Re: virus: KMO quotes Plato

David McFadzean (
Wed, 23 Oct 1996 13:04:24 -0600

At 11:04 PM 22/10/96 EDT, KMO prime wrote:

>once. As to the intellectual pigeonholing charge, that's exactly what it
>is, but so is any system of classification. The labels, 'slacker',
>'nerd', 'slut', 'nay-sayer', 'dreamer', 'over-intellectualizing tight
>ass', and 'fashion slave' all mark intellectual pigeon holes. These
>categories are not "natural kinds" of any sort.

I think most would agree with that, but how many would go on to say
that 'human', 'mind', 'tree', 'atom', and 'meme' are also intellectual
pigeon holes that don't "really" exist?

> We make them up and put
>people in them, but for each of those arbitrary pigeon holes we all know
>someone who has earned the label, and if we were to describe that person
>with the label we would be conveying useful information about them.

Agreed. Where would we be without categories? Abstraction is a
necessary evil.

On a related note, Jason McVean wrote:
>I thought the
>assertion was not that there is some truth but it is never
>known precisely (although it can be approximated), rather that
>there simply is no such thing as truth?

Here's an analogy I find useful: Say that objective reality is a
person and our model (theory, description, belief) about reality
is a portrait of that person. There is no end to the number of
different portraits that can be created: pencil sketch, oil painting,
bronze bust, chalk drawing, marble statue, photograph, short story,
X-ray picture, home video, artfully arranged vials of bodily fluids,
caricature, mug shot, JPEG, 3-D computer model, Myers-Briggs type,
etc., etc. They can be more or less accurate (an X-ray of the person
is certainly more accurate than a drawing of a totally different person)
and they can be more or less useful depending on the task at hand
(a mug shot is more useful than a painting if you want to find the
person, but a painting is more useful if you want to decorate your
house). But which portrait is the True one? I hope you can see how
the question doesn't even make sense, no matter how skillful and talented
the artist, no matter what materials are used, a portrait can never
become the portrayed. And the same is true of our models, beliefs
and theories.

David McFadzean       
Memetic Engineer      
Church of Virus