I am a computer programmer by day and philosopher by night. I post once or twice a week. I aim to prevent blogging from taking to much time, while allowing time to develop each idea before posting it. Each has some reference to human, universal, or societal truths, while presented in an organized, understandable & consise way -- this is the plan anyway. Results may very as what rings true for one may seem false to another. Also becuase sometimes I get things wrong.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Garden or Jungle

Imagine this - a jungle, teaming with life. It is filled with all sorts of different plants and animals. Each creature struggling for its own existence; each doing its best to stay one step ahead. In such a jungle like this each organism is their because it successfully competed with its neighbors for scarce resources, just as its ancestors have for millions of years. In this jungle competition is not just an option it is the only option which allows survival.

Now, imagine this - a garden, a living breathing ecosystem. Each organism in the garden has a role and a purpose in keeping the ecosystem going. The flowers, birds and insects are all interrelated. The survival of every organism depends upon the other in the complex "web of life." The flowers feed the bees, but the bees also need the flowers and so on.

If you've watched as many public TV wildlife programs as I did as a child you will recognize that organisms in the natural world have can be both competitive and cooperative. So to it is with human beings.

Do you feel that your world is a jungle, a garden or some of both? Do the people you know look at the world the same way you do? I've been thinking a lot about the garden and the jungle recently and I think it speaks a lot to where the Internet is going. It also informs my perspective of politics and economics.

The Internet is increasingly the battle ground for the sharing of information (cooperation) and the restriction of information. You can see it in the legal battles of Google. You can see it in the deals between the Chinese Government and the major search engines and you can see it in the use of DRM. It is hard for me to see the denial of information in order to gain profit as anything but competitive.

In politics see how fear is used to separate people and make them see each other as enemies (competitors). Some leaders use powerful speeches to unite people together (cooperation). Lincoln and FDR were good at fostering the cooperative "were all in this together" notion.

Of cooperation, competition or a mix of both, which do you think is the foundation for the better world?


At Mon Jan 30, 10:23:00 PM EST, Blogger Bar Bar A said...

Wow, James, this is a deep and important question! I need to process it but will come back to share my thougths.

At Mon Feb 20, 12:42:00 PM EST, Blogger stevie.be. said...

i think it is purely cooperative. i don't think any society can function purely off of competition (no matter how healthy some say it is) without some negative effects. i believe the nuturing side of cooperation is what makes things work. you might see the end product quicker from competition but what about those feelings along the way?

At Sat Jul 08, 07:12:00 PM EDT, Blogger lovthyself said...

Your ideas intrigue me but I may not have much time left to continue this debate. Ecosytem - symbiotic, parasitic, herbivore, carnivore and god knows how many others men have coined. All of this is a fight for existence. In today's world, especially when there is cut throat competition, how many cases have you known of the co-operative co-existence? It is only competitiveness shrouded in the facade of co-existence. Hence I have said in my blog, God is a name for ones weaknesses. Besides it is a good refuge when the belly is full and there are warm clothes on a body. A failing constitution has little time to think of co-existence. It is either a competitive win or no existence. Take for example: What is the military mechanism doing in Iraq when they could have saved the millions of people dying in Sudan out of hunger and civil war at a fraction of the cost? Despite his philantrophy, how much would Bill Gates continue to contribute to his charitable causes if the fortunes of Microsoft were sagging? None of these are cases of co-existence. Competitiveness is the only thing that has kept the ecosystem alive. It has inspired dreams and spurred innovation. Co-existence is for the loser, never for the winner. If not, did you hear or see a fox eating a lion, or a rabbit kill a hunting dog?
I apologise if my thoughts seem too radical. I am not a communist though. I am one who has his heart in his throat. If the heart beats it stiffles his breath, if it doesn't no breath is required at all. Co-existence, is it??

At Sun Jul 09, 04:41:00 PM EDT, Blogger James Gray said...

lovthyself -

In the fight for existence as you call it, for a plant, animal or human being, does it not help to have allies? Have you not seen how wolves and lions hunt by working together? I could go on and on about examples of cooperation, but if the examples I give are not sufficient then I don't think any number could be.

Interesting. Steve used to blog often about his wonderful romantic relationship and how much he values his relationship with his family. I imagine that this has taught him that he can be able to trust the people closest to him; to be able to rely on their cooperation in times of difficulty. OTOH, I imagine someone who had a different background whose experience was that other people could turn on him at any moment, would not likely be a trusting person. From this perspective I can see your point: to cooperate is to be vulnerable and thus 'weak.'

Related to this is the Prisoner's Dilemma.


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