Elisey Gretchko


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Thanks for your humbleness in return.

I think it remains valuable from an idealistic point of view. And as with many idealistic views, the problems mainly arise when things become a little bit too absolute, not letting enough room for changing context. Nevertheless, this idealism can still have a value. 

Take for instance the first remark I made about the idea of “point of easy progress” becoming a case of “short-sightedness”. I find value in the idea of recognizing certain points in your progress and using them as a drive to continue and motivate yourself. As a matter of fact, this appeared to help you through some projects, and in the end, isn’t that what’s more important? I also have the impression that this is mostly the core of your message. The element that made me question was the idea of the “event horizon: once there, there’s no stopping” as an absolute statement that would be difficult to defend in practice. Lastly, there’s also the choice to approach this descriptively as how progress goes, or normative, as how progress should go. 

Regarding the need for frustration, challenge and so on, I also use a lot of assumptions stemming from my background in Psychology and existentialism. I hold the idea that positive experience appears to be relative instead of absolute, and positivity loses its valance without any negativity as a context. In this sense, some kind of suffering (how dramatic it may sound) is essential. It appears to me that it’s natural for people to hedonically maximize pleasure, and avoid suffering, which I believe is a good thing, a verry Human thing to do. However, we sometimes struggle with this kind of neurosis by overemphasizing this chase for the good and pleasure in a world where suffering is inevitable. 

The good academic in me would elaborate on this perspective and provide further evidence to this idea, however, it isn’t my intention for this comment to persuade anyone. Instead of me philosophizing about it, it might be more meaningful to have people trying out this ideal and reporting their good and bad experiences to update the model. 

Thank you for sharing, glad to hear this framework helped you through some projects. I have a few remarks/questions: 

Could it be that the idea of "The point of easy progress" may become a case of short-sightedness? I have trouble keeping those two apart. I think the illustrations you provided help to make my point. This notion of "from now on, it's easy and smooth downhill" looks similar to the problem you illustrated in the first picture in the short-sightedness paragraph. Because you risk thinking "ah, I'm at this sweetspot point where there's only flow and success" and then you stumble against the unpredictable problems that reality has to offer. I see it more as a human desire than an actual possible state. Or to word it differently, the idea of “point of easy progress” may become an imperfect extrapolation in itself. So the key question here: how do you differentiate the point of easy progress with the false assumption of a neverending downhill to succes? 

Also, I'm not sure if our 'willpower' is sustained by the point of easy progress as a kind of path of least resistance. I tend to agree with Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi and his concept of ‘flow’ that we tend to seek challenge in order to enjoy what we do, especially when it becomes too easy. On the contrary, too much of a challenge indeed demotivates. But it seems to be more about the interplay between too easy and too hard than the notion of easy progress. If tasks become to easy without sufficient challenge, we tend to get bored. However, I assume your point of easy progress doesn't necessary mean that there's no challenges ahead, but it might seem so with the depiction of 'cool, relax, it's now the forces of gravity and momentum that take it over, lay back and enjoy the ride'. 

Of course, a lot depends on how you define certain concepts. Success, and motivation/willpower to do certain behaviour don't imply each other (you can be motivated to do ‘unsuccessful things’). Or you might be successful in a (what now appears to be) an easy task but won't make much more progress. For instance, you can learn to be very good at simple maths up to a point where your success rate is 100 % (full marks on math test with simple additions and subtractions), but you need to encounter this uphill part where things become disorienting, frustrating and difficult to solve more complex problems in order to progress in your knowledge. 

Please correct me if I misunderstood certain concepts. I’m curious to what you think about the above. 

Edit: some grammar and spelling mistakes 

I'm not a mathematician, so it all remains very abstract for me. I'm curious if someone could explain it like I'm five. Is there some useful, concrete application to illustrate the theory?