What I will attempt in this post is to define 3 common types of akrasia as I experience them, in the hope to generate more useful vocabulary for this very important subject.
This post is greatly inspired by: Do a cost-benefit analysis of your technology usage, and other posts linked from that. It did not say much in terms of new things, but it was yet another unironic "wake up, sheeple" call to re-inspect my phone usage.
Something important to understand is that akratic behaviour is not the same for everyone. There is great variance about what people even consider an "unwanted activity". Most people are completely fine spending a weekend watching Netflix or playing a fun video game. And that's great. Akrasia is more about when you don't want to do these things: e.g. when you can't stop even though you wanted to do other things that weekend (like taking basic care of your body, or doing a straightforwardly more fun activity, like visiting a friend).
I think I am more on the strict side when it comes to considering things as akrasia: I find that doing many things that others consider normal makes me feel sick, guilty, and unsatisfied. And that I only do them when I'm akratic. I have a theory that most people should consider more things as serious unwanted behaviour, but that's a tale for another time.What I'm trying to say is that this post is about activities that ultimately cause more harm than good, not legitimate fun activities. Now, I think it is useful to talk about 3 different kinds of akrasia: catastrophic akrasia, routine akrasia, and momentary akrasia.
When, on some (hopefully rare) events, you spend many hours/days akratic and doing unwanted behaviour.
When every day you spend a medium amount of time on behaviours that do you harm. From 15 minutes to a few hours.
Akrasia that doesn't take much time out of the day, but it destroys your attention by constantly checking your phone, and having a damaging default behaviour for breaks/transition periods during the day. There is already much written about this subject, specifically the inspiration for this post. So I will keep this shorter.
I think these 3 types draw some useful distinctions. When talking about some unwanted behaviour, it may be valuable to put it in one of these 3 buckets.
Potential causes and treatments are out of the scope of this post. But maybe I will share my current system in the future. If I do, I suspect this vocabulary will be quite useful.
I felt like this classification system is potentially helpful.
But I felt that the title of the article could do with being refined. I read it as meaning that there were types of akrasia that could actually be beneficial for you in some surprising way, rather than it being beneficial to categorise akrasia by this typology.
Thanks for leaving a comment! This is my first LW post, so it's pretty exciting. :)I will think more about the title when writing future posts.
This leans a bit close to the pedantry side, but the title is also a bit strange when taken literally. Three useful types (of akrasia categories)? Types of akrasia, right, not types of categories?
That said, I do really like this classification! Introspectively, it seems like the three could have quite distinct causes, so understanding which category you struggle with could be important for efforts to fix.
Props for first post!
Oh, oops. I added the "categories" as panic-editing after the first comment. I have now returned it to the original (vague) title. Seems like a good time to use the "English is not my native language" excuse.Thanks! I hope it helps you in the future.