[FoRK] Lion, rationality, reason, and seriousness

Stephen D. Williams <sdw at lig.net> on Wed May 9 19:38:25 PDT 2007

Lion Kimbro wrote:
> On 5/9/07, Stephen D. Williams <sdw at lig.net> wrote:
>> Lion Kimbro wrote:
>> >   We shouldn't go saying, "Well, passion is bad, because it's
>> >  not reasonable."  When the motor behind reason is, itself,
>> >  "passion." (Care, concern, interest, desire, ...)
>> And what's behind passion?  Random chance?  Evolutionary bias to do
>> something?  ("Instincts")
>  Nature.  Nature is what's behind passion.
>  Laws of physics and such.
Randomness.  Entropy.  Chance.  Chaos.
Except for evolution, which filters the mess with a fitness function for 
constructive things.
You wrote:
> My point is, "Evolution" is not a reason to live, rather than
>  not to live, unless we imagine "Evolution" in a sort of
>  anthropomorphized, willful sense.  And if Evolution is willful,
>  Evolution is a son of Passion.
>  Evolution, not-anthro'ed, is a mathematical phenomenon,
>  and not a rational element for deciding whether life is worth
>  living, or otherwise. 
We have a passion to live because things that didn't have a passion to 
live all died out.  We can imagine all kinds of meaning into that, but 
that is all there is.  We can find meaning and decide to have a 
purpose.  Or not.  It still takes significant effort to overcome our 
instinct to live.

At 13 or so, my existential conclusion amounted to:
Not exist == entropy (nothing, negative)
exist == reverse entropy (constructive, growing, doing)
Deciding not to exist == entropy, i.e. I might as well not have existed.

Therefore existing accomplishes something, is constructive if I make it 
so, and can be better than not existing.
Therefore I want to exist, I want to be constructive, and I will cause 
significant positive change in the universe.

>  Yes, "instincts."  Exactly.
>  But not rationality.
How is evolution a son of passion?  Either passion is based on 
instincts, which flow directly and only from evolution, or passion is 
based on rationality or randomness.  Randomness means majority badness, 
probably overwhelming badness by itself.  That leaves instinct and 
rationality.  Animals are mostly or completely instinctual, depending on 
what animal you are looking at. 

Humans are only slightly instinctual in modern society.  It took 
thousands of years to evolve our culture.  Random humans on their own 
wouldn't be anything like us, would be highly likely to be brute 
savages, and because of our powerful imagination and explanation 
machinery, would make those uncultured humans seem to be driven pretty 
much by randomness.

To romanticize our instincts as the basis for our passion is to ignore 
the massive constraining and molding force of our culture which imparts 
logical thinking, at least of a sort, at a fundamental and pervasive degree.

Although the concept is a bit strained, I would say that passion is the 
son of evolution for humans.  Either of our instincts or our culture, 
which means rationality.


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