Don Dulchinos (dpd) Thu 24 Jun 99 15:23
dude, it's a secret! I can say that the Masons influenced K.A., and thus Fitz Hugh. The influence of Masonry I think dates back to the 17th century - Frances Yates' The Rosicrucian Enlightenment is a great overview of the subject. The Age of Enlightenment was encouraging to men of science who were restricted (or burned) by religious authorities, and Masonry seems to have arisen in part from an affiliation of like minded thinkers. At the same time, it seems to have fostered a sort of spiritual secularism, allowing freedom of thought but appealing to those who believed in a fundamental unity of humanity. So Fitz Hugh does indeed fit the mold of a spiritual seeker who takes the accumulated understandings of science and incorporates them in an ultimately religious but not dogmatic world view.
Don Dulchinos (dpd) Thu 24 Jun 99 15:25
And I think this belief in unity persists through the centuries, and seems to recurrently generate optimism that _this time_ we'll get there. In fact, my manuscript in progress attempts to place the Internet in precisely this context.
Steven Solomon (ssol) Fri 25 Jun 99 05:35
Nice seque, Dr. Dulchinos. Would you elucidate furthur? Tell us about that new work in progress, please.
Steven Solomon (ssol) Fri 25 Jun 99 05:43
Oh, but first, I should point out to those in search of the Secret of Kappa Alpha, that there are two very different organizations with that name at the present time and dating back to the Civil War. Here, we are mentioning the Kappa Alpha Literary Society, of which FHL was a member. An internet search on key words "Kappa Alpha", will most likely turn up refs to the Kappa Alpha Order, which split off from the KA of Ludlow, et al, at the time of what they would term the War of Northern Aggression. Now, about that new work?
With catlike tread (sumac) Fri 25 Jun 99 09:35
Do I even *wish* that the Secret Wisdom of the Ages had been carved on the Rosetta Stone?
Don Dulchinos (dpd) Sat 26 Jun 99 15:37
ah, sorry for the delay - i've been on child care duty. the new book is a series of reflections taking Teilhard de Chardin's theory of the noosphere as a point of departure. if there is a "thinking layer" or of the planet, what does it look like? Some of my experiences on the Net, including here on the Well, make me think the Internet provides "brain-like " infrastructure. Looking at the history of theories of wholeness, from Buddhism to Carl Jung, seems to give some depth to such a notion. My tract is fairly optimistic in proposing that only can we achieve some degree of unity, but that is also a good thing.
Steven Solomon (ssol) Sun 27 Jun 99 08:17
What about the have/have-not issues? As affluent folks in the developed world march on to a bright, wired future, as Jack Emory Taylor is fond of pointing out, most of the planet's citizens have yet to make a phone call. How will they get to "think along"?
Don Dulchinos (dpd) Sun 27 Jun 99 20:45
here's a para from the manuscript: In Teilhard's view, "the entry into the superhuman [is] not thrown open to a few of the privileged nor to one chosen people...They will open only to an advance of all together." 244 This may be, but observers have already noted that the Internet to date is the province of the higher income portions of the population. But I believe that just as telephones are nearly ubiquitous in the United States (and burgeoning in the less developed world) so will Internet connection become a commodity available to all. (See Chapter 3). Whether all choose to take advantage of the technology and particpate in some form of group consciousness remains to be seen. I think what George Soros called Open Societies is critical for how fast this technology spreads. It has seemed pretty clear for at least the last thirty years that lack of developement is not an issue of lack of resources, but of closed, restricted political systems that keep wealth from spreading. I still believe, despite frequent backsliding, that there is inexorable progress in the right direction. The second question is more challenging to me - do Islamic fundamentalists want to share a group mind with a licentious drunk like me - I am trying to build a case around my belief that they, and I, will not really have a choice. At the margins, it's already happening.
Steven Solomon (ssol) Mon 28 Jun 99 12:01
Oh, my... lots of stuff in that post... maybe split the next response into a few posts when you have the time. Islamic fundamentalists, of course, are not the whole nor likely the majority of those of that faith. It is a faith that gave rise to a civilization that bequethed the West the number Zero, algebra, much of the scientific method and some great hookha technology, among other things. Maybe there's a false categorization we fall into when pidgeon-wholing folks on the basis of their faith. What's the internet's potential in opening broader x-cultural innovation? George Soros... please, a little info on your take on this self-styled altruistic capitalist. Teilhard de Chardin... again, who is this character? What is the Noosphere, anyhow, and why do we want to go there? And, for those recently joining in, remind us... what's this got to do with a largely forgotten 19th Century American writer and thinker ;-)
Don Dulchinos (dpd) Mon 28 Jun 99 16:47
in a nutshell, and it doesn't really fit in a nutshell , Fitz Hugh Ludlow is one of a long line of thinkers who perceived the possibility of a "new age" based on recognition of the fundamental unity of all people. Teilhard de Chardin is another in the line - a Jesuit paleontologist (!) who believed the next steop in human evolution was the emergence of a global mind which he termed the "noosphere". Instant gratification at http://www.trip.com.br/teilhard/english.htm but you should really read The Phenomenon of Man to get the full story. SOros is a really rich guy who believes the world would be better off if everyone worked toward "Open Societies" along Western democracy models. He put a lot of money where hhis mouth is - http://www.soros.org - money he got exploting the ignorance of some governments of this great principle. I used Islamic fundamentalist as a comparison to my very divergent views - can't see why you characterize that as a slam on Islamic peoples everywhere.
Steven Solomon (ssol) Tue 29 Jun 99 07:33
No slam intended or infered. Your random example just provided an opportunity to mention the contribution of Islamic culture to our own, particularly in the area of science and math. The real point I was hoping to get to in that, tho, had to do with the possibilities and possible pitfalls in x-cultural communication via internet. On the one hand, some folks decry the Americanization of world culture via media in general, and the internet. On the other, the fastest growing language on the 'net is Spanish, followed by Chinese. In the next year or so, English will no longer be the dominant language, in terms of number of sites. Where does the emergent Nooshpere take us, in terms of a World Culture? Any forecasts in your new project?
Don Dulchinos (dpd) Wed 30 Jun 99 10:30
no forecasts - but the biggest challenge is identifying the emerging evidence of a noosphere, or even what constitutes "evidence" in such a context. your commetns on Americanization beg the question - can you have a unified consciousness if you don't speak the same language. Phrased from a different direction, how can you achieve unity while preserving individual differences. It used to be we agreed in this country on a civic life that people could come to with different cultural/ethnic/religious histories, but arguably that center is being pulled apart as various perceived or real threats cause people to retreat to their own subcultures and not engage with others at all.
Steven Solomon (ssol) Wed 30 Jun 99 19:06
A couple of years ago, John Perry Barlow, with customary bombastic aplomb, proclaimed in a screed protesting America's proposed Communications Decency Act (CDA), something to the effect that "we (internet users worldwide?) are leaving, we don't need you (the culture and politics of place, nation?)." As folks in Palm Computer-saturated businesses are now taking to writing upon conference room white boards in the Graffiti short-hand alphabet, and the bureaucrats in the European Union offices in Brussels are speaking "Eurish" out of practicality and habit, might some similar trends emmerge in 'net culture? Are they among the datapoints you're looking for? Btw, folks, stop me at anytime that I dissolve utterly into "Geekish". If you're curious, I'd be happy to explain CDAs, Graffitis, and "Eurish", in this context. I am sometimes nothing but the End o' the 20th Century Gentleman Philosopher puttering about the mansion, muttering to myself and anybody else in earshot.
John Henry, the (steeldrv) Wed 30 Jun 99 21:10
I'm not sure we used to agree in this country on a unified culture that accepted "different" subcultures. We gave it good mouth, but when push came to shove, we would vilify the jews and the italians and any other handy minority, lynch blacks, pass chinese exclusion laws, and otherwise prove we were _nat_ accepting of differentness. I have a deeply suspicious nature when anyone talks about how things were so much better in the past. It just wasn't so.
Sharon Lynne Fisher (slf) Thu 1 Jul 99 07:33
Eurish, yes, please explain.
Don Dulchinos (dpd) Thu 1 Jul 99 08:18
my nostalgia goes back to the early 1960's, when my Greek American parents best friends were Polish American, French Canadian-American, Irish American and Italian American. True, No Negroes, but as integration began, it seemed no African Americans were interested in moving to our dying industrial town, and I don't blame them. On Sunday, we would go to our Greek church, and not hear a word of English for a few hours, but the common civic culture was what was conveyed to me as the most important part of our lives.
Don Dulchinos (dpd) Thu 1 Jul 99 08:18
I'd also like to hear about Eurish.
poorly-contained perioxide accident waiting to happen (castle) Thu 1 Jul 99 13:37
And I want to hear about Graffiti
Steven Solomon (ssol) Thu 1 Jul 99 16:45
<Eurish, yes, please explain.> At the Brussels offices of the European Community, there are five or six most common native languages/dialects. I believe they all fall into the Germanic or Latin groups. Most of the folks that work there are fluent in at least two of them, and many passable at almost any in either group. From what I've read, it seems that an everyday common language spoken in the hallways of these offices is a Yiddish-style mishmash that can be understood by anybody with sufficient education and Pan-European cultural background. In the recent past, we would have called such a tongue "pidgin" or Creole, but those terms would only be applied to uneducated and oppressed classes... certainly not Armani-clad beaurocrats in the halls of power. Language happens. We want to be understood. <Graffiti> A simplified, some would say improved, Roman set of alphabet characters designed for reliable handwriting recognition by Palm Computers. As a lefty who often doodled ideas for an alphabet that had both more and simpler characters (such as ones for <th> or <ch>), requiring fewer inky strokes that got left on the side of my hand and smeared across the page, it seems like an idea long in coming. In the Silicon Valley area, with the preponderance of Palm Computers, Graffiti's alphabet is popping up in place of our conventional one on conference room whiteboards. Don, to <steeldrv>'s comment... do you believe that the vector of human social evolution, or at least our society's, is moving forward? Back? Back and forth... cha-cha-cha? How might the evolution of the Noosphere figure in to any tendencies, positive or negative?
Sharon Lynne Fisher (slf) Thu 1 Jul 99 16:58
Hmm. I was in one of those Eurish conversations once, maybe, when I was in Iceland with another American, a couple of Italians, a couple of French people....the Americans knew English, I knew a little French, the Italians knew a little English and a little French, the French knew a little English...we ended up having a multilingual conversation where *anyone* who knew the right word could throw it in, even if they didn't nominally speak that language.
poorly-contained perioxide accident waiting to happen (castle) Thu 1 Jul 99 21:54
I will have to keep my eyes open for Graffiti on our company's conference room white boards. We have lots of Palm pilots there.
Don Dulchinos (dpd) Fri 2 Jul 99 21:34
I think the evolution is forward, overall, but it is indeed a two steps forward one step back cha-cha. In my view, unity breeds unity. This will be familiar to Whole Earth refugees who may still be among us - co-evolution positing that Darwin doesn't just mean survival of the fittest, but also survival of those who cooperate.
(pholk) Sat 3 Jul 99 07:50
But doesn't that just beg the question about *who* is cooperating with *whom* -- which need not have much to do with universal unity at all. The survivors can congratulate each other on their evolutionary progress and proclaim that in the long run all will benefit. I'm not sure that progress is best measured from the view from the top.
Don Dulchinos (dpd) Mon 5 Jul 99 10:25
well, who said those who choose to cooperate have to be at the "top", whatever you mean by that. I certainly do make the value judgement that cooperation is better than not cooperating. Assuming consenting adults on both sides.
Steven Solomon (ssol) Mon 5 Jul 99 10:56
When the story is finally told, it may be that the cooperative ethic of distinctly "not on top" hackers creating Linux and other open systems, may prove the winner in the evolution of system and software development. They don't have to destroy Microsoft or Apple or IBM to "win", either. They might just provide an unavoidable need for those organizations to open their own systems, satisfying their own ethical and philosphical imperatives. Cooperation can sometime compell cooperation among the uncooperative, perhaps?
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