Ideapod – Freedom

Freedom – Bird in a cage – continued

Hi Jessica,
Not way off, nor quite accurate enough to be safe and useful.
All actions have consequences.
There is the very deep question as to the degree that we have thoughts, and to which our subconsciously generated thoughts have us? That seems to be one of the deepest inquiries anyone can embark upon.

Certainly “The ability to have thoughts, questions, ideas and wonders flying free in our minds” is important, and it cannot be “without any restrictions or consequences for having them”.

Science seems to quite clearly be telling us that our brains have several distinct senses in which they are habit forming machines (we have our creative aspects too, and we need to be conscious of both), so novel thoughts may occur, and the degree to which we give such things attention seems to influence the probability of them occurring again in the future. There must be “art” in making such choices, at all levels.

I agree with Seer in part, but only in part.

I do not see us as defective, I just try to see us as we are (at least to the best approximation I can manage).

From an evolutionary perspective, everything alive today, you, me, Seer, every tree, plant, animal, bacterium, etc seems to be part of a continuum of life. Every cell alive today has, from its own perspective (not that they have any sort of consciousness that has perspectives, just using that as an analogy) been alive for some 4 billion years.

When you look very closely at the many levels of systems present, you see that all levels of complexity present are characterised by new levels of cooperation.

If you look only from the perspective of molecules, then you see cell walls as a limitation on the freedom of molecules (which they are). Yet cell walls allow complex cooperatives of molecules to form levels of complexity as cells that are simply not possible if you remove the cell walls and let everything be ocean.

Similarly other layers of complexity allow groups of cells to cooperate to form bodies, and to further specialise to form complex organs within bodies.

At each layer of complexity, it is cooperation that is fundamental to the survival of the group, and raw cooperation is always vulnerable to invasion, so there must exist evolving sets of strategies to detect and remove cheating strategies (just as sets of cheating strategies evolve methods of avoiding detection and removal).

When you look in detail at the sets of complexity necessary to allow us as conscious individuals to emerge in complex social and technological contexts, then there are many levels of cooperation required to sustain the conditions that allow such complexity to exist. These sets of constraints are analogous to cells walls that constrain the freedom of molecules but allow the complexity of cells.

At the higher levels of abstract strategic cooperation, morality is much like a cell wall, it is a level of constraint that is necessary for our existence as socially cooperative entities.

And like all such complex things, it has aspects that are susceptible to capture and exploitation by various levels of “cheating” strategies.

So while I agree with Seer that our individual existence and individual freedom must be our highest values, I also acknowledge that our existence as individuals requires that we live in social and technological cooperatives, and that necessity will require limits on what one might naively think of as individual freedoms, if one did not consider the absolute necessity of social cooperatives for our survival as individuals.

So I am definitely against the classical socialist notions of subjugating the individual to the group.
I am a classical liberal who sees individual life and individual liberty as the highest values.

And I am an evolutionary biologist and systems geek who sees the absolute necessity of social cooperation for the existence of us as individuals – without it there could be no language, or culture or technology.

And we also require the underlying ecological integrity of the biological basis for life on this planet for our survival.

We need to be conscious of all the necessary constraints that allow the levels of systems that are required for our existence, and for the freedoms that such existence makes possible.

Pretending that any of those necessary constraints are not required is a recipe for extinction.

And one needs to be alert to the many levels of potential cheating strategies masquerading as required constraints. In that I completely align with Seer – such can and do exist, and we need to be alert, to test, and to identify and remove them.

So cooperation at all levels, and it cannot be naive cooperation.

Acknowledge the restrictions on freedom that are necessary, and no more than that. And as new levels of complexity emerge, that must entail the emergence of new levels of restrictions, and may allow restructuring of some of the lower level sets of constraints.

So there must be something of an eternal process of discovery and testing and negotiation involved, and a certain level of tensions between different levels is to be expected, and must be managed.

That seems to be be a modern expression of the ancient truism “The price of liberty is eternal vigilance”.
And complexity theory is now clear beyond any shadow of reasonable doubt, that the vigilance has to come from a fundamentally cooperative context if it is to survive long term.

About Ted Howard NZ

Seems like I might be a cancer survivor. Thinking about the systemic incentives within the world we find ourselves in, and how we might adjust them to provide an environment that supports everyone (no exceptions) - see www.tedhowardnz.com/money
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