Links about naturalism

post by lukeprog · 2012-07-08T05:39:12.159Z · score: 6 (7 votes) · LW · GW · Legacy · 14 comments

I'm about to launch a new website (as a personal project; it's got nothing to do with SI or CFAR) about naturalistic views of the world, and that website will contain links to engaging and accessible books and articles about naturalistic approaches to:

What links do other LWers recommend on these topics? To show you what kinds of articles I have in mind, here's what I have so far:

Seeking Truth:

The Self & Free Will:

Ethics and Society:

Happiness and Self-Help:

Meaning and Spirituality:


Comments sorted by top scores.

comment by MileyCyrus · 2012-07-08T08:17:06.072Z · score: 8 (8 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

If I could travel back and time and show my 18 year old newly deconverted self on thing, it would be Existential Angst Factory. At the time, I was so depressed I was near incompetence. (I failed three of the first five courses I took in college). I thought I was depressed because life had no meaning without religion. In reality, I was depressed because

  • I felt my alienated from my parents.
  • I was physically harming myself.
  • I had low self-esteem.
  • I had no friends besides some high school friends who went to other universities.
  • I was anxious about life after college and was paranoid that I wouldn't be able to afford to pay off my debt.

I went to therapy, which didn't work. I read self-help books, didn't work. I read continental philosophy, which didn't work. The only thing that did work was when my "other problems" started being solved. My relationship with my parents improved. I cut back my self-harm 95%. I received compliments that boosted my self-esteem. I made friends. I graduated with a manageable debt and found a job in Australia that will go a ways to reduce that debt. Now I'm happy, and it had nothing to do with changing my paradigm and everything to do with changing my circumstances. Reading Existential Angst Factory when I was 18 might have shaved off a couple years of misery.

comment by kajro · 2012-07-08T23:58:15.805Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Being relatively young I get really excited when someone gives advice that they wish they realized earlier (as if I'm privy to some unique and incredibly useful information), but I've now realized the huge plethora of information that I wish I could share with the "me of 2 years ago". After years of reading reddit, hacker news, etc, I must have come across hundreds of similar advice threads, and yet even now I feel like there are just so many things I figured out way too late. Our brains have a horrible self satisfaction mechanism.

Not that this devalues your advice at all (I have similar problems, so I'm incredibly grateful for the link). Just an observation.

comment by MileyCyrus · 2012-07-09T06:26:50.141Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

There's also a lot of bad advice out there. So even if you find some good advice, it won't help you because you can't pick it out of the bad advice.

comment by Viliam_Bur · 2012-07-09T11:06:12.730Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Which is why it makes sense to seek good advice on sites that have better signal-to-noise ratio.

For me this is one important aspect of LW. I can get good advice almost anywhere. But in most of those places I can also get bad advice with high probability. -- On LW I trust people to self-censor before saying something stupid (as opposed to enjoying a happy death spiral), and even if they fail, I trust other people to correct them. It does not work perfectly, but it's better than not even trying.

comment by Rain · 2012-07-08T13:14:24.458Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Happiness and self-help: Robin et al., Your Money or Your Life: 9 Steps to Transforming Your Relationship with Money and Achieving Financial Independence (also known as YMOYL in the simplicity community).

This book outlines how economics affects and mingles with life purpose and provides specific tips on how to set and achieve your life's goals within the framework of human society. It's what set me on the path toward thinking in the terms of Givewell and charity, and the long-term survival of the human race, and also what sort of job and retirement goals I should have. It covers a wide range of topics, is extremely well written and engaging, and provides lots and lots of specific advice.

The only detriment I can think is that the authors are somewhat spiritual and depend heavily on anecdotes, but I found those things easy to discard, as they put everything in the terms of what you want out of life: an individual extrapolated volition. For a time, I called this book my bible.

comment by Gastogh · 2012-07-08T19:53:21.965Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

The Happiness and Self-Help-section might have Klevador's Be Happier in it. The post could serve as an index to many of the recurring themes in that section, as well as a springboard for further research, what with all those sources plugged at the end.

comment by Rain · 2012-07-08T12:33:41.597Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Meaning and spirituality: Cortesi, Secular Wholeness: A Skeptic's Paths To A Richer Life

An engineer's take on how to achieve the benefits of religion without the dogma. It's free online in HTML and PDF. It has lots of references to source material (books and journal articles), pulls from all the major religions and philosophies, and attempts to describe exactly how what they do benefits people (community, feeling of purpose, etc.) and then outlines ways these can be achieved in a naturalistic world.

comment by Karmakaiser · 2012-07-09T15:48:51.910Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

This sounds like Alain de Boton's Religion for Atheists without the bullshit Temple to Atheism and Agape Restaurants.

comment by Bruno_Coelho · 2012-07-09T00:08:54.057Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)


Science in general

comment by [deleted] · 2012-07-08T09:43:01.975Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Great idea! I loved your Conversations From The Pale Blue Dot.

On the topic on free will there is Dennett's Freedom evolves, what I liked about it is that his starting point is more of "When do we consider ourselves responsible?" or as he himself put it "The varieties of free will worth wanting" rather than "Do free will exist?".

The Science Network has lots of good stuff on these subject for example a very thorough lecture with Patricia Churchland on free will, a debate on Can science tell us right from wrong?.

I know that Owen Flanagan has written extensively about eudamonia e.i. human flourishing and offer quite a lot of material for free on his website.

comment by Nectanebo · 2012-07-08T07:59:00.416Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I think that having a site on this topic could be a good idea. We know the sanity waterline is low, so it might be very useful to have somewhere to direct people who might be interested in naturalistic points of view.

However, will that be its only use? Facing the Singularity took some work, is that getting much traffic? I'm just wondering, after creating this and putting the work in, will it get used? Who is the site targeting?

I'll try to think of some links also.

Edit: it might be way too specific as a topic to go on the site, but when it comes to death I really feel like you can't go past the Fable of the Dragon Tyrant.

comment by shminux · 2012-07-08T07:19:37.320Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I'm curious as to the purpose of this project and how it relates to CFAR and SI.

comment by lukeprog · 2012-07-08T07:33:23.336Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

It doesn't. It's a personal project I've had on my back burner for a long time. I'll add this clarification to the OP.

comment by ChrisHallquist · 2012-07-09T04:35:21.924Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

There should be a link to some discussion or other of Eddy Nahmias' work on Free Will. You could link to his papers themselves, or you could link to this post he wrote for the NYT's blog, but there may be something else out there that's better.