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Everything posted by DocWatts

  1. What is the value of culturally constructed narratives? And what should we as a society do when our social constructs begin to become untenable? In the following passage of the philosophy book that I'm writing, '7 Provisional Truths' I explore both of these questions. What I argue for is a pivot towards a Reconstructive Epistemology that allows us to construct our cultural narratives in a more self-aware way. Rather than romanticizing the past or trying to do away with shared social narratives entirely, we'd be better off with narratives that are flexible, inclusive, and compassionate. (For some added context, I propose 'Enactivism' as one possible candidate for a Reconstructive epistomology. Its primary emphasis is that minds 'enact', or 'bring forth', an experiential world in accordance with our living bodies and our environment. A central tenet of this viewpoint is the lack of any absolute or fixed boundary between ourselves and the world. As a consequence, both our minds and the world work in tandem to construct knowledge.) _______________________________________________________ The Need For Reconstructive Epistemology To understand the necessity of reconstructive epistemology, it’s essential to consider the outcomes for a culture when its stories and myths become untenable, without any suitable replacements to fill the void. What’s important to realize about these constructed narratives is that they serve an underlying purpose which transcends their specific content. Which is to supply individuals living alongside one another within a society with a framework for shared forms of meaning and identity. These frameworks came to be especially important once human societies grew to the point that the close-knit social relationships of nomadic hunter-gatherer tribes began to break down. In essence, there’s a cognitive limit to the number of human beings that we can relate to on a first name, face-to-face basis. This figure is known as Dunbar’s number, which is around 150 or so individuals. While most of us don’t find it unusual to be living in societies whose other members are mostly strangers to us, it’s essential to recognize that this is a far cry from the type of social environment that our psychology is evolutionarily adapted to. In order to have functional societies that contain thousands and even millions of people, humans developed a number of social-technologies that would allow interactions with individuals that we don’t know to become routine to daily life. One of these social-technologies was the development of constructed social identities that can sustain social interactions in lieu of a network of extended familial relations to draw upon. Precisely because we wouldn’t have the types of large societies that we live in today without these constructed forms of identity, we ignore their underlying role and purpose at our own peril. As such, the narratives that they sustain aren’t some holdover from the distant past. Human rights, democracy, money, and even science are just a few of the constructs that support our modern interconnected world. Accordingly, if people stopped believing in them they would cease to exist; yet it would be a mistake to think of them as ‘imaginary’, as their effects on us are very real. For our present purposes, what’s worth noting is that constructed narratives will eventually begin to break down. This could be as a result of their own internal contradictions, mounting external pressure, or some combination thereof. We’ll refer to this process as Construct Collapse. When this happens (assuming that the society in question is still around), something will eventually move in to fill that vacuum. Importantly, Construct Collapse isn’t a positive or negative development in and of itself. The degree to which it’s beneficial or harmful depends upon the context in which it happens, and what ultimately ends up replacing it. For instance, with the benefit of hindsight, very few people today would openly argue that the collapse of the cultural narratives that supported slavery was a bad thing. On the flip side, totalitarian ideologies which exploit Construct Collapse during states of crisis are an example of its inherent dangers. More often, Construct Collapse may end up addressing an existing societal problem, while introducing a host of unforeseen consequences. For a vivid illustration of this, we can look to a well-known historical example whose effects are still being felt today. When the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche famously decried that ‘God is dead, and we have killed him’, what he was referring to was the displacement of organized religion as the ground of meaning and purpose in people’s lives. As a witness to the rapid social changes that were taking place in 19th century Europe, he predicted that the constructed cultural narratives that had sustained Western societies would become increasingly untenable. Swept aside beneath the march of science, industrialization, and secular values (otherwise known as ‘modernity’). Correctly perceiving that people would still have existential needs around meaning and purpose which scientific and material progress isn’t a suitable substitute for, his concern was that cynicism, despair, and vacuous consumerism would come to occupy that void. Leaving aside that his proposed solution for this crisis was quite maladaptive and toxic, insofar as it recommended that we move ‘beyond good and evil’ to pursue our own egoic agendas heedless of ethics or morality, Nietzsche still deserves credit for identifying the potential for a very real problem. Turning the clock forward from the 19th century to our own era, we find ourselves amidst a process of ongoing social fragmentation which has been called the ‘Meaning Crisis’. (All due credit to the cognitive scientist and philosopher John Verveake for popularizing this term). We can see evidence for this in the widespread adoption of conspiracy theories, political extremism, and bullshit in public discourse; all of which is having a disastrous effect on the civil societies that sustain democratic institutions. Moreover, social media platforms, whose business models push divisive content as a way of driving user engagement, have been adding fuel to this fire. While there’s a tendency to think of these as recent problems, in actuality they’re an acceleration of longstanding trends within profit-driven media, which has long understood that crises and fragmentation can be lucratively exploited for private gain. In conjunction with this sharp increase in polarization, we’re undergoing an unprecedented mental health crisis in the West, which has left millions of people feeling alienated and lonely. In the United States, life expectancy has been declining over the last several years, due in no small part to ‘deaths of despair’ (i.e., suicide and substance abuse). Additionally we’re in the midst of an unfolding ecological crisis that’s poised to have profound impacts on human civilization over the upcoming decades, further feeding into this mental health crisis. These impacts have been especially pronounced among young people, where anxiety about the state of the world they’ll be inheriting is commonplace. With the youngest generation at the time of this book’s writing, Gen Alpha, not remembering a time before the dysfunctions of the hyper-polarized world that we’re living in today. Of course, none of this is meant to downplay the leading role that endemic socio-economic dysfunction has played in these crises. For instance, it’s going to be hard to feel hopeful about the future if your economy is structured in such a way that buying a home, starting a family, and saving for retirement are all increasingly out of reach for ordinary people. Likewise, a great deal of polarization is driven by perverse incentive structures which enable bad actors to exploit existing societal divisions for economic and political gain. That said, it’s important to keep in mind that economic and political dysfunction is downstream from culture. Focusing exclusively on these (admittedly, very real) political and economic factors is to miss a hugely important part of the story. Which is that in addition to these factors, we’re facing an epistemological crisis in the West. In essence, there’s mounting evidence that different segments of society are not inhabiting the same Reality. Beyond having different interpretations over basic facts that we can more or less agree upon, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to reach a foundational consensus for productive disagreements. Moreover, the proliferation of ever more sophisticated versions of artificial intelligence is poised to make this problem even worse over the upcoming decades. These are dangerous developments, making it extraordinarily difficult to cultivate shared understanding with one another. This is incredibly important because the social dysfunction that we’ve been experiencing will only get worse as the epistemological crisis deepens. Which is why epistemological literacy is arguably more important now than it’s ever been. Of course, it would be the height of folly to propose that Enactivism, or any other narrowly defined epistemology, is going to be the silver bullet that will deliver us from this crisis. But what perspectives like this one can accomplish is to help us cultivate more self awareness around the narratives we use to make sense of Reality. Enactivism is a reconstructive epistemology because it acknowledges that constructed narratives play an essential role in addressing our individual and collective needs. At the same time, this comes with a recognition that there are better and worse ways to construct narratives. And that we would be far better off if the ones we use are, on the whole, more flexible, compassionate, and inclusive. Hopefully, it should be evident by now that reconstructive epistemology isn’t a call to return to the ‘good old days’ of a romanticized past that never truly existed. Rather, the reconstructive framework that we’re proposing isn’t interested in quick-fixes for complex problems, nor is it to be taken as a one-size-fits-all approach that’s dogmatically applied to every conceivable situation. Rather, Enactivism is meant to exist alongside other epistemological perspectives, in dialogue with them. Note that this isn’t an assertion that every type of epistemology is equally valid, so much as it’s a recognition that the perspective that we’re constructing is necessarily true, but partial.
  2. I'm using aspects of both a descriptive and a normative approach. A preference for cultural values which help rather than inhibit individuals from meeting thier material, social, and self-actualization needs is the normative aspect. (With a recognition that the content of these needs will of course vary in different types of survival contexts).
  3. Thanks! And to be fair, it's worth keeping in mind that reaching any of the post-conventional stages is itself an accomplishment, since a majority of people living in developed counties will never even make it to the Pluralist stage.
  4. I'd say that my view is more pragmatically oriented. On the whole, my own bias is that moral systems which are more flexible, inclusive, and compassionate are generally more desirable than those that are less so. Of course, this is an axiomatic assumption that there's no way to 'prove' in any absolute or objective sense. But the larger concern is more about trying to ascertain which types of morality are a better or worse fit for a given survival context. The emphasis is that morals are indeed socially constructed, but that doesn't mean that every system is just as good as any other (which is the trap of Relativism). Also socially constructed doesn't (necessarily) mean arbitrary, as these systems serve an underlying functional purpose. Instead of one system being better or worse in an Absolute sense (which is the folly of moral absolutism), different moral systems will be better or worse for a given purposive context. Which is why a set of morals which are perfectly well adapted for the survival conditions of a small agrarian village can be a bad fit for an industrialized global society; and vice versa. When the two are badly mismatched this generates social dysfunctions, which I argue is an aspect of some of the problems we're experiencing today.
  5. The same could be said for the vast majority of videos where Leo spends 3 hours deconstructing topics from metaphysics and epistemology as well. Both are made for a rather specialized audience.
  6. Hamas is a perfect reflection of SD-Red Islam. Nasty stuff, but you're taking basically taking the worst expression of Islam and using that to make a bad generalization. Islam can and is practiced at higher stages of ego development. (Hell, the guy I voted for in the Democratic primary for my state's governor was a progressive Muslim ala Bernie Sanders)
  7. In regards to the so-called 'Deep State', the difficulty here is that what American fascists (i.e., Trump and the MAGA wing of the Republican Party) call the 'Deep State' is in effect the administrative apparatus that allows government departments to carry out their duties. The vast majority of these positions aren't political in nature, they are low and mid level professionals with expertise in a given area (such as taxes, law, food safety, education, or environmental science). The reason that Trump and his cohorts at the Heritage Foundation want to dismantle the administrative state is because is serves as a check on their ability to carry out an authoritarian coup (under the guise of populism, no less). Project 2025 is an effort to replace these nonpolitical positions with vetted Trump loyalists who would give him a rubber stamp to skirt the law and weaponize the state against his political opponents.
  8. Hello, fellow! Having seen a few posts on postmodernism on these boards over the past few weeks (I believe Leo said that he was working on an video to that effect), I thought I'd share an in-depth writeup on Relativism that I put together for a philosophy book that I'm writing. The focus here is on the epistomology of Relativism; both its partial truths, and its limitations. The type of epistemic alternative that I'm contrasting it with is a viewpoint known as 'Enactivism'; an embodied and phenomenologically oriented epistomology that's the subject of my book. ___________________________________________ -[ The Prudence And Pitfalls Of Relativism ]- In contrast to Absolutist viewpoints, which pine for unassailable foundations to investigate Reality from, Relativist epistemology is underpinned by an enduring skepticism that knowledge can be grounded in absolute (i.e., fixed and eternal) truths. The guiding intuition here is that knowledge is inherently fluid and perspectival. Because of this, the dynamics of how knowledge is constructed tends to be the primary focus of these viewpoints. Developing alongside advances within other academic disciplines, such as linguistics and sociology, the guiding observation behind Relativist epistemology is that knowledge is always situated within a context. From this, we can gather that knowledge necessarily involves interpretation. When presented with the assertion that ‘facts don’t care about your feelings’, Relativism counters that ‘there’s no such thing as an uninterpreted fact’. In other words, facts always mean something to someone. By extension, there’s no such thing as a ‘neutral’ perspective from which to evaluate and interpret facts; since we always do so from within an existing worldview and set of circumstances. By extension, there isn’t a formula that we can turn to that can tell us which facts are relevant for a given situation. Essentially, individuals and groups will choose to emphasize certain facts over others based on their motivations, life experiences, and cultural background. Importantly, this isn’t a ‘flaw’ of human reasoning that can be excised through a strict adherence to ‘objectivity. Rather, it’s a basic epistemological constraint that’s imposed upon us by the fact that Reality is always experienced from within a perspective. In accordance with this focus on context and interpretation, Relativism also brought to the fore new forms of social critique, which illuminated the impact of coercive power structures on what’s accepted as valid knowledge. Historically, Relativism was often driven by a desire to decouple considerations of knowledge from Grand Narratives. What a Grand Narrative refers to is a story that offers a broad and encompassing explanation for an observed state of affairs, often serving to justify an existing social order (or one of its proposed alternatives). So those are the partial truths contained within the Relativist epistemology. Having explored the ‘prudence’ of this view, where do its ‘pitfalls’ lie? To set the stage for our survey for these pitfalls, it’s worth reiterating that our goal is to differentiate and link the Enactivist epistemology that we’re constructing with Relativism. This involves identifying Relativism’s partial truths, while being mindful of its inherent limitations. Phrased differently, we could say that we’re attempting to ‘transcend and include’ the partial truths of Relativism, just as we did for Absolutism (all due to credit to the philosopher Ken Wilber for popularizing this helpful notion). An attentive reader may have already picked up that there are indeed some shared areas of emphasis between Relativism and Enactivism: namely, a focus on how knowledge is constructed, and a repudiation of absolute knowledge. That said, the overlap between these two epistemological viewpoints shouldn’t be overstated, as there are some major pitfalls to Relativism that limit its usefulness as a comprehensive framework for understanding knowledge. The most notable of these pitfalls arises from how Relativism is ultimately a self-undermining position. To illustrate why this is necessarily the case, we can take note of what happens when Relativism is turned inwards upon itself. For if we take its suppositions to their endpoints, we arrive at the conclusion that Relativism is merely one valid perspective among others; neither superior or inferior to the Absolutist viewpoints that it critiques. Which leads to the paradoxical observation that if Relativism is correct, then one must also accept the validity of Absolutist viewpoints, undermining its own claims. While this might seem like a form of epistemic humility, in actuality no one adheres to Relativism without an implicit belief that it’s a more valid perspective than the ideas it’s critiquing (otherwise, why even embrace Relativism over some other viewpoint)? Another term for this is a Performative Contradiction. What it refers to is an inconsistency within a viewpoint that goes unaddressed (or is at the very least heavily downplayed), because it’s fundamentally unanswerable; and thus inconvenient to those who advocate for that viewpoint. In conjunction with this, the second major pitfall of Relativist epistemology is pragmatic in nature. In essence, Relativism doesn’t provide any real guidance on which types of perspectives should guide our decisions and behavior. Providing actionable guidance on how to discern what’s likely to be true is obviously extremely important for any epistemology. Precisely because any attempt to assess the comparative value of different societal and cultural viewpoints is anathema to Relativism, this severely limits its usefulness for guiding our decisions in the real world. An important aspect of living in the real world means being confronted by decisions that are informed by incommensurable viewpoints. As such, we can’t always reach a compromise that ‘splits the difference’, nor should we work from the assumption that every perspective has something useful to contribute (as anyone who’s dealt with online trolls can likely attest to). This brings us to the final pitfall of Relativist epistemology, which are its potential negative consequences for social discourse. This stems from the fact that Relativist epistemology is inherently deconstructive. What this means is that its modus operandi is to ‘debunk’ existing attitudes and beliefs. To be clear, it’s incredibly important to be able to challenge harmful ideas. But deconstruction on its own doesn’t facilitate shared understanding, nor does it give us a path forward for reconciling our differences. At its worst, bad applications of Relativism can devolve into narcissistic echo chambers, where individuals and groups insist upon their own ‘truths’ that are completely detached from Reality. Needless to say, this is an issue that’s been especially prevalent over the past decade, due in large part to the proliferation of social media; with disastrous consequences for the civil society that sustains democratic institutions. And with that, we wrap up our overview of the Relativist viewpoint. In the conclusion for this chapter, we’ll propose how Enactivism is a reconstructive epistemology, which fulfills a real social need that we have in the West.
  9. Thanks, appreciate the kind words, and the salient points that you bring up. Was planning on dealing with the concept of devilry in a later chapters on how 'Intellect Serves Intuition' and 'Motivated Reasoning Is The Norm'.
  10. Unless the state you're living in has ranked choice voting, because of our first past the post electoral system, voting third party is effectively a vote for Trump (who is actively trying to end democracy, btw ; look into Project 2025 ). You may not like it (I don't), but that's the actual Reality we're living in.
  11. Like a lot of policies, there are better and worse implementations of UBI. A good implementation would give people enough to cover (or put a serious dent in) their basic needs. The idea that a significant number of people would drop out of the workforce if they had enough to cover their subsistence needs is a bit ridiculous, and is born of classist assumptions imho (no one is going to be living like a king if they're getting $10k a year in UBI payments in the United States, for instance). Of course, a workable implementation of UBI would need to be paired with things like rent controls (where increases in rent are capped at national productivity gains or to inflation), so that UBI money isn't being extracted into the pockets of landlords. What this implementation of UBI would give people is less financial desperation, more leverage to bargain with employers and move jobs, and more opportunities for entrepreneurship. So no surprise that the ruling class tends to vilify UBI
  12. I thought I might share a write up on embodied epistomology that I penned for a philosophy book that I've been working on, '7 Provisional Truths'. The elevator pitch for the book is that it's a 'guided tour' to how our minds acquire valid knowledge about Reality (alternatively, I've also pitched it as a type of 'Field Guide' to construct awareness). The book is an exploration of phenomenology and embodied cognition, which also touches upon aspects of metamodernism. The epistemology that undergirds the book is an approach that I've termed 'Enactivism', and its primary emphasis is that minds 'enact', or 'bring forth', an experiential world in accordance with our living bodies and our environment. A central tenet of this viewpoint is the lack of any absolute or fixed boundary between ourselves and the world. As a consequence, both our minds and the world work in tandem to construct knowledge. The basic motivation behind this approach is a to avoid getting bogged down in a tug-of-war over what is or isn't considered to be 'real', and construct a theory of knowledge that's closer to our everyday, lived experience. To that end, this approach adopts a pragmatically oriented metaphysical agnosticism as to whether the bodies that our minds are coupled to are composed of 'matter-stuff' or 'mind-stuff' (I bring this point up here since I'm well aware of the types of metaphysical views that are popular on this forum ) _________________________________ The Enactive Approach In this section we’ll be expanding upon our investigation into certainty. What we’re specifically interested in is how intuitions about certainty influence one’s overall perceptions about what knowledge is. The overall goal of this survey is to serve as a ‘launching-off point’ for the type of epistemology we’ll be constructing over the course of this book. Our eventual aim is to propose a flexible ‘middle way’ for thinking about certainty, grounded in the active role that living minds play in ‘bringing forth’, or enacting, an experiential world. We can think of this ‘middle way’ as a natural extension of the themes that we discussed in our first chapter, which was all about how Minds Disclose Worlds. We’ll see how this epistemology that we’re proposing threads a course between Absolute and Relative accounts of knowledge. The former contending that knowledge is strictly impersonal (perhaps best personified by the statement that ‘facts don’t care about your feelings’); and the latter attesting that knowledge is intrinsically perspectival, being unavoidably conditioned by one’s society and culture. In contrast to these two camps, the type of epistemology that we’ll be proposing goes by the name of Enactivism. The basis of our term arises from the word ‘enact’. What it alludes to is a process of ‘carrying out’ or ‘bringing to fruition’, which is the lens that we’ll be using to think about how living minds engage with Reality. The basic emphasis here is that our minds give us an experiential Reality to live in that comes pre-arranged in terms of our needs and capacities. One important consequence of this is that knowledge isn’t a pre-existing feature of an otherwise ‘neutral’ Reality; nor is it a collection of context-free facts. Instead, Enactivism contends that knowledge is the culmination of a relational process between a living mind and its environment. The basic emphasis here is that the mind’s role in knowledge is far more involved than a passive receiving and processing of information. Precisely because this is indeed a relational process, minds are active and engaged co-participants in knowledge creation. As to what this viewpoint means for certainty, while this generative process can and does lead to reliable knowledge about Reality, what it doesn’t provide is absolute certainty. The basic reason for this is that knowledge can never be fully divorced from a perspective. At the same time, this also comes with a recognition that perspectives are unavoidably bounded by biology. Precisely because all human beings are the heirs of a shared evolutionary lineage, from this it is possible to excavate commonalities that are stable across many different types of perspectives. An additional and related aspect of Enactivist epistemology lies in its emphasis that Absolutist and Relativist accounts are true, but partial. What this means is that both viewpoints contain elements of truth, but are partial in the sense that they leave out important aspects of Reality (something we’ll go into more detail on over the remainder of this chapter). While our Enactive approach will aim to synthesize aspects of these two accounts, it also rejects some key assumptions that are common to both. The first of these shared assumptions that Enactivism rejects is that knowledge is primarily conceptual, and mostly a matter of holding beliefs. As we’ve seen, this is flawed because it fails to account for how nonconceptual ways of knowing and being are central to everyday life. Our extended survey on the centrality of Situated Coping for everyday forms of knowing and being was an articulation of this precise point. A second shared assumption which Enactivism repudiates is that thought, and by extension knowledge, is largely disembodied. As we’ll see, this has direct relevance for the role that perspectives contribute to knowledge. Precisely because neither Absolutism or Relativism places a great deal of emphasis on how minds are inherently embodied, both tend to miss the mark on this topic; but for different reasons. With the former largely failing to account for the unavoidable role that perspectives play in what is or is not considered to be valid knowledge. And the latter overemphasizing the social and cultural dimensions of knowledge, while neglecting how our commonalities open the door to stable forms of knowledge that transcend one’s individual and societal context. Lastly, Enactivism flips on its head the implicit assumption, common to both Absolutism and Relativism, that there’s an absolute or fixed boundary between ourselves and the world. Enactivism calls into question the taken-for-granted view that Reality can be cleanly divided into an ‘external’ physical Reality and an ‘internal’ world of experience; where never the twain shall meet. In practice, this boundary is often coupled with a presupposition that one of these two domains is more ‘real’ than the other. We can see this in materialist perspectives that try to ‘explain away’ consciousness, arguing that minds can be approached from the same fundamental framework that’s been used to understand matter and energy. On the flip side of the coin, certain spiritual perspectives contend that our physical Reality is a type of illusion created by our minds. Both instances offer an illustration of something known as reductionism. We can think of this as trying to ‘explain away’ a particular phenomena by conjecturing that it’s in fact a property of something else. As we’ll see, one of our aims with Enactivism is to sidestep this tug of war between what’s ultimately ‘real’, and instead offer a more pragmatic perspective that’s grounded in our day to day experience. In questioning the notion of a fixed or absolute boundary between ourselves and the world, our aim is to suggest a more nuanced framing that doesn’t fall into a form of reductionism. To that end, Enactivism cuts across these two camps in its recognition that living minds are also inherently embedded within the world. Put another way, one of the fundamental presuppositions of this view is that the world itself is an indispensable part of what minds are. Consequently, when we speak of what knowledge is, we’re also necessarily speaking of how a mind is embedded within the world.
  13. It's also worth delineating between healthy and unhealthy forms of skepticism. The former involves cultivating an openness to experience alongside one's introspective and meta-cognitive abilities. While the latter tends to be more about 'debunking' perspectives that you find unpalatable for one reason or another, without the internal work that's a hallmark of healthy skepticism.
  14. My take is that there are better and worse applications of metamodernism, just like there are better and worse versions of postmodernism, modernism, and traditionalism. (Keeping in mind that I'm using metamodernism as generalized stand in for Yellow, postmodernism as a stand in for Green, etc). Insofar as any particular metamodern thinker sticks to Centrism as an axiom, or uses developmental theory (such as Spiral Dynamics, Integral, etc) as a type of sociological bypassing, then I'd argue that it's a bad application of metamodern values. The proper use of these developmental models, in my view, is to help contextualize systemic sociological understanding (rather than a replacement for this knowledge). For instance, I was involved in a Spiral Dynamics discussion / presentation group a while back, and I noticed that there was sometimes a tendency to look at sociopolitical issues from a 10,000 ft vantage point, rather than engaging with the particular nuances of a situation. Which is how you'd get 'Spiral Wizards' drawing false equivalencies between the Democratic and Republican parties, and other such nonsense. Where metamodernism is aloof from on the ground political engagement, it does itself a huge disservice. Politics may be downstream from culture, but politics can have a drastic impact on people's lives (as abortion being outlawed in a post Roe v Wade United States can attest to).
  15. If you'll excuse me for copying and pasting a post I made outside of this forum on this exact subject, here are some of the thoughts as a person who lives in Michigan. (For context, this was posted in a circle with a lot of politically active SD-Green folks). While I might get in hot water for this take, respectfully I have to disagree with my fellow Michigan Lefties who opted to vote 'uncommitted' in the primary election, over Biden's refusal to call for a ceasefire in Gaza (insofar as 'uncommitted' translates into not voting, or voting third party in the upcoming election). To be clear, I don't deny that what's been happening in Gaza is a genocide, and that by providing funding and military aid to Netanyahu's regime, the US is complicit in the humanitarian disaster in Palestine. Nor do I disagree with putting pressure on our elected officials to call for an immediate ceasefire (which is what voting 'uncommitted' was intended to accomplish). HOWEVER, tactically this seems to me to be at best an empty threat; and at worst a horribly shortsighted form of brinksmanship that's bound to backfire in a spectacular way, insofar as it helps Trump enact his plans to end US democracy if he wins the upcoming election. However badly you think the Biden admiration is mishandling Gaza, the situation is guaranteed to get far worse if the US becomes a dictatorial Christo-fascist state. To be clear. giving Christian-nationalists a green light to proceed with their plans to move forward on a national abortion ban, the criminalization of LGBTQ people, and the use of the US military as a domestic police force does *nothing* to help the people of Palestine. In a first past the post electoral system, abstaining from voting (or voting for a third party) is effectively a vote for Trump. You may not like it (I certainly don't), but that's the reality we're living in. Also, it's worth noting that the 'point' of voting is NOT about self expression. It's about wielding the political power that you do have in a responsible way, given actual socio-political reality. You don't get to pat yourself on the back for not voting for a candidate that you find unsavory, when they're CLEARLY the least bad option, and it's not even close.
  16. None of the naysayers here are disputing that AI is going to continue to impact society in a profound way. (I'd contend that anyone who disputes this point is living in denial of Reality.) What's being disputed is that Artificial General Intelligence (usually understood to mean human level intelligence) is just around the corner.
  17. @NightHawkBuzz To add to what's already been said here about the developmental aspects of this (I'd recommend giving that vid on Stage Red of Spiral Dynamics a watch), people tend to gravitate towards the types of behaviors which have been modeled for them while they were growing up. Which is to say, the behavior that we tend to think of as 'normal' is something we pick up from interacting with our families and our peers. If someone grows up in a dangerous, stressful, toxic environment, often times people cope with that through behaviors and habits that can seem really maladjusted to someone who grew up in healthier circumstances. (For instance, the stress and hopelessness of long term poverty damages people psychologically, stunting their capacity for things like delayed gratification. Which is why lottery winners who go from being poor to being millionaires overnight will often end up mismanaging thier expenses to the point where they end up going broke.) Another term for this type of thing is called intergenerational trauma, where people who have been traumatized will pass down toxic behaviors and attitudes to the next generation, becoming a self perpetuating cycle. For instance, people who have been victims of brutalization by will often learn that they can get get what they want (and avoid being a victim) if they assert dominance over someone weaker then themselves. Because that's the kind of behavior that's been modeled for them. In addition to all that, society itself is highly predatory towards poor people. In that a lot of basic necessities will end up costing more if you happen to be poor ( )
  18. I like it here as well, but let's not be one of those communities that grows to love the smell of their own farts . Hope y'all are touching grass, and participating in other communities beyond just this forum. That said, I've gotten alot out of this lil' community, but we're fooling ourselves if we think this place is immune to the echo chamber effect.
  19. My own take is that much like the so-called Mind-Body problem, the question of Free Will is a pseudo-problem born of problematic framing and questionable assumptions. It's what happens when you try to work backwards to the richness of our lived experience from a metaphysical foundation (such as materialism, idealism, etc). We can think of this as a 'outside-in' approach. Instead, I argue that for questions of mind, we'd be much better starting from a phenomenological, or an 'inside-out' approach. Which begins with the immediacy of how the world is disclosed to us in our direct experience, while maintaining a flexible or agnostic stance on the ultimate metaphysical foundations for Reality.
  20. This needs to be emphasized more. We've been trying to create in a laboratory over the course of a few decades what took hundreds of millions of years to develop through natural selection. Add to that that a science is still very far from understanding how consciousness works and how life emerged from non-living material, and it would behoove us to approach these claims the topic with more skepticism and humility.
  21. I'd disagree with this slightly. While it's true that a bee's mind doesn't use symbolic processing, I'd instead argue that bees are on a spectrum of general intelligence, along with people. The most sophisticated AI that we have still can't come close to replicating all of the things that a bee can do.
  22. If anyone is interested, I did a write up on the subject of AGI for a book I'm working on, where I delve into some of the substantial barriers to creating AGI, owing to fundamental differences between living minds and machine intelligence. (Apologies if these pages get uploaded out of order).
  23. Is it though? The idea that AGI is just around the corner is akin to thinking that one is making progress towards reaching the moon because they've managed to climb halfway up a very tall tree.
  24. @Leo Gura Hope you're doing well Leo, and that you're taking care of yourself. Appreciate all the work you've put into your content, and for cultivating a relatively non-toxic little online community 😎
  25. Really want to see a character arc for this Ork now, where he learns to integrate and embody the Spiral stages 😁