Anchor for this item posted by Bernard Tremblay at Wednesday, March 27, 2002; Wednesday, March 27, 2002

Having added my bit to a thread at rabble.ca (babble: $36000 per month ... How Sweet It Is!), I came away oddly thunderstruck by one fellow's reply that made $500K/year seem so entirely reasonable. One person, earning half a million dollars a year? I've often thought it a lot of money, but it's never seemed so completely ludicrous before. How can one person's self-image sustain the rationalization? Even applied to an entire family ... that's very nearly twenty times the national average ... how can a person be so disconnected as to think that amount of yearly income fair, except in the most legalistic way? Nearing 3000 years after Thrasymachus told Socrates that might makes right, we haven't budged an inch in that regard ... the power to command justifies ownership of excess; the fact of acquisition serves as the fundamental argument to the right to accumulate and consume. The behaviour of no "mere animal" has any such basis, and machines need to be programmed in order to follow such a rule. But human beings, in their pathological sophistication, press this case and find high aims by which to make this seem not only right and fair but even just and good. Madness of an ancient sort, despite the modern toys and post-modern excuses.
I went back to my old plan to update Uttal's "Psychobiology of Mind" (it will be 25 years old next year) and was reminded how much I like his approach. (I wonder if there's funding for a VRML confocal project?) His presentation of the mind/body "pseudo-problem" got me thinking again how, if it weren't for the fact of joy and suffering, nothing would matter very much at all. And that thought flipped me into Bateson's "Steps to an Ecology of Mind", which means I've gone well out of the realm of today's politics. Or have I?
I can understand why someone would want to be able to argue that their personal fortune is somehow justified in the face of increased human misery, but ... to think ... that they cook the books, stack the deck, manipulate politicians, and otherwise poison the public domain in order to do so ... we really are dealing with something hideously like evil.
Flipping through Fritjof Capra's "Web of Life", I realized that my grade 4 reading of laser theory has finally worked some good: it's the light wave itself that organizes the dynamic ... so, perhaps, might the function of mind ramify through brain. I wonder if it could be thus and still epiphenomenal?! But more to the point, I wonder ifa wave of clear thinking could wash through a community and somewhat the same way and, by so doing, have the same effect? heh ... how does one go about measuring the propagation speed of a meme and then, with that, derive the resonant frequency of community?
(Perhaps it's by its aspect of compassionate intention that happiness transforms pleasure?)