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The Principle 
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Post The Principle
"It's getting uncommonly easy to kill people in large numbers, and the first thing a principle does - if it is really a principle - is to kill someone." -Dorothy L. Sayers

That quote opens The Chinese Cultural Revolultion chapter, and my immediate reaction was: Yeah, no doubt... So who does the Lucifer Principle kill?

It may be a bit premature to start a discussion on what the Lucifer Principle is, its meaning and implications in general, but I thought it might be good to keep this in mind as we read, and maybe post notes on impressions.

The first note for me is Bloom's depiction of nature as a "Bloody Bitch" - this, of course, recalls Lord Tennyson's famous line: "Nature, red in tooth and claw" (from In Memoriam). Is there more than just allusion going on here? In other words, what comment might the Romantic vision (and Tennyson's grief) have on this world vision? For example, the Romantic movement saw the rise of the naturalist which is not entirely unlike the modern "new age" movement. Or, is the allusion misapplied?




Fri Nov 08, 2002 3:17 pm
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Post Re: The Principle
Ani:

Quote:
It may be a bit premature to start a discussion on what the Lucifer Principle is, its meaning and implications in general, but I thought it might be good to keep this in mind as we read, and maybe post notes on impressions.


I think this thread will see a great deal of activity as more people get deeper into the text. I'm over half way through and I have some ideas, but I will hold off a bit so that I'm sure I have a good handle on the big picture. Maybe another week. Excellent question.

Chris

Edited by: Chris OConnor  at: 10/30/05 4:02 pm



Fri Nov 15, 2002 12:50 am
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Post Re: The Principle
hehe... wanna drop a hint of what those ideas are?




Mon Nov 18, 2002 11:33 pm
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Post Re: The Principle
Nope! I'm only on page 187. Give me a few more days and I won't be able to shut up on here. Besides, I've been spending most of my free time working on the new site as opposed to reading or posting.

Chris

Edited by: Chris OConnor  at: 10/30/05 4:03 pm



Wed Nov 20, 2002 6:33 am
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Post Re: The Principle
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"It's getting uncommonly easy to kill people in large numbers, and the first thing a principle does - if it is really a principle - is to kill someone." -Dorothy L. Sayers


There are lots of different kinds of "principle".
Religious principles, moral principles, political, ideological principles, might be the stuff of large scale carnage.
However scientific principles are less likely to do that, and I suppose in a vague sociological sort of way that's what the Lucifer principle is.

It is a principle which if true tells us perhaps of the inevitability of continued violence, but I would not have thought it likely to cause carnage.




Wed Dec 18, 2002 5:21 pm
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Post Re: The Principle
The principle kills everyone who isn't from your social group. You can equate this to the clans of our ancestors, or prides of lions, etc. Anyone who only carries your genes only distantly, or not at all, is free game. Additionally, we tack on those who follow the same memes as ourselves, so that it's memes and genes that determine who isn't like us.




Wed Dec 18, 2002 6:01 pm
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Post Re: The Principle
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The principle kills everyone who isn't from your social group.


Can't say I agree with you there.

Even if "The Lucifer Principle" states that you will kill everyone who is not from your social group (which it doesn't) that wouldn't mean that the principle is doing any killing.

I would say that "a principle kills" when belief in the principle is likely to lead the believer to kill someone.

Thus, if it is a principle of fundamentalist islam that non believers should be put to death then that is a principle which is likely to kill (probably has many times).

However, I could easily come up with a slightly moderated version of "The Lucifer Principle" which I would be prepared to assent to (e.g. that most people are capable in the right social context of extreme violence, and this could reasonably be said to be an enduring innate human characteristic), but I don't believe that my acceptance of that would make me any more likely to commit homicide (though its truth makes it more likely than its falsehood).
I don't actually agree with what I take to be the full monty "Lucifer Principle", but I still don't think that if I were to be convinced in its truth that would make me any more likely to commit homicide.




Thu Dec 19, 2002 6:24 am


Post Re: The Principle
Quote:
Even if "The Lucifer Principle" states that you will kill everyone who is not from your social group (which it doesn't) that wouldn't mean that the principle is doing any killing.


Good point. Still, there are aspects of it that bother me in their implications when taken and employed in a social context. For example, the busisness about depression and apoptosis - we are obligated to suicide for the good of the superorganism? Or, believing that our society is literally an organism might make suicide more acceptable and likely to do it.




Thu Dec 19, 2002 1:51 pm


Post Re: The Principle
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Still, there are aspects of it that bother me in their implications when taken and employed in a social context.

Well I suppose it bothers me too.

Even though at a stretch we might accept "The Lucifer Principle" as a scientific principle, it is I believe a false principle.
It is a false principle which claims that certain kinds of (usually) undesirable behaviour are inevitably widespread.
Such theories are often used to justify the relevant behaviour, if not by the author then by others, so its not exactly morally neutral.

The best response is to argue the falsity of the principle.
Howard's own evidence, selected though it is to support "The Lucifer Principle", in fact convinces me (at least the two books together) that human behaviour is about as good or bad on the whole as the expectations of the group.
This may be rather bad when times are hard, but sustained prosperity makes way for "cultural evolution" and more civilised behaviour.
My own life has been almost totally free of violence, and I think myself fortunate but not exceptional in that regard.




Thu Dec 19, 2002 3:59 pm


Post Re: The Principle
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Even though at a stretch we might accept "The Lucifer Principle" as a scientific principle, it is I believe a false principle.


Obviously at this point, I guess, I also think it's a false principle, but would be interested in hear what you feel its flaws are.




Fri Dec 20, 2002 12:54 pm
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Post Re: The Principle
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I could easily come up with a slightly moderated version of "The Lucifer Principle" which I would be prepared to assent to (e.g. that most people are capable in the right social context of extreme violence, and this could reasonably be said to be an enduring innate human characteristic)
If I have any grasp of what Bloom is saying, this wouldn't do it. We can say a lot of things about human beings, and about other species, which are true, or which are reasonable and testable. But I hear Bloom asserting that these are basic scientific principles, as deep or deeper than evolution by natural selection itself. How we, specifically, have turned out would not be enough.




Fri Dec 20, 2002 7:22 pm
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