Re: Complexity, Ethics, Esthetics

From: Gordon Worley (
Date: Wed Dec 04 2002 - 15:33:58 MST

On Wednesday, December 4, 2002, at 07:38 PM, Michael Roy Ames wrote:

>> Actually, most of what makes something beautiful is panhuman.
>> Humans like certain compositions of objects. Also, all humans
>> find normal human babies beautiful.
> Demonstrably untrue. Although I find babies interesting and
> valuable, I do not find them beautiful at all. I'm not the only one
> with this opinion, as I know several others (men and women) who hold
> similar opinions.

While this kind of argument usually gets me in trouble, maybe it won't
be misconstrued here.

I argue that you are not looking closely enough at your own mind. I am
not a big fan of dogs. I'm not scared of them, but I'm not going to
keep one in my house. When I see a puppy or any dog I don't really
feel like it's cute. At the same time, I can tell that there is part
of my brain saying "cute cute cute" even though other parts of my brain
are overriding it enough that its influence can be very subtle and
difficult to notice.

Also, if you really truly do not have anything in your brain saying
that puppies or babies are cute, then your brain may be broken in that

>> The underlying nature of what makes something beautiful
>> is still the same.
> An interesting opinion. Care to define beauty?

As far as your brain is concerned, it's anything that you like to sense
and might seek out to sense.

>> For ethics, culture only deals with transitive and recent changes.
>> Its effect on ethics is noticeably different from that of evolved
>> ethics.
> Again, an interesting opinion. Would you provide us with an example
> or two of how a cultural ethic is different from an evolved ethic?
> How would one reliably identify this defference?

Evolved ethics are tied in with morality. For example, humans have
ethics helping them to share food. They have the moral of helping
their kin, and the ethic of sharing their food with kin. These are
ethics that usually don't break down unless there is some split in the
kin group (the kin group has reason to believe that some sect of the
kin group is not as closely genetically related as they thought).

A cultural ethic is that you should not expose someone else's True Name
on the Internet. It is in response to very recent events that have not
yet had time to become evolved ethics (and won't).

You can tell the difference by how easily the rule is broken. For
example, I carelessly tricked someone into breaking the True Name ethic
a couple of months ago or so (I've probably got the timing all wrong,
so just know that it happened somewhere between a few weeks and 6
months ago). On the other hand, not many people will refuse members of
their kin group food (note that there is some cultural influence as to
how large you actively consider your kin group, but it's usually
several levels out, even in America). Also, there are ethics
concerning how much sharing you'll permit, even with kin groups. The
degree of support hinges on the degree of relatedness. If a person is
related too little, you might even refuse support.

Gordon Worley                          "Man will become better when                 you show him what he is like."                                --Anton Chekhov
PGP:  0xBBD3B003

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