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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Diagonal Relationship letters, No. 6

(Latest in a series of blog postings reprinting letters Wilson wrote to a fanzine, the Diagonal Relationship, about 30 years ago).

The Diagonal Relationship 7, 1979

The Diagonal Relationship 16, 1980

Seeing myself as part of nature, rather than as an alien who landed here by mistake, does not incline me to determinism. In fact, it inclines me to the opposite...if not to free will in the classical theological sense, at least to a notion of give-and-take or feedback or flexibility in the system.

"In nature there is immediate adjustment but no Compulsion," said Chuang Chou, who also considered himself part of nature.

l am part of nature in that my mother and father produced me by purely natural processes, with no supernatural aid. r.\y DNA comes half from her, half from him, and is one node in a molecular message going back, via him, to Irish and Norwegian strains, and via her, to Hungarian, Austrian, and Polish-Jewish strands, and, further back, to various primates, other mammals, reptiles, fish etc.

Natural selection played a role every step of the way in this process. Which male mated with which, female involved some kind of stochastic process of "choice"--see Gregory Bateson's Mind and Nature.

Since I am whimsical, playful, imaginative etc., I assume that these traits can be traced back pretty far in this genetic roulette.

All of which is to reject traditional or constipated determinism. I also reject classical notions of free Will, of course, since there are some elements of determination in the process.

"In addition to a yes and a no, the universe contains a maybe," as David Finkelstein says. That's my view.

1 comment:

Jesse said...

You've got two dates on this one -- I assume that 1980 rather than 1979 is the correct one?