I have often been reflecting upon the concept of valuation neutrality as a scientific principle
and I have had a feeling that it could not check in all connections.
Among others that principle has as a consequence that the concept altruism has been lacking
validity. It has therefore often been talked about “apparent altruism”. Yet, most people can by
themselves imagine real altruism or at least experience it through the literature. Without
questioning I took it as evident that real altruism must exist.
When I got the idea to explanation of body formation it was based upon the description of the
behaviour of prisoners in a catastrophe situation by B. Bettelheim and by a suddenly
appearing memory of the slime molds of R. Ardray that were joining in a body. My first
thought had been that this idea would give me an argument against the validity of the
valuation neutrality as a scientific principle.
- * -
Thus far has, as far I can understand, the continuity of the development of life not been
questioned. That appears among others through different theories for body formation, e.g. the
colony theory: “If one would go through all the cell colonies that exist today, one would find
examples of all intermediate stages, from groups of unicellular organisms, ---, to well
integrated but yet primitive, multicellular organisms. Between the both extremes a continuum
reigns (see chapter 9).
Now I recall a formulation by S. J. Gould . Here it was a question about a geological
problem but I imagine that there can be some scientific principle at the bottom: “But they held
firm to the dogma that catastrophic causes must never be invoked so long as any gradualist
Regarding the problem of body formation I do not believe that any gradualist alternatives can
have any success.
- * -
The phenomenon of level rise has a decisive importance, since with this concept it has been
shown that life is existing discontinuously, at delimited levels, and that fact get consequences
in different respects.
Before the level rise the cells are biological individuals and directly being subject to the
environmental pressure but after that they have disappeared from the “world of Darwin”.
Their state can not be explained by the doctrine of evolution and they are living in a closed
The slug starts from zero and it creates its own properties and functions that the cells are
unable to seize. These cells are now the building stones of the body and instruments.
The situation in a body would therefore appear to be unexplainable for the individual cell and
I have tried to show that through a scenario in chapter 4.
The cells conceive the slug only through its operation control. Any apprehension bt the cells
of the slug as such or of its outer world is not imaginable.
- * -
What I here am going to bring up is what happens at the boarder to a higher level. Such a
boarder I have described in chapter 3, see pictures 1-3.
Here two “ideologies” with regard to the cells are standing against each other, selfishness in
phase one and altruism in phase two, the lower level against the higher and a situation of
choice situation may be conceivable among the cells within the territory.
These cells are situated in a situation that can be described in terms of behaviour and one may
as an intellectual experiment regard the cells as being consciously acting – in the reality of the
cells one may instead view it as an unconscious game of probabilities.
I have an old left over scenario that may fit here:
In the development process of the type of the slime molds and before it has achieved the first
level rise it is a question about two systems that are weighing against each other. At the
transition between these two forms of existence, just at the boarder moment both the systems
are at hand simultaneously and a situation of choice seems to be at hand for the cells.
This situation invites unsought to an intellectual experiment, where the cells are to be
imagined as conscious and able of speculating over their situation.
Their selfish live is comfortable and predictable and therefore they do not want to see any
change. They can not imagine altruism to be possible, they are only viewing a change as
negative and it seems to be frightening.
But if there were not to occur any change they would finally be lost. The become now
conscious of their value conflict between remaining within the comfortable vegetative state or
to accept the altruistic state and make the jump out to the unknown.
Here are hence two alternative ways of action, which may give rise to reflections. The one
leads to a level rise and the other to stagnation. There is no space for any value neutrality
among the cells in this situation. The system that leads to development would therefore maybe
have precedence? Not accepting that leads to stagnation and to refrain from development and
hence, from increased opportunities for survival.
Whether the one expedient is better than the other I refrain from having any opinion about.
Since values always have to be given with respect to a situation of election and my function
here is to be the neutral observer. But it is plausible that the cells, if they were able of
reflecting, would use the concept “better” and “worse” about the two alternatives,
If the cells in such a situation would try to decide to become altruistic, it would yet be
impossible. They would not be able to become altruistic, even if they wanted to be it.
- * -
If life were to be existing as a continuum, the situation that was being treated in that scenario
would never have been able to happen and a choice between different alternatives, a higher an
a lower level, would be excluded for the cells.
It is the occurrence of different levels, the very discontinuity of life that is creating values.
When there within a certain population exists a latent altruism, the choice between two
opportunities is thereby been brought to the fore and the concepts higher and lower, better and
worse, assume validity.
- * -
Wit the starting point in the eukaryote cells I can imagine three levels: eukaryote cells, bodies
and insect societies (see chapter 3).
These three levels are constructed in different ways, depending on their different “technical”
opportunities to function and carrying out the reproduction.
Bodies seem to me to be more loosely constructed than cells. The third level, insect societies,
are too undeveloped in order to be a basis for further a level and may therefore be regarded as
a natural end point in the series.
- * -
Here I proceed from the world of the cells to that of ours. For cells to be able to conceive a
higher level is completely excluded. That body is impalpable to the cells. And the
corresponding is of course valid or us but it is not the eventuality of a level rise that I shall be
treating here. What I am discussing is only the state in which the concepts higher and lower
values spontaneously are being conceived of as valid, which is an indication of an election
But that does not necessarily mean that a higher level is realizable. There is no opportunity to
beforehand decide whether a level rise is to take place, since it is not hereditary in the sense to
be caused by genes; it is instead a question of an election between two opportunities or “an
unconscious playing for probabilities”.
- * -
The precondition for the neutrality of values is that life can bethought of as existing in a
continuum. In such a world there can apparently not exist any election situation between two
levels as a starting point for values. In a world that is presumed to exist without any sharply
distinct levels the neutrality of values is therefore a natural and maybe inevitable consequence.
The neutrality of values means among others also that the concept of altruism is lacking
validity and it gets also that consequence, when altruism is anyway being observed that it for
example gets the denomination ”apparent altruism”. There is simply no place for real altruism
within the very idea of the world within natural sciences.
Earlier I have shown that this concept has a validity as it is an essential and inescapable part
of life (see chapter 5) and that the occurrence of the concepts of higher and lower values are
interconnected with the fact that life is existing within delimited levels.
- * -
One can not imagine a higher level than that where one oneself is existing. Hence must follow
that no certain statements about that higher level are possible. It can not be observed by
natural sciences but the opportunities of a thinkable such higher level can neither be denied.
Copyright © 1996: Per Olof Jonson, Bandhagen