A Complete List of Short Pieces
An Index of Works by O.G. Rose (First to Newest)
How do I know when I’m being anxious versus when I’m being wise? They feel so similar. I don’t want to take costly and unnecessary precautions, but I also don’t want to run out of toilet paper. Let’s discuss.
Marx emphasized creativity but failed to identify what I call the artifex or “creator class,” which is made up of entrepreneurs, inventors, and artists. An artifexian is anyone who creates or recreates a means of production and/or a thing to be produced. I think Marx conflated creators with the general proletariat, and I think that’s why his material dialectic is incomplete.
After a few hours, the adults finish their intricate sand-city. There are buildings with windows, streets, taxis, and even a small Statue of Liberty. The parents stand up, brush off their knees, rest their hands on their hips, and smile at one another.
We are what we love, to allude to James K.A. Smith’s invaluable phrase, for what we love is what forms our habits, and our habits form our character. Importantly, Scruton argued that we find beautiful what we love and love what we find beautiful, and if Smith is correct, that means what we find beautiful shapes our habits and character.
The word “midwife” sounds archaic, like something out of the Middle Ages. “Doctor” sounds professional and safe: when people hear that you are using a doctor, they are familiar with the term, and it strikes them as modern and up-to-date. But “midwife” is a word that’s hard to place. It sounds old. It doesn’t sound safe. And why is “wife” in there? Midwives are halfway married? For more on the origin of the name click here.
Fire is dangerous but keeps us warm. The key is that we shouldn’t play with fire. Likewise, we shouldn’t play with hope, for when we’re careless, we start calling “hope” what is actually an “expectation,” something that can incubate an entitlement spirit and leave us vulnerable to boredom and disappointment.
Government and democracy also need to maintain legitimacy, as Jürgen Habermas discusses in his important Legitimization Crisis. If people don’t believe in “the system,” they will likely feel existentially anxious and oppose it. If people believe the process by which elected officials take office is corrupt or that the government doesn’t reflect the will of the people, the people will not believe it is right to follow the government. In fact, in their minds, a conflict between righteousness and the State can arise, moralizing civil disobedience.
Let’s say you need glasses. Is it practical for you to wear them? Absolutely: glasses pretty much make all practice possible; it would be hard to walk to the fridge without them. Glasses won’t help you lift a box onto a shelf directly, but indirectly, they are absolutely essential…
But there’s a problem: it’s rational for businesses to make themselves invincible, and if it’s possible, that’s what the smart businesses will do. And to make a long story short, America made it possible by mixing the markets and government. How? Read “No Exit” — here you’ll just have to take my word for it.
(Blog) If you skip the old books and go straight to the breaking news, it will probably just break you.
The point is that knowing what to believe about anything is super hard, but it’s especially hard to know what to think about something that’s still in the process of happening now. The newer the story, the more intense the problem of certainty (the more Ludwig laughs)…
You Couldn’t Have Been Listening if You Don’t Think Like Me
(Blog) If someone doesn’t change their views into yours, they must be closed-minded.
…I think we need to take a moment to stress that someone can listen to you and still not think like you. The assumption seems to be going around that if someone actually listened to me, they’d change their views and think like me. The same mistake happens with empathy: if someone was actually empathetic, the disagreement would vanish, (because they’d think like me). Agreement seems to be the litmus test for determining if someone is listening or empathetic, because how else could we tell? (Other than say trust and “assuming the best” of others, which would leave us vulnerable to manipulation and worse.) But if that’s the case, then listening and empathy become practically indistinguishable from indoctrination.
If you can’t tell if it’s true, ask who it will help (but don’t assume that’s easy to determine)
Figuring out what and how to think is harder than most schools suggest. Mastering reading and memorization, to start, are not enough.
The following is a list of questions that are laid out in a suggested order people should follow to determine if they should believe something. Without a systematic guideline for thinking, insanity isn’t out of the question.
Please don’t assume this outline is perfect, and perhaps the order needs adjustment, but at the very least, I hope it helps…
Feeling Good About School
(Blog) School can train us to “always” wait for our feeling of being reasonable to be confirmed.
It is reasonable to believe a thing doesn’t exist if you can’t see it if it “is” a thing that if it existed you would be able to see it. On the other hand, it is unreasonable to believe a thing doesn’t exist if you can’t see it if it “is” a thing that can’t be seen. Perhaps it’s microscopic, a virtue like justice, or an alternative dimension of space and time? Hard to say…
Søren or Holden on a Roof
(Blog Parable) You are born in a theater and have never been outside.
You are born in a theater and have never been outside. The building is condemned, but not to you, because as far as you’re concerned, home is like all buildings are supposed to be: the walls are cracked; the roof leaks; mold expands in the corners. You have never seen the signs outside the entrance that warn about danger, and even if you had, the ink wore off years ago…
If You Think for Yourself Without Falsification, You’ll Go Crazy.
(Blog) And Other Reflections on Karl Popper’s Legendary Contribution
1. Verification is where we try to find reasons to believe what we believe, while falsification is where we try to find reasons not to believe what we believe. If we try to falsify x and can’t, then we have all the more reason to believe it; if we try to falsify x and succeed, then we shouldn’t believe x anyway. We’re better off.
2. It could be said that falsification sort of entails verification, but verification doesn’t necessarily entail falsification.
3. Confirmation bias is always what other people have…
Arguing Hume Through a Wedding Venue
A Thought Based on “Deconstructing Common Life”
David Hume made an extremely valuable distinction between “good philosophy” and “bad philosophy.” Hume understood that philosophy itself could be a problem, and that if reasoning did not ultimately defer to a “common life,” it would become a force of destruction…
In Infinite Information Over Enough Time…
(Blog) All Ideas Lacking Internal Contradiction Will Be Discovered and Possibly Wrong.
In infinite information over infinite time, any networks of ideas that don’t internally contradict will be discovered, and precisely because they maintain internal consistency, the networks will be plausible…
On Consciousness, Creativity, and Being
(Blog) To talk about consciousness is to take your life into your own hands.
1. To talk about consciousness is to take your life into your own hands.
2. Consciousness is where thinking and perception mix like milk and dye. (Consciousness and sub-consciousness also mix inseparably.)
In line with “On Thinking and Perceiving,” what I think about is “conscious” while what I perceive is “sub-conscious” (or “below consciousness”). When I think about a chair, I am conscious of it, but the chair beneath my thoughts that I perceive is sub-conscious. When I think about a chair in a room I perceive, the room is sub-conscious, while the chair is both conscious and sub-conscious. In this sense, my sub-conscious is the context of my conscious mind, as perception is the context of thought.
3. Consciousness is paradoxical and/or ironic.
(Blog) Directionalism and A Summary of Points Made Throughout O.G. Rose
Where there is freedom, there will be limits, so the existence of limits does not necessarily prove the nonexistence of freedom. In fact, limits are what make freedom possible and could be evidence of its presence. Thus, if determinism is to disprove free will, it must prove not so much limits, but external influences on a will that keep it from being free. Keep in mind that a will that influences itself is a free will.
Political Packages and Ultimatums
(Blog) Expand Beyond “Left and Right” to include “Up and Down”
If w candidate was Pro-Choice but supported every other issue you supported, while candidate z was Pro-Life but was against every other issue you supported, would you vote for w instead of z?
If x candidate was a racist but supported every other issue you supported, while candidate y wasn’t a racist but was against every other issue you supported, would you vote for x or y?
Is there an “ultimatum issue” in your worldview?
Is Capitalism Today Zero-Sum?
(Blog) Growth is When All Ships Rise Together, but What if Growth Stops?
Jobs and money are created, so it does not necessarily follow that someone takes a job or paycheck from someone else in working and gaining a raise. The rich are not necessarily rich at the expense of the poor, as the employed are not necessarily employed at the expense of the unemployed. But what if growth stagnates? What if wealth ceases to be created?
If You Want to Find Meaning in Life, Don’t Look for It.
(Blog) Instead, look at beauty and increase your capacity to experience it. Meaning is found indirectly.
There is a lot of talk today about finding meaning, and I won’t argue with any of it. If you haven’t read Victor Frankl or Daniel Pink, you should: a life with all the riches in the world but without meaning is a life suffered. However, I think there’s a problem: the advice we’re given is to do whatever it is we are intrinsically motivated to do, and though that’s all the advice a lot of people need, there are lots of people for whom this isn’t enough guidance at all. They don’t know what they want. They don’t know what they are intrinsically motivated to do. And so their suffering can almost get worse by learning about the importance of meaning. If they didn’t know they needed a meaningful life and didn’t do something meaningful, that would be bad, but now they know they should live a meaningful life and aren’t, and that’s worse.
On “How Do We Escape? by Justin Murphy and Johannes Niederhauser”
(Causal Thought) Technology, Enframing, Being, and Beauty
Justin Murphy and Johannes Niederhauser are starting a class on Heidegger and Deleuze, and I really enjoyed their conversation. I think today Heidegger would be especially horrified by how we can’t take a walk in the woods anymore without thinking about potential tweets or posts we could make about our walk. Our “towardness” to the world has changed: everything is a potential commodity for our online lives. This by extension controls our horizons and ways of life in ways that even captures and “fences in” our imaginations: we live in societies of control in many ways.
The Unexamined Life Isn’t Easy to Live
(Blog) There’s better life insurance out there.
Socrates once said that “the unexamined life isn’t worth living,” but I agree with Merold Westphal (who’s a genius, by the way) that Socrates is simply wrong. There are plenty of people who have never read Nietzsche or Plato who go on to live deep and fulfilling lives.
Still, I don’t think Socrates was totally off the mark (I’m biased and like philosophy, after all). Personally, I think it’s better to say, “the unexamined life is risker to live.”
Story Is The Structure of Life and Fiction
(Blog) Problematically, We Conflate “Fiction” with “False.”
Reality is more like a story than a collection of facts, and yet when someone claims something is like a story, we tend to associate it with being fictitious. Paradoxically, we associate “raw facts” with depicting reality accurately, when none of us live in a world of “just facts.” Subjectivity is very real in our experience, so unless I’m going to live in a world without the very subjectivity that makes my awareness of facts possible, then subjectivity must be included in my depiction of reality if that depiction is to be accurate. And yet the moment I do so, I can be accused of making my depiction inaccurate, and indeed, maybe I am: in subjectivity not being as “solid” as facts, it can be much harder to know if I’m giving subjectivity the right treatment and incorporating it properly. This can increase anxiety, which can increase a temptation to escape that anxiety by removing subjectivity again (as I will likely be encouraged to do).
Certainty Entails a Lot of Unintended Consequences
(Blog) On Fear, Fragility, Anti-Diversity, Bad Nihilism, Conspiracies, Perverted Rationality, and the Death of…
If the intellectual goal of our lives is certainty (and worse yet, if certainty is moralized), then with a single doubt, we lose the goal. However, if the goal is confidence, we can have doubts and even many doubts, and not lose what we’re after. Additionally, if the goal is certainty, diversity of opinion, people, etc. are all threats, because difference creates reason to doubt, and if we must have certainty, we cannot have even a single doubt. But if the goal is confidence, the encounters with difference are not threats; in fact, they can help us expand our views and test our confidence, perhaps strengthening our confidence in ways it should be strengthened and weakening it in ways it should be weakened.
Anxiety and Schrödinger’s Conceivability Structures
(Blog) On Personally Experiencing Our Lack of Omniscience, the Impossibility of Particularizing General Conceivability…
It is impossible to escape having a worldview or philosophy: the battle is keeping it from becoming an ideology that “does our thinking for us” and/or “that makes the world a worse place.” Worldviews are structured like stories, but problematically, so are conspiracies, philosophies, ideologies, and the like. We cannot from identifying structures alone defend our minds from falsities, but that means we have to do a lot of investigation that cannot promise us any fruitful results.
Memory Is the Mind’s Air
(Blog) Memories are the conditions that make thought and finding patterns possible.
Memory is so critical to thinking that it is often ignored. Similarly, oxygen is so important to biological survival that it is taken for granted. It is possible for there to be memory without thinking, but not thinking without memory. This is because with memory, I can still mentally experience images and thoughts, even if I cannot connect them with logic into thinking. Without memory, even if I have a self, it will be impossible for me to meaningfully discuss that self, for I lack the mental material by which to define and explain what that self has gone through, experienced, and how that self has been understood by others.
Phenomenology as a Method for Avoiding Formalism
(Blog) We need definitions and structures, but how can we create them without risking arbitrary restriction and…
Formalism is the act of creating structures in which entities like “beauty,” “goodness,” and “truth” can be defined and judged. It’s a kind of philosophical recipe where we say that if we have a little x, a spoonful of y, and a pinch of z, we’ll have ourselves a beautiful painting. Formalism is extremely tempting because it creates a clear standard by which to judge things, to create things, to strive for things to become like, and so on. Without formalism, we can feel like we’re lost in a sea of chaos, but the cost of not feeling lost is restriction.
Structural Isomorphism in Argument
(Blog) Failure to understand the “sharing of argumentative forms” leaves us defenseless against a way our minds seeks…
Photo by Caroline Veronez
Imagine a person wore an earring on their right ear and looked in a mirror; the earring would look to be on their left. Similarly, when it comes to their arguments, Liberals and Conservatives often use the same forms with different accidents: their arguments possess identical structures, though the details of their arguments vary. I believe failure to understand this “sharing of argumentative forms” leaves us defenseless against ways our minds seek to trick us yet again.
We use the term “subjective” to refer to a person’s personal take on this or that. We have subjective opinions, subjective views of the world — pretty much everything humans do can be called “subjective.” Tastes, sights, likes — all of it. But the word “subjective” is problematic, for though we tend to know what it means when asked directly, it bears some problematic connotations.
This is a preview list of short pieces I wrote focused on “thinking about thinking,” mental models, epistemology, and the like…
3 Points on the Invasion of the Capital and Our Brains
(Blog) We are habituated to not believe anything we see, to make our beliefs unfalsifiable, and to only change our…
You’ve probably heard the rumors by now that the protestors yesterday were actually members of Antifa pretending to be Trump supporters in order to stage an invasion of the Capitol that would destroy Congressional support for investigating claims of election fraud.
First, I want to note how quickly this narrative emerged. It didn’t take but an hour for the idea to spread across the internet like wildfire. Some people came up with it, and instantly the idea dawned upon millions…
Is Social Media a Crowded Movie Theater?
(Blog) If we accept limiting free speech in a crowded space, then we need to have a hard conversation about social…
We all know that we can’t shout “fire!” in a crowded movie theater, that our freedom of speech can’t put other people in danger. We also can’t harass, make death threats, and so on — none of that is controversial. Yes, there’s a hard to define “gray zone” when trying to decide what constitutes unallowable “hate speech,” and we all know about that debate (which I discuss in “The Spectre of McCarthyism”) — and though a critical discussion, that’s not what I’m interested in today.
Instead, I want to focus on an idea Mike M. brought to my attention: Is social media inherently “a crowded movie theater” (especially if we have a large following like the President)? Additionally, if we are the President, are we considered the equivalent of a fire marshal, and so for us to shout “fire” is especially consequential?
Is There Ever Real Progress in Philosophy?
(Blog) If the Great Conversation never ends, why bother?
Is there ever real progress in philosophy? What about literature, sociology, economics — don’t all the “soft sciences” have the same problem? I think a lot of it hinges on the question of if we think progress is possible without certainty. Personally, I mostly think certainty is impossible, but we can still garner confidence, and not all confidence is equal (some is better than others).
Are There No Answers In Philosophy?
(Blog) More thoughts on the possibility of abstract progress.
We already talked about the possibility of progress in philosophy, but a few more things can be said. Is it true that there are “no answers” in philosophy, only questions? Again, if our standard is certainty, that might follow, but even if “absolute answers” are impossible, it doesn’t follow that “answers in general” or “better answers” cannot be obtained. This might sound problematic, but it’s not that different from most questions we live with just fine. If I’m asked, “How was your day?” I can only answer about this day: it is not actually possible for me to discover a general answer to this question that I could apply to every day of my life (though, that’s not to say we don’t try with answers like “fine”).
Are People Being Radicalized?
(Blog) YouTube is accused of causing radicalization, but is “radicalization” even a useful category?
The Making of a YouTube Radical was put out by The New York Times in 2019, and it has sparked a vigorous debate ever sense, a debate that has come back into prominence with the recent invasion of the Capitol. The piece basically argues that YouTube contributes to young men especially being indoctrinated into right-wing radicals. Mark Ledwich recently debated the premise at this tremendous podcast.
Everyone Is Rational
(Blog) The problems we need to manage are much deeper.
Nobody does anything they think is irrational. If they touch fire, which is arguably stupid, they must be doing it because they want to impress someone, feel pain, or see what fire feels like. In light of this desire and want, touching the fire becomes rational to them, even if it’s not actually rational. But unfortunately, only God can ultimately know what is actually rational, and none of us are God. Maybe touching fire gets someone a promotion to being chief of a village somewhere? Can we really say that it’s never rational to touch fire? Seems extremely situation-dependent…
Why Calls for Unity Don’t Work
(Blog) Until we achieve “substantive democracy,” replace “tolerance” with “humility,” accept possible vulnerability to…
Who doesn’t want to be unified? Anyone out there like division? Not many? Then why does the country seem so divided? Why do so many people feel like “calls for unity” are just propaganda?
Imagine that Darth Vader said to the Rebels “It’s time for unity” — do you think “unity” would be taken as anything else than “join us or else?” It would also entail a moral threat, for failing to unify with the Empire would contribute to division. And people don’t tend to respond well to moral threats…
What is a “metatalk?”
A metatalk is when we talk about the mechanisms of talking, thinking, relationships, and the like. It’s not just any talking, but a particular kind of talking in which we try to figure how and why all parties interpret things the way they do, why they feel a certain way, and what they think we’re saying when they say this or that (countless more examples could be made).
“Talking” is about dinner, what we did today, how we’re feeling, etc.
“Metatalking” is about why we thought it was good to do what we did today, why we felt x way when y happened, etc.
Is It Good to Want to Be Missed?
(Blog) Live so that others always feel at home
Is it good to want people to miss us when we’re gone? Or is that selfish? In one way, it means we want to live a life that matters to people, but in another, it means we want people to suffer. What’s right?
If nobody cares when we die, this might suggest we didn’t live a good life. Worse yet, if people are secretly happy that we’re dead, we probably blew it. So, in the sense that we don’t want people to be apathetic or happy over our death, the phrase “I want to be missed” seems positive.
But, at the same time, that leaves people to be sad over our death, and sadness hurts. Therefore, if we want people to miss us when we’re gone, doesn’t that mean we want people to suffer? And isn’t it wrong to want people to suffer?
Beauty might help us find the balance.
On Justification and Consequences to Others
(Blog) A Reflection on Evidence Relative to Contained Versus Uncontained Risk
As brought up in “The Conflict of Mind” by O.G. Rose, the amount of justification an argument needs to be accepted should be considered as relative to the degree that the consequences of the argument are contained and individuated versus uncontained and nonindividuated. There are “nonindividuated consequences” — consequences that I suffer because of the choices of others — and “individuated consequences” — consequences that I suffer because of my own choices (we could also say “contained consequences” versus “uncontained consequences”).
Rationality Is Mostly About Making Good Bets
(Blog) On Logic, Probability, and Scope
If A is B, and B is C, is C equal to A? Yes, that would be a rational conclusion. Now try this one: if A is B 20% of the time, and B is C 15% of the time, what percentage of the time is C equal to A? That’s a lot trickier, isn’t it? (5% sounds right, no?) Well too bad we live mostly in a world of probabilities, though by how rationality and logic are often discussed, it’s suggested we live in a world composed mostly of basic syllogisms.
I Think, Therefore There Is Reason To Think
(Blog) Appreciating Descartes as Helping Us See Thinking Like Proofs
Descartes does not prove we exist, only that we are a closed system that must assume our existence in order to proceed. Descartes only suggests we cannot not exist, for to think we don’t exist, something must exist to think we’re not around.
Essence is what makes a thing that particular thing. In other words, essence is what makes “that chair.”
Substance is what makes a thing a general thing. In other words, substance is what makes “a chair.”
Form is what makes the idea of a thing, without which the thing would not be intelligible. In other words, form is what makes “that idea of a/that chair.
Art Is a Source for Mental Models
(Blog) On How Art Provides Categories and Lenses
“Mental models” are tools through which we can understand the world. Reminiscent of Cardinal Newman’s point that words do not wear their meaning (which means interpretation is unavoidable), data does not “wear on its face” the right way to interpret it, nor does data tell us automatically the right conclusions we should draw. We have to do that work ourselves, but if we use the wrong model or lens through which to understand data, the data won’t stop us from making that mistake. It will remain silent, and, right or wrong, let us do what we want with it.
Systems Think Before Systematically Thinking
(Blog) If we work hard with the wrong tool, we won’t get much done.
The way we think about something can be just as important as how hard we think about it. If I try to hammer in a nail with a wrench, it might work, but it might also mess up the job. Nails need hammers, and there are jobs that if I try to use a hammer when a screwdriver is needed, I might break whatever it is I’m working on.
Economic Hardship, Resulting Extremism, and Mob Rule
(Blog) Conservatism and Liberalism on the Relationship Between Standards of Living, Family Strength, and State…
Kennan Grant proposed the following consideration:
If sufficient economic hardship inevitably produces a minority of violent, extremist political powers — be they fascist or communist or what have you — and if that minority is all it takes to intimidate the majority into compliance because the majority is, at their best, protecting their dependents…
Then aren’t you left with only two solutions?
Solution 1: The society never falls into economic ruin.
Solution 2: Families decide, as entire families, to be courageous and defiant. No family member will comply with an extremist movement out of fear for their dependents.
And since solution 1 is (probably) impossible in the long run, that leaves solution 2.
What am I missing?
In my mind, Grant has laid out a useful framework for considering ideological differences (he himself, nor I, would not claim it is a hard “natural law” of political science but still helpful). It reminds me of James Madison in the Federalist Papers, considering ways to avoid both “majority mob rule” and “tyranny by a minority” (views on which shape views on State size). The framework might help us understand differences between Conservatives and Liberals, Capitalists and Socialists, and though this short work will not endeavor to prove “who’s right,” it might still prove helpful for providing bearings on political discourse today. Also, we might discover some ironies and paradoxes, which is my favorite pastime.
Native Tongues and Native Worldviews
(Blog) How we don’t fully know a language or fully believe what we have to translate — or at least don’t feel like it.
We don’t fully know a language until we don’t have to translate it. A native English speaker, I don’t have to “translate” English when I hear it: I just “know” what it means. Perhaps in a sense I am translating the words into concepts, but I’m certainly not translating English into Latin and then into concepts. Considering this, I think it’s fair to say that languages we really know are ones we don’t translate: if some kind of translation occurs, it’s so quick and automatic that it’s practically not translation at all.
Why Do Madness and Genius Like to Tango?
(Blog) Shouldn’t they share an inverse relationship?
It’s a cliché now, associating genius and madness: the market is saturated with movies and shows about it. The Queen’s Gambit, PI, Whiplash — I could go on. Why does this stereotype resonate? Well, because Nikola Tesla seems to have loved a pigeon and John Nash developed schizophrenia — the stereotype is backed by evidence. But isn’t that strange? If genius is the ability to reason, and madness the inability to reason, shouldn’t they share an inverse relationship versus correlate?
None of Us Are Very Smart
(Blog) We should focus on “being logical” more than “being intelligent.”
What does it mean to call someone “smart” if at best all we ever know is maybe 1% of all there is to know? Okay, let’s be generous: let’s say we can know 10%. What was failing in High School? 69%? Yea, I don’t think any of us are very smart.
Thinking there are “smart people” out there, we come to overestimate how much people know. We need to get it deep in our bones: we don’t really know anything. We know a sliver of a sliver of a sliver of a sliver…of what this universe holds. Our smartness is maybe the size of a gnat, so what does it mean to say someone is “smart?” Not much.
Beauty and Art Inspire Creativity
(Blog) If our desire to create increases as does our experience of beauty and meaning, increasing aesthetic capacities…
Have you ever met someone who thinks they aren’t creative? A lot of people, right? Very few people are willing to say “I’m creative,” and the people who are creative just seem lucky. And indeed, there probably is luck involved, but what if part of the problem is that we need to stop “trying to be creative” and instead “try to experience beauty?” What if like meaning, creativity is something we find indirectly more so than directly? What if it’s by directly seeking beauty and art that we can indirectly cultivate our creativity (and sense of meaning)?
Explanations Are Not Evidence
Thoughts based on “Self-Delusion, the Toward-ness of Evidence, and the Paradox of Judgment” by O.G. Rose.
An explanation is not evidence. If there is a cup on a table, I could probably come up with a thousand (possible) explanations for how it got there (maybe more). At the end of the day though, only one explanation would be true. If I convinced you that you were obligated to investigate every plausible explanation, then in the name of truth, I would have convinced you to waste a lot of time.
Neurodiversity Overcomes Rational Impasses and Stops Eugenics
Is neurodiversity the best way to escape Nash Equilibriums?
Lorenzo Barberis Canonico recently gave a presentation in which he argued that rational individuals in the Prisoner’s Dilemma will produce an irrational outcome, that the only way to break through this “trap of game theory” is for someone to act “non-rationally.” Lorenzo makes a point not to say “irrationally,” for if the final outcome of a “non-rational” act is “the best outcome” for everyone involved (such as the case in the Prisoner’s Dilemma), it wouldn’t make sense to call it “irrational.” And yet it doesn’t fit to say “rational” either, for those involved had to act against their (apparent) self-interest in order to achieve “the best outcome.”
Particularity, Situatedness, and Knowing Where We Are
Specificity helps us locate ourselves, so does that mean generality and duplication contribute to us feeling lost?
If I start talking about McDonald’s, you will probably have no idea where I’m talking about: Mcdonald’s is everywhere. But if I mention Café Du Monde, you’ll probably know I’m talking about New Orleans. Particularity entails situatedness, especially where there isn’t duplication. When talking about the Mona Lisa, we know we are talking about the Louvre — or maybe not. The original, yes, we associate with that famous museum, but now that the world is filled with copies and prints of the painting, perhaps I could be talking about “seeing the Mona Lisa” in my friend’s house. Due to duplication, it’s not so easy to know where we’re situated when talking about the famous painting.
The questions we ask say a lot about who we are — questions suggest identity. If I were a bug, I wouldn’t ask the same questions I do as a person. I might wonder, “Why is grass so tall?” “Do bugs have souls?” “Why do humans squash us?” but probably not much about the Green Bay Packers or Nolan’s most recent masterpiece. If I were a star, I might wonder why I didn’t have arms for hugs; if I were a bird, I might wish I could cook. Even when I genuinely want to know, I cannot help but want to know in a way that is suitable for me.
Generally, there are people who lean more on the side of “wanting” and others who lean more on the side of “willing” (though of course everyone is a mixture). Perhaps we could say that A-personality types are more “wanting people” while B-personality types are more “willing” (though I generally dislike these categorizations). Please note that neither is necessarily better than the other and that we are all a mixture of both: the point this short work will stress is how both personality types can be misunderstood and hurt as a result.
On “Why the Worst Get on Top” by Friedrich Hayek
Is the problem today Right vs Left or something bigger?
Friedrich Hayek argued that when it came to large central planners, most people assumed ‘that the rise of [dictators wasn’t] the necessary consequence of a totalitarian system,’ that benevolent dictators were possible and that just because large central planners in the past devolved into Nazism or Maoism, it wasn’t the case that they had to end up this way.¹ Is this true? If so, the problem isn’t so much about Right vs Left, but Up vs Down (as Kohr warned).
“Unleashing Criticism” Versus “Constructive Criticism”
Should criticism inspire?
Does criticism “construct” creators? Are creators and artists balls of unformed clay that, without critical direction, spend all their days as lumps of nothing? That might be what critics like to think, for that makes them extremely important, and furthermore the metaphor makes creators out to be children lost in the dark, stumbling around, trying to figure out what to do. The children are forever lost until someone comes along with “a lamp of criticism” to help the creators find their way, and forever forth, the creators are in the debts of “the lamp bringer.”
Reality Handicaps Preventive Measures
Ideas are hard to live by, while experiences are natural.
There are situations that, once we’re in, a tragic trade-off is inevitable. It’s best to avoid these situations in the first place, but until we’re in them, we only have the idea of how difficult the situations will be, not the experiences. “Ideas are not experiences” — as the paper by that name argues — and ideas are much weaker at compelling human action than experiences. Considering this, it’s improbable humans will take preventative measures, especially if those measures are costly and similar historic events (which could provide reference points) distant.
The Risks of Complicated Language
Using jargon, it’s easy to miss out on deeper insights.
I doubt anyone wakes up one day and decides they want to use complicated language. Sure, we can accuse academics of wanting to show off, and I’m sure sometimes they do, but that’s the simple answer — what’s the real reason for jargon? Well, when the topic we’re discussing is so complex and difficult, we end up using phrases like “ontological negativity,” “substitutionary atonement,” “anarcho-primitivism” — I could go on — just to save time. Explaining every term and justifying the concept every time would mean when we sat down to write a note, we’d end up with a book.
If We’re Post-Truth, That Can’t Be True
What we are is “post-probable” and “pro-possible.”
If we live in a post-truth world, that can’t be true, but what is possible is that everyone who disagrees with us lives in a post-truth world. Our world, though, must be the world, because otherwise we couldn’t judge “truth” from “post-truth.” See why the term “post-truth” is problematic? If we tell people they’re “post-truth,” they’ll likely hear “You better start thinking like me.”
Conclusive Arguments Are Rare
Persuasive arguments are usually the best we can do, not arguments that “force consent.”
How many arguments force us to change our views? In other words, how many arguments are out there that aren’t merely “persuasive” but “undeniable?” Spoiler alert: a lot less than we think.
We tend to experience arguments that favor our ideology and things we agree with as “conclusive arguments,” but they’re probably just “persuasive arguments.” However, since we’ve been persuaded by them, we tend to experience them as “conclusive” — experience plays a trick on us.
Looking Over Beyond Order by Jordan Peterson
What map should we use and when?
“Maps aren’t territories,” so no book can be perfect, but currently we tend to think of “popular books” as containing the main ideas and “nonpopular books” as containing (unnecessary) technicalities (note also that the term “nonpopular” implies “bad,” perhaps contributing to subconscious bias). This is a mistake: there are “Level 1 maps,” “Level 2 maps,” etc., each of which adds valuable direction.
The Situational-Cosmological Argument and Financial Epistemology
What do we do if it’s impossible for us to know for sure that we’re using our time well?
The polymath Gottfried Leibniz made a cosmological argument for God’s existence, which is an extension of St. Thomas Aquinas’s cosmological (or contingency) argument. There is another way of stating this same argument, as a situational-cosmological argument:
Axiom: We have limited time.
1.) Therefore, in each moment we have at least two mutually exclusive options.
2.) Therefore, in each moment we prioritize one option over the other/s.
3.) Therefore, in each moment prioritization itself is inevitably one of the options; we can either prioritize and use our limited time well, or we can not prioritize and waste our limited time.
4.) However, we are unable to prioritize prioritization of our own personal will power, because that would require having all the reasons for our own priorities within ourself. It is self-evident that we do not have all the reasons for our own priorities within ourself, otherwise we would have omniscience.
5.) Conclusion: Since we do not have all the reasons for our own priorities within ourselves, we necessarily derive the reasons for our own priorities from a force greater than ourselves, in order to use our time well. That force which is greater than ourselves, which has all the reasons for our own priorities, all people call God.
If you deny (5.), then either you must either deny
(4.) in which case you have omniscience, or you must deny
(3.) in which case you do not use time well, or you must deny
(2.) in which case you admit that something else prioritizes for you, or you must deny
(1.) in which case you can prioritize more than one option at once, in which case you have omnipresence, or you must deny
the Axiom, in which case you admit eternal life.
Information Does Not Tell Us What It Means.
Our ideology can make the meaning of information feel self-evident, but this is a mistake.
Information does not tell us what it means. Words do not give us their definitions. Facts do not force us to view them as evidence for a certain case. We decide the meaning of information, words, and facts, and yet information seems like the meaning is self-evident, that anyone would draw the same conclusions as us if they were trying to really think. If they draw different conclusions, it must mean they’re not thinking, that they’re ideologically driven, or worse, that they’re intentionally misunderstanding the facts.
If we know x is good, this knowledge will only be useful if we are able to accurately discern when something is x. If we are incapable of making this judgment, then knowing “x is good” will not be useful, and in fact could be harmful if we wrongly define something as x that is bad but we try to use that bad thing anyway because we believe it is good. If we cannot categorize well, knowledge often proves useless.
The Dialectic Between “Meaningful Memories” and “Pure Experiences”
Living ironically while seeking a balance between the incomplete and the always “just missed.”
There is technically no such thing as “meaningful experiences,” only “meaningful memories (about experiences).” An experience is precisely relative to what thought is not involved: it is ultimately a matter of perception, which means it is a matter that doesn’t involve thinking or meaning. There cannot be meaning where there isn’t thought, so “pure experiences” are necessarily meaningless. And yet that meaninglessness can be a source of wonder and beauty.
Are we turning to the internet to figure out how to stop the internet from overwhelming us?
If we have all the information in the world, it will be useless to us if we do not have the ability to evaluate it. This is becoming undeniable with the internet: it’s an amazing research tool, but if we don’t come to the internet with some level of “prior knowledge,” as David Rieff pointed out, or if we don’t gain from the internet a framework through which to understand the internet, the information it presents us with will prove difficult to organize, overwhelming, and probably useless. We won’t have the ability to interpret it, to determine the true from the false, the probable from the improbable, and/or the conspiratorial from the real. We’ll feel like Dante in a dark wood but without Virgil.
Why Do We Think Bookcases Won’t Randomly Transform Into Butterflies?
Our confidence in the solidness of reality is more a product of perception than thought.
So why are we so sure the world out there is real or that it won’t change on us without warning? Well, I think it’s because from “lived experience,” we subconsciously and/or consciously erect our sense of solidness not upon “thought” but upon “perception.” And the problem with perception isn’t so much “subjectivity” as it is “limitedness.”
Absolute Moral Conditionality
Points based on “(Im)morality” by O.G. Rose.
Do moral absolutes exist?
Well, even if “morally absolute acts (in-of-themselves)” don’t exist, “morally absolute categories” still could.
Murder is always wrong, but admittedly, it is not always clear what is murder versus killing. Killing seems like it is not always wrong (say in self-defense, in stopping a rabid animal from attacking a child, etc.), so if x is “ending a life,” the question is if x always falls under the category of murder (y) or if it sometimes falls under the category of killing (z).
On the Problem of Saying “That’s Abstract”
How we associate thinking with being “out of touch” and so absolve ourselves the responsibility.
Letters don’t have meaning, and yet words are made of letters. Letters are sounds, and sounds are more “concrete” than words, and yet letters don’t mean anything. Letters seem to be both “concrete” and “abstract,” and yet we tend to think of these as opposites, that where there’s concreteness, there won’t be abstraction. What’s going on?
Living offline and online…
Owning two houses is great, right? You have more equity, more space — lots of advantages! Imagine the two houses are built right next to one another and that both of them are two stories high. Great! But wait, who’s going to clean them?
Maintaining an Unstable Situation
We will only thrive if we genuinely try to best one another while paradoxically accepting an unsatisfactory tie.
We will only thrive if we genuinely try to best one another while paradoxically accepting an unsatisfactory tie.
Boredom Threatens Rationality
Boredom is not only a problem for leisure but also a problem for thinking.
A society that is bored is a society that will struggle to think well. Boredom is not so much a state of having nothing to do — a person who lives in New York, for example, which is full of activities, can easily be bored — but rather boredom is a state where an individual doesn’t see significance in what he or she could do (it is a state in which a person “doesn’t see any point” in doing one thing versus another)…
The Problem With Identifying Nihilism That Isn’t There
If nihilism can’t be lived, then nihilists are living out “something else.”
We learn from Samuel Barnes, the mind behind Missing Axioms, that it is impossible for us not to possess and exhibit values: as he puts it:
‘The human truth is that you have values, values which eminate from you explicitly and implicitly. Human being can never be contentless. […] Values spew from us in every stride or stumble.’
Considering these eloquent and profound sentences, when we claim nihilism — that “nothing matters” — we claim something that cannot be lived…
If we ever want to destroy a relationship, the following formula is a great guide:
If you cared about x, you would have done y.
Assuming intention, action, values, cares, and the like from facial expressions, choices, actions, body language, and so on — no need to look any further! It’s a great way to make life miserable (and seems so justified too)…
What Does Strauss Have to Do With Arendt?
Aren’t “German Nihilism” and “The Banality of Evil” Opposites?
…we can start to see how Strauss and Arendt can come together, for while “German Nihilism” can be an extreme desire to regain values, heroism, ethics, and other “givens,” “the banality of evil” is what can emergently set in within those “givens” (once they are (re)established).
In Honor of Thoughtlessness
How people can be respected for thoughtlessness, contributing to thoughtlessness, and the need for Hume’s…
“Thoughtlessness” is not a simile for “stupid,” as we learn from Hannah Arendt: to be “thoughtless” about x is to “not think about it,” to instead assume it, christen it an axiom, and the like. On the other hand, to be “foolish” about x is to get x wrong, to be illogical about x, and so on. Society doesn’t honor foolishness, but “thoughtless people” can be called “people of principles,” “people of convictions,” and so on. In this way, honor and social capital can be found…
Is Metaphysics Unfalsifiable?
An interesting debate from the discussions of Javier Rivera, Thomas Jockin, and O.G. Rose.
If for one person on the planet a “lack” is objectively real, while for everyone else the “lack” is only subjective, is it the case that the “lack” is objectively real?
“2 + 2” and Simplistic Points on Determining Truth in Our Bias/Funding/Partisan/Etc.-Obsessed Age
2 + 2 and simplistic points on determining truth in our bias/funding/partisan/etc.-obsessed world.
A Few Thoughts on a “Philosophy of Lack” (Discussion 1)
Thinking After Parmenides
Caddell, Tim, Alex, and I recently started a conversation series on the role of “lack” in our lives. Cadell opened the conversation beautifully by suggesting that, after Parmenides, Western thought has been almost exclusively focused on “being,” which has left us ill-prepared to address the role of “lack” in our lives…
How Should We Live?
The account of a philosophical journey on how practical questions can help us solve abstract inquiries: it is not an…
The account of a philosophical journey on how practical questions can help us solve abstract inquiries: it is not an “either/or” decision.
Wisdom Can’t Be Handed Off
What if there are ideas we must (re)learn every generation, ideas we naturally experience though as “already learned?”
What if there are ideas we must (re)learn every generation, ideas we naturally experience though as “already learned?”
The Myth of “System Builders”
Who exactly are these philosophers always building grand systems?
Can we really call something a “philosophical system” if every part isn’t dependent on every other part?
The FedEx Logo Suggests We Have Free Will
The fact we can see the arrow in the logo or not suggests we have free will.
Guy Sengstock recently shared a beautiful elaboration on the wonder of teaching — that magic of “getting it” — and explored the meaning and nature of that experience. He mentioned “the special learning that reconstitutes the world” and how “the world is co-constituted by us” — the video is worth every minute. Particularly, I wanted to focus in on his discussion about the FedEx Arrow…
What Does Religion Have To Do With Game Theory?
Have “nonrational” religious virtues played a role in overcoming Nash Equilibria in society?
Have “nonrational” religious virtues played a role in overcoming social Nash Equilibriums?
Why Do We Need a Balance Between Ideas and Experiences?
This might seem self-evident, but a quick reflection can help cement the point.
Ideas cannot be about themselves. Try to think of something that has nothing to do with something you’ve experienced. A unicorn? That’s a combination of a horse with a horn, both of which you’ve (probably) experienced. A time traveling space station? That consists of shapes and colors and likely resembles a machine you’ve seen. Also, you’re familiar with time…
An Unrealistic Wall Street Means An Invisibly Inefficient Main Street
Thoughts building on Market Legitimization by O.G. Rose.
Another term for “Stock Market” is “Capital Markets,” which should remind us that a point of Wall Street is the allocation and reallocation of resources and capital for the real economy. If Wall Street loses its connection with Main Street — if stocks basically have nothing to do with the real economy — there will be costly inefficiencies.
The Limits of My Language Can Move
Words are superpowers, not just dangerous.
We are careful with words because we don’t want to hurt people, but what about being careful so that we don’t fail to make the most of our lives? The first extremely important concern is the focus of the councilor, but the second, which is equally as important, is the concern of the philosopher.
René Girard and the Problem of Justification
Mimetic desire as a response to “the conflict of mind.”
Since it is not possible for us to choose or desire anything “entirely on our own” (meaning “autonomously” and without any reference to “external sources”), then we must look “beyond” thinking to decide “what we should do” […] And what do we see in our immediate experience? Other people living other lives […] [I]f we see in our experience Sam doing x, then Sam provides “reason to think” x is worth doing…
Focused on What We Cannot Solve
A possible irony and problem of undistinguished focus.
Imagine you were forced to look at something you couldn’t do anything about. Torture, right? What if you were forced to look at a problem you couldn’t solve — wouldn’t that eat at you? Well, paradoxically, that’s exactly what we can do to ourselves when we focus on something. Why? Because the wrong kind of focus can turn off our creative brains, making us less dynamic in our thinking and more linear, which makes us more unable to discover solutions.
The Authority Circle
It’s rational not to trust authorities we require to be rationally informed.
It can be rational to distrust the institutions, experts, and authorities we require to be rational, but it is rarely clear when we should distrust them (and which), seeing as we probably need the institutions, experts, and authorities to help us figure this out — which puts us in a vicious circular problem…
Boomers vs. Millennials: “Completable Work” vs. “Continual Work”
Do you want work you can be finished with or work that always gives you something to do?
To speak generally, to financially survive, Millennials today mostly find themselves stuck with “Continual Work,” while Generation X had a lot more “Completable Work,” and this contributes to the cultures talking past one another constantly. Most vividly, “working hard” is a value that has been complexified, for whereas Millennials must decide when to “pause” Continual Work, previous generations just had to “finish” their Completable Work. Completable Work “decides for us” when we should stop working, whereas Continual Work forces us to decide when we will “pause” (for the sake of a “work/life balance,” perhaps). But if we choose to “pause” working, we can be accused of and feel like “we’re not working as hard as we could.” After all, we didn’t have to “pause”…
The Greatest Problem of Philosophy Is Philosophy
On Unstoppable, Unrestricted, and Self-Consuming “Autonomous Rationality”
David Hume believed that philosophy’s greatest problem was philosophy itself, for philosophy could unleash incredible violence upon the world. At the same time, Hume understood the answer wasn’t to avoid philosophy entirely, for “critical reasoning” was necessary for a people to defend themselves from tyrants, “bad philosophy,” and the like…
Was Heidegger Really an Existentialist?
Heidegger’s concern with “authenticity” might have been more about getting to “Being-to-Being” than about…
Heidegger didn’t like Sartre: the father of Being and Time basically saw Being and Nothingness as trash. When I first learned this, I was surprised: I thought Sartre sounded similar to Heidegger (on first glance). But then it became clear that Heidegger wanted to remove “the subject” from the focus of our consideration regarding “the question of being,” and here Sartre came along and put “the subject” right back into the middle of the conversation. That upset Heidegger, but why? With all the talk on authenticity and existential concerns found in Heidegger, why was this such a big deal?
Imagine a single person playing violin in a room by himself. Two blocks down the road, there is a woman playing violin alone, and three blocks down from her, a different woman is playing a flute. This continues for hundreds of miles with hundreds of musicians. None of the musicians can hear one another; none of the musicians wonder about themselves in the presence of one another. Musicians may feel loneliness, but there is little existential anxiety.
This is soloing. This is isolationism. This seems to align more with human nature…
We Must Begin Somewhere
A reason philosophy matters is because it trains us to choose our default positions versus just absorb them.
If we never think philosophically, our positions on these questions will likely be ones we “absorb” from our surroundings versus ones we pick for ourselves. That doesn’t necessarily mean we will be wrong, but it does mean we could end up like cattle stuck between fences. Sure, we have a field we can roam around in, but we’re ultimately not free. At best, we only have free range.
Meteors, Craters, and the Continental-Analytical Divide
On discussing topics “negatively” by “tracing around them,” and some differences between Analytical and Continental…
Continental Philosophy is mostly in the business of “knowing by absence and tracing,” whereas Analytical Philosophy is mostly in the business of “knowing by presence and directly.”
What Is a Paradox?
On the experiential difference between “apparent contradictions” and actual negations, and the consequences of seeking…
“Paradox” and “contradiction” are often used like similes, but paradoxes are different. Contradictions are combinations of inconsistencies that negate, which means they can only exist in thought and cannot be experienced.¹ A paradox, however, is a combination of inconsistencies that don’t negate, and this is because though paradoxes may logically negate, they don’t experientially negate. Where there isn’t a strong distinction between “thinking” and “perceiving” or “ideas” and “experiences,” it is only natural for the terms “paradox” and “contradiction” to practically become similes, which I think is what has generally happened in the West. This has cost us the category of “paradox,” and where we lose a category of language, we also lose a category of experience (our world shrinks)…
Human motivations are complex. Why people work the jobs they do can be a mixture of reasons like “I don’t mind it,” “It provides for the family,” “I learn some skills,” and so on. Naturally though, we tend to assume linear and simplistic explanations (or at least reflect such in speech), and basically claim that if a person is working x job, he or she “must like it.” And perhaps there is truth to this, but the problematic step is acting like this explanation “explains the whole of it” — a dangerous and natural step…
The Pillar of Knowledge, High in the Air, on Which We Are Free
Our freedom is limited and sustained by what we know, and what we know can be up to us.
Philosophers for centuries have struggled with the relationship between freedom and knowledge. If I know there is a million-dollar check in the mailbox, am I really free not to walk up to the mailbox and check? It would seem I am free to deny the option, but am I really?
Spacetime Makes Sounding Dialectical and Balanced Really Hard
Because we can’t talk about everything at the same time, we can’t avoid sounding like we think hierarchically.
Since we are in time and can’t discuss everything at once, we must discuss things within sequence, and thus we can never avoid creating the impression that we think x is better than y. For, again, we must discuss things one at a time, and we can always ask “Why is the person discussing one thing and not the other? The very act/choice of doing so suggests the person must think x is more important than y, for otherwise the person would be discussing y.” And so on.
Critical People Aren’t Critical Thinkers
Just because we’re critical of something doesn’t mean we’re critically thinking about it.
It’s unfortunate we decided to run with the phrase “critical thinking”: we would have saved ourselves a lot of trouble and confusion had we stuck with “deep thinking” or “dynamic thinking.” Instead, we strapped ourselves to a language that suggests we’re profound and insightful if we’re insulting; as a result, someone who criticizes something seems to be someone “who knows what they’re talking about.” This puts a lot of social capital in the hands of people who are hard to please, and I think Charlie Munger is right: “Show me the incentives and I will show you the outcome.” In a world where “critical thinking” is associated with “criticizing,” it’s smart to be difficult.
The Moral Ring of Aletheia
Is there a connection between ethics and learning?
…Instead, what I want to focus on is the idea that if moral living keeps our “souls unified,” and if it is the case that with a “unified soul” we are more able to discover truth and even beauty, then morality entails epistemological consequences. The more upright a person we are, the more equipped we will be to discover truth. If this is true, then living ethically and knowing truth correlate.
How Freud Unites Inception, Hannah Arendt, and QAnon
“Group psychology” is “dream psychology,” and, since dreams are like movies, that might be a problem
Recently, Eric Jobe initiated a discussion on “Freud’s Group Psychology,” which I enjoyed immensely. It was full of great points and contributions from all the participants, and you can find the full talk here.Particularly, the idea that “group psychology” and “individual psychology” are not “different in kind,” only “different in degree,” struck me as critical. Often, we think that “groups” think and act differently than individuals, but really “the psychology” of groups is simply a manifestation of what can be found within each of us. But most of the time that psychology is repressed and hidden: the group just gives us permission to “let it out.”
Mental Health and the Metaphors We Choose
We make our metaphors, and then our metaphors make us.
‘We shape our [metaphors], and then our [metaphors] shape us.’ Considering this, the metaphors we choose to understand life through will directly impact our mental health…
Was Heidegger a Child of the Scottish Enlightenment?
Do Hume and Heidegger honor “such-ness” as the ground for new thinking?
Hume decoupled “is-ness” from “ought-ness” in order to connect “such-ness” with “ought-ness” and stop tyranny, and I wonder if Heidegger did something similar…
When a Floor Is the World
Suggesting why the philosophical ability to “zoom out” and “take a bigger view” matters
Imagine that I’m standing on the floor of an apartment that is held up by the floor below it. Unfortunately, I’ve never “zoomed out” to learn that the floor I’m on is supported by something beneath it. And I live my whole life like this — unaware — as does the other person living on the same floor as me. We get along well enough, despite our differences…
How Squid Game Should Have Ended
This is about how a show ended: it contains spoilers.
Davood Gozli recently recorded a great review on Squid Game, which I couldn’t watch until I saw the series, so guess what happened? Yup, sleep-deprivation — Squid Game was brilliant up to the very end. Unfortunately, by that, I don’t mean “until the final credits” — I mean until the very end. And then the show stabbed itself in the throat like Cho. Talk about a tragedy…
My student told me that she regretted the language of “Forbidden Fruit,” for that suggested that “The Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil” was itself forbidden and evil, when really it was biting the fruit which was the problem. Everything God created was good, so even The Tree of Knowledge had to be good and somehow added to the harmony of Eden — nothing existed that was ontologically evil: evil was a result of “towardness” (she hinted at 1 Timothy 4:4–5). Critically, it also wasn’t the fruit Adam wanted so much as it was to “be like God,” as the serpent tempted — the fruit itself was not what Adam desired, but instead Adam desired to compete with God, to “relate” to God in a certain and different way. My student emphasized that our focus should be on our “relations to things” to determine good and evil, not so much on things themselves…
In the Long Run, Everything Might Be Automated, Assuming We Don’t Destroy Ourselves First Because…
Economists are so concerned about “the signals” of interest rates, but paradoxically don’t mind talking about coming…
Keynes was very concerned about how our future ideas impacted what we did in the present, thus his profound concern about “the signals” which interest rates sent to the market. But I fear discussions “about future technologies” can have a similar impact: when all anyone talks about is automation and the inevitability of self-driving cars, why would anyone become a truck driver? You’d have no future — an idea that makes it thus.
Praise for Cadell Last’s Presentation: “Jordan Peterson Situates Love as a Key to Truth and Meaningful Revelation”
“What does Peterson say about our particular historic moment?” is a framing Dr. Last opens the presentation with, which made me think about a Hegelian framing from Absolute Knowing: “How is Peterson ‘for’ consciousness gaining higher self-consciousness?” “What is consciousness learning ‘about itself’ thanks to Peterson?” Instead of deciding right out the gate if we “like” Peterson or not, asking this Hegelian question presents Peterson as an opportunity for us to reflect on ourselves. Doctors will ask patients to “listen to their bodies” and ask, “What is your body telling you?” Similarly, focused on “mental health,” per se, we can ask, “What is our collective consciousness trying to tell us in focusing on Peterson?” (Please note that we are all part of “the collective consciousness,” so to ask about it is to also ask, “What is our consciousness trying to tell us?”) Possibly, our consciousness is warning us that we are out of balance, that we seek The Truth but not The Absolute (as will be explained), and that this has made us a problem.
Comments on “Being Human in the Digital Catastrophe”
Are we still human if we don’t remember being human?
Johannes A. Niederhauser and James Poulos recently discussed the difficulty of staying human. I loved Poulos’ point that Aristotle’s “formal cause” is best understood as something like an “environmental cause” — it is about how “our environment shapes us,” per se — which makes very clear that, right now, “the digital” is the main “formal cause” of the world.
Blurring Computation, Perception, Dialogos, and the Like As All “Computation”
How everything in the universe isn’t just “like a computer,” but “computation” is still the term we tend to use almost…
Does our brain work like a computer? That language is often used, but computers don’t exist in nature, so how could a human mind work like one? It doesn’t seem like it could, and yet it has become natural for us to think of our minds like computers, and frankly to refer to all “methods of thinking” as “computation.” Why is this a big deal? Well, because metaphors shape our thinking in profound ways (as explored in “Meaningful and Metaphoric Tendencies” by O.G. Rose), and also we might be “closing ourselves off” from identifying key differences and nuances between different ways of thinking and understanding the world. If there are big differences between say what John Vervaeke calls “Dialogos” and “computation,” then believing “it’s all computation,” we won’t think we’re missing out on anything by skipping Dialogos, when really we’ll be skipping out on a lot (worse yet, we won’t even know we’re missing anything, “truly ignorant”)…
Persuasion Keeps Correctness From Feeling Totalitarian, but What if Persuasion Is Impossible?
What is best will feel like oppression if we don’t believe it is best when it is forced on us, but what other option is…
Where persuasion is lacking, there will likely be a feeling of oppression, even if that feeling isn’t warranted. It is not enough to be correct and not be oppressive: we also have to feel to others like we aren’t oppressive, and that requires the art of persuasion. But what if persuasion is ultimately impossible (or at least impossible when it really counts) because of “the problem of internally consistent systems?” In other words, what if ideas, ideologies, worldviews, and the like are so structured that nothing can necessarily disprove them?
The Meaning Crisis as a Sign of Hope
The issue isn’t so much that we lack answers on how to solve it, but that we are holding ourselves to a higher…
“The Meaning Crisis,” as John Vervaeke calls it, is a pressing problem which is discussed extensively throughout O.G. Rose. “Explained and Addressed” focuses on it, and Belonging Again is a sociological exploration of the consequences civilization faces when it lacks “givens” according to which it can organize its actions (for good and for bad). Our situation is arguably dire, as I agree there is reason to think, but here I want to suggest a way that the crisis can be seen in a more positive light. Here, I want to argue that the Meaning Crisis partially exists because humanity no longer settles for old solutions, which is to say that we now hold ourselves to higher standards…
The Metaphysicist and the Metaphysician
A fascinating change in terms, suggested by Alexander Bard, which might hint at something we are subconsciously trying…
In a recent discussion on Returning to Metaphysics, Alexander Bard suggested that we should use the language of “metaphysicist” versus “metaphysician,” for Metaphysics isn’t concerned with medicine. I thought this was a fascinating point, and it occurred to me how funny it was that the name of the branch, “Metaphysics” alluded to “Physics,” while the term “Metaphysician” alluded to medicine. Why the variation regarding the same field? Was humanity subconsciously trying to tell itself something?
Negation Versus Effacement
Though similar, a distinction is needed between what leads to sublimation and what leads to neuroses and cessation.
A main point of “The Philosophy of Lack,” it is that by failing to accept and integrate with “lack,” we end up effacing ourselves in the name of achieving wholeness. If however we “integrate with lack,” we can undergo a negation which could lead to a beneficial sublimation. The effort to “fill lack” then leads to effacement, while the effort to “live with lack” leads to negation/sublimation…
How Is It That People Come To Understand That It Is Truly Important To Understand What Is Truly…
Likewise, how do people come to understand the importance of understanding?
On the wonderful Voicecraft network, Josh Field recently asked the question which composes the title of this work, and I have to say it’s one of the most important questions in the world. The subtitle is the question Tim Adalin asked as a corollary, and I think both questions are strongly tied to the mysterious question: “How does anyone leave Plato’s Cave on their own?” Yes, Plato in The Republic tells us that prisoners are “dragged out” of the Cave, but that still leaves open the question of how “the first prisoner” escaped, and that would require some explanation which rests on “intrinsic motivation.” Why did that “first prisoner” or “prisoner not dragged out” decide to leave? It’s mysterious, and I think the answer to this question is closely tied to Mr. Field’s question…
Does the way we treat objects train us in how we treat ourselves?
In this short work, I wanted to focus on a point that came up toward the very start of the conversation on how objects cannot stop us from objectifying them. It was said that if I treated my friend Sarah like she was just her arm, Sarah would get upset and let me know that I was mistreating her. And yet if I looked at a sunset and said, “It’s just clouds,” the sunset wouldn’t say anything back. It would keep being itself, as if I didn’t say anything at all, and yet in its stillness and silence I would have transformed it into “its parts.” And precisely because the sunset did not resist my statement, it might be suggested that I am right. In that silence, the people nearby who overhead me may think that I’m intelligent, and socially I may receive praise and agreement. My world may have lost something, and yet I will feel wise…
Utterance As Exception
A short addition from “The Most Rational of All Possible Worlds” by O.G. Rose
“Man Before History” by Benjamin Fondane starts with a reflection on Gide’s statement that ‘It’s no laughing matter to play in a world where everyone cheats — including me.’¹ This phrase reminded me of the “Liar’s Paradox,” which asks us to consider the following:
“True or False: This statement is false.”
Why? Well, if Gide is a liar, why should we trust his claim that “everyone cheats” — mustn’t we trust him to accept this premise? In bringing Gide’s statement to our attention, Fondane suggests a few points…
The Calculation Problem
An Elaboration on Points Raised in the Game B Discussion
In both “Notes on ‘Game B: A Dark Renaissance Response w/ Alexander Bard, Cadell Last, Owen Cox, and Raven Connolly’ ” and “The Four Arrows,” I discussed Hayek and the need for a “system for coordinating resources,” which I associated with “the pricing mechanism.” You can find those two works here…
The Tragic Tradeoff Between Ideological Negotiation and Systematic Programing
What people must believe in to work is not so much a system as it is an ideology, but a system that doesn’t need us to…
The benefit of “systems” is that they are not contingent on the human element to work, but the danger of systems is precisely that they are not contingent on the human element to work. It is similar to the current debate and concern with A.I., the Singularity, and so on: once we program a system to do x, it will do x, even if we beg it to stop…
The Rationality of Freedom Relative to Ethics, Hermeneutic Binding, and Correlation Between…
Combing “The Tragic Tradeoff Between Ideological Negotiation and Systemic Programming” and “On Kafka, Character, and…
Greater diversity tends to lead to great systemization via “hermeneutical differences” and ethics, which means diversity requires a system that can “work without us” (as described here), but that means the system might be difficult to stop, which is very problematic if Game B is right about Game A.
Introspection, Empathy, Judgement, and Justice
Acts of the mind that seem connected
Empathy has us “outward looking,” and it’s strange to think that “going inward” is critical for our ability to “see outward.” However, we always see through “our eyes,” which are part of us, and so it makes sense that we have “to go inside” and make sure we are “working right” to assure that we “take in the world” well. Similarly, if the headlight of a car breaks, we don’t fix it by investigating the tree on which the headlight shone and blinked. We fix our “take on the world” not in the world but in ourselves, but this is not easy, considering how prone to self-deception, egotism, and the like we are, with Confessions by St. Augustine serving as a tremendous example for why this challenge is so great. There is much wisdom to be found in those pages on how to approach the “art-form” well (“see for yourself”).
Geometry, Astronomy, and Platonic Forms As Ordering Principles
On understanding “forms” like “invisible guardrails” in which things “be-come” themselves.
Plato, through Socrates, suggests that learning about things which change is practically to learn nothing at all, because if I learn that “x is y” but x changes into z a moment later, then learning “x is y” was practically learning nothing. Change and temporality are major challenges to learning, and Plato suggests that we should focus on “forms” to solve and overcome this problem. But what does this mean?
A Late Letter to Tolstoy
On “The Hedgehog and the Fox” As Seeking a Philosophy Which Would Have Saved Leo From Himself
Berlin tells us that a hedgehog is guided by ‘a single, universal, organizing principle,’ and he associates Dante and Dostoevsky with hedgehogs. A fox ‘pursue[s] many ends,” and Berlin sees Shakespeare and Tolstoy as foxes. But Tolstoy is also tragic, and reading Berlin’s essay again after so many years, I can’t help but see Berlin’s entire philosophy of Pluralism (and his strong stance against “theories of everything,” what I call “monotheories”) as partially an effort to save future artists from falling into similar fates. Tolstoy should have ended up better, I feel Berlin suggesting, and I feel in Berlin a rising commitment to assure future Tolstoys don’t devour themselves.
Labels, Names, and Poems
On the needs and perils of words and improvisational community
The same object, person, event, or the like can move from label, name, and poem. Based on the information we know about it or I communicate, our orientation to the object can radically shift. And because the same object can be a label to some people, a name to others, and a poem to others still, knowing “the meaning” and “nature” of an object will require relationships. Without those relationships, we will struggle to know “what things are” to people, and thus likely mis-orientate and mis-organize ourselves to them in light of that object.
Note the following phrase: “Freedom of the individual.” Pretty self-evident, right? The individual is not locked in a room or forced to read books all day: the individual is released, left alone. Wait, look at the phrase again: “Freedom of the individual.” “Of” could mean created, which is to say, “The freedom which the individual creates.” If an individual creates freedom, the individual has a certain capacity which makes freedom possible. Thus, the phrase, “Freedom of the individual” doesn’t merely mean “released”: it simultaneously suggests a state where “the individual is left alone” and a state in which the individual “expresses something.”
The Exit of References
Is it a problem when our ideas can’t easily be linked to established thinkers or schools of thought? Or is it a problem…
We tend to fall into logical fallacies not so much because we “genuinely” believe these fallacies lead to truth — it’s far worse than that. Rather, we consciously know these fallacies are fallacies, but then practically act like they are not so that we can organize who we should listen to and who we shouldn’t (something we can do precisely because certainty is mostly impossible), all so that we can gain existential stability. We discuss “logical fallacies” as if we use them as shortcuts to “truth,” but I would submit that we mostly use them to create “senses of certainty” so that we can gain existential and psychological stability. We often associate “fallacies” with “intellectual efforts,” and though there is truth to this, we need to associate them more with “emotional efforts,” as matters which arise in response to “the problem of certainty.”
To Debate or To Discuss
Which gets us closer to truth? That is the question…
When we are trying to build a cathedral, do we want our coworkers to get along with us or prove disagreeable? Well, if the goal is to build a cathedral, we want our coworkers to “be on our side.” Yes, they may disagree with us on some ideas, but we don’t have to worry about them attacking us or insulting us while we try to work. However, if our goal is to “be right,” then we don’t really have “coworkers,” only opponents, people who could threaten our correctness…
Why Does Anselm’s Ontological Argument Haunt Us?
On How It Threatens Everything
If we are understanding the world, we are doing so through a mode of understanding. Anselm understood that the “nonrational” choice of our “mode” shaped what we understood through that mode, that “understanding” could never be “autonomous” and “free from being ‘moded’ ” (to blend “mode” and “mold”)…
Notes on O.G. Rose Conversation #60 with Dr. Cadell Last
Considering Us and What’s Ahead
If difference isn’t deep, then it feels safe to believe that as technology advances, it will unveil that we “really are all the same, deep down.” However, if “difference is deep,” then the Technological Singularity will actually unveil that the myth that “we’re really all the same” was in fact false, which will prove traumatic. As of 2022, considering how everyone is responding to “deep difference” and Pluralism, it would seem we are suffering a trauma to which we are not responding well…
Metaskills, Indirectness, and Power
Where metaskills are missing, indirectness is unaddressed, and power unchallenged. In other words, if we’re never…
“Metaskill” is an umbrella term referring to metatalks, metanalysis, the ability to resist metamentality, and the like, and this short work will argue that we need to become metaskillfull to resist and channel power, especially in our Metamodern Age. To focus on one example of a metaskill, for example: a “metatalk” is a conversation about conversation, which is an analysis of the structure in which a conversation develops, the ways interpretation operates, and so on…
Call of Design
The excellence of Ontological Design by Daniel Fraga and the Battle We Are All Already Fighting
In the Preface, Dr. Cadell Last and Alexander Bard describe Mr. Fraga as in the business of making us understand that we are ‘a constant project caught in a disorientating feedback loop with […] object[s].’ For too long, we’ve been caught ‘in an epistemological bubble […] thinking that what we design with our knowledge structures has no real impact on the fundamental ontology of being itself, or ‘the world,’ ’ which also suggests the naivety of believing there is a “real world” outside our subjectivity. No, that doesn’t mean the Idealism of George Berkeley is true, but it does mean that we cannot draw a hard line between ourselves and our worlds. Perhaps we focus on “tools” in the famous quote because thinking about the truth is too overwhelming: “We make our worlds, and then our worlds make us.” How can we possibly change the world? Fighting back, for one.
The Human, the Subject, and the Paradoxical “Human Subject”
Reflecting on “Dialectical Materialism,” a Discussion Between Russell Sbriglia and Telosbound
The work of Trey at Telosbound is an endless source of insight and inspiration, and as of April 2022 he spoke with Russell Sbriglia, bringing to my attention a distinction in Žižek’s thought that I never before caught. This inspired me to write this very short piece to insert toward the start of (Re)constructing “A Is A” (Part 1), though admittedly the rest of the book is already written, and it’s too late for me to go back through the text and change my terminology accordingly (as is the case with The Fate of Beauty, Digression(s), and so on). I will continue to use “human” and “subject” as basically interchangeable throughout my thinking, but here I at least wanted to note how “human” and “subject” perhaps shouldn’t’ be used as “similes.” In fact, defining them apart, we can understand the phrase “the human subject” as beautifully capturing the great paradoxical tension that we are and live with daily…
It would seem I would need rationality to determine which “set of rationality” to ascribe to, the act itself of which would generate another “set of rationality,” and so on. To avoid this regression, it would seem I would have to use something other than rationality, but what else could I use that itself I wouldn’t decide to use thanks to rationality (which leads to another ad infinitum problem)? Perhaps nonrationality…?
Nonrational Responsibility as Ontological Necessity
Where reality is fundamentally paradoxical and incomplete, we require “nonrational action” to avoid Nash Equilibria and…
What do “Nash Equilibria” have to do with responsibility? Well, funny enough, “taking responsibility” for something often means we are responsible for something which we don’t fully understand, can’t fully predict, and even don’t have “much of a choice” to address. Take for example being responsible for something at work: Do we know what’s going to happen today? Do we know what questions people are going to ask? Are we ready to have to explain to a customer why they won’t be getting their product on time because of a late truck? No, we don’t: what is called “Perfect Knowledge” doesn’t exist (which we can associate with omniscience). Very rarely, except perhaps in the simplest and most linear of circumstances, do we know “what’s going to happen” before it happens: life is fundamentally unpredictable.
Meaning and Distinction
On telosbound and “This Argument Refutes Materialism/Physicalism”
As described in “On Thinking and Perceiving” by O.G. Rose, thought requires distinction: if my mind couldn’t “break apart” the world around me, I couldn’t comprehend the world. Meaning requires division, and even if “the wholistic and undivided world” entails a kind of “Ultimate Meaning” (perhaps encountered through psychedelics or mystical experiences), this “Ultimate Meaning” cannot be thought (or at least not by thought as we normally use it). Thus, distinction and divisions are prerequisites for meaning, which is paradoxical, because we often associate meaning with “seeing the big picture” and “putting our world together.” “Meaning” is considered a kind of opposite of “fragmentation,” but strangely meaning actually requires division to be possible. Yes, through division, we can then work our way to “a sense of the whole,” but we cannot escape the division, as Dante cannot make his way to God except by walking through the inferno…
Transitional Metaphors Are Not Mixed Metaphors
Since metaphors shape thinking, if we conflate “mixed metaphors” with “transitional metaphors,” we will likely be…
…Thus, making sure “paradox” and “contradiction’ aren’t conflated is critical: similarly, I would argue that conflating the categories of “mixed metaphor” and “transitional metaphor” could devastate us.
Why? Because we must use multiple and evolving metaphors to describe certain facets and subjects of existence, and if we’re not allowed to use multiple metaphors (that “converse” with another, transition, etc.), we won’t understand these facets. Worse yet, as argued throughout O.G. Rose (notably “Meaningful and Metaphoric Tendencies”), if metaphors are fundamental to thinking, not just decorations of thinking, then the loss of the category of “transitional metaphors” will limit our minds and make us incapable of thinking about certain dimensions of existence. Because of a rule we learned in English class, we might handicap our minds and keep ourselves from understanding the universe (funny how things connect).
Thesis, Antithesis, and Synthesis
Misattributed to Hegel, “TAS” might still be a useful mental model since “ideas are not experiences.”
Every Hegel presentation is obligated now to make the point that Hegel never said “thesis, antithesis, and synthesis,” that this is a misreading. Really, Hegel talks about “abstraction, negation, and concretion,” and I think it’s important to get that right. At the same time, the very fact that the misreading of “TAS” (as I’ll say for short) has been so popular is evidence that there might be use to it, even if a misattribution. Indeed, I myself like the “mental model” and have used it to think through problems (I’m often looking for a synthesis between views). Also, I think TAS tends to be a good description of how the world works. In my opinion though, why TAS works is not so much because “ideas” form this way (as often argued), but because emotions lead us to follow TAS. Yes, after we emotionally shift, then our ideas shift, but the emotional change tends to comes first…
Replacing “The Trolley Problem” with “The Ballistic Missile Defense Problem”
Reflections on O.G. Rose Conversation Episode #68 with Dr. James Simpkin
I love discussions which move between a detailed and technical analysis of a particular subject to “big picture” philosophy, back to technical detail — on and on. Dialectical, this brings to mind the need for the “concretion” and how Hume emphasizes “common life,” and I personally have always felt literature and economics can help “ground” philosophy. Dr. James Simpkin, with his expertise on military strategy and military technology, is a tremendous example of someone who maintains dialectical thinking, a discipline I admire…
The Two Pandemoniums of C.P. Snow
The Economic, Epistemological, and Pathological Implications of “The Two Cultures”
Snow was a writer and a scientist, but between those two worlds, which he saw as ‘comparable in intelligence, identical in race, etc.,’ he noticed ‘an ocean.’ He feared that ‘intellectual life of the whole of Western society [was] increasingly being split into two polar groups,’ and ‘[b]etween the two [he saw] a gulf of mutual incomprehension — sometimes (particularly among the young) hostility and dislike, but most of all [a] lack of understanding.’ ‘The non-scientists have a rooted impression that the scientists are shallowly optimistic,’ Snow wrote, ‘unaware of man’s condition. On the other hand, the scientists believe that the literary intellectuals are totally lacking in foresight […]’ — and so Snow diagnosed culture…
The Best of All Possible Prisons
Are there technologies we should hope aren’t invented?
In Season 2 of the series Black Mirror, episode “White Christmas,” a technology is developed that enables people to copy a human consciousness onto a kind of “external hard drive,” and once copied, the “digital consciousness,” which exists independent of the person to whom the consciousness originally belonged, then functions as a servant, slave, toy, etc. for the person from whom the consciousness-copy originated. This “digital copy,” for example, might manage the person’s house through a remote-control system, turning on the lights when the master wants, starting the dishes after dinner, and so on…
If the Word Dies
On thinking about the death of communication thanks to “omnipresent communication” in terms of Nietzsche’s famous…
The consequences of “religion dying” are explored throughout Belonging Again: here, I want to say that something similar can happen with language (and perhaps already is). But communication is constant now thanks to social media, and people are typing and reading more than ever before — what do I mean? Well, in the same way that I argue “The Nova Effect” Charles Taylor discuses regarding the multiplication of religions might cause “metaphysical inflation,” there might also be an issue where the great spread of communication contributes to “words losing meaning”…
The Invisible Costs and Cycles of Diverting Focus
Inspired by Adarsh Ramakrishnan
We do not tend to create and innovate what we do not focus on, and the highest probability we create something is relative to our immediate environment, which is to say that if we live near a river, we are more likely to invent something that helps with rivers than we are to invent something that helps with desert heat (though of course this isn’t “necessarily” the case). “The quality of information” is simply higher: when I live near a river, I know how rain impacts it, how it changes during the seasons, when it can seem safe to be around but really isn’t — there are particular and practical details I can know from experience that are simply improbable for people who don’t live near the river to know.
Dialectical Thinking Is the Best Bet
Nothing Is Perfect, So Dialectics Are Likely the Best Epistemic “Return on Investment.”
“The dialectic” is famously associated with Hegel, but it is also a general mental model that can prove very useful for making sense of the world. It is the gradual incorporation of a thing with “otherness” to generate “a new thing,” which then exists with what came before it — the past is not “subsumed into” the new, as the word “synthesis” can apply. New things certainly arise “in the image and likeness” of what came before, but this “new thing” doesn’t necessarily replace what came before it, nor is it the case that “the new thing” is necessarily “something better” — Hegel is far more contingent than we often realize, his “progressivism” far less determined. This is all elaborated on in “ ‘Hegelian Dialectics’ Are Not ‘Discussion Dialectics’ ” by O.G. Rose, as found in The Absolute Choice…
There Can Be Faces, But Not Hearts
On how when we don’t know someone, we lack any standard by which to confidently identify “breaks” between the person’s…
Imagine you were reading through some papers I wrote, and you stumbled upon the following phrase:
“Humans are wholes.”
If you know me, you know I just finished a “Philosophy of Lack” series on how humans are “ontologically lacking.” “Wholes” are death drives, following the series, so if you read the above sentence in a paper of mine, you’d actually know it was the product of an error: I meant to say, “Humans aren’t wholes,” but left off the “n’t.” It was a mistake. However, if you didn’t know me, why would you ever think I made a mistake? The sentence, “Humans are wholes,” is readable and clear — you’d practically have to take me on face value. There’d be no reason to doubt what I wrote, and in fact to doubt it might seem crazy and open an entire horizon of possible paranoia and insanity. For all my sentences could possibly be wrong — how could you possibly begin to read what I wrote?
Negation, Repetition, and the Tensions Between Writing and Speaking
We must try to step in the same river twice to really get that we can’t.
I like to use terms like “(w)holeness,” “(in)completeness” — I often use parentheses. Why? Because I agree that we must move from “wholeness” to “(w)holeness,” and want to capture the notion of “return” that is so important in Hegel’s negation (and in the thinking of David Hume). In Hegel, “return” is always a “(re)turn,” which is to say that when we leave x and return to x, what x “was” is negated by our present experience and in accordance with the transformations we underwent during our journey. We are not who we were when we first encountered x, and that can result in us encountering x “in a different way,” which may result in x not being what we thought it would be. Hence, our “ideas about x” are negated but also sublated into our experience of the (new) x, precisely because we understand it in light of our previous ideas, expectations, and the like…
Critiquing Assumptions Between “Manifestation” and “Reality”
What Appears, What Doesn’t Appear, and What Cannot Appear: On Critical Differences with Ontological Significance
I wanted to focus on Filip’s point that Hegel “reverses” Kant’s noumenon to suggest that what is on “this side” of the noumenon is “truest reality” versus on the other, as usually supposed. Hegel makes the point that if x “appears” to us, then there is reason to think there is something “more true about x” than say about y, which doesn’t appear to us. Why should we assume that “hidden things” are more real than “unveiled things?” The very fact something is hidden is easily evidence that the thing doesn’t entail what it needs “in its essence” to manifest to us, which would suggest that it was “weaker” than something that did have what it needed “in its essence” to so manifest. In this way, we seem biased to assume “the hidden” is more important than “the visible,” but this doesn’t necessarily follow: “hiddenness” could suggest a weak essence…
1. In my opinion, if we keep “Euthyphro’s Dilemma” as originally worded, there doesn’t seem to be a good answer that solves it. This is because entities are discussed as things God relates to versus things God made, and this causes confusion, for the things seem to exist “like God” themselves, independent in their existence.
2. However, let’s phrase the dilemma differently: “Is it good because God made it, or did God make it because it was good?” I think this is a fair rewording, because ultimately everything that exists is made by God, and ultimately that dilemma is getting at the question, “Why did God make the universe like God did?”…
Ideology and “Men Against Fire”
Is vision all that separates us from the worst monsters in history?
We must view the world through a lens: everyone has a worldview that they convince themselves is a “view of the world (while others interpret, we just see). In the same way that MASS makes Stripe sees people as roaches, ideology can make us see people who think differently as fools, idiots, and enemies. We don’t see, hear, or feel clearly, and the same applies to how ideology impacts the way we understand the news, world events, and current affairs. As MASS malfunctions in the show, it’s almost like we need our brains to malfunction so that we start to see the world that’s really “there” — something we perhaps want until we receive it.
Relationships and Concealment
Relationships are hard, and yet many of us eagerly seek them. No one plans to get a divorce, yet many people do. Are we…
Relationships are hard, and yet many of us eagerly seek them. No one plans to get a divorce, yet many people do. Are we idiots? No, we’re just trapped in a reality which entails a nature that is paradoxical, ironic, and self-hiding. The last characteristic is the one I want to focus on, because I think a reason marriage is hard is because we go from a state of “radical concealment” (which is when we are alone in ourselves and with ourselves) that is inconsequential to a state where our “radical concealment” is very consequential.
The “Transcendental Memology” of Chad A. Haag
We can change our world(view) by changing how we power it.
Mr. Haag emphasizes ‘memes as general shapes that structure human thought below the surface rather than just images with superimposed text shared on smartphone screens,’ which brings him to making a distinction ‘between shallow memes and deep memes.’ Both of these come together to create “The Meme Process,” which is ‘an isomorphic fit between the shallow meme to which [a person] has been exposed and the deep meme which, at a level unconscious to the subject, provides the underlying conditions that structure the subject’s thoughts according to a general shape.’
How Mediums Educate and Intelligence Explores
If none of us can hope to even read a percent of all the books on earth, what does it mean to be educated?
“What does it mean to be educated?” — an inquiry which arose in our discussion. Does it mean we know a lot? Well, who amongst us “knows a lot” compared to all we could know? I’d be surprised if anyone has read a single percent of all the books on earth, suggesting that “knowing a lot” is a poor standard to judge our level of education. If an “educated person” is someone who knows a lot of facts (someone who is “good at trivia,” as discussed in “Triva(l)” by O.G. Rose), then it is doubtful anyone is educated, because I doubt anyone knows a percent of all the facts there are to know. Again, this begs the question: “What does it mean to be educated?”
The Unknowable and the Unknown
The Problematic Legacy of Modern Thought, and How Philosophies of Unknowability Forsake Philosophy’s Role in…
The last few centuries of philosophy have emphasized what’s unknowable. Famously with Kant, we established that we can’t know what is beyond the noumenon, which is perhaps an unsurprising legacy following Descartes and his “radical doubt.” The efforts of Fichte were deconstructed by Gödel’s “Incompleteness Theorem,” Richard Rorty and similar Neo-Pragmatists started laughing at the idea of truth, and Deconstructions and Post-Modernists also worked to “clear out” the “groundless” so that something new might emerge (for which we are still waiting) — all of this stresses “unknowability,” which in one sense is good, for it generates humility and resists “dreams of objectivity” which can fuel totalitarianism, but there are also numerous problems with what I will call “The Philosophy of Unknowability”…
How Do Humans Solve Problems and There Still Be Mysteries?
Considering tautologies and a question from O.G. Rose Conversation #77: “Filip Niklas on Artistic Tension…
A point that arose in our talk was the idea Dr. Niklas considered on how humans are able to solve problems and yet always remain a mystery to themselves. How is this possible? And does this very condition suggest a problem or a mystery? I found this to be a very provocative question, one that recalled Flannery O’Connor’s notion of mystery, which is something that as we learn more about, we find there is more to know. “Mystery” for O’Connor is not something “we cannot learn anything about,” but something in which we find there is always more to know. Why are humans, regardless how many problems they solve, always mysteries?
Humans Paint In “The State of Nature”
Thoughts from A Conversation with Pae Veo on Philosophy, Art, Cultivation, Skill, and More
We noted that, though there can overlap, “talking about something” is not the same as “talking it,” which is to say “talking about philosophy” is not the same as “talking philosophically”; “talking about art” is not the same as “talking artistically”; and so on. As C.S. Lewis noted in his “Meditation in a Toolshed,” looking at a ray of light is not the same as looking through it. Sight is not seeing…
Accidents Uncover Substance
On Paul Virilio and how unforeseen “accidents” help us identify what is philosophically “accidental,” suggesting…
Virilio saw “accidents” like a trainwreck or a “black swan” as pivotal in unveiling the “substance” of a given thing, which is to say “what is really behind it.” In classical philosophy, an “accident” was something that was “unessential” for making a thing what it was; for example, a given cat might be white, but “whiteness” is not essential for a cat to be a cat, thus “whiteness” is an “accident.” The “substance” of the cat, on the other hand, might be its genetic code, because without that a cat couldn’t be a cat. In this way, we can generally say that “whiteness” is “accidental” to cats while a certain genetic sequence is “substantial,” which basically means that “accidents” are nonessential while “substance” is essential…
Leadership Occurs Where Knowledge Is Incomplete
A leader takes responsibility for what they can’t logically be held fully responsible, suggesting “nonrationality”
Real leaders though make decisions when it’s not clear what needs to be done, where knowledge is lacking and a risk necessary (especially where the stakes are high). But paradoxically, where knowledge is incomplete, there’s a real sense in which a leader cannot be held fully responsible for what happens. After all, the leader, just like us, didn’t know what would occur, but unlike us, they were still willing to act. Perhaps foolishly. Perhaps bravely.
Addressing the Meaning Crisis by Forgetting Everything
Considering Vervaeke and The Pérelin Decline by Pae Veo
I love Pae Veo, who is both a gifted writer and thinker. Searching for Marilyn Monroe was tremendous, and now we find ourselves blessed with another text by the same great mind: The Pérelin Decline. ‘Change is the only constant,” Mr. Veo tells us, ‘yet somehow, there is nothing new under the sun. Impossibly, both these statements are true, and no one questions either.’ I found this to be an incredibly engaging way for Mr. Veo to end his Preface, mostly because it is undeniably true: I myself hold these conflicting notions, but how? Well, a point of the novel is for Pae to unveil how the two notions could both be true and yet not contradicting, and the answer seems to have a lot to do with the fact that recognizing “change has occurred” and that “nothing has changed” both require memory, and if memory is unstable, then the standard according to which we could tell if “everything changed” and/or “nothing changed” is unreliable. And thus everything could be both, and since “perfect memory” is impossible, everything practically is both. Also, if I put a bunch of rocks in my bedroom, leave them there for a decade, then one day lose all my memory, it will be like the rocks were put there just a few minutes ago. Nothing will have changed, and yet everything will be new…
The Incentives and Passions of Bad Memory
How not remembering what happened makes us always right and justified to be passionate about our positions, whereas…
We’ve spoken in the past about how “ideas not being experiences” contributes to history repeating, which suggests why “thesis, antithesis, and synthesis” is a good mental model (even if misattributed to Hegel), but here we will explore how forgetfulness is also part of the problem. Theoretically, if it was impossible for me to remember anything, I couldn’t learn, but that also means I would never be wrong. In this way, there might be incentive to possess bad memory…