The Destructive Valley

Morality is a dicey subject. It is so easy to use morality to oppress that I'm fairly hesitant to use the word. This chapter is very important because we are going to use the word morality but we must also be cautious of what I call the destructive valley. The destructive valley is when agents in one area, that have moral authority over a lower system, act without moral responsibility.

We can see some of the most obvious examples of this by looking at the socio-political happenings of the 20th century. After the amazing gains that science gave us during the industrial revolution, a number of political movements emerged that tried to leverage the moral authority of intellect over society to try to generate forms of 'utopia.' Again, it is hard to suggest that movements such as marxism and nazism had 'moral authority' over society, and yet they did. What they lacked, and why they were ultimately rejected is that they lacked moral responsibility. How did they lack responsibility? They were ultimately destructive to the layers below them in the moral cascade that they had authority over.

What typically happens is that after a bootstrap reaches a certain point it becomes 'self aware' and realizes its power and authority over the lower levels. Unfortunately the next phase is for those agents to use the lower levels 'at all costs.' And sometimes the costs are very high indeed.

My hope is that we can highlight this tendency to have a destructive valley and plan for it. Even, perhaps, put a morality in place that insists on responsibility as opposed to just authority.

Moral Responsibility > Moral Authority

So what is responsibility in this case? An agent with moral responsibility will understand its moral authority over lower cascade levels, and yet still make decisions that preserve and amplify wholeness at lower levels. The enlightenment has given us a secret weapon in this balancing act. We must realize that our inability to balance can always be overcome with the right knowledge. We never have to resort to destructive authority unless we are out of time and total annihilation is at stake.

A practical example is that the intellect has authority over the inorganic, and we could certainly make short term gains by stripping the valuable resources from our environment, but, if we are morally responsible, we will use the resource in renewable and responsible ways. Here we can arrange environmentalism in our framework as not being forced on us by any authority, but demanded of us as a moral responsibility.

As we speak about future bootstraps, beware the destructive valley.


In case it is not clear, the demands of moral responsibility override moral authority’s license to do violence to those in an inferior position. This applies in almost all but the most inescapable situations.

Violence is mostly restricted to situations where morally inferior systems are deliberately attempting to undermine and destroy morally superior systems.

One such situation would be a nationalistic government declaring war on an intellectually grounded civilization. In such a case, violent retaliation is warranted if the intellectual society has exhausted non-violent recourse or is in imminent danger of destruction.

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