Followed the link and on to Harris – http://integralworld.net/harris17.html
Align with most of what Ray Harris writes up until the section:
EVOLUTION, STAGNATION AND DEVOLUTION
There he introduces a teleological notion of “Natural Evolution” which has no reality in either games theory or biology.
Evolution by natural selection is essentially a random walk through possibility space as modified by certain existential filters (which filters can become self modifying at higher levels of organisation).
His definition in terms of norms is only partially true by analogy, and has no reality in and of itself.
Historically evolution has been characterised as a process of competition. While there is certainly an aspect of competition in the process of evolution, it is also accurate to characterise all forms of life as cooperative systems. The more levels of cooperation involved, the higher the classification of the life form. It seems entirely appropriate to create systems that incentivise a level of global cooperation.
Raw cooperation is always vulnerable to cheating, and to be stable must be accompanied by a set of one or more attendant strategies to prevent invasion by cheats. Consider the notion that completely automating the production of all of the Maslow needs removes the very notion of “cheating”. In one sense, it is the ultimate in stabilising strategies.
The next section on ethics seems to me to be seriously flawed in its fundamental assumptions. It sort of works, in practice, but only as a rough analogue, not as any sort of fundamental explanatory principle.
As an example – the paragraph “The highest developmental stages (cognitive, moral, and values) all recognize a higher ethical imperative. Wilber and Beck (after Graves) have called this a shift to Second Tier. At this level individuals realize that the health of each level is better realized through the health of the whole spectrum. Wilber has termed this ethical imperative the prime directive, which he defines as the greatest depth for the greatest span.”
This schema sort of seems to work some of the time, but only as an analogy. What seems to be actually going on is a complex set of systems with diverse sets of incentive structures, producing complex and unpredictable outcomes.
While it is true to say that there are some aspects of living systems which have complex mechanisms to maintain particular ranges of operating values (such as body temperature in mammals), such things are not true of life generally (most living organisms simply exist only where temperature is within their operating limits, and simply do not exist in other places because they die if they happen to end up there. There are of course probability gradients on all such functions, they rarely have hard boundaries, boundaries are usually fuzzy over both space and time when looked at closely, yet when viewed from a sufficient distance (at a particular resolution) seem clear and distinct.
Life as a whole seems to be an open system, with some homoeostatic subsystems around some key processes.
The analysis of capitalism vs socialism has some truth to it, but fails to address the underlying systemic incentive structure.
Both capitalism and socialism, in their moderns forms, accept the idea of market valuation.
Markets are places of exchange value. Exchange values necessarily devalue abundance and over value scarcity. No-one exchanges anything that everyone has, however valuable that thing is to the individuals (like oxygen in the air).
Markets are great things for allocating scarce resources, but very poor tools for delivering abundance of human value (it is hard to imagine a poorer tool).
Markets must always value abundance at zero.
Humans value abundance of Maslow needs very highly.
Money is a market measure of value.
Therefore, in logic, no monetary system can ever, in and of itself, be incentivised to deliver an abundance of human (Malsow) values.
Therefore, we must look to other models of organisation to deliver such values.
Fortunately, biology has delivered us such a model. The human brain, particularly the neocortex.
It is organised in relative small groups of connected individuals (under 200), where individuals maintain extensive connections to other networks which are capable of either exciting or inhibiting activity. There is massive redundancy (many groups voting on every issue). There is majority voting. Votes are taken frequently (about 14 times per second in the human brain).
There are some schools that point to the many uncertainties in life – from quantum level effects, on upward through many levels, as some sort of justification for a sort of scientific nihilism; but all such approaches are logically flawed.
While it is probably true that there is no certainty in life, the uncertainties do not prevent us setting and achieving goals.
Consider a journey on a sailing vessel. All captains know that there are uncertainties of wind, wave, currents, and other obstacles in the water (both living and non living). Yet most captains are able to leave a known, port, and by making constant small adjustments to allow for the specific factors of wind, wave, and current that they meet on their journey, arrive at their desired destination on or about their desired time. And sometimes stuff happens along the way, like a good friend of mine who drowned when the keel was knocked off the yacht he was on by a collision with something (probably a whale or a container) in the middle of the night, and he was trapped in the rigging trying to escape from the upturned vessel. And most sailors live out their lives making thousands of journeys without dying at sea (myself, my father, my grandfather, and my great grandfather included).
So it seems with all aspects of life.
We cannot guarantee anything with absolute certainty, and we can set goals, and by making constant adjustments (some small, some large), reach our desired destination.
This seems to apply to any level of abstraction that one is capable of achieving.
With a good crew, every crew member is capable of doing any role, and each does the role agreed for the time agreed. In a severe storm there can be only one captain, there is no time to reach consensus decisions. When becalmed there is plenty of time to agree who is going to lead next time trouble strikes.
It seems clear to me that the paradigm of governance through monetary values has reached the end of its utility for humanity.
It seems clear to me that the productive power of automation and robotics and solar power can deliver universal abundance of all of the necessities of human life; and that such abundance is antithetical to the very concept of market value (aka money).
We no longer need to think in terms of taking anything from anyone.
We can now think in terms of designing and automating systems that deliver abundance of all that is necessary for survival to every individual.
That leaves individuals free (truly free, many for the first time in their lives) to consider what it is that they responsibly wish to choose to do with their lives.
Freedom does not include freedom from consequence.
All action, including inaction, has consequences.
Reality seems to be that each of us must learn to dance with the consequences of the actions of others.
We have responsibilities to look out for our own existence, and the existence of others.
Those responsibilities extend to the long term consequences of our actions and the technologies we use on ourselves and the ecosystems that sustain us (both biological and mimetic).
No simple answers that can be codified as laws.
And it is simple in a sense, learn to dance, and develop awareness, of self and other and all gradations between (and any other dimensional aspect one wishes to investigate).
Coming back from Harris to Pascal and Theurj – it is hard for me.
I do not find their work “rational”. It stems from a set of assumptions that is, in my experience, clearly falsified.
They have no place for someone like me to post alternative views, so there seems little point in going deeper than I have already in critiquing the work of Harris. I doubt they are willing or able to approach their assumptions, their writing shows no sign that they have even distinguished that assumptions are present. And I do get that we all have assumptions, must do – I accept the logic of that.
I can even get that simplifying assumptions are required at different levels of development.
I guess I am disappointed and a little repulsed by the extreme and unwarranted arrogance implicit in the writings (and I get the potential arrogance implicit in that statement, and my own writings).
There was one discussion in the novel “Shogun” that comes to mind, between lord Toronaga and captain Blackthorn (Anjin san) – when Toronaga finds out from the Jesuits that Blackthorn is in revolt against his “rightful” lord. He brings Blackthorn before him by force, and demands to know “Is there any excuse for rebelling against your rightful lord?”, to which Blackthorn replies “Only if you win Toronaga sama, only if you win!” And in that instant is forged a bond between the two that remains through the rest of the book.