Wiki Contributions


The way to dig the bottom deeper today is to get government bailouts, like bailing out companies or lenders, and like Biden's recent tuition debt repayment bill.  Bailouts are especially perverse because they give people who get into debt a competitive advantage over people who don't, in an unpredictable manner that encourages people to see taking out a loan as a lottery ticket.

Finding a way for people to make money by posting good ideas is a great idea.

Saying that it should be based on the goodness of the people and how much they care is a terrible idea.  Privileging goodness and caring over reason is the most well-trodden path to unreason.  This is LessWrong.  I go to fimfiction for rainbows and unicorns.

No; most philosophers today do, I think, believe that the alleged humanity of 9-fingered instances *homo sapiens* is a serious philosophical problem.  It comes up in many "intro to philosophy" or "philosophy of science" texts or courses.  Post-modernist arguments rely heavily on the belief that any sort of categorization which has any exceptions is completely invalid.

I'm glad to see Eliezer addressed this point.  This post doesn't get across how absolutely critical it is to understand that {categories always have exceptions, and that's okay}.  Understanding this demolishes nearly all Western philosophy since Socrates (who, along with Parmenides, Heraclitus, Pythagoras, and a few others, corrupted Greek "philosophy" from the natural science of Thales and Anaximander, who studied the world to understand it, into a kind of theology, in which one dictates to the world what it must be like).

Many philosophers have recognized that Aristotle's conception of categories fails; but most still assumed that that's how categories must work in order to be "real", and so proving that categories don't work that way proved that categorizations "aren't real".  They them became monists, like the Hindus / Buddhists / Parmenides / post-modernists.  The way to avoid this is to understand nominalism, which dissolves the philosophical understanding of that quoted word "real", and which I hope Eliezer has also explained somewhere.

I theorize that you're experiencing at least two different common, related, yet almost opposed mental re-organizations.

One, which I approve of, accounts for many of the effects you describe under "Bemused exasperation here...".  It sounds similar to what I've gotten from writing fiction.

Writing fiction is, mostly, thinking, with focus, persistence, and patience, about other people, often looking into yourself to try to find some point of connection that will enable you to understand them.  This isn't quantifiable, at least not to me; but I would still call it analytic.  I don't think there's anything mysterious about it, nor anything especially difficult other than (A) caring about other individuals--not other people, in the abstract, but about particular, non-abstract individuals--and (B) acquiring the motivation and energy to think long and hard about them.  Writing fiction is the hardest thing I've ever done.  I don't find it as mentally draining per minute as chess, though perhaps that's because I'm not very interested in chess.  But one does it for weeks on end, not just hours.

(What I've just described applies only to the naturalist school of fiction, which says that fiction studies about particular, realistic individuals in particular situations in order to query our own worldview.  The opposed, idealistic school of fiction says that fiction presents archetypes as instructional examples in order to promulgate your own worldview.)

The other thing, your "flibble", sounds to me like the common effect, seen in nearly all religions and philosophies, of a drastic simplification of epistemology, when one blinds oneself to certain kinds of thoughts and collapses one's ontology into a simpler world model, in order to produce a closed, self-consistent, over-simplified view of the world.  Platonists, Christians, Hegelians, Marxists, Nazis, post-modernists, and SJWs each have a drastically-simplified view of what is in the world and how it operates, which always includes "facts" and techniques which discount all evidence to the contrary.

For example, the Buddhist / Hindu / Socratic / post-modernist technique of deconstruction relies on an over-simplified concept of what concepts and categories are--that they must have a clearly delineated boundary, or else must not exist at all.  This goes along with an over-simplified logocentric conception of Truth, which claims that any claim stated in human language must be either True (necessarily, provably, 100% of the time) or False (necessarily, etc.), disregarding both context and the slipperiness of words.  From there, they either choose dualism (this system really works and we must find out what is True: Plato, Christians, Hegel, Marx) or monism (our ontology is obviously broken and there is no true or false, no right or wrong, no you or me: Buddhism, Hinduism, Parmenides, Nazis, Foucault, Derrida, and other post-modernists).  Nearly all of Western and Eastern philosophy is built on this misunderstanding of reality.

For another example, phenomenologists (including Heidegger), Nazis, and SJWs use the concept of "lived experience" to deny that quantified empirical observations have any epistemological value.  This is how they undermine the authority of science, and elevate violence and censorship over reasoned debate as a way of resolving disagreements.

A third example is the claim, made by Parmenides, Plato, Buddhists, Hindus, Christians, and too many others to name, that the senses are misleading.  This argument begins with the observation that every now and then, maybe one time in a million--say, when seeing a mirage in the desert, or a stick underwater (the most-frequent examples)--the senses mislead you.  Then it concludes the senses are always wrong, and assumes that reason is always 100% reliable despite the obvious fact that no 2 philosophers have ever agreed with each other using abstract reason as a guide.  It's a monumentally stupid claim, but once one has accepted it, one can't get rid of it, because all of the evidence that one should do so is now ruled out.

Derrida's statement "there is no outside text" is another argument that observational evidence should be ignored, and that rather than objective quantified evidence, epistemology should be based on dialectic.  In practice this means that a claim is considered proven once enough people talk about it.  This is the epistemology of German idealism and post-modernism.  This is why post-modernists continually talk about claims having been "proven" when a literature search can't turn up a single argument supporting their claims; they are simply accepted as "the text" because they've been repeated enough.  (Barthes' "Death of the Author" is the clearest example: its origin is universally acknowledged to be Barthes' paper of that title; yet that paper makes no arguments in favor of its thesis, but rather asserts that everyone already knows it.)  Needless to say, once someone has accepted this belief, their belief system is invulnerable to any good argument, which would necessarily involve facts and observations.

The "looking up" is usually a looking away from the world and ignoring those complicating factors which make simple solutions unworkable.  Your "flibble" is probably not the addition of some new understanding, but the cutting away and denial of some of the complexities of life to create a self-consistent view of the world.

Genuine enlightenment, the kind provided by the Enlightenment, or by understanding calculus, or nominalism, isn't non-understandable.  It doesn't require any sudden leap, because it can be explained piece by piece.

There are some insights which must be experienced, such as that of learning to whistle, or ride a bicycle, or feeling your voice resonate in your sinuses for the first time when trying to learn to sing.  These are all slightly mysterious; even after learning, you can't communicate them verbally.  But none of them have the grand, sweeping scale of changes in epistemology, which is the sort of thing you're talking about, and which, I think, must necessarily always be explainable, on the grounds that the epistemology we've already got isn't completely useless.

Your perception of needing to make a quantum leap in epistemology sounds like Kierkegaard's "leap of faith", and is symptomatic not of a gain of knowledge, but a rejection of knowledge.  This rejection seems like foolishness beforehand (because it is), but like wisdom after making it (because now everything "makes sense").

Escaping from such a trap, after having fallen into it, is even harder than making the leap of faith that constructed the trap.  I was raised in an evangelical family, who went to an evangelical church, had evangelical friends, read evangelical books, and went on evangelical vacations.  I've known thousands of evangelicals throughout my life, and not one of them other than I rejected their faith.

Genuine enlightenment doesn't feel like suddenly understanding everything.  It feels like suddenly realizing how much you don't understand.

This sound suspiciously like Plato telling people to stop looking at the shadows on the wall of the cave, turn around, and see the transcendental Forms.

To me, saying that someone is a better philosopher than Kant seems less crazy than saying that saying that someone is a better philosopher than Kant seems crazy.

An easy reason not to play quantum roulette is that, if your theory justifying it is right, you don't gain any expected utility; you just redistribute it, in a manner most people consider unjust, among different future yous.  If your theory is wrong, the outcome is much worse.  So it's at the very best a break even / lose proposition.

The Von Neumann-Morgenstern theory is bullshit.  It assumes its conclusion.  See the comments by Wei Dai and gjm here.

See the 2nd-to-last paragraph of my revised comment above, and see if any of it jogs your memory.

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