Aliveness

by Ziz18th Jan 201810 comments

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Can I suggest picking a different name for this term? A similar but relevantly different concept exists in martial arts and has been discussed here before.

I personally get better mileage out of Ziz posts when thinking of them as "this is way of thinking / series of metaphors that make sense to Ziz" as opposed to "this is an attempt to form a canonical new jargon term." (I don't have much idea how strongly Ziz intends things in one direction or another)

In this particular post, I initially had a reaction of "Alive is a super loaded term that I already have a bunch of intuitions about that have nothing to do with what you're describing here." (My intuitions were also different from the thing Davis linked)

But after finishing the article, I found a) it was getting at an important thing, b) at least to some degree, it was importantly contrasting with my default intuitions/connotations about the word, c) I had an easier time working with the post if I mentally inserted a sentence at the beginning going something like:

I have an important concept I want to get at. I think it's easiest to think about the concept with a metaphor - being alive, being dead, and being various kinds of undead.

Upvoted for minding long-term evolution of the structure. On the fence about whether it's worth it. Maybe "livingness"? (Would that help much or be almost as confusing?) I don't think I could pick anything but a synonym and not obscure the concept.

I like your posts - let me know if you want me to set up automatic crossposting from your blog, such that you don't have to keep making linkposts :-)

Hmm. Problem with crossposting is that in-text links aren't really visible here. Last time I tried it, at least one person didn't notice a link to a post, without which they misunderstood my post. Have discussed this with some devs, and remain convinced I need visible links. Y'all go your way, I'll go mine.

Edit: Actually I have more reason not to want automatic crossposting than that.

This was a very interesting read. One point of maybe-sort-of-contention I have with this, is that I am not convinced that "staring into the abyss" is something that you should allow to take over your heart, so to speak. It seems to me more productive to find an emotionally positive way to frame the situation, such as:

In the sea of possible worlds (paths through probability space), there is an island of good outcomes. My job is making this island bigger, working whatever magic I can to make it swallow more and more parts of the sea. But as I do this, I can still imagine my future self living on this island. The sea probably doesn't contain anything resembling myself anyway.

This is a bit like quantum immortality, which makes it dangerous, since we one should not reason as if the possible worlds in which one dies are "not real" or in any way neglect them in one's utility calculus. But, the difference is, you do care about the size of island and you do work hard to dry as much of that sea as you can.

I don't know if my approach is the best approach, but that's what seems to work the best for me, from what I was able to try so far.

This sounds like it was written for one of my draft posts to be a response to. Excellent.

Edit: summary is, your conception of productive is probably distorted by your refusal to engage the circuits that a reframing like this turns off. If you refuse a gate, you end up in a parallel universe where the actions you take seem correct and the gate seems unusuable anyway. If you go through, it feels like there's nothing you can do about it and you've destroyed hope for nothing, until you start to rebuild your mind in the more complete view of the world.

I think this highlights a connection between the fact that my day-to-day happiness isn't impacted much by my inevitable death, and how I am unusually good at not having to spend my time talking about whatever the viral must-talk-about topic of the week is. And I think it's largely genetic/developmental for me, which doesn't mean it's not also a learnable skill, it means I might be bad at teaching it. Maybe it's related to Nietzsche's metamorphoses? Maybe it's related to a sense of security and internal validation? Or a product of inflated arrogance? :)

I really enjoyed that, thank you :)