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Comment by living_philosophy on The Useful Idea of Truth · 2013-02-24T06:56:14.771Z · score: -1 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Ya, I can see that criticism. Here's a shorter version for you: arguing against post-modernism by arguing against the use of a different term (post-colonial, or even worse the made-up post-utopian) is a complete straw-man and fallacious argumentation. It also makes the OP and commenters look exceptionally naive when the thing they argue against (post-modernism) would actually agree with their point (critiquing literary genres), and preempted them in making it (thus the discussion of deconstruction above).

Also, thanks for the quotes :) And remember, being overly verbose is a critique of communication, not of the rationality of a position or method. SELF-EXAMINATION & MODIFICATION COMPLETE

Comment by living_philosophy on The Useful Idea of Truth · 2012-11-19T19:57:36.299Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW · GW

As a graduate philosophy student, who went to liberal arts schools, and studied mostly continental philosophy with lots of influence from post-modernism, we can infer from the comments and articles on this site that I must be a complete idiot that spouts meaningless jargon and calls it rational discussion. Thanks for the warm welcome ;) Let us hope I can be another example for which we can dismiss entire fields and intellectuals as being unfit for "true" rationality. /friendly-jest.

Now my understanding may be limited, having actually studied post-modern thought, but the majority of the critiques of post-modernism I have read in these comments seem to completely miss key tenants and techniques in the field. The primary one being deconstruction, which in literature interpretation actually challenges ALL genres of classification for works, and single-minded interpretations of meaning or intent. An example actually happened in this comment section when people were discussing Moby Dick and the possibility of pulling out racial influences and undertones. One commenter mentioned using "white" examples from the book that might show white privilege, and the other used "white" examples to show that white-ness was posed as an extremely negative trait. That was a very primitive and unintentional use of deconstruction; showing that a work has the evidence and rational for having one meaning/interpretation, but at the same time its opposite (or further pluralities). So any claim of a work/author being "post-utopian" would only partially be supported by deconstruction (by building a frame of mind and presenting textual/historical evidence of such a classification), but then be completely undermined by reverse interpretation(s) (work/author is "~post-utopian", or "utopian", or otherwise). Post-modernism and deconstruction actually fully agree, to my understanding, that such a classification is silly and possibly untenable, but also go on to show why other interpretations face similar issues, and to show the merit available in the text for such a classification. As a deconstructionist (i.e. specific stream of post-modernism), one would object to any single-minded interpretation or classification of a text/author, and so most of the criticisms of post-modernism that develop from a critique of terms like "post-utopian" or "post-colonial" are actually stretching the criticism way beyond its bounds, and targeting a field whose critique of such terms actually runs parallel to the criticism itself. It's also important to remember that post-modernism/deconstruction was not just a literary movement but one that spans across several fields of thought. In philosophy deconstruction is used to self-defeat universal claims, and bring forth opposing elements within any particular definition. It is actually an extremely useful tool of critical thought, and I have been continually surprised by how easily and consistently the majority of the community on this site dismiss it and the rest of philosophy/post-modernism as being useless or just silly language games. I hope to write an article in the future on the uses of tools like deconstruction in the rationality and bias reduction enterprises of this site.

Comment by living_philosophy on Humans are not automatically strategic · 2012-10-11T23:33:54.409Z · score: -2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Come on now; I had only recently come out of lurking here because I have found evidence that this site and its visitors welcome dissident debate, and hold high standards for rational discussion.

Should I become an artist for a living? -- Everyone would die of starvation if everyone did this. Your comparative system prohibits every profession but subsistence agriculture. That means I don't like your moral system and think that it is silly.

Could you please present some evidence for this? You're claim rests on the assumption that to "do art" or "be an artist" means that you can only do art 24/7 and would obviously just sit there painting until you starve to death. Everyone can be an artist, just make art; and that doesn't exclude doing other things as well. Can I be an artist for a living; can everyone? Maybe, but it sure would be a lot more likely if our society put its wealth and technology towards giving everyone subsistence level comfort (if you disagree that our current technological state is incapable of this, then you'd need to argue for such, and why it isn't worth trying, or doing the most we could anyways). The argument is that if individuals and groups in our society actually did some of the direct actions that could have immediate and life-changing results, rather than trying to "amass wealth for charity" or "petition for redress of grievances" alone, we would see much better results, and our understanding of what world's are possible and within our reach would change as well. One can certainly disagree or argue against this claim, but changing the subject to surviving on art, or just asserting that such actions could only be done on subsistence agriculture, are claims that need some evidence, or at least some more rationale. And, as really shouldn't need stated, "not liking" something doesn't make it less likely or untrue, and calling an argument silly is itself silly if you don't present justification for why you think that is the case.

As for "extrapolating from individual action into communal action", just because it is not a sure-fire way to certain morality (nothing is) doesn't mean that such thought experiments aren't useful for pulling out implications and comparing ideas/methodologies. I certainly wouldn't claim that such an argument alone should convince anyone of anything; as it says, it is just "another way of comparison" to try and explain a viewpoint and look at another facet of how it interacts with other points of view.

I'm sorry, but I have failed to understand your last paragraph. It reeks of sophistry; claiming that there are a bunch of irrational and bias-based elements to a viewpoint you don't like, without actually citing any specific examples (and assuming that such a position couldn't be stated in any way without them). That last sentence is a completely unsupported; it assumes its own conclusion, that such claims only "appear to have objective weight" but really "really just an extension of your assumptions and an oversimplification of reality". Simplified it states: It is un-objective because of its un-objectivity. Evidence and rationale please? Please remember Reverse Stupidity is Not Intelligence

Comment by living_philosophy on Humans are not automatically strategic · 2012-10-11T22:48:26.622Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Actually my point is questions like that are already guiding discussion away from alternative solutions which may be capable of making a real impact (outside of needing to "become rich" first, or risk the cause getting lost in bureaucracy and profiteering). Take a group like Food Not Bombs for instance; they diminish the "money spent" part of the equation by dumpstering and getting food donations. The time involved would of course depend on where you live, and how easily you could find corporate food waste (sometimes physically guarded by locks, wire, and even men with guns to enforce artificial scarcity), and transporting it to the people who need it. The more people who join in, would of course mean more food must be produced and more area covered in search of food waste to be reclaimed. A fortunate thing is that the more people pitch in, the shorter it takes to do large amounts of labor that benefits everyone; thus the term mutual aid.

Comment by living_philosophy on Humans are not automatically strategic · 2012-10-10T18:20:33.473Z · score: -4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

"money is the unit of caring", so the optimal way to help a charitable cause is usually to earn your max cash and donate, as opposed to working on it directly.

This is false. Giving food directly to starving people (however it is obtained) is much better than throwing financial aid at a nation or institution and hope that it manages to "trickle-down" past all the middle-men and career politicians/activists and eventually is used to purchase food that eventually actually gets to people who need it. The only reason sayings like the above are so common and accepted is because people assume that there are no methods of Direct Action that will directly and immediately alleviate suffering, and are comparing "throwing money at it" to just petitioning, marching, and lengthy talks/debates. Yes, in those instances, years of political lobbying may do a lot less than just using that lobbying money to directly buy necessities for the needy or donating them to an organization who does (after taking a cut for cost of functioning, and to pay themselves), but compared to actually getting/taking the necessary goods and services directly to the needy (and teaching them methods for doing so themselves), it doesn't hold up. Another way of comparison is to ask "what if everyone (or even most) did what people said was best?" If we compared the rule of "donate money to institutions you trust (after working up to the point where you feel wealthy enough to do so)", and "directly applying their time and energy in volunteer work and direct action", one would lead to immediate relief and learning for those in need, and the other would be a long-term hope that the money would work its way through bureaucracies, survive the continual shaving of funds for institutional funding and employee payment, and eventually get used to buy the necessities the people need (hoping that everything they need can be bought, and that they haven't starved or been exposed to the elements enough to kill them).

Comment by living_philosophy on Against Maturity · 2012-10-03T20:59:36.169Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I never drank and drove, never drank, never tried a single drug, never lost control to hormones, never paid any attention to peer pressure, and never once thought my parents didn't love me.

This line is confusing in an article about "being mature" being an unnecessary and even counter-productive to self-development and rationality. Why did you even mention those? Did you want a pat on the back? Do you feel you met the requirements of being a "mature child" by not doing those things? That seems like the exact opposite of the rest of the article. There have been many posts on LW about how biases and mental structures "linger" long after we have quite believing and embracing them (usually referencing religious belief), and it seems that is what was happening here. You have inadvertently classified those activities as being "stupid teenager" activity, or to rephrase it "immaturity", despite having rejected maturity as a good means for identifying correct, moral, or rational behavior.

People of any age may try drugs, may abuse drugs, may use them recreationally, religiously, medicinally, under peer pressure, in order to impress or meet initiative requirements, or even to commit suicide. There is rational and safe drug use (emotional use, hormonal response) as there is irrational, dangerous and addictive use. As Anonymous_Coward4 already mentioned, the majority of the "drugs" and behaviors you mentioned are completely culturally constructed, and you might be seen as a drug-user (or even abuser if you're a constant smoker/coffee drinker) or hormonal, or angry/depressed based on a particular group's demarcation. What demarcation were you using that you brought this little quip in as a point? It seems like you are grouping those actions under a common node....that of immaturity, to which I'd point you back to your article (minus a sentence) to explain why that's problematic and undeserving of recognition or compliment. In fact many of those things mentioned in that sentence say more about your privilege than your virtues. Many people are forced to drive, even if they wake up not-quite-sober, because they can't afford to miss work, or let their kids miss their school/events; many people actually have parents that don't love them (and strong empirical evidence to prove it, sometimes beat right into their flesh); as for the peer pressure immunity, sorry but I'm going to have to call bullshit. Do you mean that you didn't go to the popular kids parties, didn't join the football team, and didn't socialize much? That's a whole lot of people, and you may have avoided some peer pressure, but it's just because your peer pressure was coming from somewhere else (like your parents, role models, and smart friends/teachers who (whether you admit it or not) helped push you to think more critically, pushed you to "be the best" rationally, and to be able to "win" arguments). Even if all of what you said is true, it really isn't noteworthy, unless you can show how it makes you more rational, moral, or efficient, rather than "mature for your age".