LS Re: Retrospect

Jason Gaedtke (
Sat, 27 Sep 1997 04:21:57 +0100

Your mention of Gregory Bateson struck a chord with me. Unfortunately, I have
no direct experience with his work (not enough time for everything that I'd
love to pursue!), but I have stumbled across the name in Fritjof Capra's book,
"Uncommon Wisdom." It turns out that Bateson had been an influential mentor
for Capra while he was researching an earlier book, "The Turning Point." Your
brief comments mesh well with the understanding of Bateson's philosophy that I
have gleaned through this indirect source. I'd love to hear more if you have
the time and energy...

I also enjoyed your insight into the multi-level aspect of that elusive term
"consciousness." I agree with Bo that you are on to something valuable here.
 Let me paraphrase my understanding of your comments to verify that I'm
following you correctly. (For the sake of clarity, I'll limit myself to human
conscious experience -- for now, at least. :)

You and I would agree (I think) that at a basic level, human consciousness
takes its root in the stable biological value patterns of the neurological
system (organismic mind?). (Doug, I and others may argue that the MOST
fundamental aspects of consciousness may actually take place at a quantum
level, but I'd like to postpone addressing this issue for now.) At this early
"objective" level we can find the physical correlates to our sensory and
emotional experiences. Resorting to the popular computer analogy, our
neurological system is the "hardware" upon which our "software" runs. Patterns
of value that I see at the biological level include: sensory experience, basic
life-support tasks, memory, emotions, an ability to respond appropriately to
external stimuli and, finally, an ability to *learn* from this experience.

At the next level of abstraction, our social influences come into play. An
important point to note here (IMHO) is the fact that all value patterns from
this point on are "subjective" in their nature. They have no independent
material embodiment outside of the inorganic and biological patterns that they
depend upon and influence. Examples of social value patterns might include:
 language, mores, cultural norms, established academic (historical, scientific,
artistic, etc.) knowledge, political views, established religions, etc. This
level is generally focussed on the multitude of ways that individual organisms
may interact with one another. Hence, any aspects of consciousness which
relate to this type of phenomena should be considered social in their nature
(cultural or social mind?).

Finally, we have the elusive intellectual level. My interpretation of this
class of phenomena has changed greatly over the past few months -- largely due
to the influence of this list. As such, I would very much enjoy hear some
other views on this subject. Because the biological and social aspects of
"mind" have already been accounted for in the biological and social levels, my
current understanding is that the intellectual level contains patterns that
operate on these lower levels to produce new values, insights, and ideas. Such
patterns might include logic, reason, philosophy, theology, mathematics, music,
art, rhetoric, and dialectic. I like Diana's earlier suggestion that
intellectual patterns are concerned with the direct experience and awareness of
Quality Events. I also feel that Dynamic Quality (in the form of intuition)
plays a vital role at this fairly "young" level.

Hugo wrote:
> Anyway, it is evident that although we try to find these sharp distinctions
> between levels (and I believe they are sharp in some sense), there is a
> tremendous lot of gradual and continuos change inside levels too.

Yes, I completely agree here. An earlier post to the list addressed this
issue, but the thread never really took shape. I'm not sure whether it is best
to begin by working to develop a firm grasp of the four general levels or to
plunge into one of them and see where this takes us. One of the problems with
the later is that each of the levels is so rich and complex that it we may
easily become overwhelmed. Fortunately, we have a rich heritage of
intellectual knowledge to draw upon. Because the MoQ subsumes the SOM, much of
the wisdom and insight contained in this heritage may be applied to our present
endeavor with little or no translation.

I know that I have presented a lot of material in this post. I hope that I
have not overwhelmed or bored anyone with my babbling. As always, I'm looking
forward to you interpretations and comments...


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