• apokrisis
    1.6k
    The point I'm making is that understanding such lifecycles does not help prevent them at all.Agustino

    That's a sweeping claim.

    All earlier examples of social collapse (as evidenced for example by Jared Diamond) were societies that didn't understand their natural basis sufficiently.

    So your sweeping claim is yet to be empirically tested.

    You think technology can overstep man's morality. But it can't.Agustino

    Technology is a tool for amplifying human action. The moral issue (in terms of a naturalistic perspective) is that we've let technological possibility also make the choices for us too much. So "utopia" would be about striking a better balance in actively choosing the actions we ought to amplify, not simply plug our traditional values (like an eye for an eye, eat until you burst, or whatever) into whatever is the lastest technical possibility.

    Too much good and people lose motivation.Agustino

    I know it is your thing to play the conservative. But again, I have outlined the grounds on which I am founding a view. It is the one supported by science and philosophical naturalism. So just repeating your own paradigmatic assumptions in reply is otiose.

    The Roman Empire didn't disappear because of natural disaster and pandemic - it disappeared due to internal reasons. Internally it became unstable. Why? Because of depravation and loss of moral values - loss of the virtues.Agustino

    Anthropological bollocks. It over-ran its ability to control an empire. It ran out of new grain fields to occupy.

    So it had a brilliant social formula - for its time. But then fell apart because it over-ran what its hierarchical organisation could contain.

    So it arose on things like speed of communication, coherence of action. And fell apart after the social technologies involved could no longer cope with the scale of the task.

    Except that pandemics and the like aren't the biggest danger. The biggest danger is within man's own heart.Agustino

    Pandemics are definitely ranked by national governments as the biggest actual threat they face (on the timescales/consequences that matter most to them).

    See a standard indicative national risk model....

    is14-116.gif

    I think people are actually more dumb than ever before on average. Sure, they have more knowledge than ever before, but certainly not more intelligence - too much comfort dulls down their intelligence, and all that is left is mere knowledge.Agustino

    The Flynn effect is well known by now.

    But you are arguing from your own personal vague definitions of intellect and morality. As a naturalist, I aim higher. If nature is in fact intelligible, these are things we can properly define and measure. They are not just matters of opinion.
  • Thorongil
    1.6k
    They may think about such things, but they do not complain of them. It's the utopians and optimists who continually whine and moan about how things are not as they ought to be. And then their projects for achieving what they take to be the ideal state of affairs go up in flames and cause more misery than would otherwise likely occur. A curmudgeonly philosopher in Frankfurt or a sickly, bed-ridden poet in Italy are not doing very much wrong, it seems to me, so that to focus on their faults is to engage in a most tiresome and irksome pettiness.
  • Agustino
    5.2k
    So your sweeping claim is yet to be empirically tested.apokrisis
    :-} To say it is yet to be empirically tested is to misunderstand it. It cannot be empirically tested, because every new society that comes up will still be puffed up by this self-belief and this delusion that it really is different than all those that went before it. All it takes is one sufficiently bad leader/administration and things will be over - for any civilisation.

    Technology is a tool for amplifying human action.apokrisis
    Right - so if human beings statistically have a tendency towards immorality, that means that given technology, their immorality will have much greater consequences now than ever before, because it too will be amplified. This pretty much suggests that we're going to end all of human civilisation in nuclear war.

    I know it is your thing to play the conservative. But again, I have outlined the grounds on which I am founding a view. It is the one supported by science and philosophical naturalism. So just repeating your own paradigmatic assumptions in reply is otiose.apokrisis
    I'm not against naturalism - I fail to see how naturalism would fail to note the inability to alter man's character, and if man's character is a large driving factor for his actions, and man is naturally predisposed or has a tendency towards immorality, and technology amplifies man's actions, it kind of only follows that things are going to get worse quite quickly.

    Anthropological bollocks. It over-ran its ability to control an empire. It ran out of new grain fields to occupy.

    So it had a brilliant social formula - for its time. But then fell apart because it over-ran what its hierarchical organisation could contain.

    So it arose on things like speed of communication, coherence of action. And fell apart after the social technologies involved could no longer cope with the scale of the task.
    apokrisis
    Not only this. If you read accounts of the fall of Rome from historical sources you will see a multitude of factors among which loss of discipline, and loss of motivation which permitted them to be defeat by barbarians.

    But you are arguing from your own personal vague definitions of intellect and morality. As a naturalist, I aim higher. If nature is in fact intelligible, these are things we can properly define and measure. They are not just matters of opinion.apokrisis
    Sure, so?

    All earlier examples of social collapse (as evidenced for example by Jared Diamond) were societies that didn't understand their natural basis sufficiently.apokrisis
    If you're referring to Guns, Germs and Steel, I've read it and I'm not impressed. My reading of history shows that these weren't the main factors. The main factors were always social - in the evolving social mentalities. Baghdad at the height of the Islamic golden age lost its virtues - people became like today - many academics, many scientists, lots of musicians, a flowering and promiscuous culture, loss of motivation amongst the youth, a very extensive compassion, an anti-military hippie kinda culture etc. Then it collapsed.
  • Agustino
    5.2k
    You may be interested in this essay:
    http://people.uncw.edu/kozloffm/glubb.pdf

    You can have a look at the summary at the very end if you want it in short form.
  • apokrisis
    1.6k
    All it takes is one sufficiently bad leader/administration and things will be over - for any civilisation.Agustino

    I agree Trump is a good test of civilisation's current level of foresight and resilience. But surely you can rely on the CIA to arrange an accident for the sake of the prevailing neoliberal elite?

    Right - so if human beings statistically have a tendency towards immorality, that means that given technology, their immorality will have much greater consequences now than ever before, because it too will be amplified. This pretty much suggests that we're going to end all of human civilisation in nuclear war.Agustino

    OK, back to seriousness.

    Is war immoral? Or just not a very helpful expression of the natural imperative towards productively competitive behaviour when it is taken to a globally damaging level.

    It is not immoral to defend yourself by blowing up your own species and planet. Just a rather impractical way of achieving the flourishing co-operativity that is the basis of any long-run persistent social identity.

    So again - seriously now - Houston we have a problem when the nation that controls half the world's military power can vote in one person of doubtful decision-making who apparently has ultimate say over whether the red button gets pushed.

    Trump has surrounded himself with generals. So maybe we can rely on a military putsch in extremis. Although some of those generals seem as much bad decision makers (the technical term is "bonkers") judging by background reports.

    But in the end, the world has managed to avoid nuclear war, while also collectively waging war on the various causes of pandemics.

    Now I am far from an optimist about the human capacity for wise self-governance. But that is simply because - as with the Roman Empire - we may again have outstripped the technology of governance which we have currently put in place.

    However - and I'm pretty involved in the detail of what governments do - humans also show an impressive ability to respond intelligently to what they actually understand as threats that must be faced. We could easily fix climate change if we could manage to overcome conservative habits and take the problem seriously.

    I fail to see how naturalism would fail to note the inability to alter man's character,Agustino

    Naturalism - as in the sciences of psychology and anthropology - notes the great maleability of human character.

    Of course, some outliers may have some kind of biological stubborness or conservative propensity. They are rigid for neurobiological reasons (just as others might be "too flexible, too liberal".

    Yet you only have to look at the average behaviour of immigrants - such as I believe yourself? Just how quickly does a Korean become an American, especially if they arrive young and are allowed to mix freely with their new native environment.

    Not only this. If you read accounts of the fall of Rome from historical sources you will see a multitude of factors among which loss of discipline, and loss of motivation which permitted them to be defeat by barbarians.Agustino

    Yeah sure. There are lots of ways the symptoms might present. But no serious (scientific) historian is going to talk about a loss of motivation when it is instead a loss of cohesion, or the senescence of habit, that removes the possibility to act.

    If you're referring to Guns, Germs and Steel, I've read it and I'm not impressed. My reading of history shows that these weren't the main factors. The main factors were always social - in the evolving social mentalities. Baghdad at the height of the Islamic golden age lost its virtues - people became like today - many academics, many scientists, lots of musicians, a flowering and promiscuous culture, loss of motivation amongst the youth, a very extensive compassion, an anti-military hippie kinda culture etc. Then it collapsed.Agustino

    Yep. If it is a choice between your own bias-confirming scholarship and the actual scholarship of scientists who have to go out and confirm their ideas empirically, then surely we are all going to agree ... with you.

    Don't you see how ridiculous this sounds?
  • darthbarracuda
    2.1k
    You must like being coy, because you have continually refused to give me concrete examples of what they did wrong, what they ought to have done, and why.Thorongil

    On the contrary, you seem to just enjoy being an argumentative ass. I've given you plenty of examples already. And I've already conceded that Schopenhauer donated to charity.

    And once again, I'm not arguing that they did anything wrong, per se, I'm explaining how they certainly were not what I would call active pessimists. So stop taking this so personally and stop being so belligerent. Whether there is something wrong with being a passive pessimist is not really the point of the OP, although I hope you and others will consider what it actually means to be a passive pessimist in the long run.

    2) These figures, or at least Schopenhauer, would say that the problem CANNOT be solved, outside of abstaining from procreation. This is part of what makes them pessimists.Thorongil

    And I have already stated multiple times that it's not about solving the entire problem but of making things comparatively better than they otherwise would.

    Yes, you're a hypocrite. Think of all the drowning children you could have saved if you slept on a rock and used the money for that Target pillow on them.Thorongil

    I never said I wasn't a hypocrite, just that I'm a more productive hypocrite. :-}

    A good deed, but in the grand scheme of things it did absolutely nothing, as is the case of all forms of charity.Thorongil

    I'm sure it did a lot to help those who were on the receiving end. It didn't do "absolutely nothing" as you so boldly claim, otherwise it wouldn't actually be a good deed.

    Throwing money at the problem will not fix it, for the condition is terminal and permanent. It will merely act as a fleeting and minutely effective band-aid. I am not saying not to give to charity or that I wouldn't if I had the means, I am only pointing out the sheer idiocy and folly in suggesting that it will make any substantial difference.Thorongil

    And once again I have to tell you that it's not about fixing all the problems but making things comparatively better. But I guess there's no aesthetic to this, it's more aesthetically pleasing to just give up on everything. Everything sucks and there's nothing we can do about it...except there actually is.

    That you're not grateful to be so informed by such a man doesn't negate his value.Thorongil

    I'm grateful for his observations because I now am able to do something. It probably would be harmful just to talk about how much life sucks without doing anything about it, because now you've just made everyone's sufferings that much more obvious.

    And I believe this too. What's wrong with seeking the truth? Presumably the harshness and violence of the world is true and requires pointing out and defending as such.Thorongil

    There's nothing wrong with seeking the truth, per se, so long as you recognize that some truths are sought because you want to know, not because of some "higher purpose" that truth-seeking embodies.

    And in the end, truth won't get food on the table. It will leave you on the side of the road wondering why you even bothered with it in the first place.

    I shall seek the truth above all else.Thorongil

    Meanwhile in Ethiopia, over 14 million people don't really care about metaphysics. Because they haven't eaten in ten days. If you don't find anything wrong with this, fine. Just don't pretend Schopenhauer and co. did anything substantial over their lifetimes to help people like this. They were passive, focused more on abstract metaphysics than the suffering they were famous for characterizing. And they were profoundly lucky that they had the opportunity and resources to pursue these sorts of dainty hobbies.
  • Agustino
    5.2k
    I agree Trump is a good test of civilisation's current level of foresight and resilience. But surely you can rely on the CIA to arrange an accident for the sake of the prevailing neoliberal elite?apokrisis
    The neoliberal elite is finished as far as the US is concerned in my opinion. A new age is upon us.

    Yeah sure. There are lots of ways the symptoms might present. But no serious (scientific) historian is going to talk about a loss of motivation when it is instead a loss of cohesion, or the senescence of habit, that removes the possibility to act.apokrisis
    Oh yeah... >:O Where do you even take these pearls from? Honestly - read some history. There are no such things as "scientific" and non-scientific historians.

    But yes, loss of motivation causes loss of cohesion, not the other way around.


    Yep. If it is a choice between your own bias-confirming scholarship and the actual scholarship of scientists who have to go out and confirm their ideas empirically, then surely we are all going to agree ... with you.

    Don't you see how ridiculous this sounds?
    apokrisis
    It certainly sounds just as ridiculous as what you're saying sounds to me. You can choose your own bias-confirming scholarship instead of engaging with the literature and people out there who disagree with you. There is no way to "confirm ideas empirically" in history. You don't make experiments in the past.
  • Agustino
    5.2k
    We could easily fix climate change if we could manage to overcome conservative habits and take the problem seriously.apokrisis
    And I disagree about this. The money interests are too powerful. It's not our conservative habits, but rather the financial interests involved.
  • apokrisis
    1.6k
    But yes, loss of motivation causes loss of cohesion, not the other way around.Agustino

    You are happy to just make assertions without evidence. You describe the facts as they need to be to make your version of reality correct.

    But the very fact you must still present "evidence" in the form of these imaginary facts gives the game away. You are only pretending be doing what you know you ought to be doing here - supporting your "history" by empirical test rather than simply expressing some personal cultural stance born of long unquestioning habit.

    You can choose your own bias-confirming scholarship instead of engaging with the literature and people out there who disagree with you. There is no way to "confirm ideas empirically" in history. You don't make experiments in the past.Agustino

    You are welcome to show that "loss of motivation" trumps "loss of cohesion" in the literature. So thanks for that paper by Glubb Pasha.

    But don't you see that the very notion of "empires" is already a conception of the "natural human order" which is one of the things to be questioned. Colonisation - as a more economically efficient version of nomadic barbarism - could indeed be another stage we want to evolve past. Not that neoliberalist trade globalisation is really post-colonial. :)

    And then, more relevantly, where General Glubb expresses your lament against social decadence, it in fact is an an amateur's way of getting at what theoretical biologists understand as the canonical lifecycle of organised systems.

    Glubb: The life-expectation of a great nation, it appears, commences with a violent, and usually unforeseen, outburst of energy, and ends in a lowering of moral standards, cynicism, pessimism and frivolity.

    So yes, that describes how things start immaturely in a burst of youthful zest and energy. The history of the world has been written by the rise of social groups which have "just enough" organisation to be cohesive, yet also a new lack of constraint in terms of some source of power - like horse riding, better ships, social mobility, or whatever. The group can ride out and take over their more conservative and hidebound neighbours.

    And then a maturity develops. Even the Mongols and other "barbarians" got quite civilised, leading to a more balanced and persistent state of existence.

    But inevitably - in a society that can't foresee the danger - conservative habit starts to create social rigidity and immobility. A fossilised elite develops. Folk start worrying that they aren't the stout stoics that laid the ground for cultural success. The focus goes to the lack of the old discipline, the decadence that is taking over.

    Yep, too much flows to the centre which holds the power. And that indeed has an infantilising effect. It returns a mature state of development to an immature one, with too many degrees of freedom to expend. There is energy to burn, and it gets used in unconstructive fashion because individuals are disconnected from the general social project delivering that energy to them.

    But equally, the critical problem of the system is the senescence represented by the conservative elite. It naturally thinks the answer to new problems is the answer to old problems. If what is seen as a symptom is decadence, then the cure must lie in exerting even greater control - applying old habits with even more effort.

    But social habits make sense because they work. To enforce them is to try to crank a broken system harder. Instead, an intelligent society is one that seeks to evolve new forms of general cohesion. It encourages social experimentation as it needs to strike on whatever it is might be the new better balance.

    So of course old values may still be worthwhile. Personally I am pretty conservative in my habits. No one would ever mistake me for a hippy. So I agree with a lot of your own social norms most likely.

    But where we differ is that I'm in favour of the right kind of liberality - a science-based freedom of thought. Political and economic systems need to be evidence-based and aimed at the general good. So the fossilised thought habits of religious conservative elites are a clear and present danger for a modern society that wants to avoid its "inevitable" collapse.
  • Thorongil
    1.6k
    I've given you plenty of examples already.darthbarracuda

    I mean this with all seriousness: I have no idea to what you're referring. The only thing that I can recall is pillows. Is that it? What else have you impugned them for besides that, which is clearly an absurd example? Tell me, concretely and specifically, what they ought to have done that would make them into darthbarracuda approved™ "active" cool guy pessimists.

    Whether there is something wrong with being a passive pessimist is not really the point of the OP, although I hope you and others will consider what it actually means to be a passive pessimist in the long run.darthbarracuda

    Oh please, your OP is positively dripping with contempt for this made up (read: straw man) form of pessimism.

    I'm explaining how they certainly were not what I would call active pessimists.darthbarracuda

    In other words, they weren't what you wish them to be, and you're upset about that fact. Cry me a damn river. You can't change the past and you can't change other people, so stop acting like a petulant child. Those in glass houses ought not to cast stones. Focus on your own inadequacies before you smugly point out those of other people, people who were infinitely more influential and intelligent than you are, as you readily admit. If provoked, I have many extremely critical things to say about a great number of philosophers. But I don't make it a habit of going out of my way to create essay length threads condemning them.

    I never said I wasn't a hypocrite, just that I'm a more productive hypocrite.darthbarracuda

    How confident you are. Productive in what way? Tell us all how great and wonderful darthbarracuda is in comparison with those icky "decadent" pessimists like Schopenhauer and Leopardi.

    I'm sure it did a lot to help those who were on the receiving end. It didn't do "absolutely nothing" as you so boldly claim, otherwise it wouldn't actually be a good deed.darthbarracuda

    "In the grand scheme of things...."

    but making things comparatively better.darthbarracuda

    And you will notice that I've been talking about suffering as a general category ("In the grand scheme of things").The total amount of suffering is not lessened one single iota due to Schopenhauer giving to charity. Not one. Suffering and misery in fact increased exponentially after his death, as the human population exploded and we embarked on one of the most barbaric and violent centuries yet seen in the history of this sad, pathetic vale of tears.

    except there actually is.darthbarracuda

    Like what, buckwheat. I'm still asking for this.

    There's nothing wrong with seeking the truth, per se, so long as you recognize that some truths are sought because you want to know, not because of some "higher purpose" that truth-seeking embodies.darthbarracuda

    I would describe it as an end in itself.

    Meanwhile in Ethiopia, over 14 million people don't really care about metaphysics. Because they haven't eaten in ten days. If you don't find anything wrong with this, fine. Just don't pretend Schopenhauer and co. did anything substantial over their lifetimes to help people like this. They were passive, focused more on abstract metaphysics than the suffering they were famous for characterizing.darthbarracuda

    No, they did nothing wrong ignoring starving Ethiopians. The concept of right, as Schopenhauer contends, and with whom I agree, is negative. I have the right not to be harmed, but I have absolutely no right to receive charity, whether it be in the form of food or whatever. Consequently, I do no wrong in withholding charity from starving Ethiopians, for I am not the cause of, and so am not responsible for, their plight. Now, lest you misconstrue what I am saying, charitable giving is good, undoubtedly, but not giving to charity is not bad.
  • apokrisis
    1.6k
    It's not our conservative habits, but rather the financial interests involved.Agustino

    But we are talking about the US here, aren't we really. So the formula is conservative/religious social norms and economic liberalisation.

    Yes, that might seem a curious mismatch. But clearly the two are interlocked because ultimately the only justification for Goldman Sachs and its ilk being allowed to rape the world is that the US is God's chosen people.

    And yes, Trump's election shows that the dim and brain washed masses of the US have woken up and discovered that ever since the 1970s - as the US flushed the easy money of its gushing oil wells down the toilet of hippy decadence and world domination - they too are up for grabs by an unholy social system.

    Of course I'm being hyperbolic here. The US is still scraping into the top 20 on national prosperity indexes - http://www.prosperity.com/globe/united-states

    But any outsider can see that its political system is deeply dysfunctional now. It is powerless to actually "drain the swamp" when all it can do is appoint a nespotic buffoon who exists in a bubble of bias-confirming Brietbart factoids.
  • darthbarracuda
    2.1k
    In other words, they weren't what you wish them to be, and you're upset about that fact.Thorongil

    Nope, this is just you projecting. I'm disappointed that they weren't active pessimists but it's not like I expected anything more. I'm condemning passive pessimism as an ideal more than I am condemning those who practice it. You're taking this waaay too personally. Boo-hoo, so I pointed out how your idol Schopenhauer wasn't as productive as he could be. Oh well.

    You can't change the past and you can't change other people, so stop acting like a petulant child.Thorongil

    >:O

    But I don't make it a habit of going out of my way to create essay length threads condemning them.Thorongil

    Nice straw man.

    Productive in what way? Tell us all how great and wonderful darthbarracuda is in comparison with those icky "decadent" pessimists like Schopenhauer and Leopardi.Thorongil

    Part of Effective Altruism is that EA-ers don't typically go around bragging how much they do. Safe to say I donate to specific organizations and contribute time and energy to local projects. I also am pursuing a degree that not only interests me but will make me a relatively large amount of money, which I plan on donating most of.

    So no, I'm not on the front lines, but as I've already said, for every soldier on the front, there's ten behind. EA may be liberally optimistic but they do more good than the alternatives.

    "In the grand scheme of things...."Thorongil

    And as I have said several times now, the grand scheme of things isn't important because it's not feasible to work with. But every life is a world-in-itself. Every instance of suffering is important, perhaps even more-so if we take the block theory of time seriously.

    The total amount of suffering is not lessened one single iota due to Schopenhauer giving to charity. Not one. Suffering and misery in fact increased exponentially after his death, as the human population exploded and we embarked on one of the most barbaric and violent centuries yet seen in the history of this sad, pathetic vale of tears.Thorongil

    So maybe let's team up and do what Schopenhauer couldn't/didn't?

    Consequently, I do no wrong in withholding charity from starving Ethiopians, for I am not the cause of, and so am not responsible for, their plight. Now, lest you misconstrue what I am saying, charitable giving is good, undoubtedly, but not giving to charity is not bad.Thorongil

    Of course you can argue that doing good is entirely supererogatory. This is a popular move. But it still misinterprets the OP, as I already have said how an active pessimist could still see this as supererogatory and yet be a part of it. For example, bodhisattvas.

    But consider a drowning child. Do you do anything wrong by not helping the child escape the water? I think you'll probably agree that it's not simply an instance of altruistic good but an instance of moral expectation. To ignore the child is to be neglectful, possibly even criminally.

    Or what if you saw a man kidnap a young child, and saw the license plate number on the vehicle? Surely you would think you have an obligation to call the police, no?

    And what about those suffering by natural disasters? Who is to blame for this? Surely not the tsunami, but perhaps those who stood idly by and watched as people died. People who didn't have to die.

    I have to ask you, what reason do we have to accept this distinction between doing and allowing? Why is it important? What motivation do we have to see morality this way? I suspect many attempts to limit morality in this way are at least partly due to a dislike of how demanding a morality without it would be - yet I've already shown how this is nothing more than an affirmation of the status quo and how the over-demandingness stems from a non-ideal and unequal distribution of responsibility. Not everyone are consequentialists, so those who are are given a taller order than they should.

    So it's easy to just say "not my problem" when the issue is thousands of miles away and whose causes are difficult to attribute. In a world as complex as ours, there hardly ever is one single determinate cause for a problem, and no amount of pointing fingers is going to sort things out. That's why the active pessimist is going to say "to hell with it" and start fixing things themselves, even if they don't have to. Such a move could thus be seen as that of virtue. Or altruism, as I had already said in the OP and several times already in this thread.

    Schopenhauer, being a pessimist, should of all people been the one to realize that the world is non-ideal and unfair - yet for some reason found room to push in these idealistic, absolutist moral codes that drip with appeals to intention. Once again we have an example of a security-bubble; the world is crazy and malignant, but there's a special code that recognizes intentions when the rest of the world quite obviously does not. A world that harms indiscriminately is not a world which has this sort of morality. To the consequentialist, there is no difference between doing and allowing. To the non-consequentialist, there also shouldn't be a difference between doing and allowing in extreme and non-ideal circumstances. To deny this screams, to me, the just world fallacy.
  • Agustino
    5.2k
    You are happy to just make assertions without evidence. You describe the facts as they need to be to make your version of reality correct.apokrisis
    Sure I did this merely because you were unwilling to engage in dialogue and instead took your views as the definite and undeniable truth. So if you can do that, why shouldn't I?

    But the very fact you must still present "evidence" in the form of these imaginary facts gives the game awayapokrisis
    I have presented evidence in the form of the paper I've shared, as well as historical examples from the past. I haven't seen much evidence from you except you constructing a possible explanation via systems thinking of what is actually happening. But merely because it is possible doesn't mean it is also right. But I think this isn't our point of contention to be honest. I'm not saying that science (systems thinking) couldn't describe the historical relationships that we understand and know in more precise detail, and reveal more of their features. I'm not disagreeing there at all.

    The thing is you misunderstand the science of history if you think that in history we have undeniable evidence one way or another or if we can empirically test claims except by resorting to documentation we have from the past.

    And then, more relevantly, where General Glubb expresses your lament against social decadence, it in fact is an an amateur's way of getting at what theoretical biologists understand as the canonical lifecycle of organised systems.apokrisis
    But I wouldn't deny this, and I wouldn't mind if you complement his account with a more detailed one involving systems thinking. Where I disagree is that systems thinking could render his account false - it can only complement it.

    So yes, that describes how things start immaturely in a burst of youthful zest and energy. The history of the world has been written by the rise of social groups which have "just enough" organisation to be cohesive, yet also a new lack of constraint in terms of some source of power - like horse riding, better ships, social mobility, or whatever. The group can ride out and take over their more conservative and hidebound neighbours.

    And then a maturity develops. Even the Mongols and other "barbarians" got quite civilised, leading to a more balanced and persistent state of existence.
    apokrisis
    Yes I agree - but now you must notice that this account does little to help one in practice. Such understanding for example doesn't show a leader how to start a nation in "a burst of youthful zest and energy", how to ensure that it has "just enough" organisation to be cohesive, and how to ensure it "has a new lack of constraint in terms of some source of power". This understanding doesn't provide guidelines. That's why most leaders of this kind - I'm not talking of the CEO of Google or an already established company - but people like Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, etc. who create a new and powerful organisation - they don't need such understanding. It will not help them. A general is better off with understanding the principles expounded in the Art of War than learning systems theory. The principles are heuristics, which enable quickly "zooming in" on the right set of possible answers.

    But inevitably - in a society that can't foresee the danger - conservative habit starts to create social rigidity and immobility. A fossilised elite develops. Folk start worrying that they aren't the stout stoics that laid the ground for cultural success. The focus goes to the lack of the old discipline, the decadence that is taking over.apokrisis
    But apart from social rigidity and immobility, it is precisely the disintegration of these that lead to collapse. I agree that the fossilised elite becomes blind to the problem - in fact they become part of the problem - it's quite often this fossilised elite that becomes decadent first - they cease being the stout stoics that laid the ground for cultural success. There are just a few in society who remember the old discipline and who warn about the dangers of its abandonment. The rest are caught up in the zest and new found possibilities of the culture to notice.

    But equally, the critical problem of the system is the senescence represented by the conservative elite. It naturally thinks the answer to new problems is the answer to old problems. If what is seen as a symptom is decadence, then the cure must lie in exerting even greater control - applying old habits with even more effort.apokrisis
    You have to explain this in more detail. What does the collapse of society have to do with a conservative elite? To me, they aren't conservative at all - the elite in US, for example, isn't conservative at all. The Clintons aren't conservatives... In fact the collapse of the US is precisely due to the loss of conservative values.

    And don't misunderstand what being a conservative is. Being a conservative isn't dogmatically refusing change. It's more of an attitude that one has - for example, in order to keep a white post in front of your house white, you can't just leave it as it is. If you do, it will become dirty and black. Every now and again you need to repaint it. Being conservative corresponds more to concentrating on avoiding loss instead of gaining - realising that one loss is more significant than one victory. "Make sure you don't lose first, then think about winning" is a conservative principle.

    But social habits make sense because they work. To enforce them is to try to crank a broken system harder. Instead, an intelligent society is one that seeks to evolve new forms of general cohesion. It encourages social experimentation as it needs to strike on whatever it is might be the new better balance.apokrisis
    To enforce them is impossible. But don't lose sight that their loss led to the current situation. Why did we lose them? Because human beings have a natural tendency towards immorality and dissolution - they have a tendency towards entropy. Negentropic structures ultimately collapse.

    Now don't misunderstand me. This isn't to say we don't need social experimentation, only that this needs to be contained.

    But where we differ is that I'm in favour of the right kind of liberality - a science-based freedom of thought. Political and economic systems need to be evidence-based and aimed at the general good.apokrisis
    But why do you think we differ on this? I agree with you.

    So the fossilised thought habits of religious conservative elites are a clear and present danger for a modern society that wants to avoid its "inevitable" collapse.apokrisis
    You have to explain in more detail why. Also you have to explain in more detailed how the fossilised thought habits of neo-liberals aren't an equally big danger. I am all for reason as opposed to dogmatism even though I am religious myself - we need to do things because they make sense that we do them that way. So for example I'm not opposed to people living together if they're not married - most religious folks would be. I consider marriage a spiritual bond - so the physical institution of marriage is only good in-so-far as it points to the spiritual realm. And I acknowledge that some wouldn't need such an institution.

    So the formula is conservative/religious social norms and economic liberalisation.apokrisis
    Maybe it was meant to be like this, but in practice it clearly isn't how it is. In practice we see economic liberalisation and social progressivism.

    But clearly the two are interlocked because ultimately the only justification for Goldman Sachs and its ilk being allowed to rape the world is that the US is God's chosen people.apokrisis
    I don't think the powerful need a justification - except to throw it in the eyes of the fools. Sure, in that way, they do need a sort of mandate of heaven - as Chinese rulers would say. But in the end, what allows them to rape the world is that the world can't do anything to fight back. Because they can - that's why they do it.

    But any outsider can see that its political system is deeply dysfunctional now. It is powerless to actually "drain the swamp" when all it can do is appoint a nespotic buffoon who exists in a bubble of bias-confirming Brietbart factoids.apokrisis
    I think that as much trouble as Trump is, Clinton and her ilk would have been much much worse.
  • Thorongil
    1.6k
    Nope, this is just you projecting.darthbarracuda

    Projecting what? You continually attribute callous disregard for those who suffer to Schopenhauer et al, which is the reason why you label them "passive" pessimists, a term not meant to praise but to rebuke. In doing so, you assume that they did not suffer or that if they did, their suffering does not matter as much as other people's. But this doesn't follow on consequentialist grounds, as I pointed out earlier. If they single-mindedly endeavored to rid themselves of their own suffering, and were in any way successful, then the result conforms to your goal of "making things comparatively better." Perhaps you will say that if they had given more to charity then things would have been comparatively better still, but this assumes you have some criterion for determining the adequate amount of charitable giving a person is obligated to meet, and that one is indeed obligated to meet it, which you have not yet divulged.

    Furthermore, you implicitly and without warrant privilege certain forms of suffering as being worse or as deserving of more attention than others, namely, physical suffering over and against psychological. But "in much wisdom is much grief: and he that increaseth knowledge increaseth sorrow." Thus, it could be that Schopenhauer et al suffer more profoundly than the Ethiopian villager, in which case your priorities ought to be reversed. What is more, if you bring the Ethiopian out of his physical misery, then you have merely served as the enabler of his entering new forms thereof, that is, forms common to the materially satisfied and affluent, such as depression, substance abuse, risk of suicide, and other psychological disorders and conditions. In the absence of physical suffering, one creates fresh desires to strive after, whose unfulfillment causes yet more suffering. Paradoxically, then, the materially disadvantaged Ethiopian villager may actually be happier and more content than the materially prosperous American.

    I am not here suggesting that one ought not to provide material assistance to those in need, but I am pointing out the naivety of your position. Your continued attempts to paint me as a spurned groupie are therefore ridiculous. I do not worship Schopenhauer and have serious disagreements with the man; I simply think your criticism of him as being a "passive," and hence "bad" or morally inadequate, pessimist fails to convince.

    Thirdly, if you wish to end or alleviate suffering and agree that procreation is the principal cause thereof, then you ought to be focusing all of your efforts on encouraging people not to have children. By not doing this, and instead providing charitable assistance, you're acting in conflict with said goal. In other words, to use a word you accused Schopenhauer of earlier, you are in fact an accomplice to suffering by refusing to address the source. If the rightness or wrongness of an action is determined by the consequences of it, and the desired consequence in this case is an end to suffering, then it is wrong to give to charity, since it frees people to have children, which is the cause of suffering.

    So maybe let's team up and do what Schopenhauer couldn't/didn't?darthbarracuda

    By doing what? I already said that if I were or became wealthy, I would give most of it away. I absolutely loathe money and desire only what will enable me to survive and pursue my interests, the principal of these being the truth. Once again, you must take into consideration one's character. Not everyone is so disposed that they can be charitable übermensch, as you apparently are or would like to be. The professions that pay the most, which would in turn allow one to give the most to charity, do not suit or interest me. They would, on the contrary, likely cause me to suffer more than if I had pursued other ends. Instead, becoming, say, a professor, teacher, monk, hermit, or priest are the paths that befit my character. Simply put, I am suited to the vita contemplativa, rather than the vita activa, and civilization needs both. If you are suited to the latter and wish to pursue it, that's great, but the expectation that everyone else is capable of doing so or ought to is hopelessly naive and inconsiderate.

    as I already have said how an active pessimist could still see this as supererogatory and yet be a part of itdarthbarracuda

    And I have never disagreed or meant to disagree with this. Of course one could and ought to do as much good as one can even if one is not obligated to do so.

    Do you do anything wrong by not helping the child escape the water?

    Or what if you saw a man kidnap a young child, and saw the license plate number on the vehicle? Surely you would think you have an obligation to call the police, no?

    And what about those suffering by natural disasters? Who is to blame for this? Surely not the tsunami, but perhaps those who stood idly by and watched as people died. People who didn't have to die.
    darthbarracuda

    If one happens upon a drowning child whose death can be prevented by one's aid, then one naturally ought to help it. If one doesn't do so, then one is responsible for its death. The same logic holds for your other examples. But even though one does hold responsibility in these cases, there is no categorical obligation to save the child, for all obligations, imperatives, and duties are hypothetical. What you have done here is subtly switch from consequentialism to deontology, which Schopenhauer and I also reject.

    I suspect many attempts to limit morality in this way are at least partly due to a dislike of how demanding a morality without it would bedarthbarracuda

    An ethic isn't more true to the degree that it is demanding.

    So it's easy to just say "not my problem" when the issue is thousands of miles awaydarthbarracuda

    No, if by "not my problem" you mean "not responsible," then it's simply correct. If you honestly think that I am responsible for people starving in Ethiopia, then your definition of responsibility is in error, since it would say of me that I caused or intended to cause their suffering, which I clearly did not. Nor, as I said, do I have the means or the power to end it, unlike the drowning child example.

    yet for some reason found room to push in these idealistic, absolutist moral codes that drip with appeals to intentiondarthbarracuda

    I have no idea what you're talking about here.
  • darthbarracuda
    2.1k
    Perhaps you will say that if they had given more to charity then things would have been comparatively better still, but this assumes you have some criterion for determining the adequate amount of charitable giving a person is obligated to meet, and that one is indeed obligated to meet it, which you have not yet divulged.Thorongil

    So, yes, we of course have to take into account input as well as output. However like I said I am focused more on passive pessimism as an ideal. For Schopenhauer et al, it's about minimizing harm that you yourself experience, even if it's just small bouts of anxiety or what have you, since that's a symptom of the overarching metaphysical "problem" so to speak. It's why Schopenhauer advocated contemplating the aesthetic as a means of calming the Will, or "escaping" the Will's grasp.

    The fact that they didn't seem to really advocate anything more is the main point here. Their actions themselves of course are also evidence but the fact that they offered no real plan of action is what separates them from active pessimists. Not everyone has access to the aesthetic. Not everyone has the opportunity to contemplate the universe as a leisure. Not everyone even has the intelligence to think about their condition (non-human animals for example).

    Their emphasis on the "big problem" is what made them overlook the smaller problems.

    The criterion imo would be to at least emphasize charitable and altruistic actions for the benefit of others, so long as you yourself don't drop below whatever you would see to be the line between "manageable" and "okay I'm suffering big time now".

    Schopenhauer got a lot of inspiration from Buddhism and other Indian religions that emphasized non-self, yet curiously seemed to be overly-concerned about his own well-being and status in mainland Germany and Europe as a whole.

    Thus, it could be that Schopenhauer et al suffer more profoundly than the Ethiopian villager, in which case your priorities ought to be reversed.Thorongil

    Just...no. To attribute the angst and ennui Schopenhauer apparently felt as "suffering" is to bastardize suffering and insult those who actually are suffering. Like it just boggles my mind how someone can actually think this, that a first-world countryman somehow inherently suffers more than a third-world "country"man. Maybe Schopenhauer should have just left Europe and hung around the slums in Zimbabwe or something if he really thought he was suffering more than anyone else. That sounds more like a him-problem than anything else.

    Schopenhauer can say all he wants about how increasing knowledge increases suffering, yet if he actually was suffering because of it he wouldn't have pursued knowledge. Thus his decadent and indecent equivocation is apparent. And if he thought this way then he probably shouldn't have taught or done anything related to philosophy as a whole. That's just bourgeois entitlement - decadence.

    What is more, if you bring the Ethiopian out of his physical misery, then you have merely served as the enabler of his entering new forms thereof, that is, forms common to the materially satisfied and affluent, such as depression, substance abuse, risk of suicide, and other psychological disorders and conditions. In the absence of physical suffering, one creates fresh desires to strive after, whose unfulfillment causes yet more suffering. Paradoxically, then, the materially disadvantaged Ethiopian villager may actually be happier and more content than the materially prosperous American.Thorongil

    Again, just...no. I don't know how I'm supposed to argue against something like this, or how anyone for that matter can actually take this seriously. It's just obvious that extreme starvation is worse than ennui. One is manageable - you can still produce philosophical works if you experience it. The other one is cripplingly overwhelming.

    So maybe Schopenhauer was more focused on the increase of melancholy in those who are more intelligent or knowledgeable, a so-called "burden" of the academic. This might be true but I think it's blatant equivocation to see this as legitimate "suffering" and not just a general disenchantment with the world. This is exactly why someone like myself sees Schopenhauer and co. as almost solipsistic in their philosophy. They "recognize" that other people exist but don't seem to really act like it, as they seem to be caught up in their own world of metaphysical theorizing. Suffering is analyzed in an abstract manner and detached from anyone actually experiencing the condition.

    The threshold I typically like to use is the one that establishes a point in which someone can "take care of themselves". Schopenhauer obviously wasn't doing all that bad considering his biography and works, so he wouldn't be that important in the prioritarian/sufficientarian sense (consider how absurd it would be for someone like me to knock on his door and tell him I'm here to give him a massage or something because he's suffering extraordinarily). The Ethiopian obviously isn't, so they are who we would be focused on (consider how welcoming the Ethiopian would be to even the smallest of aid).

    Also, those who are extremely disadvantaged and are brought up to a higher level of living typically have a lot more appreciation for their new living conditions. They may still be in an all-things-considered "shitty" existence but they don't seem to recognize this as such.

    But again, like I said, I have very little hope for humanity as a whole. Human-oriented charities are inevitably fucked by the corrupt governments of the countries they're trying to help. This is why I said I'm focused more on non-human animals, the sentients that don't have representatives, who can't contemplate the aesthetic, and who probably actually suffer more than higher-intelligence sentients. That's one point Schopenhauer was 100% wrong about. Higher-intelligence does not necessitate higher suffering. Lesser-intelligence oftentimes constitutes a higher likelihood to suffer, as one doesn't have the capability to grasp and understand the cause of the condition but rather simply has to endure. They have two options: endure or escape. Humans have a third: fix the problem, or even a fourth: dissociation/distraction thanks to our "will" or what have you.

    Thirdly, if you wish to end or alleviate suffering and agree that procreation is the principal cause thereof, then you ought to be focusing all of your efforts on encouraging people not to have children. By not doing this, and instead providing charitable assistance, you're acting in conflict with said goal. In other words, to use a word you accused Schopenhauer of earlier, you are in fact an accomplice to suffering by refusing to address the source. If the rightness or wrongness of an action is determined by the consequences of it, and the desired consequence in this case is an end to suffering, then it is wrong to give to charity, since it frees people to have children, which is the cause of suffering.Thorongil

    Not necessarily. I mean, I could go up to my university's speaking ground everyday and advocate antinatalism. I could blow up a sperm bank or put sterilization chemicals in the water. I could.

    But this probably wouldn't be as effective as you might envision it to be. Nor do I think I have the guts to do something like this. Furthermore, this could actually be counter-productive; if everyone's sterilized, then suddenly research into test-tube babies will skyrocket exponentionally as everyone freaks out about the prospect of extinction.

    Trying to advocate AN to even my closest acquaintances is like talking to a brick wall. It just doesn't compute. Whether this means I have to resort to violence, I'm not sure. It's one of those things I'd rather not do. Thinking about this makes me feel like a supervillain. But there's always that veil of ignorance - I don't know how effective things like this will be. It might be really effective, or it might backfire. Who knows. It's easier and more effective, I think, to focus on educating the public and increasing the welfare of those already alive. I may not approve of birth but I also harbor disapproval of extinction. There's all sorts of goofy and uncomfortable clashes in intuition. I accept this.

    Simply put, I am suited to the vita contemplativa, rather than the vita activa, and civilization needs both.Thorongil

    Civilization only needs the vita contemplativa, or whatever you called it, as long as they make their ideas known and try to put them into practice. Otherwise you're just as you said: a hermit, irrelevant to the rest of the world as much as the rest of the world is irrelevant to yourself.

    If that's the case, fine. Okay. But this doesn't change the fact that you are not an active pessimist. Again, if you don't find anything wrong with this, fine. If passive pessimism suits you and fulfills whatever ethical criteria you see as important, fine.

    Burn-out is real. You can't pursue a high-paying job that you hate. I recognize this. EA is all about doing the most you can do, which is also why we typically don't like comparing how much we all do. But the focus of active pessimism is involvement in the world at large and being a productive asset to the overall increase in welfare of sentients.

    I've always loved this quote from Julio Cabrera:

    "The negative human being has a greater familiarity with the terminality of Being; he neither conceals it nor embellishes it, he thinks about it very frequently or almost always, and has full conscience about what is pre-reflexive for the majority, that is, all we do is terminal and can be destroyed at any moment.

    Negative life, in this sense, is melancholic and distanced (but never distracted or relaxed), not much worse than most lives and much better than them in many ways, a life with neither hope nor much intense feelings, neither of deception nor even enthusiasm. And, above all, without the irritating daily pretending that “everything is fine” and that “we are great”, while we sweep our miseries under the carpet. Therefore, it is usually a life without great “crisis” or great “depressions” (by the way, depression is the fatal fate of any affirmative life); negative lives are anguished lives, poetic and anxious, and almost always very active lives.

    In the Critique, I have already written that a negative life shall emerge, basically, on four ideas: (a) Full conscience about the structural disvalue of human life, assuming all the consequences of it; (b) Structural refuse to procreation (a negative philosopher with children is even more absurd than an affirmative one without them); (c) Structural refuse to heterocide (not killing anybody in spite of the frequent temptation to violence); (d) Permanent and relaxed disposition for suicide as a possibility."

    The only part I really disagree with is his views on heterocide, as I see murder as an open possibility in extreme cases.

    An ethic isn't more true to the degree that it is demanding.Thorongil

    Right, but I see these sorts of ethical limitations as ultimately baseless.

    No, if by "not my problem" you mean "not responsible," then it's simply correct. If you honestly think that I am responsible for people starving in Ethiopia, then your definition of responsibility is in error, since it would say of me that I caused or intended to cause their suffering, which I clearly did not. Nor, as I said, do I have the means or the power to end it, unlike the drowning child example.Thorongil

    You didn't intend that they starve, but you did intend to ignore their plight. There is no "no action" here. Every single thing we do is an action. Allowing something to happen is still an act. You intended to allow something to happen so long as you are knowledgeable of it and did nothing to interfere. And if you're not knowledgeable of it, you're at least knowledgeable of the general existence of things like it.

    Again, I ask why intentions have any importance here. They might be important in the legal sense, sure. But in the moral sense, what is so important about them?
  • Agustino
    5.2k
    Therefore, it is usually a life without great “crisis” or great “depressions” (by the way, depression is the fatal fate of any affirmative life)darthbarracuda
    I just spoke with Donald J. Trump on the phone, and he told me this is just some crap that I shouldn't be listening to >:O
  • Heister Eggcart
    882
    You didn't intend that they starve, but you did intend to ignore their plight.

    Again, I ask why intentions have any importance here.
    darthbarracuda

    >:O >:O >:O

    Dear God in Heaven, is this a philosophy forum or a cook-book message board?
  • darthbarracuda
    2.1k
    Dear God in Heaven, is this a philosophy forum or a cook-book message board?Heister Eggcart

    If it wasn't apparent, I was trying to show how intentions have little importance. One can always characterize any situation to suit one's needs by invoking intentions here and there. That's the lesson of consequentialism - the only thing that matters at the end is what's left over.
  • apokrisis
    1.6k
    Sure I did this merely because you were unwilling to engage in dialogue and instead took your views as the definite and undeniable truth. So if you can do that, why shouldn't I?Agustino

    That's silly because all my claims are framed in terms of observables. I've talked about ideas that are factually tested.

    The thing is you misunderstand the science of history if you think that in history we have undeniable evidence one way or another or if we can empirically test claims except by resorting to documentation we have from the past.Agustino

    But I am talking about Big History. So that includes the evolution of the Cosmos, Life and MInd. :)

    If you want to understand the rise and fall of empires, of course thermodynamic, biological and cognitive models are relevant if you indeed aspire to a generalised understanding of history as a natural developmental process.

    So sure, history is also a search to uncover "the facts of the past". You need the phenomenon that motivate grander theoretical narratives.

    But history has suffered as a science in not being terribly mathematical in its theoretical thinking. That is what importing the mathematical tools of other sciences is all about.

    Such understanding for example doesn't show a leader how to start a nation in "a burst of youthful zest and energy", how to ensure that it has "just enough" organisation to be cohesive, and how to ensure it "has a new lack of constraint in terms of some source of power". This understanding doesn't provide guidelines.Agustino

    I'm not sure then why people form rational policies around ideas of creative destruction, flat hierarchies, the value of managerial retreats, campaigns against red tape, skunk works, and a thousand other completely standard approaches to loosen up organisations, foster youthful energy.

    Do you believe in neoliberal politics and not understand it?

    but people like Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, etc. who create a new and powerful organisationAgustino

    Not perhaps great examples as they understood the power of monopoly. Which IBM taught them was the way to go.

    A general is better off with understanding the principles expounded in the Art of War than learning systems theory.Agustino

    But the Art of War is applied systems theory. It talks about the mature stage of systems development - flexible and not hidebound, energetic but not rash.

    There are just a few in society who remember the old discipline and who warn about the dangers of its abandonment.Agustino

    Yes Cato. :)

    But also "the old discipline" is not about rigidity but capability. The ideal is people who can think for themselves - along the lines proven to strength coherent social action.

    So if the world changes, the "right stuff" also has to change. And your problem - as a social commentator - is telling the difference when change is now happening within one's own lifetime.

    Now more than ever we need a scientific, and not a heuristic, definition of decadence (and its obverse). We can't wait for the new mindset to prove itself in another generation. We have to be able to predict that things are on track or headed for the dogs.

    Being conservative corresponds more to concentrating on avoiding loss instead of gaining - realising that one loss is more significant than one victory. "Make sure you don't lose first, then think about winning" is a conservative principle.Agustino

    Yep. After you have been around long enough you will by definition have accumulated stuff that is of value - wisdom, property, power, resources. So attention does turn to risk-avoidance. It's classic investment behaviour. And senescent.

    You don't take risks if you intuitively understand you have long lost the youthful powers of recovery from destructive perturbation.

    But life should look very different from the perspective of a youthful "investor". Failure itself becomes the valuable learning opportunity - as every Silicon Valley entrepreneur chants as a mantra.

    So my argument is that the right place to be is somewhere mature inbetween risk-seeking and risk-aversion. That should be the politics and economics of a society hoping to be resilient enough make the longest run at history.

    And again, if you hang around the circles of political or corporate power, that's their understanding.

    human beings have a natural tendency towards immorality and dissolution - they have a tendency towards entropy. Negentropic structures ultimately collapse.Agustino

    That's more hyperbolic nonsense. Humans have the opposite tendency - if you check the anthropological evidence - to accumulate negentropic structure ... because it is negentropic structure that allows a successful acceleration of generalised entropification.

    A car that works is the one that is on the road and burning fuel. The broken car just sits in a field and rusts. Measurement tells us which achieves the greater rate of entropification.

    So structure can always collapse. And theory tells us that collapse grows steadily more likely with senescence - the loss of recuperative powers in the face of unexpected events.

    That is indeed a natural lifecycle. But humans - being intelligent - can now hope to form the new goal of persisting in a state of maximum adaptive resilience.

    And as I say - illustrated with that government risk management chart - this is the new frontier for political science. It is what people are actually doing as they think about coping with sea level rise, antibiotic resistance, aquifer depletion, peak oil, and all the rest.

    I don't think the powerful need a justification - except to throw it in the eyes of the fools.Agustino

    Well, they got too big to fail, didn't they. They used to buy governments. Now they dare governments to act against them.

    The whole world sits on zero interest rates because governments are too scared to impose normal financial discipline.

    I think that as much trouble as Trump is, Clinton and her ilk would have been much much worse.Agustino

    But that just shows how badly US needs youthful reform. It's like having to choose between McDonalds and Taco Bell for dinner. Same shit in different wrapper.
  • Agustino
    5.2k
    But history has suffered as a science in not being terribly mathematical in its theoretical thinking. That is what importing the mathematical tools of other sciences is all about.apokrisis
    How could it be "mathematical"? It seems that you have ignored Aristotle's dictum that not the same degree of precision and certainty can be expected from all sciences, and this doesn't make them any less scientific.

    I'm not sure then why people form rational policies around ideas of creative destruction, flat hierarchies, the value of managerial retreats, campaigns against red tape, skunk works, and a thousand other completely standard approaches to loosen up organisations, foster youthful energy.apokrisis
    Well if you really ask me, because they are idiots. Well actually they aren't really idiots, they are only consciously idiots. Because in truth flat hierarchies, managerial retreats, creative destruction and the like are PR moves - moves to make people willing to work for you because direct power is no longer effective - also a way to justify actions like firing people (ahh we're just being creatively destructive). Big business is more politics than real business.

    Do you believe in neoliberal politics and not understand it?apokrisis
    I definitely don't believe in neoliberal politics. To a large degree actually, I despise neoliberal politics.

    Not perhaps great examples as they understood the power of monopoly. Which IBM taught them was the way to go.apokrisis
    :-! So? I understand the power of monopoly too. Does that help me in any way? To say they understand the power of monopoly is so facile it doesn't explain anything about them. If you say something like this to a pragmatic businessman, and they are free to express themselves how they wish, they will laugh in your face. We're all trying to be monopolies. So the fact they have also tried to be monopolies doesn't explain why they in fact are, while the rest of us aren't.

    But the Art of War is applied systems theory. It talks about the mature stage of systems development - flexible and not hidebound, energetic but not rash.apokrisis
    Which is the optimal stage - and I would characterise that stage by conservatism - not losing becomes more important than winning. The only time when taking risks make sense is when you have no hope of otherwise winning or surviving. Then, when you are cornered, then risks become worth taking, even very very big risks - that's why Sun Tzu advocates for example against cornering your opponent, because then he'll start taking the very very big risks, which could very quickly reverse the situation.

    Now more than ever we need a scientific, and not a heuristic, definition of decadence (and its obverse). We can't wait for the new mindset to prove itself in another generation.apokrisis
    Why do you think a heuristic understanding of decadence isn't sufficient to distinguish between a mindset which will work and one which will fail?

    Yep. After you have been around long enough you will by definition have accumulated stuff that is of value - wisdom, property, power, resources. So attention does turn to risk-avoidance. It's classic investment behaviour. And senescent.apokrisis
    Have you ever wondered if there is an advantage in faking senescence? :)

    You don't take risks if you intuitively understand you have long lost the youthful powers of recovery from destructive perturbation.apokrisis
    Personally I'm still very young, and I never had the "youthful powers of recovery from destructive perturbation" that you're speaking of. I think people who think they have such powers are deluding themselves. And in many cases when they do "survive" - it's just luck and chance. They should never have taken such a risk in the first place if they were smart.

    But life should look very different from the perspective of a youthful "investor". Failure itself becomes the valuable learning opportunity - as every Silicon Valley entrepreneur chants as a mantra.apokrisis
    :’( I think unfortunately most youthful Silicon Valley "investors" are idiots. A few of them get lucky, sure. But it's not a good business strategy. Most of them who ever try fail. And as we know, it's not worth always trying if you always fail.

    For example I switched to IT and self-employed recently. People think I took a risk, but in truth, I took no risk at all - I had a few prospective clients. I'm secretly laughing in their face - if it was about risking, I would never have risked. I wouldn't make any investment if there's risk - I want deals, good deals, which means deals where there is, in real terms, no risk. For example, if I buy a property worth 50,000 dollars with 20,000 dollars total, where most of that is leveraged from the bank (say 18,000 from the bank, 2,000 from me), there's no risk there (assuming I can also unload it - and even if I can't do it immediately, I'll just be stuck with it a longer time but still wouldn't lose). Sure the market could tank by what, more than 50% of its value and I will lose. Likely? Never! Only fools risk. In fact, because there are many fools out there, some people can earn big big money. The whole secret lies in how to get those kind of deals. If you can secure such deals - you're winning, nothing else matters.

    And again, if you hang around the circles of political or corporate power, that's their understanding.apokrisis
    Yes I am aware of this. That's their understanding and it is absolutely wrong. They are simply deceiving themselves, and this becomes possible because large corporations are more about politics than actually making money.

    Humans have the opposite tendency - if you check the anthropological evidence - to accumulate negentropic structure ... because it is negentropic structure that allows a successful acceleration of generalised entropification.apokrisis
    In terms of technology yes, but where is the evidence with regards to social organisation?
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Welcome to The Philosophy Forum!

Get involved in philosophical discussions about knowledge, truth, language, consciousness, science, politics, religion, logic and mathematics, art, history, and lots more. No ads, no clutter, and very little agreement — just fascinating conversations.