Old man 1: Life is one trouble after another. I'd be better off dead, better yet, I wish I was never born

Old man 2: True, true, but who has such luck ?.. maybe one in a thousand.

My blog:

I'm also building an open source generic ML library: & .... which I guess might be of interest to some people here


How can I find trustworthy dietary advice?

Have you considered the reason for this is that optimal diet is highly variable, both genetic and environmental.

For example whatever a 16yo school going boy from Jordan and a 56yo recently retired woman from Nebraska ought to eat to maximize health/performance/happiness might be entirely different and, if switched, have disastrous effects.

But these effects could also be present in much more similar individuals and even in the same individual over time. Most humans used to eat entirely different diets depending on the weather.

What is going on in the world?

Bold claims about objective reality, unbacked by evidence, seemingly not very useful or interesting (though this is subjective) and backed by appeal to tribal values (declaring AI alignment as a core issue, blue tribe neoliberalism assumed as being the status quo...etc).

This seems to go against the kind of things I ever assumed could make it to less wrong sans-covid, yet here it is heavily upvoted.

Is my take here overly critical ?

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A non-mystical explanation of "no-self" (three characteristics series)

Can you give me one example of an invention that couldn't be communicated using the language of the time ?

For example, "a barrel with a fire and tiny wheel inside that spins by exploiting the gust of wind drawn towards the flame after it consumes all inside, and using an axel can be made to spin other wheels"... Is a barbaric description of a 1 chamber pressure based steam engine (and I could add more paragraphs worth of detail), but it's enough to explain it to people 2000 years before the steam engine was invented.

A non-mystical explanation of "no-self" (three characteristics series)

I can reduce "pushing the envelope" to other pre existing concepts. It's a shorthand not a whole new invention (which really would make little sense, new language is usually created to describe new physical phenomenon or to abstract over existing language, maybe and exception or two exist, but I assume they are few)

A non-mystical explanation of "no-self" (three characteristics series)

Your metaphor doesn't quite work, because you are trying really hard to show me the color red, only to then argue I'm a fool for thinking there is such a thing as red.

As in, it might be that no person on Earth has such a naive concept of subjective experience, but they are not used to expressing it in language, then when you try to make them express subjective experience in language and/or explain it to them, they say

  • Oh, that makes no sense, you're right

Instead of saying:

  • Oh yeah, I guess I can't define this concept central to everything about being human after 10 seconds of thinking in more than 1 catchphrase.

But again, what I'm saying above is subjective, please go back and consider my statement regarding language, if we disagree there, then there's not much to discuss (or the discussion is rather much longer and moves into other areas), because at the end of the day, I literally can not know what your talking about. Maybe I have a vague impression from years of meditation as to what you are referring to...or maybe not, maybe whatever you had in your experience is much more different and we are discussing two completely different things, but since we are very vague when referring to them, we think we have a disagreement in what we see, when instead we're just looking in completely different places.

A non-mystical explanation of "no-self" (three characteristics series)

I can't say something is right or wrong or probable unless I have a system of logic to judge those under.

Language is a good proxy for a system of logic, though sometimes (e.g. math and science) it's not rigorous enough. But for most discussion it seems to do kind of fine.

If you are introducing new concepts that can't be expressed using the grammar and syntax of the English language, I'm not sure there's a point in discussing the idea.

Using new terms or even syntax to "reduce" a longer idea is fine, but you have to be able to define the next terms or syntax using the old one first.

Doesn't that seem kind of obvious?

Just to be clear here, my stance is that you can actually describe the feeling of "being self" in a way that makes sense, but that way is bound to be somewhat unique to the individual and complicated.

Trying to reduce it to a 10 word sentence results in something nonsensical because the self is a more complex concept, but one's momentary experience needn't be invalid because it can't be explained in a few quick words.

Nor am I denying introspection as powerful, but introspection in the typical Buddhist way that you prescribe seems to simplist to me, and empirically it just leads to people contempt with being couch potatoes.

If you tried solving the problem, instead of calling paradox based on a silly formulation, if you tried rescuing the self, you might get somewhere interesting...or maybe not, but the other way seems both nonsensical (impossible to explain in a logically consistent way) and empirically leads to meh ish result unless your wish in life is to be a meditation or yoga teacher.

A non-mystical explanation of "no-self" (three characteristics series)

As for paraphrasing your argument, that's the thing, I can't, my point here is that you don't have an argument, you are abusing language without realizing it.

I'm not saying you're doing so maliciously or because you lack understanding of English, what I call "abuse" here would pass in most other essays but in this case, the abuse ends up throwing a bunch of unsolvable phenomenological issues that would normally raise to oppose your viewpoint under the rug.

 Let me try to give a few examples:

from behind their eyes; but they are actually aware of the sensation, as opposed to being aware from it

The English language lacks the concept of "being aware from a sensation", actually, the English language lacks any concept around "sensation" other than "experiencing it". 

"I am experiencing the world from behind my eyes" and "I am experiencing a pain in my foot" are the exact same in terms of "self" that is "having" a "sensation". This is very important, since in many languages, such as those that created various contemplative religion, "body" and "soul" are different things with "soul" seeing and "body" feeling and "self" being "soul" (I'm not a pali scholar, just speculating as to why the sort of expression above might have made sense to ancient hindus/budhists). In English languages (and presumably in English speakers, since otherwise, they'd feel the need for two terms) this idea is not present. The same "I" is seeing the world and experiencing pain.

Maybe you disagree, fine, but you have to use an expression that is syntactically correct in the English language, at least, instead of saying:

being aware from a sensation

This is a minimum amount of rigor necessary, it's not the most rigorous you can get (that would be using a system of formal logic), but it's the minimum amount of rigor necessary.


Another example, more important to your overall argument but the mistake here is less suttle:

It is a computational representation of a location, rather than being the location itself

First, very important, what is "It", the subject of this sentence, try to define "It" and you see the problem vanishes or the sentence no longer makes sense. But one way you can see this is by examining the phrase: 

"being the location itself"

A {location} can't {be}, not in the sense you are using {be} as {conscious as the}.


Etc, these sort of mistakes are present throughout this paragraph and neighboring ones, and I think they go unnoticed because usually, it's acceptable to break a few syntactic rules in order to be more poetic or fast in what you're communicating, but in this case, breaking the rules of syntax you end up subtly saying things that make no sense and can make no sense no matter how much you'd try to make them so. Hence why I'm trying to encourage you to try to be more explicit. 

First, just try to put the whole text into a basic syntax checker (e.g. Grammarly) and make it syntactically correct, and I'm fairly sure you will be enlightened by this exercise.


I'd speculate that the generator of the spelling mistakes is the fact that you are subtly shifting in your thinking from a perspective that says "An external world exists in a metaphysical way completely separated from my brain" and one that says "Everything in the external world, including my body, is an appearance in consciousness". And while both of these views are valid on their own, using both viewpoints in a unified argument is ignoring a few "hard problems of {X}".

But maybe I'm mistaken that this is what you are doing, I can't see inside your mind. However, I am fairly certain that simply try to be syntactically correct will show you that whatever you are trying to express makes no sense in our language. And if you try to go deeper, blame the language, and abstract it with a system of formal logic... then you will either run into an inconsistency or became the most famous neuroscientist (heck, scientist) in the history of mankind.  

A non-mystical explanation of "no-self" (three characteristics series)

That makes more sense if I use the term "phenomenological frameworks"

A non-mystical explanation of "no-self" (three characteristics series)

I'm not sure how to make it more clear, I can suggest rereading your own words again and trying to see if you can spot any inconsistency.

A non-mystical explanation of "no-self" (three characteristics series)

Haven't read the article fully, but I'm familiar with the general ideas presented thus far, one of the most philosophically naive is one I've also heard in various ways from loch Kelly, sam harris and douglas harding:

looking at the world from behind their eyes; but they are actually aware of the sensation, as opposed to being aware from it. It is a computational representation of a location, rather than being the location itself. Still, once this representation is fed into other subsystems in the brain, those subsystems will treat the tagged location as the one that they are “looking at the sense data from”, as if they had been fed a physical map of their surroundings with their current location marked.

Here you're basically switching phenomenological frameworks to perform a magic trick.

Either "the world" exists, truly exists outside my brain and then there is "something looking out at the world" and that representation is correct.


"The world" is just "inside my brain", but that world the includes the physical representation of my body, which is part of it, and that physical representation is still "outside and looking out at the world".

Both these viewpoints can be correct, simulateneously, they are different perspectives in which you can collapse the concept of "the outside world".

But shifting between the two without taking into account that a shift between two unreconcilable perspectives has happened, is missing a VERY important point.

I think that, in having to reconcile those perspectives, a lot of truth can be found, though it may be truth that doesn't exactly confirm a Buddhist worldview.

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