[extropy-chat] The Undying [Threads on this List]

Jef Allbright jef at jefallbright.net
Sun Dec 3 08:52:10 UTC 2006

Lee Corbin wrote:
> >> I demur slightly; morality has never to me seemed to depend on the 
> >> meaning of self.
> > 
> > Then I have failed miserably over the last several years to 
> > communicate this crucial point.
> Oh, don't take it so hard. Your explanatory skills are pretty 
> good, not that there isn't room for improvement of course. 
> Maybe you're just wrong.

My theory of morality might be wrong within its intended context, and
I'm certain it will be updated within a larger context.
I would welcome any corrections or enhancements as a gift.
> But your evident goal of simply *convincing* everyone of your 
> point of view---rather than even ostensibly engaging as 
> equals in a search for the truth that may very well lie 
> between us--- causes me to conclude that there is little 
> openmindedness on your part, and all my arguments against 
> your points of view are completely futile.

When deciding truth or other preferences of optimum structure it is not
rational to expect that the optimum "may very well lie between us."  I
alluded to this earlier with the phrase "the tepid waters of 'ideal'

For example:
Alice and Bob, who had a great deal of experience fishing separately,
decided to go out fishing together and to take their novice friends
Cathy and Dave.  They immediately fell into a dispute over where on the
lake would provide the best fishing.  Alice had been coming to fish
almost every summer vacation and had learned that the shallows were by
far the most productive.  Bob had been coming almost every spring break
and had learned that deeper areas further offshore always provided more
fish. After an hour of arguing over which is best, Cathy suggested that
if it wasn't clear who was right, then they might as well try fishing
somewhere in between.  At this point, Dave, who had been quietly
watching and listening, pointed out that Alice appeared to be correct
within the context of summer, Bob within the context of Spring, and that
a more encompassing understanding must take season into account.  The
other three slapped their foreheads, said "duh!", and they all went on
to choose a reasonable spot to sit and fish and discuss decision-theory
for the rest of the day.

> > Yes, I have certainly failed, not only to gain your agreement, but 
> > even to gain your understanding of my argument.
> Ah, well, join the club.  I've railed on about notions on 
> which I too have a lot of confidence, and although I've met 
> many of the like-minded, all too often enormous debates end 
> up with no one's position having been altered in the slightest.
> But then, I never expect them too!  Do you really think that 
> after a while in some long thread someone is going to 
> suddenly say, "Oh, I see!  I was wrong and you were right."  
> That is NOT how it works, Jef.  Your arguments create small 
> doubts in their minds which when things go well for your 
> arguments gradually grow and eventually convince them---or at 
> least cause their minds to change.  But not in real time.
> I have said that before. Do you or do you not think that what 
> I have written just above is indeed how it works?

Yes, I have seen that this is usually how it works.  But as I said
earlier, my main interest is about whether it need be so dismally
ineffective, while acknowledging the constrained bandwidth of
interaction.  I keep thinking we could do better if we were to augment
the discussions with concept maps, effective use of storytelling in
combination with more linear logic, develop a progression of nested
concepts, etc.

- Jef 

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