Thursday, April 30, 2009

Jeff Vail - A Theory of Power

Jeff Vail's - A Theory of Power

-- Free online book, 50 pages long, things everyone should understand about the world we live in

"With genes and memes manipulating us, using neurochemical releases and emotional states to ensure their survival, we find ourselves faced with difficult, penetrating questions about our identity. What does it mean to experience a feeling if we can rationally understand that the emotion stems from nothing more than a chemical response evolved to ensure that we act as efficient hosts and vectors to genes and memes? What of our hopes and goals? Do these hopes truly belong to us, or do they serve as nothing more than effective strategies to propagate bits of cultural code? Would we still love our children if the resulting nurturing didn’t increase the chance of our genes’ survival? What of our egos versus the reality of genetic and memetic power-relationships: do we exist as nothing more than vectors for power-complexes? Do we have free will and an individual identity, or should we see our individuality as merely a construct of how our genes and memes use us to propagate themselves through the unconscious mechanism of natural selection? These represent difficult questions. The scope of their impact on our lives serves as an indication that we stand to uncover fundamental relationships governing our existence. At this point the ego and rational understanding come into direct conflict—will we retreat back to a comfortable but now conscious delusion, or continue this exploration?7 Can our ego survive if it learns the form of its own inner workings? Inside the psychological maze of self-knowledge stands the unknown; the path out may lead to fulfillment or misery. We will come to appreciate the concept of blissful ignorance as we press our inquiry." p.14