Pat Gunn (dachte) wrote,
Pat Gunn

Decartesian Paranoia

Daydreams of your tragic acquaintence (not in fact exposing the horrors inside my head, well, too much anyhow):

  • A new kind of paranoia (to you - I've been developing it for some time) - Decartesian Paranoia - the wonder, inspired by a CS idea attached to a history of psychology idea, if the apparent "deep cognition" and mental life we appear to have actually is (partly or wholly) lazily generated whenever we commit it to paper or conversation. By this, I mean that the minimum needed to later construct what it would be were we asked about its content would be done when we think we're thinking it, and the rest comes together on-the-fly at output. I realise that there's a muddy barrier between this and the related idea that the best way to see if an idea has substance is to explain it to someone - depending on how we structure that latter statement, it might be a rephrasing of the first. We could perhaps imagine a limit to the idea of lazy cognition by asking to what extent must an idea be realised to give us impetus to let it influence our behaviour. Likewise, given the (murky) mirror given to us by neuroimaging, perhaps we could dispel (or prove) the paranoia's concern. I suppose the real concern is the rich mental life we live, on some level, never really happens unless we communicate (on one of the mini other-purpose blogs I keep, a few months back I added a wonderful quote by one of the greater champions of science in the history of the US, Vannevar Bush - 「A record if it is to be useful to science, must be continuously extended, it must be stored, and above all it must be consulted」. Being socially isolated, my notes to myself, my blogs, and my occasional comments on other sites are the things that, according to this paranoia, keep me real.
  • On that topic, it is unfortunate that we've moved away from content-centralised but technically distributed discussions (meaning BITNET and USENET) into having a million different message boards. This is culturally bad and technically very inconvenient - on news sites, conversations fizzle out too quickly because people move on to new stories, and on all kinds of sites, if you want to look for replies, either you have a heavyweight relationship with the site (meaning they get your email, e.g. Slashdot) or you have to bookmark everyplace you leave a comment and poll for replies. I've done some of this with web scraping software to try to create a grand unified interface for every bit of information I'm interested in online, but that's ugly and not everyone has the technological sophistication to do it. Making a good fix would be technically hard and socially difficult, a recipe for near-certain failure. That's particularly bad when we need it. (By analogy, political solutions to X where X would be difficult even if everyone agrees it's a problem become far harder when there are people who believe X is a good thing to the core of their being)
  • I am sad to notice that CMU's pond is drained. I did get to walk into the pond area, and the red cracked earth left an impression
  • From a conversation about the role of the dialectic (I don't remember if it was with another person or a self-dialogue, mildly related to this), I am tempted to consider the hegelian dialectic as an a priori-style thought, and radical empiricism (which I remind the reader that I hold all good modern scientists should commit to) as being about method. If we consider both in their strong form, they're incompatible, but is there room for hegelian dialectic (or other "preferences" in structure of thought) between the "being data-driven" that empiricism commits us to, and the structures we build in practice? I suspect that multiple radical empiricists still might have other philosophical perspectives and useful prejudices on the best structures to model reality that fit into that space, and that a weaker dialectic (or other such content) thus can coexist if it is subordinate and restrained to that space. I'm not sure about this though.

An idea for things to sketch - "Wandering the city like a priest of some forgotten religion" - not quite a perfect match for my life, and I do like to emphasise that non-religious life-philosophies are the quieter twin of religion, but the phrase has a certain appeal. Taking it away from myself, the idea in the abstract has a certain appeal. Who are they? What do they believe? Crafting these things is a task of those who live philosophy.


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