Friday, June 13, 2008

How many Zen Masters does it take to change a lightbulb?


What is an individual organism? It seems that there is no such thing as an individual organism that lives within itself. A single person is no more an autonomous being than a single liver cell is it's own individual. What do I mean? Perhaps we are just looking at a particular scale of the entire being that is earth?

Have you ever thought about what your individual cells feel about being part of you? You last much longer than any particular molecule stays in your body and much longer than any individual living cell exists. From what I under stand, in ten years, there shouldn't be a single piece of you that is exactly the same as it is today... yet your being is still the same isn't it.

Expand on this idea

Does the United States exist? It seems it must certainly exist! But is this the same country as it was in 1900? Obviously it has aged, and changed... but is it still the same country? There is almost not a single person that is the same as part of the population of the United States yet I think it would be hard to argue that it isn't the same overall affiliation of people, land. laws... etc.

We are just looking at different scales along a continuum that exists on earth. Any organization acts as if it were an organism. Fighting for survival, expanding, reproducing in it's own way. I don't see any difference between the way a particular large complicated organization behaves and any complicated organism behaves. Some organizations are more successful than others just as some organisms are more successful.

So the question arises, "Where do you end?" Where does any living being end? At first it would seem obvious what is you, and what isn't... but think about it. What do you need to live? Is the air around your body part of you? When it is inside of you is it? What about the Oxygen as it travels through your arteries on the red blood cells? Are you still maintaining that separation between you and the air and claiming it is just a chemical that your body is using? Then what about water that you drink. While it is in your cells, is it you? Where do you even exist? If everything about you is transient... then how can you say what is in and what is out? Is there such a thing as a plant or is there only the forest? The cell in the plant, the plant in the forest, the forest in the biosphere...

Now moving into relationships between living beings. Are you totally your own organism... if you are in a close relationship as in marriage or living with another individual. You start to act symbiotically... or parasitically. For example, lets take a married couple. For the purposes of discussion lets say that the man brings home the money, the wife shops for food/ prepares it an maintains the interior of the house. They spend quite a bit of time with each other and for the most part rely on each other for survival. Though they each could operate by themselves, they don't! which is what is important in this case. They rely on each other just as much as your brain relies on your circulatory system. How is the system that has developed between them and how they exist in the world any different than your own respiratory system verses the rest of your body? I would argue that they end up acting more or less as one organism. Now take an example as an army. Here the parallels are even more obvious. In an army no individual operates by himself any more than any of your cells operate alone. Cells make up organs, organs make up organisms... solders make up battalions, battalions make up armies. etc... It seems quite arbitrary to draw the line at "Nick" why not have the organism be "The Household" or "Nick" vs "The 40th Helicopter Squadron"

I am not sure that I can reasonably separate myself from the rest of the biosphere... or the universe in general.

So, if organizations act like organisms... it seems obvious that the whole circle of life thing must apply. Does one organization have to consume others for it's own survival. Whether or not it is required for survival of these organisms, it obviously happens. Two governments fighting for land, or two economies fighting for oil, is the same as two monkeys fighting over a fruit tree.

Where is this competition between these super organisms going to go? Take religions as examples of these organisms. Some religions act as large complex beings, some act more like corral reefs or slime molds... regardless... in this frame work the world takes on a different look. It seems like Christianity and Islam are not just competing ideological delusions... they are actually competing organisms, fighting for survival in an arena of finite resources.

This view actually makes more sense of what is happening in the world than any other thought I have considered. Taking the example of two monkeys fighting over the fruit tree... The individual cells of one monkey don't have anything in particular against the individual cells of the other monkey... yet as they are organized, they are mortal enemies. It is the same between two governments... or religions... or baseball teams. The individuals of each religion/government/baseball team have nothing against each other, yet... watch the news.

Are we destined to be locked into these eternal struggles between these super organisms as they fight for survival on this planet? Most likely, but there is another alternative... the way that humans are becoming more and more dependent on each other over the whole world, perhaps we are becoming one huge human organism. Between the internet, global economy, and humanities ability to change the climate, maybe we are becoming one very large human organism.

Are we watching Evolution of these super organisms?

This also explains why people act to stop other individuals from being different. Group Norming or group standards aren't just around for their own sake. It is part of the larger organism's immune system. The kid in middle school that makes fun of your back pack because it is different isn't just being a bully... on some level he is preventing cancer within his larger organism. First you wear a loud and different shirt, the next thing you are starting a new religion or government that may be in competition with existing ones.

So to think about this all at the same time... there is no arbitrary inside/outside of "ME" there is only the Universe as examined on different scales.

The Zen Master is the lightbulb.


Anonymous said...

17.4328 pinecones.

they came out with a science to study this, too bad their experiments all involve bullshit methodologies and experiments that all end supporting the hypothesis.

And they couldn't see the fact that their science had become the very thing it was studying.

Notorious said...

I wasn't necessarily advocating the organized study of this... I was just advocating its contemplation. Or perhaps I am going loony over here!

Damn it... I thought it was going going to be 7 pinecones...

amateur.sophist said...

I think you need some R&R. I suggest 3 days at country of your choice featuring under paid persons willing to perform unmentionable acts in exchange for exposure to your American bravado

Notorious said...

Hmm... good idea. I could really handle some jungle too.