In Pulling Notions Together, I laid out my first cut at pulling together some of these `notions' into a larger work. As I said, it is wrong. Here is my second effort.
One fundamental idea is that of entities that replicate themselves with occasional error.
These are easily imagined using the concept of von Neumann machines as in James Hogan's science fiction novel 1, Code of the Lifemaker.
This means expanding on parts of Societies as Von Neumann Machines and moving other parts to a different section.
Also, I have to point out that the smallest self-replicators deal with atoms, which are indestructible and those of the same kind are identical. That is to say, the components are like mathematical objects that will not and cannot break. But passing photons and cosmic rays can cause damage, and like computer programs, components, in this case atoms, can be combined wrongly, or extra ones added, or some left out.
The two kinds of small self-replicators are as yet non-existent `nanotechnology' devices and living beings, such as bacteria.
This leads us to Darwin's Five Laws of Evolution, which, among other things, explains how we see increased functionality coming from cumulated accident with error correction rather than from purpose.
The concept of self-replicators with error and error correction leads us to the notion of differing virtues under different circumstances.
Also, the idea that `intelligence' encourages survival should be pulled out of Darwin's Five Laws of Evolution and discussed here, along with Peter Douglas Ward and Donald Brownlee's 2 point that complex life may be uncommon because catastrophes occur too frequently.
Maybe I should also include a short item on the expensive implications of the idea that current climate change is not human-made.
Next, we can talk about the metaphor that species are organisms. This way of thinking is useful, but often wrong.
For example , we can model a society as a Von Neumann machine .
As to when to use one metaphor or another: that connects to Lakoff's work, the meaning of a mathematical expression and also to Guttman Scales and Alan Page Fiske's notions.
We use these underlying mechanisms to make judgements. That brings in Certainty Factors as a way to think about a highly emotional topic as something that computers might do. The next part is how to communicate judgements to others, which brings in science as a robust form of transcultural communication.
The concepts of metaphor, Guttman Scales, and communication lead us to human societies.
People's fundamental political desires are order, law, justice, and democracy, in that sequence. Without order, you cannot have law. Justice requires both law and order. Democracy enables a society to change its government to adapt new laws to new conditions and thereby preserve justice.
Most human evolution occurred during the Paleolithic. Hence I need to repeat some of the ideas in quotations from "Ecology, Meaning & Religion" by Roy Rappaport. In particular, he explains how people come to beliefs for which there is no observable evidence one way or the other.
Also, I need to develop Rappaport's newer book on Ritual and Religion, which explains how to provide for law and justice without government.
Next, leading towards the present, the question of when societies provide liberty for some?
This then leads into the question of how to change society? (words, money, and guns). And, of course, `periods of unraveling'.
Contemporary governance involves the need for a new way to categorize people who are thought to have done wrong. This is an extension of the need for a reliable, quick, and honest legal system for settling disputes with strangers but making it available for war. Another part is the need for a three chamber government to handle international issues without as much war.
It goes without saying that such a government depends on graceful winners and graceful losers. No government can do any more than tax, borrow, or scrimp.
My short book on Software Freedom gives many examples of what is needed for good governance.
Governments must involve themselves with needful economic regulation, even though governments are notoriously dangerous.
Perhaps this topic enables us to introduce `Tentacle City', an metaphor about economics, a mention of accounting in the Middle Ages, and double entry book keeping.
At the same time, I should repeat the point that Douglass C. North4 made
In a world of uncertainty, no one knows the correct answer to the problems we confront and no one therefore can, in effect, maximize profits. The society that permits the maximum generation of trials will be most likely to solve problems through time ...
This notion points out how to organize society more effectively.
It provides the basis for preferring a market for pollutants, if that is possible.
Another major contemporary problem has to do with production that has an initial high and a low incremental cost .
I should also bring up Philip Bobbitt's 2 claim that the fundamental legitimizing principle of government changes over time and that the next major political conflict be over the ways in which a government can provide opportunity.
Finally, more topical issues. Because of rapid changes I do not want to put these earlier or intermix them with other issues. Still, I am not sure this is a good location.
One topical issue is the danger of databases, don't put all your eggs in one basket.
There is more to consider, but this is a beginning. I still have not figured out how to name my sections.
(a science fiction novel)
Code of the Lifemaker,
James P. Hogan, 1983,
Del Rey (1984), ISBN 0345305493,
Baen Books (2002), ISBN 0743435265
Rare Earth: Why Complex Life is Uncommon in the Universe,
Peter Douglas Ward and Donald Brownlee,
2000, Copernicus Books
ISBN: 0387987010 hardback
ISBN: 0387987010 paperback
The Shield of Achilles: War, Peace, and the Course of History,
Random House, Knopf edition, 2002: ISBN 0-375-41292-1,
Random House, Anchor Books edition, 2003: ISBN 0-385-72138-2
Institutions, Institutional Change, and Economic Performance,
Douglass C. North, 1990,
Cambridge University Press, p. 81
ISBN 0-521-39416-3 hardback
ISBN 0-521-39734-0 paperback
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