More Fundamentals

IV. Fantasy is an inverted form of self-discipline.

Social degeneration leads to various forms of misery: hunger, exhaustion, loneliness, boredom. Degenerates manage high levels of misery with elaborate fantasies.  (Fantasy hamburgers are, in some measure, a substitute for a the real hamburger hunger demands.)  But the elaborate fantasies destroy executive function.  A fantasy of the form “If I had a hamburger right now, I would wolf it down” is a way to practice how you would react in that situation.  As soon as you gain any resources at all, you are forced to waste them on the realization of the fantasy.

V. Matter doesn’t.

Those who describe themselves as “materialists” rarely have any coherent views about “matter”.  What characterizes self-identifying materialists is a certain class of theories about causal determinism which deny supernatural or paranormal theories that posit causal gaps. One could have causal gaps in a world made entirely out of matter. Conversely a reductive idealist (who believes that everything is made of a single substance, and that substance is mind) could be a causal determinist.  Needless to say, I mean idealist in the classical sense; those who describe themselves as idealists are rarely substance-monists of any sort.  Concepts and doctrines lose their moorings (and then their meanings) because most people do not think about concepts in a conceptual way.  Most people will never embrace a concept which has not first become a totem for some faction in a political or cultural conflict.  Even then, the vast majority who embrace a concept for its totemic symbolism do not care who wins the conflict; they are solely motivated by what sort of status they can signal by using the concept.

VI. Language taints thought.

If you choose to label the detritus of your thoughts arbitrarily (like: a1, a2, a3, a4), people will call the labels “hard to remember” and then, when they cannot comfortably enter into your train of thought, they will call you “incoherent”.  If you choose an earnest naming scheme where all the flotsam is labeled with whatever ordinary-language term pops into your head first (like: mind, idea, liberty, kind), people will instead call the labels “confusing” and then, when they simply can’t manage to keep what you are labelling separate from other ways they’ve seen the label used, they will call you  “inconsistent”.  (Any system of communication which is memorable and salient to others will be memorable to them because they already get a great deal of practice using it in a certain way in other settings.)

VII. Knowledge implies discipline.

In any exchange of information, there is always a wild abundance of different ways to express a certain message.  The difficulty of communication is not that there are too few expressions which might adequately convey each message, but too many, and further that each expression could do a fine job conveying many different messages.  Reliable communication begins only after the many rich possibilities for ambiguity have been stamped out by constant, repetitive practice.

VIII. Few profit from rules of their own devising.

When you are at one extreme for any intellectual virtue (the right-hand tail of the bell curve: high information, sharp cognition, unerring memory, intense focus) you see all around you people who could profit a great deal from knowing more things.  You can see people make errors and fall into difficulties because of things that they don’t know, but could easily have learned.  These observations would support a maxim like: “If you don’t know something, it is advantageous to investigate the answer.” But these observations are only possible because the observer is unusually knowledgeable; one does not just coincidentally find oneself in the position to spot difficulties caused by others’ ignorance while being equally ignorant oneself.  And if a person like that doesn’t know something, it is probably because the answer is difficult to establish, not very useful, or both.  (Learning more than others is, as a general rule, a process of moving from the easiest and most useful knowledge, which everyone learns, to less easy and less useful knowledge.)  Thus a certain level of education fuels fruitless curiosity.

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