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Could I please get you to elaborate on what you think gets lost when I replace love with more well-defined terms?

I can think of one thing. It is a kind of emotional attachment to an idea due for cultural/memetic reasons. People are brought up to think that love is something super-important and valuable, even if they do not understand what it is. In this way, the term love can have a strong emotional effect. It communicates less actual meaning than a more specific term, but it communicates more emotion.

I think I covered it in my OP when I conceded that the term can be useful when I am trying to convey emotion rather than any detailed information:

When I say "I love you" to my wife, I don't intend this as a statement of fact with any well-defined meaning, but as an emotional signal like a kiss or hug.

Is that what you have in mind?

Most people and situations don't need more clarity than that for human relationships to progress.

As far as I can tell, a lot of romantic relationships are highly dysfunctional, and it is widely agreed that good communication is vital in a relationship. Given that, I think a lot of people would benefit from thinking more clearly about what love is supposed to be and what they expect from it.

If you mean "most people and situations don't need more clarity than that for human relationships to procreate", then I agree. But I think we can aim higher than that.

Is the thing that you are talking about clearly distinct from this thing from my OP?

Love as giving: The drive to protect someone and do stuff for them. (Altruism is a variant of this.)

Most people aren't confused, because they're not trying to be clear and rational.  

It is used to mean a very wide range of positive feelings, and should generally be taken as poetry rather than communication.  

Are you saying that most people only use term love as "poetry" and never when they are trying to be clear? I think this is a strong over-generalization.

Of course people are not always trying to be clear, but the concept of love also appears often when people are doing their best to be clear. In my experience, people will often say things like "is that really love?" and "that's not true love"

When trying to be clear, people will double down and keep talking about love. They will semi-silently insist on their unspoken intuition about what it means instead of stepping back and trying to clearly define their terms.

This kind of confusion is not unique to love, of course. But IMO it happens much more often than people realize.

In my experience, when I am tempted to fail with abandon, it has to do with resentment against some rule which I - in that moment at least - consider stifling and unfair. As you also cover in your article about "Should considered harmful".


I found the opening parts quite interesting.

I found your usage of the terms yin and yang confusing. Skimming the Wikipedia article about it did not help. In my opinion it would help if you would lead with a link to an article that explains yin and yang in the sense you use them and in a relatively concise way. (If such an article exists. If it does not, you might want to consider writing it.)

Likewise the term God. You seem to be using it to refer to something ineffable that you cannot describe adequately. It was not obvious to me that this concept was coherent.

EDIT: The article about yin/yang that I was hoping for appears to be the one about deep atheism which you did in fact link to: https://joecarlsmith.com/2024/01/04/deep-atheism-and-ai-risk 

You seem to assume as a matter of course that boredom equals suffering.

Buddhists will say that it is possible to learn to stop craving constant stimulation, such that you will no longer suffer when bored.

Buddhists will agree that you should not take damage from moving or working, but I think Buddhists will also say that you should not take damage from being idle.

(I am not a Buddhist, but I practice Buddhist-inspired meditation and other practices, and so far it taught me to take less damage from work and boredom alike.)

Originally I felt happy about these, because “mostly agreeing” is an unusually positive outcome for that opening. But these discussions are grueling. It is hard to express kindness and curiosity towards someone yelling at you for a position you explicitly disclaimed. Any one of these stories would be a success but en masse they amount to a huge tax on saying anything about veganism, which is already quite labor intensive.

The discussions could still be worth it if it changed the arguer’s mind, or at least how they approached the next argument. But I don’t get the sense that’s what happens. Neither of us have changed our minds about anything, and I think they’re just as likely to start a similar fight the next week.


May I ask what your motivation was when you decided to spend your time on the aforementioned discussions? Were you hoping to learn something or to persuade the other, or both?

It sounds to me as though the solution here is to be more cautious before spending time arguing. Sometimes (often) it is IMO wiser to cut your losses and stop replying.

What have you tried?

In my experience, meditation works wonders to improve focus. Some people might recommend exercise as a way to improve energy. (Meditation and exercise also takes time, of course.)

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