X-Message-Number: 92
From att!sun!pyramid!munnari!basser.cs.su.oz.au!pete Sun May 28 05:13:15 1989
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From: sun!munnari!basser.cs.su.oz.au!pete
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	(from  for ho4cad!kqb)
Date: Sun, 28 May 89 19:33:25 EST
To: munnari!ho4cad!kqb
Subject: CRYONICS - Meaning of life?
Cc: pyramid!pete

In Message 89, kqb writes:
>  [In] "The Road Less Traveled" by M. Scott Peck, MD., 1978
>  Touchstone, Simon & Schuster, Inc.
>> is the reality.  It is in the giving up of self that human beings can find
>> the most ecstatic and lasting, solid, durable joy of life.  And it is death

>> that provides life with all its meaning.  This 'secret' is the central wisdom
>> of religion."
...[discussion in terms of memetics]

Memetics is an attempt to transfer the paradigms and methodology of genetics
to the psychological domain. It is not a science, and not universally accepted.
I've mentioned to Kevin in private correspondance that I don't find memetics 
an attractive or accurate interpretation of human thought or communication. 
My worst misgivings are with the assumptions that memes are transmitted with 
little or no error in replication, and that the meaning of a meme is not 
dependent upon its host.  Without these assumptions, I can see no difference
between a 'meme' and an idea.

Memetics aside, I agree that the idea that involuntary death is good for 
something is rather odd, and I've never liked the religious fascination 
with it. It seems to me that the folks who dream up religions usually reason
like this: Well, there's this/these omnipotent god/gods. If you do right
by them (translation: if you donate time and/or money), they'll see you
right. Okay, yeah, well, you're going to die first. No, it's not permanent 
or anything ...

I can't blame them - how else do you explain god/gods' chosen keeling over
every five minutes? Actually, if you accept the impermanence of death, then
I don't see how it's any big thing, and so I don't see why it's so beautiful/
noble/kind for prophet/offspring x to 'Die for your sins'. He/she comes from
la-la land, and goes back to la-la land, so where's the skin off his/her nose?

In partial answer to Kevin's meme questions, I think that these ubiquitous 
religious apologia constitute the largest part of the support for the idea
of 'meaning in death'. But I don't understand Peck's joy in giving up 'self',
unless he defines self and soul as different and separable things, which
sounds kind of kinky too. Perhaps Kevin could provide a bit more context?
What experiences (apart from death, which may or not be something you 
experience, depending on how you construe it) does Peck reckon to give
this sort of pleasure?

That is beyond your compression - Galaxy Being, Outer Limits.  

(pete%) {uunet,mcvax,ukc,nttlab}!munnari!basser.oz!pete

JANET: (POST) pete%         (MAIL) EAN%""

[ Pete, I took another look at Peck's book to answer your questions.
  First, I doubt that Peck considers self and soul as different because in
  the Introduction he says "... I make no distinction between the mind and
  spirit, and therefore no distinction between the process of achieving
  spiritual growth and achieving mental growth."
  Peck does NOT assert that the "joy in giving up 'self'" always involves
  physical death.  On page 74 he says "For us to develop a new and better
  idea, concept, theory or understanding means that an old idea, concept,
  theory or understanding must die."  Giving up one's point-of-view to
  learn a new point-of-view thus involves pain at the loss of the old and
  joy at the gain of the new.  On page 75 he says "... It is also clear that
  the farther one travels on the journey of life, the more births one will
  experience, and therefore the more deaths - the more joy and the more pain."
  This I will not complain about.  But, as I pointed out in message #89, on
  page 72 he extrapolates too far by asserting that physical death is good for
  us, too.  That is a "great lie" riding piggyback on a "great truth." - KQB ]

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