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demwing

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Gender: Male
Hometown: Venice, California
Current location: St. Petersburg, Florida
Member since: Fri Jul 2, 2004, 04:55 PM
Number of posts: 12,547

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"I believe I have the authority to carry out this military action..."

"...without specific congressional authorization"
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/barackobama/10278442/Barack-Obama-on-Syria-text-in-full.html

The President's move to seek Congressional approval is appropriate, but he did not tie himself to limiting his actions based on such approval. In a bit of foreshadowing, he even noted :

"I'm comfortable going forward without the approval of a United Nations Security Council that, so far, has been completely paralyzed and unwilling to hold Assad accountable."

and later reminded Congress:

"I am looking forward to the debate. And in doing so, I ask you, members of Congress, to consider that some things are more important than partisan differences or the politics of the moment."

If Congress were similarly "paralyzed," would Obama be similarly comfortable? He's acted without congressional approval on lesser matters, why would he not also act on matters of life and death? Certainly, such matters would be more important than the politics of the moment.

Obama is telling us straight up that he's ready to act. He's invited Congress to join him, but is he tying himself to that partnership?

How do Spiders Learn to Spin Webs?

I understand that weaving silk is a biological function for the spider, maybe comparable to growing hair, but spinning a web takes a bit of engineering. Some choices have to be made on whether a line is lateral, orbital, sticky, not sticky, etc. Yet spiders do not need to be taught this skill, they act on instinct.

Many animals act on instinct. Birds build nests, newly hatched sea turtles run toward the ocean, bees build well engineered hives, and so on. Perhaps all animal behavior is (or is triggered by) instinct.

So what is this power called "instinct"? Where is it located? What is it's source? Is it biological? Do we come pre-programmed, like some computer purchased with a version of the operating system already installed? It it related to intelligence at all?

Maybe spiders that spin webs--or use thread as a tool--are the smarter spiders, and maybe spiders that do not spin are the dull, dim relatives at the low end of the DNA ladder?

If instinct is not linked to intelligence, what is it? Merriam-Webster.com tells us that instinct is "behavior that is mediated by reactions below the conscious level."

Fire has behavior...and since there's no possibility that fire is conscious, can it be said that the behavior of fire is instinctive? What about weather patterns? What about the big-bang contraction and expansion of the Universe?

No? Then what is it about the behavior of systems that is different then then reflexive or instinctive behavior of life forms? Again, the dictionary tells us it consciousness. If learned behavior requires consciousness, what then creates consciousness? Life?

We really don't know what life is, or consciousness. Perhaps life is just a state of existence for an organic system that has reached a certain level of complexity. Perhaps consciousness is the act of such a system identifying itself as such as system.

We can't point to a spot in space where consciousness is (or is not), even though we recognize that consciousness is a real thing, and exists as a prerequisite for non-instinctive behavior, and though we can't point to it, touch it, or even measure it, we accept consciousness as self evident -- we think, therefore we are.

That doesn't mean we start a cult around the power of instinct, or open a worship hall, put on robes, get a special haircut, and start passing the collection plate.

It also doesn't mean that "God" taught spiders how to spin webs.

It means that if life can be reduced to "the behaviors of a complex system" then we might want to ask whether the most complex system we know of - the Universe - is alive, and is aware of itself. If life and consciousness happened on a small scale, it would not be terribly surprising to find that it happened on a large scale as well.

If the Universe is alive, and conscious, does it also possess intelligence? If not intelligence, does the Universe possess instinct?

Universal instinct, or Universal intelligence. Either sounds like a suitable explanation for what some people have called God.
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