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Suspended Reason — TIS Outline

By suspendedreason
    2021-02-06 16:39:54.973Z2021-02-07 00:44:28.367Z

    Why are institutions so dysfunctional? Why can’t we have good things?

    • The game-theoretic abstract (Moloch, who drives us into non-productive competition) is settled. What remains?
    • A better grounding of defection as it unfolds in games
      • Adversarial play (player vs. manager, player vs. game design)
    • Just as bad as Moloch: Selection mechanisms are broken. Opticratics & surrogation are part of the reason why.
    • Opticratics:
      • The world is unknowable in itself. We can only deal with appearances.
      • There are classes of positive feedback loops that can be kickstarted through bullshitting, because existing identity capital (being perceived positively) is a proxy filter for ability
      • Reputation grounds much of human activity.
    • Surrogation
      • The symbol is not the substance. (But it’s often reified as such.)
      • It’s hard to implement the spirit of a game in letter.
      • The trade-offs of formalizing, routinizing, and legibilizing decision-making.

    Surrogation paradigms

    • Spirit vs letter (fuzzy rules & specification)
    • Taste vs tests (feel vs. formal)
    • Flavor vs nutrition (pleasure vs. value)
    • Trappings vs harness (cargocult)
    • Symbol vs substance (reification, fetishization)
    • Appearance vs reality (opticratics)

    How does reputation management rule our life?

    • Justification is the leash on our freedom
    • Reciprocity is the basis of our intimacy
    • Paying debts is the governing conceptual metaphor of our morality
    • The cultural technology that is: a name, a SSN, a credit score, etc
    • How do we identify high-value symbols in the symbolic marketplace? How do learn the inferential patterns attached to such symbols (X implies…) in order to strategically accumulate symbolic capital (and evaluate it in others)
      • Today’s reward function is tomorrow’s production-of-symbolic-capital function
        • Henrich & social learning, Bourdieu’s space of possibles
        • One’s ability to signify is constrained by the audience’s ability interpretive schema—your intent is meaningless and hidden (pragmatic reader-response theory of meaning; Ovid’s Actaeon)

    Strategic interactionism

    • Predictive processing, Schelling’s games, Goffman and ethnomethodology (see slide deck)
    • How do we “look down” the garden of forking paths and pick high-yield routes? How do we steer in the fog of indeterminacy?
    • Bargaining as a governing metaphor for human interaction centered around coordinating (continually renegotiating terms, self-binding, level-k thinking)

    Why are TIS knowledge institutions so bad?

    • Illusio
    • Knowledge is unequally distributed: many members of inexact science / philosophy fields are stuck up in paradigms that have debunked a half-century earlier, and seem completely ignorant of major theoretical advances in their own fields
    • Select leaders or high-performers in fields like philosophy and psychology are well-aware of the deep issues in their field—but the field as a whole continues as if it were ignorant of these problems.
      • There is no skin in the game & no local grounding, which means no feedback loop for learning and no incentives for updating
      • Bad selection problems mean untalented bureaucrats & politicians outperform their cognitive capacities
    • People in fields pay lip service to ideas that, if taken seriously, would require them to radically re-organize their field of practice. They won’t do that unless forced—but we can do it for them
      • “Words don’t work that way,” understanding the philosophical “non-revolution” that is conceptual engineering; against conceptual analysis

    Why is contemporary visual art so stuck? (Also a lens on other kinds of institutional failing)

    • Technological obsolescence
    • Brain drain & bad self-selection cycles
    • Institutionalization
    • Justification/conceptualization regimes much like those seen in dysfunctional bureaucracies

    What exacerbates our disagreements? What prevents mutual understanding?

    • Opinions don’t exist in a “vacuum,” they’re highly situated within the opinion-holders impression of the world: not just how it works, but “which side is winning”
      • There are no fanatics on a desert island, only pragmatists
      • Many opinions boil down to underrated/ overrated assessments
      • Many debates between high-level concepts (top-down vs bottom-up organization, or selfishness vs selflessness, cultural evolution vs design) can only happen like a tug-of-war, with people joining the side they think is under-supported. Because the real answer is always “it depends” on local grounding
        • The value of an angel and demon on yr shoulder
      • Nerst’s Signal and Correctives: everything is a bravery debate.
      • High-level abstraction obscures low-level agreement (“rounding problems”)
    • Generalized compatibilism: the right answer is usually “both” or “somewhere in between.” Reputational incentives and the conceptual metaphor of “turf” prevents this

    How do we get TIS knowledge structures unstuck?

    • Philosophy as a rigorizing pipeline, with the eventual goal of the subject of study becoming a science
    • Stampcollecting comes first, then analysis
    • You need to find ways to get skin in the game and set up prediction situations: once those are in place, the feedback loops run on their own. Soft sciences have cargoculted the hypothesis mechanisms and thus present the appearance of testing but do no such thing.
    • “Words don’t work that way”
    • Generalized compatibilism: if we take this to be true, where does it get us?

    Getting better about understanding words

    • Fuzziness and polysemy
    • Pragmatic naming
    • Teleological misnomers

    Learning from the academics vs para-academics debate

    • The value of starting from scratch
    • Information logistics and the value of novelty
    • Re-inventing the wheel
    • Escaping broken paradigms by not knowing they exist (are there epistemic “traps”?)


    • Markov blankets
    • "looking away" as learned helplessness
    • emulation vs imitation ("cargoculting")
    • Tragedy vs comedy
    • Expanding vibe theory: world theory/worldlogic
    • Persona, masks, art
    • Genre as a lens into taxonomy
      • The way our perception of genre informs our value judgments
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