Loading ...
Sorry, an error occurred while loading the content.

RE: [ishmael_discussion] DQ controversy

Expand Messages
  • Barbara Handley
    I think it is important. You have asserted that Daniel Quinn is a plagiarist and a fraud. Those are quite serious allegations. Ishmael.org states that Ishmael
    Message 1 of 26 , Apr 7, 2010
    • 0 Attachment
      I think it is important. You have asserted that Daniel Quinn is a plagiarist
      and a fraud. Those are quite serious allegations.

      Ishmael.org states that Ishmael has been in print continuously since its
      publication. An internet search turns up absolutely nothing indicating that
      Ishmael was ever out of print or that there were any issues related to a
      bankruptcy.

      I would appreciate it if you would provide some sources and evidence for the
      assertions you are making.

      Barbara

      > -----Original Message-----
      > From: ishmael_discussion@yahoogroups.com
      > [mailto:ishmael_discussion@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of Janos Biro
      > Sent: Wednesday, April 07, 2010 4:15 PM
      > To: ishmael_discussion@yahoogroups.com
      > Subject: Re: [ishmael_discussion] DQ controversy
      >
      > Hi Sthepen,
      >
      > I agree with you in almost every point. Although I am quite sure the
      > publishing problem was about Ishmael, this is not important. I stopped
      > reading Daniel Quinn after Beyond Civilization. Not because I didn't
      > wanted to read, but because his other books never got published over
      > here.
    • wclary5424@aol.com
      ... From: Janos Biro To: ishmael_discussion@yahoogroups.com Sent: Wed, Apr 7, 2010 11:58 am Subject: Re: [ishmael_discussion] DQ
      Message 2 of 26 , Apr 7, 2010
      • 0 Attachment
        -----Original Message-----
        From: Janos Biro <janosbirozero@...>
        To: ishmael_discussion@yahoogroups.com
        Sent: Wed, Apr 7, 2010 11:58 am
        Subject: Re: [ishmael_discussion] DQ controversy


        Janos wrote:


        >>In Konrad Lorenz book you can find the idea of Cain and Abel in almost the
        same terms that we find in Ishmael. This could a coincidence, right. But
        Quinn not only never cited Lorenz, he claimed to be saying something
        original.<<

        I don't know that he claimed anything of the sort. And as I mentioned earlier, the idea didn't originate
        with Lorenz either. It doesn't necessarily mean that anybody stole it from the others.

        >>Civilization is not simply a physical fact! Techno-logy is the logos of
        technique. It is not simply any use of tools, because other primates also
        use tools.<<

        And so do crows. That's beside the point. In my field, we generally define technology as the use of
        knowledge, skill or tools to solve problems. By that definition, Folsom points and atlatls are technology.
        The etymology of the word is interesting but also beside the point.

        >>Civilization can't change itself radically, in the same manner that your
        wife can't change who you truly are, but your problem will never be who you
        truly are. The same cannot be affirmed of civilization.<<

        >>The terms "curse" and "bless" do not indicate a moral judgment. On the
        contrary, denying any kind of moral position is already a absolutist moral
        judgment: "it is absolutely WRONG to make moral judgments about
        civilization". Great, that's all we need to be perceive something as
        unequivocal. What you are doing is reproducing the ideas of biological
        determination in society, saying that our culture is a result of natural
        adaptation. People who defend that position often say that "New York City is
        just as natural as an anthill or a slime mold.". This is absurd. A anthill
        took a long time "negotiating" it's space in the environment, becoming a
        indistinguishable part of it. A city is nothing like it, it is primary
        result of rapid invasion, it is a human product made by cuttings in the
        natural landscape.<<

        New York City is "natural" because it is part of the physical universe.
        IMHO, human cultures are products of natural selection, just like anthills and slime molds.
        Or are you arguing that the products of human intellect are somehow divorced from
        physics or biology?

        And of course, "cursing and blessing" imply moral judgment.




        There are those who would argue that a smoker has two choices: maintain his
        current course (the habit of smoking) until disaster, or stop smoking. Is
        that too narrow? Of course, if think that smoking is not a problem. But if
        it is, then it is not a matter of 'narrowing' a choice. The problem is that
        Quinn sticks with the idea that we can have the cake and eat it at the same
        time. This is the belief of the technocracy. You are showing me that Quinn
        managed to destroy everything that could evolve to something good in
        Ishmael. If the problem is reduced to the matter of making a transition from
        civilization to a (materially) sustainable way of living, then our hope is
        lost.

        I'm not particularly interested in defending Quinn's ideas. I found his books thought provoking, but I am not by any means any kind of disciple.
        My observations are based on a couple of decades of researching and thinking about these issues.
        Since none of can run controlled experiments in history, the best we can do is make comparisons from the evidence at hand. I like to model human
        cultures in thermodynamic terms, and the scholar whose work I come back to again and again is Joseph Tainter, whose Collapse of Complex Societies, as well as
        his many papers on similar subjects which I heartily recommend to all and sundry.

        It is a fact that there have been sedentary agricultural cultures that have lasted hundreds of years without destroying their resource base, but there is
        no guarantee that the lessons of the cultures I've studied can be applied to ours. We are clearly far beyond the Earth's carrying capacity for human beings
        absent massive energy subsidies whose limits are approaching rapidly.

        If civilization collapses, there is a possibility that homo sapiens will cease being a reproductively viable species, but I imagine that one way or another
        the species will survive, even if hundreds of millions of people do not once the sh*t begins to hit the fan. But overshoot can always lead to population
        collapse.

        Sometimes when I'm feeling particularly morbid, I sometimes ponder the question of whether our kind of intelligence may be, in the long run,
        an evolutionary dead end...kind of like a species of bacteria that flourishes for a short while, but dies out when it kills off all the potential hosts in its ecosystem. Even before the coming of civilization,
        homo sapiens seemed to be pretty good at destroying other species. The question of human responsibility for the killing off of mega fauna in North
        America is controversial, but the fossil record indicates that similar die-offs happened nearly every time that humans entered a new territory for the
        first time, and usually in a relatively short period of time, by biological standards.

        In any event, species come and go. Life will continue for at least the next couple of billion years regardless of whether we're here or not. At some point,
        as the Sun continues to grow hotter and brighter, every species in the world will die out. But that's another discussion for another time

        BC



        Janos

        2010/4/7 <wclary5424@...>

        >
        >
        >
        > It seems to me that you're disappointed because Quinn's evolution as a
        > writer/thinker does not match your preferences. But as I said before, nobody
        > is obligated to be a disciple of any author. I'm certainly not
        >
        > A few other observations:
        >
        > In broad terms, Ishmael's interpretation of the Cain/Abel story predates
        > Lorenz. I first heard it 40-odd years ago as an undergraduate taking an
        > introductory religious studies class, and it's at least 70 years older than
        > that. If memory serves me correctly, my instructor cited a late 19th Century
        > German Biblical scholar as his source. Ishmael doesn't cite a source, but
        > most novels lack footnotes...
        >
        > The question of who :"invented" technology is an interesting one. My own
        > view is that since even the earliest members of the genus homo has developed
        > a toolkit, technology is an inherent trait of the human genome.
        > Categorically speaking, human individuals and groups invent various
        > technologies, but the meta-idea of technology is an "invention" of natural
        > selection, IMHO.
        >
        > In paragraph 6, you mention that Quinn calls himself a "lover" of
        > civilization. One can love something and be critical of it at the same time.
        > (My wife is certainly critical of me...) Personally I kind of like things
        > like the Internet, the drugs that help me regulate my cholesterol and
        > moveable type. At the same time, I also understand that our use of these
        > technologies come at a cost.
        >
        > Whether civilization is a "curse" is an uninteresting question to me, since
        > I don't think that making moral judgments about physical facts is
        > particularly useful. The progenitors of our current civilization began the
        > process that led to our current situation in order to solve problems that
        > they faced. As an evolutionary adaptation, it has helped human DNA to spread
        > all over this planet, and thus up to a certain point, it has been
        > successful. If it is going to fall apart, it will be because it has either
        > overshot the earth's carrying capacity, or in some other way no longer fits
        > environmental conditions, not because it is good or evil. New York City is
        > just as natural as an anthill or a slime mold.
        >
        > There are those who would argue that humanity has two choices: maintain our
        > current course until disaster strikes, or return to the paleolithic. I would
        > argue that this is too narrow. The single most interesting issue in all of
        > this, to me, is how a high-energy, unsustainable culture like ours can
        > evolve into a lower energy, more thermodynamically secure, but still
        > sedentary culture. I would further argue that one can see inklings of how to
        > carry that transition off by studying the aftermath of the collapse of
        > Anasazi culture in the four corners area of the US Southwest, and what
        > changes where made by the various Pueblo peoples in response to changing
        > environmental conditions. Another interesting model might be the development
        > of some of the Tairona peoples northern South America after the arrival of
        > the Spanish.
        >
        > BC
        >
        > -----Original Message-----
        > From: Janos Biro <janosbirozero@... <janosbirozero%40gmail.com>>
        > To: ishmael_discussion@yahoogroups.com<ishmael_discussion%40yahoogroups.com>
        > Sent: Wed, Apr 7, 2010 7:51 am
        > Subject: Re: [ishmael_discussion] DQ controversy
        >
        > Hi,
        > I've tried to translate some of my observations about this subject. I
        > eed to tell you all that I am not trying to prove anything, it is
        > ust an impression I have. Sorry about the way I wrote before. I will
        > ot comment about the book being out of print, because, thinking
        > gain, this is not relevant now. But just for you to know, the book
        > shmael could not be printed for many years, apparently because of a
        > ankrupt. In this time Daniel Quinn also became unavailable, because
        > f a illness.
        > It is possible that Quinn is really the author of Ishmael, but if he
        > s, and just changed his ideas, then he changed A LOT, as I will try
        > o show you now.
        > About Humanism, I don't know if this word is so clear as it is in
        > ortuguese, but I mean something like what is described in the English
        > ikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Humanism. A good book that
        > hows why Humanism is a problem of civilization is "Straw Dogs:
        > houghts on Humans and Other Animals", by John Gray, a book which is,
        > owever, very similar to Ishmael.
        > Sorry about the way I write, because I have difficulties thinking in
        > English.
        > Here are some things to think about:
        > 1. Ishmael received the greatest sum of money ever given to a single
        > ork of fiction. You can see this here:
        > ttp://www.friendsofishmael.org/about/why_ishmael.shtml. This is a
        > reat motivation for ghost-writing.
        > 2. The previous works of Daniel Quinn do not resemble Ishmael in any way.
        > 3. The idea about Cain being the agricultural people is in a much
        > lder book by Konrad Lorenz, named ‘Der Abbau des Menschlichen’ (that
        > pparently never had an English version), which is a critique of ‘our
        > ulture’, a term that in this book means ‘civilization’, much like in
        > shmael. The author wrote ‘The foundations of ethology’, the study of
        > he human ethos by comparison with other animals behavior. Many
        > thologists observed the gorillas. The author of Ishmael probably knew
        > bout ethology, because he use a gorilla that observes man, and uses
        > any terms that Lorenz uses in his book, with the same meaning. But
        > aniel Quinn doesn't seem to know anything about this.
        > 4. In Ishmael, it is clearly stated that technology is a product of
        > ivilization, and so it is part of the problem: “The settlement lead
        > o the division of work, the division of work to technology,
        > echnology to commerce, commerce to math, language, writing, science
        > nd all else”. This was all a consequence of a culture based in
        > ccumulation and expansion, all inventions of civilization. In My
        > shmael, Quinn says: "You know from experience that at this point,
        > any people think I'm thinking about a future in which technology has
        > one. For you it's too easy to blame all the problems in technology.
        > owever, humans are born with a vocation for technology, and are born
        > ith a vocation for linguistics". He claims that the readers of
        > shmael "got him wrong", all of them. The author of Ishmael listed
        > technology’ as a problem, quite literally. While in story of B, Quinn
        > ays that technology, agriculture and even civilization are not our
        > nventions at all. He turns a absolute term into a relative one, such
        > s the distinction between agriculture and totalitarian agriculture.
        > 5. Quinn may be turning the discourse of Ishmael to another direction,
        > y accusing even the most logical interpretations of what Ishmael says
        > f being wrong or incomplete. He compares ‘unaware’ readers with the
        > nabomber, for example, in a very rude way. He also emptied any
        > piritual message in Ishmael. Also, he turned away from the ethical
        > iew. He said not to be interested in ethics, but in what "works",
        > ccepting a kind of social and biological functionalism, which Ishmael
        > riticizes. “New Tribal Ventures” is also completely unlike anything
        > ou can derive from reading Ishmael.
        > 6. In Beyond Civilization he says he is a lover of civilization. ‘My
        > shmael’ implies that Lomax could not fully understand Ishmael. Looks
        > ike “My Ishmael” is really the Ishmael of Quinn, while the original
        > shmael is not. I am not alone in thinking that Quinn is subverting
        > he words of Ishmael in a very subtle way. The author of Ishmael does
        > ot look like a lover of civilization. For a comparison, read John
        > erzan, for example.
        > 7. Quinn says “I do not consider civilization as a curse, but as bless
        > hat people should have the freedom to let go”. He is not saying
        > ivilization is a problem itself, but instead that we should ‘evolve’
        > o a new level of society, that would be BETTER FOR US. But what is
        > ur curse, according to Ishmael? It is the original sin: to think we
        > an better our lives by doing what we want, going out to get what WE
        > hink WE NEED, instead of obeying God’s law. Quinn subverted the whole
        > dea of “living in the hand of God”, which is a theological argument
        > hat precedes him, and the author of Ishmael probably knew it, since
        > e does not redefine it.
        > 8. Ishmael is not about “creating a new mythology”, but is rather
        > bout something of the past which has been forgotten. Quinn looks at
        > he past in different way. He thinks man has created itself in the
        > ast, and he is looking for the tools to recreate human society in his
        > wn liking. Quinn’s philosophy seems to be derived from the
        > enaissance and the Enlightenment. There is an apology to the
        > nventive spirit of man, capable of creating itself.
        > I am not trying to debunk Daniel Quinn. He is a good writer. I lived
        > y life according to this ideas for about 10 years. But I have made
        > hese observations, and I no longer support his ideas. I have
        > ifferent ideas now, derived from a different tradition. I do not have
        > ny proof that Daniel Quinn is not the author of Ishmael, this is just
        > guess based in an inconclusive set of evidences. That's a
        > upposition. I have no interest in hurting Quinn's image of anything
        > ike that.
        > I’m still working with the critique of civilization. I have a
        > iscussion group and some articles published, all in Portuguese. I am
        > A in Philosophy, Post-graduating in Theology and heading to a Master
        > egree in Sociology.
        > If I had to recommend a book to a person who wants to understand our
        > ulture in a critical way, I would recommend Zygmunt Bauman, not
        > aniel Quinn. It is deeper and clearer. That’s it. I hope you try to
        > nderstand what I’m saying before throwing rocks.
        > Janos
        > --
        > ttp://janosbiro.rg3.net
        >
        >
        > -----------------------------------
        > ~~~~~
        > ollow Mike (the ISHMAEL List Owner) on Twitter:
        > ttp://twitter.com/mikedavis50322
        > ~~~~Yahoo! Groups Links
        > Individual Email | Traditional
        > http://docs.yahoo.com/info/terms/
        >
        > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
        >
        >
        >



        --
        http://janosbiro.rg3.net


        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]



        ------------------------------------

        ~~~~~
        Follow Mike (the ISHMAEL List Owner) on Twitter:
        http://twitter.com/mikedavis50322
        ~~~~~Yahoo! Groups Links






        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      • Janos Biro
        Sthephen, We must take care not to assume that everyone that doesn t agree with us is somehow being deceived by civilization, like we were above it. I
        Message 3 of 26 , Apr 8, 2010
        • 0 Attachment
          Sthephen,

          We must take care not to assume that everyone that doesn't agree with
          us is somehow being deceived by civilization, like we were above it.

          I understand your reaction. Quinn really wake me up to something most
          people is unaware, and I started to hear the voice of mother culture
          speaking through almost every line people said. But, that doesn’t mean
          people won’t like the idea, once they get to understand it. Quinn even
          expected people to like this idea, once they knew it, remember? The
          idea would spread because civilized people would see it is a better
          idea.

          The problem is that people are unaware of any theory about
          civilization, even the one they follow every day. They tend to believe
          in the first one they get as there could be no other. The sensation
          that you now know the truth that nobody else understands is common
          after reading this kind of book. It is also common to say that
          everyone who criticizes it is dominated by the very line of thought
          that the author is exposing as a lie. That's why a dogmatic Marxist
          will call any adversary a Capitalist.

          I tried to question the same point you are repeating as a
          presupposition: Civilization is neutral, it is natural. Then you
          contrast that with those like Jensen, who see the civilization
          physical structure or human agents as enemies. I am not affirming any
          of this. Civilization is axiological and ethological, the opposition
          necessarily has to do with beliefs and behaviors, and so we need an
          ethical criterion. Quinn's ethical criterion is evolution: whatever
          makes us sustainable must be "better".

          Quinn has a position, this means he opposes something, and defends
          something else. But he tries to escape criticism by saying it is
          "civilized" to have distinction between good and bad, right and wrong.
          It is just another way to say it is wrong to have moral discernment.
          But thats a moral discernment too, not matter if it is based on myth
          or science or philosophy. Theres no human culture without moral
          distinctions. Those things are not just civilized, on the contrary,
          they began to be questioned by civilization, because of the moralist
          abuses and contradictions. By Schopenhauer and Nietzsche, for example.

          I was an atheist by the time I read The story of B because of that
          separation between Ishmael and Jesus. Then I began to study theology.
          So Ishmael does not affirms religion, but does not denies it either.
          If Quinn denies, why he didn't put that in a book he claims to have
          been taken years in the making? Quinn could only made it clear in The
          story of B by CHANGING what it's said in Ishmael. Not just adding.
          What happened? He changed his idea? Did he thought people would not
          make the most obvious connection in Ishmael, with so many references
          to religion? No problem with that. But I'm not adding anything to
          Ishmael, I'm not an Ishmael follower.

          If we make a transition to a materially sustainable way of living,
          haven't we essentially solved the problem? No, we solved A problem.
          What problem? The material problem. Is civilization a material
          problem? I don't think so. If it is, then civilization will also be
          interested in solving this problem, since civilization is a cumulative
          process of progress that must not be stopped, but can be changed in
          infinite kinds of ways. Civilization has no compromise with material
          in-sustainability. If we do not destroy our world because we want,
          then civilization also doesn't need to do it. If we find a way to keep
          this human progress without harming the nature, civilization will
          profit with this too.

          What's the meaning of "story", in Ishmael? We are enacting a story,
          says Ishmael, because we are following the course of a world view. But
          who made this world view? We made it out from nothing? Are we all
          powerful over it to change it to anything else, in any fashion we
          like, once we wake up? If so, Why did we got ourselves in such a
          terrible story? Why did we forgot, why did we let ourselves sleep? If
          we deceived ourselves in the past, how can we be so sure that THIS
          TIME this wont happen? If story means lifestyle, then we sure can
          change it, but that wont change our culture in any way it could not
          change itself. A culture is very different from a lifestyle. A single
          culture, especially a pluralist and globalist culture like ours, can
          support almost any kind of lifestyle. In order to change our culture,
          change the world view away from the Zeitgeist, we need something above
          it, not within it. If our hope is in achieving a sustainable
          lifestyle, then we are not asking ourselves why we got here in the
          first place. It is like it has just bad luck, but now we can solve
          this problem. We lose our hope of understanding who we are, why we are
          here, where are we heading.

          Civilization is a genie of the bottle, I agree. But I don't have to
          cooperate with the genie, because I can turn away from it, even if he
          continues out of the bottle. If you plan to use the genie for
          something good, well, then that means the only problem with our
          culture is that we used the genie for something bad? If you made
          yourself dependent on the genie, you will not change the culture to
          anything far from it. You will just adapt things to it. I think a
          leaver is someone who leaves this behind, in his mind. Who doesn't
          care anymore about civilization impositions or benefits, because this
          is not the meaning of life. A leaver can live within a civilized city,
          because civilization is not a place, it is a world view. Civilization
          can itself provide anything we like, anything that will make us happy
          or to engage us in the search for happiness, but that wont save our
          spirit. Sure, most of you may not care about this. But there are those
          who care.

          Janos

          2010/4/7 Stephen Figgins <stephen@...>
          >
          >
          >
          > On Wed, Apr 7, 2010 at 10:58 AM, Janos Biro <janosbirozero@...> wrote:
          >
          > > Hi,
          > >
          > > It seems to me that most people would prefer what Quinn says, because being
          > > a modern philosopher, Quinn's ideas are more attractive to the modern man.
          >
          > Really? It struck me as foreign enough that most people don't get it. They
          > understand, or think they understand, that something is amiss in our story
          > and why, but they don't understand what comes next. Most people want to add
          > on something to make the whole thing make more sense to their civilized
          > notions. A moralization, a castigation, some sort of redemption,
          > something. The whole thing is just incomplete from a civilized point of
          > view.
          >
          > Our cultural stories are all about good guys vs. bad guys, good triumphs
          > over evil. Stories that demonize civilization and those who benefit most
          > from it are much more appealing to people of civilization. After reading
          > Ishmael, many seemed to be expecting some kind of call to arms to become
          > good leavers and defeat those evil takers. That was what Jensen gave
          > them. Quinn's proposed first step beyond civilization, changing how we
          > organize in our businesses, left them puzzled. It just doesn't make any
          > sense in civilized terms. Jensen tells them a story of good vs. evil, and
          > that they understand.
          >
          > I think it was much easier to add something foreign to the book Ishmael than
          > it is to his later novels. Quinn heard that some churches were using
          > Ishmael in some kind of Ishmael + Jesus sort of way. So Quinn wrote Story
          > of B to make it clear that didn't think Jesus was the answer to this
          > question. Ishmael was used in Schools, a sort of Ishmael + education. So
          > Quinn wrote a new look at Ishmael from the eyes of a young girl, making it
          > clear just what he thought of schools as a tool of mother culture. It
          > doesn't surprise me that you find it easier to add your own X to Ishmael.
          >
          > Quinn sticks with the idea that we can have the cake and eat it at the same
          > > time. This is the belief of the technocracy. You are showing me that Quinn
          > > managed to destroy everything that could evolve to something good in
          > > Ishmael. If the problem is reduced to the matter of making a transition
          > > from
          > > civilization to a (materially) sustainable way of living, then our hope is
          > > lost.
          > >
          >
          > You've lost me here. If we make a transition to a materially sustainable
          > way of living, haven't we essentially solved the problem? Quinn points out
          > that it's our story that makes it difficult for us to do this, a story that
          > reinforces a certain unsustainable lifestyle. That story is something
          > technology can't fix. But changing the story could fix how we use
          > technology. So, from Quinn's point of view, change the story, change the
          > lifestyle, and we are pretty much done with this right? I hear you
          > disagree, but I would be pretty happy to have achieved material
          > sustainability. Why should this cause anyone to lose hope? Hope for what?
          >
          > I think Quinn's premise here is that the technological/civilization genie is
          > out of the bottle. It isn't going back into the bottle, and there are many
          > reasons why we don't want to get rid of it. We need to figure out how to
          > live with it. We can't just become Leavers.
          >
          > --
          > Stephen
          >
          > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
          >
          >


          --
          http://janosbiro.rg3.net
        • Janos Biro
          Barbara, I am not accusing Daniel Quinn of anything. I said this is an hypothesis. I was quite sure Daniel Quinn said that Ishmael was out of print, but I
          Message 4 of 26 , Apr 8, 2010
          • 0 Attachment
            Barbara,

            I am not accusing Daniel Quinn of anything. I said this is an hypothesis. I
            was quite sure Daniel Quinn said that Ishmael was out of print, but I could
            be wrong. I just pointed out some odd stuff about the book, but the real
            issue is about Quinn's ideas.

            Janos

            2010/4/7 Barbara Handley <barbara@...>

            >
            >
            > I think it is important. You have asserted that Daniel Quinn is a
            > plagiarist
            > and a fraud. Those are quite serious allegations.
            >
            > Ishmael.org states that Ishmael has been in print continuously since its
            > publication. An internet search turns up absolutely nothing indicating that
            > Ishmael was ever out of print or that there were any issues related to a
            > bankruptcy.
            >
            > I would appreciate it if you would provide some sources and evidence for
            > the
            > assertions you are making.
            >
            > Barbara
            >
            >
            > > -----Original Message-----
            > > From: ishmael_discussion@yahoogroups.com<ishmael_discussion%40yahoogroups.com>
            > > [mailto:ishmael_discussion@yahoogroups.com<ishmael_discussion%40yahoogroups.com>]
            > On Behalf Of Janos Biro
            > > Sent: Wednesday, April 07, 2010 4:15 PM
            > > To: ishmael_discussion@yahoogroups.com<ishmael_discussion%40yahoogroups.com>
            > > Subject: Re: [ishmael_discussion] DQ controversy
            > >
            > > Hi Sthepen,
            > >
            > > I agree with you in almost every point. Although I am quite sure the
            > > publishing problem was about Ishmael, this is not important. I stopped
            > > reading Daniel Quinn after Beyond Civilization. Not because I didn't
            > > wanted to read, but because his other books never got published over
            > > here.
            >
            >
            >



            --
            http://janosbiro.rg3.net


            [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
          • Janos Biro
            BC You are right about technology, I was just clarifying what I mean when I use that word. About Lorenz, sure, again, I did not said Lorenz originated this
            Message 5 of 26 , Apr 8, 2010
            • 0 Attachment
              BC

              You are right about technology, I was just clarifying what I mean when I use
              that word.

              About Lorenz, sure, again, I did not said Lorenz originated this idea, only
              that he states it in a very, very similar way as it is stated in Ishmael.
              But it could be just coincidence, no big deal.

              "Or are you arguing that the products of human intellect are somehow
              divorced from physics or biology?"

              You are arguing that human cultures are products of natural selection. That
              could only be truth if biological laws could be applied as they are to
              non-biological phenomenons. Social sciences are not completely separated
              from natural sciences, but they are still very different things, with very
              different approaches. The tendency to treat cultures as living beings is no
              longer suported by today anthropology, for example. Comparisions can be
              made, however, in a limited context. One have to believe in universal
              evolution theory to believe in what you are affirming.

              Does "cursing and blessing" imply moral judgment? If so, Daniel Quinn has a
              moral judgment of civilization, since he calls it a blessing, and I guess
              Ishmael states that the fall of Adam is a moral explanation of a observed
              behavior.

              Does the realization that human life is meaningless to the universe comforts
              you? Really, what's the point in making anything of Quinn's ideas, if the
              only real thing we can have is a like enjoyment while we are still alive? I
              mean, if happiness is all that matters, then we go back to humanism. Then
              everything Ishmael said was thinking in human happiness... Does that makes
              sense to you?

              Janos

              2010/4/8 <wclary5424@...>

              >
              >
              >
              >
              >
              > -----Original Message-----
              > From: Janos Biro <janosbirozero@... <janosbirozero%40gmail.com>>
              > To: ishmael_discussion@yahoogroups.com<ishmael_discussion%40yahoogroups.com>
              > Sent: Wed, Apr 7, 2010 11:58 am
              > Subject: Re: [ishmael_discussion] DQ controversy
              >
              > Janos wrote:
              >
              > >>In Konrad Lorenz book you can find the idea of Cain and Abel in almost
              > the
              > same terms that we find in Ishmael. This could a coincidence, right. But
              > Quinn not only never cited Lorenz, he claimed to be saying something
              > original.<<
              >
              > I don't know that he claimed anything of the sort. And as I mentioned
              > earlier, the idea didn't originate
              > with Lorenz either. It doesn't necessarily mean that anybody stole it from
              > the others.
              >
              > >>Civilization is not simply a physical fact! Techno-logy is the logos of
              > technique. It is not simply any use of tools, because other primates also
              > use tools.<<
              >
              > And so do crows. That's beside the point. In my field, we generally define
              > technology as the use of
              > knowledge, skill or tools to solve problems. By that definition, Folsom
              > points and atlatls are technology.
              > The etymology of the word is interesting but also beside the point.
              >
              > >>Civilization can't change itself radically, in the same manner that your
              > wife can't change who you truly are, but your problem will never be who you
              > truly are. The same cannot be affirmed of civilization.<<
              >
              > >>The terms "curse" and "bless" do not indicate a moral judgment. On the
              > contrary, denying any kind of moral position is already a absolutist moral
              > judgment: "it is absolutely WRONG to make moral judgments about
              > civilization". Great, that's all we need to be perceive something as
              > unequivocal. What you are doing is reproducing the ideas of biological
              > determination in society, saying that our culture is a result of natural
              > adaptation. People who defend that position often say that "New York City
              > is
              > just as natural as an anthill or a slime mold.". This is absurd. A anthill
              > took a long time "negotiating" it's space in the environment, becoming a
              > indistinguishable part of it. A city is nothing like it, it is primary
              > result of rapid invasion, it is a human product made by cuttings in the
              > natural landscape.<<
              >
              > New York City is "natural" because it is part of the physical universe.
              > IMHO, human cultures are products of natural selection, just like anthills
              > and slime molds.
              > Or are you arguing that the products of human intellect are somehow
              > divorced from
              > physics or biology?
              >
              > And of course, "cursing and blessing" imply moral judgment.
              >
              > There are those who would argue that a smoker has two choices: maintain his
              > current course (the habit of smoking) until disaster, or stop smoking. Is
              > that too narrow? Of course, if think that smoking is not a problem. But if
              > it is, then it is not a matter of 'narrowing' a choice. The problem is that
              > Quinn sticks with the idea that we can have the cake and eat it at the same
              > time. This is the belief of the technocracy. You are showing me that Quinn
              > managed to destroy everything that could evolve to something good in
              > Ishmael. If the problem is reduced to the matter of making a transition
              > from
              > civilization to a (materially) sustainable way of living, then our hope is
              > lost.
              >
              > I'm not particularly interested in defending Quinn's ideas. I found his
              > books thought provoking, but I am not by any means any kind of disciple.
              > My observations are based on a couple of decades of researching and
              > thinking about these issues.
              > Since none of can run controlled experiments in history, the best we can do
              > is make comparisons from the evidence at hand. I like to model human
              > cultures in thermodynamic terms, and the scholar whose work I come back to
              > again and again is Joseph Tainter, whose Collapse of Complex Societies, as
              > well as
              > his many papers on similar subjects which I heartily recommend to all and
              > sundry.
              >
              > It is a fact that there have been sedentary agricultural cultures that have
              > lasted hundreds of years without destroying their resource base, but there
              > is
              > no guarantee that the lessons of the cultures I've studied can be applied
              > to ours. We are clearly far beyond the Earth's carrying capacity for human
              > beings
              > absent massive energy subsidies whose limits are approaching rapidly.
              >
              > If civilization collapses, there is a possibility that homo sapiens will
              > cease being a reproductively viable species, but I imagine that one way or
              > another
              > the species will survive, even if hundreds of millions of people do not
              > once the sh*t begins to hit the fan. But overshoot can always lead to
              > population
              > collapse.
              >
              > Sometimes when I'm feeling particularly morbid, I sometimes ponder the
              > question of whether our kind of intelligence may be, in the long run,
              > an evolutionary dead end...kind of like a species of bacteria that
              > flourishes for a short while, but dies out when it kills off all the
              > potential hosts in its ecosystem. Even before the coming of civilization,
              > homo sapiens seemed to be pretty good at destroying other species. The
              > question of human responsibility for the killing off of mega fauna in North
              > America is controversial, but the fossil record indicates that similar
              > die-offs happened nearly every time that humans entered a new territory for
              > the
              > first time, and usually in a relatively short period of time, by biological
              > standards.
              >
              > In any event, species come and go. Life will continue for at least the next
              > couple of billion years regardless of whether we're here or not. At some
              > point,
              > as the Sun continues to grow hotter and brighter, every species in the
              > world will die out. But that's another discussion for another time
              >
              > BC
              >
              >
              > Janos
              >
              > 2010/4/7 <wclary5424@... <wclary5424%40aol.com>>
              >
              > >
              > >
              > >
              > > It seems to me that you're disappointed because Quinn's evolution as a
              > > writer/thinker does not match your preferences. But as I said before,
              > nobody
              > > is obligated to be a disciple of any author. I'm certainly not
              > >
              > > A few other observations:
              > >
              > > In broad terms, Ishmael's interpretation of the Cain/Abel story predates
              > > Lorenz. I first heard it 40-odd years ago as an undergraduate taking an
              > > introductory religious studies class, and it's at least 70 years older
              > than
              > > that. If memory serves me correctly, my instructor cited a late 19th
              > Century
              > > German Biblical scholar as his source. Ishmael doesn't cite a source, but
              > > most novels lack footnotes...
              > >
              > > The question of who :"invented" technology is an interesting one. My own
              > > view is that since even the earliest members of the genus homo has
              > developed
              > > a toolkit, technology is an inherent trait of the human genome.
              > > Categorically speaking, human individuals and groups invent various
              > > technologies, but the meta-idea of technology is an "invention" of
              > natural
              > > selection, IMHO.
              > >
              > > In paragraph 6, you mention that Quinn calls himself a "lover" of
              > > civilization. One can love something and be critical of it at the same
              > time.
              > > (My wife is certainly critical of me...) Personally I kind of like things
              > > like the Internet, the drugs that help me regulate my cholesterol and
              > > moveable type. At the same time, I also understand that our use of these
              > > technologies come at a cost.
              > >
              > > Whether civilization is a "curse" is an uninteresting question to me,
              > since
              > > I don't think that making moral judgments about physical facts is
              > > particularly useful. The progenitors of our current civilization began
              > the
              > > process that led to our current situation in order to solve problems that
              > > they faced. As an evolutionary adaptation, it has helped human DNA to
              > spread
              > > all over this planet, and thus up to a certain point, it has been
              > > successful. If it is going to fall apart, it will be because it has
              > either
              > > overshot the earth's carrying capacity, or in some other way no longer
              > fits
              > > environmental conditions, not because it is good or evil. New York City
              > is
              > > just as natural as an anthill or a slime mold.
              > >
              > > There are those who would argue that humanity has two choices: maintain
              > our
              > > current course until disaster strikes, or return to the paleolithic. I
              > would
              > > argue that this is too narrow. The single most interesting issue in all
              > of
              > > this, to me, is how a high-energy, unsustainable culture like ours can
              > > evolve into a lower energy, more thermodynamically secure, but still
              > > sedentary culture. I would further argue that one can see inklings of how
              > to
              > > carry that transition off by studying the aftermath of the collapse of
              > > Anasazi culture in the four corners area of the US Southwest, and what
              > > changes where made by the various Pueblo peoples in response to changing
              > > environmental conditions. Another interesting model might be the
              > development
              > > of some of the Tairona peoples northern South America after the arrival
              > of
              > > the Spanish.
              > >
              > > BC
              > >
              > > -----Original Message-----
              > > From: Janos Biro <janosbirozero@... <janosbirozero%40gmail.com><janosbirozero%
              > 40gmail.com>>
              > > To: ishmael_discussion@yahoogroups.com<ishmael_discussion%40yahoogroups.com>
              > <ishmael_discussion%40yahoogroups.com>
              > > Sent: Wed, Apr 7, 2010 7:51 am
              > > Subject: Re: [ishmael_discussion] DQ controversy
              > >
              > > Hi,
              > > I've tried to translate some of my observations about this subject. I
              > > eed to tell you all that I am not trying to prove anything, it is
              > > ust an impression I have. Sorry about the way I wrote before. I will
              > > ot comment about the book being out of print, because, thinking
              > > gain, this is not relevant now. But just for you to know, the book
              > > shmael could not be printed for many years, apparently because of a
              > > ankrupt. In this time Daniel Quinn also became unavailable, because
              > > f a illness.
              > > It is possible that Quinn is really the author of Ishmael, but if he
              > > s, and just changed his ideas, then he changed A LOT, as I will try
              > > o show you now.
              > > About Humanism, I don't know if this word is so clear as it is in
              > > ortuguese, but I mean something like what is described in the English
              > > ikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Humanism. A good book that
              > > hows why Humanism is a problem of civilization is "Straw Dogs:
              > > houghts on Humans and Other Animals", by John Gray, a book which is,
              > > owever, very similar to Ishmael.
              > > Sorry about the way I write, because I have difficulties thinking in
              > > English.
              > > Here are some things to think about:
              > > 1. Ishmael received the greatest sum of money ever given to a single
              > > ork of fiction. You can see this here:
              > > ttp://www.friendsofishmael.org/about/why_ishmael.shtml. This is a
              > > reat motivation for ghost-writing.
              > > 2. The previous works of Daniel Quinn do not resemble Ishmael in any way.
              > > 3. The idea about Cain being the agricultural people is in a much
              > > lder book by Konrad Lorenz, named �Der Abbau des Menschlichen� (that
              > > pparently never had an English version), which is a critique of �our
              > > ulture�, a term that in this book means �civilization�, much like in
              > > shmael. The author wrote �The foundations of ethology�, the study of
              > > he human ethos by comparison with other animals behavior. Many
              > > thologists observed the gorillas. The author of Ishmael probably knew
              > > bout ethology, because he use a gorilla that observes man, and uses
              > > any terms that Lorenz uses in his book, with the same meaning. But
              > > aniel Quinn doesn't seem to know anything about this.
              > > 4. In Ishmael, it is clearly stated that technology is a product of
              > > ivilization, and so it is part of the problem: �The settlement lead
              > > o the division of work, the division of work to technology,
              > > echnology to commerce, commerce to math, language, writing, science
              > > nd all else�. This was all a consequence of a culture based in
              > > ccumulation and expansion, all inventions of civilization. In My
              > > shmael, Quinn says: "You know from experience that at this point,
              > > any people think I'm thinking about a future in which technology has
              > > one. For you it's too easy to blame all the problems in technology.
              > > owever, humans are born with a vocation for technology, and are born
              > > ith a vocation for linguistics". He claims that the readers of
              > > shmael "got him wrong", all of them. The author of Ishmael listed
              > > technology� as a problem, quite literally. While in story of B, Quinn
              > > ays that technology, agriculture and even civilization are not our
              > > nventions at all. He turns a absolute term into a relative one, such
              > > s the distinction between agriculture and totalitarian agriculture.
              > > 5. Quinn may be turning the discourse of Ishmael to another direction,
              > > y accusing even the most logical interpretations of what Ishmael says
              > > f being wrong or incomplete. He compares �unaware� readers with the
              > > nabomber, for example, in a very rude way. He also emptied any
              > > piritual message in Ishmael. Also, he turned away from the ethical
              > > iew. He said not to be interested in ethics, but in what "works",
              > > ccepting a kind of social and biological functionalism, which Ishmael
              > > riticizes. �New Tribal Ventures� is also completely unlike anything
              > > ou can derive from reading Ishmael.
              > > 6. In Beyond Civilization he says he is a lover of civilization. �My
              > > shmael� implies that Lomax could not fully understand Ishmael. Looks
              > > ike �My Ishmael� is really the Ishmael of Quinn, while the original
              > > shmael is not. I am not alone in thinking that Quinn is subverting
              > > he words of Ishmael in a very subtle way. The author of Ishmael does
              > > ot look like a lover of civilization. For a comparison, read John
              > > erzan, for example.
              > > 7. Quinn says �I do not consider civilization as a curse, but as bless
              > > hat people should have the freedom to let go�. He is not saying
              > > ivilization is a problem itself, but instead that we should �evolve�
              > > o a new level of society, that would be BETTER FOR US. But what is
              > > ur curse, according to Ishmael? It is the original sin: to think we
              > > an better our lives by doing what we want, going out to get what WE
              > > hink WE NEED, instead of obeying God�s law. Quinn subverted the whole
              > > dea of �living in the hand of God�, which is a theological argument
              > > hat precedes him, and the author of Ishmael probably knew it, since
              > > e does not redefine it.
              > > 8. Ishmael is not about �creating a new mythology�, but is rather
              > > bout something of the past which has been forgotten. Quinn looks at
              > > he past in different way. He thinks man has created itself in the
              > > ast, and he is looking for the tools to recreate human society in his
              > > wn liking. Quinn�s philosophy seems to be derived from the
              > > enaissance and the Enlightenment. There is an apology to the
              > > nventive spirit of man, capable of creating itself.
              > > I am not trying to debunk Daniel Quinn. He is a good writer. I lived
              > > y life according to this ideas for about 10 years. But I have made
              > > hese observations, and I no longer support his ideas. I have
              > > ifferent ideas now, derived from a different tradition. I do not have
              > > ny proof that Daniel Quinn is not the author of Ishmael, this is just
              > > guess based in an inconclusive set of evidences. That's a
              > > upposition. I have no interest in hurting Quinn's image of anything
              > > ike that.
              > > I�m still working with the critique of civilization. I have a
              > > iscussion group and some articles published, all in Portuguese. I am
              > > A in Philosophy, Post-graduating in Theology and heading to a Master
              > > egree in Sociology.
              > > If I had to recommend a book to a person who wants to understand our
              > > ulture in a critical way, I would recommend Zygmunt Bauman, not
              > > aniel Quinn. It is deeper and clearer. That�s it. I hope you try to
              > > nderstand what I�m saying before throwing rocks.
              > > Janos
              > > --
              > > ttp://janosbiro.rg3.net
              > >
              > >
              > > -----------------------------------
              > > ~~~~~
              > > ollow Mike (the ISHMAEL List Owner) on Twitter:
              > > ttp://twitter.com/mikedavis50322
              > > ~~~~Yahoo! Groups Links
              > > Individual Email | Traditional
              > > http://docs.yahoo.com/info/terms/
              > >
              > > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
              > >
              > >
              > >
              >
              > --
              > http://janosbiro.rg3.net
              >
              >
              > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
              >
              > ------------------------------------
              >
              >
              > ~~~~~
              > Follow Mike (the ISHMAEL List Owner) on Twitter:
              > http://twitter.com/mikedavis50322
              > ~~~~~Yahoo! Groups Links
              >
              >
              > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
              >
              >
              >



              --
              http://janosbiro.rg3.net


              [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
            • wclary5424@aol.com
              Janos, I am a materialist (in the philosophical sense of the term.) I realize that scientific materialism is only a metaphysical assumption, but it is a
              Message 6 of 26 , Apr 8, 2010
              • 0 Attachment
                Janos,

                I am a materialist (in the philosophical sense of the term.) I realize that scientific materialism is only a metaphysical assumption, but it is a tremendously useful one. It is also the most parsimonious explanation of the universe. (FWIW, I once spent several weeks on a thought experiment in which I tried to devise a form of monistic idealism based upon the idea that consciousness is logically prior to matter, but decided that I lacked the specialized knowledge of physics necessary to finally make it work. I tend to spend time on such flights of fancy every now and again.) As a materialist, I believe that human cultures are emergent phenomena based in biology, and, thus, are products of natural selection.

                Culture is one of our species' primary evolutionary advantages. Culture is what gives us the ability to survive in so many ecological niches. The variety found in human cultures, present and past, is truly astonishing, but all cultures are subject to selection pressure, and there is thus a limit on the breadth of variety.

                **

                As for the significance of human life--its significance is something that we determine ourselves. One of the things that I believe makes life significant is to try to figure out how things work, along with family, friendship, art, music, literature, and so forth.

                Nature is a physical system. There is no compelling evidence that it has a purpose, and the question of where thta purpose might come from opens up several fragrant cans of worms. Albert Einstein is reputed to have said once that one of the most important questions that we need to address is whether the Universe is friendly. (The quote is probably apocryphal.) I think the evidence show us that the Universe is neither hostile or friendly to human existence. On the one hand, it allows us to think some amazing thoughts, and it has allowed us to do some amazing things. On the other hand, an asteroid could hit the earth next week. Furthere, there is evidence that life itself tends to create its own executioner...hundreds of millions of years ago, a critical threshold in oxygen concentration in the atmosphere and the ocean was reached, resulting in a die-off of 95% of the species on the earth. The problem was directly caused by the metabolic processes of plants. Other extinction events may have biological causes, too. In that sense, the current problems being caused by humanity are not terribly different from what's happened in the past. Eventually, in each of those earlier cases, a new set point for the critical system in question evolved, resulting in some degree of oscillation around the critical number. If current models of stellar evolution are correct, the Sun's brightness will double over the next two billion years or so, eventually overwhelming the homeostatic systems which exist on the Earth. After about two billion years, the oceans will start boiling off, and all eukaryotic life will probably come to an end. Two billion years is an awfully long time from the perspective of a human life, but in cosmic terms, it's a blink of an eye.

                I am neither comforted nor disturbed by this fact. I would be lying if I said that my own death causes me no fear, and I'd rather not be around if and when an extinction event happens. All the same, it is important to think about stuff like this, and study it. I once saw the Dalai Llama on television saying that by spending a few minutes meditating on our eventual death, we bring our lives into greater focus, and paradoxically, can give our lives more meaning. Similarly, I think by coming to terms with our species' eventual extinction, and contemplating that fact, we may be able to invest more meaning into our collective lives. How much we can actually *do* about it remains an open question.

                BC





                -----Original Message-----
                From: Janos Biro <janosbirozero@...>
                To: ishmael_discussion@yahoogroups.com
                Sent: Thu, Apr 8, 2010 11:43 am
                Subject: Re: [ishmael_discussion] DQ controversy


                BC
                You are right about technology, I was just clarifying what I mean when I use
                hat word.
                About Lorenz, sure, again, I did not said Lorenz originated this idea, only
                hat he states it in a very, very similar way as it is stated in Ishmael.
                ut it could be just coincidence, no big deal.
                "Or are you arguing that the products of human intellect are somehow
                ivorced from physics or biology?"
                You are arguing that human cultures are products of natural selection. That
                ould only be truth if biological laws could be applied as they are to
                on-biological phenomenons. Social sciences are not completely separated
                rom natural sciences, but they are still very different things, with very
                ifferent approaches. The tendency to treat cultures as living beings is no
                onger suported by today anthropology, for example. Comparisions can be
                ade, however, in a limited context. One have to believe in universal
                volution theory to believe in what you are affirming.
                Does "cursing and blessing" imply moral judgment? If so, Daniel Quinn has a
                oral judgment of civilization, since he calls it a blessing, and I guess
                shmael states that the fall of Adam is a moral explanation of a observed
                ehavior.
                Does the realization that human life is meaningless to the universe comforts
                ou? Really, what's the point in making anything of Quinn's ideas, if the
                nly real thing we can have is a like enjoyment while we are still alive? I
                ean, if happiness is all that matters, then we go back to humanism. Then
                verything Ishmael said was thinking in human happiness... Does that makes
                ense to you?
                Janos
                2010/4/8 <wclary5424@...>
                >




                -----Original Message-----
                From: Janos Biro <janosbirozero@... <janosbirozero%40gmail.com>>
                To: ishmael_discussion@yahoogroups.com<ishmael_discussion%40yahoogroups.com>
                Sent: Wed, Apr 7, 2010 11:58 am
                Subject: Re: [ishmael_discussion] DQ controversy

                Janos wrote:

                >>In Konrad Lorenz book you can find the idea of Cain and Abel in almost
                the
                same terms that we find in Ishmael. This could a coincidence, right. But
                Quinn not only never cited Lorenz, he claimed to be saying something
                original.<<

                I don't know that he claimed anything of the sort. And as I mentioned
                earlier, the idea didn't originate
                with Lorenz either. It doesn't necessarily mean that anybody stole it from
                the others.

                >>Civilization is not simply a physical fact! Techno-logy is the logos of
                technique. It is not simply any use of tools, because other primates also
                use tools.<<

                And so do crows. That's beside the point. In my field, we generally define
                technology as the use of
                knowledge, skill or tools to solve problems. By that definition, Folsom
                points and atlatls are technology.
                The etymology of the word is interesting but also beside the point.

                >>Civilization can't change itself radically, in the same manner that your
                wife can't change who you truly are, but your problem will never be who you
                truly are. The same cannot be affirmed of civilization.<<

                >>The terms "curse" and "bless" do not indicate a moral judgment. On the
                contrary, denying any kind of moral position is already a absolutist moral
                judgment: "it is absolutely WRONG to make moral judgments about
                civilization". Great, that's all we need to be perceive something as
                unequivocal. What you are doing is reproducing the ideas of biological
                determination in society, saying that our culture is a result of natural
                adaptation. People who defend that position often say that "New York City
                is
                just as natural as an anthill or a slime mold.". This is absurd. A anthill
                took a long time "negotiating" it's space in the environment, becoming a
                indistinguishable part of it. A city is nothing like it, it is primary
                result of rapid invasion, it is a human product made by cuttings in the
                natural landscape.<<

                New York City is "natural" because it is part of the physical universe.
                IMHO, human cultures are products of natural selection, just like anthills
                and slime molds.
                Or are you arguing that the products of human intellect are somehow
                divorced from
                physics or biology?

                And of course, "cursing and blessing" imply moral judgment.

                There are those who would argue that a smoker has two choices: maintain his
                current course (the habit of smoking) until disaster, or stop smoking. Is
                that too narrow? Of course, if think that smoking is not a problem. But if
                it is, then it is not a matter of 'narrowing' a choice. The problem is that
                Quinn sticks with the idea that we can have the cake and eat it at the same
                time. This is the belief of the technocracy. You are showing me that Quinn
                managed to destroy everything that could evolve to something good in
                Ishmael. If the problem is reduced to the matter of making a transition
                from
                civilization to a (materially) sustainable way of living, then our hope is
                lost.

                I'm not particularly interested in defending Quinn's ideas. I found his
                books thought provoking, but I am not by any means any kind of disciple.
                My observations are based on a couple of decades of researching and
                thinking about these issues.
                Since none of can run controlled experiments in history, the best we can do
                is make comparisons from the evidence at hand. I like to model human
                cultures in thermodynamic terms, and the scholar whose work I come back to
                again and again is Joseph Tainter, whose Collapse of Complex Societies, as
                well as
                his many papers on similar subjects which I heartily recommend to all and
                sundry.

                It is a fact that there have been sedentary agricultural cultures that have
                lasted hundreds of years without destroying their resource base, but there
                is
                no guarantee that the lessons of the cultures I've studied can be applied
                to ours. We are clearly far beyond the Earth's carrying capacity for human
                beings
                absent massive energy subsidies whose limits are approaching rapidly.

                If civilization collapses, there is a possibility that homo sapiens will
                cease being a reproductively viable species, but I imagine that one way or
                another
                the species will survive, even if hundreds of millions of people do not
                once the sh*t begins to hit the fan. But overshoot can always lead to
                population
                collapse.

                Sometimes when I'm feeling particularly morbid, I sometimes ponder the
                question of whether our kind of intelligence may be, in the long run,
                an evolutionary dead end...kind of like a species of bacteria that
                flourishes for a short while, but dies out when it kills off all the
                potential hosts in its ecosystem. Even before the coming of civilization,
                homo sapiens seemed to be pretty good at destroying other species. The
                question of human responsibility for the killing off of mega fauna in North
                America is controversial, but the fossil record indicates that similar
                die-offs happened nearly every time that humans entered a new territory for
                the
                first time, and usually in a relatively short period of time, by biological
                standards.

                In any event, species come and go. Life will continue for at least the next
                couple of billion years regardless of whether we're here or not. At some
                point,
                as the Sun continues to grow hotter and brighter, every species in the
                world will die out. But that's another discussion for another time

                BC


                Janos

                2010/4/7 <wclary5424@... <wclary5424%40aol.com>>

                >
                >
                >
                > It seems to me that you're disappointed because Quinn's evolution as a
                > writer/thinker does not match your preferences. But as I said before,
                nobody
                > is obligated to be a disciple of any author. I'm certainly not
                >
                > A few other observations:
                >
                > In broad terms, Ishmael's interpretation of the Cain/Abel story predates
                > Lorenz. I first heard it 40-odd years ago as an undergraduate taking an
                > introductory religious studies class, and it's at least 70 years older
                than
                > that. If memory serves me correctly, my instructor cited a late 19th
                Century
                > German Biblical scholar as his source. Ishmael doesn't cite a source, but
                > most novels lack footnotes...
                >
                > The question of who :"invented" technology is an interesting one. My own
                > view is that since even the earliest members of the genus homo has
                developed
                > a toolkit, technology is an inherent trait of the human genome.
                > Categorically speaking, human individuals and groups invent various
                > technologies, but the meta-idea of technology is an "invention" of
                natural
                > selection, IMHO.
                >
                > In paragraph 6, you mention that Quinn calls himself a "lover" of
                > civilization. One can love something and be critical of it at the same
                time.
                > (My wife is certainly critical of me...) Personally I kind of like things
                > like the Internet, the drugs that help me regulate my cholesterol and
                > moveable type. At the same time, I also understand that our use of these
                > technologies come at a cost.
                >
                > Whether civilization is a "curse" is an uninteresting question to me,
                since
                > I don't think that making moral judgments about physical facts is
                > particularly useful. The progenitors of our current civilization began
                the
                > process that led to our current situation in order to solve problems that
                > they faced. As an evolutionary adaptation, it has helped human DNA to
                spread
                > all over this planet, and thus up to a certain point, it has been
                > successful. If it is going to fall apart, it will be because it has
                either
                > overshot the earth's carrying capacity, or in some other way no longer
                fits
                > environmental conditions, not because it is good or evil. New York City
                is
                > just as natural as an anthill or a slime mold.
                >
                > There are those who would argue that humanity has two choices: maintain
                our
                > current course until disaster strikes, or return to the paleolithic. I
                would
                > argue that this is too narrow. The single most interesting issue in all
                of
                > this, to me, is how a high-energy, unsustainable culture like ours can
                > evolve into a lower energy, more thermodynamically secure, but still
                > sedentary culture. I would further argue that one can see inklings of how
                to
                > carry that transition off by studying the aftermath of the collapse of
                > Anasazi culture in the four corners area of the US Southwest, and what
                > changes where made by the various Pueblo peoples in response to changing
                > environmental conditions. Another interesting model might be the
                development
                > of some of the Tairona peoples northern South America after the arrival
                of
                > the Spanish.
                >
                > BC
                >
                > -----Original Message-----
                > From: Janos Biro <janosbirozero@... <janosbirozero%40gmail.com><janosbirozero%
                40gmail.com>>
                > To: ishmael_discussion@yahoogroups.com<ishmael_discussion%40yahoogroups.com>
                <ishmael_discussion%40yahoogroups.com>
                > Sent: Wed, Apr 7, 2010 7:51 am
                > Subject: Re: [ishmael_discussion] DQ controversy
                >
                > Hi,
                > I've tried to translate some of my observations about this subject. I
                > eed to tell you all that I am not trying to prove anything, it is
                > ust an impression I have. Sorry about the way I wrote before. I will
                > ot comment about the book being out of print, because, thinking
                > gain, this is not relevant now. But just for you to know, the book
                > shmael could not be printed for many years, apparently because of a
                > ankrupt. In this time Daniel Quinn also became unavailable, because
                > f a illness.
                > It is possible that Quinn is really the author of Ishmael, but if he
                > s, and just changed his ideas, then he changed A LOT, as I will try
                > o show you now.
                > About Humanism, I don't know if this word is so clear as it is in
                > ortuguese, but I mean something like what is described in the English
                > ikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Humanism. A good book that
                > hows why Humanism is a problem of civilization is "Straw Dogs:
                > houghts on Humans and Other Animals", by John Gray, a book which is,
                > owever, very similar to Ishmael.
                > Sorry about the way I write, because I have difficulties thinking in
                > English.
                > Here are some things to think about:
                > 1. Ishmael received the greatest sum of money ever given to a single
                > ork of fiction. You can see this here:
                > ttp://www.friendsofishmael.org/about/why_ishmael.shtml. This is a
                > reat motivation for ghost-writing.
                > 2. The previous works of Daniel Quinn do not resemble Ishmael in any way.
                > 3. The idea about Cain being the agricultural people is in a much
                > lder book by Konrad Lorenz, named ‘Der Abbau des Menschlichen’ (that
                > pparently never had an English version), which is a critique of ‘our
                > ulture’, a term that in this book means ‘civilization’, much like in
                > shmael. The author wrote ‘The foundations of ethology’, the study of
                > he human ethos by comparison with other animals behavior. Many
                > thologists observed the gorillas. The author of Ishmael probably knew
                > bout ethology, because he use a gorilla that observes man, and uses
                > any terms that Lorenz uses in his book, with the same meaning. But
                > aniel Quinn doesn't seem to know anything about this.
                > 4. In Ishmael, it is clearly stated that technology is a product of
                > ivilization, and so it is part of the problem: “The settlement lead
                > o the division of work, the division of work to technology,
                > echnology to commerce, commerce to math, language, writing, science
                > nd all else”. This was all a consequence of a culture based in
                > ccumulation and expansion, all inventions of civilization. In My
                > shmael, Quinn says: "You know from experience that at this point,
                > any people think I'm thinking about a future in which technology has
                > one. For you it's too easy to blame all the problems in technology.
                > owever, humans are born with a vocation for technology, and are born
                > ith a vocation for linguistics". He claims that the readers of
                > shmael "got him wrong", all of them. The author of Ishmael listed
                > technology’ as a problem, quite literally. While in story of B, Quinn
                > ays that technology, agriculture and even civilization are not our
                > nventions at all. He turns a absolute term into a relative one, such
                > s the distinction between agriculture and totalitarian agriculture.
                > 5. Quinn may be turning the discourse of Ishmael to another direction,
                > y accusing even the most logical interpretations of what Ishmael says
                > f being wrong or incomplete. He compares ‘unaware’ readers with the
                > nabomber, for example, in a very rude way. He also emptied any
                > piritual message in Ishmael. Also, he turned away from the ethical
                > iew. He said not to be interested in ethics, but in what "works",
                > ccepting a kind of social and biological functionalism, which Ishmael
                > riticizes. “New Tribal Ventures” is also completely unlike anything
                > ou can derive from reading Ishmael.
                > 6. In Beyond Civilization he says he is a lover of civilization. ‘My
                > shmael’ implies that Lomax could not fully understand Ishmael. Looks
                > ike “My Ishmael” is really the Ishmael of Quinn, while the original
                > shmael is not. I am not alone in thinking that Quinn is subverting
                > he words of Ishmael in a very subtle way. The author of Ishmael does
                > ot look like a lover of civilization. For a comparison, read John
                > erzan, for example.
                > 7. Quinn says “I do not consider civilization as a curse, but as bless
                > hat people should have the freedom to let go”. He is not saying
                > ivilization is a problem itself, but instead that we should ‘evolve’
                > o a new level of society, that would be BETTER FOR US. But what is
                > ur curse, according to Ishmael? It is the original sin: to think we
                > an better our lives by doing what we want, going out to get what WE
                > hink WE NEED, instead of obeying God’s law. Quinn subverted the whole
                > dea of “living in the hand of God”, which is a theological argument
                > hat precedes him, and the author of Ishmael probably knew it, since
                > e does not redefine it.
                > 8. Ishmael is not about “creating a new mythology”, but is rather
                > bout something of the past which has been forgotten. Quinn looks at
                > he past in different way. He thinks man has created itself in the
                > ast, and he is looking for the tools to recreate human society in his
                > wn liking. Quinn’s philosophy seems to be derived from the
                > enaissance and the Enlightenment. There is an apology to the
                > nventive spirit of man, capable of creating itself.
                > I am not trying to debunk Daniel Quinn. He is a good writer. I lived
                > y life according to this ideas for about 10 years. But I have made
                > hese observations, and I no longer support his ideas. I have
                > ifferent ideas now, derived from a different tradition. I do not have
                > ny proof that Daniel Quinn is not the author of Ishmael, this is just
                > guess based in an inconclusive set of evidences. That's a
                > upposition. I have no interest in hurting Quinn's image of anything
                > ike that.
                > I’m still working with the critique of civilization. I have a
                > iscussion group and some articles published, all in Portuguese. I am
                > A in Philosophy, Post-graduating in Theology and heading to a Master
                > egree in Sociology.
                > If I had to recommend a book to a person who wants to understand our
                > ulture in a critical way, I would recommend Zygmunt Bauman, not
                > aniel Quinn. It is deeper and clearer. That’s it. I hope you try to
                > nderstand what I’m saying before throwing rocks.
                > Janos
                > --
                > ttp://janosbiro.rg3.net
                >
                >
                > -----------------------------------
                > ~~~~~
                > ollow Mike (the ISHMAEL List Owner) on Twitter:
                > ttp://twitter.com/mikedavis50322
                > ~~~~Yahoo! Groups Links
                > Individual Email | Traditional
                > http://docs.yahoo.com/info/terms/
                >
                > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                >
                >
                >

                --
                http://janosbiro.rg3.net


                [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]

                ------------------------------------


                ~~~~~
                Follow Mike (the ISHMAEL List Owner) on Twitter:
                http://twitter.com/mikedavis50322
                ~~~~~Yahoo! Groups Links


                [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]




                --
                ttp://janosbiro.rg3.net

                Non-text portions of this message have been removed]

                ------------------------------------
                ~~~~~
                ollow Mike (the ISHMAEL List Owner) on Twitter:
                ttp://twitter.com/mikedavis50322
                ~~~~Yahoo! Groups Links
                Individual Email | Traditional
                http://docs.yahoo.com/info/terms/



                [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
              • Stephen Figgins
                ... Sure, let s not get insulting. Or any more insulting, I guess. I meant to say that because the idea Quinn presents is foreign to us, people read many
                Message 7 of 26 , Apr 8, 2010
                • 0 Attachment
                  On Thu, Apr 8, 2010 at 10:02 AM, Janos Biro <janosbirozero@...> wrote:

                  > We must take care not to assume that everyone that doesn't agree with
                  > us is somehow being deceived by civilization, like we were above it.
                  >

                  Sure, let's not get insulting. Or any more insulting, I guess.

                  I meant to say that because the idea Quinn presents is foreign to us, people
                  read many other things into it, trying to make it fit what they know. They
                  don't end up really getting it. That isn't unusual.

                  And yes, Quinn did think people would pick up the ideas and spread them and
                  even like them better for what they did for them once they understood them.
                  But he didn't necessarily believe they would be easy to understand. Look at
                  the difficulty all his protagonists have understanding them. It's not easy
                  to become B.

                  The sensation
                  > that you now know the truth that nobody else understands is common
                  > after reading this kind of book. It is also common to say that
                  > everyone who criticizes it is dominated by the very line of thought
                  > that the author is exposing as a lie. That's why a dogmatic Marxist
                  > will call any adversary a Capitalist.
                  >

                  Ishmael does have this appeal. Kind of like Ayn Rand's books. New readers
                  commonly think they have some secret knowledge, the one right
                  interpretation. I'm with you there.. though I would disagree that those
                  who believe that way really understand Quinn.


                  Quinn has a position, this means he opposes something, and defends
                  > something else. But he tries to escape criticism by saying it is
                  > "civilized" to have distinction between good and bad, right and wrong.
                  > It is just another way to say it is wrong to have moral discernment.
                  > But thats a moral discernment too, not matter if it is based on myth
                  > or science or philosophy. Theres no human culture without moral
                  > distinctions.


                  Actually, Quinn doesn't say it's civilized or even wrong to have this
                  discernment. He says arguing the moral or even ethical right and wrong of
                  it isn't important or helpful. It has no meaning for us here. We might as
                  well argue whether it is fat or thin. The important part is that
                  civilization cannot continue on it's current course. Pick your metaphor,
                  the taker thunderbolt is in free fall, the ship is sinking, whatever. We
                  need to find another way to live if we want to survive.

                  If we make a transition to a materially sustainable way of living,
                  > haven't we essentially solved the problem? No, we solved A problem.
                  > What problem? The material problem. Is civilization a material
                  > problem? I don't think so.


                  I guess I'm a materialist here. Or primarily one. I do believe there is
                  room to find connection, belonging, well being, along the way. I believe
                  opening up to the world, to the richness of the universe beyond the merely
                  human, increases our compassion, and I like that. While Quinn has written
                  about how our current civilized religions reflect our story, what he
                  envisions taking its place isn't completely lacking in things spiritual.
                  There is certainly a kind of animistic bent to what Quinn writes. His book
                  Providence covers some of his religious/spiritual background. Tales of Adam
                  and Story of B both have a spirituality to them.

                  Ultimately though, he sees our problem in how we think about the world, and
                  how we go about enacting that thinking. It isn't even necessarily that we
                  have a *bad* way to think or to live. The world could support millions of
                  people enacting this story. It just can't support billions of them. It
                  has a few deadly memes that we need to address if we want to survive.

                  Many people do want an answer to our sustainability problem. Civilized
                  people are working toward that end, both in science and in changes in our
                  culture. Our mounting problems are forcing that change. I firmly believe
                  that it will change, that it is changing, and that our interactions with
                  others is helping that change along. The change is slow now, maybe too
                  slow, but I expect it will pick up speed. Not everyone changing things
                  will have heard of Quinn. Quinn isn't the only source.

                  Even without understanding Quinn, the story is changing as well. Faith in
                  some of those deadly memes is eroding. People are letting go of the notion
                  of One True Way to Live, and looking for other ways to live. They are
                  letting go of the idea that there is something special about humans. They
                  are accepting that the world was not made for us. I see this in articles, I
                  hear it from those around me.


                  What's the meaning of "story", in Ishmael? We are enacting a story,
                  > says Ishmael, because we are following the course of a world view. But
                  > who made this world view? We made it out from nothing?



                  According to Ishmael, we all follow a story, Takers and Leavers alike. They
                  are just different stories. Those stories evolved with us, in our minds, as
                  a people, and changed as our culture changed, in turn, changes in the story
                  changed those enacting it. It happened without our even being aware of it.
                  They evolved from nothing, or maybe from ideas and a capacity for thought.

                  I don't know to what extent awareness of the story gives us control over
                  it. It gives us some. We know how to affect ideas. We tell new stories.
                  We write books and articles. We make persuasive arguments. We deliver
                  passionate speeches. We make art and song. We make movies and
                  advertisements. We lead by example. We expose the deadly memes, and let
                  people invent something new to fill their place. That may not make us all
                  powerful, but it is still very powerful.

                  Why did we get into such a terrible story? Well, it seemed like a good idea
                  at the time. For 8 thousand years or so you have to admit it was a very
                  winning story. Winning for some anyway, but their rising fortunes helped
                  all of our fortunes rise somewhat. It's a very compelling story too, about
                  our heroic conquest over forces of chaos. It's still very compelling.
                  I'm not surprised that it became a single dominant story covering the entire
                  world. In a way we came to speak this one language (one story), and
                  civilization is our tower of Babel!

                  As for meaning. Who we are, why we are here and such. I expect our stories
                  will include that, but it won't be one answer. We need many different
                  stories, not just one story. We need many different new ways to live. Ways
                  to live that are appropriate to the land on which we live, and just as
                  varied.

                  I feel confident that if we manage to reach sustainability, we will have
                  also find new understandings of spirit along the way. Those particular
                  questions are a part of our human nature. Quinn gives some glimpses of
                  other ways to look at spirit, (in story of B and Tales of Adam in
                  particular) but he isn't peddling a single new story, or any one true
                  understanding of spirit. If Christianity survives it will change as
                  well. Maybe it already is. Liberation Theology for instance, or Matthew
                  Fox's Creation Spirituality.

                  Summing up: our material problems cannot be fixed by miracles of science
                  alone. Our problem is still cultural, it's in the deadly memes that keep us
                  living in unsustainable ways. For us to survive, those will change as
                  well. Quinn believes that seeing our current story can help us break away
                  from those deadly memes and create new stories. Lots of new stories. As we
                  enact those new stories our culture will fracture and change. People will
                  be able to live sustainably when they do not all live the same way.


                  --
                  Stephen


                  [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                • Janos Biro
                  Hi, I am not a materialist. Even though I think evolution is a very useful theory, I realize it s just a theory. It just INTERPRETS reality. My perception is
                  Message 8 of 26 , Apr 8, 2010
                  • 0 Attachment
                    Hi,

                    I am not a materialist. Even though I think evolution is a very useful
                    theory, I realize it's just a theory. It just INTERPRETS reality. My
                    perception is limited, but I'm capable of perceive that reality is more than
                    what meets the eye, so to speak. Human cultures can be viewed as a emergent
                    phenomena, but it doesn't mean they are. Evolution is just a mode of
                    explanation, a good way to explain the biological world in the absence of
                    the metaphysical field. What lies underneath the visible phenomena has a
                    reality too.

                    From where comes the belief that friendship is a good thing? Survival of the
                    'friendest'?

                    I must agree with that there's no physical evidence that natural life has a
                    propose. There's no visible teleology in evolution. But, if this is truth,
                    then how could we create this out of nothing, and why would we need to do
                    so? How can we think of something that can't possible exist?

                    If the universe is neutral to us, then how could us, a part of the universe,
                    not be neutral to it? On the other hand, if friendship and love can spark
                    out of nothing in the universe, why to think it only sparked in human
                    existence, and did not existed before human phenomenon?

                    This belief, that the universe is neutral towards our life, is a modern
                    belief. It is inexistent in any of the cultures previous to civilization.
                    Humans have always thought about something above this existence. Now, if all
                    humans before us were wrong, from where did that came? What use can hope
                    have if, in ultimate instance, we are floating erratically in a sea of
                    chaos? Nothing makes sense if there's no final orientation. Why are you
                    debating with me? What's the finality, where does that leads?

                    I was an atheist from 18 to 28 years old. I found a kind of comfort in this
                    absence of meaning, in the idea that we could create our own meaning in any
                    way we prefer. I love biology. Natural sciences explain a lot, but they are
                    limited by the things we can experiment objectively. Even with all the
                    knowledge of the world, there's is still this emptiness, this fear of
                    letting something that should actually means nothing go away. Why? S.
                    Agustin said that the empty in the human heart has the size of God.

                    For now, it's good enough if we could question materialist views.

                    Janos

                    2010/4/8 <wclary5424@...>

                    >
                    >
                    >
                    > Janos,
                    >
                    > I am a materialist (in the philosophical sense of the term.) I realize that
                    > scientific materialism is only a metaphysical assumption, but it is a
                    > tremendously useful one. It is also the most parsimonious explanation of the
                    > universe. (FWIW, I once spent several weeks on a thought experiment in which
                    > I tried to devise a form of monistic idealism based upon the idea that
                    > consciousness is logically prior to matter, but decided that I lacked the
                    > specialized knowledge of physics necessary to finally make it work. I tend
                    > to spend time on such flights of fancy every now and again.) As a
                    > materialist, I believe that human cultures are emergent phenomena based in
                    > biology, and, thus, are products of natural selection.
                    >
                    > Culture is one of our species' primary evolutionary advantages. Culture is
                    > what gives us the ability to survive in so many ecological niches. The
                    > variety found in human cultures, present and past, is truly astonishing, but
                    > all cultures are subject to selection pressure, and there is thus a limit on
                    > the breadth of variety.
                    >
                    > **
                    >
                    > As for the significance of human life--its significance is something that
                    > we determine ourselves. One of the things that I believe makes life
                    > significant is to try to figure out how things work, along with family,
                    > friendship, art, music, literature, and so forth.
                    >
                    > Nature is a physical system. There is no compelling evidence that it has a
                    > purpose, and the question of where thta purpose might come from opens up
                    > several fragrant cans of worms. Albert Einstein is reputed to have said once
                    > that one of the most important questions that we need to address is whether
                    > the Universe is friendly. (The quote is probably apocryphal.) I think the
                    > evidence show us that the Universe is neither hostile or friendly to human
                    > existence. On the one hand, it allows us to think some amazing thoughts, and
                    > it has allowed us to do some amazing things. On the other hand, an asteroid
                    > could hit the earth next week. Furthere, there is evidence that life itself
                    > tends to create its own executioner...hundreds of millions of years ago, a
                    > critical threshold in oxygen concentration in the atmosphere and the ocean
                    > was reached, resulting in a die-off of 95% of the species on the earth. The
                    > problem was directly caused by the metabolic processes of plants. Other
                    > extinction events may have biological causes, too. In that sense, the
                    > current problems being caused by humanity are not terribly different from
                    > what's happened in the past. Eventually, in each of those earlier cases, a
                    > new set point for the critical system in question evolved, resulting in some
                    > degree of oscillation around the critical number. If current models of
                    > stellar evolution are correct, the Sun's brightness will double over the
                    > next two billion years or so, eventually overwhelming the homeostatic
                    > systems which exist on the Earth. After about two billion years, the oceans
                    > will start boiling off, and all eukaryotic life will probably come to an
                    > end. Two billion years is an awfully long time from the perspective of a
                    > human life, but in cosmic terms, it's a blink of an eye.
                    >
                    > I am neither comforted nor disturbed by this fact. I would be lying if I
                    > said that my own death causes me no fear, and I'd rather not be around if
                    > and when an extinction event happens. All the same, it is important to think
                    > about stuff like this, and study it. I once saw the Dalai Llama on
                    > television saying that by spending a few minutes meditating on our eventual
                    > death, we bring our lives into greater focus, and paradoxically, can give
                    > our lives more meaning. Similarly, I think by coming to terms with our
                    > species' eventual extinction, and contemplating that fact, we may be able to
                    > invest more meaning into our collective lives. How much we can actually *do*
                    > about it remains an open question.
                    >
                    >
                    > BC
                    >
                    > -----Original Message-----
                    > From: Janos Biro <janosbirozero@... <janosbirozero%40gmail.com>>
                    > To: ishmael_discussion@yahoogroups.com<ishmael_discussion%40yahoogroups.com>
                    > Sent: Thu, Apr 8, 2010 11:43 am
                    > Subject: Re: [ishmael_discussion] DQ controversy
                    >
                    > BC
                    > You are right about technology, I was just clarifying what I mean when I
                    > use
                    > hat word.
                    > About Lorenz, sure, again, I did not said Lorenz originated this idea, only
                    > hat he states it in a very, very similar way as it is stated in Ishmael.
                    > ut it could be just coincidence, no big deal.
                    > "Or are you arguing that the products of human intellect are somehow
                    > ivorced from physics or biology?"
                    > You are arguing that human cultures are products of natural selection. That
                    > ould only be truth if biological laws could be applied as they are to
                    > on-biological phenomenons. Social sciences are not completely separated
                    > rom natural sciences, but they are still very different things, with very
                    > ifferent approaches. The tendency to treat cultures as living beings is no
                    > onger suported by today anthropology, for example. Comparisions can be
                    > ade, however, in a limited context. One have to believe in universal
                    > volution theory to believe in what you are affirming.
                    > Does "cursing and blessing" imply moral judgment? If so, Daniel Quinn has a
                    > oral judgment of civilization, since he calls it a blessing, and I guess
                    > shmael states that the fall of Adam is a moral explanation of a observed
                    > ehavior.
                    > Does the realization that human life is meaningless to the universe
                    > comforts
                    > ou? Really, what's the point in making anything of Quinn's ideas, if the
                    > nly real thing we can have is a like enjoyment while we are still alive? I
                    > ean, if happiness is all that matters, then we go back to humanism. Then
                    > verything Ishmael said was thinking in human happiness... Does that makes
                    > ense to you?
                    > Janos
                    > 2010/4/8 <wclary5424@... <wclary5424%40aol.com>>
                    > >
                    >
                    > -----Original Message-----
                    > From: Janos Biro <janosbirozero@... <janosbirozero%40gmail.com><janosbirozero%
                    > 40gmail.com>>
                    > To: ishmael_discussion@yahoogroups.com<ishmael_discussion%40yahoogroups.com>
                    > <ishmael_discussion%40yahoogroups.com>
                    > Sent: Wed, Apr 7, 2010 11:58 am
                    > Subject: Re: [ishmael_discussion] DQ controversy
                    >
                    > Janos wrote:
                    >
                    > >>In Konrad Lorenz book you can find the idea of Cain and Abel in almost
                    > the
                    > same terms that we find in Ishmael. This could a coincidence, right. But
                    > Quinn not only never cited Lorenz, he claimed to be saying something
                    > original.<<
                    >
                    > I don't know that he claimed anything of the sort. And as I mentioned
                    > earlier, the idea didn't originate
                    > with Lorenz either. It doesn't necessarily mean that anybody stole it from
                    > the others.
                    >
                    > >>Civilization is not simply a physical fact! Techno-logy is the logos of
                    > technique. It is not simply any use of tools, because other primates also
                    > use tools.<<
                    >
                    > And so do crows. That's beside the point. In my field, we generally define
                    > technology as the use of
                    > knowledge, skill or tools to solve problems. By that definition, Folsom
                    > points and atlatls are technology.
                    > The etymology of the word is interesting but also beside the point.
                    >
                    > >>Civilization can't change itself radically, in the same manner that your
                    > wife can't change who you truly are, but your problem will never be who you
                    > truly are. The same cannot be affirmed of civilization.<<
                    >
                    > >>The terms "curse" and "bless" do not indicate a moral judgment. On the
                    > contrary, denying any kind of moral position is already a absolutist moral
                    > judgment: "it is absolutely WRONG to make moral judgments about
                    > civilization". Great, that's all we need to be perceive something as
                    > unequivocal. What you are doing is reproducing the ideas of biological
                    > determination in society, saying that our culture is a result of natural
                    > adaptation. People who defend that position often say that "New York City
                    > is
                    > just as natural as an anthill or a slime mold.". This is absurd. A anthill
                    > took a long time "negotiating" it's space in the environment, becoming a
                    > indistinguishable part of it. A city is nothing like it, it is primary
                    > result of rapid invasion, it is a human product made by cuttings in the
                    > natural landscape.<<
                    >
                    > New York City is "natural" because it is part of the physical universe.
                    > IMHO, human cultures are products of natural selection, just like anthills
                    > and slime molds.
                    > Or are you arguing that the products of human intellect are somehow
                    > divorced from
                    > physics or biology?
                    >
                    > And of course, "cursing and blessing" imply moral judgment.
                    >
                    > There are those who would argue that a smoker has two choices: maintain his
                    > current course (the habit of smoking) until disaster, or stop smoking. Is
                    > that too narrow? Of course, if think that smoking is not a problem. But if
                    > it is, then it is not a matter of 'narrowing' a choice. The problem is that
                    > Quinn sticks with the idea that we can have the cake and eat it at the same
                    > time. This is the belief of the technocracy. You are showing me that Quinn
                    > managed to destroy everything that could evolve to something good in
                    > Ishmael. If the problem is reduced to the matter of making a transition
                    > from
                    > civilization to a (materially) sustainable way of living, then our hope is
                    > lost.
                    >
                    > I'm not particularly interested in defending Quinn's ideas. I found his
                    > books thought provoking, but I am not by any means any kind of disciple.
                    > My observations are based on a couple of decades of researching and
                    > thinking about these issues.
                    > Since none of can run controlled experiments in history, the best we can do
                    > is make comparisons from the evidence at hand. I like to model human
                    > cultures in thermodynamic terms, and the scholar whose work I come back to
                    > again and again is Joseph Tainter, whose Collapse of Complex Societies, as
                    > well as
                    > his many papers on similar subjects which I heartily recommend to all and
                    > sundry.
                    >
                    > It is a fact that there have been sedentary agricultural cultures that have
                    > lasted hundreds of years without destroying their resource base, but there
                    > is
                    > no guarantee that the lessons of the cultures I've studied can be applied
                    > to ours. We are clearly far beyond the Earth's carrying capacity for human
                    > beings
                    > absent massive energy subsidies whose limits are approaching rapidly.
                    >
                    > If civilization collapses, there is a possibility that homo sapiens will
                    > cease being a reproductively viable species, but I imagine that one way or
                    > another
                    > the species will survive, even if hundreds of millions of people do not
                    > once the sh*t begins to hit the fan. But overshoot can always lead to
                    > population
                    > collapse.
                    >
                    > Sometimes when I'm feeling particularly morbid, I sometimes ponder the
                    > question of whether our kind of intelligence may be, in the long run,
                    > an evolutionary dead end...kind of like a species of bacteria that
                    > flourishes for a short while, but dies out when it kills off all the
                    > potential hosts in its ecosystem. Even before the coming of civilization,
                    > homo sapiens seemed to be pretty good at destroying other species. The
                    > question of human responsibility for the killing off of mega fauna in North
                    > America is controversial, but the fossil record indicates that similar
                    > die-offs happened nearly every time that humans entered a new territory for
                    > the
                    > first time, and usually in a relatively short period of time, by biological
                    > standards.
                    >
                    > In any event, species come and go. Life will continue for at least the next
                    > couple of billion years regardless of whether we're here or not. At some
                    > point,
                    > as the Sun continues to grow hotter and brighter, every species in the
                    > world will die out. But that's another discussion for another time
                    >
                    > BC
                    >
                    > Janos
                    >
                    > 2010/4/7 <wclary5424@... <wclary5424%40aol.com> <wclary5424%40aol.com
                    > >>
                    >
                    >
                    > >
                    > >
                    > >
                    > > It seems to me that you're disappointed because Quinn's evolution as a
                    > > writer/thinker does not match your preferences. But as I said before,
                    > nobody
                    > > is obligated to be a disciple of any author. I'm certainly not
                    > >
                    > > A few other observations:
                    > >
                    > > In broad terms, Ishmael's interpretation of the Cain/Abel story predates
                    > > Lorenz. I first heard it 40-odd years ago as an undergraduate taking an
                    > > introductory religious studies class, and it's at least 70 years older
                    > than
                    > > that. If memory serves me correctly, my instructor cited a late 19th
                    > Century
                    > > German Biblical scholar as his source. Ishmael doesn't cite a source, but
                    > > most novels lack footnotes...
                    > >
                    > > The question of who :"invented" technology is an interesting one. My own
                    > > view is that since even the earliest members of the genus homo has
                    > developed
                    > > a toolkit, technology is an inherent trait of the human genome.
                    > > Categorically speaking, human individuals and groups invent various
                    > > technologies, but the meta-idea of technology is an "invention" of
                    > natural
                    > > selection, IMHO.
                    > >
                    > > In paragraph 6, you mention that Quinn calls himself a "lover" of
                    > > civilization. One can love something and be critical of it at the same
                    > time.
                    > > (My wife is certainly critical of me...) Personally I kind of like things
                    > > like the Internet, the drugs that help me regulate my cholesterol and
                    > > moveable type. At the same time, I also understand that our use of these
                    > > technologies come at a cost.
                    > >
                    > > Whether civilization is a "curse" is an uninteresting question to me,
                    > since
                    > > I don't think that making moral judgments about physical facts is
                    > > particularly useful. The progenitors of our current civilization began
                    > the
                    > > process that led to our current situation in order to solve problems that
                    > > they faced. As an evolutionary adaptation, it has helped human DNA to
                    > spread
                    > > all over this planet, and thus up to a certain point, it has been
                    > > successful. If it is going to fall apart, it will be because it has
                    > either
                    > > overshot the earth's carrying capacity, or in some other way no longer
                    > fits
                    > > environmental conditions, not because it is good or evil. New York City
                    > is
                    > > just as natural as an anthill or a slime mold.
                    > >
                    > > There are those who would argue that humanity has two choices: maintain
                    > our
                    > > current course until disaster strikes, or return to the paleolithic. I
                    > would
                    > > argue that this is too narrow. The single most interesting issue in all
                    > of
                    > > this, to me, is how a high-energy, unsustainable culture like ours can
                    > > evolve into a lower energy, more thermodynamically secure, but still
                    > > sedentary culture. I would further argue that one can see inklings of how
                    > to
                    > > carry that transition off by studying the aftermath of the collapse of
                    > > Anasazi culture in the four corners area of the US Southwest, and what
                    > > changes where made by the various Pueblo peoples in response to changing
                    > > environmental conditions. Another interesting model might be the
                    > development
                    > > of some of the Tairona peoples northern South America after the arrival
                    > of
                    > > the Spanish.
                    > >
                    > > BC
                    > >
                    > > -----Original Message-----
                    > > From: Janos Biro <janosbirozero@... <janosbirozero%40gmail.com><janosbirozero%
                    > 40gmail.com><janosbirozero%
                    > 40gmail.com>>
                    > > To: ishmael_discussion@yahoogroups.com<ishmael_discussion%40yahoogroups.com>
                    > <ishmael_discussion%40yahoogroups.com>
                    > <ishmael_discussion%40yahoogroups.com>
                    > > Sent: Wed, Apr 7, 2010 7:51 am
                    > > Subject: Re: [ishmael_discussion] DQ controversy
                    > >
                    > > Hi,
                    > > I've tried to translate some of my observations about this subject. I
                    > > eed to tell you all that I am not trying to prove anything, it is
                    > > ust an impression I have. Sorry about the way I wrote before. I will
                    > > ot comment about the book being out of print, because, thinking
                    > > gain, this is not relevant now. But just for you to know, the book
                    > > shmael could not be printed for many years, apparently because of a
                    > > ankrupt. In this time Daniel Quinn also became unavailable, because
                    > > f a illness.
                    > > It is possible that Quinn is really the author of Ishmael, but if he
                    > > s, and just changed his ideas, then he changed A LOT, as I will try
                    > > o show you now.
                    > > About Humanism, I don't know if this word is so clear as it is in
                    > > ortuguese, but I mean something like what is described in the English
                    > > ikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Humanism. A good book that
                    > > hows why Humanism is a problem of civilization is "Straw Dogs:
                    > > houghts on Humans and Other Animals", by John Gray, a book which is,
                    > > owever, very similar to Ishmael.
                    > > Sorry about the way I write, because I have difficulties thinking in
                    > > English.
                    > > Here are some things to think about:
                    > > 1. Ishmael received the greatest sum of money ever given to a single
                    > > ork of fiction. You can see this here:
                    > > ttp://www.friendsofishmael.org/about/why_ishmael.shtml. This is a
                    > > reat motivation for ghost-writing.
                    > > 2. The previous works of Daniel Quinn do not resemble Ishmael in any way.
                    > > 3. The idea about Cain being the agricultural people is in a much
                    > > lder book by Konrad Lorenz, named �Der Abbau des Menschlichen� (that
                    > > pparently never had an English version), which is a critique of �our
                    > > ulture�, a term that in this book means �civilization�, much like in
                    > > shmael. The author wrote �The foundations of ethology�, the study of
                    > > he human ethos by comparison with other animals behavior. Many
                    > > thologists observed the gorillas. The author of Ishmael probably knew
                    > > bout ethology, because he use a gorilla that observes man, and uses
                    > > any terms that Lorenz uses in his book, with the same meaning. But
                    > > aniel Quinn doesn't seem to know anything about this.
                    > > 4. In Ishmael, it is clearly stated that technology is a product of
                    > > ivilization, and so it is part of the problem: �The settlement lead
                    > > o the division of work, the division of work to technology,
                    > > echnology to commerce, commerce to math, language, writing, science
                    > > nd all else�. This was all a consequence of a culture based in
                    > > ccumulation and expansion, all inventions of civilization. In My
                    > > shmael, Quinn says: "You know from experience that at this point,
                    > > any people think I'm thinking about a future in which technology has
                    > > one. For you it's too easy to blame all the problems in technology.
                    > > owever, humans are born with a vocation for technology, and are born
                    > > ith a vocation for linguistics". He claims that the readers of
                    > > shmael "got him wrong", all of them. The author of Ishmael listed
                    > > technology� as a problem, quite literally. While in story of B, Quinn
                    > > ays that technology, agriculture and even civilization are not our
                    > > nventions at all. He turns a absolute term into a relative one, such
                    > > s the distinction between agriculture and totalitarian agriculture.
                    > > 5. Quinn may be turning the discourse of Ishmael to another direction,
                    > > y accusing even the most logical interpretations of what Ishmael says
                    > > f being wrong or incomplete. He compares �unaware� readers with the
                    > > nabomber, for example, in a very rude way. He also emptied any
                    > > piritual message in Ishmael. Also, he turned away from the ethical
                    > > iew. He said not to be interested in ethics, but in what "works",
                    > > ccepting a kind of social and biological functionalism, which Ishmael
                    > > riticizes. �New Tribal Ventures� is also completely unlike anything
                    > > ou can derive from reading Ishmael.
                    > > 6. In Beyond Civilization he says he is a lover of civilization. �My
                    > > shmael� implies that Lomax could not fully understand Ishmael. Looks
                    > > ike �My Ishmael� is really the Ishmael of Quinn, while the original
                    > > shmael is not. I am not alone in thinking that Quinn is subverting
                    > > he words of Ishmael in a very subtle way. The author of Ishmael does
                    > > ot look like a lover of civilization. For a comparison, read John
                    > > erzan, for example.
                    > > 7. Quinn says �I do not consider civilization as a curse, but as bless
                    > > hat people should have the freedom to let go�. He is not saying
                    > > ivilization is a problem itself, but instead that we should �evolve�
                    > > o a new level of society, that would be BETTER FOR US. But what is
                    > > ur curse, according to Ishmael? It is the original sin: to think we
                    > > an better our lives by doing what we want, going out to get what WE
                    > > hink WE NEED, instead of obeying God�s law. Quinn subverted the whole
                    > > dea of �living in the hand of God�, which is a theological argument
                    > > hat precedes him, and the author of Ishmael probably knew it, since
                    > > e does not redefine it.
                    > > 8. Ishmael is not about �creating a new mythology�, but is rather
                    > > bout something of the past which has been forgotten. Quinn looks at
                    > > he past in different way. He thinks man has created itself in the
                    > > ast, and he is looking for the tools to recreate human society in his
                    > > wn liking. Quinn�s philosophy seems to be derived from the
                    > > enaissance and the Enlightenment. There is an apology to the
                    > > nventive spirit of man, capable of creating itself.
                    > > I am not trying to debunk Daniel Quinn. He is a good writer. I lived
                    > > y life according to this ideas for about 10 years. But I have made
                    > > hese observations, and I no longer support his ideas. I have
                    > > ifferent ideas now, derived from a different tradition. I do not have
                    > > ny proof that Daniel Quinn is not the author of Ishmael, this is just
                    > > guess based in an inconclusive set of evidences. That's a
                    > > upposition. I have no interest in hurting Quinn's image of anything
                    > > ike that.
                    > > I�m still working with the critique of civilization. I have a
                    > > iscussion group and some articles published, all in Portuguese. I am
                    > > A in Philosophy, Post-graduating in Theology and heading to a Master
                    > > egree in Sociology.
                    > > If I had to recommend a book to a person who wants to understand our
                    > > ulture in a critical way, I would recommend Zygmunt Bauman, not
                    > > aniel Quinn. It is deeper and clearer. That�s it. I hope you try to
                    > > nderstand what I�m saying before throwing rocks.
                    > > Janos
                    > > --
                    > > ttp://janosbiro.rg3.net
                    > >
                    > >
                    > > -----------------------------------
                    > > ~~~~~
                    > > ollow Mike (the ISHMAEL List Owner) on Twitter:
                    > > ttp://twitter.com/mikedavis50322
                    > > ~~~~Yahoo! Groups Links
                    > > Individual Email | Traditional
                    > > http://docs.yahoo.com/info/terms/
                    > >
                    > > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                    > >
                    > >
                    > >
                    >
                    > --
                    > http://janosbiro.rg3.net
                    >
                    > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                    >
                    > ------------------------------------
                    >
                    > ~~~~~
                    > Follow Mike (the ISHMAEL List Owner) on Twitter:
                    > http://twitter.com/mikedavis50322
                    > ~~~~~Yahoo! Groups Links
                    >
                    > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                    >
                    > --
                    > ttp://janosbiro.rg3.net
                    >
                    > Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                    >
                    > ------------------------------------
                    > ~~~~~
                    > ollow Mike (the ISHMAEL List Owner) on Twitter:
                    > ttp://twitter.com/mikedavis50322
                    > ~~~~Yahoo! Groups Links
                    > Individual Email | Traditional
                    > http://docs.yahoo.com/info/terms/
                    >
                    > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                    >
                    >
                    >



                    --
                    http://janosbiro.rg3.net


                    [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                  • Janos Biro
                    Stephen, I realize is not easy to become B, I took me many years to understand Quinn. I was never enthusiastic about it, I took it seriously, with some
                    Message 9 of 26 , Apr 8, 2010
                    • 0 Attachment
                      Stephen,

                      I realize is not easy to become B, I took me many years to understand Quinn.
                      I was never enthusiastic about it, I took it seriously, with some
                      skepticism. That's why I read all the questions and answers, all the
                      articles, all interviews, all oppositions, and was still not enough. I
                      translated some of Quinn's articles to Portuguese. I discussed many aspects
                      of his ideas since 2002. But one can't assume that once you became B, you
                      are B forever, like a profession of faith. B ideas are open to question. I
                      have no doubt I once was B, because I was thinking exactly like other
                      serious readers.

                      We can't assume that a person who disagrees with us is simply not
                      understanding correctly what we are saying.

                      Do you think it is so easy to dismiss ethics? Think about it. What makes you
                      think that 'wanting to live' is a neutral desire? Why do you think most
                      people want to live? They flipped a coin or something? It's not because they
                      think that life is a good thing, and death is a bad thing? Why would we want
                      to survive anyway?

                      You are right, we are in the middle of a process now. People are getting
                      close to those ideas. But, as I said, this is just another version of
                      humanism, secular or religious. Is there anything good about people changing
                      their minds in this direction? This mundane spirituality? This so called
                      environmental responsibility? This destruction of traditions? The letting go
                      of definitions and embrace of multiplicity and complexity? You are talking
                      about modernization, globalization, further domestication. I don't think
                      there's anything about it that I do not understand, I simply saying we
                      should question this world view too.

                      If you see this as a mere contest of who has the best memes, then the final
                      result is already determined. We don't have any power to change it, because
                      we can only attack memes with other memes. You see, I am the author of a
                      book called "Cren�as letais" (Lethal beliefs). It has been translated to
                      French (Croyances letales), and it's available in the net. It's a book based
                      in Quinn, and there I say everything you saying now, that was my belief too.
                      I think the problem here is not my lack of understanding. It's amazing to
                      see you reproducing every line of thought that I once thought it was so hard
                      to grasp, but now looks so poor.

                      I am sure someone have tried to talk me out of this when I was in your
                      position, and I must have reacted in a similar way you just did. So I can't
                      really go any farther than this. All I want to tell is that we should
                      suspend our desire to learn once we find something that quites explain all
                      we wanted to know. Because there's always something we are letting out.

                      Janos

                      2010/4/8 Stephen Figgins <stephen@...>

                      >
                      >
                      > On Thu, Apr 8, 2010 at 10:02 AM, Janos Biro <janosbirozero@...<janosbirozero%40gmail.com>>
                      > wrote:
                      >
                      > > We must take care not to assume that everyone that doesn't agree with
                      > > us is somehow being deceived by civilization, like we were above it.
                      > >
                      >
                      > Sure, let's not get insulting. Or any more insulting, I guess.
                      >
                      > I meant to say that because the idea Quinn presents is foreign to us,
                      > people
                      > read many other things into it, trying to make it fit what they know. They
                      > don't end up really getting it. That isn't unusual.
                      >
                      > And yes, Quinn did think people would pick up the ideas and spread them and
                      > even like them better for what they did for them once they understood them.
                      > But he didn't necessarily believe they would be easy to understand. Look at
                      > the difficulty all his protagonists have understanding them. It's not easy
                      > to become B.
                      >
                      >
                      > The sensation
                      > > that you now know the truth that nobody else understands is common
                      > > after reading this kind of book. It is also common to say that
                      > > everyone who criticizes it is dominated by the very line of thought
                      > > that the author is exposing as a lie. That's why a dogmatic Marxist
                      > > will call any adversary a Capitalist.
                      > >
                      >
                      > Ishmael does have this appeal. Kind of like Ayn Rand's books. New readers
                      > commonly think they have some secret knowledge, the one right
                      > interpretation. I'm with you there.. though I would disagree that those
                      > who believe that way really understand Quinn.
                      >
                      >
                      > Quinn has a position, this means he opposes something, and defends
                      > > something else. But he tries to escape criticism by saying it is
                      > > "civilized" to have distinction between good and bad, right and wrong.
                      > > It is just another way to say it is wrong to have moral discernment.
                      > > But thats a moral discernment too, not matter if it is based on myth
                      > > or science or philosophy. Theres no human culture without moral
                      > > distinctions.
                      >
                      > Actually, Quinn doesn't say it's civilized or even wrong to have this
                      > discernment. He says arguing the moral or even ethical right and wrong of
                      > it isn't important or helpful. It has no meaning for us here. We might as
                      > well argue whether it is fat or thin. The important part is that
                      > civilization cannot continue on it's current course. Pick your metaphor,
                      > the taker thunderbolt is in free fall, the ship is sinking, whatever. We
                      > need to find another way to live if we want to survive.
                      >
                      >
                      > If we make a transition to a materially sustainable way of living,
                      > > haven't we essentially solved the problem? No, we solved A problem.
                      > > What problem? The material problem. Is civilization a material
                      > > problem? I don't think so.
                      >
                      > I guess I'm a materialist here. Or primarily one. I do believe there is
                      > room to find connection, belonging, well being, along the way. I believe
                      > opening up to the world, to the richness of the universe beyond the merely
                      > human, increases our compassion, and I like that. While Quinn has written
                      > about how our current civilized religions reflect our story, what he
                      > envisions taking its place isn't completely lacking in things spiritual.
                      > There is certainly a kind of animistic bent to what Quinn writes. His book
                      > Providence covers some of his religious/spiritual background. Tales of Adam
                      > and Story of B both have a spirituality to them.
                      >
                      > Ultimately though, he sees our problem in how we think about the world, and
                      > how we go about enacting that thinking. It isn't even necessarily that we
                      > have a *bad* way to think or to live. The world could support millions of
                      > people enacting this story. It just can't support billions of them. It
                      > has a few deadly memes that we need to address if we want to survive.
                      >
                      > Many people do want an answer to our sustainability problem. Civilized
                      > people are working toward that end, both in science and in changes in our
                      > culture. Our mounting problems are forcing that change. I firmly believe
                      > that it will change, that it is changing, and that our interactions with
                      > others is helping that change along. The change is slow now, maybe too
                      > slow, but I expect it will pick up speed. Not everyone changing things
                      > will have heard of Quinn. Quinn isn't the only source.
                      >
                      > Even without understanding Quinn, the story is changing as well. Faith in
                      > some of those deadly memes is eroding. People are letting go of the notion
                      > of One True Way to Live, and looking for other ways to live. They are
                      > letting go of the idea that there is something special about humans. They
                      > are accepting that the world was not made for us. I see this in articles, I
                      > hear it from those around me.
                      >
                      >
                      > What's the meaning of "story", in Ishmael? We are enacting a story,
                      > > says Ishmael, because we are following the course of a world view. But
                      > > who made this world view? We made it out from nothing?
                      >
                      > According to Ishmael, we all follow a story, Takers and Leavers alike. They
                      > are just different stories. Those stories evolved with us, in our minds, as
                      > a people, and changed as our culture changed, in turn, changes in the story
                      > changed those enacting it. It happened without our even being aware of it.
                      > They evolved from nothing, or maybe from ideas and a capacity for thought.
                      >
                      > I don't know to what extent awareness of the story gives us control over
                      > it. It gives us some. We know how to affect ideas. We tell new stories.
                      > We write books and articles. We make persuasive arguments. We deliver
                      > passionate speeches. We make art and song. We make movies and
                      > advertisements. We lead by example. We expose the deadly memes, and let
                      > people invent something new to fill their place. That may not make us all
                      > powerful, but it is still very powerful.
                      >
                      > Why did we get into such a terrible story? Well, it seemed like a good idea
                      > at the time. For 8 thousand years or so you have to admit it was a very
                      > winning story. Winning for some anyway, but their rising fortunes helped
                      > all of our fortunes rise somewhat. It's a very compelling story too, about
                      > our heroic conquest over forces of chaos. It's still very compelling.
                      > I'm not surprised that it became a single dominant story covering the
                      > entire
                      > world. In a way we came to speak this one language (one story), and
                      > civilization is our tower of Babel!
                      >
                      > As for meaning. Who we are, why we are here and such. I expect our stories
                      > will include that, but it won't be one answer. We need many different
                      > stories, not just one story. We need many different new ways to live. Ways
                      > to live that are appropriate to the land on which we live, and just as
                      > varied.
                      >
                      > I feel confident that if we manage to reach sustainability, we will have
                      > also find new understandings of spirit along the way. Those particular
                      > questions are a part of our human nature. Quinn gives some glimpses of
                      > other ways to look at spirit, (in story of B and Tales of Adam in
                      > particular) but he isn't peddling a single new story, or any one true
                      > understanding of spirit. If Christianity survives it will change as
                      > well. Maybe it already is. Liberation Theology for instance, or Matthew
                      > Fox's Creation Spirituality.
                      >
                      > Summing up: our material problems cannot be fixed by miracles of science
                      > alone. Our problem is still cultural, it's in the deadly memes that keep us
                      > living in unsustainable ways. For us to survive, those will change as
                      > well. Quinn believes that seeing our current story can help us break away
                      > from those deadly memes and create new stories. Lots of new stories. As we
                      > enact those new stories our culture will fracture and change. People will
                      > be able to live sustainably when they do not all live the same way.
                      >
                      >
                      > --
                      > Stephen
                      >
                      > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                      >
                      >
                      >



                      --
                      http://janosbiro.rg3.net


                      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                    • Stephen Figgins
                      ... Because if we didn t want to survive we would not. Evolution suggests not wanting to survive would pretty quickly eliminate us from the gene pool. So
                      Message 10 of 26 , Apr 8, 2010
                      • 0 Attachment
                        On Thu, Apr 8, 2010 at 2:08 PM, Janos Biro <janosbirozero@...> wrote:

                        > Do you think it is so easy to dismiss ethics? Think about it. What makes
                        > you
                        > think that 'wanting to live' is a neutral desire? Why do you think most
                        > people want to live? They flipped a coin or something? It's not because
                        > they
                        > think that life is a good thing, and death is a bad thing? Why would we
                        > want
                        > to survive anyway?
                        >

                        Because if we didn't want to survive we would not. Evolution suggests not
                        wanting to survive would pretty quickly eliminate us from the gene pool. So
                        nature favors those who want to live.

                        From a materialistic point of view, wanting to survive is programmed into
                        you. It isn't even programmed into your brain, it's in the fiber of your
                        being. A single celled organism will seek out what they need to survive and
                        seek to move away from that which would destroy it. That's some amazing
                        strong programming.

                        While I lean towards materialism, I'm also fond of Husserl's Phenomenalism.
                        A really beautiful book on that subject is David Abram's The Spell of the
                        Sensuous. It sort of a philosophical look at animism. Anyway, there is
                        what I can know about the world, and then there is also how I experience
                        it. And my experience isn't of chemical reactions, its feelings and
                        connections and desires. So for me, that is more real than the materialistic
                        explanation. I believe life is richer when I embrace it on this level.

                        Recognizing the material explanation, however, helps me when i need to step
                        back from those things and evaluate whether they are helping me or not.
                        I'm also reminded that my reality isn't everyone's reality and that there is
                        no one right way to experience the world.


                        > You are right, we are in the middle of a process now. People are getting
                        > close to those ideas. But, as I said, this is just another version of
                        > humanism, secular or religious. Is there anything good about people
                        > changing
                        > their minds in this direction? This mundane spirituality? This so called
                        > environmental responsibility? This destruction of traditions? The letting
                        > go
                        > of definitions and embrace of multiplicity and complexity? You are talking
                        > about modernization, globalization, further domestication. I don't think
                        > there's anything about it that I do not understand, I simply saying we
                        > should question this world view too.
                        >

                        I don't recall saying anything in particular about modernization,
                        globalization and further domestication. Nor do I think I'm making any
                        particularly humanist statement here. You seem to be reading something
                        there that I hadn't intended.

                        While I see encouraging signs that our culture is beginning to question some
                        of the basic premises of civilization I do also see discouraging signs of
                        people entrenching in those premises. It's not all wonderful stuff. But I
                        still feel encouraged that some people are questioning them.



                        > I think the problem here is not my lack of understanding. It's amazing to
                        > see you reproducing every line of thought that I once thought it was so
                        > hard
                        > to grasp, but now looks so poor.
                        >

                        I'm laughing now, because I have had this same experience with others who
                        were arguing from a place where I had once been. I used to be very
                        religious. It was like they were offering me some old clothes I had
                        outgrown. They just wouldn't fit anymore. It's happened to me more than
                        once. It's just how learning works I guess. I think it's a bit like a
                        circle or wheel. We keep going round and round. I don't know if you have
                        lapped me or I have lapped you, but we do seem to be coming from different
                        places.

                        Sorry you're not hearing anything new in what I have to say. Some of this
                        may sound old because this is the Ishmael Discussion, and I am clarifying
                        and defending Quinn's position on things I think you have misrepresented.
                        So I am writing from a place in your past. This thread was about DQ
                        controversy.

                        I think you are wrong about Quinn in terms of his not authoring Ishmael, or
                        that he in some way changed his message significantly. I don't see the
                        inconsistencies. I think if he had drawn from other sources he would
                        happily reference them as he does so many other books. I don't believe he
                        is a plagiarist any more than I think he's a fraud. I'm almost certain you
                        are wrong about the book Ishmael being out of print for years. At least it
                        wasn't out of print in English. It's been in print continuously since 1992.

                        I definitely agree with continuing our learning and questioning. I didn't
                        stop with Ishmael and I don't expect others to either. I just haven't
                        taken the same turns you have. While maybe you didn't get much out of it,
                        I do appreciate that this conversation has given me another opportunity to
                        examine where I am at with regards to spirituality. You have also
                        recommended some other authors and books I want to check out since it sounds
                        like they have something good to add to my understanding.

                        Keep learning, and shunning those old clothes!

                        --
                        Stephen


                        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                      • Janos Biro
                        Because if we didn t want to survive we would not. Evolution suggests not wanting to survive would pretty quickly eliminate us from the gene pool. So nature
                        Message 11 of 26 , Apr 8, 2010
                        • 0 Attachment
                          "Because if we didn't want to survive we would not. Evolution suggests not
                          wanting to survive would pretty quickly eliminate us from the gene pool. So
                          nature favors those who want to live."

                          So? You are still implying we somehow SHOULD survive, even if we now have
                          enough will not to.

                          "From a materialistic point of view, wanting to survive is programmed into
                          you. It isn't even programmed into your brain, it's in the fiber of your
                          being. A single celled organism will seek out what they need to survive and
                          seek to move away from that which would destroy it. That's some amazing
                          strong programming."

                          Why is that amazing and not sick or depressing?

                          It's ironic. David Abram's "The Spell of the Sensuous" was my source of
                          inspiration too. I even wrote about the concept of spirit and it's origin.

                          There is no one right way to tell what is truth and what is not?

                          But, I do agree with you. I have no proof that Daniel Quinn is not the
                          author of Ishmael, I just have the impression. The bankrupt problem could be
                          over another book, I made me doubt my memory. Well, I am pretty sure I
                          should not have said that, because it is irrelevant.

                          I am wearing an old cloth I once wearied and shunned away. But, you know, a
                          realized I just shunned it because I expected it to be something it's not
                          supposed to be. It's not because I grow, but because I wanted something
                          cooler. I don't want to relate to God as I relate to a piece of cloth. It's
                          nothing like that. I believe because of love, not because it fits me.

                          Janos

                          2010/4/8 Stephen Figgins <stephen@...>

                          >
                          >
                          > On Thu, Apr 8, 2010 at 2:08 PM, Janos Biro <janosbirozero@...<janosbirozero%40gmail.com>>
                          > wrote:
                          >
                          > > Do you think it is so easy to dismiss ethics? Think about it. What makes
                          > > you
                          > > think that 'wanting to live' is a neutral desire? Why do you think most
                          > > people want to live? They flipped a coin or something? It's not because
                          > > they
                          > > think that life is a good thing, and death is a bad thing? Why would we
                          > > want
                          > > to survive anyway?
                          > >
                          >
                          > Because if we didn't want to survive we would not. Evolution suggests not
                          > wanting to survive would pretty quickly eliminate us from the gene pool. So
                          > nature favors those who want to live.
                          >
                          > From a materialistic point of view, wanting to survive is programmed into
                          > you. It isn't even programmed into your brain, it's in the fiber of your
                          > being. A single celled organism will seek out what they need to survive and
                          > seek to move away from that which would destroy it. That's some amazing
                          > strong programming.
                          >
                          > While I lean towards materialism, I'm also fond of Husserl's Phenomenalism.
                          > A really beautiful book on that subject is David Abram's The Spell of the
                          > Sensuous. It sort of a philosophical look at animism. Anyway, there is
                          > what I can know about the world, and then there is also how I experience
                          > it. And my experience isn't of chemical reactions, its feelings and
                          > connections and desires. So for me, that is more real than the
                          > materialistic
                          > explanation. I believe life is richer when I embrace it on this level.
                          >
                          > Recognizing the material explanation, however, helps me when i need to step
                          > back from those things and evaluate whether they are helping me or not.
                          > I'm also reminded that my reality isn't everyone's reality and that there
                          > is
                          > no one right way to experience the world.
                          >
                          >
                          > > You are right, we are in the middle of a process now. People are getting
                          > > close to those ideas. But, as I said, this is just another version of
                          > > humanism, secular or religious. Is there anything good about people
                          > > changing
                          > > their minds in this direction? This mundane spirituality? This so called
                          > > environmental responsibility? This destruction of traditions? The letting
                          > > go
                          > > of definitions and embrace of multiplicity and complexity? You are
                          > talking
                          > > about modernization, globalization, further domestication. I don't think
                          > > there's anything about it that I do not understand, I simply saying we
                          > > should question this world view too.
                          > >
                          >
                          > I don't recall saying anything in particular about modernization,
                          > globalization and further domestication. Nor do I think I'm making any
                          > particularly humanist statement here. You seem to be reading something
                          > there that I hadn't intended.
                          >
                          > While I see encouraging signs that our culture is beginning to question
                          > some
                          > of the basic premises of civilization I do also see discouraging signs of
                          > people entrenching in those premises. It's not all wonderful stuff. But I
                          > still feel encouraged that some people are questioning them.
                          >
                          >
                          > > I think the problem here is not my lack of understanding. It's amazing to
                          > > see you reproducing every line of thought that I once thought it was so
                          > > hard
                          > > to grasp, but now looks so poor.
                          > >
                          >
                          > I'm laughing now, because I have had this same experience with others who
                          > were arguing from a place where I had once been. I used to be very
                          > religious. It was like they were offering me some old clothes I had
                          > outgrown. They just wouldn't fit anymore. It's happened to me more than
                          > once. It's just how learning works I guess. I think it's a bit like a
                          > circle or wheel. We keep going round and round. I don't know if you have
                          > lapped me or I have lapped you, but we do seem to be coming from different
                          > places.
                          >
                          > Sorry you're not hearing anything new in what I have to say. Some of this
                          > may sound old because this is the Ishmael Discussion, and I am clarifying
                          > and defending Quinn's position on things I think you have misrepresented.
                          > So I am writing from a place in your past. This thread was about DQ
                          > controversy.
                          >
                          > I think you are wrong about Quinn in terms of his not authoring Ishmael, or
                          > that he in some way changed his message significantly. I don't see the
                          > inconsistencies. I think if he had drawn from other sources he would
                          > happily reference them as he does so many other books. I don't believe he
                          > is a plagiarist any more than I think he's a fraud. I'm almost certain you
                          > are wrong about the book Ishmael being out of print for years. At least it
                          > wasn't out of print in English. It's been in print continuously since 1992.
                          >
                          > I definitely agree with continuing our learning and questioning. I didn't
                          > stop with Ishmael and I don't expect others to either. I just haven't
                          > taken the same turns you have. While maybe you didn't get much out of it,
                          > I do appreciate that this conversation has given me another opportunity to
                          > examine where I am at with regards to spirituality. You have also
                          > recommended some other authors and books I want to check out since it
                          > sounds
                          > like they have something good to add to my understanding.
                          >
                          > Keep learning, and shunning those old clothes!
                          >
                          >
                          > --
                          > Stephen
                          >
                          > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                          >
                          >
                          >



                          --
                          http://janosbiro.rg3.net


                          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                        • Stephen Figgins
                          ... No. I m stating that we survive because we do have a will to survive. If we lose that will, we will not survive. ... Really? I ve often wondered if my
                          Message 12 of 26 , Apr 8, 2010
                          • 0 Attachment
                            On Thu, Apr 8, 2010 at 3:24 PM, Janos Biro <janosbirozero@...> wrote:

                            > "Because if we didn't want to survive we would not. Evolution suggests not
                            > wanting to survive would pretty quickly eliminate us from the gene pool. So
                            > nature favors those who want to live."
                            >
                            > So? You are still implying we somehow SHOULD survive, even if we now have
                            > enough will not to.
                            >


                            No. I'm stating that we survive because we do have a will to survive. If we
                            lose that will, we will not survive.



                            > I am wearing an old cloth I once wearied and shunned away. But, you know, a
                            > realized I just shunned it because I expected it to be something it's not
                            > supposed to be. It's not because I grow, but because I wanted something
                            > cooler. I don't want to relate to God as I relate to a piece of cloth. It's
                            > nothing like that. I believe because of love, not because it fits me.
                            >


                            Really? I've often wondered if my wandering would some day lead me back to
                            Christianity. I expect if it did, I would have an extremely different
                            understanding of it than I had when I was last a part of that fold. For me,
                            it would be new clothes. I wouldn't be able to fit back into my old
                            understanding.

                            --
                            Stephen


                            [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                          • Janos Biro
                            Sthephen, Sure, it is a completely different thing from what I understood before, but it is still the same in some way, you see? Faith can be almost the
                            Message 13 of 26 , Apr 8, 2010
                            • 0 Attachment
                              Sthephen,

                              Sure, it is a completely different thing from what I understood before, but
                              it is still the same in some way, you see?

                              Faith can be almost the opposite of religion, you know?

                              God bless you

                              Janos

                              2010/4/8 Stephen Figgins <stephen@...>

                              >
                              >
                              > On Thu, Apr 8, 2010 at 3:24 PM, Janos Biro <janosbirozero@...<janosbirozero%40gmail.com>>
                              > wrote:
                              >
                              > > "Because if we didn't want to survive we would not. Evolution suggests
                              > not
                              > > wanting to survive would pretty quickly eliminate us from the gene pool.
                              > So
                              > > nature favors those who want to live."
                              > >
                              > > So? You are still implying we somehow SHOULD survive, even if we now have
                              > > enough will not to.
                              > >
                              >
                              > No. I'm stating that we survive because we do have a will to survive. If we
                              > lose that will, we will not survive.
                              >
                              >
                              > > I am wearing an old cloth I once wearied and shunned away. But, you know,
                              > a
                              > > realized I just shunned it because I expected it to be something it's not
                              > > supposed to be. It's not because I grow, but because I wanted something
                              > > cooler. I don't want to relate to God as I relate to a piece of cloth.
                              > It's
                              > > nothing like that. I believe because of love, not because it fits me.
                              > >
                              >
                              > Really? I've often wondered if my wandering would some day lead me back to
                              > Christianity. I expect if it did, I would have an extremely different
                              > understanding of it than I had when I was last a part of that fold. For me,
                              > it would be new clothes. I wouldn't be able to fit back into my old
                              > understanding.
                              >
                              >
                              > --
                              > Stephen
                              >
                              > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                              >
                              >
                              >



                              --
                              http://janosbiro.rg3.net


                              [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                            Your message has been successfully submitted and would be delivered to recipients shortly.