom means having the potential to do something different in the next moment, if you please.

And when we apprehend freedom in such a personal and obvious manner, it is more liberating than any other feeling.  Obviously, it puts one in opposition to all the above theories, insofar as they all try to constrain identities or create projects for the Betterment of Mankind, but as Camus once said “I revolt, therefore we are.”  In acting against all such narratives, in an act of personalized revolt and transgression of their norms, one can find actual freedom.  The only guarantee of freedom is freedom itself.  It sounds tautological, but if you accept the premise, then it must be true.  Any attempts to safeguard freedom end up constituting it as a privilege, to be bestowed or relinquished as its repository sees fit. 

Of course, we must do away with certain myths of the modern era.  Freedom does not mean comfort.  It will not mean happiness, or fairness, or equality.  In fact, freedom, as I describe it here, is nothing but hostile to the existing order (whichever existing order) and thus can never be the foundation of a society.  Yet, at the same time, society brings into being, by forcing people into certain roles, through the creation of identities and projects designed to turn free humans into something else.  Ironically, freedom and society coexist as antagonistic partners.

But freedom means change.  Real change, the possibility of denying yesterday, of denying the power of others, of resistance and of possibility of the pursuit of our chosen dreams and desires.  It cannot promise anything, except the promise of having a chance of finding what you want.  But that has to be better than what we have now.




Note: I know this does not explain the thinking behind it very well.  Hence there will be an exposition, in TFY,S.  Also, I am indebted to Sergei Prozorov and Foucault for reorientating my perspective on this somewhat.
Title: Re: No strings attached freedom
Post by: Bebek Sincap Ratatosk on December 04, 2008, 06:30:37 pm
Brilliant. A damn fine argument that comes close to arguing for Rational Anarchism.... or something like it ;-)
Title: Re: No strings attached freedom
Post by: LMNO on December 04, 2008, 06:43:39 pm
Wow.

Cain, that was really well thought out.  In a way, it's troubling, but that's probably me reacting to the last few paragraphs ("Freedom does not mean fairness or equality"); even though as you explain it it makes sense, it gives me a weird feeling in my gut.

More things to think about....
Title: Re: No strings attached freedom
Post by: Manta Obscura on December 04, 2008, 06:51:46 pm
 :mittens:

Very thoughtful and intellectually provocative, Cain. I'm going to Insightful Post Dump this.

It's interesting hearing a definition of freedom that works from a point of reduction of political and philosophical principles, rather than by basing itself off of them. It seems like the appropriate next step from the age-old individualist-collectivist loop that liberty theorists seem to get trapped in all the time.

The narrator in me would like to know how such a freedom could be expressed in actual individuals on a collective scale, but I'm not sure if I have the creativity or imagination to conceive of it.
Title: Re: No strings attached freedom
Post by: Cramulus on December 04, 2008, 06:52:30 pm
yes, very thought provoking piece. I think the folks at Revleft would enjoy it quite a bit.

It reminds me of the discussion of freedom/free will in the Art of Memetics. The authors discuss agency, that is - the view that a human being is just a vehicle for all these bits of Shrapnel (as we'd call it here). How can we understand Free Will, when a human being is just a complex of competing drives?

They go on to define Freedom as "one's ability to move within a network or system," which I think is very close to what you've outlined here.
Title: Re: No strings attached freedom
Post by: Elder Iptuous on December 04, 2008, 08:02:43 pm
Quote
In fact, freedom, as I describe it here, is nothing but hostile to the existing order (whichever existing order) and thus can never be the foundation of a society.  Yet, at the same time, society brings into being, by forcing people into certain roles, through the creation of identities and projects designed to turn free humans into something else.  Ironically, freedom and society coexist as antagonistic partners.
I've been fighting this notion bubbling up in my own head, as well.
it gives rise to a little voice in the back of my head that tells me that i should be working towards personal privilege, rather than pissing in the wind about 'freedom for all' that most don't seem inclined to fight for...
that voice shakes hands with the voice that tells me that the primary motivation in life is the biological imperative.
Plus i've been reading that '48 laws of power' and it makes me want to go into politics for personal gain.  :oops:
Title: Re: No strings attached freedom
Post by: LMNO on December 04, 2008, 08:10:11 pm
That's true.

A very good case for an inclination towards selfishness can be made from this.  I think I've been trained/schooled/learned away from that, which is probably why it makes me feel funny... It's well-reasoned, and accurate, and focuses hard on the individual, while if not disparaging, at least puts all other people (society) at odds with the individual.


Wow, I am so not explaining this right...
Title: Re: No strings attached freedom
Post by: Elder Iptuous on December 04, 2008, 08:21:17 pm
That's true.

A very good case for an inclination towards selfishness can be made from this.  I think I've been trained/schooled/learned away from that, which is probably why it makes me feel funny... It's well-reasoned, and accurate, and focuses hard on the individual, while if not disparaging, at least puts all other people (society) at odds with the individual.

Wow, I am so not explaining this right...

I wouldn't use the term 'disparaging', but i know what you mean.
It makes me feel funny too. like when i killed my virginity (out of wedlock), or when i smoked pot for the first time, or any other wrong/bad thing which i have embraced in the past...
Title: Re: No strings attached freedom
Post by: Cain on December 04, 2008, 08:31:09 pm
Brilliant. A damn fine argument that comes close to arguing for Rational Anarchism.... or something like it ;-)

Not really.  While it may seem superificially similar to various kinds of Anarchism, that particular political philosophy has a very clear view of human identity...and thus the deployment of power against dissidents slips in via the back door.  Heinlein is assuming rationality in his subjects, a naturalized system of law and morals which, in practice, could end up being just as repressive as the theocracy in Iran, or anywhere else mob rule and those who claim to speak on behalf of The People, or Natural Laws, or the Market, or God, can be found.

At least, as far as my understanding of the philosophy extends.
Title: Re: No strings attached freedom
Post by: Cain on December 04, 2008, 08:36:12 pm
yes, very thought provoking piece. I think the folks at Revleft would enjoy it quite a bit.

It reminds me of the discussion of freedom/free will in the Art of Memetics. The authors discuss agency, that is - the view that a human being is just a vehicle for all these bits of Shrapnel (as we'd call it here). How can we understand Free Will, when a human being is just a complex of competing drives?

They go on to define Freedom as "one's ability to move within a network or system," which I think is very close to what you've outlined here.

Indeed this is very similar.  Foucault doesn't believe people actually need a reason to resist or revolt, just that people do sometimes, and that is good enough for him.  He is also skeptical of the idea of a self-defined individual, who can rationally make choices, and indeed that the act of freedom, while universally available, can only be practiced in the particular moment.

I'll touch on this more in my exposition, since explaining it would cut very close to the elements of the BIP I wanted to explore from this viewpoint of Foucault's.

I also think those on RevLeft would disagree, for the reasons I gave more or less in my answer to Ratatosk.  They have their projects, their grand schemes, their rational actors...this would quite likely annoy them no end.
Title: Re: No strings attached freedom
Post by: LMNO on December 04, 2008, 08:36:55 pm
So, If an individual chooses to live in a society, they have to give up some of their freedoms.

So is the next step how to choose which freedoms to give up if you want to be part of a society?
Title: Re: No strings attached freedom
Post by: Cain on December 04, 2008, 08:42:48 pm
Quote
In fact, freedom, as I describe it here, is nothing but hostile to the existing order (whichever existing order) and thus can never be the foundation of a society.  Yet, at the same time, society brings into being, by forcing people into certain roles, through the creation of identities and projects designed to turn free humans into something else.  Ironically, freedom and society coexist as antagonistic partners.
I've been fighting this notion bubbling up in my own head, as well.
it gives rise to a little voice in the back of my head that tells me that i should be working towards personal privilege, rather than pissing in the wind about 'freedom for all' that most don't seem inclined to fight for...
that voice shakes hands with the voice that tells me that the primary motivation in life is the biological imperative.
Plus i've been reading that '48 laws of power' and it makes me want to go into politics for personal gain.  :oops:

In a way, I agree.

There is a universality to this theory, but only in the sense that this act of freedom is equally open to everyone.  Perhaps the best thing that could be done is to illustrate how, and let them figure out the details.  Here is a quote from one of the books where the idea was presented to me:

Quote
As a potentiality, freedom is not only available to all without any possibility for discrimination, but it is also available to all equally: in asserting one’s freedom one is always already wholly free, irrespectively of the positive degree of autonomy that one thereby achieves. In such a sense, a practice of freedom functions as an affirmation of human universality and is therefore unthinkable in terms of a narcissistic individualism.

And another

Quote
As long as one gives a positive answer to the question of ‘what must a free subject be (do, say, desire)’, freedom is in peril. The discourse on freedom must thus necessarily take the form of circularities and tautologies: the form of practicing freedom must always be decided on freely. The closest we shall get to a definition of freedom in this book is a statement that freedom has the ontological status of potentiality.

Hopefully that is of help in clarifying the elements of thinking in this.
Title: Re: No strings attached freedom
Post by: Elder Iptuous on December 04, 2008, 08:48:44 pm
LMNO:  not all people in a society give up the same set of 'rights'.

Cain: that seems to jive with my belief that the only 'natural right' or 'freedom' is the right/freedom to struggle.
Title: Re: No strings attached freedom
Post by: Cain on December 04, 2008, 08:48:44 pm
So, If an individual chooses to live in a society, they have to give up some of their freedoms.

So is the next step how to choose which freedoms to give up if you want to be part of a society?

No, because that is slipping back into politics.  The point is you are going to be living in a society of some sort anyway, else there would be no reason to strive for freedom.  The question is what acts to put into play in order to ignore or resist the dictates of the ruling order.  Of course, you don't have to do anything, if you don't want.  However, that would be terribly dull, and a poor use of the potential at hand.
Title: Re: No strings attached freedom
Post by: LMNO on December 04, 2008, 08:52:07 pm
Sorry to get semantic on this, but I gotta be me.

It sounds a bit like there are two things being described by "freedom" here.

1) The ability to act as one sees fit.
2) A relative marker of "positive degree of autonomy": That is, one is more-or-less "free" depending on the degree of autonomy.

That is to say, while one can be Free1 by attempting to do as they see fit, that may not mean they are allowed to carry it out, due to Freedom2.

Does that make any sense?
Title: Re: No strings attached freedom
Post by: Bebek Sincap Ratatosk on December 04, 2008, 08:53:41 pm
Brilliant. A damn fine argument that comes close to arguing for Rational Anarchism.... or something like it ;-)

Not really.  While it may seem superificially similar to various kinds of Anarchism, that particular political philosophy has a very clear view of human identity...and thus the deployment of power against dissidents slips in via the back door.  Heinlein is assuming rationality in his subjects, a naturalized system of law and morals which, in practice, could end up being just as repressive as the theocracy in Iran, or anywhere else mob rule and those who claim to speak on behalf of The People, or Natural Laws, or the Market, or God, can be found.

At least, as far as my understanding of the philosophy extends.

I was thinking of Rational Anarchism in the view that Prof. La Paz lays out which claims that every individual is entirely responsible for their actions (there is no such thing as a State only "acts of self-responsible individuals"). Thus, in Rational Anarchy, the individual decides for themselves what they will and won't do, irrespective of the government in place. So if the US says "YOU SHALL NOT SMOKE POT" the Rational Anarchist says "I have the freedom to smoke pot... but this freedom comes with the risk that some asshat will try to arrest me for it." He can then choose to act or not, based on his free choice.

The other side of that coin, is that all responsibility for our actions still fall to the individual... so for Prof La Paz, the man who said "We will drop a nuclear bomb on Nagasaki" is personally responsible for those deaths... as is anyone else who knowingly assisted in the act. They had personal freedom and could have said "That is morally wrong. I refuse." Prof. La Paz would also have considered all the Nazi guards who claimed they were 'following orders' in a similar fashion, because he held they freely made the choice to behave in an inhumane way.

Rational Anarchism, at least in the way I read it, was more about personal freedom while living in a nation controlled by government than as a potential basis for a government. In fact the 'Rational' bit was that he was rational enough to realize that most people didn't want complete freedom and would, no matter what, come up with some kind of collective government. He considered it as trying to live 'perfectly in an imperfect world'... or being Free in a world that isn't.

Which to me, sounded a lot like the point you were making. But, I might have misread it.
Title: Re: No strings attached freedom
Post by: OPTIMUS PINECONE on December 04, 2008, 10:59:11 pm
     Thanks CAIN. Some nice thoughts. In my opinion, social groups may begin, to a fair degree, with 'freedom' being experienced by all involved, but it lessens over time due to change itself. On a micro societal level, the family is a great feature to examine for relationships which eventually expand from the individual(s) to the mega-version, society. Fuck ups create the 'need' for laws, mostly I think. A 'free' person just isn't inhibited like the next person, simply by their perspective. To me, this is an important part of Nietzsche's 'over man', the individual who exists outside of their society, because of it's restraints. I like very much your observation of contemporary social/political views being 'against' freedom, whilst not realizing it. It's so fucking true. One fave example occurred in a conversation between a brother-in-law and myself. He's a professor heading the "cultural diversity" department at his school. He feels America ought to have two year forced integration camps for people ages 18-20!

     Then there's prop 8, ha! i.e., a comfortable freedom for one is someone else not having freedom. 
Title: Re: No strings attached freedom
Post by: Cain on December 05, 2008, 04:17:16 pm
Sorry to get semantic on this, but I gotta be me.

It sounds a bit like there are two things being described by "freedom" here.

1) The ability to act as one sees fit.
2) A relative marker of "positive degree of autonomy": That is, one is more-or-less "free" depending on the degree of autonomy.

That is to say, while one can be Free1 by attempting to do as they see fit, that may not mean they are allowed to carry it out, due to Freedom2.

Does that make any sense?

It does.  In fact, I think that comes very close to how it is viewed, in that label one is used to describe the process of label 2.  if you see what I mean.

Argh, language.
Title: Re: No strings attached freedom
Post by: Reginald Ret on December 06, 2008, 01:46:05 am
rewrite to see if i understood.

1. Freedom is the ability to do what is unexpected.
1.0.1. Everybody has this freedom.
1.1. All political systems give freedom to those who stay within certain lines and take it from those who cross the lines.
1.1.1. It makes no difference if the lines are enforced by policing or by peer pressure.
1.2. Its being free that is desireable, but using your freedom to do the unexpected/unrespected/unlawfull.
Title: Re: No strings attached freedom
Post by: hashishi on December 08, 2008, 02:18:30 am
Political systems are opposed to freedom, because those certain lines are contraints. I.E. They are against freedom.
Take Rat's Thou Shall Not Smoke Weed example. That is a control. By smoking weed, you run the risk of punishment. The freedom to smoke weed exists, but only through disobedience. The way I look at it, regulated freedom is no freedom at all, but a list of constraints. However, laws are only a theoretical limitation because the choice is always yours whether to obey or not.

I think it fits in with some Anarcho-Individualist philosophy, particularly that of Max Stirner in The Ego and Its Own. He spoke of 'spooks' (Geists, he was German). External forces, like the Law or the Church exist because people believe in their governing 'spooks' (You could replace the word spook with meme or meme-plex). A Church has all of the religious artefacts because people acted as though their god was real and provided them with offerings. The Law gets enforced because cops, lawyers magistrates, judges etc all believe in the spook of the Law. If you behaive as though there is a god or a law then you are acting to external ideas and not owning yourself.

According to Stirner the ego can own itself only through the rejection (or perhaps a concious examination) of the spooks which seek to control it.
Title: Re: No strings attached freedom
Post by: The Good Reverend Roger on December 08, 2008, 03:30:17 am
The way I look at it, regulated freedom is no freedom at all, but a list of constraints.

I like your stuff. 

*thud*

How free are you now?
Title: Re: No strings attached freedom
Post by: hashishi on December 08, 2008, 12:55:26 pm
The way I look at it, regulated freedom is no freedom at all, but a list of constraints.

I like your stuff. 

*thud*

How free are you now?
*oww*
From the time I sparked up my joint to the time you hit me I was freer than you could be by hitting me.
You were either hitting me because you were told to (in which case you are obeying orders), or because you want to control me. If you want to control me you are either gonna have to hit alot of people, spend a lot of time worrying about being hit and make plans to avoid being hit. In that case you are going to have to become a slave to your own power.
Well thats my own personal trip on power. :wink:
Title: Re: No strings attached freedom
Post by: Cramulus on December 08, 2008, 06:50:35 pm
 :lulz:
Title: Re: No strings attached freedom
Post by: Manta Obscura on December 08, 2008, 07:03:02 pm
The way I look at it, regulated freedom is no freedom at all, but a list of constraints.

I like your stuff. 

*thud*

How free are you now?
*oww*
From the time I sparked up my joint to the time you hit me I was freer than you could be by hitting me.
You were either hitting me because you were told to (in which case you are obeying orders), or because you want to control me. If you want to control me you are either gonna have to hit alot of people, spend a lot of time worrying about being hit and make plans to avoid being hit. In that case you are going to have to become a slave to your own power.
Well thats my own personal trip on power. :wink:

Personally, I always thought the "slave to your own power" idea didn't hold up. If upholding one's power or right to hold power over others is what one wishes to do, then to say that one is constrained by doing so seems a bit off. That seems like saying that someone who loves someone else unconditionally and wants to do nice things for that person is a slave to their own love, or that eating when you feel hungry makes you a slave to your stomach. Sure, those things affect what choices you do make, but not necessarily what choices you're forced to make.
Title: Re: No strings attached freedom
Post by: Elder Iptuous on December 08, 2008, 08:02:51 pm
The way I look at it, regulated freedom is no freedom at all, but a list of constraints.
I like your stuff. 
*thud*
How free are you now?
*oww*
From the time I sparked up my joint to the time you hit me I was freer than you could be by hitting me.
You were either hitting me because you were told to (in which case you are obeying orders), or because you want to control me. If you want to control me you are either gonna have to hit alot of people, spend a lot of time worrying about being hit and make plans to avoid being hit. In that case you are going to have to become a slave to your own power.
Well thats my own personal trip on power. :wink:
Personally, I always thought the "slave to your own power" idea didn't hold up. If upholding one's power or right to hold power over others is what one wishes to do, then to say that one is constrained by doing so seems a bit off. That seems like saying that someone who loves someone else unconditionally and wants to do nice things for that person is a slave to their own love, or that eating when you feel hungry makes you a slave to your stomach. Sure, those things affect what choices you do make, but not necessarily what choices you're forced to make.
You're a slave to your reason.  :D
Title: Re: No strings attached freedom
Post by: Triple Zero on December 08, 2008, 08:12:10 pm
LMNO:  not all people in a society give up the same set of 'rights'.

Cain: that seems to jive with my belief that the only 'natural right' or 'freedom' is the right/freedom to struggle strife.

fixt for this irreligion ;-)

also Cain, NICE piece there! it reads--especially near the end--like one of those spoken intros for tracks by Atari Teenage Riot or possibly Trent Reznor, someone should record this.

(ugh i hate saying "someone should" but my dutch accent wouldnt do it)

your remark about "to demonstrate it to others" sounds like "i am Chaos, and I'm here to tell you that you are absolutely free".
Title: Re: No strings attached freedom
Post by: hashishi on December 08, 2008, 11:32:24 pm
Personally, I always thought the "slave to your own power" idea didn't hold up. If upholding one's power or right to hold power over others is what one wishes to do, then to say that one is constrained by doing so seems a bit off. That seems like saying that someone who loves someone else unconditionally and wants to do nice things for that person is a slave to their own love, or that eating when you feel hungry makes you a slave to your stomach. Sure, those things affect what choices you do make, but not necessarily what choices you're forced to make.
I can be a slave to my hunger or love at times.

What do you mean by 'what choices you are forced to make'?

Maybe those who sit on top of the pyramids are happy being there, I don't know. Anecdotally, people in positions of power tend to be workaholics, Stalin worked about 20 hours a day to keep his reign of terror from biting him back. Rupert Murdoch works tirelessly to maintain News Limited. Politicians tend to work very long hours and have to spend a lot of time and energy maintaining 'respectability' in the eyes of the media.

From my own perspective as someone who likes being in control of his own time as much as possible, to take on a position of domination over others would be enslaving myself to a role, where my freedom of action is restrained by having to always play the role of Boss. To use the  :fnord: Eye in the Pyramid analogy, everyone below me would be telling me what I wanted to hear, in order to try and curry favour. From that position of being fed misinformation I would then have to make decisions affecting all of those below me, causing negative chaos. Personally I think I would lose out on a cost/benefit analysis. (Such logic applies to me, Im not sure if it can apply to anyone else).
Title: Re: No strings attached freedom
Post by: Cramulus on December 08, 2008, 11:48:08 pm
Personally, I always thought the "slave to your own power" idea didn't hold up. If upholding one's power or right to hold power over others is what one wishes to do, then to say that one is constrained by doing so seems a bit off. That seems like saying that someone who loves someone else unconditionally and wants to do nice things for that person is a slave to their own love, or that eating when you feel hungry makes you a slave to your stomach. Sure, those things affect what choices you do make, but not necessarily what choices you're forced to make.

I'd argue that the choices you make are every bit a prison, even if you're choosing what you seem to want.

I can't properly articulate the discussion at the moment, but there's a lot about this in the Art of Memetics, specifically in dealing with this issue of Agency. The argument put forth in the book is that a Memeplex (we could be talking about a human being, a corporation, a religion, any network of linked memetic "nodes") is an organization of memes, and those memes are all (in some ways) fighting for themselves.

So when you look at a person's behavior, you have to wonder if it's really them acting? Or they are merely being an agent of the memeplex called Christianity (for example).

The angle argued in AoM, which I happen to agree with, is that there is no real self at the core, there's just this meme called "I am", and a bunch of stuff stuck to it. Some of it's been stuck to it for a long time, and has a very strong tenacity (like the values you were instilled with at birth, which are themselves complexes of memes). You might think of this as your "true self" and your "true will", but over time these things will shift and change strength and relationship to one another. They're no more identity than the clothes you're wearing right now.

So when you act, you have to wonder - what part of me is acting, and whose part is that?

I seem to be infected with this Discordia meme, and it motivates me to waste numerous hours scribbling into the night... but is that ME? Or is it that I've internalized part of the Discordian memeplex and it's acting through me?

That's the Black Iron Prison if you ask me. You're a slave to your preferences and tastes. I watch Stephen Colbert every fucking night, and I love the hell out of that man, but it's also a bar in my prison. I am a Discordian (it's one of the few things I'll say declaratively about myself) but to be really free I've gotta be willing to (a) recognize that it's not me, it's just some stuff I'm carrying and (b) drop that shit at a moment's notice if that meme becomes a parasite.


The other thing this riffs off of is a concept in behavioral psychology called the Melioration Principle. Basically it states that an organism will engage in a behavior until a competing behavior offers a better reward. Walk around for a day examining all your actions under that particular lens and you'll start to feel pretty robotic. Your choices do begin to feel like a trap, that all-consuming quest for slack.
Title: Re: No strings attached freedom
Post by: Verbal Mike on December 09, 2008, 12:38:49 am
I think another simple factor is that we have a natural (and healthy) tendency to pursue our choices in a way that is automatic - I chose to go to university, so now I no longer have to choose whether to go to university. I may have made the decision in perfect freedom, and I do indeed believe I made it for all the right reasons, but it's not something I actively decide on anymore. Like Cram said, I will only actually make a decision about it again if and when a competing behavior offers a better reward (like if staying in school becomes financially inviable, quitting school may become something I actually consider.)

Our choices, decisions and wants can become prisons, but this has to be seen, in this context, as a relative thing. If we assume - and I have long assumed - that we are all tautologically free, what is a prison? An actual brick-and-mortar prison is not a limitation on our freedom. Perhaps in an indirect, vague way, but it doesn't make us less capable of freedom. So if I decide I want power, I will go on auto-pilot as far as deciding whether I want power. My actions will be determined by the decision already made. And I will tie myself up in choices, decisions and commitments which limit my freedom superficially - like a real prison would (but in a different way, if not to a lesser degree.) I would still be capable of being free at any moment, changing the course I am on - but there would be more factors in my decision-making, more constraints on me.

I really think there may be two very different kinds of freedom in play here. Not sure if I'm paraphrasing LMNO here, but let's say freedom and liberty are two different things for a moment. Liberty is the deeper, basic, tautological property of human beings that means we can choose in an independent way. "Liberty" in this sense is what this thread has mostly been trying to get at. And then freedom is what I have alluded to as "superficial" freedom. It is the sum of the constraints that indirectly affect your liberty. All people are 100% equal as far as their capacity for liberty - but the only way to actual have liberty is to commit acts of liberty. There is no prerequisite to it, but still it is relatively rare. Freedom, however, is very differential. The government affects it, certainly, as do the other circumstances of one's life. People in prison have just as much liberty as those outside of prison, but far, far less freedom.

The semantics here are sticky because the English language (and many others) has only one word for these two concepts, and they are semantically very close, and philosophically often fused into one. But I think one can safely separate the two, in one's mind, to make sense of this discussion, to a degree.

EDIT: Obviously English has more than one word for freedom/liberty but they are not semantically different in normal use. You can almost always replace "freedom" with "liberty" and vice versa in a normal English sentence. The two (and possibly others that fail to come to mind) form a single semantic unit in the English language.
Title: Re: No strings attached freedom
Post by: Telarus on December 09, 2008, 12:39:53 am
:mittens:
Title: Re: No strings attached freedom
Post by: Elder Iptuous on December 09, 2008, 02:28:35 am
...I've gotta be willing to ... (b) drop that shit at a moment's notice if that meme becomes a parasite.

...an organism will engage in a behavior until a competing behavior offers a better reward...

but this can't be known, so you're still swimming in the dark.  Like that Chinese parable with the "good luck, bad luck? who knows?" deal.
some fat guy said that desire for life is itself a parasite, right?
Title: Re: No strings attached freedom
Post by: Adios on December 09, 2008, 02:24:16 pm
I just wonder if we, any of us, have the courage to allow freedom to even exist.
Title: Re: No strings attached freedom
Post by: LMNO on December 09, 2008, 02:36:44 pm
If Cain's main point is correct (as far as I understand it; I could be horribly wrong), we allow freedom to exist every time we transgress the Rules and the Accepted Social Order.

In the case of this forum, I'm pretty sure this happens to most of us on a daily basis.
Title: Re: No strings attached freedom
Post by: OPTIMUS PINECONE on December 09, 2008, 02:52:26 pm
...I've gotta be willing to ... (b) drop that shit at a moment's notice if that meme becomes a parasite.

...an organism will engage in a behavior until a competing behavior offers a better reward...

but this can't be known, so you're still swimming in the dark.  Like that Chinese parable with the "good luck, bad luck? who knows?" deal.
some fat guy said that desire for life is itself a parasite, right?

     It's in the FORCE, Ipt. Let it flow THROUGH you.
Title: Re: No strings attached freedom
Post by: Bebek Sincap Ratatosk on December 09, 2008, 03:58:07 pm
Quote
The angle argued in AoM, which I happen to agree with, is that there is no real self at the core, there's just this meme called "I am", and a bunch of stuff stuck to it.

If identity is a meme then how do other animals, without a highly evolved social communication system, hold the concept? A recent study in Britain shows that dogs express jealousy, even as puppies. They had dogs perform the same trick and some dogs got a treat and some dogs got a bigger treat. The dogs that got the smaller treat expressed physical signs of stress...

Did they learn the meme 'I Am' then learn the meme 'I'm Jealous'? Or is the 'I Am' something built in, (in this case it could be argued that its an evolutionary advantage). Either we're making a statement about how easily memes can travel (with only rudimentary conmmunication and social order required), or we're making a claim that Dogs are more highly evolved along the social/communication order than we thought. Jumping spiders have, according to some studies, been able to identify a live video feed of themselves... that is, they can see themselves on TV and apparently realize its... them.  Maybe the experiments are wrong, or Spiders also are infected with memes. I'm sure that some animal behaviorists could come up with other examples.

Further, if 'I Am' is a meme, which all other memes stick to... what is that meme sticking to... it seems there still must be something there to learn and imitate the meme 'I Am', at the least.

Quote from: Uncle Al
Is not all our “knowledge” an example of this fallacy of writing one unknown for another, and then crowing like Peter’s cock?


Unless... it's turtles memes all the way down.  :wink:
Title: Re: No strings attached freedom
Post by: Manta Obscura on December 09, 2008, 04:09:25 pm
Personally, I always thought the "slave to your own power" idea didn't hold up. If upholding one's power or right to hold power over others is what one wishes to do, then to say that one is constrained by doing so seems a bit off. That seems like saying that someone who loves someone else unconditionally and wants to do nice things for that person is a slave to their own love, or that eating when you feel hungry makes you a slave to your stomach. Sure, those things affect what choices you do make, but not necessarily what choices you're forced to make.
I can be a slave to my hunger or love at times.

What do you mean by 'what choices you are forced to make'?

Maybe those who sit on top of the pyramids are happy being there, I don't know. Anecdotally, people in positions of power tend to be workaholics, Stalin worked about 20 hours a day to keep his reign of terror from biting him back. Rupert Murdoch works tirelessly to maintain News Limited. Politicians tend to work very long hours and have to spend a lot of time and energy maintaining 'respectability' in the eyes of the media.

From my own perspective as someone who likes being in control of his own time as much as possible, to take on a position of domination over others would be enslaving myself to a role, where my freedom of action is restrained by having to always play the role of Boss. To use the  :fnord: Eye in the Pyramid analogy, everyone below me would be telling me what I wanted to hear, in order to try and curry favour. From that position of being fed misinformation I would then have to make decisions affecting all of those below me, causing negative chaos. Personally I think I would lose out on a cost/benefit analysis. (Such logic applies to me, Im not sure if it can apply to anyone else).

By "what choices you are forced to make," I was referring to the actual physical, emotional or mental coercion and domination that other people and outside forces exercise in an attempt to influence one's decisions.

Don't get me wrong, hash, I understand what you mean that someone can become a slave to their own power/hunger/love or whatever. I've seen (and participated in) it myself. I guess what I was trying to say that I did not convey effectively enough is that one is not necessarily enslaved by power; having power does not always equate to slavery. For instance, in cases where one who seeks power and fully recognizes, understands and accepts the various ancillary trifles that go along with the preservation of that power, in that case that person is not necessarily a slave of their own power. To get less abstract, someone who becomes a principal and recognizes/understands/enjoys the various challenges to their authority that will result from the position will not, necessarily, be said to be enslaved by those constraints, because they recognize and appreciate the situation with a broad understanding.

However, I say all of this and admit that, put into terms that Cram uses, like


the choices you make are every bit a prison, even if you're choosing what you seem to want . . .


. . . when you act, you have to wonder - what part of me is acting, and whose part is that? . . .

. . . Your choices do begin to feel like a trap, that all-consuming quest for slack.

It does make sense that one's choices and personality are, on some level, constraints. I agree that every choice and mental facet is, at some level, the result of various memetic coercions that become accepted by the creature that is "I".

In both my critique of your statement, hash, as well as my response to Cram, I suppose I must admit that by "freedom" and the lack thereof, I usually think less in terms of actions that one takes, and more in terms of one's interior mindset. I fully agree that choices, personality aspects and other minutae (sp?) of character influence - and possibly even control - one's actions, but as far as the state of well-being and contentment of one's mind, I am unsure as to whether or not such memetic influences have power.

I am not, of course, advocating any type of Cartesian bifurcation of mind and action, mind and body, or whatever, but simply trying to illustrate that I was referring more to the freedom and wellbeing of intellection rather than personal constraint, or even constraint of character.

To me, the term "slave" carries certain connotations to it, and I was responding more to these negative connotations rather than to the actual idea that someone is shaped by certain memetic forces. The term "slave" implies to me a sense of hopelessness, despair or ennui born of lack of option, which I think is off the mark, and which I think does not accurately necessarily describe the position of those in power (or in any other state, such as hunger or love). My apologies for reading something in to your posts which wasn't there, and creating a response based on my own connotative interpretation rather than the denotative meaning of your words.

Oh, and thanks for the insightful posts, both of you. Yours, hash for elucidating a denotative property of role restrictions, and yours, Cram, for the insight into the nature of one's character.
Title: Re: No strings attached freedom
Post by: Bebek Sincap Ratatosk on December 09, 2008, 04:24:35 pm

I'd argue that the choices you make are every bit a prison, even if you're choosing what you seem to want.


I'd argue that they're a prison, if you want them to be a prison.

Quote
So when you look at a person's behavior, you have to wonder if it's really them acting? Or they are merely being an agent of the memeplex called Christianity (for example).

Because they are not more than the sum of their memes?

Does a JW act as an agent of the Christianity meme as a Gnostic Christian or a Baptist? Can we argue that someone infected with the meme Mystic and Christian is an agent of the same entity as a Presbyterian? What about Christian Discordians? Are they agents of the memetic entity Christianity or Discordia? Or, are they a unique memetic entity in and of themselves?

What if memes aren't controlling entities outside of the human... but rather they're dynamic entities that mix with the other memes within the individual human (think genes and sex) thus producing a unique individual that has a unique memetic structure. If their structure puts multiple memes together in a very useful way, the new memeplex may survive better and spread. Or not... I dunno.

Quote
The angle argued in AoM, which I happen to agree with, is that there is no real self at the core, there's just this meme called "I am", and a bunch of stuff stuck to it. Some of it's been stuck to it for a long time, and has a very strong tenacity (like the values you were instilled with at birth, which are themselves complexes of memes). You might think of this as your "true self" and your "true will", but over time these things will shift and change strength and relationship to one another. They're no more identity than the clothes you're wearing right now.

It seems to me that arguing "it changes therefore it isn't truly you" doesn't hold up. Everything that is alive is constantly changing. I would argue that if X ideas in your head NEVER CHANGE its not the real you, and rather a cancerous memetic tumor. ;-) I would expect a 'true self' to change, based on experiences, education, exposure to new memes etc.  

Quote
So when you act, you have to wonder - what part of me is acting, and whose part is that?

This is definately a good way to observe our behaviors... I'm still skeptical of the overall model, but at the very least this point alone makes it worthwhile to poke at ;-)

Quote
I seem to be infected with this Discordia meme, and it motivates me to waste numerous hours scribbling into the night... but is that ME? Or is it that I've internalized part of the Discordian memeplex and it's acting through me?

But, we all, seem to be infected with the Discordian meme to some extent... yet mosbunal of us seem to have entirely different views on most aspects of Discordianism. Discordianism seems to be expressed by each of us differently... in some cases wildly so. So it seems to me that "ME" might be the unique hash* of all of the memes that have infected us, plus any underlying stuff (genetic, actual (if I Am is more than a meme) etc).

Quote
That's the Black Iron Prison if you ask me. You're a slave to your preferences and tastes. I watch Stephen Colbert every fucking night, and I love the hell out of that man, but it's also a bar in my prison. I am a Discordian (it's one of the few things I'll say declaratively about myself) but to be really free I've gotta be willing to (a) recognize that it's not me, it's just some stuff I'm carrying and (b) drop that shit at a moment's notice if that meme becomes a parasite.

Do you drop memes that prove not useful to you? Do you actively consider the memes affecting your thoughts and actions actively, with an eye to prune the bad? If so, its a damn cushy prison ;-)

(Welcome to 70 years hard time, scum! You're in for it now, thought you could get away scot free, eh? Well, now its prison for you!

Feel free to change your room, get rid of those bars if they block your view... oh and did you want shag carpet, wood flooring or just a giant moonwalk floor? The Warden will be by around 9 PM and expects to see you enjoying yourself and making yourself at home. Here's you're standard issue pick axe and jackhammer if you'd like to widen the place. Enjoy your stay....) :lulz:










*Hash as in a hash function: a deterministic procedure that takes an arbitrary block of data and returns a fixed-size bit string, the hash value, such that an accidental or intentional change to the data will almost certainly change the hash value.
Title: Re: No strings attached freedom
Post by: Cramulus on December 09, 2008, 04:27:48 pm
what an interesting discussion this has been.

If identity is a meme then how do other animals, without a highly evolved social communication system, hold the concept?

Well if memes are just information, animals certainly acquire and transmit them. They don't have the linguistic framework to know anything really (linguistically) complex, and a lot of human identity seems to fall under that heading. After all, even if you were raised by wolves, you'd still know that you were an entity... an entity with NEEDS! You just wouldn't have any of those complex ideas about gender and sexuality or how you relate to the whitewater rapids of mainstream culture.

Quote
Further, if 'I Am' is a meme, which all other memes stick to... what is that meme sticking to... it seems there still must be something there to learn and imitate the meme 'I Am', at the least.

I present the image of an ignorant baby (a Tabula Rasa) being repeatedly informed of his name and gender and identity as he grows up. I posit that the lifelong process of self-discovery is really a process of self-creation.

Somewhere else on the board, somebody was talking about how all human communication can basically be boiled down to "I'm here, where are you?" I think that starts at birth, and that "I'm here" bit contains all these little velcro hooks for your favorite books and movies and the kind of girl you want to marry.

Title: Re: No strings attached freedom
Post by: LMNO on December 09, 2008, 04:30:28 pm
That was me paraphrasing Leary.

Anyone read the Preacher comic books?  Genesis could be considered the "Tabula Rasa" baby.

Something thinks, and so the thinker observes, and using observation, thinks about the thinker.  In this way, a personality is formed like a pearl in an oyster, with the ability to think as the grain of sand.
Title: Re: No strings attached freedom
Post by: Bebek Sincap Ratatosk on December 09, 2008, 04:41:39 pm
what an interesting discussion this has been.

If identity is a meme then how do other animals, without a highly evolved social communication system, hold the concept?

Well if memes are just information, animals certainly acquire and transmit them. They don't have the linguistic framework to know anything really (linguistically) complex, and a lot of human identity seems to fall under that heading. After all, even if you were raised by wolves, you'd still know that you were an entity... an entity with NEEDS! You just wouldn't have any of those complex ideas about gender and sexuality or how you relate to the whitewater rapids of mainstream culture.

Then where did the puppy learn the meme I Am and where did the puppy learn the meme I Am Jealous, I Have Needs? It could be a learned behavior, I suppose, but I'm not sure how one would learn "jealous" through watching behaviors, parituclarly.

Quote
Quote
Further, if 'I Am' is a meme, which all other memes stick to... what is that meme sticking to... it seems there still must be something there to learn and imitate the meme 'I Am', at the least.

I present the image of an ignorant baby (a Tabula Rasa) being repeatedly informed of his name and gender and identity as he grows up. I posit that the lifelong process of self-discovery is really a process of self-creation.

I agree with that... though I wonder how truly 'ignorant' the baby is...

Quote
Somewhere else on the board, somebody was talking about how all human communication can basically be boiled down to "I'm here, where are you?" I think that starts at birth, and that "I'm here" bit contains all these little velcro hooks for your favorite books and movies and the kind of girl you want to marry.


Its a quote from Leary, that from the beginning most communication (even the baby cry) is "I'm Here, Are you there?".

So this would, I think argue against the idea that 'I' is a learned behavior... if the newborn infant knows 'I' where did it get infected with the meme?

I think that the idea of memetics as being the lion's share of our self makes a ton of sense... but I think also, that to take it 'all the way down' may be a bit more than I see supporting evidence for. It's seems more likely to me that some kind of base for the first memes to connect to would exist... The new computer, just out of the box, before an OS is installed (there's still a BIOS and hardware etc).

In fact, it seems to me that there would almost have to be some core of 'I' for the unique interpretations each individual tends to have on all of the given memes actively infecting them. Otherwise, if we have three people growing up and exposed to the same memes... they would, one would think, behave the same way. Yet, even among siblings that may have near identical exposures, we often see a wide variety in behaviors... or interpretations... of the same memes.


Something thinks, and so the thinker observes, and using observation, thinks about the thinker.  In this way, a personality is formed like a pearl in an oyster, with the ability to think as the grain of sand.

Now that's an interesting metaphor! I like it.
Title: Re: No strings attached freedom
Post by: Bebek Sincap Ratatosk on December 09, 2008, 04:44:38 pm
That was me paraphrasing Leary.

Anyone read the Preacher comic books?  Genesis could be considered the "Tabula Rasa" baby.

Something thinks, and so the thinker observes, and using observation, thinks about the thinker.  In this way, a personality is formed like a pearl in an oyster, with the ability to think as the grain of sand.

But, then this brings up the question... Does it require a meme to push people to engage in self-reflective behavior? Many people don't seem to do it naturally.... some people (like me) don't do it for 20 years and then suddenly SMACK, there it is... the self with all its nastiness waiting to be dealt with.

Curiouser and Curiouser.
Title: Re: No strings attached freedom
Post by: Cramulus on December 09, 2008, 04:45:11 pm

I'd argue that the choices you make are every bit a prison, even if you're choosing what you seem to want.


I'd argue that they're a prison, if you want them to be a prison.

I think you're getting hung up on the negative connotations of the word prison. I'm arguing that your choices are confined to what you want to choose. When given a choice, you will always choose what's in your best interest, that which gives you the most reward. You are restricted in that way. I'm not saying, "to be free, go out and do something you don't want to do." I'm just saying that's we're wired to behave.

Quote
What if memes aren't controlling entities outside of the human... but rather they're dynamic entities that mix with the other memes within the individual human (think genes and sex) thus producing a unique individual that has a unique memetic structure. If their structure puts multiple memes together in a very useful way, the new memeplex may survive better and spread. Or not... I dunno.

yes, you have only internal memes. There are no outside forces acting on you, they're only acting on your internal memes. I thought that'd go without saying.

Quote
It seems to me that arguing "it changes therefore it isn't truly you" doesn't hold up. Everything that is alive is constantly changing. I would argue that if X ideas in your head NEVER CHANGE its not the real you, and rather a cancerous memetic tumor. ;-) I would expect a 'true self' to change, based on experiences, education, exposure to new memes etc.

My push was to argue against the existence of any "true self", not that the true self is only that which doesn't change. I think we're falling into useless semantics though.

Quote
Do you drop memes that prove not useful to you? Do you actively consider the memes affecting your thoughts and actions actively, with an eye to prune the bad? If so, its a damn cushy prison ;-)

*sigh* I think this is a conversation we've had on this board 100000000000000 times

but the point of the Black Iron Prison diatribe is to encourage self-reflection and metacognitive thought so you can identify what parts of your self you want to change.
Title: Re: No strings attached freedom
Post by: LMNO on December 09, 2008, 04:50:37 pm
That was me paraphrasing Leary.

Anyone read the Preacher comic books?  Genesis could be considered the "Tabula Rasa" baby.

Something thinks, and so the thinker observes, and using observation, thinks about the thinker.  In this way, a personality is formed like a pearl in an oyster, with the ability to think as the grain of sand.

But, then this brings up the question... Does it require a meme to push people to engage in self-reflective behavior? Many people don't seem to do it naturally.... some people (like me) don't do it for 20 years and then suddenly SMACK, there it is... the self with all its nastiness waiting to be dealt with.

Curiouser and Curiouser.

I would say that you did engage in self-reflective behavior when you were a JW.  It's just that you had an enormous constraint (shrapnel/cell/filter) on what was allowed for you to reflect on.  Because you had to monitor your behavior and thoughts to adhere to the JW life, wouldn't you say?

It wasn't that you didn't have meta-thought, and then you did.  It was that suddenly, you allowed yourself to think about more things.
Title: Re: No strings attached freedom
Post by: Bebek Sincap Ratatosk on December 09, 2008, 05:08:55 pm

I'd argue that the choices you make are every bit a prison, even if you're choosing what you seem to want.


I'd argue that they're a prison, if you want them to be a prison.

I think you're getting hung up on the negative connotations of the word prison. I'm arguing that your choices are confined to what you want to choose. When given a choice, you will always choose what's in your best interest, that which gives you the most reward. You are restricted in that way. I'm not saying, "to be free, go out and do something you don't want to do." I'm just saying that's we're wired to behave.

I dunno.. this really seems like more X for Y kinda thinking. "You choose what you want to choose, therefore you don't really have a choice..." Saying that we're wired to behave by choosing what we want to choose seems overly analytic maybe... I dunno.

If we observe person A... and we see Person A die saving Person B we might say that he made a choice which was not in his best interests... but, I think you might counter that he was just infected with a altruism meme... The question is though, how could you possibly differentiate between the two? How could we tell a selfless act, from an act forced by a meme. I think this sort of conclusion seems a bit of a stretch for the meme model... at least without some kind of external observation from a non-human standpoint.


Quote
Quote
What if memes aren't controlling entities outside of the human... but rather they're dynamic entities that mix with the other memes within the individual human (think genes and sex) thus producing a unique individual that has a unique memetic structure. If their structure puts multiple memes together in a very useful way, the new memeplex may survive better and spread. Or not... I dunno.

yes, you have only internal memes. There are no outside forces acting on you, they're only acting on your internal memes. I thought that'd go without saying.

No, my point was that internalized memes become expressed uniquely. So then, rather than an agent of the Discordian Meme, you're a unique memetic entity, which has been influenced by the Discordian meme, or maybe memetically modified by the Discordian meme. I think its a bit tricky to presume that the person is the agent of the meme, if the meme is unique and modified by all the other memes acting on the person.

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Quote
It seems to me that arguing "it changes therefore it isn't truly you" doesn't hold up. Everything that is alive is constantly changing. I would argue that if X ideas in your head NEVER CHANGE its not the real you, and rather a cancerous memetic tumor. ;-) I would expect a 'true self' to change, based on experiences, education, exposure to new memes etc.

My push was to argue against the existence of any "true self", not that the true self is only that which doesn't change. I think we're falling into useless semantics though.

Probably ;-)

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Quote
Do you drop memes that prove not useful to you? Do you actively consider the memes affecting your thoughts and actions actively, with an eye to prune the bad? If so, its a damn cushy prison ;-)

*sigh* I think this is a conversation we've had on this board 100000000000000 times

That's why I added the face ;-)


I would say that you did engage in self-reflective behavior when you were a JW.  It's just that you had an enormous constraint (shrapnel/cell/filter) on what was allowed for you to reflect on.  Because you had to monitor your behavior and thoughts to adhere to the JW life, wouldn't you say?

It wasn't that you didn't have meta-thought, and then you did.  It was that suddenly, you allowed yourself to think about more things.

Well, that's kinda tricky to answer. I'll have to consider it.
Title: Re: No strings attached freedom
Post by: LMNO on December 09, 2008, 05:16:05 pm
ATTN: RATATOSK.

I think you're getting hung up on the negative connotations of the word prison.


EOT.
Title: Re: No strings attached freedom
Post by: Bebek Sincap Ratatosk on December 09, 2008, 05:23:35 pm
ATTN: RATATOSK.

I think you're getting hung up on the negative connotations of the word prison.


EOT.

Blarg, that's why I put the smiley there. (Although, IMO, a prison which you are trapped in from birth to death, with no hope of escape... seems like a pretty negative metaphor, chock full of negative connotations.)

Besides, I'm much more interested in the memetic aspect of the discussion. Particularly, the question of if "I Am" is just a meme... or if something must exist under all the memes...
Title: Re: No strings attached freedom
Post by: LMNO on December 09, 2008, 05:27:33 pm
If a meme is like a thought, it must needs thinking in order to exist.

Therefore a structure of thinking must be present.

That creature with a potential for thought is the "I".

Would a human completely isolated from other humans develop a personality?  I say yes.

So, unless the "I AM" meme can spontaneously generate (which, AFAIK runs counter to most meme theory), then it is the ACT OF THINKING that creates identity.

Title: Re: No strings attached freedom
Post by: Cramulus on December 09, 2008, 05:30:55 pm
Rat, can you think of a more accurate word than prison which describes the self-limiting choices we make? I feel like the Golden Sphere of Possibility dodges the doom and gloom connotation but totally misses what we're trying to describe. By the way, we have several threads on this topic (reconceptualizing the BIP), but it really doesn't seem relevant to this discussion because I know you know what we mean.

Anyway I think we're getting kind of far away from Cain's original point, so I'll drop a link to a relevant old thread about this very topic:

http://www.principiadiscordia.com/forum/index.php?topic=12962.0
http://www.principiadiscordia.com/forum/index.php?topic=12962.msg424708#msg424708 (page 3 of thread)

(http://i209.photobucket.com/albums/bb163/wompcabal/shadowblocksthumbnail.jpg)



anyway, gotta buzz off to a job interview, wish me luck
Title: Re: No strings attached freedom
Post by: Bebek Sincap Ratatosk on December 09, 2008, 05:35:29 pm
If a meme is like a thought, it must needs thinking in order to exist.

Therefore a structure of thinking must be present.

That creature with a potential for thought is the "I".

Would a human completely isolated from other humans develop a personality?  I say yes.

So, unless the "I AM" meme can spontaneously generate (which, AFAIK runs counter to most meme theory), then it is the ACT OF THINKING that creates identity.



I agree entirely. I would argue that there has to be a basis, an 'I' in order to learn memes. From my understanding memes are brought into the self through learning from others. We must have the concept of a separated identity in order to learn/mimic the memetic infector. Now, the 'I' in the sense of Who I think of when I think of 'me'... that does seem to be a hash of all the memes I've been infected with... on top of the golden kernel of 'Iness'... maybe?


Good luck on the Interview Cram ;-)

And the BiP stuff was really just a side comment, I don't think the debate really needs to be rehashed here ;-)

On the flip side, though, I think this does tie in with Cains OP... after all, these two concepts, that we are driven and made of memes... and that freedom exists in actions... must either fit together in some way... or counter each other in some way. It seems to me that if we could connect these two models usefully, we might just have something (but... you know me and my models ;-) ).
Title: Re: No strings attached freedom
Post by: LMNO on December 09, 2008, 05:42:34 pm
If a meme is like a thought, it must needs thinking in order to exist.

Therefore a structure of thinking must be present.

That creature with a potential for thought is the "I".

Would a human completely isolated from other humans develop a personality?  I say yes.

So, unless the "I AM" meme can spontaneously generate (which, AFAIK runs counter to most meme theory), then it is the ACT OF THINKING that creates identity.



I agree entirely. I would argue that there has to be a basis, an 'I' in order to learn memes. From my understanding memes are brought into the self through learning from others. We must have the concept of a separated identity in order to learn/mimic the memetic infector. Now, the 'I' in the sense of Who I think of when I think of 'me'... that does seem to be a hash of all the memes I've been infected with... on top of the golden kernel of 'Iness'... maybe?


I liked Cain's paraphrase of some dead philosiphizer... "I think, therefore there is thinking" (my paraphrase). In a pragmatic sense, you might want to separate the act of thinking from any conclusions about the thinker.

That is to say, the act of thinking might be an "I", but to say "I AM" requires what could be considered aquired memes.

Or something.  I'm just winging it here, to be honest.
Title: Re: No strings attached freedom
Post by: Bebek Sincap Ratatosk on December 09, 2008, 05:57:05 pm
If a meme is like a thought, it must needs thinking in order to exist.

Therefore a structure of thinking must be present.

That creature with a potential for thought is the "I".

Would a human completely isolated from other humans develop a personality?  I say yes.

So, unless the "I AM" meme can spontaneously generate (which, AFAIK runs counter to most meme theory), then it is the ACT OF THINKING that creates identity.



I agree entirely. I would argue that there has to be a basis, an 'I' in order to learn memes. From my understanding memes are brought into the self through learning from others. We must have the concept of a separated identity in order to learn/mimic the memetic infector. Now, the 'I' in the sense of Who I think of when I think of 'me'... that does seem to be a hash of all the memes I've been infected with... on top of the golden kernel of 'Iness'... maybe?


I liked Cain's paraphrase of some dead philosiphizer... "I think, therefore there is thinking" (my paraphrase). In a pragmatic sense, you might want to separate the act of thinking from any conclusions about the thinker.

That is to say, the act of thinking might be an "I", but to say "I AM" requires what could be considered aquired memes.

Or something.  I'm just winging it here, to be honest.

Yes... it seems very fuzzy at that point. I AM the verb exists but I AM the noun is a meme... at some point I wonder where the meme metaphor wears out?

What makes a meme anything more than an idea? If nothing, then all we're claiming is that humans act on their ideas and their self is made up of all the ideas they currently hold. Which suddenly seems kinda obvious.

The real question, then, becomes one of action... are all of my actions controlled by memes, or by the verb I AM (this is kinda interesting because the hebrew name for God YHVH can be translated as the verb I AM)? Does I AM, decide which memes take precedence, or how memes fit together, or are these automatic processes with memes connecting to memes and I AM as a hapless victim as these memes collect on him like bits of metal shavings to a magnet?

If its the former, then perhaps that's where the Freedom Cain's discussing happens... when I AM acts in a way contrary to the memetic entity within him (though Cram's argument seems to indicate such a thing may not be possible). If however, actions are better defined with the latter, then freedom in the sense Cain's discussing, couldn't happen, because we would ALWAYS be acting according to a meme and never really meet the requirement set forth in the OP:

 "Freedom, instead, is the ability to be other than we are.  To have choices, and to be able to make them, freely.  Despite what you are, what you do or what you believe, freedom means having the potential to do something different in the next moment, if you please."

Nor would Camus have been correct to say I revolt therefore we are... since his act of revolt would simply be an expression of a meme and therefore the choice would be neither free nor would we have the potential to act other than this memeplex directed.

But, I also am winging it at this point ;-)
Title: Re: No strings attached freedom
Post by: LMNO on December 09, 2008, 06:08:55 pm
Isn't it a main argument against memetics that all memes are merely ideas, and don't really need a new name?

Also, I think there is the "I" which is the noun, the thinking noun, and then the "I AM" which is the labeling of the thinking noun which, of course, is always an incomplete description.

That is to say, there once you add the descriptive verb, you enter the realm ov meme.


...


This is like a retarded debate between Descartes and RAW.
Title: Re: No strings attached freedom
Post by: Bebek Sincap Ratatosk on December 09, 2008, 06:20:36 pm
PD.com,  a retarded debate between Descartes and RAW.

That should be one of the News Tickers!

 :lulz:

Isn't it a main argument against memetics that all memes are merely ideas, and don't really need a new name?

Also, I think there is the "I" which is the noun, the thinking noun, and then the "I AM" which is the labeling of the thinking noun which, of course, is always an incomplete description.

That is to say, there once you add the descriptive verb, you enter the realm ov meme.

Hrmmm.... that's quite interesting. I think the argument though between 'meme' vs 'idea' may have a lot to do with this question we're discussing, if Free Will exists and we have control over which ideas most directly affect us, then that's one thing... if however, we don't have much say as shrapnel and prison bars come flying at us fast as the speed of thought, then maybe meme is the better term for those kind of ideas?

Of course, this also bring up the invariable question of responsibility. How responsible is anyone for their actions, if actions are driven by memes. Was the guy that sent smallpox infected blankets to the Native Americans a bad guy, or was he a victim of the bad meme, Manifest Destiny?

Did the guy that raped and killed X person do something evil, or was he the victim of a memetic entity that drove him to rape and kill?

If it's all in the memes, then punishment seems like a horrific idea and personal responsibility would seem to be non existent. Of course, if we follow this rabbit hole all the way down, responsibility, evil, good, bad, punishment, etc would all just be memes and not really existent at all. At that point someone needs to hit me over the head with a barstool, because we're heading down a path where the moral relativity of a society defines good and bad, based on the memes it consumes, thus excusing every instance of genocide as merely acts based on what memes appeared most beneficial.

Title: Re: No strings attached freedom
Post by: LMNO on December 09, 2008, 06:24:48 pm
Ok, maybe I have a brutally incomplete understanding of memetics.  Is it a postulate that you have NO CHOICE but to believe/follow a meme you come into contact with?

Or are you allowed to pick and choose and evaluate among the different memes?


Because if it's the former, then the thinking "I" is destroyed, consumed by the "AM".
Title: Re: No strings attached freedom
Post by: Manta Obscura on December 09, 2008, 06:28:49 pm


This is like a retarded debate between Descartes and RAW.

I've actually been enjoying this since I've taken up lurking on this thread.

Being educated with a Linguistic/Communications background in a religious college, I've gotten used to (collected the meme of?) thinking in the theological terms of "who am I?". I think it was Marcus Borg who said that that is the central question of all religion/ethics/morality (also: "who are we?" for collectivist religions) and the primary mystery of the human person.

The answering of that question outlines the potentiality of a person and how they relate to their world, which is directly tied to the freedom that one has within that world. So I think what you, Rat and Cram have been discussing regarding who this "I" fellow is, is of great importance to the idea of freedom brought up by Cain.

My own mentalscape has me gravitating toward's Rat's perspective, but I don't really have much to contribute, in part because you've all somehow been spying inside my brain to say what I'm thinking before I can write it, and in part because my interior mentalscape tends to swing pendulously from one point of skepticism to another, offering little concrete information to put forth.
Title: Re: No strings attached freedom
Post by: Bebek Sincap Ratatosk on December 09, 2008, 06:44:58 pm
Ok, maybe I have a brutally incomplete understanding of memetics.  Is it a postulate that you have NO CHOICE but to believe/follow a meme you come into contact with?

Or are you allowed to pick and choose and evaluate among the different memes?
Because if it's the former, then the thinking "I" is destroyed, consumed by the "AM".

That would seem to be the question. From my understanding up to this point, it was a bit of both. That is, some memes may be by choice and some by their evolved tendency to survive within a human host.

Maybe then, what we need to explore... is if there might exist an immune system of sorts to combat these infectious memes.

In Dawkins original use of the word, I think he based it on imitation... Person X would see something/hear something and decide to imitate it. He argued that with many social phenomena it may be extremely virulent and thus humans that come into contact with it appear very likely to become infected.

Perhaps its the memetic immune system that allows for acts for Freedom (ala Cain's OP). That is, when you aren't infected by the meme you come in contact with... when you're exposed to the meme and DON'T accept it as mpart of your memeplex, THEN you're performing an act of AMness as well as an act of Freedom.

Unless of course, you're just infected with a meme that happens to be non-compatible with the new one...

I think the trick will be (over the next decade or so) figuring out when the meme model is a useful tool and when it just confuses the issue. We can model human behavior on a meme model, but at some point, we will need to figure out where we leave off considering the menu and start munching on the cardboard ;-)

Do memes usefully model all human ideas/thoughts or is the model useful in describing 'sombunal' acts of social imitation?



Title: Re: No strings attached freedom
Post by: LMNO on December 09, 2008, 07:01:21 pm
I'm not sure I can buy into memetics 100%.  Or even 75%. 

It might be an occasionally useful metaphor, but I dunno.

But I suppose that's beside the point.

Or maybe that's the whole point.


I think I just derailed this thread due to my lack of understanding regarding memetics.
Title: Re: No strings attached freedom
Post by: fomenter on December 09, 2008, 07:06:18 pm
feel free to ignore this if this adds a unecisary complication to the discussion.
but what about chimps and other animals? a dominant animal growls and a lower in the pack animal runs off is that growl a meme? is the weaker animals response an I AM that tells him to run? if he learned the body language and growls of the meme would his I AM become the I AM of the pack leader? some memetics may be deep ingrained socializations that transcend ideas  and are made of instinctual communication??
Title: Re: No strings attached freedom
Post by: LMNO on December 09, 2008, 07:10:17 pm
I suppose, from where I'm coming from, that it would depend if Alpha/Beta/Gamma behavior is genetic or not.

I would say no (I still like the 8-curcuit imprinting), which would make the pack behavior as an accumulation of external "I AM" rather than from the "I".




Fuck, I AM making no sense.
Title: Re: No strings attached freedom
Post by: Bebek Sincap Ratatosk on December 09, 2008, 07:19:46 pm
I'm not sure I can buy into memetics 100%.  Or even 75%. 

It might be an occasionally useful metaphor, but I dunno.

But I suppose that's beside the point.

Or maybe that's the whole point.


I think I just derailed this thread due to my lack of understanding regarding memetics.

I don't think so. I think this has be an awesome thread.

I doubt we've gotten any answers, prolly more questions that anything. Once Cram gets back from his interview, maybe he can respond based on the AM book... I think I'll dig out my Book of Atem tonight and see what I can find  there. It might be interesting to see the memetic model from the "Art" perspective and the "Magic" perspective.

One thing I recall from Atem, was that Phil placed memetics in two categories:

Meme - an idea/concept/belief/gestrue etc
Memetic Entity - A system of beliefs, ideas etc.

So the entity, in his view, is a strong system that is somewhat self sustaining. So "Fnord" would be a meme, "Sink" would be a meme, "Hail Eris, Pentabarf, Eris" etc would all be memes... but "Discordianism" would be a memetic entity.

These entities, then can be accepted by the individual (either consciously or through infectious means)... and are modified by the other memetic entities within. So in his view, its almost memesexual... Discordianism and JWism (plus all the other memetic entities that wander around in my head) have a baby that's some memetic mix of the two, thus creating the unique memetic entity that most directly affects my Self.

In Phil's view one of the key aspects of "magic" is the conscious manipulation and modification of the internal memetic entities. In fact, it seems that he places the "Holy Guardian Angel" concept as the invoked form of the individuals internal memetic entity.

Kinda, based on my recollections from a year ago ;-)
Title: Re: No strings attached freedom
Post by: LMNO on December 09, 2008, 07:26:31 pm
I'm not sure I can buy into memetics 100%.  Or even 75%. 

It might be an occasionally useful metaphor, but I dunno.

But I suppose that's beside the point.

Or maybe that's the whole point.


I think I just derailed this thread due to my lack of understanding regarding memetics.

I don't think so. I think this has be an awesome thread.

I doubt we've gotten any answers, prolly more questions that anything. Once Cram gets back from his interview, maybe he can respond based on the AM book... I think I'll dig out my Book of Atem tonight and see what I can find  there. It might be interesting to see the memetic model from the "Art" perspective and the "Magic" perspective.

One thing I recall from Atem, was that Phil placed memetics in two categories:

Meme - an idea/concept/belief/gestrue etc
Memetic Entity - A system of beliefs, ideas etc.

So the entity, in his view, is a strong system that is somewhat self sustaining. So "Fnord" would be a meme, "Sink" would be a meme, "Hail Eris, Pentabarf, Eris" etc would all be memes... but "Discordianism" would be a memetic entity.

These entities, then can be accepted by the individual (either consciously or through infectious means)... and are modified by the other memetic entities within. So in his view, its almost memesexual... Discordianism and JWism (plus all the other memetic entities that wander around in my head) have a baby that's some memetic mix of the two, thus creating the unique memetic entity that most directly affects my Self.

In Phil's view one of the key aspects of "magic" is the conscious manipulation and modification of the internal memetic entities. In fact, it seems that he places the "Holy Guardian Angel" concept as the invoked form of the individuals internal memetic entity.

Kinda, based on my recollections from a year ago ;-)

Well, ok.

And I can see that if you start beliving in a certain kind of meme, it may appear to "force" you to do things.

But I still feel that the "I" still has ultimate control of the "AM", if the "I" chooses as much.

That is, the meme may have an internal structure, and might shape thought, to such a degree that the "I" may be subsumed, but there is still a choice, deep down there.


edited to bring the last post on the other page forward.
Title: Re: No strings attached freedom
Post by: Elder Iptuous on December 09, 2008, 07:27:21 pm
I'm not sure I can buy into memetics 100%.  Or even 75%. 

It might be an occasionally useful metaphor, but I dunno.

But I suppose that's beside the point.

Or maybe that's the whole point.


I think I just derailed this thread due to my lack of understanding regarding memetics.

Based on my cursory understanding of memetics, i would say i am in the same boat.  it seems like a neat-o notion for looking at ideas as agents unto themselves, to understand their flows and interactions on the substrate of social interaction, but to say that the social interaction and constituent entities are nothing more than the memes seems like 'mistaking the map for the territory', right?
Title: Re: No strings attached freedom
Post by: LMNO on December 09, 2008, 07:31:16 pm
I just wanted to leave a side note and say that my November would have been much cooler if I could have had these kinds of conversations.  But NOOOOOOO, I had to ban PD whilst I wrote my book!
Title: Re: No strings attached freedom
Post by: Bebek Sincap Ratatosk on December 09, 2008, 07:32:17 pm
LMNO and Iptuous, you hit my thought precisely. ;-)

Now, what if we combine this model with Freud's model of the Id, Ego and SuperEgo.

It seems to me that the Super Ego could be heavily influenced by memetics, the Ego could be influenced, at least in part, by memetics... but the ID, would mostly be meme free... I think.

Hrmmm....
Title: Re: No strings attached freedom
Post by: Manta Obscura on December 09, 2008, 07:38:57 pm
LMNO and Iptuous, you hit my thought precisely. ;-)

Now, what if we combine this model with Freud's model of the Id, Ego and SuperEgo.

It seems to me that the Super Ego could be heavily influenced by memetics, the Ego could be influenced, at least in part, by memetics... but the ID, would mostly be meme free... I think.

Hrmmm....

Rather than Freud, I think a more illuminating psychological model to look at would be Erik Erikson's stages of conflict stuff. I'll see if I can find a link or some text to elaborate in a moment, but until then suffice it to say that I think Erikson's concept of facing various identity crises/milestones throughout one's life lends itself pretty well to the concept of freedom, memetic identity and personal choice.
Title: Re: No strings attached freedom
Post by: Manta Obscura on December 09, 2008, 07:40:29 pm
Wikipedia, the ol' standby:

Quote
Even though Erikson always insisted that he was a Freudian, he is better described as a Neo-Freudian. Subsequent authors have described him as an "ego psychologist" studying the stages of development, spanning the entire lifespan. Each of Erikson's stages of psychosocial development are marked by a conflict, for which successful resolution will result in a favourable outcome, for example, trust vs. mistrust, and by an important event that this conflict resolves itself around, for example, meaning of one's life.

Favourable outcomes of each stage are sometimes known as "virtues", a term used, in the context of Eriksonian work, as it is applied to medicines, meaning "potencies." For example, the virtue that would emerge from successful resolution. Oddly, and certainly counter-intuitively, Erikson's research suggests that each individual must learn how to hold both extremes of each specific life-stage challenge in tension with one another, not rejecting one end of the tension or the other. Only when both extremes in a life-stage challenge are understood and accepted as both required and useful, can the optimal virtue for that stage surface. Thus, 'trust' and 'mis-trust' must both be understood and accepted, in order for realistic 'hope' to emerge as a viable solution at the first stage. Similarly, 'integrity' and 'despair' must both be understood and embraced, in order for actionable 'wisdom' to emerge as a viable solution at the last stage.

The Erikson life-stage virtues, in the order of the stages in which they may be acquired, are:

hope - Basic Trust vs. Mistrust - Infant stage. Does the child believe its caregivers to be reliable?
will - Autonomy vs. Shame and Doubt - Toddler stage. Child needs to learn to explore the world. Bad if the parent is too smothering or completely neglectful.
purpose - Initiative vs. Guilt - Kindergarten - Can the child plan or do things on his own, such as dress him or herself. If "guilty" about making his or her own choices, the child will not function well. Erikson has a positive outlook on this stage, saying that most guilt is quickly compensated by a sense of accomplishment.
competence - Industry vs. Inferiority - Around age 6 to puberty. Child comparing self worth to others (such as in a classroom environment). Child can recognise major disparities in personal abilities relative to other children. Erikson places some emphasis on the teacher, who should ensure that children do not feel inferior.
fidelity - Identity vs. Role Confusion - Teenager. Questioning of self. Who am I, how do I fit in? Where am I going in life? Erikson believes that if the parents allow the child to explore, they will conclude their own identity. However, if the parents continually push him/her to conform to their views, the teen will face identity confusion.
love (in intimate relationships, work and family) - Intimacy vs. Isolation - Young adult. Who do I want to be with or date, what am I going to do with my life? Will I settle down? This stage has begun to last longer as young adults choose to stay in school and not settle.
caring - Generativity vs. Stagnation - the Mid-life crisis. Measure accomplishments/failures. Am I satisfied or not? The need to assist the younger generation. Stagnation is the feeling of not having done anything to help the next generation.
wisdom - Ego Integrity vs. Despair - old age. Some handle death well. Some can be bitter, unhappy, dissatisfied with what they accomplished or failed to accomplish within their life time. They reflect on the past, and either conclude at satisfaction or despair.
On Ego Identity versus Role Confusion, Ego identity enables each person to have a sense of individuality, or as Erikson would say, "Ego identity, then, in its subjective aspect, is the awareness of the fact that there is a self-sameness and continuity to the ego's synthesizing methods and a continuity of one's meaning for others". (1963) Role Confusion however, is, according to Barbara Engler in her book Personality Theories (2006), "The inability to conceive of oneself as a productive member of one's own society" (158). This inability to conceive of oneself as a productive member is a great danger; it can occur during adolescence when looking for an occupation.

Title: Re: No strings attached freedom
Post by: Manta Obscura on December 09, 2008, 07:41:52 pm
And a link:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Erikson%27s_stages_of_psychosocial_development
Title: Re: No strings attached freedom
Post by: LMNO on December 09, 2008, 07:41:54 pm
I'm not a big fan of Freud, so I'll let Manta take it for a little while.
Title: Re: No strings attached freedom
Post by: Elder Iptuous on December 09, 2008, 07:47:33 pm
I'm not a big fan of Freud, so I'll let Manta take it for a little while.
Freud would be a big fan of Manta's avatar right now...  :D
Title: Re: No strings attached freedom
Post by: Bebek Sincap Ratatosk on December 09, 2008, 07:51:32 pm
I myself am a lightweight on Freud, and know only the basics of his theories... the only guys I've studied much of is Jung, Leary and Gurdjieff.

Manta, how does Erikson's view differ from Freuds in the respect you quoted? Also, I like his description, it brings to mind Wilson's comment about the Universe being a causal feedback loop wherein experiences inform thoughts and actions which of course modifyu experiences and further inform... in a big circle. It also reminded me of Leary's first and second circuit.

In Erikson's model then, would the ego be the tool that acts kind of like a memetic attractor, or more like a memetic selector (choosing which to accept and which to reject), or am I way off?
Title: Re: No strings attached freedom
Post by: Manta Obscura on December 09, 2008, 09:10:36 pm
I myself am a lightweight on Freud, and know only the basics of his theories... the only guys I've studied much of is Jung, Leary and Gurdjieff.

Manta, how does Erikson's view differ from Freuds in the respect you quoted? Also, I like his description, it brings to mind Wilson's comment about the Universe being a causal feedback loop wherein experiences inform thoughts and actions which of course modifyu experiences and further inform... in a big circle. It also reminded me of Leary's first and second circuit.

In Erikson's model then, would the ego be the tool that acts kind of like a memetic attractor, or more like a memetic selector (choosing which to accept and which to reject), or am I way off?

I'll try my best to respond to your questions but, in the interest of being as clear as possible, I'm going to do so in the reverse order in which you wrote them. Also note that I have not read any primary Freudian/Erikson works in about two years now, so my information is based off of old notes, textbooks, and various other secondary sources.


In Erikson's model then, would the ego be the tool that acts kind of like a memetic attractor, or more like a memetic selector (choosing which to accept and which to reject), or am I way off?

Erikson, though self-identified as a Freudian analyst, did not seem to tri-furcate the brain into id, ego and superego as much as Freud did. Freud's creation of the three mental aspects was influenced in a large part by his work with unusual or rare instances and cases of neuroses, whereas Erikson based a good portion of his work on the observation of repeated trends among people, specifically adolescents. For Erikson, the adolescent stage - Identity vs. Role Confusion - was the most pivotal point in an individual's development, because it, for a large part, determined much of the future character of an individual.

To get to your question, the "ego" among psychoanalysts such as Erikson (and to a lesser extent Freud) usually signifies the part of the consciousness that is actively involved in intellection, conflict resolution, logical thought and other choice-based mental initiatives. In this sense, yes, Erikson's idea of "ego" would be the agent involved in choosing, the "I" in "I AM" that everyone was mentioning earlier. As for whether this ego acts as a memetic "attractor" or a "selector" seems to vary depending on which of Erikson's stage one is talking about. Erikson didn't seem to talk in terms of the memes involved with each conflict, but instead was focused on the conflicts themselves, so a bit of extrapolation is needed to come to the aforementioned conclusion.

For instance, in the Trust vs. Mistrust stage of infancy, the ego would attract the meme based on its environmental cues. If a baby is born into a family where its primary caregiver is neglectful, it will develop a basic mistrust of the world, in Erikson's conception. In this sense, the "I" entity would be attracting a meme through no industry of its own.

Fast-forwarding to the adolescent stage, "Identity vs. Role Confusion," the focus shifts to a conflict in which one must decide what type of person one wants to be for the rest of one's life. The adolescent asks themself what type of job they want, what type of person they're attracted to, et hoc genus omne. This stage seems to be a combination of "attractor" and "selector," because the ego in question is acting off of memes it has acquired/been exposed to previously (e.g. "I sure as hell don't want to work in customer service, because people are cruel and aren't trustworthy") while simultaneously creating or selecting new memes to add to its personality (e.g. "My guidance counselor says I should go to a business college, but I want to go to a fine arts school instead").

In general with Erikson's stages, the higher the stage one is in, the more that person seems to be a memetic "selector" rather than an "attractor," at least in regards to how one resolves the conflict of the stage itself. This is not to say that we don't continually collect or choose memes throughout our life, only that as we grow we exercise more of the "virtues" of self-determinacy gained from the previous conflict stages. Conversely, someone who failed to cultivate some of those virtues might be more of a memetic attractor than a selector, depending on which virtues they did or did not develop. Tell me if this makes sense for really real, or if I'm just expressing a rant that only sounds good in my head.


Manta, how does Erikson's view differ from Freuds in the respect you quoted?

Taking all of what I said previously into account, there are several differences between Erikson's view and Freud's view. Freud seemed to see one's personality in terms of being a "memetic attractor," in that the experiences of infancy and childhood not only affect our developing experiences, but determine the underlying personality that results. In his ideology, the id is a quasi-animalistic drive that gets assualted with stimuli that stick to it and incite base urges (e.g. "Sexual stimulation feels really good; I really want to have sex") , and the rest of personality develops as a way of justifying those forces. Superego creates the internalized morals based on societal expectations (e.g. "God says I can't have sex before marriage"), and the ego tries to reconcile the two (e.g. "I want sex, but it's forbidden until marriage. I value marriage as an institution" Note: this is a really sloppy interpretation, so don't take it too much to heart). Memetically, Freud's concepts barely put us above Skinner's behavioristic view of people, wherein we are all just big response-machines that act according to various stimuli. Only with Freud, the motivating forces are presented to us at a young age and continue to percolate within us for a long time.

Erikson leaves more room for identity creation, posing the issue of identity in terms of various major milestones which must be faced. If you fail to resolve a conflict and develop its virtue, the effect sticks with you (e.g. the case of the mistreated infant from earlier), but one still has the ability to respond to the new conflicts as they arise. Also, the irresolution of previous conflicts can be mitigated in part by the resolution of future conflicts. For instance, Mistreated Infant spends its whole childhood feeling pretty sour towards the world, chooses the life of the artist in adolescence, and goes on to find beauty in people by experimenting with various artistic concepts. The effects of the infant attracting memes becomes lessened by its selection of certain memes later on.

For another example, I'll point you toward the movie "American History X," wherein the main character grows up picking up racist memes, only to reform after spending time in prison. Both his initial character and his reformed character are formed in part by his conscious choice of memes and in part by his attraction of memes; he is surrounded by anti-black/Jew/whatever sentiments, and he willingly selects them and participates in them. Then, he experiences someone who challenges his concepts, and willingly changes. His change reconfigures some of his earlier conflicts by giving him trust in a mistrusted demographic, giving him the industriousness to change the situation, altering his identity, developing wisdom, etc.

So short story very long, Erikson takes a lot of the power away from our infant stages and says that we continue to shape our identity - and have our identities shaped - by forces in the world and how we respond to the various challenges within our lives.

Tell me if I hit the mark and answered your questions, or just made a big fool of myself by going off on a long lecture.
Title: Re: No strings attached freedom
Post by: Bebek Sincap Ratatosk on December 09, 2008, 09:15:30 pm
Manta, that was beautiful.

I now must think more before posting on this topic!
Title: Re: No strings attached freedom
Post by: Manta Obscura on December 09, 2008, 09:22:47 pm
Manta, that was beautiful.

I now must think more before posting on this topic!

Thank ye, Rat.

FYI: Most of my research into Eriksonian psychoanalysis has yielded results dealing with the young part of one's life, up until the "Intimacy vs. Isolation" stage. I am unsure about some of his work and its relation to memetics in the later conflict stages, but will see what my research digs up. Erikson was sort of enamored with adolescents (on an intellectual level, that is), so I haven't read a lot of his work on gerontology.
Title: Re: No strings attached freedom
Post by: P3nT4gR4m on December 10, 2008, 10:24:55 am
Some scientific type really ought to nail the concept of memetics down soon because it's fast becoming a really wooly terminology and it deserves better.

The way I see it we have a root "I am" which isn't really a meme or a memeplex as much as a seed or hook where the rest attaches or grows from.

The memes themselves I see as functioning like cells in a body. I don't think any of our psychology "software" is composed of anything that could not be described in terms of a meme or memeplex so the whole "is memes all we are?" argument breaks down along the same lines as "is cells all our bodies are?", in that the meta-result of all these little units acting in concert is something much more than the sum of its parts.

The realisation that you, in the "I am" sense are a program, full of buggy, glitchy subroutines and all sorts of malware and spam can be a bit of a shock to the system and certainly fucks with the whole "freedom" thing in a huge way but do not underestimate the power of the "I am" core - pretty much any meme or set of memes can be deleted or modified, by greater or lesser act of will. The key is to take an active role in deciding which parts you want to keep and which parts you want to get rid of.

That's freedom to me. Freedom to, quite literally, make my own mind up. Any other freedom, freedom to act in x or y fashion are all restricted, whether that be by the machinations of other men or the laws of physics. After all society may grant me the freedom to flap my arms but it's a conspiracy of gravity and biology that denys me the freedom to fly.

Free thinking is the only practical freedom that we can possibly aspire to. And, low and behold, it's the one freedom that seems to be the most under siege in this year of our imaginary friend, two thousand and eight.

Title: Re: No strings attached freedom
Post by: Bebek Sincap Ratatosk on December 10, 2008, 02:35:59 pm
Some scientific type really ought to nail the concept of memetics down soon because it's fast becoming a really wooly terminology and it deserves better.

The way I see it we have a root "I am" which isn't really a meme or a memeplex as much as a seed or hook where the rest attaches or grows from.

The memes themselves I see as functioning like cells in a body. I don't think any of our psychology "software" is composed of anything that could not be described in terms of a meme or memeplex so the whole "is memes all we are?" argument breaks down along the same lines as "is cells all our bodies are?", in that the meta-result of all these little units acting in concert is something much more than the sum of its parts.

The realisation that you, in the "I am" sense are a program, full of buggy, glitchy subroutines and all sorts of malware and spam can be a bit of a shock to the system and certainly fucks with the whole "freedom" thing in a huge way but do not underestimate the power of the "I am" core - pretty much any meme or set of memes can be deleted or modified, by greater or lesser act of will. The key is to take an active role in deciding which parts you want to keep and which parts you want to get rid of.

That's freedom to me. Freedom to, quite literally, make my own mind up. Any other freedom, freedom to act in x or y fashion are all restricted, whether that be by the machinations of other men or the laws of physics. After all society may grant me the freedom to flap my arms but it's a conspiracy of gravity and biology that denys me the freedom to fly.

Free thinking is the only practical freedom that we can possibly aspire to. And, low and behold, it's the one freedom that seems to be the most under siege in this year of our imaginary friend, two thousand and eight.



:mittens:
Title: Re: No strings attached freedom
Post by: Mesozoic Mister Nigel on December 10, 2008, 04:25:56 pm
Some scientific type really ought to nail the concept of memetics down soon because it's fast becoming a really wooly terminology and it deserves better.

The way I see it we have a root "I am" which isn't really a meme or a memeplex as much as a seed or hook where the rest attaches or grows from.

The memes themselves I see as functioning like cells in a body. I don't think any of our psychology "software" is composed of anything that could not be described in terms of a meme or memeplex so the whole "is memes all we are?" argument breaks down along the same lines as "is cells all our bodies are?", in that the meta-result of all these little units acting in concert is something much more than the sum of its parts.

The realisation that you, in the "I am" sense are a program, full of buggy, glitchy subroutines and all sorts of malware and spam can be a bit of a shock to the system and certainly fucks with the whole "freedom" thing in a huge way but do not underestimate the power of the "I am" core - pretty much any meme or set of memes can be deleted or modified, by greater or lesser act of will. The key is to take an active role in deciding which parts you want to keep and which parts you want to get rid of.

That's freedom to me. Freedom to, quite literally, make my own mind up. Any other freedom, freedom to act in x or y fashion are all restricted, whether that be by the machinations of other men or the laws of physics. After all society may grant me the freedom to flap my arms but it's a conspiracy of gravity and biology that denys me the freedom to fly.

Free thinking is the only practical freedom that we can possibly aspire to. And, low and behold, it's the one freedom that seems to be the most under siege in this year of our imaginary friend, two thousand and eight.



A fair amount has been written on memetics, but the "scientific types" don't entirely agree on what defines a meme, and some scientific types consider the idea dangerous pseudoscience, so I don't know that it's likely to be nailed down anytime soon.
Title: Re: No strings attached freedom
Post by: Bebek Sincap Ratatosk on December 10, 2008, 04:44:40 pm
Some scientific type really ought to nail the concept of memetics down soon because it's fast becoming a really wooly terminology and it deserves better.

The way I see it we have a root "I am" which isn't really a meme or a memeplex as much as a seed or hook where the rest attaches or grows from.

The memes themselves I see as functioning like cells in a body. I don't think any of our psychology "software" is composed of anything that could not be described in terms of a meme or memeplex so the whole "is memes all we are?" argument breaks down along the same lines as "is cells all our bodies are?", in that the meta-result of all these little units acting in concert is something much more than the sum of its parts.

The realisation that you, in the "I am" sense are a program, full of buggy, glitchy subroutines and all sorts of malware and spam can be a bit of a shock to the system and certainly fucks with the whole "freedom" thing in a huge way but do not underestimate the power of the "I am" core - pretty much any meme or set of memes can be deleted or modified, by greater or lesser act of will. The key is to take an active role in deciding which parts you want to keep and which parts you want to get rid of.

That's freedom to me. Freedom to, quite literally, make my own mind up. Any other freedom, freedom to act in x or y fashion are all restricted, whether that be by the machinations of other men or the laws of physics. After all society may grant me the freedom to flap my arms but it's a conspiracy of gravity and biology that denys me the freedom to fly.

Free thinking is the only practical freedom that we can possibly aspire to. And, low and behold, it's the one freedom that seems to be the most under siege in this year of our imaginary friend, two thousand and eight.



A fair amount has been written on memetics, but the "scientific types" don't entirely agree on what defines a meme, and some scientific types consider the idea dangerous pseudoscience, so I don't know that it's likely to be nailed down anytime soon.


I think that considering memetics as a science of what IS seems dangerous. Memetics, IMO, appears like a model, which may be very good for modeling some things, but as always the Map is not the Territory... 'memes', I think, probably exist in the same way that the pentagram/pentagon exist in Starbucks pebbles... there might be some Objective pebbles, but connecting the dots is all in the mind ;-)
Title: Re: No strings attached freedom
Post by: LMNO on December 10, 2008, 04:44:40 pm
P3nt, that's really well said.  I like this bit:

Quote
The realisation that you, in the "I am" sense are a program, full of buggy, glitchy subroutines and all sorts of malware and spam can be a bit of a shock to the system and certainly fucks with the whole "freedom" thing in a huge way but do not underestimate the power of the "I am" core - pretty much any meme or set of memes can be deleted or modified, by greater or lesser act of will. The key is to take an active role in deciding which parts you want to keep and which parts you want to get rid of.

Stretching the metaphor, The "I" is the programmer, the computer hardware is the body/brain, and the memes are the programs.  If you load the computer with program set "A", it will behave in a certain goven way, depending on the input.  If you load the computer with program set "B", it will behave completely differently. 

So, the accretion of memes implies a predictable set of behaviors, but those memes can be altered by the "I".
Title: Re: No strings attached freedom
Post by: hashishi on December 10, 2008, 10:11:21 pm
I think people might be reading too much into the concept of being infected by memes, either that, or I have it all wrong in my head. This is all written from the POV that a meme is a cultural artifact. It seems to me that there is a big difference between learning a meme and believing in the meme.

Take the Christian memeplex. Being aware of all of the memes does not make a Christian. I know about the virgin birth, the three wise men, Jesus getting nailed to the cross and the resurrection. Knowing these things means I have been infected by the memes, in that I am aware of the cultural artifacts. It does not make me believe the memes and any time I would use them it would probably be in the context of trying to create dissonance within the memeplex in order to challenge peoples faith.

Lets see if I can synthesise this with Manta's excellent rant about Ericksonian psychology and what I just wrote...

As people grow up they absorb the memes in their environment, spending their youth as more of a memetic attractor than selector. This makes sense when you think how easy it is to convince children of the existance of Santa Claus, God or any other fictional charecter. The more memes people absorb, the more dissonance this creates, meaning that sorting out which memes to believe and which not to becomes an important task. (Perhaps a reason for adolescents Identity / role confusion crisis?) So, keeping with the christian example, at some point people can be faced with a choice, to believe in Creationism (or Intelligent Design) or Evolution. Someone who keeps believing in the Christian memeplex would be more likely to believe in creationism. Someone who rejects the Christian memeplex would be more likely to buy into evolution.

Before I started to read The Art of Memetics, I scribbled down a few properties I thought that Memes might have. The most interesting one is the idea of memetic exchange, where I was trying to mesh my understanding of evolutionary psychology with the concept of memes. I will paste what I wrote below.
Quote
People talk a lot, we like to express ourselves. Communication represents cultural exchange and therefore a memetic exchange. The cost of expressing memes is very low (the cost of the calories burned from wagging your jaw and the time spent expressing it).

Memetic exchange goes a long way to divert human competition into a cultural competition (as opposed to a physical war of each against all). People living in the same geographical locale tend to share cultural artifacts and therefore have more of a memetic resonance with each other. When they have violently different memetic foundations, this can result in civil war, religious violence etc.

People living in the same geographical region are likely to share a lot of memes and therefore the cognitive resonance of communicating in a similar way. People from different cultures have fewer memes in common and this can create more cognitive disonance. This goes a way to explain why people are more likely to kill for King and Country than murder their neighbours.

Cognition is tied to emotion. Cognitive resonance can promote feelings of solidarity, cognitive disonance can provoke rage. These are just tendencies, some disonant ideas can promote solidarity through changing people's reality tunnels, challenging misconceptions etc.

I am not sure whether the idea of memetic exchange fits in with the concept of a meme, so I'm just putting it out there. I think it applies under some circumstances, E.G. People meeting in the street, but doesnt seem so applicable to advertising or the mass media (although, people in the same geographical region would still share similar sets of memes).
Title: Re: No strings attached freedom
Post by: Brotep on December 18, 2008, 06:56:39 am
A fair amount has been written on memetics, but the "scientific types" don't entirely agree on what defines a meme, and some scientific types consider the idea dangerous pseudoscience, so I don't know that it's likely to be nailed down anytime soon.
Upon initial exposure I found memetics obnoxious and unscientific (not the same as pseudoscience necessarily).  Then people started calling shit on the Internet "memes" and it got more obnoxious.  Then I got over it.  And then, I found ten dollars.

Memetics, IMO, appears like a model
Agreed.  I'm in ur territories, Alfreding ur Korzybskis.


For me what it all comes down to is, memetics just isn't that useful a paradigm.  Yes, you should be cynical about ideas and consider what makes people hold onto them.  Yes,  you should consider the personal reasons you hold onto specific ideas.  But no, you don't need to think of it in terms of natural selection--what's the point?
Title: Re: No strings attached freedom
Post by: Reginald Ret on December 29, 2008, 11:45:39 pm
A fair amount has been written on memetics, but the "scientific types" don't entirely agree on what defines a meme, and some scientific types consider the idea dangerous pseudoscience, so I don't know that it's likely to be nailed down anytime soon.
Upon initial exposure I found memetics obnoxious and unscientific (not the same as pseudoscience necessarily).  Then people started calling shit on the Internet "memes" and it got more obnoxious.  Then I got over it.  And then, I found ten dollars.

Memetics, IMO, appears like a model
Agreed.  I'm in ur territories, Alfreding ur Korzybskis.


For me what it all comes down to is, memetics just isn't that useful a paradigm.  Yes, you should be cynical about ideas and consider what makes people hold onto them.  Yes,  you should consider the personal reasons you hold onto specific ideas.  But no, you don't need to think of it in terms of natural selection--what's the point?
When you convince someone to think differently about a subject you have changed 1 persons mind.
When you have a coordinated effort to change the minds of a big portion of your target population (lets say you are trying to help people get out of a cult) you can reduce the amount of normal cult members to a number where the cult dissapears.
Thinking about memes as evolutionary makes it easier to apply the methodology of population biology or population ecology.

for example:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Population_viability_analysis


Just keep in mind that memes =/= genes, and always keep an eye on wether reality conforms to your theories.