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Anyone else finished reading the book? 
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Post Anyone else finished reading the book?
One thing that sorta got me was how Bloom spends the entire book detailing how inevitable and even necessary the pecking order is and the creation of ideas that drive society to compete fiercely and violently - and then, in the last couple pages, basically says this is all bad and humans ought to rise above it, etc. Yeah, ok... "You're screwed and there's nothing you can do about it - now do something about it."

That seems to me to be one of the basic conundrums of sociobiology and similar notions, where you suposedly have hard-wired behaviors on the one hand; and on the other you have (it seems to me) the ability to not only make choices in a self-determinate manner, but to make moral choices. If we can contradict our genetic inheritance with our actions, how can you say those actions are hard-wired? It just seems to me that this sort of thing seriously undermines Bloom's argument for a Lucifer Principle being more than analogy.




Wed Nov 27, 2002 9:25 pm
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Post Re: Anyone else finished reading the book?
Ani:

I'm still on page 190. The past two weeks I've spent most of my spare time working on our new site, which I expect to have online within two weeks. Since this is a holiday weekend I do expect to read quite a bit by Monday.

Chris

Edited by: Chris OConnor  at: 10/30/05 3:51 pm



Wed Nov 27, 2002 9:32 pm
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Post Re: Anyone else finished reading the book?
The end of the book was a let down....he spent most of it building up to what I was hoping would be this amazing denouement, and I actually accidentally flipped into the credits, expecting more book.

:(




Thu Nov 28, 2002 12:02 am
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Post Re: Anyone else finished reading the book?
2/3... should be done by the end of the week.

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Post Re: Anyone else finished reading the book?
I'm on page 110. I'm really enjoying it so far. It's holding my attention well.

Cheryl

Edited by: Chris OConnor  at: 10/30/05 3:51 pm



Thu Nov 28, 2002 1:34 am
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Post Re: Anyone else finished reading the book?
Zach, was it a disappointed because you agree with Bloom and felt he didn't deliver the goods/proof/whatever; or something else?

Part of my disappointment is that I'm still unsure about exactly what the Lucifer Principle is... felt that if it is a principle, should be able to formulate it into a precise statement - but I never read one.




Thu Nov 28, 2002 1:02 pm
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Post Re: Anyone else finished reading the book?
I mean....Human nature is the result of selfish genes wanting to triumph over all other forms of genes. Yep, got that, makes sense to me.

Where are you going with this?

Two paragraphs: Despite our genes making us disposed to attacking any non-familial entity, we need to overcome this.

O.....kay....?




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Post Re: Anyone else finished reading the book?
Page 199 - When memes collide.

I decided a little while ago not to make any more comments until I finished the book, partly because I can't tell where all this is leading. This thread reinforces that decision... I am enjoying it so far though...




Fri Nov 29, 2002 11:02 am
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Post Re: Anyone else finished reading the book?
It's been a while since I read it the first time and at the moment I'm about half way through the second time. I remember stating when I suggested the book that I didn't agree with everything in it. However, in a way that was what I liked about it. It made some good points - it made me think and look at things in a different way. The fact that we're not all nodding our heads in unison is a good thing - not a bad one.

I think the "Open Letter" thread is a little harsh. I don't remember the details of Bloom's conclusion, but I remember looking at it as a metaphor. The idea that the universe "wants" to become more complex isn't really much different than Dawkins' idea that genes are "selfish".

If you think about it literally, "selfish" implies a sense of "self". Taking the concept literally reduces his point to a wierd "spiritualism" where genetic material is imbued with the essence of angels and demons. It's sometimes difficult to explain a concept without resorting to a metaphor.

I'm not trying to make excuses for Bloom. Perhaps I was reading Bloom's conclusion as a metaphor because that's how "I" looked at it, rather than how he meant it. I look forward to chatting with him in the discussion, but (no offense intended) I could think of many other authors I'd like to chat with as much or more. This is an opportunity to exchange ideas with the author of a very thought provoking book. I hope that the author of the "Open Letter" joins us to air his concerns. Perhaps Bloom will confirm his suspicions, but I'd be surprised and dismayed.

Steve




Sat Nov 30, 2002 12:54 pm
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Post Re: Jeremy's a little harsh
Quote:
I hope that the author of the "Open Letter" joins us to air his concerns.
Why thank you. . . I plan to be there.
Quote:
The movement of humans into social groups, the tendency of one social organism to swallow another, the rise of the meme, the increase in cooperation



Sat Nov 30, 2002 3:47 pm
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Post Re: Jeremy's a little harsh
Sorry Jeremy, I didn't remember who the author of the thread was when I wrote the response. Yes, I could have checked, but I didn't. For the record, your title, "Jeremy's a little harsh", are your words not mine. I stated that I found the message a little harsh.

For the record, in my opinion, neither of the quotes you just posted from the Lucifer Principle support the notion that Bloom is advocating a "new mysticism" (I believe that's what you called it - sorry, cooking dinner right now). Anyway, I've read many other works that also do not advocate mysticism as an underlying feature of the cosmos and yet they point out the increasing order of the universe.

This increase in order is easily observed and often cited as evidence by those who would propose that dieties "wind the clockworks" in the least. The question becomes not whether there is a seeming tendancy toward greater order, but why there is such a tendancy.

I do happen to agree with Bloom here - applying the concept of entropy to the universe is wrong. Entropy was meant to describe the interactions of gasses in a closed system. The universe is composed of much more than simple gasses and it is certainly debatable as to whether it is a closed system. I happen to think it is not, since it is apparently either infinite or expanding.

There are also other forces at work that the original concept of entropy does not discuss. I'm not talking about dieties and evil spirits - I'm talking about electromagnetism, the weak nuclear force, etc. The universe seems to be self-organizing in most ways.

You cite that Dawkins went to great lengths to spell out that he was writing metaphorically. Perhaps your problem ultimately rests more with Bloom's style than the substance?

I again apologize for apparently offending you by referring to you as the "author of the 'Open Letter' thread". I'm glad you'll be in the discussion.

Steve




Sat Nov 30, 2002 4:58 pm


Post Re: Anyone else finished reading the book?
I have read "The Lucifer Principle" and "Global Brain",
though not very recently.

I first read Global Brain online at Telepolis (before
it was published in the real world).
Later I read both books in hard copy.

I found these books made a difference to how I
think about the world and in that respect are the
most important books I have read in the last decade.

This does not mean that I agree with whatever it is
that Howard is trying to say!
I think its probably true to say that If I had to nominate
a "central thesis" for each book then it would probably
be something which I actually disagree with.

For the Lucifer principle I guess the thesis is that
evil is endemic in human nature, and I think that
the main thrust of the evidence he puts forward is that
human nature is highly sensitive to cultural context and
that we are good or bad according to where we find ourselves.
So I don't think the negative thesis is substantiated.

Incidentally, I don't think Bloom's evidence contradicts the
second law of thermodynamics, which however I happen
to consider without foundation in its applications to the Universe
as a whole (i.e. there is no credible scientific evidence which
supports the thesis).

Roger Jones




Wed Dec 11, 2002 8:00 am
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Post Re: Anyone else finished reading the book?
Roger

Quote:
I found these books made a difference to how I
think about the world and in that respect are the
most important books I have read in the last decade.


I'm about finished with The Lucifer Principle and I think this book has opened my mind considerably. Bloom is a brilliant man with a knack for seeing things from a very objective perspective...IMO. Throughout the course of reading this text I found myself continually saying to myself, "Wow, I never really thought of it like that!" Bloom gets you to think...and think deeply.

I'll enjoy hearing your views as we discuss both of these books over the next several months. I'm planning to finish the book over the next day or two and then initiate some discussions here on this forum.

Chris

Edited by: Chris OConnor  at: 10/30/05 3:52 pm



Wed Dec 11, 2002 8:17 am
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Post Re: Anyone else finished reading the book?
Roger, you've hit the nail on the head. That was exactly my reaction to the book. That's why I suggested it for BookTalk. I thought it could make a great jumping off point for discussion.

A number of people commented on my (admittedly) poorly worded stream of consciousness regarding order, chaos, disorder and the perception of them as they pertain to the oft cited Law of Thermodynamics. The point had been forwarded earlier that this book might be a disservice to the cause of science in the mind of the general public. What I was trying to point out was that the average person's notion of order, disorder, etc. is not really the same as what those terms actually mean in the context of the scientific laws. I have a feeling that I'm still not quite getting across the idea in the way that I would like.

Oh well, onward to other aspects of the discussion. I find myself agreeing while reading The Lucifer Principle that there really isn't much in the way of conclusion being offered. The book is, for the most part, a large collection of observations. I'd agree that the criticism is fair that its conclusions are more speculation than the product of a rigorous proof. In a way, I think that this is a big part of why I found the book to be valuable. The conclusion is left open enough for the reader to interpret.

You can disagree with Bloom, but it's hard to argue that he isn't on to something.

Steve




Wed Dec 11, 2002 1:55 pm


Post Re: Anyone else finished reading the book?
Quote:
What I was trying to point out was that the average person's notion of order, disorder, etc. is not really the same as what those terms actually mean in the context of the scientific laws.

I believe this kind of feeling was why the book was accused of being a disservice - that the way in which Bloom has used various terms and notions are not the same as their use in science and therefore tend to compound misunderstanding. Shaking things up to see if the terms and notions are valid is unquestionably a good thing; but if shaking things up only confuses things - what gives? Where's the new understanding?
Quote:
You can disagree with Bloom, but it's hard to argue that he isn't on to something.

I'd be interested in listening to what exactly he is onto because I have yet to figure it out; and judging from the comments even of those who agree, that sort of "it sounds right, but can't put a finger on what 'it' is" reaction seems pretty common. I'm afraid this simply makes me very suspicious of 'it' having any real substance.




Sun Dec 15, 2002 12:55 pm
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