Wednesday, August 10, 2016

What is Life?

I was just reading a post by Roger Simon on why the press hates Trump, and it goes to what we've been saying about liberals and complexity.

On the one hand, "No more perfect candidate of the status quo has ever come along than Hillary Clinton." Conversely, "Donald Trump is a wholly different matter. No one, especially the media, knows what he really intends to do. The media doesn't like this because if there's one thing they don't like, no matter what they profess, it is change. Or loss of control." It is why liberals hate the free market, the first amendment, talk radio, anything that lessens their grip.

The problem is that change is obviously inevitable. Complex, dynamic systems -- such as the weather -- are defined by change. However, they exhibit a certain type of change: too much change results in chaos, whereas too little results in stasis, AKA death. Thus, a complex system operates on the mysterious knife edge between order and disorder. Too much of either is fatal.

As it applies to the psychopolitical dimension, Chesterton said it well: "A state without the means of some change is without the means of its conservation." One definition of conservatism is the desire to conserve the institutions, customs, and laws that make this type of healthy change possible. One definition of liberalism is total ignorance of these same things, e.g., marriage, rule of law, private property, equality before the law, respect for the constitution, the necessity of religion, etc.

Everyone wants "change" in the abstract, because nothing is perfect. But the absence of perfection can hardly be used as the pretext for change, since nothing will ever be perfect. Nevertheless -- and here is another sharp difference between the two political philosophies -- liberals project unavoidable existential realities into the realm of politics, whereas conservatives accept man as he is, and do not pretend there is a political cure for what ails him.

To bring it down to a practical level, liberals look at the world and ask why it can't be better. Conservatives look at the same world and are astonished that it works at all. The more one studies history, the more one appreciates the rarity and fragility of what we once had in the United States. The left never appreciated that rarity, for which reason they have always been so casual about discarding the values, principles, and institutions that made it all possible.

What is the ruling principle of the left? Surely it is equality. Okay, fine. But what happens if you try to force things to be "equal" in a complex system? Complex systems are always hierarchical. For example, if equality existed in the world of physics, there would be only hydrogen atoms; if it existed in the biosphere, we would all be amoebas; and if it existed in the economy, we would all be Venezuela.

Likewise, if equality exists between man and woman, then we are all Pajama Boy, or Chris Hayes, or Lena Dunham. Olympic athlete Kerri Walsh Jennings made the error of advertising her biological inequality, declaring that she was born to have babies. The horror! "What is NBC doing to us?" "Is Donald Trump running the network?!" Kerri Walsh Jennings is a woman. But what is that commenter? Something arrested on the way to womanhood, I suppose.

Not only is complexity impossible without hierarchy, but one measure of complexity is the degree of hierarchy. For example, there is more hierarchy in a man than a mollusk. "The most important common attributes of complex systems are hierarchy and near-decomposability" (Mitchell).

Complex systems such as the human body are composed of subsystems, from organs to cells to to cellular subsystems and on down, probably even to the quantum level. And each interacts both horizontally and vertically; in man, our verticality reaches up into the realms of mind and spirit, which is why it is so fucking retarded to try to reduce a higher level to a lower one, when the whole system only exists because of its irreducible dynamic and hierarchical complexity. And there is no hierarchy without a toppermost of the poppermost.

Can you really understand, say, carbon -- the molecular basis of life -- by examining only its atomic structure as opposed to its possibilities, i.e., its power to relate, to bond with other molecules? The wiki article quotes materialist brainiac Stephen Hawking, who says that "What we normally think of as 'life' is based on chains of carbon atoms, with a few other atoms, such as nitrogen or phosphorus." Well, yes. We might also say that what we normally think of as "Shakespeare" is based on chains of consonants, with a few vowels such as 'A' and 'E" tossed in. This type of bottom-up approach doesn't explain, but explains away.

What we normally think of as life. Hawking implies that it is abnormal to think of life in his molecular terms, and surely he is correct. Note that the higher up the hierarchy we proceed, the more absurd the reduction to molecular interactions. Is it possible to consider the phenomenon of life on its own terms, instead of reflexively reducing it to a bizarre and inexplicable side effect of physics and chemistry?

Well, for starters, I thought this was one of the very purposes of the science of complexity. The hint is in its name: complexity, not simplicity, i.e., reductionism. This is why I was so delighted when I somehow discovered the works of theoretical biologist Robert Rosen. Back when I was writing the book, it was his ideas that provided me with some intellectual back-up for the vertical links between life and physics below, and life and mind above. Rosen does not attempt to reduce life to physics; rather, the converse: he maintains that physics applies only to statistically rare types of systems, and that biology may well be our paradigmatic science.

I would go much further than Rosen. To paraphrase Whitehead, biology is the study of large organisms, whereas physics is the study of the smaller ones. For the same reason, conservatism is the politics of life, while leftism is the politics of death.


Gagdad Bob said...

Related: yes, Black Lives Matter wants "change" -- the type of indiscriminate change that destroys the complex system:

"Black Lives Matter as a movement represents the hopes and dreams of leftist organizers who shared with us that, until now, they had never felt such a sense of hope and excitement that their goal – as one operative put it, 'total social upheaval,' and 'systemic change' — could be realized in their lifetime."

When you generate chaos you're sure to get change, good and hard.

julie said...

Yes. The Ferguson Effect is both real and ongoing. It is astonishing how blind people are to the reality of negative consequences. Indeed, it is astonishing that things work at all.

julie said...

What is the ruling principle of the left? Surely it is equality. Okay, fine. But what happens if you try to force things to be "equal" in a complex system?

Again, it is astonishing that the left can imagine a world without "unfairness" and picture it as being anything but a living hell. Which it always becomes when they manage to gain control. They cry out against "climate change" without ever considering the implications if the climate did not change. Much less considering what the "right" climate ought to be.

A complex system, by definition, cannot be equal, for if it were it would be dead. And thus, as simple as it gets.

Gagdad Bob said...

Don Colacho:

Hell is a place where man finds all his plans realized.

When the exploiters disappear, the exploited soon split into exploiters and exploited.

Unjust equality is not remedied by equality, but just inequality.

An 'ideal society' would be the graveyard of human greatness.

Hierarchies are heavenly. In Hell all are equal.

Let us not expect any success to result from anything but unforeseeable consequence.

And my favorite;

Leveling is the barbarian's substitute for order.

ted said...

Why is Don Colacho not better known? His pithy aphorisms are preciously profound and profoundly precious.

Gagdad Bob said...

For some reason his family won't allow an official english translation, so there is only a black-market underground cult of people who share their translations with one another.

julie said...

Ah - so again, the mystery isn't "why don't more people know of him," it's "how does anyone know of him at all?!"

Emphasis on the "?!"

Gagdad Bob said...

Yes, a Columbian recluse who published a limited run of his aphorisms as a gift for friends. He did everything he could to keep a lid on the secret, but it escaped. Reminds me of Jurassic Park. Life will find a way.

mushroom said...

I guess MPAI, but how can destroying the culture that gave you everything you have possibly look like a good idea to anyone?

Gagdad Bob said...

Because, to paraphrase Don Colacho, the liberal is capable of sacrificing even his interests to his resentments.

I'm pretty sure he came up with an aphorism for every situation.

Gagdad Bob said...

What are leftist institutions but resentment factories?

Gagdad Bob said...

I think resentment must be a close cousin of toxic envy -- maybe an expression of it. Both are self-imposed barriers to happiness.

Gagdad Bob said...

Resentment: "bitter indignation at having been treated unfairly." We are all "entitled" to be bitter if we choose to live that way. It is too easy. It is the lazy man's way to unhappiness. Much more challenging to cultivate its opposite, gratitude.

Allena said...

Resentment, bitterness and toxic envy is no way to live.

Anonymous said...

Here are two sentences from the original post:

Donald Trump is a wholly different matter. No one, especially the media, knows what he really intends to do.

Conservatives look at the same world and are astonished that it works at all. The more one studies history, the more one appreciates the rarity and fragility of what we once had in the United States

Someone might put these together and conclude that it is not very conservative to support Donald Trump. Of course, that someone would have to have more self-awareness and honesty than anyone likely to be found here.

It is quite true, as Roger Simon says, that Clinton is the candidate of the status quo. That is just another way of saying she is the conservative in this race.

Cousin Dupree said...

Agreed. Except that conservatives want to conserve what works, whereas Clinton wants to conserve what has failed and fails every time.

Anonymous said...

Hillary Clinton and people of her ilk (Obama and Bill Clinton) managed to run the government for 16 years without cratering it too badly. Obviously one can have mixed feelings about their records, but they have not led the country into ruin. We're still here and things are running more or less smoothly.

Trump on the other hand is an entirely unknown quantity, and seems very likely to destabilize the existing order. Eg, it has been suggested by high-ranking military officials that the military might be forced to disobey some of Trumps orders since they are clearly illegal. Does a situation like that strike you as something a conservative should desire?

I'll anticipate your answer and conclude that you so-called conservatives are nothing of the kind, no more than Trump is. I can't figure out exactly what you are though.

Gagdad Bob said...

Again, I am not pro-Trump, just anti-left.

Anonymous said...

I get that you are anti-left. Are you so anti-left that you would reject a very mild leftist like Clinton (who you may remember had a primary challenge from someone who was more of a real leftist, and who you may also remember is a darling of Wall Street, not generally a trait associated with actual leftism) in favor of someone who:

- is an obvious con-artist
- is probably a narcissistic sociopath
- is utterly inexperienced
- is utterly irresponsible
- just generally seems like a terrible human being

Oh well, it looks like he is heading for an unprecedented loss in the general election so it doesn't much matter. Still I would like to understand.

Gagdad Bob said...

I reject all of the premises you seem to regard as self-evident.

Gagdad Bob said...

Not to mention quite obviously applying to Hillary, especially

- obvious con-artist
- is probably a narcissistic sociopath
- is utterly irresponsible
- just generally seems like a terrible human being

Granted, she has more experience in government, none of it favorable to her.

Plus she is far to the left of her husband on everything from trade to sexual deviancy. But my biggest concern is again the Supreme Court.

Gagdad Bob said...

The one charitable thing you can say about Hillary is that she waived the $350,000 fee for her speech at the DNC convention.

Cousin Dupree said...

I like how Hillary has always Supported the Children, like when she got that young man off for raping, I mean being seduced by that 12 year old slut.

julie said...

Yeah, that was Hillarious.

Sid Blumenthal said...

I like how she only sold her influence at state to the highest bidder. That shows a good head for business, no doubt better than Trump's. Trump began his business with a million dollar loan from his dad, but the Clintons began theirs with not a red cent.

Van Harvey said...

aninnymouse said "...a very mild leftist like Clinton..."



Gagdad Bob said...

Like I said, I respectfully Question the Premise.

Imagine how far left one has to be to see our Royal Hagness as only mildly to the left?

Gagdad Bob said...

Also, she's intellectually inconsistent. She promises a third term of Obama, but if we are subjected to any more racial healing, we'll definitely need the second amendment to protect ourselves from it.

Anonymous said...

The thing about Hillary defending a child rapist is, of course, 98% bullshit.

You are the sort of people who love to eat bullshit for breakfast. OK, fine, de gustibus non dispudendum and all all that. But why? Have you never tasted anything better? Hard to believe. You must actually like it. What's the appeal?

Cousin Dupree said...

Liberal fact checker is an oxymoron.

Hillary 2016 said...

All sexual abuse accusers deserve to be believed.

Anonymous said...

True, the audio tape reveals Hillary laughing about how a guilty rapist passed a lie detector test. But that's because of her world famous sense of humor.

Hillarity said...

Anyway what difference, at this point, does it make?

Anonymous said...

That's right. We can't let 12 year-old girls stand in the way of female progress. It's like how if Mary Jo Kopechne hadn't been killed by Ted Kennedy, she'd be thanking him for all the free government stuff.

julie said...

“If I commit suicide, investigate Hillary.”.

Even pretending it's all a set of very unfortunate coincidences, the shenanigans surrounding all of these suspicious deaths are far worse than anything Trump has ever been accused of.

One more thing: Trump has been holding campaign stops twice a day, five days a week, for at least a couple of weeks now. In between stops, he's giving numerous interviews in multiple formats. All that talking, all that time in public being recorded, and the worst people can say about him at the moment is that he was mean to a baby once and that he joked about Hillary being shot. Considering the sheer volume of public speaking he's doing, there's an astonishingly low quantity of badly chosen words.

Anonymous said...

You are quoting Roger Stone, there's a reliable source.

the worst people can say about him at the moment is that he was mean to a baby once and that he joked about Hillary being shot. Considering the sheer volume of public speaking he's doing, there's an astonishingly low quantity of badly chosen words.

Right, he didn't for instance accuse Obama of founding ISIS or declare without basis that the election would be stolen from him or any of the other dozen or so completely unhinged things he's said lately.

He's clearly mentally ill and I suspect you people are as well.

Gagdad Bob said...

Everyone knows Obama didn't found ISIS. He had lots of help from Hillary.

Cousin Dupree said...

Remember when Hillary called Trump the "recruiting sergeant for ISIS," and the liberal media fact-checked her and gave her four pinocchios and called her completely unhinged?

Me neither.

Petey said...

Ever notice that liberals are literal when they ought to be figurative (as in religion) and figurative when they ought to be literal (as in constitutional interpretation)?

julie said...

Must go hand in hand with calling good evil and evil good.

Anonymous said...

HILARIOUS!!! The video Hillary Clinton Does Not Want You To See. Must Watch! Hillary Clinton tried to ban this video! But Hillary Can't Hide THIS Anymore!'t-Want-You-To-Know