Friday, September 06, 2013

The right to bear arms and freedom

The idea that "the right to bear arms" has anything to do with "independence" is a funny meme. Where is the freedom in "I'll shoot you if you don't let me do this"? Real freedom comes from the commitment to be free, the choice not to be the coerced, the choice to stand for something knowing someone else may disagree.

Now, I'm not saying that physical persuasion isn't fun and satisfying. I'm just saying that having a bigger gun isn't freedom, it's just (trigger) finger-pointing. Who is the victim, the person who is shot or the person who shoots? Is it my fear of death that persuades me that I will kill someone who threatens to kill me? Is it my fear of harm that motivates me to risk my life defending those I love? How is being afraid going to make me free?

But then again, freedom is greatly overrated. Fear has been a more powerful meme than love when it comes to survival. Fear has gotten us through about 2 billion years. Love is relatively new and has not proven itself as a successful strategy. Certainly I would like to believe the meme "love conquers all," but there is so little evidence that in fact love conquers bigger guns.

Perhaps love is just a passing phase, an aberration, a mutated meme that will die because those that believe in it are so easily killed. Would I be willing to die, to love my enemy instead of killing him? I doubt it. But perhaps loving my enemy would transform my enemy to choose love over fear, in which case I may be killed by the bigger gun, but the meme jumps to a new host, like a flea abandoning a dead dog for anything warm that passes by. Ah, so many strange
thoughts...

On decision-making and causality

There is the study of individuals, made up of organisms (blood cells, skin cells, brain cells, etc.) that looks at behaviors that seem independent of the coming and going of the organisms (blood cells come and go, but there is something that remains, that we recognize as being there even if every cell is replaced).

There is the study of organizations (combinations of individuals) that looks at behaviors that seem independent of the coming and going of the individuals.

Most of our interest is inspired by our use of past behaviors to explain present behaviors and predict future behaviors (causality). These interests depend on a belief that decisions are better if they consider the potential consequences of the potential choices.

(Is causality a better belief system than other belief systems? How? Why?)

What are the limitations of believing in causality? Are there circumstances where causality would NOT be a better decision-making process?

For example, I make decisions. How I make decisions is complicated, but the process runs something like this: (1) I perceive that I have different paths I might follow, (2) I believe that at least one of these paths might be better than the others, (3) I believe that I might be able to predict the consequences of choosing the potential paths, (4) I believe that I might be able to predict the value of choosing the potential paths, (5) I believe that my choice should
be based on the valule of the potential paths, (6) I choose the path to follow.


In this process, there are many assumptions (more, I am sure, than those I have just listed). One of the assumptions is causality. In fact, I suspect the perception of the different paths is dictated by my assumption of causality being a good end. I believe the concept of rational decision-making and the concept of causality are isomorphic, one-in-the-same.

There are other forms of decision-making (flipping a coin, faith). And often even rational decisions are not the best decisions in the short term (because of the many possibilities of poor perception, poor memory, poor analysis, poor execution, and poor perception of the results), or in the long term (because of poor survival of the observer, poor survival of the understanding of the process, poor survival of the belief in the value of the result, etc.).

I struggle with choices that I believe impact myself in a different direction than will impact others. The "others" can be over time (from the present to the future) and the "others"can be over space (from one other person to every other person). My choices are complicated by their impact over time and space beyond my capacity to evaluate the outcomes of my choices.

I am interested in the different ways I might perceive the universe given different assumptions. What if causality were not important? What if faith were more important? What if my efforts to save my children's and their children's lives caused other children their lives? If I wanted to make decisions that were better based on their contribution to the survival of the human species, how would I do this? What tools would I need? What perceptions? What process? How would the process survive? How would the evaluation of the process survive? How would the improvement of the process survive?

If I want an idea to survive my lifetime, what should I do?
If we want an idea to survive our lifetimes, what should we do?
If the human species wants an idea to survive beyond the lifetime of the species, what should the species do?

There is no meaning to the existance of meaning beyond existance.

The meaning of existance is the existance of meaning.

What is the study of beliefs that exist across time and space? Beliefs that are beyond the existance of the human species, decision processes that have been and will be (for a long time) beyond the capactiy of the human species to control?
A penny for my thoughts?
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