Thursday, March 10, 2005

A Flaw of Reasoning in the Original Matrix

The original Matrix was a masterpiece of cyber-punk action and philosophy, but there's one argument in it that I think appears in Ishmael as well. It is the argument that humankind is like a virus or a disease biologically, and is not mammalian. There are four fundamental flaws with this reasoning.

1) The definition of an organism that expands endlessly is not necessarily mutually exclusive with a mammal. The word mammal is defined by the American Heritage Dictionary as, "Any of various warm-blooded vertebrate animals of the class Mammalia, including humans, characterized by a covering of hair on the skin and, in the female, milk-producing mammary glands for nourishing the young." That could include an animal that expands and consumes endlessly.

2) Anyone who has had rabbits, dogs, cats, etc. knows that animals, especially not mammals, do not "instinctually" arrive at equilibrium with their environment; that is, there is no innate programming that makes them do so. Rather, they fuck a lot and eat a lot, and other things eat them or kill them (other animals, extraordinary weather conditions, a lack of food, etc). Humans simply have worked out how to defer the costs of not being at equilibrium for quite some time.

3) Viruses also arrive at some form of equilibrium. A virus that kills its host is not evolutionarily successful: it does not continue on in a desirable fashion, but dies with its host. Viruses thus breed themselves to success by REDUCING their virulence, not increasing it.

4) The implication that this is somehow bad and disgusting is an anthropomorphic ethical leap. To be a disease might be positively good; it sure isn't a prima facia logical condition that it is bad.


Post a Comment

<< Home