Pat Gunn (dachte) wrote,
Pat Gunn

SVD on Philosophy

I keep getting the impression, when hearing people talk about philosophy, that if we were to do the equivalent of a SVD on most of it, we'd find most of it boils down to elaborated personal quirks - rebellion, ego, love of a bad-boy image, the search for something more stable than reality can give, etc. I can see these simple motivations in some philosophical places I've been in the past. I wonder if, were I able to see myself from the outside, I'd be so easily dissected now, or if I have some more worthy content than some reworked or elaborated flaw. Hmm. Also, some part of me still thinks that SVDs are damned pretty and clever.

Developing for photoshop on windows is very painful and irritating, partly because lack of virtual desktops means that I can't nicely group my applications (or where alt-tab takes me), partly because photoshop's interface is terrible and is also keyboard-unfriendly, and partly becase chaining together a bunch of actions would be more trouble than it's worth. Cygwin helps, but only a bit, as Windows apps generally don't pay attention to their commandline arguments because normally the gui stuff launches them. Argh. At least I'm done, hopefully. For anyone interested, here is an undocumented bit of code that, given a map and a few recipes, will generate some javascript that Photoshop will take and use to cook up a bunch of images. I'm not holding this up as particularly pretty, flexible, or even correct code beyond what it's written for, but a coworker needed it and maybe someone else will find it useful. I might've made a tarball of an earlier version - this version attempts to correct for rotation issues and text placement causing small misplacement of letters. If I were doing it for myself, I probably would've used GIMP or done it entirely in perl.. *shrug*

I find it odd when people make a big deal over tradition and doing things because it's been done for a long time. This extends from social things to geeky things -- I understand sentiment, I understand that these things help create/sustain an identity, etc, but the latter usually feels a bit hollow to me and the former not something that needs to be shared with new people or maintained beyond those who feel it. Doing something purely to maintain an identity seems like something that we only should need to do when that in itself serves another purpose - doing it for its own sake seems to me like an empty surrender to some of our baser instincts (in-group vs out-group). Identities are only rarely empty vessels though - if we look at what the group actually pushes, we might sometimes find it worthy. Similarly, apart from a certain nostalgia, I don't generally like to participate in the "old-timer geek" identity, even if I'm probably entitled to it by my age, primarily because I think it places the emphasis on the age. If my geek-type knowledge is more refined than younger people, it only is so generally (the same with any older-geek - the potential for specialisation makes any claim to globally better knowledge/judgement silly. It's possible to take this thrust too far though - as with an eight-year-old who wants to be an astronaut or UN Secretary-General in a month, there are some things that take a certain amount of time to learn, claims of ageism discarded. All the same, I would hope that people take a balanced approach towards older folk, both understanding that they have had the opportunity to learn more than they have/acquired better judgement (this side takes a certain willingness to limit ego) and understanding that knowledge gets murky after awhile and occasionally what was good judgement for one era is not good judgement for future eras. I'm not sure whether I think it's a greater flaw to idealise the past and the old too much or to be too quick to discard it, although I've seen different people I know go rather far down either route, often to ill effect.

Taking things in a slightly different direction, on the topic of personal choice and traditions, I hope that most of the things I've taken onto myself, the philosophical choices, the things I've decided to learn, even things like my choice of Unix and vim, I would hope that I keep using them only so long as they would still be my choice were I to start over at knowing things and making choices on what to use at said point. If nostalgia and the like do enter into my calculation, I want them to be things that I can be conscious above and carefully include in the analysis rather than let them make my conclusions for me. In a way, I consider this to be a smarter way to approach the strategy the "sunk cost fallacy" refers to -- simply understood it's almost as broken as what it's stabbing at because it neglects emotional investment, the mental resources we use to build up plans/frameworks to understand things, and similar, but if instead we try to be conscious of these things, we have a good shot at benefitting from the concept.

Hmm. Sometimes I look back at the words I write and wonder whether they were worth writing. I've been dangerously self-aware and reflective recently though.


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