Saturday, May 30, 2009

Self-organisation & rule-following

[Sri Aurobindo considered the supermind to be an all-organizing and all-coordinating principle of truth-consciousness secretly involved in the material creation and he saw its emergence as the next logical and inevitable step in terrestrial evolution.
Integral yoga - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia Categories: Sri Aurobindo Integral thought 3:32 PM]

[But the most significant and influential thinker of self-organisation in the past century was undoubtedly Friedrich Hayek, the intellectual progenitor of neoliberalism. For Hayek, any attempt at social or economic planning was doomed to failure, due to the inherent limitations of human knowledge, and the consequent prevalence of unintended consequences. In contrast, and inspired by both cybernetics and biology, Hayek claimed that the “free market” was an ideal mechanism for coordinating all the disparate bits of knowledge that existed dispersed throughout society, and negotiating it towards an optimal outcome. Self-organization, operating impersonally and beyond the ken of any particular human agent, could accomplish what no degree of planning or willful human rationality ever could. Against Self-Organization from The Pinocchio Theory by Steven Shaviro 7:55 PM]

[Friedrich von Hayek’s insight into the evolution of ethics becomes crucial to any understanding of this natural phenomenon. Hayek, as I have recently blogged, wrote that our ethics lie “between instinct and reason.” What this means is that we have overcome our instinct to plunder – but have not reasoned why. These ethics that we follow in markets have evolved. They have not been objectively designed by anyone. They have been passed down from generation to generation, and learnt by imitation. Let us try and understand the process... Civilisation is artificial. Civilisation is learnt behaviour. And this is how it arose. This is why it persists. Nowhere else does this conclusion ring truer than in India. Here, police stations are all located in cities and towns, never in villages. The majority of the population lives in a “natural order,” far removed from the attention of the police. And, whenever a policeman is seen ambling around an urban market, all the rule-following animals there know that a barbarian is in their midst, someone who will snatch and grab whatever he wants. This natural order is India’s strength. It shows that we are a highly civilised people. We are not a nation of barbarians. We are all rule-followers. We all operate “between instinct and reason.” We possess a deep-rooted “commercial culture.” Thus, liberal democracy is not the “end of history.” There is something higher on the evolutionary scale than democracy. And that is Natural Order. On Ethics, Reason And "Natural Order"
from ANTIDOTE by Sauvik]

Sauvik Chakraverti's forays into ethics and human nature need not stop at Hayek and proceed at least up to Nicolai Hartmann. To understand why "we are a highly civilised people" one should read the Uttarpara Speech of 30 May 1909 by Sri Aurobindo on its centenary day. [TNM]

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