[ Question ]

What are some beautiful, rationalist artworks?

by jacobjacob1 min read17th Oct 202063 comments


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So you can now drag-and-drop images into comments. (Thanks, LessWrong dev team!) 

Hence, this post is an excuse to build a beautiful, inspiring, powerful — and primarily visual — comment section. 

Let's celebrate all that is great about the Art of Rationality, with images. 


  • Each answer must contain a picture. No links! 

It should be possible to just scroll through the comments and adore the artwork. There shouldn't be any need to click-through to other pages. (Think of it like a Pinterest board, if you've ever seen those.)

Adding text is fine, but consider doing it in a comment underneath your image, so it can be collapsed.  

  • Pictures should be somehow relate to the Art of Rationality, as practiced on LessWrong. 

Allowed: a breathtaking shot of a SpaceX launch; that solemn shot of Petrov deep in thought, gazing out his window; a painting of Galileo spearheading empiricism against the inquisition, ...

Not allowed: a random pretty mountain; the Mona Lisa; abstract expressionism, ...

I'll be liberal with this condition if you can give a good justification for why you chose your piece. 

  • Pictures should be beautiful art independently of their relation to rationality.

Allowed: an exquisite shot of some piece of elegantly engineered machinery; a richly colourful and swirling galaxy, ...

Not allowed: a random picture of Einstein and Gödel hanging out; a low-resolution photo of a galaxy which is cool because it represents an important advance in astronomy, but which in-and-of-itself just looks like some lame computer graphics; Petrov's own tourist photos, ...

  • Don't be a jerk, but do note if you think something is a major conflict with a virtue. 

Probably goes without saying... but don't be a pretentious art critic. The point of this thread is to pay tribute to those virtues that keep us striving to leave this world in a better place than we found it, guided by the Light of Science. Don't shout over the music. 

That being said, I do care about pictures actually representing rationality. For example, take that photo of the exhausted surgeon after a 23h heart transplant. If it turned out (hypothetical) to have been the result of really poor utilitarian calculations, and actually is in direct conflict with some of our virtues: I think it's important to note that. 


Note: I'm certainly not saying that the above rules are all that rationalist art is about. I'm just going for a particular vision with this comment field. Other posts can enforce other visions. :)

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22 Answers

Self Made Man
Tianjin Binhai Library
Pale Blue Dot, version 2
Rembrandt - The Anatomy Lesson of Dr Nicolaes Tulp (1632)
Tobacco plant expressing fluorescent protein
An Experiment on a Bird in the Air Pump
"Two girls sightseeing on a ringworld", by /u/Von_Grechii
The movement of a Patek Philippe Sky Moon Tourbillon Ref. 5002

Piotr Wozniack, inventor of SRS, the algorithm behind Anki