Bloody Shovel 3

We will drown and nobody shall save us

Posts tagged as: philosophy

on Ethics

It used to baffle me that universities have such a thing as an Ethics department. I had read enough philosophy during high school to know that ethics is just one aspect of philosophy, and the hardest one to get any consensus. I also was under the Humean spell, namely that you can't drive an 'ought' from an 'is'. The fact is the only societal ethics that work are those enforced under the power of religious coercion; you make up some shit and kill people who don't agree with it.

So I wondered: what are those Ethics majors doing? Well I still don't know. The guys doing Ethics were mostly creepy dorks who I, desperate to get some poon back then, couldn't afford to befriend. Still after some time I did get some appreciation for Ethics studies. The fact is ethic problems are huge conundrums against which the basic logic we use in our everyday lives seems quite useless indeed. The old aspiration of objective morality reveals its impossibility when asked the old switch dilemma: push the button and one person dies, don't push it and 5 die. What is one to do? And why? Those puzzles are fun.

What's more fun is that there's some people who get paid for making up solutions for those puzzles. And as I was saying, those solutions are not based on any sound logic, because ethics doesn't work that way. Ethics works by making up convoluted and unfalsifiable shit, throw it somewhere and see what sticks. Guys like this do the throwing:

[caption id="" align="alignnone" wid...

On Ethics 2: Children

Foseti links to Laura Wood's blog, aptly named "The Thinking Housewife". She's a longtime commenter at Lawrence Auster's, and gives a fresh perspective as a Traditionalist woman, who wants neither to work outside the home, nor vote, nor dominate her husband. Her blog is also much fun because it resembles so much a stereotypical Victorian house, with all those housewives debating moral topics while drinking tea, and the odd wimpish man participating.

Yet on the whole the tone of discourse is just... womanly. Which is to say simple, and prone to long tirades of moral outrage without much argument. Well there is some argument, and she must be commended for it. But its mostly Mrs Wood who does the thinking. Her tea-mates, not much. In  this post (h/t foseti, who I guess makes his wife read that blog?), they comment this news:

ETHICISTS ARGUE IN FAVOR OF ‘AFTER-BIRTH ABORTIONS‘ AS NEWBORNS ’ARE NOT PERSONS’

The news talks about how some ethics experts (not fat guys on suits this time though) argue that, once you think about it, infanticide and abortion aren't really that different. And abortion is good, so why not kill children? At least...

Names

This has been going around. Guess I should say something. I really don't know how to comment on that pile of nonsense. I might as well let the sages do it for me.

子路曰:「衛君待子而為政,子將奚先?」

子曰:「必也正名乎!」

子路曰:「有是哉,子之迂也!奚其正?」

子曰:「野哉,由也!君子於其所不知,蓋闕如也。名不正,則言不順;言不順,則事不成;事不成,則禮樂不興;禮樂不興,則刑罰不中;刑罰不中,則民無所錯手足。故君子名之必可言也,言之必可行也。

Confucius and his disciples were gathered at the master's house. One of his disciples, Zilu, asks the master.

Zilu: The Duke of Wei has asked for your opinion in how to rule his realm. He'll call you for an audience any time. What will be the first thing you tell him?

Confucius: Oh, that he must fix the names.

Zilu: What? That? Oh come on, master, what does that even mean. "Fix the names". I don't get it.

Confucius: Shut up, you stupid brat, and listen. It is like this. If the names aren't correct, what you speak becomes nonsense. If you speak nonsense, you can't get things done. If you don't get things done, you can't get the rituals to work. If the rituals don't work, the law isn't applied as it should. If the law isn't applied as it should, the people can't make a productive living. When a ruler names something, he must be able to make sense when talking about it. And when talking about it, he must be able to do what he means.

My translation. Philo...

Social Constructs

Razib Khan recently wrote a good post about how retarded the whole tirade on "social constructs" can be. Gender is a social construct! Sports should be integrated! Come on. As a scientist it's natural he gets pissed at the whole thing.

I commented there a while ago about how, you know, leftists are actually right. Race is a social construct. Gender is a social construct. They got that exactly right. It's a rather profound point, and I've been thinking on exposing my argument a bit better. It's a linguistic argument, but that's what I do.

Let's put it more precisely. Race is, obviously, not a social construct. But "race" is a social construct. As "gender" is a social construct. The same way "car", or "moon", or "democratic republic" is a social construct. Words are social constructs. That's how language works. Word meanings are social conventions. There's nothing else to it. If you raise a child in a community where the word "car" is used to refer to a certain subset of vehicles, then that's what a "car" is. If you raise a child in a community where "fascists" is used to mean a certain subset of low-status people, that's "fascists" are.

Of course there's a lot of details about how children adopt the usage of words. Sure, language, as so much else, is a social convention. Most human behavior, indeed the behavior of most social animals is conventional. People from diffe...

Correct Naming

Master Xun (荀子 Xunzi):

夫民易一以道,而不可與共故。故明君臨之以埶,道之以道,申之以命,章之以論,禁之以刑。故民之化道也如神,辨埶惡用矣哉!今聖王沒,天下亂,姦言起,君子無埶以臨之,無刑以禁之,故辨說也。實不喻,然後命,命不喻,然後期,期不喻,然後說,說不喻,然後辨。故期命辨說也者,用之大文也,而王業之始也。名聞而實喻,名之用也。累而成文,名之麗也。用麗俱得,謂之知名。名也者,所以期累實也。辭也者,兼異實之名以論一意也。辨說也者,不異實名以喻動靜之道也。期命也者,辨說之用也。辨說也者,心之象道也。心也者,道之工宰也。道也者,治之經理也。心合於道,說合於心,辭合於說。正名而期,質請而喻,辨異而不過,推類而不悖。聽則合文,辨則盡故。以正道而辨姦,猶引繩以持曲直。是故邪說不能亂,百家無所竄。有兼聽之明,而無矜奮之容;有兼覆之厚,而無伐德之色。說行則天下正,說不行則白道而冥窮。是聖人之辨說也。詩曰:「顒顒卬卬,如珪如璋,令聞令望,豈弟君子,四方為綱。」此之謂也。

Which translates as:

The people can easily be unified by means of the Way, but one should not try to share one’s reasons with them. Hence, the enlightened lord controls them with his power, guides them with the Way, moves them with his orders, arrays them with his judgments, and restrains them with his punishments. Thus, his people’s transformation by the Way is spirit-like [i.e. religious]. What need has he for demonstrations and persuasions? Nowadays the sage kings have all passed away, the whole world is in chaos, and depraved teachings are arising. The gentleman has no power to control people, no punishments to restrain them, and so he engages in demonstrations and persuasions.

When objects are not understood, then one engages in naming. When the naming is not understood, then one tries to procure agreement. When the agreement is not understood, then one engages in persuasion. When the persuasion is not understood, then one engages in d...

Self-Deceptive Status Filters

People call me cynical because I say ideology is crap. It's just stuff people say to look good to their peers. Signaling, that is. And I support this claim by pointing out that people just don't know shit. David Hume proved that. We don't even "know" the laws of nature with any certainty. Yes, we're used to some things happening after certain things. There's chains of events that strongly hint at causality. But you can never know for sure.

Of course that kind of fuzzy knowledge is good enough for human purposes; people do get by in their lives, do things expecting consequences to occur, and they almost invariably do. But the strength of that knowledge depends on the frequency of their repetition. So people only really know what they're very familiar with. Their job, generally. This maps to Conquest's Second Law: everybody is conservative about what they know best. People are not conservative (i.e. they are leftist) on the things they don't know. Why would they be? They don't know much about it. And yet they have an opinion about it. They talk about it. Why would you talk about something you don't know about? Signaling, of course.

Signaling doesn't exactly equate leftism, but it kinda does. Signaling is about gaining status. That's why you signal, that's what living in society is about. If you were a tiger you'd be in the jungle eating animals and looking for females to rape; as it happens humans are social primates, and we need to get along with other humans...

Jordan Peterson on Truth

So I wrote this whole last post; and soon later I found that Jordan Peterson was saying pretty much the exact same thing but in more accessible language. So if you didn't quite get my last post, you can listen to him say it.

https://youtu.be/bjnvtRgpg6g?t=1h23m7s

 Start at 1h23m.

Some people, religious people usually, get angry when I make this pragmatic argument. Like I'm a toxic personality which is arguing for nihilism. Look, I'm no nihilist. But you don't need to be a nihilist to be depressed. Look outside. Read the news. See how Western Civilization is dying in front of our own eyes while the best and brightest are not only failing to stop it but actively aiding the demise. That's what depresses people. And for centuries, neither traditional religion nor "conservatives" have had a decent explanation for why the hell this is happening. Moldbug was the perhaps the first to make some sense. I think I've come up with a very good explanation.

Now I agree that relativism of this sort isn't exactly constructive. I know very well. Hell, I'm the guy who's been arguing for a new religion for 5 years already. I know very damn well, so stop telling me that. I know you can't run a cohesive army by telling your soldiers that their consciousness is a social front. I get it. But I'm not running an army here. I'm trying to make sense of reality. And I'm making a damn lot of sense.

But look again at Peterson. This guy is no nihilist. He's almost&nb...

Gnon Theology

I propose a short ritual for when reactionaries meet each other. You go to a church, or some nice old building. Emphasis on old, more than nice. You get there, and the master says the following string, which the apprentice is to repeat.

There is no God but Gnon. Kek is his avatar. And Jordan Peterson is a pretty good prophet.

Once that is done, the master shows a red pill to the apprentice, hands it to him. And the apprentice swallows it. No. He bites it. Munchs it. He chews it. It's hard. It's bitter. It's really hard to chew really. But at the very end it leaves an awesome aftertaste. Then Dark Enlightenment occurs.

Listen to this short clip (starts at 1:04:50), up to the end.

https://youtu.be/RcmWssTLFv0?t=1h4m57s

 

The Dark Enlightenment is based in evolution. This admits no discussion. Criticism of modernity on non-evolutionary grounds is just plain old reaction. Religious traditionalism. That's a thing. It's not my thing, but it's out there, even here on my comments, most often by a kinda annoying Jew. All in all it's a good thing that it's out there, annoying as it is. But there's a reason why reaction is a thing and neoreaction is another thing. Arnold Kling called Moldbug "neoreactionary" because he saw he wasn't just some plain old Crown Church and Country guy. Moldbug mentioned (not very heavily) HBD and that's about evolution. But there's more about evolutionary critiques of modernity than mentioning the biol...

Jordan Peterson

Last week Jordan Peterson went to Sam Harris' podcast. I had mixed feelings about it. I thought nothing good could come out of that. And as I had expected, Sam Harris trounced Jordan Peterson. Completely. The podcast got into a complete bog down on epistemology, where Jordan Peterson tried to define the word "truth" as "good", and Harris wasn't buying it, explaining 30 times how it's very useful to have a concept of truth which is separate from the concept of good. Peterson stood his ground and confronted with volley after volley of sheer logic, refused to concede the point. The guy is stubborn. Which would be ok if he explained his logic, which he fails to do.

Now, I'm no fan of Sam Harris. I find him a bit of a narcissistic douche.  You can see that on his completely unhinged criticism of Trump. And of course his dumb promotion of atheism alongside some senseless mystic crap aided by Amerindian drugs or something. This guy wants to be a liberal with the status it brings, but he wants to make sense too. And he also wants to be a guru. He's trying to sell you the leftism of yesterday as it if were some new awesome deal. Well it doesn't work like that.

That said, Sam Harris is smart. He's very articulate, his thinking is fast and precise. The guy can do logic. All things which aren't Jordan Peterson's strong suit. So he got trounced. He didn't get trounced on ideology, mind you. Jordan Peterson has semi-overtly become a prophet of Gnon, mostly on gr...

What is True?

 

So let me follow up on my last post on Sam Harris vs. Jordan Peterson, and what constitutes a solid epistemology. The podcast itself is quite painful to listen to, and Jordan Peterson doesn´t do much of an argument there. I think the guy doesn't do debates well. He's best when you let him speak for hours. Just give him a mike and let him ramble. He'll get somewhere. You'll notice he doesn't use notes when he speaks, he improvises all the time.

That's impressive, but there's a reason why most good intellectual output, like for example this blog, is done on writing. We're kinda losing that, now with the popularity of podcasts and Youtube videos with men speaking in pseudoprofound voice tones. You can get away with being incoherent and contradicting yourself in speech if you push the appropriate emotional buttons frequently enough. But in writing you have to make logical sense, else people will stop reading. The Greeks realized that pretty soon; they'd go in the Agora and make some sophist speech, and they'd get famous, because even if people don't like what you're saying, they can't help hearing you blabber, and odds are you'll say some good line sooner or later, and people can't help remembering that one line that made sense.

Anyway, the reason I like Jordan Peterson is, besides because he has balls of steel and refuses to bow down to the latest bout of the leftist singularity, where a law has been passed in Ontario saying that self-styled transe...

Behaviorism in Context

Let me explain what I mean when I call myself a Behaviorist. No, it's not about blank slatism, or being able to completely manipulate anyone at will. It's about not taking what people say at face value.

See this tweet:

https://twitter.com/DegenRolf/status/827054957329260544

No, no. Just, no. Please, somebody just close all the psychology faculties. Or close the whole universities while they're at it. But this is completely wrong. Nonsensical, really. "People believe that..." doesn't make sense. Look at this closely. It assumes that people have stuff inside their heads ("ideas") and that that stuff inside their heads has some causative effect in how they behave. This is an utterly wrong way of thinking about this.

I mean, you don't know what's going on inside people's heads. You just don't. Look at this study in particular. They ask people about their own eating behavior and that of others. The answer to that question is not the "ideas" in the people's heads. I mean, just look at the setting closely. You have:

1. Some college students

Being asked some question by:

2. A professor or grad student

About their own behavior.

And surprise, surprise, they make themselves look good and make others look not so good. Why would they do that? Well... maybe they want to make themselves look good. Because they want to appear high-status because that's what people do.

Imagine this other setting: you are in Berkeley, and leftis...

Peterson vs. Harris, again

So, you might remember a series of posts I did about Jordan Peterson, now famous psychology professor from Canada, about his philosophy of life. I wrote about him here and here and here.

You might also remember that Jordan Peterson was invited to the podcast of Sam Harris, of which I wrote about here and elaborated here. That podcast made me very, very conflicted. Because I think that Peterson is right, and Harris is wrong. But Peterson makes absolutely no sense in the podcasts, neither the first or second; while Harris is eloquent and logical and just sounds smarter. Or at the very least easier to understand. Peterson just sounds like a broken record of a snake's oil salesman pitch. But make no mistake about it: Peterson is right. Harris is wrong. The problem is he isn't capable of explaining it in a way that makes sense so that he can win the argument. Now they made a second podcast; and while it's better, it's still far from persuasive.

Well, allow me to win the argument for him. And I'll do it for 1% of his Patreon salary. Nah, I'll do it for free. Sam Harris deserves being proved wrong. That's the least I can do for his good cadence of speech and the clarity of his thought.

So the t...

Mistakes happen for a reason

So the news from last week were how China changed the constitution and abolished term limits in the only thing that had term limits; the presidency. This was followed by the USG propaganda apparatus (AKA the press) going into fits of panic. “We got China wrong”, they say. It took China changing its constitution without American permission for Americans to notice that they got China wrong.

What did they get wrong? China was dirt-poor in 1980. Really, really poor. It would have likely remained quite poor if USG hadn’t decided to open trade relations with China, having them join WTO and all that. The theory, now stated openly, was that economic growth would eventually lead to the formation of a middle class, and that middle class would then agitate for democracy; a democratic China would naturally be a jolly good thing, aligned with USG’s interests (also known as “Western values”).

I don’t quite see how that last line follows. Democratic politics doesn’t correlate with “Western values” well at all. Look at Turkey or Iran. What does correlate with Western values is proximity of US military bases: that correlates pretty damn close. It also happens that proximity of US military bases correlates to some degree with democratic politics. But the causality starts with US tanks, not with democr...