How rational is the path of least resistance?

post by TruetoThis · 2020-06-01T01:34:55.653Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW · 8 comments

There is a theory of "the path of least resistance" that implies the one should go with the flow. With that in mind, how do you continue to nurture the growth resulting from challenges? Does the rationale of the path of least resistance conflict with the challenges of life that are required for change?

8 comments

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comment by Dagon · 2020-06-01T16:29:56.632Z · score: 4 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I disagree with the premise.

I don't think I've heard that theory seriously made as a recommendation. In my experience, it's most often used as an observation or as a denigrating/snide commentary about failing to self-actualize or take responsibility for behaviors and outcomes.

The path of least resistance is what you should model unthinking processes to take. It's not the path you should take, as it rarely leads to the destination you want.

comment by TruetoThis · 2020-06-02T00:41:35.367Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I agree that it doesn't alway lead to the desired destination. Would you same of "the path" as it pertains to emotions and relationships? Are those things that should be challenging or flowing?

comment by Dagon · 2020-06-02T05:03:19.370Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I don't know what "the path" means, sorry.

comment by TruetoThis · 2020-06-02T06:16:42.711Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

my apologies for not being clear. The path refers to ones journey; road travelled; life route. 

comment by Dagon · 2020-06-02T18:55:21.165Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Oh. That's a different metaphor, for advice on an unrelated topic. "path of least resistance" is about making choices and behaviors that are easy, rather than those which lead to the best longer-term outcomes (or are virtuous, if you're more deontologist than consequentialist). "life route" (I think) is just about noticing that they ARE choices, and observing/enjoying the ride, wherever it leads.

Or maybe they're the same metaphor, and "the path" is the recommendation to avoid the easy path and take the virtuous one. I don't hang out with people who use the term enough to really understand the meaning without much more context.

comment by seed · 2020-06-01T13:31:03.875Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

It depends on whether you want to end up where the flow is going, or somewhere else... I think your question is too vague to give any useful answer, though. As ch. 27 of HPMOR teaches us, it's best to know context before giving out sage life advice.

comment by Sønderjye · 2020-06-01T10:03:35.010Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Would you be willing to specify the theory further? My immediate counterexample to that is that solving climate change and AI alignment both has a lot of resistance and that if all individuals went along the path of personally least resistance we would disappear as a species within a few centuries, but I assume I'm missing something.

comment by TruetoThis · 2020-06-02T00:45:01.590Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I understand your point. I asked a fellow commentator who shares your basis if "the path" could be applied rightfully to emotions and relationships. In life, we need and require changes, growth and challenges. Are there exemptions for this resistance that would align with taking the least resisted path?