On Sep 4, 2011, at 10:27 PM, John F. Sowa wrote: (01)
> Pat, Rich, and Azamat,
>> I am finding this whole thread rather bewildering.
> I don't blame you.
> Self interest is necessary for self preservation in every species, (02)
Um. I can understand this in two ways, one of them tautologous and the other
clearly false. Either way, it does not seem very useful. If we define 'self
interest' (as I would be inclined to do) so that it implies cognitive
abilities, perhaps even consciousness, then clearly this is not necessary for
survival in most species, since most species (and until fairly recently in
biological time, all species) do not have the requisite cognitive capacity to
exhibit interest of any kind, let alone self-interest. If on the other hand we
so define 'self-interest' that anything that competes for survival is
exhibiting it, then to say that all species exhibit self-interest is just to
say that all species survive long enough to reproduce, which is virtually a
tautology, since any species that did not exhibit this trait would rapidly
become extinct and cease to be a species. (03)
I would add that reading 'the selfish gene' leads one to the idea that it is
the genome that has the 'urge' to reproduce, rather than the individual. On
this view, it might be more accurate to say that our DNA has self-interest, and
we are simply the means it uses to achieve its goals. (04)
> and it would be part of any theory that includes subjectivity.
> I have made some suggestions for generalizing the project.
>> I chose the term self-interest because that explains a huge
>> portion of the political scenarios that were discussed
>> in the beginning of this thread.
> I have been trying to point out that the best you can get out
> of an ontology is a clear and precise definition of terms.
> To get any kind of testable predictions and practical advice
> about politics (or any other subject), you need to get some
> actual data -- i.e., facts. You won't get any such thing
> from the definitions in an ontology.
> And judging from the discussions we've been having, I believe
> that you can get better definitions more quickly by consulting
> any off-the-shelf dictionary designed for human consumption.
>> Perhaps the phylogenically attributed “virtues” (self sacrifice
>> a la apoptosis, sexiness as viewed from the opposite gender,
>> healthiness observables [power, wealth, generosity a la peacock
>> displays…] as viewed from all genders …) are the ones at the top
>> (nil end) of the lattice.
> Any ontology of self interest will involve all subjective aspects
> including the ones you mentioned.
> Just one point: it's misleading to call the top of the lattice
> the "nil end". It's true that the top has no axioms (i.e., no
> constraints). That means it applies to anything and everything.
> That point was noted as early as Aristotle: the more axioms in
> a theory, the greater the constraints, and the fewer individuals
> it applies to. Conversely, the fewer the axioms, the fewer the
> constraints, and the greater the number of individuals.
> Therefore, the top node, which has no axioms, says nothing,
> and it's therefore true of everything. Rather than call it
> the nil end, it's more appropriate to call it the universal end.
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