Comment by tingram on Rationality Quotes December 2013 · 2013-12-21T20:53:48.026Z · LW · GW

A cucumber is bitter--throw it away. There are briars in the path--turn aside from them. This is enough. Do not add, "And why were such things put into the world?"

--Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, 8.50

Comment by tingram on Rationality Quotes June 2013 · 2013-06-07T02:07:15.397Z · LW · GW

I suggest you read the opening chapter of Consciousness Explained. Someone's posted it online here.

Comment by tingram on Rationality Quotes June 2013 · 2013-06-04T13:50:23.695Z · LW · GW

I think that often "logically possible" means "possible if you don't think too hard about it". Which is exactly Dennett's point in context: the idea that you are a brain in a vat is only conceivable if you don't think about the computing power that would be necessary for a convincing simulation.

Comment by tingram on Rationality Quotes June 2013 · 2013-06-03T22:08:10.708Z · LW · GW

Obviously the fact that it's translated complicates things, and I don't know anything about Danish. But I think the first sentence is meant to be a piece of folk wisdom akin to "Better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to open your mouth and remove all doubt." That is, he's not really concerned with the relative proportions of regret, but with the idea that it's better (safer, shrewder) to keep your counsel than to stake out a position that might be contradicted. In light of the rest of the text, this is the reading of the line that makes the most sense to me: equivocation and bet-hedging in the name of worldly safety are a symptom of the sin of despair. Compare:

Possibility then appears to the self ever greater and greater, more and more things become possible, because nothing becomes actual. At last it is as if everything were possible--but this is precisely when the abyss has swallowed up the self.

Comment by tingram on Rationality Quotes June 2013 · 2013-06-03T05:23:24.005Z · LW · GW

It is said, for example, that a man ten times regrets having spoken, for the once he regrets his silence. And why? Because the fact of having spoken is an external fact, which may involve one in annoyances, since it is an actuality. But the fact of having kept silent! Yet this is the most dangerous thing of all. For by keeping silent one is relegated solely to oneself, no actuality comes to a man's aid by punishing him, by bringing down upon him the consequences of his speech. No, in this respect, to be silent is the easy way. But he who knows what the dreadful is, must for this very reason be most fearful of every fault, of every sin, which takes an inward direction and leaves no outward trace. So it is too that in the eyes of the world it is dangerous to venture. And why? Because one may lose. But not to venture is shrewd. And yet, by not venturing, it is so dreadfully easy to lose that which it would be difficult to lose in even the most venturesome venture, and in any case never so easily, so completely as if it were's self. For if I have ventured amiss--very well, then life helps me by its punishment. But if I have not ventured at all--who then helps me?

--Soren Kierkegaard, The Sickness Unto Death

Comment by tingram on Rationality Quotes June 2013 · 2013-06-03T01:42:43.352Z · LW · GW

I think it does. It really is a virtuoso work of philosophy, and Dennett helpfully front-loaded it by putting his most astonishing argument in the first chapter. Anecdotally, I was always suspicious of arguments against qualia until I read what Dennett had to say on the subject. He brings in plenty of examples from philosophy, from psychological and scientific experiments, and even from literature to make things nice and concrete, and he really seems to understand the exact ways in which his position is counter-intuitive and makes sure to address the average person's intuitive objections in a fair and understanding way.

Comment by tingram on Rationality Quotes June 2013 · 2013-06-03T01:31:31.511Z · LW · GW

He [the Inner Game player] reasons that since by definition the commonplace is what is experienced most often, the talent to be able to appreciate it is extremely valuable.

--W. Timothy Gallwey, Inner Tennis: Playing the Game

Comment by tingram on Rationality Quotes June 2013 · 2013-06-03T01:25:56.054Z · LW · GW

From the remarkable opening chapter of Consciousness Explained:

One should be leery of these possibilities in principle. It is also possible in principle to build a stainless-steel ladder to the moon, and to write out, in alphabetical order, all intelligible English conversations consisting of less than a thousand words. But neither of these are remotely possible in fact and sometimes an impossibility in fact is theoretically more interesting than a possibility in principle, as we shall see.

--Daniel Dennett

Comment by tingram on Rationality Quotes May 2013 · 2013-05-15T22:07:37.358Z · LW · GW

Out of curiosity, would you happen to know which book this is from?

Comment by tingram on Rationality Quotes May 2013 · 2013-05-01T21:21:16.154Z · LW · GW

To recognize that some of the things our culture believes are not true imposes on us the duty of finding out which are true and which are not.

--Allan Bloom, Giants and Dwarfs, "Western Civ"

Comment by tingram on Rationality Quotes May 2013 · 2013-05-01T21:06:28.587Z · LW · GW

Source: Nicomachean Ethics, book II

Comment by tingram on Starting a LW meet-up is easy. · 2013-04-29T21:19:00.374Z · LW · GW

Is there a thread somewhere where I can gauge interest in a meetup in my area? I'm from Winnipeg, a medium-sized city in Canada, and I would be interested in starting a meetup group, but I honestly don't know if there's anyone in the city who reads LW other than me (we're not even on this list, for example). I think this is probably a concern for everyone outside major metropolitan areas--we don't want to put the effort in until we're at least sure that like-minded people actually exist in our vicinity.

Is there anyone who's had success with meetups in areas of similar size who would be willing to offer advice?

Comment by tingram on Rationality Quotes March 2013 · 2013-03-10T17:57:14.391Z · LW · GW

The roulette table pays nobody except him that keeps it. Nevertheless a passion for gaming is common, though a passion for keeping roulette tables is unknown.

--George Bernard Shaw, Maxims for Revolutionists

Comment by tingram on Rationality Quotes March 2013 · 2013-03-10T17:50:50.764Z · LW · GW

To learn which questions are unanswerable, and not to answer them: this skill is most needful in times of stress and darkness.

--Ursula K. Le Guin {Lord Estraven}, The Left Hand of Darkness

Comment by tingram on Rationality Quotes March 2013 · 2013-03-10T17:44:53.555Z · LW · GW

Surely a man who possesses even a little erectioris ingenii [of the higher way of thinking] has not become entirely a cold and clammy mollusk, and when he approaches what is great it can never escape his mind that from the creation of the world it has been customary for the result to come last, and that, if one would truly learn anything from great actions, one must pay attention precisely to the beginning. In case he who should act were to judge himself according to the result, he would never get to the point of beginning. Even though the result may give joy to the whole world, it cannot help the hero, for he would get to know the result only when the whole thing was over, and it was not by this he became a hero, but he was such for the fact that he began.

--Soren Kierkegaard, Fear and Trembling

Comment by tingram on Rationality quotes January 2012 · 2012-01-01T00:41:45.293Z · LW · GW

They often do [scramble the reels] at art houses, and it would seem that the more sophisticated the audience, the less likely that the error will be discovered.

--Pauline Kael, Zeitgeist and Poltergeist; or, Are Movies Going to Pieces?


Comment by tingram on Rationality quotes January 2012 · 2012-01-01T00:39:11.017Z · LW · GW

Use only that which works, and take it from any place you can find it.

--Bruce Lee

Comment by tingram on Rationality quotes January 2012 · 2012-01-01T00:38:52.335Z · LW · GW

Everyday words are inherently imprecise. They work well enough in everyday life that you don't notice. Words seem to work, just as Newtonian physics seems to. But you can always make them break if you push them far enough.

--Paul Graham, How to Do Philosophy

[surprisingly not a duplicate]

Comment by tingram on A discarded review of 'Godel, Escher Bach: an Eternal Golden Braid' · 2011-12-16T15:33:25.614Z · LW · GW

It is a neat trick, and not something that happens often, but I would guess that's because it's not useful as anything other than a neat trick. I'm not seeing the eternal golden braid in it, is all.

Actually, if Bach had kept the pattern intact without "crossing the enharmonic seam" it wouldn't be much of a loop at all; the piece would end up in B# minor after six repetitions.

(edit: sp.)

Comment by tingram on A discarded review of 'Godel, Escher Bach: an Eternal Golden Braid' · 2011-12-16T06:34:23.254Z · LW · GW

Forgive my ignorance, not having read GEB, but I can't help being underwhelmed by the Bach example. This Youtube video plays the Bach canon in question. The canon begins in C minor and modulates up in whole tones until it arrives at C minor again an octave higher (the Youtube recording returns to the same octave, but it does so using trickery--notice that in Bb minor, the sixth time through, it ends on a D notated a ninth above the next C but sounding only a step above it).

Unless I'm missing something, this is rather like saying that if you walk for ten hundred-metre lengths, you'll end up a kilometre from where you started. Yes, you will, but so what?