comment by Tuukka_Virtaperko ·
2012-01-16T13:01:36.692Z · LW(p) · GW(p)
Sorry if this feels like dismissing your stuff.
You don't have to apologize, because you have been useful already. I don't require you to go out of your way to analyze this stuff, but of course it would also be nice if we could understand each other.
The reason I went on about the complexity of the DNA and the brain is that this is stuff that wasn't really known before the mid-20th century. Most of modern philosophy was being done when people had some idea that the process of life is essentially mechanical and not magical, but no real idea on just how complex the mechanism is. People could still get away with assuming that intelligent thought is not that formally complex around the time of Russell and Wittgenstein, until it started dawning just what a massive hairball of a mess human intelligence working in the real world is after the 1950s. Still, most philosophy seems to be following the same mode of investigation as Wittgenstein or Kant did, despite the sudden unfortunate appearance of a bookshelf full of volumes written by insane aliens between the realm of human thought and basic logic discovered by molecular biologists and cognitive scientists.
That's a good point. The philosophical tradition of discussion I belong to was started in 1974 as a radical deviation from contemporary philosophy, which makes it pretty fresh. My personal opinion is that within decades of centuries, the largely obsolete mode of investigation you referred to will be mostly replaced by something that resembles what I and a few others are currently doing. This is because the old mode of investigation does not produce results. Despite intense scrutiny for 300 years, it has not provided an answer to such a simple philosophical problem as the problem of induction. Instead, it has corrupted the very writing style of philosophers. When one is reading philosophical publications by authors with academic prestige, every other sentence seems somehow defensive, and the writer seems to be squirming in the inconvenience caused by his intuitive understanding that what he's doing is barren but he doesn't know of a better option. It's very hard for a distinguished academic to go into the freaky realm and find out whether someone made sense but had a very different approach than the academic approach. Aloof but industrious young people, with lots of ability but little prestige, are more suitable for that.
Nowadays the relatively simple philosophical problem of induction (proof of the Poincare conjecture is relatiely extremely complex) has been portrayed as such a difficult problem, that if someone devises a theoretic framework which facilitates a relatively simple solution to the problem, academic people are very inclined to state that they don't understand the solution. I believe this is because they insist the solution should be something produced by several authors working together for a century. Something that will make theoretical philosophy again appear glamorous. It's not that glamorous, and I don't think it was very glamorous to invent 0 either - whoever did that - but it was pretty important.
I'm not sure what good this ranting of mine is supposed to do, though.
I'm not expecting people to rewrite the 100 000 pages of complexity into human mathematics, but I'm always aware that it needs to be dealt with somehow. For one thing, it's a reason to pay more attention to empiricism than philosophy has traditionally done. As in, actually do empirical stuff, not just go "ah, yes, empiricism is indeed a thing, it goes in that slot in the theory". You can't understand raw DNA much, but you can poke people with sticks, see what they do, and get some clues on what's going on with them.
The metaphysics of quality, of which my RP is a much-altered instance, is an empiricist theory, written by someone who has taught creative writing in Uni, but who has also worked writing technical documents. The author has a pretty good understanding of evolution, social matters, computers, stuff like that. Formal logic is the only thing in which he does not seem proficient, which maybe explains why it took so long for me to analyze his theories. :)
If you want, you can buy his first book, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance from Amazon at the price of a pint of beer. (Tap me in the shoulder if this is considered inappropriate advertising.) You seem to be logically rather demanding, which is good. It means I should tell you that in order to attain understanding of MOQ that explains a lot more of the metaphysical side of RP, you should also read his second book. They are also available in every Finnish public library I have checked (maybe three or four libraries).
What more to say... Pirsig is extremely critical of the philosophical tradition starting from antiquity. I already know LW does not think highly of contemporary philosophy, and that's why I thought we might have something in common in the first place. I think we belong to the same world, because I'm pretty sure I don't belong to Culture One.
The key ideas in the LW approach are that you're running on top of a massive hairball of junky evolved cognitive machinery that will trip you up at any chance you get
Okay, but nobody truly understands that hairball, if it's the brain.
the end result of what you're trying to do should be a computable algorithm.
That's what I'm trying to do! But it is not my only goal. I'm also trying to have at least some discourse with World One, because I want to finish a thing I began. My friend is currently in the process of writing a formal definition related to that thing, and I won't get far with the algorithm approach before he's finished that and is available for something else. But we are actually planning that. I'm not bullshitting you or anything. We have been planning to do that for some time already. And it won't be fancy at first, but I suppose it could get better and better the more we work on it, or the approach would maybe prove a failure, but that, again, would be an interesting result. Our approach is maybe not easily understood, though...
My friend understands philosophy pretty well, but he's not extremely interested of it. I have this abstract model of how this algortihm thing should be done, but I can't prove to anyone that it's correct. Not right now. It's just something I have developed by analyzing an unusual metaphysical theory for years. The reason my friend wants to do this apparently is that my enthusiasm is contagious and he does enjoy maths for the sake of maths itself. But I don't think I can convince people to do this with me on grounds that it would be useful! And some time ago, people thought number theory is a completely useless but a somehow "beautiful" form of mathematics. Now the products of number theory are used in top-secret military encryption, but the point is, nobody who originally developed number theory could have convinced anyone the theory would have such use in the future. So, I don't think I can have people working with me in hopes of attaining grand personal success. But I think I could meet someone who finds this kind of activity very enjoyable.
The "state basic assumptions" approach is not good in the sense that it would go all the way to explaining RP. It's maybe a good starter, but I can't really transform RP into something that could be understood from an O point of view. That would be like me needing to express equation x + 7 = 20 to you in such terms that x + y = 20. You couldn't make any sense of that.
I really have to go now, actually I'm already late from somewhere...