LS Re: another question

Hugo Fjelsted Alroe (
Tue, 2 Dec 1997 14:44:58 +0100

[This mail have been rejected for some reason on both the old and the new
server, I have tried putting it in a new envelope.]

Martin, just a short note before I have to go, you wrote
"Now about your example of social values. I don't understand what
advantage that situation gave to the prey and predator. What possibilities
and freedoms do they enjoy? What's so much better about it?"

I am not talking in the language of neo-darwinian adaptation, I am saying
that in order for there to be prey and predators at all, there has to be
social relations. What might confuse you is that I use my own definition of
the social level, which I have put forward in previous mails. In short:
what characterizes the biological level is representative relations, as
opposed to the simple relations of the physical level, what characterizes
the social level is mutually representative relations and what
characterizes the intellectual level is self-representative relations

I am aware that this is not at all agreed upon by others on LS, and perhaps
Pirsig would disagree too. But this structure is not coming solely from the
philosophy of Pirsig. And I think that we have to be careful not to be too
reductionistic and think that the four levels of Pirsig will be sufficient
to understand the complexity of nature.

For instance there has been done some work on hierarchy theory, which I am
trying to utilize at the moment, and it looks like this work has been
focusing mainly on levels of social relations (in my sense). You probably
know the usual sort of systems theory levels, where a new level arises and
is maintained via the interrelations of objects on the first level, and so
on. These theories has had severe difficulties with describing nature, I
know because I have been trying to use them.

Anyway, the point I wish to make is that we have to work with a hierarchy
of levels *within* the social level, if we are to approach a useful theory
of the levels of nature. And my taking a different stand than others on
where we can find the social level stems from our not being sufficiently
aware of the fact that we are concerned with different levels of the social
hierarchy in our arguments.

Martin again:
"Organisms living on their own have to spend every waking moment of their
lives just trying to stay alive. The introduction of social values, by way
of societies, gives living organisms greater freedom because they don't
have to spend all their time 'just' trying to stay alive. When people
formed civilizations they had enough spare time to start asking
religious/philosophical questions."

I agree that there are these 'founding' aspects of society as well as the
constraining aspects.

But we have to be wary of judging certain aspects of life good or bad,
because the judging depends on where you take your stand. There is no
biological value in being a prey, but there is social value. Our world is
not a cute disney-world, there is killing and eating in nature too, and
what I am saying is that we could not have our wonderful world, we would
not be here, if not for the social relations of the prey-predator, or
plant-herbivore, or host-parasite, or mutualism (mutually benifical (to the
organisms) relations). Gaia is a structure built on social value, it is the
mutual relations between organisms that make for the complexity of

Gaia is a society in the sense that all the organism are mainly dependent
on each other, and not only on physical nature, for sustained existence.
This, I believe, there can be no doubt about.

>Many truths to you,

And to you too

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