A rationalist view on productivity book genre

post by ArthurLidia · 2019-01-08T18:34:59.225Z · score: -2 (4 votes) · LW · GW · 3 comments

[Epistemologic status: amateurish] Productivity books as much as I read so far (1) and philosophy (2). From an consumerism point of view, they both are used to relieve the mind (3). Self help genre books have a lot of introductory chapters (useless roadblocks that don't get to the point) with many scientific (psychology academic papers) references and anecdotes (extra point if the author has a PhD, and the title of the PhD has nothing to do with the subject of philosophy). The self help genre has very big market (4) and the real trouble here is why? Philosophy had the same function that it served in old Greece, we had Platonism, Stoicism. The trouble starts when we identify ourselves with industrial society's goals (5). Every goal that you may have, if any. Every layer if investigated throughout shows how much modern technological society has it roots, it helps us achieve more like Paul Graham said: “. In ancient Rome the price of slaves varied by a factor of 50 depending on their skills. (6) And that's without considering motivation, or the extra leverage in productivity that you can get from modern technology” (7). And we continue its legacy with goals like starting a startup. So self help books are a by product of society to make us fitter in the process of building the future. We invented (philosophy) as to make peace with our trouble mind and curiosity (to question gods and the need for truth) and its working so far.


(1) I spent all my summer everyday reading books like this (On productivity, leadership,psychology,Gladwell type of books). It felt more like I was doing research in psychology when I went the rabbit hole of research papers.

(2) I am not saying I have expertise in philosophy.

(3) Controversially philosophy hasn't reached universal truths. Most of them are conddadiction between other philosophers (Only Wittgenstein pushed with logicians like Bertrand the analytical philosophy based on proposition). Even so Gödel shows us that we will never be able to prove all philosophical statements. Assuming that our philosophical sentences are consistent and craftly written.

(4) $10 billion market size (as of 2018), the influence was so high that even in my teenage 12 years of age I encountered them on YouTube and started all this journey: buying dozens of books and reading them, listening to the audio book version at twice the speed and other useless stuff like that.

(5) Industrial society: Industries can't survive without engineers and children's studying STEM subject. You couldn't have build Dropbox without layers of technology build on top of each other. Like when the useless (at the time they didn't knew what to do with it) Aristotelian logic was found to be useful in circuit which started the computer industry (from Unabomber Manifesto a rant on technology, I am not trying to say that it is valid reason and the argument are justifiable to kill scientists). Anarchism isn't the way forward but perhaps a tradition of trashing out bad technology will be in our healthy future modern world.

(6) http://paulgraham.com/gap.html#f4n

(7) Paul Graham: Mind the gap (Essay on inequality and technology role in it)


comment by Raemon · 2019-01-08T19:48:29.309Z · score: 7 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Note: I had trouble reading this because of the formatting. Splitting into paragraphs would help significantly.

comment by G Gordon Worley III (gworley) · 2019-01-09T03:19:10.143Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I feel similarly about the footnotes. My own philosophy is to avoid them at all cost, and only include them if I absolutely cannot find a way to make the information flow with the text AND I can't not include the information while serving whatever functions I'm trying to with the writing. It's perhaps a matter of style, but given the high footnote to body percentage, I'd have preferred it if you used fewer footnotes.

comment by G Gordon Worley III (gworley) · 2019-01-09T03:20:05.028Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

So is another way of summarizing this to say "we created self-help to help us optimize ourselves for the society we created"?